The proposal by Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy to drastically reduce the federal workforce is alarming, not just for its potential effects on the efficiency and efficacy of government operations but for the impact it would have on one of the nation’s most revered groups: our veterans.

Ramaswamy said he wants to cut 1 million federal jobs, and roughly 30% of federal employees are veterans. These are individuals who, after serving their country in the military, decided to continue their service in a civilian capacity. They bring unparalleled dedication, discipline, and skill sets that are often not found in the private sector.

When we talk about cutting federal employees, we’re talking about cutting opportunities for veterans, reducing their livelihoods, and potentially leaving many without jobs.

Mr. Ramaswamy’s rationale for such a decision is based on trimming managerial bureaucracy and shutting down “toxic government agencies.” But are these drastic measures truly a solution, or are they merely a way to garner votes through shock value?

Sure, it’s worth noting that many of these employees might be eligible for retirement in the upcoming years. But retirement eligibility doesn’t necessarily translate to a desire or financial capability to retire. For many veterans, their federal job is not just a paycheck, but a continuation of their service, a sense of purpose, and a way to transition back into civilian life. By potentially forcing early retirement or job loss, we are disregarding the very people who dedicated their lives to our country.

Furthermore, it’s essential to recognize that a well-functioning government relies on the skills and expertise of its employees. By suggesting a 50% reduction in federal employees within a year and 75% within four years, Mr. Ramaswamy is essentially advocating for a skeletal government, unable to perform its fundamental functions. This is not merely about cutting bureaucracy—it’s about dismantling the very infrastructure that keeps the nation running.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s similar sentiments echo the seemingly growing sentiment among some GOP members. But the question we must ask is, at what cost?

Cutting jobs, especially in the midst of ongoing economic recovery, is not a move that should be taken lightly. We have a responsibility to consider the broader societal implications, not just the short-term political gains. Our veterans, who have already given so much, should not have to pay the price for hasty political decisions.

Let’s prioritize real solutions, such as retraining and better allocation of resources, rather than drastic cuts that impact our heroes. For a country that prides itself on supporting its veterans, cutting their jobs should never be the answer.

Michael Embrich is a veteran, former member of the secretary of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans, and former congressional staffer.

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