Topic

Veterans

265 petitions

Update posted 1 day ago

Petition to Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Secretary, U.S. House of Representatives

Permanently Stop Abusive VA Dog Experiments

UPDATE (September 2018): U.S. Congress and the President enacted a law extending restrictions on VA's dog experiments through 2019. Read more here. --- UPDATE (March 2018): Following your efforts, U.S. Congress enacted a law to de-fund the VA's dog experiments for 2018 and placed dramatic restrictions on the practice. Read more here. We're still working to end this waste and abuse for good! --- As U.S. military veterans, family members, and active duty members, we’re sickened that the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) has been using taxpayers’ money to purchase, breed, abuse and kill dogs in wasteful experiments. The VA’s painful and deadly experiments on dogs are a betrayal of these loyal animals who literally save soldiers’ lives on and off the battlefield. These projects also waste resources desperately needed to provide veterans with care and services.   According to news reports and the non-profit White Coat Waste Project, some of the V.A.’s current projects involve: giving mixed-breed puppies heart attacks (Richmond V.A.) cutting into beagle puppies’ brains (Milwaukee V.A.) damaging dogs’ spinal cords (Cleveland V.A.) With the support of 75% of taxpayers and a coalition of influential Democratic and Republican lawmakers, in March 2018 Congress enacted legislation that cuts funding for and drastically restricts future dog testing at the VA. Now, please join us in urging the VA Secretary to PERMANENTLY end this waste and abuse.   William Barko, US Army Ret.John Blaha, USAF Ret.Stan Benton, USN Ret. and USAF Ret.Bruce Bryant, US Army Ret.Chris Burand, US Army Ret.Gary Cantara, USAF separated, honorable dischargeWilliam Coll, US Army Ret.Michael Donahue, USNWayne Hair, US Army Ret.Ed Hernandez, USMCWill HubbardJennifer Johnson, USN Ret.Dr. Isis Johnson-Brown, US Army Ret.Ken Phillips, US Army Ret.Robert Reed, USAF Ret.Diane Solomon, USN SpouseTyler Spires, US ArmyVirginia Joy Stovall, USN Ret.Lyn StrangstadDanell Tomasella, US Army Ret.Nancy Warner-BrownJennifer Wilsbacher, US Army Ret.Merrie Wilson, USAF Ret.

White Coat Waste Project
143,802 supporters
Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to Donald J. Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Jackie Speier, John A. Yarmuth, Doug Jones, Nita M. Lowey, Adam Smith

Stop denying earned survivor benefits to military surviving spouses

I am requesting support for over 65,000 military widows/ers whose spouses died on active duty, killed in action or in the line of duty or post retirement of a service caused disability or illness. We are the only widow/er in the entire federal government to be denied our full survivor benefits. Most of us are robbed of over $1,000 a month by the Dept of Defense as a result of an archaic law dating back to 1972. Congress over 20 years has failed to take care of those who sacrificed all.  My husband was serving his 30th year in the Navy when the F-18 he was riding in malfunctioned and crashed.  He was killed, and in a moment, my life changed forever. My three children, our families, and I were devastated and overcome with grief. Then I was horrified to discover that after they handed me the folded flag "on behalf of the President of the US and a grateful nation", that the Dept. of Defense was not very grateful in the least. I sacrificed my husband, my best friend, and the father of our 3 children, our sole provider, and now we were expected to also sacrifice financially!  We impacted surviving spouses need to change the law in order to receive our survivor benefits in full. It would be illegal for an insurance company to deny paying an insurance policy just because the beneficiary had another policy. But our government does this and Congress has failed for 20 years to fix this.  I need your help. 65,255 impacted military widows/ers need your help. Call your Congressman/woman and ask him/her to co-sponsor HR 553, the bill that will eliminate this unjust offset.  My husband’s earned survivor benefit insurance, the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), a insurance annuity, a benefit of employment that he earned, was not paid to me in full. When he died, I was informed that I would only be getting a fraction of the benefit I should have received. When I asked why, it was explained to me that those spouses who also were eligible to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), an entitlement paid from the Veterans Administration to indemnify or hold the government harmless for causing my husband's death, over 65,000 of us, will have their SBP survivor annuity insurance benefits offset dollar for dollar by DIC.  Full SBP payment is unfairly denied to those surviving spouses. This is known as the SBP-DIC offset, and we must fight to end it. This is a purchased insurance. It is not the norm for one insurance to not be paid just because the beneficiary has another policy. "This is the only insurance one purchases and then is legally prohibited from collecting." Senator Bill Nelson, former insurance commissioner for the state of Florida. When I lost my husband, I lost 78% of our household income. His pay stopped the day of his death. With 3 children, a mortgage, and no job, after moving 26 times, life was difficult. I don't want this to happen to anymore widows. Every widow of every new fallen hero is subject to this same denial of survivor benefits. The Dept. of Defense reduces the Survivor Benefit Plan, a form of insurance that pays a portion of retired pay to the surviving spouse and/or children by the amount I would receive in DIC, which holds the government harmless for causing my husband's death. DoD claims these are duplicative benefits, yet 100% disabled military retirees may receive all their military retired pay plus VA disability compensation. But when they die, their widow is "double dipping". Disability compensation ends with the death. DIC is currently $1319.04 per month. That is what DoD deducts from SBP, leaving most surviving spouses left with zero in SBP and only DIC. This is wrong. Today, most SBP-DIC offset surviving spouses receive DIC and zero in the earned and purchased SBP.  These surviving spouses deserve better from their country. I’m calling on Congress to provide surviving spouses with 100% of the Survivor Benefit Plan promised. Our government is reneging on a voluntarily PURCHASED insurance plan whose entire purpose is to ensure that surviving spouses are taken care of financially should the sponsor pre-decease her/him. When a servicemember makes the ultimate sacrifice, their family shouldn’t have to worry about how they will survive. As a Navy spouse, I was there for countless others who experienced loss. When I lost my husband, I realized how negligent the government bureaucracy is towards families who have paid the ultimate price. I want to be there for those families again. Hopefully, if we can gather enough petition support, the government will not ignore us. Congress will change the law. DoD will be prevented from making a windfall profit off of our spouse's deaths by not paying in full their survivor benefits.  Please sign the petition to end SBP-DIC offset for military surviving spouses and ask Congress to pass House Resolution HR 553, (Rep Joe Wilson, SC) and Senate bill soon to be announced, (Senators Doug Jones, AL and Susan Collins, ME), the two bills to change the law and end this unjust forfeiture of what our spouses paid for with blood and income.   

Military Widows: SBP-DIC Offset Facebook group
3,463 supporters
Update posted 5 days ago

Petition to Scott DesJarlais

Name VA mental health building in honor of vet who was turned away- Sgt. John Toombs

Sgt. John Toombs served for 6 years in the Army National Guard and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011-12.  He came home with PTSD and struggled with substance abuse.  He entered the 90-day treatment program at the Murfreesboro, Tennessee V.A. On November 22, 2016, he was kicked out of the inpatient treatment program.  He had been sober for 70 days when he was abruptly discharged for being late to get his medications. When he was also turned away at the V.A. E.R., he uploaded a video to Facebook saying he had been kicked out "like a stray dog in the rain."  Then, in the future mental health building across from the E.R. that turned him away, he hung himself. On May 24, 2017, Tenn. Rep. Scott DesJarlais introduced bill H.R. 2634 that would name the building where John took his life the "Sgt. John Toombs Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Facility".  While the bill passed the House unanimously on Sept. 25, 2018, it unfortunately died in the Senate and needs to be reintroduced in the new congress. By signing this petition, we respectfully ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais to reintroduce the bill, and we also ask each and every member of the House and Senate to vote in favor of renaming the Murfreesboro building in memory of Sgt. John Toombs, the veteran who was turned away when he needed help the most.  May it stand as a promise to our veterans that we are listening and we will do better to prevent veteran suicide.

J. Montgomery
4,918 supporters
Update posted 6 days ago

Petition to Senate Armed Services Committee, House Armed Services Committee

Stop Penalizing Veterans Retired from the Military Due to Service‑Incurred Disabilities

Until recently, military retirees who were also rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being at least 50% disabled as a result of their military service were forced to choose between receiving either their military pension OR disability compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Congress partially corrected this injustice, recognizing that a military pension is earned compensation for a service member's faithful service to our nation and a promised benefit for his or her military service (10 USC, Chapters 61-67), and disability compensation is an entirely separate benefit, administered through a separate government agency, to compensate all veterans (not just retirees) for service-connected injuries or illnesses, provided the injury is connected to the veteran's military service and the veteran was not dishonorably discharged. (38 USC §§ 1110, 1131). Military retirees were being unjustly penalized for suffering incurable injuries or diseases in the service of our nation by being denied a benefit (disability compensation) available to any veteran who served any length of time in uniform, lest they be required to surrender their earned military retirement/pension in order to avoid receiving “dual compensation.” This situation was particularly cruel when one considers that injured retirees, unlike perfectly healthy retirees, have fewer opportunities to obtain and maintain meaningful employment due to their service‑connected injuries or illnesses. They sacrificed their health and wellness to serve our country, and we denied them either their earned military pension OR the disability compensation they were entitled to, in spite of their being otherwise eligible for both, in the name of saving money. The fix to this injustice is codified at 10 USC § 1414. That law states that military retirees who are eligible for both a military pension (retired pay) AND who are rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being at least 50% disabled as a result of their military service need not choose between receiving their full pension or receiving disability compensation, but may finally receive both. As positive a step as this law and subsequent amendments to it were, there is still a group of disabled military retirees who are left out and penalized financially for becoming injured or ill in the service of our nation: military retirees who were retired with less than 20 years of qualified service due to a service-connected disability. While one might argue that having served less than 20 years, those military retirees who were retired due to a military service-connected disability may justly be forced to choose between pension benefits and VA disability compensation, this particular class of military retirees actually has a greater need to receive both benefits. For starters, military service members involuntarily retired due to a service‑connected disability prior to completing 20 years of service have already incurred a significant financial penalty in the form of a greatly reduced pension, as military pension amounts are calculated according to the member's highest 36 months of basic pay multiplied by either their service disabling disability percentage (which is NOT the same as their VA disability rating, and is normally far less) or a calculation involving their length of service, whichever method is more beneficial to the service member. A career cut short due to disability incurred in the line of duty is a career with a significantly lower final pay (or last 36 months) than a career allowed to continue to 20 years' fruition. Changing the law to ease this restriction would not “open the floodgates” to all disabled veterans. But for an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty, that is, disability due to the member's military service, the service member will not be retired from the military for disability but will simply be discharged as unsuited for further military service. Members retired for disability must already face significant scrutiny over their injuries or illness, and a painful, protracted review process that routinely exceeds 2 years, before a decision in favor of military retirement for disability might possibly be reached. A military member forcibly retired due to an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty, and rated as 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, has little to no hope of ever securing meaningful employment once forcibly retired from the military. In contrast, a 20-year retiree with a 50% VA disability rating might thrive in a sedentary (e.g. office) job and secure significant earnings in addition to his or her dual military pension and VA disability compensation. Thus, the 100% disabled retiree should not be penalized for having his or her military career cut short due to a severe service‑connected disability. On the contrary, his or her sacrifice should be honored and dual compensation allowed just as it is for the 20 year retiree with a 50% disability rating. Therefore, I propose to amend 10 USC § 1414 by deleting subparagraph (b) in its entirety, or in the alternative to amend subparagraph (b)(2) to read as follows: (2) Disability retirees with less than 20 years of service.-Subsection (a) does not apply to a member retired under chapter 61 of this title with less than 20 years of service otherwise creditable under section 1405 of this title, or with less than 20 years of service computed under section 12732 of this title, at the time of the member's retirement, unless the disability retiree has at least 10 years of service or is eligible for veterans' disability compensation for a qualifying service-connected disability or disabilities rated either individually or cumulatively at 100 percent. The longest enlistment length is 6 years, so by serving at least 10 years, a service member has essentially indicated his/her intent to make a career of military service. Being forcibly retired early due to a service-connected disability is a traumatic and heartbreaking occurrence for many disability retirees, who would have continued serving until 20 years but for becoming injured or ill in the line of duty. Likewise, a retiree rated as 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs is in a dire situation, and unlikely to be able to obtain or maintain meaningful employment. Adding either or both categories of disability retirees to 10 USC § 1414(a)'s allowance of both retired pay and veterans' disability compensation not only further corrects the injustice partially remedied by 10 USC § 1414, but assists our most vulnerable military retirees in maintaining some semblance of a decent standard of living. If any group of Americans is deserving of a financial benefit (or in this case, removal of an unjust financial penalty codified in law), it is military retirees who became injured or ill in the service of our nation. Therefore, I urge Congress to amend 10 USC § 1414 by either deleting subparagraph (b) in its entirety, or in the alternative by amending subparagraph (b)(2) as indicated above. To do so would make a world of difference in the lives of many military retirees who answered their nation's call and were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of all that this country stands for, and indeed have sacrificed their health and future employability serving our nation.

Kevin Reinholz
51,749 supporters