[The] Military Community Discovers the Arrogance of Congress

June, 2002

By Thomas D. Segel, Master Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Retired)
Harlingen, Texas

For most of their adult lives our active duty personnel, retired
military, and veterans really believed the political mantra that members of
Congress were "their" government representatives and had been sent to
Washington to work on their behalf. Today, they sadly understand this once
respected body is in decay. In the words of Joe Priestley, Chairman of the
Military Retirees of Florida, "We are free to call the thieves in Congress
and the Administration just that!" He also says his statewide organization
feels we have a corrupt, out-of-control government, which targets military
personnel, especially military retirees, for unjust treatment.

The Florida response was just one of more than one hundred letters and
e-mails received by this writer, in answer to a series of questions
concerning Congress and how government officials were responding to the
concerns of their military constituents. Only one percent of those
responding had anything of a favorable nature to report about their
experiences with those they helped elect to government offices.

Don Holland, of Bartow, West Virginia, is a Master Chief Petty Officer who
completed 30 years of military service and was retired as 100% permanently
disabled. Having some serious problems created by congressional legislation,
he wrote more than 100 letters to the powerful appropriations chairman and
his own senator, Robert Byrd. The only answers ever received were
non-specific form letters. He made numerous requests to meet with the
senator, only to be rejected. On five separate occasions he even went to
Byrd's office, just to be shuffled off to a junior staffer and, on one visit,
to an intern. Even at this late date, after years of pleading, not a single
attempt has been made to resolve his problem.

Holland claims to have undergone the same type of experiences with Senator
Jay Rockefeller. The only exception being, on one occasion he was allowed to
see a senior staff member. However, no action was taken on his behalf.

Stacy L. Roberts is a 35-year Navy veteran, a retired Captain and a
Presbyterian minister, who now resides in Westminster Gardens, California. He
has been making serious attempts to make contact with a senior official about
the government's broken promise to provide career military with lifetime
medical care for themselves and their dependents. Because Congress broke its
pledge to the military community, Roberts is faced with his wife's monthly
nursing care bill of $4,200. Looking for any possible answer he sent an
e-mail to his senator, Diane Feinstein. The reply said she did not read it
because it was not sent through her website. The reply included instructions
to e-mail her at http://feinstein.senate.gov/email.html which is apparently
not a valid site address. Replies to several submissions have been the same,
"Sorry, no matching pages." He says the problem may be his,
because he is a novice on the Web. "However", he says, "even a novice should
be able to reach their senator? Why make it so difficult?"

Even the former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner,
feels he has no need to communicate with military constituents.

Retired Army Colonel Jim Engelage of Winchester, Virginia rarely receives
replies to letters mailed to his senator. If an answer is forthcoming, it is
a form letter completely unrelated to the initial correspondence. On March
6th the colonel, accompanied by a friend, hand-carried a letter, signed by 25
retiree military constituents, to Warner's office. After two weeks with no
reply he contacted an assistant to the senator and was told he would have the
senator's response in one week. As of this date, no answer has been received.

In Ohio, reports of congressional indifference are the same as from other
states. Retired Air Force Technical Sergeant Noel C. Hubler complains that he
and his fellow comrades-in-arms have repeatedly sent letters and e-mails to
their representatives and senators in Congress. "Without exception, they have
been answered with canned responses, which have nothing to do with the
subjects of our appeals." He also reports his elected leaders never take
actions in support of the veterans and military retirees.

One active duty Marine, who requested his name be withheld for fear of
retaliation, claims he wrote his congressman concerning an issue which
impacted the personnel under his supervision. The response was a message from
the congressman to his commanding officer complaining about the Marine's

In Florida, retired Air Force Master Sergeant Robert C. Thompson, a very
active member of the Military Retirees Grass Roots Group and past president
of several military organizations, visited with congressional candidate Jeff
Miller during the campaign. Miller was elected and now represents the U.S.
Congressional District with the largest retired military population in the

Thompson told him he would receive the backing of this large constituency if
he would support the military. "I asked him to send a letter to his
colleagues requesting them to vote in favor of bills before Congress which
stop discrimination against uniformed service personnel. I further told him
these 750,000-plus career service personnel wanted their elected official to
introduce a Resolution to proclaim Congress would support and pass a law to
never again allow discrimination against the military." That conversation and
implied pledge to support those specific issues took place long before
the election. Well into his first year, Representative Miller has still
taken no action on either request.

On issue after issue.in letter after letter.time and time again, members of
the military community makes charges of indifference, lack of concern,
arrogance, rudeness and poor service by their elected officials to the men
and women who gave everything on behalf of their country.

As a candidate, George W. Bush stood in front of the National Convention of
the American Legion and told our 26.5 million veterans and 1.8 million
military retirees that "Promises made to our retired military and veterans
will be kept during my administration". Says one disgruntled retiree, "I
guess the Congressional elite don't echo his sentiments. Well, for that
matter, the President is another one of those leaders who never answers our

The Paragon Foundation News Service (PFNS)
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Email: frc@pvtnetworks.net
Direct Media Office Line: 505-653-4024
Media Office Fax: 505-653-4658
Foundation Offices: Toll Free 1-877-847-3443

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]

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