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The Military Entitlement Complex

Since the founding of our nation the American Soldier has valiantly stood on the battlefield facing evil to protect and defend the American way of life. He is willing to sacrifice everything, even lay down his life for this great nation. In the meantime, hard working Americans, those very Americans the service members have sworn to protect, are charged with the impossible duty of financing it all. Whether these Americans are paying with their taxes, or paying through inflation, they are definitely paying. In their own, very real way, they are also sacrificing to protect America by funding the military and they are feeling it big at the moment – perhaps even losing. The protection of the American way of life goes well beyond what takes place on the battlefields. The Soldier may ensure life and liberty, but there will be no pursuit of happiness if there is not any hope for Americans to ever attain it.

Military doctrine has long taught service members to conduct combat on land, at sea, and in the air. More recently, the domains of space and cyber have been added to the list signifying a tremendously more dynamic environment for service members to protect our nation in. In today’s modern age, we see that these domains are still not enough. A much more holistic approach must be taken. Battles against the American way of life are being fought, but there is no battlefield. The American way of life is being crushed economically. If the Soldier is willing to give his life on the battlefield to protect it, it would seem he should also be willing to sacrifice economically, along with his fellow Americans, to ensure its survival.

How are the military services contributing to protecting America from this perspective? At what point are the military services no longer ensuring the American way of life and instead, actually hindering it through massive costs? There must be some logical balance between cost and benefit. At the moment it feels like our beautiful America is teetering on the edge of major economic hardship and yet, we are so quick to pass major spending bills for military service members and veterans.

In combat, we “dig in” to defend ourselves, meaning we dig trenches and fighting positions for protection, place early warning systems and obstacles to impede our enemy, overlap our weapons systems’ fields of fire, map out surrounding terrain with range cards and communicate our defense strategy across our force. “Digging in” has become a term to indicate that we are doing the work required to ensure we endure and prevail over what comes ahead. As a nation, we are not “digging in” economically to protect ourselves. We are doing quite the opposite in fact. In the economic domain of protecting America, our service members and former service members are screaming “give me more!” rather than continuing their service to our nation.

Do I want to support America’s Veterans? Of course! I am one. But after serving over eighteen years on active duty and, in some capacity, serving in the Army for a total of twenty-two years, I can attest that our service members, at an individual level, have largely become an economic drain on America. I have watched for years the transition of the great American military to a great American entitlement system. It is commonplace to have the VA send over counselors to talk to Soldiers about how to document their injuries so they can get their “benefits.” But it is appalling to have witnessed first hand my Soldiers and comrades lose their arms, legs, eyes, even their lives and watch others who have not ever seen battle or even come close to it collect disability for sleep apnea that has absolutely nothing to do with combat. Getting older is not a service related condition.

Disability compensation from the VA is a wonderful thing for those who actually meet the intent. Those Soldiers who have actually faced the horrors of combat and lost should, without a doubt, be taken care of. But the vast majority of disability compensation disbursed is not that. Veterans are blatantly making false claims and taking every possible angle they can conjure up to increase their disability checks. Active duty and reserve service members are setting the stage to do the same by following the guidance of VA counselors and over documenting every possible instance of a health condition they can think of. Service members openly talk about it throughout the military.

Veterans groups demonstrated in the streets of Washington D.C. recently to promote the passing of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) Act. Possibly the largest expansion of healthcare and benefits in VA history, the PACT act automatically presumes practically anyone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan (and many other places) has been exposed to toxins, setting the conditions for them to receive disability payments (not to mention it also sets the conditions for huge pay raises for VA executives – but that’s another topic). Of course this is simply not true. The vast majority of service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan never came close to a burn pit or any toxin. This bill will allow billions of dollars to go to more fraudulent VA claims and the American workforce will continue to drown trying to pay for it. How is this defending the American way of life?

We all see it but it’s not popular to talk about. Nobody wants to be the guy that takes away from veterans. No politician in their right mind would ever say a word about it. It’s much easier to blindly throw money to the VA. Pop culture supports it – so it gets all the politicians their votes and keeps Jon Stewart out of their hair. In fact, the only people who could possibly get away with suggesting that veterans are being greedy are veterans themselves. So it is up to us service members and veterans to start “digging in” and defending our nation again in the economic domain of war. We have to be better than what we have been. We have to be disciplined and adhere to the moral code that we once swore to. We must set an example for others to emulate. Otherwise, we will lose our nation and all that we fought for, and so many died for, will be lost.