Iraq Veterans: Supporting the Troops is Inconsistent with the Bush Administration
This is from Jon Soltz, co-founder of VoteVets.org. The Democrats are doing a horrible job of publicizing this issue:
In recent weeks, VoteVets.org, the leading political group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, has made the case in powerful TV ads, press conferences, and visits to Capitol Hill, that you cannot support the President's proposed escalation of the war, and support the troops.
Now, in its latest budget proposal, the Bush administration proposes fixing its fiscal mess on the back of veterans. After a slight increase to the budget for veterans care next year, the Administration proposes making cuts in 2009 and 2010, before freezing funding levels. Those cuts would come precisely at the time we're likely to see the US start to end its involvement in the civil war in Iraq. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which is already terribly overburdened, would be facing a tsunami of new veterans, with a diminished ability to deal with them.
According to the Associated Press, the number of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to rise by 26 percent by this year alone. This is happening while a number of VA centers are closing due to budget cuts, and lines for care are becoming almost prohibitively long. Imagine what will happen when the rest of the troops come home, seeking care, and the VA has less money to deal with them.
One of the founding principles of VoteVets.org is support for mandatory full funding for veterans care. A formula would be used to determine financial need for the agency, and no one, not even the President, would be able to deny veterans those funds. Under the former leadership in Congress, legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Daschle and Patty Murray that would install such formulas was voted down. The new leadership must make mandatory funding a priority, so veterans are not victims of budgetary games.
In the meantime, every member of Congress, regardless of party, should deny the cuts that President Bush wants to make for veterans care. Those who don't vote that way have no right to say they support the troops, and we veterans at VoteVets.org will make sure their constituents know it.
With this new budget coupled with the proposal to escalate the war, it all boils down to this: You're either with the President, or you're with the troops. Which side are you on, Congress?