To the editor:
Mike Hoeflich's Aug. 1 column, "Plan to support veterans," asks how our country is going to support the troops when they return from Iraq. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I'm always interested in plans to support veterans. But the various policy initiatives floated in his article - multiyear elimination of federal tax obligations, guaranteed comprehensive health care for families of veterans, expanded disability payments, etc. - do not cover the many others who have served this country's military, or those who in the future might serve.
Thus, Hoeflich's policy suggestions are unfair and unrealistic. Why unfair? If we are going to direct benefits to one set of veterans, then explain on what principled foundation these same benefits are denied to others who have served - or might in the future serve - their country in times of war. I see no basis for denying many of the proposed benefits to many others. Why unrealistic? Extending such proposed benefits to cover so many others could generate enormous, unsustainable entitlement programs.
Let's support the veterans of Iraq, yes. But any sound policy toward them should be comprehensive and realistic, considering our treatment of other living veterans and, especially, our promised treatment for our future veterans. Indeed, it is our compact with these future warriors that we need to forge now in order to build a sound military force for the rest of the 21st century and beyond.