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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Morning Sentinel: Wrong to Cut Veterans Health Care

Nice to see local newspaper editorial boards coming out to make strong statements in favor or taking care of our returning veterans. Monday, we heard from Nashville's Tennessean; today, central Maine's Morning Sentinel chimes in.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Morning Sentinel:

More than 2,300 American soldiers have died in the war, and more than 17,000 U.S. service members have been wounded, according to the U.S. Department of Defence. Body armor does a great job of protecting the head and trunk, but legs and arms are vulnerable and there is no way to protect the psyches of soldiers from the stress of daily combat or the trauma of watching a friend die.

Wars have costs, some of which may remain hidden for years, even decades after the shooting has stopped. When our soldiers go to war, our nation incurs a debt, both implicit and explicit, to honor their sacrifice with more than words.

After every war, that debt is reflected in the health care we provide veterans. More wounded soldiers requires more money for veterans' care.

The paper goes on to explain that the President's '07 budget short-changes our veterans. The plan is to increase spending on veterans' health care next year, but decrease funding in 2008 and the four years that follow.

Smoke and mirrors are a normal part of the federal budget process, but rarely has an administration's clearly stated policy been so strongly contradicted by its own numbers. The cuts appear to be necessary to allow the president to claim he can to cut the deficit in half by the time he leaves office, as he has promised.

The Bush administration says it will make good on promises to care for veterans and points to previous increases in funding for veterans' care. That may be reassuring to some, but President Bush still needs to explain how he is going to pay for both the war and its aftermath and still cut the deficit.

Cuts in the Bush budget would force staff cuts and delay investment in new medical equipment needed to take care of those veterans now in the system. ...

Sending our soldiers into combat means more than paying for bullets and tanks and armor, it is also means paying for medical care decades after the war is over. The Bush administration must come clean with both veterans and the American people on the real costs of the Iraq war and how it intends to pay for them.

Veterans deserve to know if the Bush administration is willing to put its promises down on paper. The rest of us deserve to know how much those promises will cost, if not 10 years from now, at least two, three, or four years in the future.

If you agree with this, please take some time today to thank the Morning Sentinel. You can do this by visiting their website, scrolling to the bottom of the page, and clicking on the 'Questions/Comments?' link provided.

Let's keep these types of editorials coming!

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