Veterans, It’s Time to Fight Again

New York Times

Veterans, It’s Time to Fight Again

To the Editor:

Bravo on “A Fighting Strategy for Veterans” (editorial, March 5). Veterans should do what they did in war: fight for all Americans and for the values of this country, for equality and justice.

I know of no veteran who risked his life for a tax cut for the wealthy but plenty who fought for a compassionate country that takes care of its less well off, children and the elderly.

President Bush’s cynical strategy to try to use us to achieve his unconscionable domestic cuts will not work. But there is a more cynical game afoot.

The administration is raising trial balloons to pit veterans’ benefits and retired pay against active-duty needs, especially the need for more, higher cost systems.

Veterans must not only fight for the disadvantaged; we must fight for the needed equipment for our troops, but not unnecessary systems.

Armor kits for Humvees are not expensive but are not being provided, while $250 million-per-copy aircraft are.

So veterans must fight a two-front war with this administration. Fortunately, we know how to fight.

Richard L. Klass
Arlington, Va., March 6, 2005
The writer, a retired Air Force colonel and aerospace marketing consultant, is president, Veterans Institute for Security and Democracy.

To the Editor:

If the president uses his proposed cuts in veterans’ benefits as a “bargaining chip,” it will be among the most despicable ploys used by this administration.

President Bush’s bellicose approach to world politics has generated thousands of new veterans in need of medical care. Now he wants to cut back on that care almost before the veterans become eligible.

Veterans should use all the clout they have to pressure Congress to force Mr. Bush to acquire some fiscal responsibility.

Taxes should not have been cut while fighting a war. His war.

Robert W. Vitolo
Waterville, Me., March 5, 2005

To the Editor:

Anyone who has attended meetings of veterans’ service organizations is familiar with the charter provisions that discourage political discussion on the meeting agenda. At least that has been my experience in Palm Beach County, Fla.

It seems that the veterans’ groups are concerned about maintaining their tax-exempt status as 501(c)(3) organizations, and they don’t fully understand that the only restriction imposed by the Internal Revenue Service is that they have to offer equal opportunity to speak at their gatherings to all qualified candidates for public office.

As a result, the veterans’ groups in Palm Beach County do not sponsor forums for debate on the Congressional, state and local levels.

Regrettably, veterans are not using their institutional clout to hold elected government officials accountable.

Political involvement by veterans involves merely showcasing incumbents and functioning as a collective begging society.

Veterans should stop crippling themselves and begin to participate in the exercise of their rights as an influential and effective institution in a participatory democracy.

Stan Smilan
Lake Worth, Fla., March 5, 2005

To the Editor:

A strategy for veterans is to remember how this administration has treated them and those who serve.

Too few troops were sent to secure Iraq; those sent had inadequate personal and vehicle armor. Meanwhile, families scrabbled to buy survival gear for their loved ones.

Now the Republicans are establishing a $250 yearly sign-up fee for veterans wishing to use the services of the V.A. hospitals, establishing new V.A. hospital fees and increasing V.A. prescription co-payments.

Top this off with tax cuts for the rich.

Any veteran who supports this administration’s treatment of serving troops and veterans is betraying the band of brothers.

Donald Edge
Cherry Hill, N.J., March 7, 2005

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