What Veterans Need to Know About Cuts in Defense

I would like to share two more important perspectives on the deficit and federal budget with veterans. These perspectives represent public opinion and how businesses are weighing in on the topic of our national economy. Both are certain to influence the next federal budget set by Congress in 69 days on January, 2nd.

According to recent polls conducted by the Pew Research Center, public opinion in the U.S. support cuts to our defense. While public sentiment for military veterans remains high, ongoing financial commitments by the government will not be fully supported. Following a decade in which the defense budget doubled in size, Americans no longer want to support financial outlays aimed at foreign aid or nation-building efforts of our military.

Specifically, 67% of citizens now believe the U.S. should be less involved with leadership changes in the Middle East. Almost 60% say it is more important for regional governments to be stable, even if this means less democracy. And, the percentage of Americans who believe that promoting democracy abroad is critical has now plunged to 13%.

Last Thursday, a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs from 85 major U.S. corporations weighed in on the national budget. They recommended that the U.S. government raise tax revenue; cut spending; and keep, but control spending of, entitlement programs. 

These CEOS, who have rallied behind a “Campaign to Fix the Debt”, are encouraging the government to get their financial affairs in order. The first item of business is to deal with automatic budget cuts set in motion by sequestration. Their report says, “…instead of encouraging growth, the federal government may slam the brakes on the economy in January, when a series of huge tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect. This looming “financial cliff” is the ugly result of putting off tough budget decisions.”

What does all of this mean for veterans? Business leadership and the recent Presidential debates have confirmed that we will most likely avoid falling off of the fiscal cliff created by Congress. It seems apparent that across-the-board spending cuts will not automatically go into effect. 

However, veterans should nevertheless prepare themselves for cuts in the defense budget. As mentioned, the defense budget has doubled in size in the past decade and President Obama has repeatedly said our military leaders are not asking him for additional funding. 

These developments, along with the sheer size of our military, make cuts to the defense budget very likely. These cuts will translate into less jobs in the government sector, military and defense industries. Just as in the past decade when being in the military was a resourceful place to be; it’s now time to look down the civilian path for your next career opportunity. 

We will continue to cover the process of transition, and readjustment, to civilian life in future posts.

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