Bottom Line Up Front: Veterans are people who wrote a blank check to our nation for up to, and including, their lives. We owe it to our veterans to take care of them. I am steadfastly against cutting the benefits of those who risked their lives to serve in our military.
According to the United States Department of Defense, the homeless rate among veterans dropped by nearly half between 2010 and 2016. This did not happen by accident, but by making specific changes in benefits available to veterans through partnerships among various government agencies such as Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness. The program centered around clinical services, housing vouchers and case management for veterans. This collaboration is an excellent example of multiple agencies working together to positively impact both the immediate issue (homelessness) and the root causes of the problem . This program works, and it needs to be continued.
Longterm followup will determine the total cost and overall financial benefit of addressing veteran homelessness. There is the very real likelihood that in the long run, this program will turn out to have a positive return on investment. No matter how much the program costs, we already know its value to veterans is immeasurable. (Imagine, if we can make this program work for veterans, we have the opportunity to eliminate the problem of homelessness altogether.) More information on the program to end homelessness among veterans can be found here: Department of Defense.
You would think that supporting our veterans would be an easy thing for politicians to do. Shockingly, Congress just proposed a bill to make veterans pay for an education benefit that has been in place since 9/11. Currently in draft form, this bill has been proposed by Republican representative from Tennessee. More on that proposal can be found in the Military Times article HERE: Army Times
In short what they propose to do is return to a program where a new recruit pays about 20% of their first year’s pay for the ability to access the benefit in the future. The military would take in money by taxing young soldiers who are already living below the poverty line, but what they take in would be less than the cost of four cruise missiles. I am not a fan of this plan. Our veterans deserve our respect and support.