Veterans who look to the federal government for health-care assistance, particularly those who seek medical attention for service-related injuries and illnesses, have generally backed the Bush administration's increases in funding for medical services. Since taking office in 2001, the administration has increased medical spending on veterans by 69 percent. And another 11 percent boost is being budgeted for the next fiscal year.
That's the good news. Some veterans see bad news in budget proposals further down the road. Under those proposals, spending on veterans' health care would go through at least three years of cutbacks as part of the administration's plans to reduce the budget deficit. This has some veterans worried as health-care costs continue to rise and as the ranks of veterans swells.
Other veterans agree with administration budget analysts who say those cuts in veteran benefits aren't likely to occur. What looks like cuts, they say, should not be taken as administration policy. What looks like cuts in budget forecasts, they say, can become spending increases when it comes time to approve annual budgets.
Let's hope that's the case. But even raising the prospect that reducing the deficit might even partially be done on the backs of veterans doesn't seem like a prudent course of action.