Gerald Shields: Keep promises to veterans

02/21/2014 2:27 PM

02/21/2014 8:59 PM

Re: “First lady praises construction industry hiring,” (Feb. 10, Modbee.com): Construction companies who are making an effort to hire veterans deserve a round of applause. And after the last couple years of doom and gloom, veterans needed some good news. Sequestration cut on-base services they depend on, slashed tuition assistance and job training, and even cut beds in homeless shelters. Most recently, Congress cut veterans’ retirement benefits.

Congress should be working to improve lagging VA services – not breaking promises to veterans by cutting them. It could pay for extra VA funding by streamlining the tax code to get rid of loopholes, reforming broader entitlement programs such as Social Security, or cutting underperforming defense programs. If Congress tackled any one of these reforms, it could dramatically improve services for veterans.

Take one example: Several defense analysts have said the new Joint Strike Fighter is so slow and heavy it will be a sitting duck in a dogfight, yet it’s costing taxpayers $1.5 trillion to build. Wouldn’t this money be better spent in keeping our promises to veterans?

GERALD SHIELDS,

Major (retired),

Army National Guard

Dayton, Ohio

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