It’s a fact of American life that veterans are seen as inviolate, and criticisms of veterans approaching treason. It’s one thing for Alan Simpson to call Social Security recipients greedy bastards, even though a chunk of them, a substantial chunk (almost half), includes military veterans. It’s quite another thing for him to go after veterans directly, as he did in denouncing disabled vets for luckily sucking up health care resources after exposure to Agent Orange.

Now, Simpson has exposed a flank, and VoteVets, the veterans’ organization, has decided to attack it. Their letter today to the President says that Simpson has shown no ability to make objective decisions about the budget, given the comments on disabled veterans. “President Obama, this week you called for all Americans to honor and thank our troops. I know you agree that honoring our troops can’t just be lip service,” says Jon Soltz, the chairman of the group, in a letter.

If there ever was a way to get Simpson booted from the panel, it’s if a broad coalition of veterans groups turn on him. The Democrats are making a big show of their care for veterans, a reversal from the previous Administration. Simpson actively opposed that with his remarks. If the American Legion or one of the other many vet groups joins VoteVets to take notice, Simpson may actually have something to worry about.

The full letter on the flip.

September 2, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President,

I write to you as the chairman of VoteVets, a pro-military organization comprised of over 50,000 veterans and military families and another 50,000 civilian supporters, about the head of your Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former Senator Alan Simpson.

We have long been concerned about Senator Simpson’s troubling pattern of denigrating those who rely on Social Security. As you are aware, of the more than 23 million veterans, almost half–approximately 10 million–collect Social Security benefits. And that number has quadrupled since the 1960s.

So you can see why Senator Simpson’s comments referring to people on Social Security as “greedy geezers” and “lesser people” were so troubling. And his recent email to the Older Women’s League where he accused the executive director of “babbling into the vapors” in her work to protect the vital program while referring to it as “a milk cow with 310 million tits” has only deepened our concern.

We were also troubled when reports surfaced in August that Senator Simpson was interested in using the commission as a means to freeze military pay and raise the amounts that service members pay for their healthcare.

But then on Tuesday, Senator Simpson actually put veteran’s benefits on the chopping block, too, blaming disabled veterans for the country’s fiscal situation. And for us, that is the final straw.

President Obama, this week you called for all Americans to honor and thank our troops. I know you agree that honoring our troops can’t just be lip service. And the best way to honor those who serve our country is to make sure that we take care of them once they return home. That means strengthening the vital programs we rely on, including Social Security and veterans’ health care, not undermining them as Senator Simpson seems intent on doing.

It has become all too clear that Senator Simpson cannot be trusted to objectively review the budget and make impartial recommendations about our nation’s economic priorities. We ask that you remove him from his current position so that the commission can continue its work in a way that will give the military community–and all Americans–confidence in the conclusions it reaches.


Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran