VETS SPEAK WITH DEM HOPEFUL BUSANSKY By Roxanne Esocbales

06/13/06

The first American female three-star general talked with a group of veterans today in Tampa in support of 9th district U-S congressional candidate Phyllis Busansky, who was also there. Busansky, the Democratic hopeful, vowed to make vets issues a priority if elected.

An array of war-beaten military vehicles act as reminders of past conflicts outside the Veterans Memorial Museum on Highway 3-0-1 in Tampa. The M1- anti-tank gun from World War Two and the Korean War sits alongside the Vietnam ear Hughes scout Helicopter. All are painted military green.

Inside the museum, the men who fought in this hardware and the women who helped them spoke frankly about how they feel the country they served treats veterans. Healthcare and benefits topped the veterans’ concerns.

ACT: Vox Pops

Alongside Busansky, Claudia Kennedy, the country’s first female three-star general now retired, listened to the veterans concerns. A 32-year veteran herself and the highest ranking woman to ever serve in the U-S Army, General Kennedy feels the treatment of soldiers and veterans today is not as good as it could be.

ACT: Need to treat soldiers so much better.

Those in attendance who have served in the armed forces agreed with General Kennedy. They spoke of squalid conditions in VA hospitals and the disparity between benefits for congressional members and veterans. This point of contention, that overly generous pensions and healthcare packages for retired members of the U-S congress take away from veterans care, prompted General Kennedy to suggest the veterans band together and write an op-ed article for local newspapers as part of wider campaign to bring attention to veterans rights. Phyllis Busansky said that the best way to get through to elected officials in control of policy is to start a letter-writing campaign.

ACT: that’s outrageous

Busansky, a former member of Hillsborough County Commission, will be running against Florida Representative Gus Bilirakis in November. The Republican Bilirakis is the son of the current ninth district congressman Mike Bilirakis. He hopes to fill his father’s congressional seat, and is using the name recognition as leverage to gain voters. After the meeting, WMNF spoke with Phyllis Busansky about her campaign for U-S congress and a gaffe she made about her opponent on TV this weekend.

ACT: Interview

A fund-raiser is being held tonight for Phyllis Busansky in Oldsmar. So far she has raised over half a million dollars towards her campaign. Gus Bilirakis has raised over one million dollars.

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