Posted by Randy | December 09, 2011
"No religious items (ie: Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit."
Those words were included in a memo issued September 14 by Walter Reed Medical Center, one of our nation’s primary medical facilities for thousands of wounded military men and women.
The policy was brought to the attention of my colleagues and me, along with valid concerns that family members or pastors would not be able to bring Bibles or other religious materials to visit their wounded sons or daughters or husbands and wives. My colleague Rep. Steve King pointed out that “It means a priest that might be coming in to visit someone on their death bed couldn’t bring in the Eucharist, couldn’t offer Last Rites. This is the most outrageous affront.”
Our troops have risked their lives for our freedoms and liberties - including our religious liberties. To deny them this freedom when they return home is deplorable.
This week, I hosted a meeting with officials from Walter Reed regarding the policy. The officials said that the policy was not properly vetted and has been rescinded. The following apology has been posted on their website:
We are in the process of rewriting our policy and would like to offer the following statement:
Bibles and other religious materials have always been and will remain available for patient use at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The visitation policy as written was incorrect and should have been more thoroughly reviewed before its release. It has been rescinded. We apologize for any confusion the policy may have caused.
Please know that at admission, all patients are asked for their religious preference and a chaplain associated with their preference visits them regularly to provide spiritual services. In addition, their families may also bring religious material and we will not refuse any religious group entrance.
WRNMMC provides multiple venues at WRMNMC for religious expression and worship. There is daily Catholic Mass as well as Protestant, Hindu, and Muslim services. Eucharist is also available at the bedside. There are weekly Torah studies, multiple weekly Christian bible studies, as well as weekly Qur'an study. Furthermore, chaplains coordinate spiritual needs for those whose faith groups are not represented by staff chaplains (such as Latter-Day Saints, Buddhist, and Christian Scientist).
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center remains committed to supporting the religious preferences of all our patients and we will continue to ensure their spiritual needs are met.
I have requested background information about the policy, how it was implemented without proper vetting, and what forces were behind its implementation. Additionally, Rep. Steve King was featured on Fox and Friends this week to discuss the situation. You can view his comments here.
Posted by Randy | December 07, 2011
It is a marker that defines the Greatest Generation. It is one of the darkest days in the pages of our nation’s history book. It has indeed become a day that “live[s] in infamy.”
70 years have passed since the message rang across the Oahu naval base: “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Today, the first-hand experiences from the day are becoming increasingly rare (the youngest survivors are in their late 80s). But as our immediate connection to the day flickers, we are resolved to remember. We are resolved to pay tribute to the members of the Armed Forces and those civilians who died in the attacks, and the subsequent 320,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives in World War II for freedom across the globe.
As we remember the attacks on Pearl Harbor, I want to share with you some online resources that help tell the story of the day:
Timeline, Videos, Interactive Maps, and Photos
The USS Arizona Memorial
National Park Service
United States Naval Base, Pearl Harbor
National Park Service
After the Day of Infamy - "Man on the Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Library of Congress
The Pearl Harbor Radiogram
“Day of Infamy” Speech
Stories from the Veterans History Project
Library of Congress
Posted by Randy | November 23, 2011
Last week, I had the opportunity to celebrate America's heroic lineage of veterans and Armed Forces members at a DAR luncheon in Chesapeake. We are grateful for the many years of service represented at that luncheon and throughout Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District.
Here’s a look at the luncheon.
Tell us in the comments section -- who in your lineage has served our nation as a member of the Armed Forces?
Posted by Randy | October 24, 2011
I am happy to share with you that both the nation's largest congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization and the nation's only veterans organization comprised of wounded veterans have put their support behind my resolution, H. Res. 441, that recognizes further cuts to national security funding may cause irreparable harm to United States interests. The American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart have championed the resolution for recognizing that any decision on spending levels should be based upon a strategic determination of threats, capabilities, available resources, and risk.
National Commander, Fang Wong of the American Legion has said that the resolution shows a "willingness to truly meet the commitment to protect vital budgetary resources for our veterans and defenders” and National Commander William Hutton of the MOPH has called legislation "very timely and very much on target."
You can read the letters of support here and here.
While this resolution alone cannot stop the onslaught of looming cuts to our national security budget, it nonetheless sends a clear signal to lawmakers considering further cuts that our national defense will only be weakened and our nation's ability to protect vital interests will be significantly limited. Any decision on spending levels should be based upon a strategic assessment of threats, needed capabilities, available resources, and risk--not budgetary constraints. Members of Congress would be wise to reject the long-term damage these cuts would inflict on veterans, service members and their families, and our ability to defend U.S. interests.
Learn more about my efforts to ensure a strong defense and a strong America here: www.forbes.house.gov/strongamerica
Posted by Randy | September 01, 2011
I want to share with you this editorial from the Virginian-Pilot that highlights the importance of the current military retirement system.
September 1, 2011
One of the defining characteristics of military bureaucracy, as any soldier or sailor will tell you, is a disposition toward caution. Safe solutions are unlikely to set off a superior or endanger a career. The downside of that caution, of course, is that it doesn’t exactly encourage innovation.
So the military has, in the military’s way, set up a variety of systems to circumvent its own tendency to play it safe. Among them is the Defense Business Board, chartered to provide “independent advice and recommendations on effective strategies for the implementation of best business practices on matters of interest to the Department of Defense.”
That creates problems of its own. Businesses exist to make profits. The military exists to fight wars - to break things and kill people, to quote the cliché. That difference creates a sometimes stark tension. It can also create major changes.
The DBB, for example, was the entity that recommended the end of Joint Forces Command, which it concluded had outlasted its usefulness. Now the DBB has turned its eye to the military’s pension system, which faces obligations so expensive that it may cripple the nation’s ability to fight.
There’s no dispute: When compared with the private sector, a soldier gets a generous retirement. As soon as age 38, a 20-year sailor can retire at 50 percent of his most recent salary. Health care is covered. Meantime, a military “retiree” is free to find a job or a second career.
Similar retirement benefits don’t exist anywhere else in the public or private sector. That’s because there are no other jobs like military service.
Soldiers and sailors have hazardous duty. People shoot at them. Try to blow them up. They handle dangerous equipment and work ridiculously long hours. They are forced to spend months away from their families in spartan conditions. They must follow orders, including ones given by fools.
They must adhere to strict rules, whether at work or at home. They are required to be physically fit. They must volunteer to live like that for 20 years before they can retire.
In exchange, the military pays a barely living wage, covers housing and food and necessities. And, at the end of 20 years, it promises to pay retirement and medical care and a few other benefits.
That makes the military different. Few businesses today provide pensions, which guarantee a retirement income based on a worker’s length of employment and salary. Businesses instead are more likely to offer 401(k)s and similar programs, which send money to an account to which a worker also contributes.
That money is then invested — usually in bonds or stocks — and the resulting nest egg can be used to finance retirement. If the stock market tanks, the money dwindles. If it explodes, it can mean more money. No retirement amount is guaranteed.
The DBB’s proposal would turn the military’s retirement into something similar, at a time when research shows most 401(k) accounts are going to be inadequate to fund their owners’ retirements. It’s a horrible idea.
If a worker chooses a company with a crummy retirement plan, that’s the way the free market works. He is free to choose another company, or to start his own.
A soldier has no such freedom. What’s more, the freedom of an entire nation depends on making sure military service remains attractive to the nation’s finest volunteers.
The Pentagon’s retirement system could certainly stand reform. Eligibility could be changed and probably should be.
But the men and women who guarantee America’s freedom shouldn’t be placed in the hands of a Wall Street incapable of keeping promises.
Posted by Randy | August 08, 2011
This weekend we received the tragic news of the death of 30 Americans who were killed when a U.S. helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan. The attack marked the deadliest day for Americans in the war in Afghanistan. Twenty-two of the troops were reportedly from a specialized Navy SEAL Unit based in Virginia Beach.
We grieve the loss of these valiant Americans and honor the sacrifice they made while on a mission to rescue fellow servicemen and women. Their courage in advancing the cause of freedom was exemplary and it will not be forgotten. Our prayers continue to be with the families of these service members who will feel the absence of their loved ones long after the news stories have ended. We pray they find peace.
Posted by Randy | July 05, 2011
This weekend on the Fourth of July, I had the opportunity to honor the men and women who have time and again defended the great nation that we are able to celebrate on Independence Day as we broke ground on the Chesapeake Veterans Memorial Pathway.
Posted by Randy | June 30, 2011
In one of his last major speeches before retiring as Secretary of Defense, Roberts Gates argued that everything was “on the table” in order to achieve the Administration's mandate to find $400 billion in additional spending cuts to national defense. He said the fiscal pressure we face “could mean taking a look at the rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to retirement, pay and pensions.”
· Providing a 1.6 percent across-the-board pay increase for members of the Armed Forces in 2012.
Join in the discussion on this issue. Do you believe cutting military retiree pay is a right way to address our broader fiscal issues?
Posted by Randy | June 30, 2011
In one of his last major policy speeches before retiring as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates proposed historic changes to a "rigid, one-size-fits-all approach" to military pay and retirement benefits in order to achieve the Administration's mandate to find $400 billion in additional spending cuts to national defense. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The military retirement system is a non-contributory, defined benefit system that has historically been viewed as a significant incentive in retaining a career military force.” Some proposals for reforming the system include: vesting retirement benefits after 10 years of service; authorizing the services to make variable annual retirement contributions depending on changing retention and skill requirements; and converting to 401(k) style system under which full retirement pay wouldn’t be available until age 57-60. While the Administration is free to make proposals regarding changes to the compensation of our brave men and women in uniform, they must also be prepared to answer tough questions regarding those proposals. Ultimately, I will continue to ensure that active duty, reserve and retired members of our Armed Forces have my full support and continue to receive the compensation and benefits they deserve as they fight the wars of today and deter the threats of the future.
Question of the Week: Do you support reforming the military retirement system as part of the Department of Defense's initiative to find $400 billion more in cuts?
Have you served or are you currently serving our country as a member of the Armed Forces?
( ) Yes, I am an active duty service member.
Find out the results of last week's instaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | June 06, 2011
June 6, 1944 was a pivotal date for freedom across the world. On this day sixty seven years ago, over 156,000 Allied troops landed on a 50-mile stretch of beach in Normandy to liberate France from Nazi control. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircrafts supported the Allied invasion that helped bring World War II to an end. Although the mission seemed impossible, General Dwight D. Eisenhower charged our military to accept nothing less than full victory.
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