November 08, 2012

CNAS report warns Obama faces hard choices for veterans in second term

A report being issued this week by the Center for a New American Security warns that the Obama administration will “face an array of hard choices” involving veterans and the military community as it tries to cope with problems ranging from military suicide to veterans disability claims during the president’s second term.

“These choices will be made more difficult by significant downward pressure on spending, requiring the next administration to make hard choices with profound implications for the men and women who serve us in uniform, and those who came before them, as well as for our national security,” the report from the Washington national security think tank says in its executive summary.

“Upholding the Promise: Supporting Veterans and Military Personnel in the Next Four Years,” which is to be released Friday, is written by Phillip Carter, a senior fellow at the center and a former Army officer who served in Iraq and later as a political appointee in the Obama administration, responsible for detainee policy at the Defense Department. 

The report identifies three broad priority areas for the Obama administration. The first includes issues such as military suicides, combat stress and veteran homelessness, which “must be decisively addressed by the next administration, in ways that exceed the work done during the past four years, simply because veterans and military personnel continue to suffer.”

The second area of priority would be to “make substantially more progress” in improving government service, chief among them reversingthe growth of the claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As a third area, the report warns, that with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receding from public consciousness, the danger exists that public interest in veterans and the military community could disappear in “an ocean of apathy.”

The report calls on the Obama administration to “maintain public attention” on issues facing veterans and military families, and to maintain political support for finding solutions to the problems.