By Neil A. Carousso
On the 16th anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Adopt-A-Battalion, Inc. held its annual memorial barbecue to honor the heroes in the U.S. military who perished in the global war on terror and the brave men and women who continue to fight for freedom.
The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, perpetrated by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda, killed 2,996 innocent people and injured over 6,000 people while leaving first responders and others with illnesses resulting from the carnage at Ground Zero. Our country will never forget.
Present at Adopt-A-Battalion’s 9/11 memorial barbecue were veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korean wars, veterans from all different services and missions, and families of our troops who are currently stationed overseas plus first responders from the New York City Policy Department and the Fire Department of New York.
Adopt-A-Battalion volunteers gather weekly to prepare care packages with necessities to U.S. military members in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
The Sgt. Peter F. Colleran Jr. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7763 in Massapequa Park, NY accepted a flag on behalf of the fallen soldiers from Massapequa who died fighting in the war on terror that the United States was thrust into after 9/11.
“Unfortunately, our troops have to go in where [U.S. enemies] are or they’ll come where we are,” said VFW Post 7763 Commander William E. Colfer. “I’m very proud of the men and women who served and I am more than proud to do anything I can to help.”
“For anything that respects our people, any of the veterans, especially from 9/11, responders who are equally as courageous, we will do whatever it takes to honor them,” First Sgt. Rick Zarembski said.
Zarembski fought in Vietnam and now associates with the 11th New York Regiment Volunteers. The volunteers organize proper military funerals and burials for any soldier’s family in the area at no cost to the Gold Star Family.
As we are reminded of the day that changed the country and the world forever, we stand in solidarity with the heroes – past and present – abroad and at home – who fight for freedom – some who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Adopt-A-Battalion President and Vietnam Veteran Richard Olson gave an emotional address to volunteers and military families about how the country is more united than portrayed, echoing the nation’s responsibility to respect and take care of those who protect our citizens, our freedom, our sovereignty and our way of life.
While getting choked up, Olson said, “This is America. It is our country. And, we do love them.”
By Neil A. Carousso
We will Never Forget that Tuesday morning that changed our country and the world around us. We were thrust into a war on terrorism and sixteen years later, the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces continue to fight for our freedom and American values.
On this year’s eve of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Adopt-A-Battalion will host a memorial barbecue in memory of those who perished and to support our troops who are still fighting the global war on terrorism.
I first came in contact with Adopt-A-Battalion when I met one of their volunteers, Janine, in early March at the Farmingdale, NY Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) at a charity event honoring U.S. veterans from all military branches and various services. Janine told me about the inspiring commitment Adopt-A-Battalion has made to current United States military members who continue to fight on our behalf.
Every Saturday morning, Adopt-A-Battalion volunteers gather on Long Island to prepare care packages for our troops. I witnessed this beautiful display of American spirit, patriotism, grit, harmony and love of country first-hand in April when we reported on the organization, which was founded in 2004 after now-Col. Timothy Parker wrote home to his parents for basic necessities such as clean underwear when he was serving his first tour in Iraq.
Parker’s cohorts asked for similar packages and the Parker family began shipping goods to individual U.S. soldiers who share with their battalions.
Adopt-A-Battalion has shipped over 40 tons of goods, directly to service men and women over 13 years. Last year, it sent 1,972 boxes to troops stationed overseas. Their goal remains to surpass 2,000 boxes in 2017.
If you are in the Long Island, NY area, I highly recommend you set time aside, as a patriot, to attend the memorial barbecue that will take place Sunday, September 10 from 12 Noon to 6 PM at Brady Park in Massapequa Park. It is $20 per adult and $10 per child to attend, which includes a hamburger or cheeseburger, a hot dog with a salad, bag of chips and a soft drink or water plus dessert. More than your meal, the proceeds will be used to purchase more basic necessities for our troops currently serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
If you are interested in attending the 9/11 memorial barbecue or volunteering your time on a Saturday morning, reach out to Brian Parker, Con. Parker’s brother, at (516) 342-5557. You may also contact Vietnam Veteran and President of Adopt-A-Battalion Richard Olson via email at adptbattalion.org.
As seen on “The Neil A. Carousso Show” on April 23, 2017: A team of volunteers gather weekly in Massapequa Park, NY to arrange care packages for U.S. military members serving overseas. Watch by clicking the play button on the embedded YouTube player above.
We must Never Forget or abandon the men and women who fight to keep the United States of America the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” God Bless America!
EXCLUSIVE: Congressman Pete King Will Not Vote for Tax Reform, Only Tax Cuts as President Trump Prepares to Use the Bully Pulpit
By Neil A. Carousso
In a wide-ranging 25 minute-long sit-down interview with Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY) on the GOP legislative agenda, a variety of pressing national security concerns and the nationwide opioid epidemic at his congressional district office in Massapequa Park, NY, Mr. King emphasized tax cuts over President Donald J. Trump’s promised tax reform and urged Republicans to compromise with Democrats.
“Tax reform, I think, would be another debate going on forever,” said Rep. King, adding, “I wouldn’t vote for it myself.”
Rep. King suggested that his fellow House Republicans feel Democrats will not support any tax reform legislation. He substantiated his reasoning for favoring tax cuts this year by citing former President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981 that preceded the Tax Reform Act of 1986 – the last comprehensive tax reform law that included a slashing of the top individual income tax bracket to 28 percent from 50 percent, a reduction in the number of tax brackets from fifteen levels to four levels of income, and expansions of the standard deduction and personal exemptions.
Rep. King is not alone in preferring tax cuts to reform. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) – a friend and informal advisor to President Trump, and sometimes, a critic of the Trump Administration in appearances on Fox News Channel – wrote an op-ed in The Hill earlier this month in which he called for Republicans to get points on the board with favorable and “easy to explain” tax cuts.
President Trump has proposed a simplification of the complex tax code that has 4 million words and takes a collective 6.1 billion hours a year for taxpayers to comply with the tax laws. Mr. Trump has called for a reduction of individual tax brackets from seven to four with the rates being 0 percent, 10 percent, 25 percent and a top-rate of 35 percent.
The Chief Executive emphasized reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent; the current effective corporate tax rate is 39.6 percent, which is the highest among industrialized nations. A 15 percent corporate tax rate would be the lowest since 1937. It peaked at 52.8 percent in 1968 and 1969.
“I think to get it through, we have to get the party in a stronger position and that’s why you need tax cuts,” said Congressman King. “Tax cuts, to me, would be a lot easier to get Democrats on your side.”
Rep. King said the priority this fall should be tax cuts for “working class middle income people who are the backbone of the country” and reducing the corporate tax rate to unleash private sector business growth, and hopefully, the hiring of American workers out of the labor force.
The significant drop in the corporate tax rate and President Trump’s proposed repatriation of trillions of corporate dollars stored overseas to be taxed at a one-time low-rate of 10 percent would contribute to further economic growth. The U.S. markets have been banking on tax cuts, at the very least, seeing gains over optimism of tax cuts coming into fruition after Congress’ August recess.
“I think repatriation is absolutely essential,” Rep. King said. “We should be able to get a certain amount of bipartisan cooperation.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 22,000 for the first time at the beginning of August, although it has slipped for a variety of reasons, and $4.1 trillion in wealth was created in U.S. markets in President Trump’s first 6 months in office – absent of major legislation on taxes, infrastructure and health care. The President’s executive orders on cutting bureaucratic regulations plus Trump’s campaign promises have sustained investors’ hopes to this point.
“Within a year or two, you’re going to see more jobs being created,” said Congressman King on President Trump’s roll back of Obama-era regulations. “I fully support what he’s doing as far as cutting back on the regulations. They got totally out of control.”
President Trump’s successful removal of over 860 regulations in his first 7 months in office and an executive order he signed on the early days of the Administration to eliminate two regulations for every new one created by the federal government has been a contributing factor in the 2.6 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the second quarter of 2017.
The economy grew at a sluggish 1.4 percent of GDP in Q1 and an anemic average of 1.5 percent of GDP in 8 years under former President Barack Obama who is the only U.S. president to not see 3 percent annual growth since the Great Depression.
While 41,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S. since President Trump was sworn in on Capitol Hill on January 20, the rate of job overall growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, has essentially remained the same – 184,000 jobs per month this year compared to 187,000 in 2016.
Companies such as Foxconn, Wal-Mart, Alibaba, Toyota, Ford and others have made commitments to the “blue collar billionaire” elected President to invest in the U.S. and employ American workers based on the promise of pro-business and pro-growth policies and legislation.
President Trump begins a campaign to garner support for his proposed overhaul of the federal tax system Wednesday when he visits Missouri – a state Mr. Trump won by 19 points over Hillary Clinton in November.
I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in '16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
President Trump tweeted Sunday morning with a jab at Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, who stands for re-election in The Show-Me State in 2018. McCaskill said in a statement she hopes she and the President can “find common ground.”
Congress is expected to begin pushing for tax cuts after the recess. Congress has pressing priorities such as raising the debt ceiling by the end of September to keep the government open.
Watch this reporter’s comprehensive interview with Congressman King on the embedded player above or below about Congress’ legislative priorities and whether the Republican Party will keep their promises, including “repeal and replace” of Obama’s signature Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, which Rep. King said will be “pushed to the side for a while.”
Further, the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence slams Democrats’ divisive rhetoric over the construction of the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that was supported by both parties in 2006. Rep. King emphasizes progress under the Trump Administration in tackling the heinous MS-13 gang that is responsible for double-digit murders this year on Long Island and discusses citizens’ roles in the nationwide opioid epidemic.
By Neil A. Carousso
President Donald J. Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 on Friday morning in The White House East Room. It’s a long-overdue promise kept by a Commander-In-Chief who truly has the heart and respect for all those who serve bravely and proudly so that we, U.S. citizens can enjoy the benefits of freedom.
The law repairs the Department of Veterans Affairs government agency that provides health care and other services to millions of U.S. veterans. The bill was prompted by a scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center where some veterans died waiting for care while on secret wait lists and some were prescribed the wrong medications.
A VA accountability measure passed the House in 2014 but it met its fate in the Senate while former-President Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill if it went to his desk, siding with the unions that represent VA employees.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 23, 2017
Pete Hegseth, a U.S. Army veteran and co-host of Fox News Channel’s top-rated morning show “Fox & Friends,” collaborated on the VA accountability bill over several years to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve without lengthy weight times and poor health care caused by government bureaucracy.
What’s In the Law:
The legislation would cut the 30-day advance notice to 10 days. It advances the appeals process that employees use to appeal any disciplinary action against them. It also reduces the evidentiary standards required to terminate an employee and it allows the VA secretary to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses in certain situations.
“Under the current disciplinary process, it takes an average 51 days to remove an employee, largely due to a 30-day notice period,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.
It also allows the VA secretary to directly appoint directors to lead VA hospitals and integrated service networks, instead of going through lengthy hiring processes. There are approximately 350,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
True to the law’s name, it will give protection to employees who disclose poor practices and criminal activity at VA hospitals.
On March 30, Fox News reported on retaliation at the Missouri VA in which Dr. Dale Klein was punished for speaking out about long wait times at the VA hospital. Dr. Klein, a highly rated pain management specialist at the Southeast Missouri John J. Pershing VA, is being paid $250,000 a year to sit in his office and do nothing. The government prevented him from seeing veteran patients in need after serving our country because the doctor revealed sinful practices at the Missouri VA.
Stars and Stripes published a story on June 21 about U.S. Army Veteran Mike Verardo who lost a leg and an arm in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2010. After receiving treatment at military hospitals, which included over 100 surgeries, he returned home in 2013, but “waited 57 days for his prosthetic to be repaired, with no backup, and even longer for a neurological appointment.”
Sergeant Verardo and his wife, Sarah, were present for Friday’s signing at The White House and was introduced by Secretary Shulkin. Verardo shared his emotional story at the East Room podium and thanked President Trump for his leadership in listening and acting on veterans’ needs. Verardo criticized the Obama Administration for turning a blind eye to soldiers who returned to the U.S.
President Trump gave Mr. Verardo the pen he used to sign the bill into law.
The Verardos sat in Mr. Trump’s VIP box with the Trump family during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July. The New York Times featured Verardo in a story about vets who supported Trump for president.
The Verardos also stood beside Trump at The White House in April when the Commander-In-Chief signed an executive order creating a new office at the VA to find and remove incompetent and immoral workers.
Alarming Veterans Statistics:
In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.
In 2014, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide each day. 6 of the 20 were users of VA services, according to Veterans Affairs. Vets accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults in 2014, while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. In 2010, Veterans accounted for 22 percent of all deaths from suicide and 9.7 percent of the population.
There is continued evidence of high burden of suicide among middle-aged and older adult veterans. In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all vets who died from suicide were aged 50 years or older. There’s also a correlation between age of veterans and homelessness that is on the rise.
President Trump Keeps His Promise:
As a candidate, Mr. Trump promised to fire VA employees “who let our veterans down.” Secretary Shulkin has touted the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act bill.
“So to every veteran who is here with us today, I just want to say two very simple words: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are the warriors and heroes who have won our freedom and we will never forget what you have done for all of us, ever.” – President Donald J. Trump, The White House, June 23, 2017
The bill cleared the House last week by a vote of 368-55, and passed the Senate unanimously by a voice vote.
In April, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation, eliminating an expiration measure enacted by the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. It ensures that veterans do not have to travel long distances to receive care at VA hospitals, and it expands the private-sector health program for vets. It also authorizes the sharing of certain medical records across the governmental and private sector health care systems. Mr. Trump promised that those who serve our country would be able to receive health care at any U.S. hospital – private or public – at the government’s expense and by signing this executive order, President Trump kept that campaign promise.
In June, President Trump approved a measure giving priority for federal grants to those federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans.
According to CNN exit polls, veterans voted at a 2-1 ratio for Mr. Trump over Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton. In Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, battleground states rich with military history, several counties voted for Trump at higher numbers than GOP candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney had over former-President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Featured Image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the bill after signing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, on June 23, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images)