Saturday, February 22, 2014

Suicide, Government, Veterans

On a discussion of combat veteran suicides:
It is a grievous thing to consider that so many cannot reconcile their pain in another way. I don't know that I have any perspective except that I have no doubt that the govt can do little to impact this. It is unfortunate that care of veterans is left to giant and mostly unaccountable agencies, bound by clunky regulations and people who can do little to make an impact. Here's an easy prediction - politicians will campaign on reform in vet care - not much will change. Politicians will campaign on medicare and SS reform. Not much will change. Politicians will campaign on health care reform - we may see change but we won't see folks getting healthy. If a solution comes, it won't be from the brute force of govt, it will come from someone with passion and purpose and inspiring charisma like Dr. King who will so reshape our perspective that we will fix it instead of pawning it off on the preening idiots we elect to "serve" in public office. 23 years and five deployments (Desert Fox, OEF, OIF), and I am grateful each day to have returned. I feel worse and worse about how shabby our politicians behave. The ridiculous proclamations they make about how much they do "for us" - they give themselves bro reps.

There's a lot of discussion of retiree benefits. The cruel irony of the way the DoD is set up is that money that is paid to those of us who used serve is money that won't be spent to equip and train those who serve now. The promises made via entitlement programs appear by the projections I've seen over the last 7 or more years to be eating the entire federal budget. There's a reasonably complete description of the topic called "the end of government" by Samuelson. The point is the last 40+ years of politics has produced a result which is unsustainable. Interesting where this rubber meets the road. The law said they have to pay veterans a raise equal to inflation on their promised retirement benefits. They made a new law that will change that annual increase to "inflation -1%", until we reach age 60 or so, after which pay will restored to what it would have been. It's not like they promised benefits and made them part of the contract they made with veterans and then violated that contract. They made a law that was above and beyond contractual obligation and then changed that law. Is it right or wrong? That's what your conscience is for. As a veteran that hopes idiot politicians never send the troops out to fight wars that politicians will then quit when it becomes expedient, I want the troops to have the best equipment and training but never need it. I'd also like to have the retirement benefits I had until a couple months ago. I can't have both. And that problem will get worse each year. An easy prediction - the politicians will campaign on solving the budget sustainability problem but won't until we are on the brink of the death spiral. Thus, the price paid will be worse for all, and it will be paid by those who never received a penny of the extravagant promises made via entitlements

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