...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
      ( 7:58 AM )
For the War, Against the Troops

Voice of a Veteran points us sadly to the fact that there is no political will in Washington to support the troops who are fighting and dying, or the veterans who come home. While they try to wrangle more money for the defense budget to pour into Iraq, they are reducing funds for the care of veterans and the families of active duty service people. The Congressional leadership has removed Rep. Chris Smith from the chairmanship of the Veterans Affairs Committee - because he pushed too hard for Congress to care for vets.

Congress is rightly concerned about the huge deficits our government is incurring, with the combination of a war and tax-cuts rapidly bankrupting our country. But the 2005 budget, passed by Congress and approved by Congress, managed to find $9 billion to pay for pork-barrel projects in members' districts, including:

$7 million for a bus-maintenance facility in Tempe, Arizona
$430,000 to restore the Fox Tucson Theatre
$3 million for a grape research laboratory
$1.5 million for a demonstration project to transport naturally chilled water from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga
$75,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis.
$200,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
$3 million for the First Tee Program in St. Augustine, Florida
$1 million dollars (ironically) for the Missouri Pork Producers Association

How did they pay for all of this? Among other things, Congress cut the Pentagon account used to pay for up-armored humvees. A Scripps-Howard study of combat deaths in Iraq shows that 1 in 5 of the over 1,300 U.S. deaths in Iraq took place inside humvees.

The ouster came over a nearly unprecendented protest from the major veterans' groups: VFW Commander in Chief John Furgess said "Instead of a message of strength and continuity being sent, what's being communicated loud and clear across the country is that 'your job's in jeopardy if you put principles before politics."

Experts believe that there could now be the tip of an enormous wave of homeless vets and vets in need of massive amounts of care coming home from this war (not to mention all the vets from the last couple of wars). The Vet sets it straight:

My intention is not to put you on a guilt trip with the following statement, but: It’s not enough to put a yellow ribbon magnet on your car saying you support the troops. It’s time to really start supporting the very same people, and the millions who went before them, who are now veterans.

They need housing. They need medical care. They shouldn’t have to roam the streets. After they made great sacrifices for us, it’s time to return the favor.

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