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MILITARY: Nation needs to put its veterans first

Letter by Anthony T. Hawkins, Washington, D.C. on June 18, 2013 at 10:12 am | No Comments »
June 18, 2013 3:38 pm

Re: “VA asked to keep eye on vets’ credit” (TNT, 6-15).

Your article about a new monitoring program to guard veterans credit neglected to situate this small step in the long journey to actually keep our promises to take care of veterans.

The truth is, we’re far behind. The Veterans Affairs Department backlog stretches to more than 800,000 claims. And although the VA itself is exempt from sequestration, these sweeping budget cuts have cut homeless shelters for veterans, furloughed medical staff at military health clinics and cut job training.

We know the reasons for these cuts: to reduce the deficit. But is there really nothing else that can be cut instead? The Pentagon, after all, is spending more than $1 trillion on a new fighter jet that has become a poster child for cost overruns and performance problems. Couldn’t we cut a few of these fighters, known as the F-35, and save some money to help our veterans?

Defense experts say that many of our existing fighter jets fly faster, turn quicker and carry more firepower than the F-35, yet are less expensive. Couldn’t we save money by buying more of them instead?

There must be creative solutions to saving money that don’t include slashing services for our veterans.

(Hawkins is national coordinator of the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust.)


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