October 17, 2014

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin tours Eastern Panhandle | Hagerstown Herald-Mail

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. —  Congress in gridlock, U.S. policy in the Mideast, the nation's energy policy, immigration and excessive prescription drugs handed to veterans were among the topics for discussion Thursday during U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's tour of the Eastern Panhandle.
Manchin's first stop was a private morning meeting with veterans and staff in the Martinsburg VA Medical Center's Peer Support Group.

The support is provided by veterans of all ages who have regained independence with the community and mastery over their own recovery process, which can take months or more than a year.

Several veterans told Manchin that some of their drug addiction problem stemmed from being overmedicated with prescription drugs over long periods.

Manchin said he has met veterans around the country who said they felt they had been overmedicated beginning while they were in the military.

"I was high for seven years," one veteran told Manchin.

The five veterans who met with the senator have successfully completed the peer support program.  One said he would not be around without the program's intensive treatment.
"Long-term programs like this one is the only way to go," Manchin said.

About 70 people were gathered for lunch at the Country Inn in Berkeley Springs when Manchin came in.

The luncheon was sponsored by the Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
"It's wrong that the Congress has become so divided," Manchin told the audience during a question and answer period.

"We're operating from the fringes from the extreme right and left," he said. "All that money going into campaigns supports bad behavior.

"We have to start coming together or it won't work."

He recalled President John F. Kennedy's inauguration speech: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."

 "Can you imagine hearing that speech today?" Manchin asked.

"Insanity" is how Manchin referred to any U.S. military attempts to eradicate ISIS in the Mideast.

"It cost nearly 7,000 American deaths and nearly $7 trillion" trying to bring peace to the region, he said. "We've given enough of our blood and treasure to change that part of the world. It's futile to go into Syria."

"Some say we should go in and wipe it (ISIS) out. Is Iraq any better off after we got Hussein, or Gadafhy in Libya?" he asked. "Sunnis won't fight Sunnis. Only the Kurds are willing to fight and die."

Manchin said the United States will stand strong against threats.

"If you want to kill each other go ahead. We're not going to interfere," he said. "But If you plan to attack us, we will come and get you."

He said one plan being discussed calls for the U.S. to spend $500 million to train 5,000 Syrians.
"That's $100,000 per person and we expect them to fight ISIS Sunnis," he said. "If we give weapons to Syria sooner or later they will be used against us."

Manchin headed next to Hedgesville to participate in the official opening of that town's new library.

His last stop of the day was in Martinsburg, where he opened his new office at 261 Aikens Center off of Queen Street.

By:  Richard Belisle