Friday, January 13, 2006

Senator Cornyn Responds...Finally

A couple of months ago I sent an e-mail to my congressional representatives to express my concern that our troops in Iraq were not being reimbursed, in spite of recent legislation, for their purchases of armor and equipment that would to help protect their lives.

I heard back via postal letter from my Republican U.S. Representative and from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in fairly short order. Both agreed with me that our troops should receive the protection and support - as well as the money - that they deserve, and which had been approved by Congress.

Senator John Cornyn, on the other hand, hadn't responded until today via e-mail. Here is the text of his response:

Dear (Mr. Bucket):

I regret that my reply to your letter has been delayed. I strive to respond to each constituent in a timely fashion, but a technical error in an e-mail system used by the Senate prevented my reply from reaching you before today. The input that you and other Texans provide is valuable to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond without further delay.

Thank you for contacting me about reimbursing our troops serving overseas. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.

I share your concern that our troops should be properly equipped so that they are able to fully serve and protect our country. As you may know, Congress passed legislation last year (P. L. 108-375, section 351) to begin reimbursing service members for protective, safety or health equipment purchased for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom. Because my father served in the military for thirty-one years, I grew up around men and women dedicated to protecting our country, and I strongly believe that they deserve the best and safest equipment possible. You may be certain that, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I will keep your views in mind as the Senate considers relevant legislation.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.



United States Senator

Well, firstly, Senator Hutchison didn't have any trouble responding in a timely fashion. Perhaps Senator Cornyn uses a different e-mail system than does Senator Hutchison. Anything's possible when it comes to our efficient federal government.

Secondly, even though Senator Cornyn's response indicates an interest in seeing that our troops are properly equipped, he fails to address the substance of my e-mail to him, namely that the funding approved by P. L. 108-375, section 351, wasn't being distributed to soldiers who had personally paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their protective gear.

While I appreciate the response from Senator Cornyn (no doubt via some low level staffer of his), in spite of the lengthy delay, I do wonder if the timing of the response had more to do with recent news reports and media coverage about the inadequate protective quality of many U.S. soldiers' body armor. Would he have bothered to respond if this issue hadn't suddenly become a significant part of the national discourse once again? Maybe. Maybe not.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I hope Senator Cornyn and the rest of his colleagues in the Senate and House will get on the stick and make certain that our troops receive not only the proper protective gear, BUT ALSO the money that our troops had to pull out of their own pockets - and let's face it, they don't make that much money to begin with - to give themselves the protection their government should have provided them from the get-go. That's the least they deserve for being put in "harm's way", as President Bush is so fond of saying.

I oppose the war. That should be clear. But I DO support the men and women who have been forced by their government to put their lives on the line in a war of convenience and ideology. I only wish the Bush administration supported the troops. If they did, then adequate protective gear and equipment for our troops would not have been an issue to begin with.

Support our troops. Bring them home. But at a minimum give them the equipment they need to defend themselves. Anything less than that is criminal!


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