Leave vets’ funds alone

Even though Democrats and Republicans have agreed to re-open government services, the grim fact is that no one is talking about undoing the terrible budget sequestration cuts that are already underfunding critical programs our veterans need.

Over the last year, sequestration has slashed funding for veteran job training and furloughed staffers at military clinics that serve wounded veterans and active duty troops, including those grappling with PTSD.

Next year, sequestration could also drain funding for the VA itself, which could force wounded veterans to wait even longer to get the benefits they are owed.

It’s shameful that this is the best outcome of the government shutdown.

Congress shouldn’t be raiding veterans’ programs to pay for deficit reduction. There are much bigger and better targets in the federal budget.

Democrats and Republicans could work together to eliminate earmarks, close foreign military bases and reduce duplicative programs.

They could identify and eliminate wasteful spending – like the $1.5 trillion Joint Strike Fighter, which is nearly a decade late and already outclassed by today’s Russian fighter jets, according to defense experts.

These are real solutions to our debt problem. Until Congress addresses them, they should leave veterans’ funding alone.

Walter Ridley

Captain, U.S. Army (ret.)

Hyattsville, Md.