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Cutting Military Benefits

Among the bills approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this past week was one that would authorize VA health care for people stationed at Camp Lejeune 1957-1987, when the base’s water is now known to have been contaminated with carcinogens. This is a good bill….but:

But that was before the committee voted, without notice or hearing, to fund the care by eliminating the federal subsidy for military commissaries. This is a sneak attack on military benefits.

First, the Vets Affairs Committee has no jurisdiction over or knowledge of our commissary and exchange systems.

Second, they would virtually dismantle the commissary system without hearings or attempt to assess the adverse impact of such a dramatic cut to a core military benefit. There are good reasons why the Armed Services Committees, who actually understand the commissary and exchange programs, have rejected similar proposals for the last four decades.

Third, they seek to poach DoD funds to pay for VA health care at a time when DoD personnel budgets already are under threat.

Let me be clear; without the federal subsidy, military commissaries would eventually go out of business, as prices would have to rise, and savings to customers would be lost. The commissary is one of DoD’s most cost-effective people programs. Every $1 of the subsidy translates to nearly $3 of benefit value to patrons (much more than that for junior enlisted families).

This attack on our military is being coordinated by the leadership in the US Senate—no one else decides what is debated and when there are votes. It’s time to change the leadership. Remember that when it’s time to vote in Nov 2012. And be sure you’re registered.

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