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Nixon Attacks Veterans: Assistance Cut
Reprinted from the June 1973, Volume 3, Number 4 issue of Winter Soldier.
In the last issue of Winter Soldier, the plight of the returning Vietnam-era veteran was explained in general terms. The article accused President Nixon of using the veteran for his own propaganda purposes while at the same time he is cutting money meant for veteran's assistance from the federal budget. This article will give an exact picture of what is happening to funds meant for veterans assistance, but under Nixon are receiving massive cuts.
1. Medical care for veterans is being reduced by arbitrary reductions in the average daily patient census in Veterans' Administration hospitals. The difference between the patient census mandated by Congress this fiscal year (85,500) and the Nixon Administration proposal for the coming fiscal year (80,000) is the equivalent to closing eleven 500-bed Veterans' Administration hospitals.
2. Nixon has scheduled a 1.8% reduction in medical employment for the VA while it is commonly known that VA hospitals are vastly understaffed.
3. Medical research funds are being decreased by almost $6 million or 7.5%, even though an increase of $5 million is required to maintain the present level of research activity.
4. Hospital construction has been slashed in Nixon's budget by almost $81 million.
5. One of the hideous cuts, one that has been only tabled not dropped, is the reduction in disability payments to disabled vets of $160 million. This means that physically disabled vets will receive less money per month to live on even though the cost of living has risen drastically. Individually, this means that a brother who lost a leg would be paid $169 less per month.
6. Veterans' Cost-of-Instruction grants are not provided for in the new Nixon budget. This program would provide financial assistance to colleges which engage in outreach efforts to recruit Vietnam veterans as students and provide special remedial programs for dudes who need tutoring. Nixon's Office of Management and Budgets has already impounded $25 million meant for this program during the current fiscal year.
7. Finally, Nixon proposes to cut $1 billion form the Public Employment Program under the Emergency Employment Act. 38% of the people in the various PEP programs are Vietnam vets.
There are several measures that have been passed by the Senate to further benefit America's 29 million veterans. One, S. 59, is a health care expansion bill with provisions for peace-time veterans and dependents that are currently ineligible for treatment at VA hospitals. The bill is intended to increase the staff-patient ratio at VA hospital where needed.
Bill S. 284 mandates the VA administrators to set up comprehensive drug and alcohol abuse programs. Currently the VA has no independent funding allowances for setting up drug abuse programs.
Besides the programs and funds being kicked around the by the Federal government, the local state governments are also pushing various legislation to give benefits to vets from those states.
What does it all mean? Looking at Nixon's proposed cuts, it is obvious that his administration does not intend on carrying out the grandiose words of Dick, but rather talk a good line while cutting the throat of the veteran. As the revelations about Watergate develop we can see how the Nixon Administration has lied to make America think that he is doing a good job. We can see that his concern is not for the truth or for good programs, but for his own "good" image.
VVAW/WSO believes it is imperative that the government which sent men off to war must further its commitment to those men after their service is done. VVAW/WSO does not believe this country needs to spend $81 billion on military needs. That money is needed by those programs already promised the Vietnam-era veteran. That money is needed here in America to better the conditions Americans live under. This country must re-affirm its commitment to its veterans by stopping Nixon and his Office of Management and Budget from destroying the existing vets' programs.