I’ve been on the White House mailing list since about 2006. In 2009, the nature of emails I received from the White House began to change. Now, there is really no rhyme or reason to the announcements I get. I still get some important, embargoed speeches, but I also get these odd emails about how the Justice Department has charged such and such Soldier with fraud. I never get emails with good information about what our troops have accomplished, but always get the ones about how the administration apologizes for [insert stupid Soldier act caught on photo or video and leaked on the internet].
Interestingly, I never received the following statement from the administration in my inbox about H.R. 5856 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5856, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes.
passing H.R. 5856 at its current funding level would mean that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities such as education, research and development, job training, and health care. Furthermore, the bill undermines key investments in high-priority programs, impeding the ability of the Secretary of Defense to carry out the defense strategic guidance issued earlier this year, and hindering the ability of the Armed Forces to carry out their missions consistent with the new strategy. The Administration also strongly objects to the inclusion of ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.
Additionally, the document states that it is the administration’s priority to ensure “funding for Overseas Contingency Operations; the requested pay raise for military personnel; DOD’s program of basic research; the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and air and missile defense programs, including support for the Government of Israel to purchase additional Iron Dome missile systems.”
This is awesome! A military that has been at war and is becoming exhausted from the high operational tempo over the past decade surely deserves a pay raise. But, wait! The statement noted that there are areas in which the administration is disappointed in Congress, among them “that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation. The Administration asks the House to reconsider the TRICARE fee proposals, which are essential for DOD to successfully address rising personnel costs. The $1.8 billion in savings are part of a carefully balanced FY 2013 Budget request.”
That $1.8 billion in savings is and additional $1.8 billion that the administration wants the troops to pay for. Those “fee initiatives” were hikes in TRICARE health coverage. Hikes in what troops pay at a time in which “a staggering 45 percent” of veterans are seeking compensation service-related injuries.
Our troops are beat up. They’ve been under heavy loads for more than ten years, especially those that have stayed in long enough to rack up multiple tours. Our nation has sent its sons and daughters into hell to find them coming back incomplete.
Nearly half a million veterans have been or are being treated for PTS and other mental health injuries. The Pew Research Center estimates that about 10% of troops have been seriously injured since 2001. These injuries range the entire gamut from tinnitus in the ears to lost of multiple limbs. Some Soldiers are so horribly disfigured they will be forever be gawked at by an unappreciative citizenry.
Yet, instead of ensuring that these troops are offered the BEST health care at the lowest price since they went on the orders of their leaders, our government leadership wants its troops that have borne more sacrifice than ANY OTHER SEGMENT of society to ensure and safeguard freedom. It’s absolutely detestable!!
Now, I understand that there are other areas in the statement that the administration disagrees with that led to a veto threat, but I absolutely reject as selfish and uncaring that the same administration that wants to charge troops more for health care is so happy about providing it for free to society’s freeloaders. It is a smack in the face of our brave warriors who have deployed again and again with seemingly no end in sight. This is the same administration that just two months ago told the Dog Face Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) that our government is “working tirelessly to make sure that our military families are treated with the honor and respect and support that they deserve.”
Where is the “honor and respect and support” in raising health care costs for these military families that have endured literally YEARS away from their husbands and wives, mothers and fathers?
President Obama also said this at Ft. Stewart:
We will remember the profound sacrifices that you’ve made in these wars. Michelle and I just had a few moments at the Warriors Walk, paying tribute to 441 of your fallen comrades — men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion to keep our nation safe. And we will remember them. We will honor them — always. And our thoughts and prayers also go out to the troops from Fort Stewart who are serving so bravely right now as we speak in Afghanistan. And I know many of you will be deploying there, too, so you know you’re going to be in our thoughts and prayers.
Your generation — the 9/11 Generation — has written one of the greatest chapters of military service that America has ever seen. But I know that for many of you, a new chapter is unfolding. The war in Iraq is over. The transition in Afghanistan is underway. Many of our troops are coming home, back to civilian life. And as you return, I know that you’re looking for new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve this great country of ours.
And three years ago, I made your generation a promise: I said that when your tour comes to an end — when you see our flag, when you touch down on our soil — you’ll be coming home to an America that will forever fight for you, just as you fought for us.
In ending that speech, President Obama said, “Each of us is here because we had a country that was willing to invest in things like community colleges and universities, and scientific research and medicine, and caring for our veterans. Each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, had our backs.”
Where is that “somebody, somewhere” to have the backs of our troops now?
The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of any branch of government or military unit.