Republicans will salute America's veterans Monday, while simultaneously trying to deny them benefits. In addition to reducing housing aid, and denying health care to vets, the GOP is also trying to remove thousands of vets from the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.It's no secret that veterans, particularly post 9/11 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, are having a rough time re-entering the work force. The unemployment rate for veterans returning from Bush's wars stands at about 10%. Many of these are plagued by war-related disabilities such as post-traumatic stress, further alienating them from gainful employment options. As a result they are particularly reliant on food assistance, as are their families.
At least 900,000 veterans rely on SNAP. The House Republican version of the farm bill, the five-year piece of legislation that funds nutrition and agriculture provisions, would slash funding for the food stamps program by nearly $40 billion and boot 2.8 million people off the program next year. That includes 170,000 veterans, who would be removed through a provision in the bill that would eliminate food stamps eligibility for non-elderly jobless adults who can't find work or an opening in a job training program.
In New York City alone, some 95,000 veterans have to get their meals at charity food banks or soup kitchens. In Oregon, one out of five families forced to rely on SNAP have at least one veteran in the household.
As Republicans crow about their efforts to further impoverish the "undeserving" poor in the name of tax breaks for multimillionaires and corporations, you have to wonder how they can justify taking food away from those they claim to honor and respect.
Jonathan Capehart asks the same question:
Remember during the government shutdown how Republicans helped World War II veterans storm their memorial? Remember how Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, snarled at a National Park Service ranger for trying to abide by the law and keep the memorial closed to the public? Remember how Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and others railed against President Barack Obama for the cuts to veterans' benefits that resulted from the Cruz-caused shutdown?It seems that the GOP only needs our veterans when they're used to score political points in photo-ops. Hungry or homeless veterans just don't seem to spark the same level of interest:
"Our veterans should be above political games," Cruz said at the Million Vets March on Oct. 13.
So where are they now that a $5 billion cut to food stamps — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — has hit thousands of veterans squarely in their wallets?
Some Republicans have said pretty callous things about SNAP recipients to justify the cuts. I bet they wouldn't dare say directly to those veterans on food stamps that they are lazy, undeserving of help and need to embrace a work ethic. No, on this issue, they will pretend "our veterans" don't exist.