Retired General Eric Shinseki has been tasked by the Obama team to oversee and overhaul the Veterans Administration. This is one qualified man who was never afraid to speak truth to power. Like the veterans the agency serves, Shinseki knows well the potential lifetime consequences of combat. He was injured twice in combat, losing part of a foot while serving in Vietnam when he stepped on a land mine. Recently He told the senators he doesn't understand why veterans are currently waiting six months on average to have a claim processed. "We need to do something about this," he said.
The Pentagons budget for 2009 of $515.4 billion, annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II.
That new Defense Department budget proposal, which is to pay for the standard operations of the Pentagon and the military but does not include supplemental spending on the war efforts or on nuclear weapons, is an increase in real terms of about 5 percent over last year. That budget should as already proposed and without any more supplemental or new funding include all costs of whatever it is that Shinseki determines is necessary. Something much less important than retuning troop health and welfare needs to be trimmed. There is no shortage of hidden and unnecessary spending in this budget. No military man of worth can denounce the needs of a returning soldier. These warriors have paid an extreme price for our benefit. He or She deserves no less than immediate and complete care. Mental health, physical health, financial help and reeducation are all part of the overhaul.
This incoming administration is being hit with an enormous financial meltdown so in order to offset this even the hallowed establishment of the Pentagon is going to have to bite the bullet and suck up the cost of doing what is right it will eventually prove in their best interest.
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