John McCain and Why Sgt. Coleman Bean Had to Die

Sgt. Coleman Bean

The Republican Party in general is more than willing to sell patriotism and rah-rah the boys as they march off to war but it doesn’t seem to care much about them afterward. They’re a disposable commodity. Use them and toss them aside.  As Disabled American Veterans spokesman Dave Autry puts it, “every single initiative to support veterans was defeated in Congress until the Democrats took control of both houses in January 2007.

John McCain, who is often called a war hero, has always portrayed himself a staunch supporter of the U.S. military and of national security – and a supporter of American veterans – which is what you would expect from a veteran. Especially a guy who spent so much time in a prisoner of war camp. You’d think he’d understand what these guys deal with on a daily basis, both while in a war zone and when they come home and try to cope with their experiences as they make the return to civilian life.

The truth is rather different, as it so often is where John McCain is concerned; John McCain, who epitomizes the bait and switch. This is what you see, but this is most definitely not what you get.

As U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) discovered to his dismay when he tried to do something about it. When a New Jersey Veteran committed suicide, and Rep. Holt found out the man had difficulty getting counseling for his problems, he came up with a solution. He introduced legislation to address the problem – the Sgt. Coleman S. Bean Individual Ready Reserve Suicide Prevention Act of 2010. “A serious gap exists in military suicide prevention efforts – a gap that needlessly cost the life of one young Central New Jersey resident,” he said.

Coleman Bean, for whom the bill was named, served with the 173rd Airborne in Iraq. When he returned home from his tour in 2004, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite this, he was sent back to Iraq for a second tour in 2007, and a third tour of duty was a possibility, according to his family. Instead, he found out he was ineligible as a serving member of the military to obtain counseling. He suffered from his traumas, and at last, the 25-year-old soldier killed himself.

Sgt. Coleman Bean

The bill would have made $20 million available to the Department of Veterans Affairs budget to be spent on direct advertising and online social media “for suicide prevention outreach.” It would also have required the Department of Defense Individual Ready Reserve members receive “a counseling call from properly trained personnel not less than once every 90 days so long as the servicemember remains a member of the IRR.”

Sounds like a good plan. Find a problem; find a solution. But it wasn’t so easy.  As MyCentralJersey.com reports,

Last week, Holt had fresh anger when he learned that his bill had been eliminated from the final version of the Defense Appropriations Act presented to both houses of Congress.

The cause of the bill’s elimination? None other than John McCain: “I talked to Sen. McCain over the phone. He said he blocked it and he will continue to block it,” said Holt.

John didn’t see a problem, you see. It’s only a veteran. We don’t need him anymore. John’s only interested in soldiers before they get sent to a war zone. And they don’t have a problem in Arizona, he said. New Jersey veterans matter less to John than those from his own state.  And calling the soldiers to see how they are doing?

“He [McCain] said having these counselors check in with the Reservists every few months this way overreaching,” said Holt of a phone conversation with McCain. “I asked him in what sense it was overreaching. Surely he didn’t think there wasn’t a problem, did he? I must say I don’t understand it.”

Overreaching? This is hardly the first time McCain has let veterans down, and his lack of concern for their health has long been noted by veterans groups.

As far back as the 2000 South Carolina primary he was accused of ignoring veterans’ groups. According to the Army Times, in 2008 McCain got a grade of “D” from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America based on his voting record. In that year, says Military.com, McCain “supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans just 20 percent of the time” and as the Washington Independent reported in 2008,

Though polls show that Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, enjoys solid support from veterans, some vet organizations are sharply critical of the Arizona senator’s legislative voting record on issues important to them. They have lambasted him for voting against the 21st Century G.I. bill; against providing more money for veterans’ health care, and for a proposal that many regard as an effort to privatize their care.

As the Independent goes on to note,

This is not the first time that McCain’s voting record on veterans’ issues has been criticized — particularly on health care. According to an AFL-CIO TV ad, broadcast in six battleground states in late July and early August, McCain talks a lot about supporting veterans but repeatedly votes against their interests.

It turns out that John McCain has a habit “of voting against appropriating money for veterans’ health care and disability payments.  As Military.com relates,

According to Disabled American Veterans, McCain voted almost a dozen separate times against spending additional money on veterans’ health care in 2005 and 2006, even as hundreds of thousands of soldiers and Marines were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

FactCheck.org, a non-profit, non-partisan, consumer advocacy project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, says that McCain is being treated unduly harshly because he did later vote for other bills that benefited veterans:

  1. “In 2004, he voted against an increase of $1.8 billion, voted for an increase of $1.2 billion passed by unanimous consent,”
  2. “In 2005, he voted against an increase of $2.8 billion, but voted for a $410-million increase.”
  3. “In 2006, he voted against a $1.5 billion increase, but later voted for an $823 million increase.”
  4. In 2007 he voted against a 2007 supplemental spending bill for the Iraq War that ended up being vetoed by President Bush – a bill that included $1.77 billion in additional funding for veterans’ health care benefits. Afterward, McCain voted for slightly more money, $1.79 billion, to be used for the same purpose.

Of course, this money applied to veterans and would not have helped Individual Ready Reserve Sgt. Coleman Bean, as he found out. McCain told the American Legion convention in 2008 that he voted against these bills because they contained pork

“If it’s me sitting in the Oval Office…those wasteful spending bills are going the way of all earmarks — straight back to Congress with a veto. When we make it clear to Congress that no earmark bill will be signed into law, that will save many billions of dollars that can be applied to essential priorities, and above all to the care of our veterans.”

Then why did you let Sgt. Coleman Bean die, Senator McCain? Pork? McCain’s excuse falls flat in any event; in each of the first three votes, he voted for reduced spending. It wasn’t just pork he was voting against, but against the amount of money provided for veterans’ care. Only in 2007 did he vote an increase in spending over a previous bill and then by a much smaller amount than previous reductions.

In fact, McCain has offered no defense of his actions with regards Rep. Holt’s bill. His office has been silent. Huffington Post yesterday reported that “McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan took issue with Holt’s version of events, saying that he should look to his House colleagues for why the amendment was removed.”

That’s not much of an answer. But then McCain says he is a maverick. Maybe he can maverick away the truth. Holt, for his part, will soldier on, trying to get his bill passed: “I’ll keep trying to have the best possible federal policy to provide this help. I thought it was just an oversight or a mistake when the Senate rejected this last year, but when they really deliberately and knowingly rejected it this time, I was just appalled.”

And our soldiers – and our veterans, will continue to suffer while we treat them as objects, a disposable product to be used to manipulate international affairs, like soap you’d use to clean a floor and then wash down the drain, forgotten. But our soldiers are not disposable, they have friends and family who love them – and they deserve a country that loves them too, not only while they are doing their duty, but afterward too. Saving Sgt. Coleman Bean’s life would not, Senator McCain, have been “overreaching.”

16 Replies to “John McCain and Why Sgt. Coleman Bean Had to Die”

  1. McCain is a despicable excuse for a human being whose political career is his overriding concern. After all his votes against veterans’ benefits, which go back a long way, it is incomprehensible that any veteran anywhere would support him, unless he or she is unaware of McCain’s well-documented voting record. I firmly believe that some of them reflexively buy into the idea that Democrats are automatically anti-military and Republicans are automatically for the military. In fact, Obama’s lack of military service is seen as a mark against him, while McCain is praised for his. This flies in the face of the reality that the same veterans’ organization that gave McCain a D gave Obama a B+. The same one that gave McCain a 20% gave Obama an 80%. This underscores the fallacy of assuming that a veteran would automatically be FOR
    other veterans. Anyone can talk the talk with lip service and bumper sticker slogans about patriotism. Walking the walk involves acknowledging and addressing the issues that veterans face.

    McCain used his military service as one of the reasons to vote him for president back in 2008. In fact he used it to a nauseating degree, but fortunately, the information in your article helped to make a difference in the outcome of the election even then. Of course, Palin’s presence on the ticket helped to doom McCain’s presidential ambitions in a big way. However, during and since the presidential campaign, McCain has revealed himself as a narrow-minded, angry and bitter old man who does only what he deems expedient in preserving political power. He has also shown himself to consistently be on the wrong side of issues. We dodged a bullet with his defeat in the election.

  2. Anne, I agree. McCain has shown scant regard for anything other than himself and it is perhaps no wonder then that veterans suffer as they do. This is a man who can reinvent himself in the blink of an eye, from a moderate Republican to a maverick and then when it was most convenient, to a far-right-wing ideologue and Tea Partier. He has, it seems, no soul. He is not a man I can identify with neither as a man, nor as an American.

    Your words, “McCain has revealed himself as a narrow-minded, angry and bitter old man who does only what he deems expedient in preserving political power. He has also shown himself to consistently be on the wrong side of issues” would be a fitting political epitaph for the man.

  3. being that it was the party of Democrats that gave America’s military the G.I. Bill of Rights, the Republicans urge to not give them what they require is not surprising even today.

    But first I will state this, it is America’s fault that the troops do not have what they require upon returning home. In Vietnam were one out of four came home with a drug problem they were not attended to. Today we have men from the Vietnam era still living on the streets. America did not learn its lesson nor did it seem to care too. Even the lessons of agent orange did not prod anyone to think that they should do a failure cause and effect analysis on everything that could come out of the war and its effect on servicepeople.

    the people we send to war are the people who are still at the age of being the most impressionable. You cannot send people that age to go kill, see the horrid squalid conditions that people live in and expect them to come back as church deacons. But John McCain was the man who kept uttering several years ago that all people were God’s children. I see now that he did that because he thought acting like that would get him a Latino support in his state and across the country. The man that I thought was a solid upstanding man is a hateful pinch faced little cretin who does not deserve to represent people in the Senate. A man who would trade off pork that is already paid for, for people’s lives and mental stability. This is a man who is now pretending to be a tea partier to ingratiate himself with the next wave of who can vote for me

  4. John McCain is a POW whore, he uses his admittedly horrible time in a POW camp to drum up sympathy for his own vet status while time and again leaving other veterans out in the cold. I have absolutely zero respect for John McCain (even if he hadn’t been the idiot who brought us Sarah Palin) because he is a dirty, lying hypocrite who cares not in the least for honor and integrity, he only cares about what will get him another mote of political juice.

    He is a deceitful hater pretending to be some champion of vet rights. The only thing he’s a champion of is being a grumpy old useless roadblock.

  5. Politicususa can be counted on to do honor and justice to stories like this. Hraf – you have done an outstanding job and I thank you for taking on and publicizing this story. Once again, McCain proves he is long passed his prime and should retire. He has changed his stand more times than my daughters change clothes. No one knows what he stands for anymore. And I, for one, will never forgive him for foisting Sarah Palin on us.

    Rep. Holt is an outstanding Congressman. His concern and compassion for this country and its citizens is exemplary. I was proud to have him as my Rep. before I moved out of his district. I am sending him the link to this article.

    We have a strange love/hate relationship with our military, police, and firefighters in this country. We speak publicly of our soldiers in such glorious language, heaping praise upon them, extolling all their abilities and virtues, exalting them for their service and sacrifice, virtually making demi-gods of them. But our true feelings and beliefs are not demonstrated with words when we need them, but rather in our actions when THEY need US.

  6. Excellent job with this Hraf. Since I work on base often, I see and hear about the tragedies and after-effects of war perhaps more than the average person. It’s odd how it’s almost as if the war isn’t going on if you don’t have to confront it everyday. Since President Obama took office, I noticed more efforts going into reducing the stigma associated with getting help, but that is not trickling down as it could due to issues like this. Words aren’t worth much when soldiers see what happens when they reach out for help. Our troops need our support when they get home as well. The readjustment transition is incredibly challenging. Great topic.

  7. Thank you, WheresMyJammies. I agree that he should retire. He passed his “use by” date a long time ago, as shown by his pick for VP in ’08. Whatever common sense once lurked in that cranky old head is gone. And I agree wholeheartedly that our true feelings are shown by how we treat them when they need us. Well put.

  8. Thank you, Sarah. I don’t think most of us civilians have any idea what it’s like to be a soldier or military family – to live in that world. My father and mother were in the Navy, my brother is in the Army. I’ve known others who served or still serve in the Reserves. We live our lives mostly oblivious to what’s going on because it’s not in front of our faces and it’s not adequately reported. I myself suffered from PTSD as a result of my older brother’s death when I was 10, so I know something about the stigma, as well as dealing with PTSD itself.

  9. Hraf, I’m so glad you’ve brought this to light. McCain has proven to be the ultimate enemy of veterans and soldiers. My son-in-law spent 18 straight months in Baghdad at the start of the Iraq war. When he returned home, it was like his combat service never happened. He still has not received the combat pay he was promised, and follow-up counseling? Non-existent. He suffers from PTSD and it was a private physician who made the diagnosis because the Army ignored his requests to “talk to someone” about his nightmares. The Army did contact him when they wanted to send him for another tour.

    John McCain is not out of touch, he doesn’t care. We thought if we contacted a “war hero” he would help expedite assistance for many of the veterans around here. His response was to follow orders and go to war, and when the war was won, he would consider our requests. When the combat troops left Iraq, we contacted him again and his office told us there was still a war in Afghanistan; when that war was over to get back to them.

    McCain has never been a maverick or a war hero. His disregard for veterans and soldiers in the field is sickening. Some people have said he’s losing it and should retire, but he never had it. As you pointed out, his voting record is deplorable and it’s not just veteran’s issues. His voting record on womens’ issues is as bad as any legislator. McCain is stuck in some strange era where soldiers are less than cannon fodder and women are hired help.

    Veterans in our area hate McCain. They find it remarkable that a man who never served in the military has done more for soldiers in one year than McCain and GOP has done over decades. McCain would not be welcomed here. Even some of the old veterans are disgusted and they praise Obama for pushing for a GI Bill for our real heroes.

    I’ve often wondered how McCain can live with himself. He knows he is a liar. The only plausible explanation is that he has no soul. He is delusional and thinks he is the president. Just watch any of his exchanges and speeches in the Senate. The man is evil.

    Your incredibly prescient article exposes the false patriotism by McCain and Palin types. The thought of a different outcome in 2008 still gives me nightmares. Someone should inform them that support our troops doesn’t mean go die for a country that hates you. Talk is cheap and McCain is a miser. I’ll pass the article to veterans here. They will be eternally grateful to know their plight is being addressed. You will be a hero to them. These days, they need all the support they can get and they know it will not come from the likes of John McCain.

  10. Thank you, Rmuse, I’m touched. I have never understood how wearing a flag pin makes you a patriot any more than shouting “America right or wrong!” It’s not the words that count but the actions and McCain’s actions have been sadly lacking. We Heathens feel that we are our deeds – that is what defines us, not empty verbiage.

    I’m glad to hear that older veterans too are showing their disgust because my research told me that most of McCain’s support among veterans came from the 50+ crowd. I suppose that might be due to the luster of his Vietnam era reputation, which I’ve never entirely understood.

  11. rmuse – you expressed my own thoughts and feelings perfectly.

    I’d like to elaborate a bit on something I said in my earlier comment.

    Many of our celebrity politicians like to convey the idea that America’s glory is in her military. I used the phrase demi-gods earlier because it expresses the idea that our soldiers are so exalted that they appear and are treated as gods. While I have nothing but admiration and gratefulness for their service and sacrifices, it needs to be said that this trending attitude is dangerous and may account for the public not demanding more of our country’s leaders to care for them. After all, if they’re ‘gods,’ they are above physical and mental health issues. Soldier – heal thyself.

    Our soldiers are mere mortals just like the rest of us. We stuff the injured into facilities where the public does not go or know how poorly some of them are treated. We ignore the signs of mental health issues and put everyone on hold as if nightmares, rage, and meltdowns will just go away.

    We DO need to acknowledge and appreciate the service of the members of our military, but we also need to recognize their humanity and needs. These brave men and women do something that most of us can not or will not do. The best way to thank them, is to give them the best social services and health care money can buy.

  12. Great post, Hraf.

    I personally think that McCain suffers from PTSD himself from his years as a POW. I wouldn’t be surprised if he privately believes that since he made a successful life for himself after his military experiences, then every other veteran should pull themselves up by their combat bootstraps as he did. (Of course, let’s not mention the fact that Veteran McCain had the advantages of a highly connected military father, not to mention the little advantage of marrying an heiress after dumping his disabled first wife.) Interestingly enough, people who are in public denial of their own weaknesses are often the most harsh or indifferent to those who display the same weakness. It’s just one more way of denying their own frailty.

    McCain is damaged, and always has been. Aging has not been kind to him, and has only served to expose his human frailties in more stark relief.

  13. I would love to see a veterans group dedicate themselves to throwing a glass of their own urine in John McCain’s face every time he show’s his pasty, bloated mug in public. I mean, it seems only fair, doesn’t it? He’s been pissing on them for decades. And maybe it would draw attention to the fact.

  14. John McCain is an angry, bitter man who sold his soul for one last chance at the Presidency and lost. Now he’s is a pathetic, self serving politician trying to show he is still relevant in a world that has long since passed him by. He is a disgrace.

    Veterans deserve better.

  15. I agree wholeheartedly with all of you. The fact that he is a traitor (he gave information to the VietCong while he was in the Hanoi Hilton) is simply the cherry on his cake.
    As a Senator, he is non-existent (as is Jon Kyl)- CindyLu obviously DETESTS the man she BOUGHT and then BOUGHT Goldwater’s seat for. If only for the Svngs and Loan Debacle, he should be in Federal Prison.
    Please don’t forget the man has suffered 4 attacks of malignant melanoma, the last being a Stage 4 and on his FACE (the swelling comes from removal of those lymph nodes which allows fluid to collect). There is a REAL question (and believe me, I hate this lily-livered a((hole who screws AZ every time he turns around) as to whether he is even mentally sound.
    There is a considerable possibility that the malignant melanoma has infiltrated his brain, due to the location of the last lesions and the fact that the last melanomas were metastases. It is very possible he is suffering from a malignancy in his brain.
    Since he’s always been a nasty dirtbag, it’s difficult to quantify – and since there is no chance in hell we’ll ever get a true diagnosis, THIS is what we are stuck with for a bit longer. If the melanoma has occurred, he IS 74 and a 5th recurrence is deadly.
    Please do NOT misunderstand me. We have been searching for answers as to “who is” John McInsane for years. Even malignant melanoma doesn’t explain this nasty, horrible man.

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