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October 24th, 2008
07:12 PM ET

Lay it on the line for our veterans

Program Note: 3 out of 4 young people know someone who is currently serving or has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Anderson helps MTV shine a light on issues facing young veterans... Check out MTV.com for how to get involved.
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Learn how you can help those who served us at CNN.COM/IMPACT

Sign The Bill Of Rights For American Veterans

THE ISSUE

Of the more than 1.7 million veterans of combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, most are between 20-29 years old, according to the United States Department of Defense. Veterans who return from service face a number of challenges when attempting to resume their daily lives and reintegrate back into society. These may range from mental health issues, physical injuries, difficulty finding out what benefits they are entitled to, long waits to receive benefits they’ve earned, as well as many of the issues facing all young Americans like employment, debt, and education.

Additionally, when many of us think of “veterans” we think of older people from wars past that we saw in parades growing up, but the reality is there are hundreds of thousands of veterans in their 20’s. We need to put a new face on veterans and help elevate the issues our peers are facing after having returned from the war.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

MTV worked with veterans’ groups across the country to identify priority actions that Elected Officials must take to help veterans returning from service. To mobilize support, BRAVE was created, The Bill of Rights for America’s Veterans.By signing this petition to support BRAVE, individuals are demanding that our Elected Officials make BRAVE a reality. Our troops have fought for us, now it’s our turn to fight for them! You are asking Elected Officials to do the following:

  • Properly treat veterans’ mental health issues: Every troop gets face-to-face screening from a mental health professional prior to deployment and within the first six (6) months of returning home from war.
  • Prevent homelessness among veterans: Prevent young veterans and their families from falling into homelessness by creating 20,000 more permanent supportive housing units for very low-income veterans by December 31, 2009.
  • Give disabled veterans the benefits they have earned: The number of troops with physical, psychological, and neurological wounds waiting for their benefits should be cut in half by December 31, 2009.
  • Fully fund our veterans’ hospitals: Veterans’ hospitals should be fully funded for the 2010 fiscal year by September 20, 2009.
  • Compensate troops made to serve longer: Troops on Stop Loss orders should receive an additional $1,500 / month in pay.

Veterans return from service with a number of mental and physical health challenges – and face long waits for the benefits they’ve earned. Get Congress to make veterans' issues a priority.


Filed under: Back from the Battle
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Robert Vlahakis

    What a wonderful show and night. Thanks to all involved for doing this. I will sign the Bill of Rights. Son Jim is in Baghdad as we speak, ready to come home in February and we will be dealing with many of these issues you discussed tonight.

    October 26, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  2. Jason L.

    I'm a Afghan vet. I was told that I would be taken care of when I got out of the military by the V.A.
    It took me a year and a half to get the benefits that I was entitled too. It is sad the way the V.A treats us Vets. They had the never to tell me that I didn’t have “P.T.S.D” and that the reason I thought I did was because of my parents divorced. I was 5 years old when that happened! And I don’t remember them ever shooting at me or placing bombs under my bed. They tell you to seek help by the V.A and then they belittle you and it’s sad.

    They like to give us vets a run around so that we will get tired of fight for our benefits. The V.A. lost my me full medical records 3 times. They mail some of my appointment papers to wrong addresses. So by the time I did get the letter it was a day before the meeting. These are some of the tricks of do!!!

    Jason

    October 26, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  3. Debra

    I appreciate your show. It is amazing to me how as one of your vets described this "ghost" war just isn't news anymore. I feel these brave men and women are being forgotton on and off the battlefield. There are indeed many new programs in place now to help deal with PTSD issues, but I still have some concerns. My soldier has been back from 15 months in Iraq since June (part of the surge). He was interviewed before he left and then again by the same person recently. He was advised meds for help staying asleep and stress/anger management. He is trying some over the counter meds for sleep worried the meds will make him to drowsy to work in the mornings. He has not taken advantage of the counselling not wanting to be a "slacker" and miss work. I have read numerous books on coming home from war. Most deal with returning to civilian life, not military life. It is difficult for me to know how to help, advise, encourage. There is much mentoring, excitement, diligence prior to going to war, and unfortunately when they come come.........everything is changed. My soldier says no one cares anymore, no one works like a team, he was given a rank advancement, and is now expected to know what to do, and doesn't. I think that is why they want to return. War is their norman now. He feels mentorless, alone, discouraged and tired. Please help us a parents find resources too help soldiers in the military. I wish there was mandatory counselling, so they wouldn't feel like they were getting out of work to fool around, etc. I've gone on too long, and don't expect this to be printed just please listen and thank you for reminding folks that a war is still going on even after they get back home

    October 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  4. c

    I am a veteran. I lost my fiance when this mess started. Now, I am afraid of losing another. He is on an unusual and rarely heard of unknown tour legnth. We have 3 children who havent seen their father since November 2004. Congress members are unable to look into this without his request and signature. Kinda hard to do bouncing around the desert and never at a real base, let alone actually get to communicate with him. Can somebody please help me. This is not right and not normal. Imagine what he will go through when he comes home to our children after 4 years of killing. Most people dont believe this situation but its true. Somebody please get him home.

    October 26, 2008 at 8:46 pm |
  5. DeWayne E Blair SSG US Army MED Retired

    DeWayne from SC by FT Gordon, GA
    The VA needs to do a audit on VA R O Columbia, SC, that VA office don't look pass the first page of your records than throw them into another pile so someone else looks at your recoads, and that next person these the same. Than when you go to the VA office that rep says hes confuesed on whats happening then leaves you alone for a few minutes than returns and says hes taking you to someone that can help you. Turns out that IDIOT doesn't know what they are doing, and they are the GOVENERS office of DAV. All they did was call my county REP and ask why I was there, and look at me like I was lost. When I had a copy of all my records in hand and didn't bother to look at what I had. I left the office without any answers, What is a Diablied Vet to do????????

    October 26, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  6. Alyx McNeal

    I signed the petition and will sign whatever you want me to in order to help our veterans.

    October 26, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  7. POWMIA

    Since so many of the returning Veterans are so young, and if they are single, there is something most every household could do
    Give them an option to move into your home and provide room and board until they readjust and get situated, however long it takes
    This would take them off the streets and also give them a sense of belonging
    Just a thought

    October 26, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  8. First Sergeant Karl (US Army Retired)

    I have been retired for 15 years. I entered the Army during The Vietnam War and exited from Bosnia. I am 35% disable and my condition gets worst as time goes by. When I got out I had one year to file my disablility claim however it took three years before I got my first disablility check only to find out what ever disability the VA pays me is deducted from my retirement pay.

    I do not know if it is worth the time and frustration going back to the VA to have my disability reevaluated, I guess i just pop another pain killer.

    October 26, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Rose from Muscoy

    This isn't a Democrate or Republican issue it's a national issue that need to be address. Thank-you CNN for showing this and educating us!
    I live with two veterans and I sometimes see what they are through just to receive medications and see their doctors.
    I will sign the petition.

    October 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Tyrone

    SOMEBODY MUST PAY FOR THE NEEDLESS DEATH OF AMERICAN TROOPS!!

    There are many books written by former President Bush staff members about the Iraqi threat! (OR THE LIE!) Bush nor McCain will not say to this day that he was wrong to vote for the war in Iraq! 4,119 American troops are dead 90,000 injury 50% of that 90,000 lost of limps 45% can't find jobs and 23% are losing there homes. 33% are facing divorce! Medical disrespect of returning troops are higher then America poor! Many men and women and family lifes are destory as a result of the IraqWar. There are over 300 American troops imprison for war crimes! Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal had had a “terrible impact” on America’s international image as the Bush administration fought back against reports that it encouraged the abuses by emphasizing a get-tough approach to interrogations. The bottom line those American troops are paying for the horrible judgement of President and McCain. A military jury convicted a Schofield Barracks soldier of a reduced charge of assault in the death of an Iraqi civilian . Army Spc. Christopher Shore of Winder, Ga., was found guilty of aggravated assault in the June 23, 2005 shooting death. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, will have his rank reduced to private and will receive a reprimand. He was originally charged with murder, but that was reduced to manslaughter and the jury found him guilty of the lesser offense. Shore contends he shot at the civilian but purposely missed after being ordered to kill the man. He says he was following the orders of his platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales. None of this would have happen if not for the horrible judgement of our government. SOMEONE MUST PAY!!

    October 26, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  11. Tyrone

    THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR A SURGE......HAD BUSH AND MCCAIN LISTEN

    John McCain just gave a stupid speech on how the Surge is a resounding success… Obama said it is a success , BUT NOT ENOUGH"That is not the point!
    What he neglected to mention was how this war was an abject failure and a disaster of a policy decision that has needlessly cost us over 4000 American lives, 10 times as many American wounded and Iraqui dead, almost a trillion dollars in OUR money and a profound ignorance of where the terrorists really ARE…Afghanistan.
    Bluntly put? In John McCain's hands, we would have made the EXACT same mistake. Don't you dare bring that up, however…because that flawed decision "doesn't matter now."
    He claims he knows how to "win wars." He sure don't know how to vote for a war!
    How 'bout knowing how to stay OUT of unnecessary ones, John?
    He is as dangerous, or MORE dangerous, than GW Bush…and represents a party that has crippled this nation domestically and abroad.
    If you vote for this robotic old retread of failed policy and promiese….you're not just flat out stupid: You are a traitor to this country and our troops.

    October 26, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  12. Alicia

    The best way to fight for our Veterans is to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket on November the 4th.
    These Vets fought for our freedom and our rights and when you have a political party refusing access to a TV station because their reporter asked some good questions of the VP candidate, then those rights are at risk.
    WHY IS CNN NOT REPORTING THIS STORY ABOUT THE ABC AFFILIATE? IS JOURNALISM DEAD???

    October 26, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  13. Louise Legun

    How can you best help veterans - bring the troops home now. End the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. All we are doing is making more terrorists by killing innocent civilians.

    The Iraqi people want the U.S. out. There are millions of Iraqis protesting the latest proposal to keep US troops in Iraq through 2011. (See Raedinthemiddle for photos). DO NOT SEND THE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN to another unnecessary, unwinnable occupation.

    October 26, 2008 at 9:41 am |
  14. judy

    Thanks Anderson for this program. As time passes we sometime forget the brave men and women that serve. And not to mention the reporters.

    October 25, 2008 at 9:20 pm |
  15. Marvin Akers

    I am 100% disabled veteran, my question is why is our V.A. ratting system over 60 years old, I will tell you why ( MONEY)!!!!

    They are paying us on a 60 year old formula, thay need to be in the
    21st centry.

    October 25, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  16. Caroline

    my dad was a twice decorated fighter pilot. then an alcholic, divorced and misunderstood. now he is a person who will work with anyone to turn their lives around. mostly on the aa team since 20 yrs. he is old now but continues his work. soooo, i want to say that all of u who manage to make it somehow, just keep it up. U are the survivers.
    love from a daughter

    October 25, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  17. ROBERT LOPEZ

    Having served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and being diagnosed with PTSD, among other injuries, ihas been a long and uphill battle to regain what was lost. I was told to terminate my job when deployed to Iraq, I never got it back. I proudly gave my years to the Army and now I desperately need help in return. This has become the hardest battle.

    October 25, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  18. debbie anderson

    I do not believe in the philosophy of "Country First". I feel God, family, and self go before country.
    I do, however, have incredible honor and respect for those who have put their country first, and will do all I can to support them. They deserve the very best we can give. Let's continue with the increasing efforts to support these amazing men and women, and no longer sweep their needs under the rug as if we do not want the reminder of the ugliness of war.
    Thanks for giving us a way to help.

    October 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  19. MichelleM

    The conditions are terrible. I just went to a presentation by Dahr Jamail a freelance journalist who has been in Iraq. Also at the presentation were members of the the Mass chapter of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Terrible stories of how innocent Iraqi people are suffering as well as our servicemen and women giving their lives- for what? There seems to be a consensus that US oil interests, as well as those of Haliburton and Bechtel are being protected, but not much else. From what I've read, from the unembedded press, the Iraqi people are coming to hate what we are doing to their country, and our soldiers are doing the best they can in a bad situation. I'm glad to see Anderson Cooper giving the plight of the veterans some airtime, as the main stream press is ignoring the truth on the ground in Iraq and how the government is discarding the veterans once they are home. If you get a chance to hear someone speak who has spent time in Iraq be they for the war or against, I hope you go here them and get the story from the horses mouth.

    October 25, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  20. Jimmy from Cedartown, Ga

    This is for anyone who may want to listen. I feel we need to get the Goverment back to working for the people and not just for themselves.

    Both McCain and Obama has been saying the spending in Washington needs to stop. Why hasnt anyone talked about all the pay raises in Washington being stopped? We as working class Americans have bosses who tell us if we are doing a good job and deserve a pay raise. Well the Goverment works for the people. Why not let the people vote if congress is doing a good job and deserves a pay raise instead of letting them say "Hey we did a good job. We deserve a 5% pay raise this year". Lets make the Goverment work for their money and let the bosses(Americans) vote on their pay and lets see who starts working for it.

    October 25, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  21. Debi

    thank you, thank you!! it is unfortunate that the men and women who have given so much for our freedom and our very lives are treated so horrendously!

    i recently had an email conversation with my nephew who is a veteran. the conditions he had to put up while in the hospital, insurance problems, etc made me literally cry. he's now in a posistion where he's wondering how he can afford to send his son to college.

    he was their for his government and country – where is his government and his country for him?!

    i've signed the petition and urge everyone to do so – and pass it on!

    October 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  22. LINDSEY

    Hi Anderson,
    This is for McCain and Palin, they claim to be so pro-life when it comes to issues about abortion but then, can support the war in Iraq. They send our brothers and sisters to die and thereby causing the deaths of other civilians in these countries (iraq and Afghanistan). How hypocritical, i think the UN should pass a law that when countries want to go to war their presidents should also be part of the soldiers going to war and should stand at the front line. With this, presidents will re-consider before going to war.

    October 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  23. Terry

    My son is an Iraq Veteren, he was deployed 10 months prior to when his" 3 yr contract "was finished, therefore he was stop-lossed, understandably so, to serve his year commitment in Iraq with his battallion. But then they were extended another six months, which didn't sit well wtih him, and there was not any additional compensation for that. He essentially served an additional year in the Army beyond his "3 yr contract", he learned a hard lesson about reading the fine print I suppose! Currently, since being discharged, he has to practically jump through hoops to secure tuition reimbursement at the community college he goes to, as well as trying to adjust to resuming his civilian life with all the baggage spending a year and a half in Iraq has left him. Only the families and fellow verterans can fully understand what challenges they face on almost a daily basis, we have to be their voices and support mechanisms, because the VA has proven to be only marginal in that respect.

    October 25, 2008 at 7:24 am |
  24. Rob in San Diego

    Oh, Mari in NW Indiana. Maybe you should read up on John McCain's tireless efforts and voting record in support of us veterans. I bet you voted for John Kerry.

    October 25, 2008 at 4:48 am |
  25. Rob in San Diego

    I am a 70% disabled veteran (not combat related) of the Vietnam era. I had to enlist the help of the Disabled American Veterans organization in order to obtain the benefits i deserved. We were treated as expendable by our countrymen. There is a tremendous bias in Hollywood and mainstream media against veterans. Except for Mel Gibson's movie, "We Were Soldiers" Hollywood has portrayed veterans as a bunch of drug using, homeless looneys that threaten the rest of society with violence. When veterans came home from overseas during the Vietnam War, they were spit on, had human excrement thrown at them, were called baby killers and were threatened with physical attack for having served their country. John Kerry and Jane Fonda are high profile examples of that bias. Most Vietnam Veterans will go to their graves harboring a resentment toward their fellow Americans that did not serve, yet despised veterans. Contrary to the Hollywood stereotype, and despite my significant physical challenges, I have been quite successful in life and have never used drugs. Anderson, why don't you do a special on the Vietnam Veteran. We deserve better than being despised by our country.

    October 25, 2008 at 4:21 am |
  26. Peace Warrior

    I watched the wonderful Concert, with our terrific ANDERSON COOPER hosting — thanks so much Anderson! My TV Guide mag. hadn’t listed it, and I missed the first hour, just happened to see it was on while flipping TV Channels.

    Anyway, I hope they RE-Broadcast the MTV Special, so that those of us who DIDN'T get a chance to watch it, can see it - and hope that ANDERSON will have a segment for several days, sharing a few "HIGHLIGHTS" from the Concert?

    October 25, 2008 at 12:33 am |
  27. Texas

    I'll sign it!
    Thank you Veterans (Old and Young) for your Sacrifice so that I may walk freely.

    My oldest brother is a U.S. Marine- Vietnam Veteran. Thank God he returned home to his family, albeit not the same person who left, he is able to walk and think; and function in society. But, now, 30+ yrs. later, he suffers from the effects of Agent Orange- it continues to cripple his body.

    By the Grace of God, and family/friends at his side, he has survived the demons that would haunt anyone who sees war from the front line.

    These young men/women of our more recent and current wars DESERVE CARE IMMEDIATELY– Not 30 years from now!

    Does any one get it? Please America- Push for the betterment of our Veterans' rights. This could be "your" Son, Daughter, Sister, Brother, Family Member... .Siempre Fidelis, Brother!!

    October 25, 2008 at 12:04 am |
  28. Will in California

    Who better to help our troops returning from war than John McCain, who returned home from captivity and with injury to recuperate well enough to be a great leader and politician? McCain also has begun the end of the war in Iraq, with the surge, and will help end the war in Afghanistan to bring our troops in victory through valor and honor, and not in disgrace through defeat (which the democratic opponent’s plan will cause).

    Remember, the Illinois senator was on the Veteran's Affair's committee, when troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, who returned maimed (physically, and or, emotionally) fighting for the US and for the liberation of Muslim countries against terrorists, were languishing in decrepit hospital rooms. What kind of help was that from the senator and others, since any compassionate person would have been outraged at such conditions our heroes were in, would have helped with the situation virtuously and swiftly?

    October 24, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
  29. S. Ellis

    I am so saddened by the terrible conditions our veterans must return to from battle. Something not know is this. Many veterans must file a minimum of three(3) times to get benefits. Many veterans do not file for benefits because they have no belief in the VA system. I am a disabled veteran. It was a difficult process and I never recieved my back pay from the VA. Another sad thing is the people making the decisions about awarding benefits are decided by people who maybe don't understand what veterans go through and are making decisions to limit the benefits because of their interpretation of the rules and regulations. Many of the employeesmaking decisions are maybe 80-100% disabled. How do we help veterans needing benifits to survive? This should be a priority to the new president. The head of the VA should get rid of the enormous back log of claims for benefits. This is an area of the MILITARY which has been TOTALLY OVERLOOKED!!!!! HELP OUR VETERANS PLEASE!!!!!!

    October 24, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  30. Heidi B

    i will sign it

    October 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  31. Annie Kate

    I signed the petition; thanks for providing the link. Our vets shouldn't have to wait for their benefits; they didn't wait when the call came to serve. The government should be equally as prompt when their service is over or they come back.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 24, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  32. Syed Ahmed

    There should also be a bail out plan for our Veterans.

    October 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  33. Lilibeth

    Thanks for making the link available at the Impact Your World website so we can help right away.

    And yes, I'll sign the petition.

    Lilibeth
    Edmonds, Washington

    October 24, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  34. Mari in NW Indiana

    Wonderful ideas..........too bad McCain voted against aid to Veterans.......you're more than a hero than he ever will be.

    October 24, 2008 at 7:21 pm |