Congressman answers veteran's concerns

Editor, the Advocate:

I'd like to address concerns brought forward by Michael Allen, a retired veteran with 20 years of service to our country. First, to all veterans, thank you for what you've done and for all the sacrifices you and your families have made for our freedom. Because of you, America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Next, I'd like to say that I completely agree with Mr. Allen's sentiments. Taking from veterans is wrong. We cannot and should not balance our budget on the backs of our military retirees.

For that reason, earlier this week, I co-authored two bills that will eliminate cuts to military retirement payments.

The first eliminates the budget deal's Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) reduction for all military retirees. The second eliminates the budget deal's COLAs reduction for veterans who are medically retired, receiving Combat Related Special Compensation and/or Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments.

I supported the budget because, while it wasn't perfect, I believe it is essential to have a budget. It's one of Congress' highest priorities to ensure the fiscal health of our nation.

It's also worth noting that the budget deal protected veterans benefits more than the President's Simpson-Bowles proposal, which would have completely eliminated COLAs for retirees.

For the first time in many years, we were successful in making some long-term cuts to mandatory spending and we're able to stay well below the spending levels in the Budget Control Act. The bill also fully funds the VA and veterans benefits and strengthens our active duty military. There is still much to be done to get our nation back on sound financial footing.

I remain grateful and committed to our service men and women. I have a veterans field representative on staff to assist any veteran or military personnel and their families with any issues they have. His name is Retired U.S. Army Captain Rene Coronado, and he can be reached at 361-884-2222. Please do not hesitate to contact him or send me an email through my website at Farenthold.House.gov.

Blake Farenthold,U.S. House of Representatives, 27th Congressional District of Texas