OTR Interviews

Budget cuts hurting our veterans the most?

How the bipartisan budget deal is affecting veterans in the worst of ways


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Dana Perino, in for Greta Van Susteren.

There is growing outrage over the bipartisanship budge agreement that cuts back certain benefits for U.S. military retirees.

Ryan Lamke is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and joins us now.

First, Ryan, let me thank you for your service and for, of course, joining us tonight. What was your reaction when you first heard about these possible cuts? I would imagine you are in a little bit of a state of disbelief that the Congress would actually pass something like that.

RYAN LAMKE, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: Well, Dana, honestly, I was a little disheartened more than anything else that this would be a topic that they want to start cutting for budget savings with. There are plenty of other ways we can save money in our federal budget, and this is not the way we, you know, thank our troops for their service.

PERINO: Some people might say, well, look, it's a cut back of minus 1 percent in the cost of living adjustment. And then when you turn 62, you get all of that money back. Is that a good enough explanation for you?

LAMKE: Well, it would be in some ways if it didn't also effect all those who have been promised a full 20-year retirement as it was originally laid out when they enlisted or joined. And it also effects those who are medically retired. All those who are served, were wounded in service, and now have to live on that retirement because they can no longer do the job that they have wanted to do for their entire life.

PERINO: I think that's a very good point.

I wanted to ask you something overall with the government when it comes to America and what it asks of its recruits. Do you think that Washington overpromises to young people who make a decision to join the military?

LAMKE: Well, I think it's somewhat incumbent upon the recruit to know exactly what benefits are out there for them when they join and what will be offered to them when they leave. But I don't think there is any overpromise. In some ways, there is kind of a lack of understanding by these recruits to know what's going to happen when they get out of service, when they try to transition back to civilian world.

PERINO: Right. Because I would imagine that you would assume, as a recruit, that the least your country will do is keep the promises that it made to you when you first decided to join.

Let me ask you about your current situation, what you hope to do in the future. Because I think it's quite inspiring.

LAMKE: Well, I will continue to advocate for all veterans. I have been doing this for many years, working with several organizations, including the Armed Forces Foundation as an ambassador for them. I also work with Cause, which is providing support for various wounded servicemembers at military installations throughout the country as they are recovering and providing them health and welfare benefits.

PERINO: What do you think will -- and I don't know if you have any inside scoop as to what might happen when the Congress comes back. President Obama did sign this bill yesterday. But do you think there is a chance that in the upcoming discussions of the budget that they might try to restore these funds?

LAMKE: It seems as though there is a lot of support going behind members such as -- from members such as Chairman Jeff Miller, of House Veterans Affairs Committee, who is pushing very hard to have this aspect repealed and fixed because of the unintended consequences, such as those disabled veterans who will be losing portions of their retirement that they so desperately need. There has been bipartisan support throughout all of Congress to try to fix this.

PERINO: Ryan, let me ask you one last question before you go. Do you think that there is waste within the Department of Defense that could be cut out that would help maybe pay for this, if people were reluctant to cut other places?

LAMKE: Well, you know, without getting too much into the nitty gritty of the budget details and getting into every aspect of the defense budget, there is waste in every aspect of our government in some way, shape, or form. And there is a need to streamline. And I really don't agree with the concept of hurting our retired servicemembers when they are trying to transition into a civilian life and using them as the kind of punching bag to balance our budgets on the backs of.

PERINO: Well said.

Ryan, thank you so much.

LAMKE: Thank you, Dana.