The federal government is looking at some odd ways to start getting serious about cutting spending.

A proposal to close a 53-foot medical trailer in Bingham, which would force about 500 veterans (including some who are elderly or disabled) to drive up to five hours to get medical care, is one of the stranger attempts at frugality.

This would save the country between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. That’s smaller than a rounding error in a $2.4 trillion federal budget, but it would make a huge impact on the lives of those who count on this service.

This is not like the proposed closure of the commissary near the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, which would also affect military retirees.

Shopping for discount food and household goods is an amenity that veterans lucky enough to live near an active military base may enjoy. Health care is part of the solemn commitment the nation makes to all the people who serve in the military, and it should not be withdrawn so suddenly.

In light of the small amount of money this move is expected to save, the abrupt way it was announced is especially galling. Rather than give the veterans who have come to depend on this service over the last two years a workable replacement, the VA offers only driving to Togus or Bangor, something that at least some of these patients won’t be able to do without serious hardship.

Sen. Olympia Snowe has called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to fully evaluate the impact of closing the clinic. If they do that, we expect that they’ll find that the harm it would cause won’t be worth the small amount of cash it saves.

If this process had begun with such a study, maybe the idea would have died a quiet death and all the patients involved would have been spared unnecessary worry about losing their clinic.