Tommy Vallejos is frustrated. After campaigning for increased military benefits for veterans over the last year, the recent Congressional budget cuts to the pensions of military retirees and disabled veterans hit the veterans advocate hard. Now, the former U.S. Army servicemember and current county commissioner of Tennessee's Montgomery County would like to add another job title to his resume – activist.
In 2012, Vallejos created the social media accounts for "Save My Military Benefits," long before cuts to military benefits were being discussed. Vallejos told The Leaf-Chronicle, however, that he frequently wrote about the possibility of impending reductions to personnel costs and military pensions. President Barack Obama signed the defense spending bill for the 2014 fiscal year last week, cutting $6 billion from military pensions.
"Congress doesn't seem to be allowing their benefits to be eroded, so as a military retiree, I want to be an advocate for our benefits and our pay. It really concerns me," Vallejos told the news source. "We earned [the military benefits] on the battlefields and training for war and missing events and holidays with our families."
Vallejos has a grassroots sort of philosophy. He told the news source that the best way for veterans to fight back and regain their benefits is through getting involved, whether in politics or the local community. Veterans don't have to run for political office for change to happen – it could be as simple as casting their ballots on election day or calling representatives and senators at the state and federal levels, Vallejos said.