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 governor Sarah Palin and others railed against President Barack Obama for the cuts to veterans' benefits that resulted from the Cruz-caused shutdown?
"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 (SNAP) - has hit thousands of veterans squarely in their wallets?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has reported that "900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families" in any given month of 2011. The coming benefit cut - the result of the expiration of a temporary increase in the food stamp program tied to the 2009 stimulus - "will reduce SNAP benefits, which are already modest, for all households by 7 percent on average, or about $10 per person per month. ... SNAP benefits in Fiscal Year 2014 will average less than $1.40 per person per meal," the center reported.
That analysis highlighted the importance of SNAP for veterans.
"Many veterans returning from service face challenges in finding work. While the overall unemployment rate for veterans is lower than the national average, the unemployment rate for recent veterans (serving in September 2001 to the present) remains high, at 10.1 percent in September 2013. About one-quarter of recent veterans reported service-connected disabilities in 2011, which can impact their ability to provide for their families: Households with a veteran with a disability that prevents them from working are about twice as likely to lack access to adequate food than households without a disabled member.
"Veterans who participate in SNAP tend to be young, but their ages range widely: 57 percent of the veterans in our analysis are under age 30, while 9 percent are aged 60 or older."
This cut is nothing compared to the $39 billion reduction over 10 years that the House approved in September. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 2.8 million Americans would lose their food stamps next year under that legislation. Meanwhile, as Jon Soltz, of VoteVets.org, has pointed out, the Defense Department doesn't even want some pricey projects that Congress insists on funding.
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.