Military spending continues to increase -- indeed, the Obama administration is on track to spend more than any other administration since World War II, with spending per soldier per year now approaching $800,000.
But the Pentagon and Veteran's Administration are not spending enough of that money on the soldiers themselves (private contractors get most of the money). In fact, when the Congress tried to direct money to soldier pay and benefits, the Pentagon responded that pay was already too high. And as I heard this morning on NPR, homelessness among veterans -- particularly female veterans -- is growing rapidly. Some measures are being undertaken to expand services and reduce red tape (about which I've heard plenty from my veteran friends), but the support of soldiers and treatment of veterans remain a national embarrassment.
Thanks to one of those veteran friends for sharing this video, which tells the story all too well:
To this sad situation comes a little bit of hope. It would be difficult to name to members of Congress who are more opposite in most ways than Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Barnie Frank (D-MA). This "Odd Couple" has come together, however, to call for massive cuts in military spending, not just by trimming a few projects but by refocusing the mission of the Department of Defense on, well, defense. As Frank points out, we spend huge money on military bases in allied countries, mainly to serve objectives that were relevant 60 years ago. Frank adds:
Altogether, the two Congressman hope to cut spending by $1,000,000,000 over the next ten years just by changing the mission. (Listen to them discuss this on On Point Radio.) We could probably save even more by reversing the privatization measures that shifted so much money to Halliburton.During the Cold War, we had three ways of destroying the Soviet Union with thermonuclear weapons. We had nuclear submarines; we had the intercontinental ballistic missile and the strategic air command.You know these three ways you have of destroying what's now Russia? Why don't you keep two and give up one? And save us tens of billions a year.
If the savings could be applied -- even pennies on the dollar -- we could support our troops and veterans in proportion to the sacrifices they and their families have made.
Just after I posted this, I saw that a local friend was taking some action on behalf of soldiers, by running on behalf of Fischer House.