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Published: Tuesday, 10/27/2009

Veterans deserve better

OHIOANS have always answered the call when the United States has been threatened by foreign foes. Hundreds of thousands fought and tens of thousands made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The men and women who leave their homes, families, and careers to protect the freedom of all earn the respect of a grateful nation and deserve whatever help we can offer to put their civilian lives back together when they come home.

For most, that purpose is not well served by a pat on the back and a few dollars in their pockets. For that reason - because we want what is best for the veterans themselves - we believe Ohioans should vote NO on Issue 1 on Nov. 3.

This constitutional amendment would authorize the state to sell up to $200 million in bonds to provide one-time bonuses to Ohio veterans of the Persian Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Each veteran would get $100 for every month served in these conflicts, up to $1,000. Those who served outside the war zones would get $50 for each month served, up to $500. Discharged disabled veterans would receive $1,000, while the families of those killed in service to America - a total of 218 Ohioans in the three conflicts to date - would get $5,000.

But there are better ways to honor the sacrifices made by members of the military, especially in a down economy with the state facing an expected budget deficit of more than $850 million.

Better to expand services to help vets recover from physical and psychological wounds and ease the transition to civilian life, provide training and job services that will allow them to embark on productive careers, and invest in job creation so they have something to come home to.

We appreciate the long tradition in Ohio of honoring its war heroes with cash bonuses and understand the popularity of continuing that tradition for veterans of America's most recent conflicts.

But handing a few hundred dollars to a homeless ex-Marine, an Ohio National Guard member who needs a job, or a psychologically scarred Army vet who's gotten lost in the system is not an answer.

Give veterans a hand, not a handout. Vote NO on Issue 1.

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