To the Editor,
The bodies aren’t even cold and the talk has already started about downsizing the Military.
Usually Washington has the good taste to at least wait until the war is over before it starts this dance. I understand we won’t need an army the size that it is right now if we can stay out of war. But as we know and as the old Greek Plato said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war”, and up until now he’s been right.
We have to be careful when a drawdown like this starts not to cause collateral damage – a word that the military has taught us to understand. Along with the drawdown there will be base closings. Not that West Point would be one of them but why don’t we take it as an example since it’s in our neighborhood. A large percent of the people that staff West Point are civilians and not military. Even the MPs that used to be at the gate have been replaced by private security firms. They would all be put out of work. The Mom and Pop shops and small businesses in Highland Falls would take a hard hit and particularly in this economy many would close. The hotels, motels that depend on the Point would go the same way. Churches, synagogues, deliveries, bread, eggs, newspapers, you name it, it’s all going to get hit and that’s going to cost other jobs.
Other collateral damage would be the retired military who tend to live around bases so that they can access the PX and Commissary and more importantly, medical treatment. If we lose Keller Army Hospital, the one at West Point, where are they going to pick up the slack? Not only do they work for the military but in an emergency they will take care of civilians. What if you have a car wreck on the ice coming around Storm King Mountain.
Going south, I guess Nyack or Good Sam would be the next best bet. I’m not sure what going north, but for someone in critical condition extra minutes could kill them. Most bases have hospitals and many of them are far larger than West Point. Yes, I’m sure we’re going to have to cut but let’s do that cutting with a scalpel and not a chain saw, and let’s give the grunts the first shot t the other jobs and special ops and cyber warfare since they’ve already been trained. And let us make sure that the money goes at least partially into Defense and not into some black hole in foggy bottom.
Let’s hope our friends in DC aren’t eyeing the dollars to put unto Healthcare. Sure, I want to see people have healthcare, but why do we have to take healthcare from hundreds of thousands of people to give it to other people who don’t have it? I guess it’s one of DC’s 10 Commandments. That is, when you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s time to buy a new tunnel.
Director, Veterans Service Agency of Rockland County