HONOR, DON'T CHEAT, OUR DISABLED VETS

July 01, 2002 11:00 pm

Fight for your country, become disabled in the process, and what do you get? For at least a century, if you live to retirement age, the answer is another year older and deeper in debt. The time has come for the nation to correct the disservice it has done to America's disabled veterans.

BOTH THE HOUSE and Senate have passed Defense Department appropriations bills that would repeal a century- old prohibition against the concurrent receipt of military retirement pay from the Department of the Defense and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The White House has threatened a veto because of the proposed repeal of the provision.

This nation needs to stand up for its veterans, especially those who dedicated more than 20 years of their lives in the armed forces and who were disabled as a result of their service to the country. As it stands, military retirees must forfeit a dollar of their retirement pay for every dollar they receive in disability compensation. It's not right.

THE DISABLED AMERICAN Veterans organization has been carrying the mantle for disabled veterans for more than 80 years, fighting for the rights and just compensation of those who were injured in the line of duty serving their country. Denying disabled veterans of their disability compensation once they hit retirement age is unfair, unjust and a slap in the face.

"The men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our nation and became disabled as a result of their service deserve to be treated fairly,'' said George H. Steese Jr., national commander of the DAV. "They are counting on Congress and the White House for justice.''

Justice sometimes carries a cost. When it comes to making sure disabled veterans are dealt with fairly and given the respect they deserve, the cost is worth it. This nation can and should do better in how it treats its disabled veterans.

EXPECT UNEXPECTED

With school out, it's apparent more children are crossing streets and riding bikes in different areas than they do during the school year. Drivers need to be especially conscientious this time of year.

INSTEAD OF TAKING the same route to and from school every day, children are heading to parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, stores and other places that they may not go to as much during the school year. Some of the kids might not be as savvy about watching for cars.

Adults need to expect the unexpected during the summer months when it comes to street and pedestrian safety. Let's be especially cautious out there as drivers. And as parents, let's remind our kids what street safety is all about.

Let's have a safe summer.