Military Pay and Benefits Could See Further Cuts

Lincoln, Neb.-- James Pierce was in the Air Force for 20 years and now serves as a veteran's advocate, helping out with several military organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Now, at 79 years old, he's seen enough to say military cuts are going too far.

"It upsets me a little bit," Pierce said.

"What kind of military are we going to have if we don't pay these kids to stay in and do the job they're supposed to do?"

As part of the 2011 federal budget cuts, defense spending has taken several hits, including $37 billion in 2013. Now, another $52 billion is expected to be cut in the 2014 fiscal year, according to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

When it comes to veterans claiming their benefits, Nebraska is fairing better than other states, according to Pierce.

But, he said several states are severely behind in processing benefits claims.

In a November speech, Hagel said cuts to military infrastructure, overhead, and compensation policy were needed in order to maintain a balanced military force.

Senator Deb Fischer said in a statement to 10/11 News that some proposals are being drafted now that will "slow the growth in compensation costs yet still preserve our ability to recruit a high-quality, all volunteer fighting force."

Pierce, a former state commander, said cutting funds and trying to maintain quality won't work.

He also said that many younger vets aren't as involved in fighting for their benefits as they should be.

"I'm 79 years old," Pierce said.

"If they don't come on board pretty soon, there isn't going to be anything. I've got everything I'm going to get. We've got to get these guys on board."

Pierce said, otherwise, there may not be much money left in the future.

"Look at the one's that don't come back or the one's that come back all messed up," Pierce said.

"We have to take care of those veterans. Some way or another, we've got to take care of those veterans."

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