Hard to believe another year has come and gone. Time again for our New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully I can stick with most of them! Some are the usual ones: lose weight, exercise more, work to be more healthy overall, spend more time with family and friends, take more vacation time and be a bit more cautious in spending money.
As I look back at this year of turmoil, I am adding a few more resolutions. How can we forget the scandal with the Veterans Administration (VA)?
There was a news report I heard just yesterday talking about how deep the problems are and how high up the knowledge was of these issues.
I, for one, will watch to see how future investigations tell the real story. Perhaps this is a lesson learned. We saw the outrage not just with veterans but with the general population as well. This year I will do better at communication with elected officials at all levels, local state and national. I have mentioned this in the past but it is worth repeating, we need to let our officials know of our concerns and opinions. Most actually look for our input. Otherwise, they think we do not care.
Veterans benefits are a sizable cost to the government. As U.S. Senator Sanders of Vermont has said in the past, it is but the price of our freedom. We are fortunate that Massachusetts has the best veterans benefits program in the country. This is thanks to our state legislature. Kudos to them!
The same can be said of cost of the defense budget. I had occasion back in November to speak with a U.S. Navy Captain who works in the Pentagon for the Chief of Naval Operations. He told me that a major concern is still sequestration. The military has been stretched in terms of both personnel and equipment. And if they have to continue the cuts it will weaken the forces even more. If anything, the world has become a scarier place with all these terrorist organizations in various countries.
I think we have become complacent due to the great job our military, intelligence community and law enforcement are doing to prevent incidents from happening. They need our support and not just by saying thank you to them. We need to communicate to our members of Congress how we feel. I truly hope Congress will put politics aside and do the job we elected them to do.
I feel very fortunate to be a member of the American Legion. It is not just the camaraderie but the great work the Legion has done since its creation in 1919. I am grateful for those who fought to get the original GI Bill passed in Congress. Any veteran who has gone to school or bought a house through this program knows what I mean. And the Legion continues to fight for veterans benefits. If you, a friend, or family member are not members but are eligible to join the American Legion family, I encourage you to do so. The national web site is: www.legion.org and the state web site is: www.masslegion.org. You may or not have the time to be active but the key is membership. Politicians understand that membership numbers equal votes. And they want to keep their jobs.
Repeating myself, I again urge you to communicate more with our elected officials this year. Phone calls and emails are the fastest way to reach out to them. I hope you will join me and make your voice heard.
This is a benefit of being an American. The greatest country on earth.
May God Bless America and the troops who sacrifice to keep us free.
John Lenotte, Commander, American Legion Post 4, Haverhill; Past Commander, Department of Mass.