Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Aide: Reagan Warned Before Beirut Blast

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jan 30, 11:28 PM ET

A former defense secretary for Ronald Reagan says he implored the president to put Marines serving in Beirut in a safer position before terrorists attacked them in 1983, killing 241 servicemen.

"I was not persuasive enough to persuade the president that the Marines were there on an impossible mission," Caspar Weinberger says in an oral history project capturing the views of former Reagan administration officials.

Recollections of an initial 25 Reagan aides were released this week by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Altogether, scholars interviewed 45 Cabinet members, White House staffers and campaign advisers in a project begun in 2001, when Reagan was secluded with advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease. Reagan died in June 2004 at the age of 93.

Transcripts offer largely admiring portraits by Reagan's chief loyalists and Weinberger is no exception, crediting the president with restoring U.S. power and outfoxing the Soviet Union.

But he said one of his greatest regrets was in failing to overcome the arguments that "'Marines don't cut and run,' and 'We can't leave because we're there'" before the devastating suicide attack on the lightly armed force.

"They had no mission but to sit at the airport, which is just like sitting in a bull's-eye," Weinberger said. "I begged the president at least to pull them back and put them back on their transports as a more defensible position."

On another dark corner of Reagan's presidency, the Iran-Contra affair, former Secretary of State George Shultz said Reagan was so moved by meeting the families of U.S. hostages that officials feared the encounters would cloud his judgment, and began keeping the families at bay.

"The president, it just drove him crazy that there were these hostages in Lebanon," Shultz said in his December 2002 interview. Consequently, the "cockeyed dream" took hold of secretly selling arms to Iranians in return for their leverage in freeing the captives.

Weinberger, who often clashed with Shultz on foreign policy, agreed that Reagan's "idea of trying to get the hostages back overweighed almost everything" and arose from meeting the families. "Those meetings destroyed him, absolutely," he said.

Weinberger said Reagan discovered that his description of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" twice got lopped out of drafts of his soon-to-be famous 1983 speech. "The third time he didn't put it in the draft, but he gave the speech with that phrase," Weinberger said.

"And you could hear this gasp from the conventional-wisdom people virtually all over the world."

James Kuhn, Reagan's second-term executive assistant, credited Nancy Reagan with much of her husband's success but said she was hard to please. He described her as a first lady who "could ask questions that there were no answers to."

For example, she would demand details of the weather in whatever place the Reagans were going. "And she'd say: 'Rain. Why is it raining? Why is it raining in Cleveland?'" Kuhn related.

"I'd say, 'Well, I guess there's a low pressure system that came in.'

"'Well, why?'

"I'd think, 'Oh God, I'm getting in deeper here.'"

Monday, January 30, 2006

Secondary Claims Important to Veterans

By: MIKE SCHUSTER - For the North County Times

I have received several e-mails from readers and thank them for their input. Tom McManus called to let me know that all Vietnam-era veterans from the early years of that conflict are now recognized by the VA as in-country Vietnam veterans from Feb. 28, 1961 through April 1975.

Let's discuss secondary claims for all veterans:

# Disability, which is proximately due to, or the result of a service-connected disease or injury. For example, a veteran has a right knee service-connected injury. For years he favors his good knee, but it, too, goes bad. The veteran may file a claim for his left knee condition secondary to his service connected right knee. The vet will need a doctor's opinion documenting that condition.

# A psychological condition often causes hypertension and heart disease, which VA and National Academy of Sciences studies have linked to the years of stress from these conditions.

This can mean that a veteran who suffers PTSD, major depression or similar disabilities can make a claim for secondary hypertension/heart disease to his service connected psychological disorder with a doctor's opinion. Or his widow, if the veteran died of a heart condition, may file a claim after producing a doctor's opinion that his psychological condition contributed to his death.

# Agent Orange Diabetes II that can lead to neuropathy, kidney, heart and other secondary conditions, which the veteran should and could be rated for.

# Prescription drugs for a service-connected condition that causes other medical conditions would be claimable. Once I had a veteran on prescriptions for his combat stress, which caused his teeth to fall out, his dental condition was ruled as being service connected by the VA.

Let's review "presumptive" conditions. The VA recognizes that certain disabilities veterans may develop years after service may be directly related to military exposure to certain conditions. Of course, all of these claims need a current medical diagnosis, such as:

# Asbestosis ---- A lung disease developed many years later from the veterans exposure to asbestosis during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, when asbestos was used as insulation on all U.S. Navy ships and numerous military barracks. If you have a lung disease, please talk to your doctor if it may be related. X-rays will show asbestosis.

# Other "presumptive" conditions exist for veterans exposed to atomic radiation and Agent Orange, and have been diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome and more. For a review of those conditions, go to the VA Web site: and review the 38 Code of Federal Regulations, Sections 3.309 to 3.317. Get a doctor's opinion a diagnosis, your DD-214, and go see your veteran advocate to file that claim ---- if not for you, for your wife and children. A small investment in the beginning will pay off for the rest of the veteran's life.

Remember, the VA hires highly educated, many legally schooled, rating specialists, so give these VA employees the medical and legal opinions they seek. These VA rating specialists are mostly pro-veteran, but they too, have laws and rules set by Congress that they must adhere to. The best way to work the system is to provide them with the documentation they need to help you, the veteran.