Lindsey Graham has been carving out a niche in the absurdly crowded GOP presidential field by attempting to establish himself as the most gung-ho jingoistic war hawk of them all. In a recent speech at the Atlantic Council think tank, Graham announced his plans to increase American troop deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, put boots on the ground in Syria, and send heavy weaponry to the Ukrainian levels.
Graham has never seen combat himself; his experience as a “veteran” consisted of working as an Air Force lawyer in South Carolina, processing wills for the soldiers who really did fight in the Gulf War. But he is very willing to send Americans soldiers to fight and die in strategically unnecessary and globally destabilizing wars.
Which makes it even more abhorrent for him to announce plans to increase the amount that veterans will have to pay for their healthcare, putting the burden of the injuries and psychological trauma they endure fighting Graham’s wars on their own shoulders- because it’s too heavy on the budget, which somehow has $35 billion for the F-35 fighter jet program (which may not ever see production) but not enough to pay for the healthcare of our veterans.
“The retired Tricare (veterans military healthcare program) community is going to have to increase over time the amount they pay to make it sustainable…about 5 percent of the money to pay Tricare bills comes from the patient population. In the private sector, it’s about 20 [percent]. So over time, we’re going to have to ask Tricare retirees to contribute more to make Tricare more sustainable” said Graham at another Atlantic Council conference.
It’s just another glaring example of how the Republican Party’s effusive praise for our veterans is nothing but empty words. They send them to fight and die to achieve their political ambitions, but have no regard for their well-being once they’ve served their purpose- exactly like the way they treat their own constituents. The US has the biggest defense spending budget in the world, given to a Pentagon that has lost $9 trillion over the past twenty five years, but somehow we can’t find enough money to take care of the people who put their lives and limbs at risk to defend our nation and her interests.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.