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Vice President Dick Cheney was in Springfield today to deliver remarks to 300 wounded veterans attending the 73rd Natonal Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Mike Smith has the story:
In his 23 minute speech, the Vice President thanked the veterans for their service, remined the veterans about the history of the Purple Heart, and talked about the war in Iraq.
Cheney talksed about the differences between past military missions, and what is required from the men and women serving in the military today.
In earlier interviews with KSMU, some wounded Veterans at the conference were hoping to hear about properly funding veterans programs, but Cheney's only reference to those issues came in a passage about service men and women now serving in Iraq when he said "they can be assured of the finest care we can give them". That was somewhat of a disappointment to Nick Bacon, who was awarded the Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor for wounds received and "Service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" in Vietnam. He says veterans health care programs need more money than is currently made available.
Across the street from where the Vice President spoke, a group gathered to express support for the vets, while protesting Bush Administration policies in Iraq. Members of the Peace Network of the Ozarks carried signs which read "Support Veterans Benefits", and Why Didn't Cheney Serve?"
Strafford resident Madelyn Schnick called the Vice President "a big chicken" for avoiding the draft, and says "It's unfortunate that those now serving in Iraq, and Veterans from past wars are finding is difficult to get the support they need here at home"
Meanwhile Purple Heart Veteran Mel Heiss who was twice wounded in Vietnam says, "I thought it was a good speech, and I think he (the Vice President) has a good grasp on what is happening over there, and is an efective leader in the fight against terrorism".
For KSMU News, I'm Mike Smith.