Originally created 12/19/97

Defines `veteran,' `military retiree'

There appears to be a lack of understanding with your staff reporter Amy Joyner and whoever is writing the editorials concerning Eisenhower Army Medical Center and health care for the military retirees.

Joyner's last two articles and your editorials on press releases from Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., contain misleading or confusing information. By using "veteran" and "military retiree" interchangeably you are adding to the misunderstanding of the public concerning the retirees receiving their earned health care.

A veteran is any individual who has served in the military over 90 days and has received an honorable, general or less than honorable discharge. These include the persons who got religion and became conscientious objectors just prior to deployment or those who like Kelly Flynn, disgraced themselves and the military and were released to limit further damage in this politically correct climate. These veterans receive health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Military retirees are those who have served honorably for a period of over 20 years and are subject to recall to active duty at the request of the secretary of Defense. Part of the career benefit package for serving the country, meeting commitments, enduring the long separations, and placing one's life in harm's way, is the retirement pay, health care, and use of base facilities such as commissary and post exchange.

These are earned benefits -- not promises -- as some of the politicians would have you believe. The benefits and pay are funded under the Defense Department's budget, which is doled out to the military by the politicians installed in the Defense Department by this anti-military administration.

The military is doing the best it can to maintain the infrastructure to support a credible fighting force while meeting the commitments to retirees with the funds at hand.

The $100 million squandered by the Defense Department buying those 30 MIG fighters from the ex-Soviets could have funded the health care for years to come.

The retirees need to write to their representatives in Washington to initiate a debate about providing adequate funding for health care as a separate budget item not charged to the active military. ...

Raymond E. Binns, Grovetown


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