I was interested to read Tom Watkins’ opinion about eliminating taxes on military pensions.
It’s important to understand that all military people do not receive pensions; military personnel must serve 20 years in the service to receive a pension, but veterans who have fought the hard battles of Iraq and Afghanistan for fewer than 20 years do not receive a pension. Before I comment on his opinion piece, I would like to make it clear that nothing I say here is meant to discredit veterans. I believe the great majority of veterans join the military to serve their country, and I have great respect for them. It has been often construed that any criticism of war or military actions is a dishonor to them. My criticism of the military is about a small but powerful group in the United States who increasingly have turned this country into a military society.
In Mr. Watkins’ description of the economics in Vermont, his criticism of teachers and unions takes credit away from a group of people who have nurtured our young people not only in their subjects, but also in their everyday social concerns and problems.
No system is perfect, but Mr. Watkins’ facts are misleading. He may be too young to remember, but before teacher unions, most teachers were poorly paid, had no pensions for their old age, and had to depend on the generosity of family and friends to get by.
Mr. Watkins suggests that the retired military deserve more tax relief than other people who serve our society. What about teachers, police, nurses, doctors, firefighters, maintenance people, musicians and the myriad of other workers who make our state a good place to live?
Instead of tax relief for anyone, there are many needs for our tax dollars: One critical need is to help injured, maimed and homeless veterans who suffer physically, mentally, emotionally and economically from the undeclared wars that our country fights.
Esther Farnsworth lives in Montpelier.
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