Local veterans concerned about Hagel's defense spending plan

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wants to move toward a more modern military, straying away from large ground wars and instead focusing on technology and agile forces able to quickly respond around the world.  
 
Hagel's nearly $500 billion plan includes trimming tens of thousands of active-duty Army and Army National Guard soldiers. 
 
The Marine Corps would also shrink, while the Air Force and Navy would see major weapons and equipment changes.
 
"This is the time for reality. This is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges,” Hagel said.

Some local veterans don't agree with his approach.
 
"There may be some areas in the military that may be cut, some weapons system or things like that, but when it comes to personnel or salaries, that sort of thing, I think it's ridiculous to cut," Vietnam veteran Ralph Dagenhart said.
 
Military compensation would also be impacted.
 
Hagel is proposing smaller pay raises, cutting back on tax-free housing allowances, and wants to require retirees and some families of active-duty service members to pay more for health insurance co-pays and deductibles. 
 
Even though pay won't be cut, Vietnam veteran Norm Brittain believes the changes could damage the morale of service members and hurt their families who may be struggling to make ends meet.
 
"There are guys overseas laying their life down and their families are over here and some are on food stamps," Brittain said.
 
"I don't like it. I think it’s the wrong way to approach our future for defense,”
Dagenhart said.
 
Hagel's plan also calls for another round of military base closures in 2017, which Congress has blocked in the last two years.

Read more:

The Pentagon cuts: A closer look behind the scary headlines

Congress skeptical about plan to shrink military

Hagel says US military must shrink to face new era