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The veterans programs in President Barack Obama’s budget (Obama’s $3.9 Trillion Budget Takes More Realistic Approach, Roll Call, March 4, 2014) offer some of the best opportunities for bipartisan cooperation. Both parties say that we need to fix our services for veterans. Too many young veterans have no jobs. Veterans make up a disproportionate percentage of the homeless. And despite their efforts to process claims for disability benefits faster, the VA is still struggling to eliminate a backlog of nearly 400,000 claims.
At a time of tight budgets, naysayers will say we can’t afford any more funding for veterans. But leaders must look at the big picture. The cost overruns alone from the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter — which is almost 10 years behind schedule and constantly grounded for malfunctions — could have paid for these veterans’ programs many, many times over.
If Congress demanded a minimum of fiscal restraint from this and other over budget programs, they would quickly find the funding for our nation’s real priorities, including caring for veterans.
— Nathaniel K. Tutt, retired captain, Army Infantry