Who Should Bear the Cost of Doing the Right Thing?
Marine Corps Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger has fought a long hard battle to get the government to provide health care for military families exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The drinking water contamination occurred between 1957 and 1987, and has been tied to an undetermined number of cancer or other ailments.
Ensminger thought his battle was nearly over when Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act (S. 277). However, to pay for doing the "right thing" the bill includes a provision which would remove the appropriations that help cover the cost of the Defense Commissary system and would fold the commissaries in with the military exchange system. This would effectively eliminate the discounted grocery benefits many servicemembers and their families rely upon.
In an interview with Tom Philpott, Ensminger said that he doesn't want the measure passed if Congress would gut the military's prized commissary benefit to pay for it.
"Do I agree with this proposal to punish veterans and their families and active duty people who depend on, and worked for, the right to use the commissary? Hell no. We have lost too many of our benefits over the years to have this taken from us," Ensminger said.
Should Congress take benefits away from group to help pay for doing the right thing for the families who are suffering because of the mistakes made by military leadership?