I have to strongly disagree with the Aug. 12 editorial that said we should stop fighting to keep the commissary in Topsham open. If we can’t fight to protect promised benefits for 10,000 Maine veterans who have earned them, then what exactly is worth fighting for?

I’m proud that our delegation has been so united on this issue. We think the commissary is not a fringe benefit or an “amenity.” It is part of a military retiree’s compensation package, and should not be offered only when convenient to do so.

Having a career in the military is unlike any other job. Those who serve make less money than they would in other careers, must move their families back and forth across the country, and are expected to put their lives in danger when needed.

For those sacrifices, we owe them more than just lip service. Having a commissary where military families and retirees save up to $4,000 a year is compensation they have earned. Retirees aren’t just “sad” about losing the commissary — they’re worried about what they’ll have to do without it to put food on the table. And, rightfully so, they feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them.

The newspaper ignores some important facts in its assessment. For one, as a study requested by our two senators found, criteria for closing down commissaries are unclear, raising doubts about the decision to close ours. The paper also ignored that the delegation has worked to start a pilot program to increase revenues and offset operating costs at commissaries.

The paper asks, if our commissary isn’t “a good place to start” cutting the budget, then what is? Plenty, I say.

Cuts should start with what is wasteful, ineffective and inefficient. There is plenty of that elsewhere in the Defense budget. I couldn’t disagree more that benefits for men and women in uniform would be the first place to go for cutting the budget. It should be the last.