American Legion Says Budget Promises Not Kept

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 08:48 AM

By Greg McDonald

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The American Legion is leveling harsh criticism at the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees for recommending cuts in some benefits and services.
 
“Everyone appreciates the financial difficulties our nation is enduring and the hard economic choices our lawmakers must make,” American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong said Tuesday. “However, as I said in congressional testimony on September 21st, Congress must also realize that veterans and military benefits must not be the first stop in the search for budget cuts.
 
“Surely our nation’s defenders deserve a more vigorous defense of the benefits they have earned through their hard service and sacrifice,” he said.
 
The recommendations to the supercommittee on deficit reduction, Wong said, “include elimination or reduction to a number of benefits, including pension, disability compensation and education payments.”
 
He said some of the waste-eliminating proposals make sense, but others he said won’t “generate enough savings to be worthwhile.”
 
Wong added he was surprised at some of the proposals because he had been assured in recent meetings with Senate Veterans panel chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House panel chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., that they would protect services to those who had served.
 
“Frankly, I am shocked by the apparent ease with which our veterans’ advocates have compromised on the promises they made to me personally during our recent talks,” he said.
 
Wong noted that veterans groups had successfully fought off budget cuts in the past, and would mount a campaign again to save existing programs. He said the groups plan to send a detailed response to the supercommittee addressing each of the recommendations offered by Miller and Murray.

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