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Words fine, treatment counts

| Sunday, May 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

America talks a good game when it comes to caring for our veterans, but talk is cheap. Horror stories like the Legionella outbreak in Pittsburgh, subject of the editorial “The VA report: Failing our vets” (April 25 and TribLIVE.com), are routine. The disability claims backlog is a national disgrace — 600,000 claims are more than 125 days old. Washington gridlock has yielded budget “sequestration” that will slash services for vets, such as the “transition assistance program” that helps with re-entry to civilian life.

Instead of balancing the budget on the exhausted backs of our veterans, our leaders should go line by line through the budget and eliminate the real cost drivers. How can we justify spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a new stealth fighter jet, for example, when our current fighters are better than anything our enemies can fly? Allies like Canada question whether this new F-35 is a wise investment, with its high costs and limited firepower compared to the more affordable aircraft it would replace. At a minimum, it's a luxury we can't afford, certainly not at the expense of caring for our vets.

It's fashionable to say we've learned the lessons of the Vietnam era, because we've grown better at acknowledging and appreciating our returning servicemen and women. Kind words are fine, but fair treatment is what matters.

Joseph F. Morgan

Washington, D.C.

The writer is president and CEO of Veterans of Modern Warfare (vmwusa.org).

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