National Security

Posted: 03/20/09


Keeping Our Promises: Cutting Military Health Benefits to Save $512M... Very Stupid Idea!


According to Army Times during his February 24th address to Congress, Obama made it clear that "troops and their families should be recognized and rewarded for their service."


“Our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad, and more are readying to deploy,” Obama said. “To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: We honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support.”


This week Obama's team presented a plan to save $512M in healthcare costs by requiring our military to use their own private insurance. Although President Obama later withdrew the ill-conceived measure, it stands as a blatant example of "rhetoric versus substance" which seems to plague this Administration. And, an example far too glaring to let pass without further comment.


I watched on television as the President gave his address to the troops at Camp Lejeune on February 27th. It was incredibly touching. But, you would need to know my family history in order to understand the full impact of what Obama promised that day. My family fought for our country in both World War I and World War II.


Obama continued with his remarks to the troops.


"You and your families have done your duty – now a grateful nation must do ours. That is why I am increasing the number of soldiers and Marines, so that we lessen the burden on those who are serving. And that is why I have committed to expanding our system of veterans health care to serve more patients, and to provide better care in more places. We will continue building new wounded warrior facilities across America, and invest in new ways of identifying and treating the signature wounds of this war: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as other combat injuries." ...


"I want you to know this: military families are a top priority for Michelle and me, and they will be a top priority for my administration. We’ll raise military pay, and continue providing quality child-care, job-training for spouses, and expanded counseling and outreach to families that have known the separation and stress of war. We will also heed the lesson of history – that those who fight in battle can form the backbone of our middle class – by implementing a 21st century GI Bill to help our veterans live their dreams."


I did not vote for Obama. But, I must tell you even as a conservative there were speeches I really wished I could believe in. This was one of them. But then, I grew up in the '60s and went to college and graduate school in the early '70s. I've seen the disappointment empty rhetoric can bring and perhaps am more guarded.


Can you imagine how incredulous this must have seemed to those serving in our armed forces, those who believed? I can't fathom how they felt when Obama's team presented a plan this week that would have required them to use their own private insurance for the treatment of battle related injuries. And why? Because it would save $512M in healthcare costs to the government. Did they realize one wartime injury quickly could wipe out the benefits of an average family health insurance policy leaving nothing to cover the soldier's spouse and children? This is only more absurd when placed in the light of some programs funded under the American Recovery and Investment Act (stimulus package)... the $4B train, and $250M spent to save the marsh mouse! At that moment, the President must have personified unconscionably disingenuous in the minds of our military and their families.


The President went on further to state,


“Semper Fidelis” – it means always being faithful to Corps, and to country, and to the memory of fallen comrades like Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. These young men enlisted in a time of war, knowing they would face great danger. They came here, to Camp Lejeune, as they trained for their mission. And last April, they were standing guard in Anbar. In an age when suicide is a weapon, they were suddenly faced with an oncoming truck filled with explosives. These two Marines stood their ground. These two Marines opened fire. And these two Marines stopped that truck. When the thousands of pounds of explosives detonated, they had saved fifty Marines and Iraqi police who would have been in the truck’s path, but Corporal Yale and Lance Corporal Haerter lost their own lives. Jonathan was 21. Jordan was 19.


In the town where Jordan Haerter was from, a bridge was dedicated in his name. One Marine who traveled to the ceremony said: “We flew here from all over the country to pay tribute to our friend Jordan, who risked his life to save us. We wouldn’t be here without him.”


My Dad was nineteen when he enlisted in the Marines to fight for our country in World War II. "Semper Fi" is probably the only phrase outside of his Bible that he considers sacred... Well, that and his marriage vows to my Mother, his one-and-only wife. I think a bond that may even rival that of family is formed when men in war must learn to depend on their fellow marines for their very lives. The way they view honor, trust, and sacrifice is incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't shared their experiences.


Keeping the promises we make to our military and their families is our sacred duty, our sacred trust. The President lost tremendous credibility with this blunder. Hopefully, the incompetent individuals responsible have been sent packing.