By now the news of the Congressional Super Committee’s failure has probably reached you in some way. The question remains, “What does this mean for our Veterans?”
Unfortunately, with automatic cuts of 1.2 trillion dollars, it still remains unclear if the promises made to our veterans will be kept. Cuts from the Veterans Administration are supposed to be legally exempt. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs has specifically asked Congress to clarify the rules of the new cuts and have not received answers from them or federal budget officials. The answers on Veterans exemptions are supposed to be clarified in the next few weeks, with the official budget coming out in February of next year.
Congress and President Obama’s lack of the ability to compromise on basic fundamentals of fairness has left the military community vulnerable. The Department of Defense is looking at $600 billion in extended spending cuts. Don’t kid yourself that the Pentagon won’t look at VA spending as a way of cost-cutting and not just bureaucracy but real benefits. The program closest to the chopping block is TriCare, which gives veterans their health benefits. Just in September, President Obama proposed cutting the TriCare budget by increasing co-pays and adding enrollment fees to the program.
Some members of Congress are currently fighting the military cuts and are trying to pass a bill to exempt them from the budgetary knife. However, President Obama has made it clear that he will veto any bill that does away with the mandatory spending cuts. The President insists the threat of a his veto is to bring both sides together to act like the grown ups and compromise. However, with the current divide in Congress, this game of chicken in our government could cost you the benefits you have earned and deserve.
Without action from our community and those who care about our issues, the cuts might happen and simply be swept under the rug until they kick in. Now is the time to fight for your benefits and let your Congressperson, Senators and President know how important veterans programs are to you! This is they only way to let them all know how seriously we take their commitments to us and our families.
If you hear back from your elected representatives, please let us know what they are saying so we can report back on what is happening on the ground. We will continue to report on this issue and shine a light when necessary so you have a chance to act before being stripped of your benefits.
Normally, I wouldn’t use a comedian to address something so serious to us all. This video from Stephen Colbert, a long time veteran advocate, has done a tremendous job in bringing the point home, that the country’s elected officials ask the military to make sacrifices that are unfair considering their service to their country.