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Friday, March 15, 2013

More Sequester Pain to Compound Suffering of Soldiers, Veterans

On Wednesday, Dr. Jonathan Woodson addressed the House Armed Services Committee. Woodson is the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

He begged Congress to do something to avert the sequester cuts, saying, “We understand that the Department of Defense must do its part in regards to budget concerns, but we have a responsibility to do this smartly and judiciously. The path forward with sequestration is neither.”

What Woodson fails to grasp is that the sequester is no longerCongress’s fault. First, the House has posed several solutions to the sequester – all of which have been quashed by Harry Reid before they ever reach the Senate floor and are under threat of veto by President Obama should Reid dare to defy the Great and Powerful.

Congress also has the power to allow cabinet members to rearrange funding, pull it from one program and give it to another. In fact, Congress has been pretty much begging cabinet members to present them with just such a solution for the past several weeks if not longer. But Presidential memos warning cabinet members not to make cuts that would ease the pain of sequester for even one person have thus far been keeping the cowards-that-be in check.

So what does that all mean? It means that military healthcare facilities will face sequester cuts. Most facilities have around 40% civilian staff, most of whom are affected by 20% pay cuts and mandatory furloughs. Many facilities are older and most have equipment that is nearing the need for replacement, but because of funding cuts they will be told simply to “make do.”

Veterans benefits (to include healthcare) are exempt from sequester cuts, but not from sequester impact. If the hospitals they attend are facing reductions in staff and are unable to upgrade or even maintain necessary equipment, how can they expect to receive the same standard of care?

Add in the little tidbit that isn’t being publicized: while healthcare for veterans is technically exempt from sequester cuts, healthcare for active duty soldiers and their families is not. Which means that active duty soldiers being treated, some for injuries sustained in combat, will see a reduction in the quality of their service, could see a reduction in the services provided, and may be forced to take on some of the cost for their own treatment. They will see the same effects as veterans – hospitals with reduced staff and obsolete equipment – along with a bonus: since the veterans are “exempt” from sequester cuts, in order to maintain their standard of care they will be pushed to the front of the line. Active Duty soldiers and their families will be shuffled to the rear to wait for the leftovers.

Let me be clear: at this point, President Obama owns this sequester. He bought it and paid for it on credit, and now that the bill is coming due he’s stomping his feet and demanding that it be paid by the very people who have already sacrificed their time, their families, and in some cases their lives for him.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sequester to Ensure Truth of Sec Kerry's "Troops are Dumb" Comment

I joined the Army back in 1999 for several reasons. At 19, even after three semesters of college, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Staying in school at that point would have been a waste of my time and a waste of my parents' money. So when the recruiter talked to me about job training, adventure, and benefits (that included education) it sounded too good to be true. And to soldiers who are currently serving, it apparently is too good to be true.

Education is one of the main reasons young soldiers give for joining the military. An incredible number of soldiers receive degrees from the Associates level up through the graduate level using the highly successful Tuition Assistance program to access thousands of online courses through schools all over the United States. And I think we would all agree that educating our soldiers could prove to be beneficial in regards to national defense.

Enter sequester, stage left. Yeah. From the White House. And if that's not enough, in order to ensure that the evil Republicans (who in this case did nothing more than cave and let the petulant child-in-chief have his way)get what's coming to them, an e-mail from the White House directed at least one department to do whatever was necessary to ensure that the fears "mongered" by the administration concerning sequester cuts were realized by the American people.

It stands to reason that a true leader would look for the spending cuts that would do the least damage to the American people. It stands to reason that a true leader would cut wasteful spending first. Like grant money for shrimp on treadmills, cocaine for monkeys, or - oh, I don't know - excessive golf outings. But not our President. He figures that the best people to absorb the sequester cuts are our soldiers. The guys who put their lives on the line everyday to keep his golf courses safe. The guys who, unless they finish their educations and become officers, will probably spend most of their lives earning a salary that barely qualifies as "above the poverty line." The guys who, whether they like the President or not, would step in front of a bullet for him because they understand the meaning of words like "honor," "duty," and "leadership."

A memo from DoD Comptroller Robert Hale dated March 5, 2013, went out to each service branch, strongly suggesting that all new enrollments to the Tuition Assistance program be placed on hold. The Marine Corps has since announced that they will also be pulling all Tuition Assistance funding for current students at the end of this semester.

You'd think this administration couldn't sink any lower. And you'd be wrong. One possibility for further cuts is TRICARE, the healthcare program for active duty soldiers and their families.

But that's not even the best part! What is the best part, you ask? This President can still be the hero! How is this possible you ask? Well...

If these and other cuts are implemented, as directed, in such a way as to make them as acutely felt as possible, Americans will cry out for relief. The President, with the help of a complicit media, has already been mildly successful in convincing the public that the sequester can be blamed on the Republicans. The minute he signs into law any eventual compromise that brings relief, it will be a fairly simple matter to convince the public that he is the author of their salvation. 

In the real world, when one party intentionally injures another party for the sole purpose of then swooping to the rescue, it's a mental condition (Munchausen by proxy). When the President does it to the entire population of the United States, it's apparently grounds for reelection.

Update: And one more thing that is totally awesome - or as I like to call it, the even better best part - is that the organization Citizens Against Government Waste has already outlined several cuts (yes, even a few within the Department of Defense) that would more than cover the necessary sequester cuts and would only cut programs that are already draining the system for little or no payoff. 
Translation? If we cut the stuff they suggested, there would be far fewer drastic/harmful effects related to the sequester. But then that wouldn't suit the narrative at all, would it?