Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 2:01 a.m.
Even with job openings on the rise, the slow rate of U.S. hiring won’t be able to absorb the nearly 30 percent of young male veterans who still don’t have jobs. That alarming percentage could grow wildly if the Pentagon lays off an additional 100,000 troops this year, according to news reports. Meanwhile, leaders in Washington want to raise veterans’ health care premiums by 300 percent to save money and cut the deficit.
This is no way to honor the sacrifices our troops have made in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it won’t solve the real problem of Pentagon spending: inefficient bureaucracy that is wasting tens of billions of dollars each year because of unrealistic requirements and long delays. For instance, the Joint Strike Fighter was originally billed as an affordable fighter jet. Now it’s nearly a decade late and 75 percent over budget, costing an estimated $1 trillion and growing.
Reasonable reforms proposed by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates would deliver equipment faster and save billions — enough to keep veterans’ health care affordable and help new veterans find jobs. By fixing spending problems, Congress and the Pentagon can honor the promises we’ve made to our troops.
The author is the president of the National Association of American Veterans.