These are turbulent times on the world stage as well as our existing challenge to defend against global terrorism directed against the United States and our allies.
A well trained military provides our commander in chief more options as the last form of diplomacy. Maintaining a military is expensive, but it is far from the most expensive requirement for our government. For the last several years, the military has borne cutbacks in disproportion to the rest of government during the sequester.
Now, the Obama administration is preparing for even greater cutbacks in our military.
As a 30-year veteran, I have been through this before. Rarely is improving the military the top priority of any cutbacks. It is actually a less painful way for legislators to shift money to non-governmental programs without new legislation. If the goal is to reduce military expenditures because we are not conducting combat operations in Iraq, and we are ending our stability operations in Afghanistan, I support efficiency and cost.
However, if the money saved does not go back into the military first to address the many issues put on the back burner during multiple deployments to combat theaters, I do not support it.
Not one dime of cost savings should go anywhere until these problems are addressed: 1. Pay every soldier enough so that no soldier has to be on food stamps or WIC to feed their family. 2. Clear up the entire backlog of disability claims from our veterans. 3. Stop trying to shut down the commissary system and fund it to keep our covenant with the active duty and retired force. 4. Fully fund the training requirements of the military so that America has the well trained force it was promised. 5. Restore the infrastructure of our military facilities that have eroded of the last 12 years. 6. Fully fund and lock in the retirement and medical benefits promised to our retirees and their spouses who supported them. 7. Anything left over, once those things are accomplished, should be returned to the taxpayers.
The public does not realize that only 1 percent of the total population volunteers and serves in the military. Of them, approximately 17 percent make it to retirement eligibility. Soldiers pay federal tax, Medicare tax, and Social Security taxes. However, they don’t pay federal taxes when deployed to a combat zone, but once they return from their deployments, they do.
So I find it hard to believe that those who have and continue to sacrifice so much are such a financial burden to the government. I want you to consider the following: Think about the expense in one aircraft carrier in equipment, aircraft, and pilots and personnel who have to be trained in weapons systems, communications, and logistics on down to the cooks who prepare the food. Yes, it is expensive, but it sure makes a difference and sends a strong message when it is parked off shore of an unfriendly nation.
National defense is not a money tree, to be plucked because there is no money for new programs. It is a trusted vow to the American people, and those who defend them.
Candidate for U.S. House, 7th District