Proposed defense cuts concern Fort Bragg veterans - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Proposed defense cuts concern Fort Bragg veterans

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A budget proposal by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is causing concern for some veterans because it reduces troop levels and some benefits.

On Monday Hagel said a major part of keeping the Department of Defense on target for the proposed budget is a reduction in force.

The Army would see the largest reduction. Full details can be found here:

A major reduction in troop numbers worries Army veteran Chuck Adams who lives in Raeford.

"That scares me," Adams said. "We're going to end up needing our troops again on the ground. That's all there is to it.

"We're going to need them, and you can't just qualify them in a couple of weeks or so and bring them in and give them a gun and send them into somewhere. It's not going to work."

veteran Danny Barefoot agrees. He served in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg several years ago. He said troop reductions will force out some troops who still want to serve.

"If you're downsizing the military positions aren't available," Barefoot explained. "So a person who's dedicated his life – 12, 16 years – is up for a promotion and, no fault of his, there are no positions to go to."

The cuts go beyond troop reductions. Base closures are proposed, along with shrinking pay raises. Military members would also see smaller housing allowances, changing health care benefits and $1 billion less for commissaries, which means grocery prices would likely increase.

For veterans, the health care changes could increase deductibles and co-pays.

"It's going to hurt us," Adams said. "It's going to hurt everybody that's on a fixed income especially."

One positive part of the Defense Department's budget proposal is that it does not call for a reduction in cyber warfare efforts or special operations forces. Those forces are based at Fort Bragg. Some community leaders outside of Fort Bragg remain hopeful that if cuts and base closures happen elsewhere, soldiers will be reassigned to Fort Bragg – increasing or maintaining the post's size instead of shrinking it.

Preliminary information also indicates that any aircraft that would be eliminated are not flown by the Air Force at Fort Bragg or Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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