Obama faces 'hard choices' on veterans

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WASHINGTON — A new report by the Center for a New American Security warns that the Obama administration will “face an array of hard choices” involving veterans and the military community as it tries to tackle issues ranging from military suicide to veterans disability claims during the president's second term.

“These choices will be made more difficult by significant downward pressure on spending, requiring the next administration to make hard choices with profound implications for the men and women who serve us in uniform, and those who came before them, as well as for our national security,” the report from the Washington national security think tank says.

“Upholding the Promise: Supporting Veterans and Military Personnel in the Next Four Years,” released Friday, was written by Phillip Carter, a senior fellow at the center and a former Army officer who served in Iraq and later as an administration appointee responsible for the Defense Department's detainee policy.

The report identifies three broad priority areas for the administration. The first includes such issues as military suicides, combat stress and veteran homelessness, which “must be decisively addressed by the next administration, in ways that exceed the work done during the past four years, simply because veterans and military personnel continue to suffer.”

The second area would be to “make substantially more progress” in improving government service, chief among them reversing the growth of the claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And third, the report warns, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receding from public consciousness, there is a danger that public interest in veterans and the military community could disappear in “an ocean of apathy.”

The report calls on the Obama administration to “maintain public attention” on issues facing veterans and military families and to maintain political support for finding solutions to the problems.

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