Republicans love to wrap themselves in the image of veterans. After all, we lefties hate our troops. We like to spit on them when they come back from war (though there is not a single documented case of this ever happening in Vietnam or any other time). And for some reason, we don't like to use them to kill brown people in random wars where the U.S. has no clear interest. Clearly, we hate America and our veterans.
But get past the rhetoric and you see that again and again, Republicans only love the image of the troops. Actually supporting them with more than ribbons, well that's big government liberalism! Troops have to buy their own uniforms. They don't get the necessary body armor that would keep them safe. They don't get documented with PTSD or concussions. The Veterans' Administration is underfunded. And now, as Kevin Fagan of the San Francisco Chronicle documents, programs for homeless veterans are being slashed in the new Republican budget
The fiscal 2011-12 budget proposed in the House of Representatives by the Republican majority would eliminate funding for all 10,000 vouchers that the government plans to issue for veterans next year. The program that generates the vouchers, a joint project of the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, is the only one of its kind.
It's also considered a linchpin of President Obama's goal, announced last year, of eliminating homelessness among vets by 2015. In places such as San Francisco, which hosts the most ambitious housing program in Northern California for homeless veterans, the prospect of losing the vouchers has counselors and veterans advocates blanching.
They say it would be a damaging blow to recent advances in housing homeless vets.
Since the voucher program started in 2008, federal figures show, homelessness among veterans nationally has fallen 18 percent to 136,000 - a drop that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki attributed partly to the housing vouchers. Thirty thousand vouchers have been handed out in that time.
"The momentum is on our side," said Roberta Rosenthal, coordinator of homelessness programs for the VA's Western region.
"This is no time to stop doing what has been working," she said. "We need more vouchers, not less. The train is on the track and moving along - for it to hit a brick wall right now would be very sad."
Republicans don't care about our troops. We need to say this over and over again.
Republicans don't care about our troops. Republicans don't care about our troops. Republicans don't care about our troops.