This week in our Mike vs Mike debate, we asked them this question:
Now that the Iraq war and Afghanistan war seem to be winding down, what should be done with the returning military personnel?
As always, we welcome your input into the debate. Leave a comment at the end of this article for others to read and ponder. Also, take a few moments and answer the poll question in the left menu column.
Mike McGreer's Turn
Following the Revolutionary War, veterans of that era were given IOU's and promises of land for their effort. Most IOU's were sold to speculators for pennies on the dollar and land promises went unfulfilled. Most veterans served for only a few months.
Since 2002, more than 1.5 million military personnel have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some 13,000 soldiers spent three to four cumulative years at war. Five hundred (500) GI's spent more than four years in combat.
Suicides are at record levels. Divorce rates have steadily increased. Rates of mental health and prescription drug abuse are up.
Fortunately, when they return, they become eligible for health care benefits, service-connected disability care, pensions, education and training, home loan guarantees, life insurance, burial and memorial benefits, and transition assistance.
Under certain conditions, health care and other benefits are available for dependents.
Homeless assistance is available for veterans in order to help those in need live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers loan assistance for those veterans living in areas with populations up to 20,000 and the Housing and Urban Development agency also offers community development programs and services for veterans.
Honorably discharge, non-citizen, veterans get breaks when applying for naturalization and if deceased, survivor(s) can apply for the service member to receive posthumous citizenship. This gives family members certain immigration benefits and services.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides help to veteran entrepreneurs through their community based Veterans Business Outreach Centers and the SBA offers a special Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for self-employed Reservists whose small businesses may be damaged because of activations to active duty.
Of course, the Social Security Administration offers monthly retirement, disability and survivor benefits to veterans and dependents if they have earned enough work credits. Upon the veteran’s death, a one-time payment of $255 is made to the veteran’s spouse or child. Veterans also qualify for Medicare, at age 65, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available if blind. Individual States may supplement these payments.
Armed Forces retirement homes are available for some veterans when they reach 60 or after at least 20-years of service
Honorably discharged veterans and un-remarried surviving spouses, have unlimited exchange and commissary store privileges in the United States. Recipients of the Medal of Honor, and their dependents and orphans also have these privileges.
Of course, veterans get job preferences for federal and state government jobs.
Today's military personnel have a range of deserved benefits available to them. If one thing could be improved it would be quicker processing of claims by individuals dedicated to serving the veterans.
Mike Young's Turn
Hooray, the troops are coming home or are they? Unfortunately that’s hard to tell because we have so many of our men and women in overseas bases that we don’t even know where they are. Reportedly, there are over 1,000 U.S. bases around the world, with about 400 in Afghanistan. Therefore, if we pull out we would be down to only about 600 bases in foreign countries.
Of course, all our troops are gone from Iraq, (well, almost all) and have we noticed them at home? Oh I’m sure some have come home but lots are sent to other foreign locations. What is going on here? Why do we have so many troops overseas? Isn’t the cold war over?
Can we really afford to spend millions, no, billions of dollars supporting these deployments? I think we need to bring home troops from around the world. While I don’t agree with Ron Paul’s foreign policies, I do think he has raised an important question which is, “what are we doing with all of these bases?” Our troops should get out of most of these foreign places and come home.
Toward the end of 2010, the White House’s bipartisan deficit commission suggested cutting U.S. garrisons in Europe and Asia by one-third, which would, in their estimation, save about $8.5 billion in 2015. But where to put all these forces? Yes, we could stuff them into bases here in the U.S. But don’t we have the Armed Forces for defending the U.S.? Does Camp Pendleton need extra Marines, or Nellis Air Force Base need more planes to defend Las Vegas?
Is there some place we could deploy these troops that would raise the security for the U.S.? Come to think of it, there has been a request from some states to protect their borders. Is there a problem along our own borders that troops might solve? Is there any place that we could invest the money spent on building bases for our armed forces in the U.S., instead of overseas?
I think the answer just may be yes. Maybe instead of building soccer fields on some bases in a foreign country, we could spend that money putting Americans to work here in America.
I have an idea. Let’s build some bases along the Mexican border. Of course, this would not be popular with our southern neighbors who would not get all the remittances sent home from their citizens in the U.S. But this might even slow the smuggling of drugs into the country and make it harder for bad guys to get in.
Let’s count our blessings: spending our money helping Americans with jobs building bases and supporting them after they are complete; having our service men and women spending their paycheck here in America; securing our border from smuggling both of drugs and illegal aliens; and, slow the flow of wealth out of the U.S.
Sounds like a good idea to me. How about you?