Budget cuts to our military are a major concern to our U.S. senator. That's the message that was delivered Thursday morning by Senator Roger Wicker at a military affairs breakfast hosted by the Coast Chamber.
Wicker was in Gulfport to discuss what Congress is doing to support local military installments. Senator Wicker served in the U.S. Air Force from 1976 until 2003. Now his son, Captain McDaniel Wicker, is serving his country, getting deployed to Afghanistan this week.
Wicker says, "We're concerned. We're proud of him, and just like every other family whose loved ones go into harm’s way." Defense cuts are a major concern to Senator Wicker, who serves on the Committee for the Armed Forces. Wicker also says, "We've cut into the muscle and bone of the defense department and that includes the National Guard and includes the threats that we have to our other branches of the military."
At Thursday's Military Affairs Breakfast, Wicker spoke of legislation that could protect the military bases here in south Mississippi from sequestration and budget cuts. Captain Paul Odenthal, Commanding Officer at the Seabee Base, says, "We feel he made some great points in his discussions of trying to protect military readiness and supporting the installations down here on the Gulf Coast." Most importantly, Wicker is fighting to keep Keesler's C-130J planes from moving to Arkansas.
Wicker says, "We've made the case all along that this would not be a saving move, but a matter of fact it will cost additional federal funds." As a veteran himself, Senator Wicker is pleased with the amount of public outrage against the Veterans Affairs Office and its imaginary waiting lists.
Wicker also says, "There is really no excuse for an imaginary waiting list and for people not being processed into the system and for the people who’ve stepped forward and volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way." Senator Wicker, along with fellow congressman, Steven Palazzo, will be hosting the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James at Keesler Air Force Base over the next two days. Wicker says they hope to show her how much the Coast cares about the military and to prove Keesler is the best base in the country.