Gov. Bill Haslam is one of four governors planning a trip to Afghanistan this weekend, according to a note in the weekly Shopper-News column by Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and former U.S. ambassador to Poland.
The Ashe item (a small part of a newsy commentary on political matters, mostly in the Knoxville area):
Gov. Bill Haslam will join New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, this Sunday, Sept. 28, according to an invitation sent to personnel at the Embassy.
Richard Locker checked with the governor’s office, which declined to confirm the trip. His report is HERE.
This will be Haslam’s second trip to Afghanistan to visit Tennessee troops, the first coming in 2011. Post on that trip is HERE.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais expects a vote today on the “Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act,” inspired by a soldier from Columbia, Tenn., who was killed in Afghanistan. The bill would prohibit the IRS from collecting taxes on forgiven student loans held by veterans whose active-duty injuries led to death.
From the Chattanooga TFP:
The bill is retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001 — the start of the war in Afghanistan. Families who already have paid taxes on such loans would be eligible for a refund, according to DesJarlais’ office.
A freshman congressman seeking re-election, DesJarlais said the bill represents an easy way to fix a baffling tax code issue. It’s the first of DesJarlais’ five bills to get a standalone House vote.
“Committee chairmen, the majority leaders, veterans in Congress — everybody felt this was the right thing to do,” he said.
UPDATE: The bill passed. Here’s the resulting news release:
WASHINGTON, DC – The Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act, introduced by Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D., (TN-04), passed the United States House of Representative today with a vote of 400-0.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the many people that played a part in securing passage of this incredibly worthwhile legislation. But most importantly, I want to thank the Carpenters both for bringing this issue to my attention and for raising such an extraordinary young man,” said Representative DesJarlais. “In learning about Andrew throughout this ordeal, I’ve come to know a selfless individual who loved his country. He is truly a hero. Passing the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act is the least we can do in repaying the debt that we owe to Lance Corporal Carpenter and his family.”
Tennessee National Guard Soldiers from a 45-man Smyrna-based Air Medivac unit leave Saturday, Feb. 4, on the first leg of a journey taking them to Afghanistan on a one-year deployment.
A deployment ceremony for families and friends will be held at the Volunteer Training Site in Smyrna at 9 a.m. this Saturday at the Guard’s Aviation Support Facility, Hangar 3. Six aircraft and crews are to depart at 10:00 a.m.T
The Medivac unit will be utilizing 15 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters already in Afghanistan. Its mission is medical evacuation of US and NATO Forces as well as civilians.
The helicopter unit, nicknamed “Southern Comfort,” is officially Detachment 1, Co. C, 1-169th Air Ambulance. They will travel to Fort Hood, Texas, for a period of specialized training before continuing on to Afghanistan.
U.S. Reps. Phil Roe and Scott DesJarlais have told Michael Collins that a weekend trip to Afghanistan left them convinced that American troops injured on the battlefield are getting top-notch medical care and that the overall situation in the war-torn country is improving.
“As a physician, I was incredibly impressed with the level of health care they get on the ground and in the hospitals there in Afghanistan. The care they get is second to none,” said DesJarlais, R-Jasper.
Roe, a Republican from Johnson City and a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he arranged the trip for the five-person congressional delegation because he wanted to see what kind of care soldiers are getting not only in Afghanistan but also as they are moved back into hospitals in the United States.
“I really personally don’t care what it costs to take care of these veterans that have served our country,” said Roe, a physician who served two years in the Army Medical Corps. “That is an obligation we have, and it’s a long-term obligation we have to care for them the rest of their lives.”
During its two days in Afghanistan, the bipartisan delegation visited medical treatment facilities in the field, received briefings on the war from military commanders and ate meals with soldiers. The group returned to the United States on Tuesday.
Gov. Bill Haslam traveled Wednesday to Afghanistan, where he dined with Tennessee soldiers and met with commanders of American forces in the war-torn country.
Haslam, who visited with troops in Iraq and Kuwait earlier this week, said in a telephone news conference that he asked about 25 Tennessee soldier at what messages they would want relayed to fellow Tennesseans.
At the top of the list, he said, was, “We really are making progress here and we see it in very concrete ways.”
Haslam said he agreed, despite the “tough, tough deal that we’re in the middle of.”
The U.S. Department of Defense is paying for the trip to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan by Haslam and the governors of Kentucky, Utah and Nevada.