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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Are medals the best we can do for vets?

Friday, February 1, 2002

What sounded like a good idea on paper has turned into a minor fiasco for the state of Missouri. And as is usually the case, money is at the core of the problem.

The Missouri Legislature got caught-up in the wave of emotions over the declining number of World War II veterans.

So last year the lawmakers decided to award medals and certificates to all living veterans who served in World War II. But less than 35,000 of the estimated 150,000 living veterans expressed an interest in the medals prior to the Jan. 1, 2002 deadline. But that's just part of the problem.

In somewhat typical government fashion, the medals were projected to cost $50 each but the actual cost came in at only $7 each. The lower cost combined with the small level of interest left $2.6 million in the program fund which was quickly claimed by yet another government program.

So now lawmakers want to extend the period of time to allow more veterans to participate. And they want their money back too! That's what happens when the state budget is tight.

First, I can't help but wonder how someone made such a horrible cost calculation on the cost of the medals. Did someone not check on the price before approving the program?

Apparently not. And second, perhaps veterans are not that interested in this token gesture 60 years after their days in the war.

Maybe the state could find a more appropriate way to honor the brave veterans of World War II. That's not to say that a medal isn't nice but perhaps something in the form of tax relief or some monetary recognition would be more appropriate. But don't suggest it because that too would be in the same mess as the medal program.

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