Patty in the News

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray made a stop at Clark College in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon to glean stories from Southwest Washington college students she hopes to use as “ammunition” in an anticipated debate in Congress about student loan interest. A law that keeps down the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates, which are provided to low-income students, is set to expire July 1. If Congress does not renew the law, interest rates on those loans, which are currently at 3.4 percent, are expected to double. Clark College student and 24-year-old single mother Diane Robinson told Murray that she decided to pursue college after a divorce left her with nothing. “I would not be here without the loans,” Robinson said. “It would just be impossible.” She also told Murray that she worries about her looming student loan payments every single day. Robinson said she was raised to repay her debts, and not being able to pay off her loans “would eat me alive.”

- The Columbian
Lower Columbia College student Chance Stewart, 25, used a college loan to turn his life around. "I'm the first person in my family to graduate high school, let alone attend college," the Castle Rock resident told Sen. Patty Murray Thursday at a roundtable discussion at LCC about legislation to keep student loan rates low. Stewart, who was homeless twice by the time he was 24, is an honor student on a general transfer degree and is considering a career in music or higher education administration. He has several more years of school ahead of him, and the possibility of interest jumping from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on a federally subsidized Stafford loan "scares me to death," Stewart said. "Without loans I wouldn't be able to find a place to eat, let alone live," he said. Murray, who went to college on student loans herself, shares his viewpoint.

- The Daily News
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Thursday “we don’t have a system that is set up” to care for all of the military members who are returning from war and that if they have problems and don’t get treated “the fallout is enormous” for them and their communities. “We have many, many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, more than we have in the past, and we don’t have a system that is set up for them. That’s why I have been screaming and yelling about this,” Murray said in an interview. “My biggest worry is the soldier or Marine or Air Force (member) comes home, has problems, doesn’t get treated, doesn’t get help, goes out into the community, and the fallout is enormous – everything, to suicide,” she said. Murray is concerned that service members are not receiving care that is promised to them from the Veterans Administration. “I heard from too many veterans that they called up (the VA), takes a lot of courage to do it, to get an appointment to help them with the problems that they were having, and they were told that they had to wait three, four or five months,” Murray said. “They are supposed to be seen within two weeks.

- Q13
Washington Senator Patty Murray says she's infuriated by a report that examines wait times at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities including Spokane. The Inspector General's (IG) office released its report this week. It slams the Department of Veterans Affairs for drastically understating the amount of time veterans wait for mental health appointments. The report confirms what Washington Senator Patty Murray has been hearing from veterans. Murray chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Veterans Health Administration (VHA) policy requires that all first–time patients who request mental health services receive an initial evaluation within 24 hours and a comprehensive diagnostic appointment within two weeks. The Inspector General's office examined wait times at four facilities including the VA in Spokane. Investigators found that contrary to VHA officials' insistence, on average, veterans are waiting 41 days for care. In Spokane the wait times were 80 days. Patty Murray says that's unacceptable.

Under pressure to reduce the long waits many veterans face for mental health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Thursday that it will hire 1,900 mental health workers, an increase of more than nine percent.

- The Washington Post
Sen. Patty Murray joined President Obama on Wednesday in a Washington-to-Washington campaign to enact the “Buffett Rule” which would require those earning more than $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal taxes.

- The Seattle PI
Standing with small business owners, a firefighter and construction worker, Murray said the wealthy are using tax loopholes and accounting tricks to dodge paying their fair share of federal taxes.

"So when they get to the bottom line on their tax forms, many of the people making the most money end up paying substantially lower rates than most working Americans," Murray said.

- The Seattle Times
Service members and veterans looking to learn more about their educational benefits under the G.I. Bill may be in trouble if they plunge unprepared into the wilds of the Internet. Many reputable private and public universities, trade schools and training programs are committed to helping veterans further their education and careers. But there are also predators itching to pad their enrollments with veterans and get their hands on government billions — nearly 600,000 people are expected to enter classes under the G.I. Bill this year, with the Veterans Affairs Department footing more than $9 billion of the cost.

- The New York Times
It was 2009, floods had inundated western Washington and the state’s politicians were flown up to survey the damage. When asked who would scoot down to the open end of the C-17 cargo plane, where they would have to be tethered down for safety, Gov. Christine Gregoire and Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray volunteered. As Ms. Cantwell tells it, the men declined. “Everybody thinks that the macho men would do that,” Ms. Cantwell said. “But it was the three of us willing to go back there.” For Ms. Cantwell, who has a photograph of that moment hanging in her lobby, the story speaks to the last eight years, the only time in the country’s history when a state’s governor and two senators have all been women. That time ends in January, as Ms. Gregoire will not seek a third term, and both the Republican and the Democrat vying to succeed her are men. Nationwide, women’s groups point out the glaring gender disparity in public life, noting that there are only 6 female governors and 17 female senators. Across the country, women make up 23.6 percent of state legislatures, according to Off the Sidelines, a project started last year by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York. But in Washington State, women’s serving in public office has been as consistent as the rain.

- The New York Times

Murray helps meet the nation's obligation to all the casualties of war

The armed services have an ally in Washington's U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to help them rethink how they deal with post-traumatic stress disorder within their ranks, and to help veterans after they leave active duty.

Mar 25 2012

AMERICANS who saw heavy combat suffer a toll in health, happiness, marital status and earning power as civilians. So concluded a major study in 1985, followed by others. The devastating traumas of combat experience, and exposure to the hazards and tensions of a war zone, are as old as the Trojan War, and as fresh as the multiple deployments of U.S. troops spread across two conflicts. One thing has changed. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, has emerged as a tenacious advocate for service personnel and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and related mental health issues. What apparently has not changed is the military's own ambivalence about the condition. Anyone who wants to stay in the service believes it's a career-ender to acknowledge the flashbacks, nightmares and depression that characterize PTSD. At the very least, it could compromise a promotion. As a result those inside the service suffer a compounding sense of isolation that claims their families as well. The failure to address the problem has the faint echo of "don't ask, don't tell" that cost the armed services the skills of thousands of gays and lesbians eager to serve, but who paid a price for honesty.

- The Seattle Times (Editorial)