Dear Secretary Hagel,
I am writing this in response to your recent release of cost cutting measures you hope to enact within the DOD. Recently you addressed a group of servicemen and women stating “It isn’t your fault or my fault, but that where it’s at,” I would respectfully disagree. You were only half right, it is not our fault. However your length of service in the positions you held squarely put you in a position to be at fault for where we are now.
The proposals you wish to enact have, as you put it, placed more of a burden on the men and women who currently serve and those that have honorably served in the past. Every year you or a representative climbs the hill to congress and cry that the cupboard is bare and there is nowhere left to cut except benefits, and so the conversation about “entitlements” begins once again. Some times its about groceries, sometimes it’s about housing allowances, others it’s about the price we pay for the care we receive. This time you hit the trifecta and claim that all must take a hit.
The problem is though, you have the money you need, not only now, but you have always had the money you needed to protect the Country, unfortunately you chose to squander it, billions of it. On top of that yourself and Congress chose to lay billions more at the altar of the Military industrial complex to “create or maintain jobs”, to placate a senior Democrat or Republican whose district benefited from it, or maybe just because the lobbyist was a former General, or Admiral who sold you on the idea.
Maybe you should look at these “modest and fair cuts” to our “entitlements” in a different light. Pretend just for a moment that our service members were state of the art robots or weapons systems. Conjure if you will the new Joint strike fighter system, you know, the one that is years late, billions over budget and the most expensive project in the history of the world. Imagine we were all built by one of those fortune 500 companies and sold to the DOD, to fight its wars, police the world and make it a safe place for Democracy and the American way. Of course all weapons systems need maintenance and support. We would have to build and support a mate for the robot, one where when it’s not fighting for you would be able to nurture it, help it grow and give it the support it must have due to its programing, and you know, much like a wife. We would have to build hundreds of support posts, in which it could get fuel and replacement parts and maintain its longevity, of course you could get this fuel and parts at a civilian store, but it would be much cheaper if we built our own, maybe it could even be run by robots that have served their useful span, you know much like a commissary. Of course, saving the world for Democracy is a risky and dangerous job, some of these robots will need repairs, diagnostics, and specialized care, so we will need to add a whole new support system to the purchase contract, much like, a hospital. Now I know the world is semi safe now, wars are winding down and Facebook is the new arch enemy of dictators but I assure you this weapon system is needed, and at a few trillion dollars it is a steal. It allows America to be at the cutting edge of waging warfare and defending the homeland, while creating jobs and helping the economy grow. Oh and our stockholders would be oh so happy as well.
You see Mr. Secretary, you have been thinking of service men and women, and Vets in the wrong light. Just picture us as one of your many expensive, over budget weapon systems, let a few congressman and women know we will strategically be placed in their districts, and you will never have a problem funding us again.
I do not have high hopes you will see it this way, but its time you found a new way. To be frank we are sick of hearing the DOD has no money when the DOD cannot even be audited because its spending is so erratic and dysfunctional. We are sick of hearing of “modest and fair” cuts when we hear of your exploits such as spending nearly a million dollars to examine whether men holding pistols are viewed as taller, stronger and more masculine than those wielding objects such as saws, paint brushes and caulking guns. But most importantly we are sick of being asked to do your dirty work and then much like the MRAPs in Afghanistan, being left on the field of battle after the boogeyman has been vanquished.
We are all patriots Mr. Secretary, we want the best for this Country and will sacrifice for it if need be, but do not mistake that patriotism for stupidity. Get your house in order and then if you still need sacrifices, we, as in the past will be the first to line up to help, until then leave our “earned benefits” alone. If it helps you sleep at night, by all means continue saying to yourself that “it’s not your fault” but just so you know, we are sick of hearing that as well.