Politics

Veterans Nationwide Hit By Food Stamp Cuts, 5,000 Active Military Families Also Hurt By Benefit Rollback

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While some congressmembers are repeatedly quoted deriding and ridiculing people in need of assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly called food stamps, the cuts that went into effect Friday will hit military veterans in every state, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an independent, non-profit fiscal research group.

The food stamp cuts would also slam the families of 5,000 active-duty servicemembers, the Department of Defense said in July.

“Military members who receive SNAP tend to be made up of members in junior pay grades with larger than average household sizes," Defense Department spokesperson Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen told the web site Military.com.

Military pay at the junior levels is so low that such families must use food stamps, but generally are able to forego the assistance once the servicemember in the household receives a promotion, Christensen said.

In 2012, just under $100 million in food stamps were spent at military commissaries. That trend is rising, with $53 million already used at commissaries in the first six months of 2013.

According to the CBPP report, the states with the highest number of military veterans who receive SNAP assistance are Florida, with 109,500 and Texas with 105,700. No state has fewer than 2,200 veterans needing food assistance, with most states showing numbers in the five-figure range.

“Veterans who participate in SNAP tend to be young, but their ages range widely,” the CNPP said in a statement. “57 percent of the veterans in our analysis are under age 30, while 9 percent are aged 60 or older.”

Veterans on food stamps cover the gamut of wars, going back to those who served in World War II, as well as in peacetime.

During the recent government shutdown, Republicans in congress vociferously supported veterans who attempted to gain access to then-closed war memorial sites.

“Our veterans should be above political games,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz at a rally in support of the veterans who wanted to visit memorial sites during the shutdown.

One Republican congressmember, Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, recently responded to a constituent’s question about the food stamp cuts by saying, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Markwayne Miller also covered the food stamp topic at a meeting with his constituents in August. He characterized food stamp use, based on his observations at a local supermarket, as “fraud. Absolute 100 percent, all of it is fraud."

Sources: Washington Post, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Military.com, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post

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