Our Troops Deserve Better
2005 was a year that saw many pieces of legislation come across the desk of policy-makers in Congress. Two were major bills that could have alleviated the abject position many veterans find themselves in when they return from service or near retirement age. House Resolution 2076 (H.R. 2076), introduced in May of 2005, aimed to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. A month earlier, Illinois Congressman Lane Evans (IL-17) introduced House Resolution 1588 (H.R. 1588). This bill was designed to improve programs for the identification and treatment of post-deployment mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stressdisorder, in veterans and members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes. Unfortunately, Congressman Tim Johnson (IL-15) voted for neither bill. To this day, additional disability pay and programs to help veterans deal with stress upon returning from service continue to be sub-par according to many politicians in Washington.
There were other pieces of pro-Armed Forces legislation Congressman Johnson opted not to vote for. In February 2005, he decided to ignore a piece of legislation that would reduce the age for receipt of military retired pay for non-regular service from 60 to 55 (H.R. 783), as well as a bill that would provide certain enhancements to the Montgomery GI Bill Program for certain individuals who continue to serve as members of the Armed Forces after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In fact, throughout 2004 and 2005, Johnson voted extremely poorly on behalf of veterans in Illinois' 15th Congressional District and all over the United States.
According to Vote-Smart.org, Tim Johnson voted against the interests of the Disabled American Veterans a staggering 80 percent of the time in 2005, and 100 percent of the time in 2004. Furthermore, on votes that "The Retired Enlisted Association" considered to be the most important in 2004, Congressman Johnson voted for their preferred position only a third of the time.
Not only will I support our troops when they are in harm's way, I will support them when they come home. All too often, politicians use active duty troops as political gamesmanship and ignore their concerns when they retire or require assistance and medical care. I will not play politics with the lives of our troops, but I will demand they get the support they need to do their job safely abroad and live their lives fully at home. When they enter the private sector, our service men and women should get the respect and assistance they deserve.