The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has always greatly admired and strongly advocated for our armed forces. The men and women of the military deserve our deepest gratitude for their willingness to put their lives on the line to protect their fellow Americans every day.
But we suspect many service members agree that having the Pentagon spend millions of dollars on a military parade ― as President Donald Trump has made plain he wants to do ― is dubious when the military and military veterans have so many obvious needs. That defense funding is going up under the spending plan approved last week doesn't mean all the problems left from years of tight budgets will be answered.
In October, for example, the Orange County Register reported on a surge in military deaths and injuries off the battlefield that Defense Secretary James Mattis attributed in part to a lack of funds for readiness training. It's a particularly acute problem with military aviators. Another higher priority than a military parade? The needs of tens of thousands of homeless veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse problems.
Writing for Politico, former George W. Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer suggested that Trump has laid a trap for his critics, whose denunciation of the parade will be seen by patriotic Americans as anti-military sentiment. But it's not just Trump foes who think the cost of preparing for and staging a parade is hard to justify. Plenty of veterans do as well. They understand better than anyone that the military has far more important issues to address.
The Korea Times