by Rebecca Griffin
A group of military veterans in the state of Washington sent a letter today to their congressional delegation urging them to work to cut wasteful Pentagon spending and preserve government funding that actually helps service members and veterans. In a press release about the letter, Dan Gilman, President of the Greater Seattle Chapter of Veterans for Peace, said:
“We want to make clear that billions of dollars in wasteful Pentagon spending isn’t helping veterans and service members any more than it’s helping the American public. We would all be better served by a budget that ensures us access to healthcare, education and employment. Wasting money on weapons we don’t need isn’t keeping Americans safe, and it’s hurting people who have sacrificed for this country.”
The letter reads:
Dear Washington Congressional Delegation,
We are writing to urge you to work for a budget that provides the services that veterans and service members need while reducing wasteful Pentagon spending.
We join others in the military and veteran community working to adjust to a new reality as more than a decade of war begins to wind down. The Pentagon must do the same and create a budget that reflects our true security needs. The budget reductions required by sequestration are a 31% reduction from peak war spending levels, a smaller reduction than drawdowns after the Korean, Vietnam and Cold Wars.
While some veterans’ benefits are protected from sequester cuts, many veterans and military families in Washington and around the country are impacted by deep cuts in domestic spending. Cutting funding for education, unemployment benefits, job search assistance, and services for domestic violence victims makes it difficult for veterans and their families to build fulfilling, secure lives.
Pentagon spending, not including war costs, has increased 35% in the last decade, while domestic discretionary spending has increased only 12%. Experts from across the political spectrum have identified hundreds of billions of dollars of responsible reductions, including eliminating waste and fraud; improving efficiency; and discontinuing or reducing unnecessary weapons systems.
As you finish work on the 2014 budget and move on to next year’s budget work, we encourage you to promote smart, strategic decisions to reach the levels required by the sequester rather than making arbitrary, across the board cuts. We encourage you to pressure the Pentagon to plan for lower spending levels and make the hard decisions required by the reality of our new budget environment. We oppose any deal that lets the Pentagon off the hook while continuing to slash funding for domestic programs.
As former president and five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.” We look forward to hearing about your work on a budget that keeps Americans safe, takes care of veterans and active duty service members, and provides the quality of life at home that we all deserve.
You can see the letter with the list of signers and their service history here.