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May 07. 2014 4:09PM

Gary R. Backus: Veterans organizations need our support

If you are a veteran, you should belong to one of the nation’s veterans organizations that are battling attempts to reduce benefits promised us in exchange for the blank check we wrote to our country for our service.

To those who dismiss the notion of service in exchange for benefits, just watch a Wounded Warrior Project commercial on television, spend some time at the Veterans Administration Medical Center or witness the return of a flag-draped casket.

America owes so much to our nation’s veterans.

You are probably aware that Veterans Administration case backlogs are at historically high levels and there are reported instances of the destruction of valid applications simply to reduce that backlog, as well as altered wait-time lists.

Base commissaries are being threatened with closure, and our contributions and deductibles to the medical system known as Tricare are on the rise, dramatically.

The haphazard reduction of our military under sequestration, to levels not seen since World War II, to pay for questionable domestic social programs and bailouts, places America at growing risk.

This reduced level diminishes our country’s ability to influence through strength the actions of rogue governments abroad as seen in recent events in Ukraine, Syria, Iran and North Korea.

If these issues concern you, as a veteran who served your country honorably, let your voice be heard. Join one of the veterans organizations that fight for your benefits and influence legislation affecting our military and veterans.

In 2010, New Hampshire had nearly 130,000 veterans in the state, but only a small percentage belonging to veterans organizations.

Of the nearly 68,000 eligible veterans in New Hampshire in 2013, only a few over 8,000 belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and we are losing members at a rate of nearly 700 a year.

If we will not stand and defend our newest generation of veterans, then who will? Since our strength and influence is through our numbers, I urge you to contact your nearest VFW Post, American Legion or other veterans’ organization and join.

These are not the organizations of your fathers or grandfathers. These organizations are focused on serving the needs of all veterans in areas such as health care and benefits, our veterans and children’s homes, caring for the needs of our homeless veterans and serving our communities and youth scholarship.

I urge you to join these organizations and actively participate in veterans support programs, lawmaker forums, and community events.

If your local post does not seem to meet your expectations of what a veterans organization should be doing for your generation of veterans, actively engage with it.

We want and need your input to remain relevant. If you are a comrade in need, or you know of a comrade in need, contact me and I will make every effort to connect you with an appropriate veterans support organization or service officer.

To all of our nation’s veterans, I thank you for your service and I look forward to your continued comradeship and service in the coming years.

Gary R. Backus is the commander of Richard K. Harvell Post 8401, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bedford. He can be reached at grbackus@comcast.net


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