Veterans Speak Out: Pull the Pork from the Pentagon

Lianna Havel February 18, 2013 0

It’s time to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending, and no one knows that better than veterans who have experienced it firsthand.

Recently, USAction asked its members to share their stories about how their time in service shaped their perspectives on the Pentagon budget, and the reaction was overwhelming. Responses poured in from everyone from World War II veterans to Iraq War reservists and from spouses to parents to siblings.

The overall sentiment was clear. Congress has a choice. They can either continue to give the Pentagon seemingly endless resources unfettered by restraint and accountability, or they can choose to invest America’s budget in vital social safety net programs and jobs for working families and the future middle class.

For former Air Force Airman Doreyl Cain, one of the most important investments Congress can make is in caring for those who have served their country. Cain says that he’s been fortunate in this regard, having always received top notch benefits that allowed him to not have to worry about his insurance.

Perhaps Cain put it best when he emphasized the contributions of his fellow veterans in making this country great.

“I’m proud to be a U.S. veteran,” Cain said. “It’s the people who serve our country in the Armed Forces who keep the U.S. safe, not the pouring of excess, unneeded, money into the system.”

Former Marine John Pegg agrees with Cain, but his experience with the VA system falls on the other end of the success spectrum.  Pegg, who depends on Medicare to help him cover the immense expenses associated with his diabetes treatment, has experienced an ineffective system.

“Cut bloated and unnecessary defense expenditures and fund people’s basic needs at home,” Pegg said.

Pegg’s opinion was echoed in hundreds of other responses.  There is always room for improvement.

The fact is, veterans give America their time — and sometimes even life and limb — for the ideals that this country represents: hard work paying off, guaranteed freedoms and education being a pathway toward a better life.  They are not fighting so that their neighbors have to choose between dinner and medicine or so that their children have to worry about finding a job after graduation– but more and more, this is what our country looks like.

With an annual Pentagon budget of more than $700 billion, health care and education funding are sadly falling by the wayside, which certainly is not doing the economy any favors.  Our men and women in uniform, just like those for whom they fight, deserve a job when they come home, but the Pentagon’s obscene budget does nothing to create employment opportunities for anyone.

Even the servicemembers lucky enough to find a job after their honorable discharges believe that the economy would be better off if some of the Pentagon’s pork were trimmed in favor of updated equipment that meets the needs of today’s security challenges.

Despite the fact that the Cold War is long over, Pentagon spending is still funneled into maintaining antiquated nuclear systems and purchasing outdated equipment such as tanks. Vincent Alvarez, who was part of a nuclear deterrent team during the Cold War, sees this as an easy and sensible cut.

“Many of these programs are still being continued,” Alvarez said. “They have no place in the war on terrorism.”

And he’s right.  Congress needs to stop funding obsolete weapons and start funding people.  It’s not just the best way to thank our veterans — it’s also the best way to protect our children.

The war in Iraq is over, and the one in Afghanistan will soon end as well.  Will you help us convince Congress that the choice to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending is clear? Sign our petition here. Wartime budgets are a thing of the past as we enter a new era of peace. Our priority is the future.

Next Wednesday on 2/27, USAction is organizing Pull the Pork from the Pentagon, a national day of action that will urge Congress to trim wasteful spending and refocus our country’s priorities. We will stand for an America that works for all of us.  We will stand with every veteran  who knows that reining in wasteful Pentagon spending won’t put our country in danger; indeed, investing at home will only make us stronger.

We hope that you will stand with us. Join us at PullthePork.org.