Shortchanging U.S. vets

Published 12:57 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It is said if someone wants to understand a person’s true priorities, just look at their checkbook. The late “Fast and Furious” star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash last November, is a good example.

Walker had it all; with fame, fortune and good looks on his side, but that was not what defined him. Walker used his hard-earned money to make the world a better place through his humanitarian aid organization, Reach Out Worldwide, but his generosity did not stop there.

The story is told that some years back, he was in a Santa Barbara, Calif. jewelry store and overheard a young soldier, Kyle, who had just returned from Iraq tell his fiancée, Kristen, he could not afford the ring she liked.

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Later, Walker called the store manager and put the ring on his tab. After his death, Kristen told CBS News Los Angeles the look on Walker’s face “transformed” when Walker heard Kyle was an Iraq War veteran.

Walker’s heart was in the right place. As the Scripture goes, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If only the same could be said about the priorities of the Obama administration, which stores treasure in social programs at the expense of the active duty and retired veterans in my family and yours.

Obama’s ineffectual “yes man” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent announcement that defense spending will be scaled back to pre-World War II levels shows the Obama administration has little interest in executing the federal government’s primary constitutionally mandated role to keep us safe. But this is what Democrats do — they look at the military and see a cash cow to fund their next spending spree like a drunken sailor on a weekend pass.

If people were not so distracted by the Obamacare mess, they might notice the transfusion tubes sucking the life out of the military and directly into the left’s overfed love child, the welfare state.

Sure, the military budget needs trimming, but to balance the budget on the backs of our patriots speaks volumes about where the administration’s priorities really lie. What message, pray tell, are they communicating, when they tell a former war veteran to cough up more money for healthcare so some lazy basement dweller living off his parents can have his healthcare subsidized?

Or, cutting the salaries and benefits of active duty service members who risk their life for this country while contemporaneously proposing (in the fiscal 2015 budget) an arbitrary pay increase for federal civilian workers? It is a slap in the face of those who serve and who have served.

In proposing the defense cuts, Hagel borrowed a line from one of his predecessors, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who said we must “act in the world as it is, and not in the world as we wish it were.”

Obviously, Obama believes the world is a fairly tame place, and that a weaker America makes for a stronger planet, but as we see in the Middle East, and beyond, nothing could be further from reality. Overthrowing Libya’s Qaddafi produced a failed state run by extremists who gave us Benghazi.

Retreating in Iraq resulted in al Qaeda’s resurgence and the loss of an ally. Playing footsie with Iran edges them closer to nuclear capability. Half-hearted threats of redlines, black lines and colorless lines make us look weak, leaving despots like Putin to fill the leadership void.

In the world that we live, fear is another name for respect. Focusing on domestic non-issues while simultaneously weakening our national defense gives the bad guys the advantage they crave as they lie in wait to seize the moment. Both the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks happened after Democrats recklessly slashed defense budgets.

With priorities out of balance, the Obama administration is endangering our national security and weakening those charged with protecting it, America’s national treasure.


Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist who writes about politics, the economy and culture. Email Susan at or her website at