Early Friday morning, you may see Jane Perry hanging out on a street corner. She has been distributing VFW “Buddy” Poppies as a Member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary for over 40 years. “It means a lot to me,” she said. “Buddy Poppies raise money to help veterans, their families, and our community. The VFW has been a rewarding place to volunteer.” On Friday, May 17, she’ll be out at 8 a.m., poppies in hand.

With six brothers having served in the U.S. military, Jane joined the Ladies Auxiliary under her twin brother’s wartime service. It’s been a membership that’s taken Jane across the state as a VFW Department Distinguished Guest Chair and to National Conventions across the country, starting in 1976. “I’ve missed a few, but not many,” Jane said with a smile. Favorite host city? “it’s a toss up between New Orleans and San Francisco.”

The poppies are assembled in by disabled veterans in Veterans Administration hospitals across the country. The poppies Jane is distributing today were assembled at the VA Hospital in St. Cloud, MN. The veterans that put them together are the only people paid. It gives them a few dollars to buy a few luxuries that many simply take for granted. Everyone else involved in the distribution, like Jane, is a volunteer.

Friday will find Jane outside of a grocery store in St. Louis Park with a basket full of poppies. A flier in the basket tells the Buddy Poppy story and has the words to Col. John McCrae’s timeless poem “In Flanders Fields.” Distributing poppies began in 1922 as a way to create awareness and raise funds for charitable programs, primarily focusing on disabled veterans and widows and orphans of those who fought and died. One of the places the money Jane’s Post (the Hopkins VFW) supports is the VFW National Home For Children in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. With a smile, Jane hands out poppies to all who pass and want one. The poppies are not for sale, they’re distributed as a way to keep the awareness of veterans in the public’s eye. Donations are accepted, and most people do donate. Many talk about their family members who have served and in some cases, still are serving.

When Jane’s shift is over, she’ll pass the basket and head back to the Post and swap stories with other volunteers. Everyone has a story to tell, like Dick Dvorak, a South Pacific WWII Vet and his wife Pat, or Dave Klocek who served in Viet Nam and his wife Mary Ann. The story they all want everyone to know is when people see the volunteers out today and tomorrow with baskets of poppies, remember the veteran who has returned and especially remember the veterans that didn’t.

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hads we throw
The torch; be yours to hld it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though the poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Col John McCrae
Ypres, Belgium – 1915

(this story originally published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet)

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In a word: NO.

GOPer Erik Paulsen, R=TargetCorp, recently took the time to toss up a quick YouTube saying, in honor of Veterans Day (tomorrow), how much he honors veterans. Yeah, “right.” Here’s what his official house.gov website says:

For Veterans and Service Members

I place the utmost priority on constituent service requests in my office – particularly those related to veterans. Whether it be help getting benefits or a Purple Heart, I strongly encourage you to contact me and my staff to help with your needs.

Additionally, I’m working on a number of bills in Congress to honor and strengthen the commitment we’ve made to our veterans, service members and their families.

I am also working to address a number of issues related to survivor and dependent benefits, honoring our Purple Heart recipients with a forever stamp and I am co-sponsoring legislation to allow members of the Armed Forces, and their loved ones, to send letters and care packages to our troops over seas at no cost.

I want this section of my website to be entirely dedicated to helping those who have served our nation in uniform. Check out the resources below and please contact me with any questions.

I followed that link – and it goes to Paulsen’s Press Releases. Yes, “press releases.” One bill that he “worked on” is a bill that never got enacted – because Paulsen seems to think it takes a new law to enforce what existing law already calls for. But hey! Pausen sure gave it a swell name – the “Wounded Warrior and Military Survivor Housing Assistance Act of 2010″!

A search of Paulsen’s proposed legislation doesn’t list a single Veteran’s Issue. Carrying water for the insurance industry? Sure! Greasing the skids on tax rates for investment income of private foundations? You betcha! Writing legislation to help Veterans that have served their country? Not so much.

In fact, as noted a month ago here on MPP in a post entitled “Do Bachmann And Paulsen Support Veterans?” — well, let’s look!

The Veterans Of Foreign Wars just happens to track who sponsors and co-sponsors bills that actually do things to honor the commitment to Veterans that Paulsen and Bachmann often claim to do – and they even have a swell webpage for voters to hold them accountable. Go ahead; click on “Elected Officials” an check on anyone in Congress you want to!

Here’s Paulsen’s page; now click on “Bills” and you’ll see a list under the headings “Bill Name” and “Co-Sponsor?”

And please note that after each and every single bill to help Veterans, under the “Co-Sponsor?” header is: “No”

And if you hit the “More Bills” icon, you’ll find that they still are all: “No”

But, that’s just the Veterans of Foreign Wars list. How does Paulsen do with the Disabled American Veterans?

Click here to see how many bills Paulsen’s co-sponsored that the Disabled American Veterans would like him to – when you’re there, just click on “bills.” To save you time, here’s how many: zero. zip. nada.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it doesn’t take a lot of “work” to sign-on and co-sponsor a bill.

How does another Veterans Organization – the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) – score Paulsen’s “work” on behalf of veterans?

Their “2010 Congressional Report Card” gives Paulsen a “D.”

On 18 votes they looked at – bills affecting veterans – Paulsen only voted with veterans 10 times – thus the “D” rating. According to IAVA, Paulsen had the worst voting record of Minnesota’s eight House Members. Yes, Paulsen’s record is worse than Bachmann’s (by one vote).

When I had this .gif produced, it was because of Paulsen and Bachmann’s similar records – according to the VFW. Now you know – Paulsen and Bachmann’s records are also similar with the DAV and with IAVA. Similarly atrocious.

On Veterans Day, remember the sacrifices veterans have made.

And remember that Paulsen gives lip service to the veterans.

(cross posted at MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

I often say that the main difference between Michele Bachmann, R=BizarroWorld and Eirk Paulsen, R=TargetCorp, is that Paulsen isn’t stupid enough to say the crazy stuff that Bachmann does. Because when it comes down to issues, they’re an awful (and I do mean “awful”) lot alike. Now, here’s what Bachmann’s Congressional webpage says about Veterans:

It is imperative that America’s military men and women receive the support they deserve for the sacrifices they have made. Our members of the Armed Forces have fought to preserve the freedoms we cherish and I believe Congress must be steadfast in honoring our commitment to them.

Here’s what Paulsen’s Congressional webpage says:

As elected officials one of our greatest responsibilities is to honor the service and sacrifice of our service members and their families. I take that commitment seriously and I am actively working to uphold that commitment already in Congress.

Sounds good, “right”? But how do Tweedle-Dee’s and Tweedle-GaffeMachine’s actual records look? Let’s look!!!

The Veterans Of Foreign Wars just happens to track who sponsors and co-sponsors bills that actually do things to honor the commitment to Veterans that Paulsen and Bachmann often claim to do – and they even have a swell webpage for voters to hold them accountable. Go ahead; click on “Elected Officials” an check on anyone in Congress you want to!

Here’s Paulsen’s page; now click on “Bills” and you’ll see a list under the headings “Bill Name” and “Co-Sponsor?”

And please note that after each and every single bill to help Veterans, under the “Co-Sponsor?” header is: “No”

And if you hit the “More Bills” icon, you’ll find that they still are all: “No”

No surprise there! But, what about Bachmann? Let’s look!!!

Here’s Bachmann’s page; now click on “Bills” and you’ll see a list under the headings “Bill Name” and “Co-Sponsor?”

And please note that after each and every single bill to help Veterans, under the “Co-Sponsor?” header is: “No”

All eleven – ELEVEN - of ‘em.

And if you hit the “More Bills” icon, you’ll find eight – EIGHT - more bills supporting Veterans, that Bachmann doesn’t support.

But, here’s the kicker – way at the bottom of the list, there actually are two bills that Bachmann did support – meaning as p*ss-poor of support Bachmann gave for Veterans, Paulsen was even worse.

Now, what are some of these Bills Paulsen and Bachmann won’t co-sponsor? Here’s just a couple:

H.R.2074 – Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act

H.R.115 – CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act of 2011

H.R.865 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the work opportunity credit to certain recently discharged veterans

Paulsen & Bachmaann – talking the talk but not walking the walk.

No suprise there!

graphic via the amazing Tild)

(cross posted at MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

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The LT & Me – #RoadTrip2011WarmUp, Or….

On August 24, 2011, in Military, by tommy

…Fort Sam Or Bust!

Some folk know that the ol’ TwoPutter’s youngest child recently graduated college (thank God!) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) (thank GOD!!!). Da Kid reports for Active Duty next month; Da Kid knows that both Great GrandDaddys both were involved in WWI (the “War To End All Wars”); that GrandDaddyCap’nBob did five War Patrols in a submarine in the South Pacific during WWII; that UncleGatorDave and DaddyTwoPutt served…. and the ol’ TwoPutter was fortunate to get to know this ROTC Graduating Class.

But hey! This trip isn’t about Da Kid; this trip is the “warm-up” – Da Kid (as previously noted) doesn’t report for Active Duty as an officer in Uncle Sam’s military until the end o’ NEXT month!!! This trip (and blogpost, an subsequent tweets under the hashtag #RoadTrip2011WarmUp) is about a fellow graduating senior and fellow ROTC classmate o’ Da Kid’s; said fellow also bein’ a newly-minted 2LT!

Said 2LT called the ol’ TwoPutter and said: “Hey! TwoPutt!! How would you, like to accompany me, a freshly minted 2LT, on a Road Trip to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where I have to report for Active Duty on Friday?”

Ummm… I was speechless…..

For about 2 seconds.

#RoadTrip2011WarmUp, here I come!!!

Timing is a wonderful thing – last week, I wouldn’t be able to make the trip; next week, neither. This week? Sing it, Willie!!! “On the road again….”

And it just so happens, this weekend is the VFW’s National Convention. If you’re in San Antonio this Friday, look for me at Texas’ Oldest VFW Post

It’s an honor to escort the 2LT to Fort Sam for Active Duty- and hey! What a delightful warm up to #RoadTrip2011 – which will be traveling with Da (2LT) Kid to report for Active Duty in California!

And if you’re into a few “on the road again” yucks, like what’s for late lunch/early dinner later today, follow me on Twitter!

(cross posted at MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

I read the article from yesterday’s ArmyTimes.com with interest; it’s been a topic of disagreement/discussion at the VFW Post where I’m a member for quite some time. Here’s the lede:

Traditional vets groups turn to social media
By John Ryan – Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Nov 21, 2010 8:28:29 EST

Some traditional veterans’ groups have updated their recruiting campaigns, using social media to attract younger veterans.

Groups have opened Facebook and Twitter accounts and written blogs to connect with roughly 4.3 million veterans who have served since the Persian Gulf War — and to replenish a steep decline in membership.

Lost membership and dues have forced groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars to close down some social clubs across the country, as about 1,650 veterans from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars die each day.

Organizations have turned to Internet-wired veterans to help keep their national networks of posts intact, community and soldier programs running, and their voices relevant on Capitol Hill.

But organizations founded before 1990 are losing the social media battle to recent upstarts such as Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, according to figures on Facebook.
(rest of story at ArmyTimes.com)

What can we – as Progressives that embrace social media – learn from it?

The point to me, as a Member of the VFW, is that it doesn’t matter that the older Veterans don’t do social media; it DOES matter that younger Veterans do. And to reach them – to get your message to them; to have a conversation with them – you simply have to communicate with them in the form they are most comfortable with.

We’ve had this discussion for months and Months and MONTHS at the local VFW: older veterans that say they don’t want to implement social media because THEY don’t use social media.

That the older Veterans don’t use social media doesn’t matter to the younger Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan; these returning Veterans do use social media. And the VFW and the American Legion have found out the hard way that if they won’t use social media, the younger veterans will join the Veteran Organizations that are – such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Let’s take that example and compare it to a discussion we social media types have been trying – TRYING – to have with DFL Powers That Be; “Powers That Be” that have been discouraging DFL candidates from using social media while at the same time, the GOP has been encouraging candidates to be using social media.

Simply put, the GOP Leadership views social media as a tool while current DFL Leadership views social media as a social disease.

And just as VFW and American Legion National Leadership has come around and are now embracing social media because they’ve been forced to; the younger upstarts are man eaters that are eating the oldster’s dinner.

It’s clear to me that the GOP is using social media to reach our younger Veterans. If we want to complete for these younger veterans, we’re going to have to use social media to do so. We simply must have DFL Leadership that understands this – starting with the Chair.

The younger Veterans insist on it – as the VFW and American Legion have found out.

And does anyone doubt that the younger non-veterans insist on it, too? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a college kid reading a dead-tree edition of a newspaper….

It’s really rather patheic, that the old-school Veterans Organizations are getting with the program before the od-schoolers on Plato and elsewhere are.

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

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