Now, before we go on, the reasons behind the cut in benefits should be explained. The amount of money that the Defense Department spends every year on retiree benefits is huge. In 2012, the Pentagon spent just over $52B on retiree benefits. This amounted to about 10% of the nearly $530B budget for the year. There's no question that this is an enormous amount of money. The "fix" for this issue, however, amounts to a complete betrayal of those who have served for 20 years or more in our military. Mr. Ryan, and his counterpart (and co-conspirator) Senator Patty Murray of Washington, looked at reducing military pensions as a means to reduce costs. Reducing the cost of government is a noble and worthy cause. Making military retirees your primary target for cost reduction is a knife in the back of those who have served.
Now, to be fair, actual retirement benefits aren't being touched (yet). What is being reduced is the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) that is added every year. The COLA is given so that a pension means the same every year as inflation causes costs/prices to rise. When the COLA is reduced, the pension is worth less and less every year. And this is where the rub is. Reducing the COLA for military retirees tells them that the value of what they did for our country isn't worth making their pension hold its value year in, year out.
In an interview yesterday (January 15th) on Hugh Hewitt's daily radio program (give this a listen), Paul Ryan made two very strong statements that are very telling in terms of what his view of those who have served and retired from the Military. First, he said that "those in the military have not paid into their retirements." Mr. Ryan, aren't multiple deployments, missed family events like birthdays, anniversaries, BIRTHS, and such payment enough? Is being in harms way for a year at a time enough to earn being cared for by our country? Those who came back different from when they left, those who have seen things that most of us hope to NEVER see, haven't they given enough?
Second, Mr. Ryan made what I consider to be one of the most bewildering statements I've ever heard someone say in relation to those who serve. He said, "If we don't watch it, the military is going to become a government benefits agency that fights wars on the side." So, honoring your promise to those who have given 20 years of their lives, many having given years in immediate danger, takes you down a road to where they are just another entitlement group? How on Earth can you equate taking care of those who have given so much for the defense of our country, our freedoms, and the liberation of so many others to a simple government entitlement?
The one ray of hope in this utter betrayal is the fact that this cut won't go into effect for two years. There is time to see this repealed, to restore the faith in our veterans, our best and bravest who have given so much. In all of the years that I've been writing this blog, I've never asked anything of you, my faithful readers. So many of you have read, commented and supported my efforts to tell the story of military spouses and our struggles, trials, and lives. Today, however, I am asking something of you. Today, I'm asking you to go beyond just being a friend and a reader of this blog. I'm asking you to contact your representatives and your senators. I'm asking you to tell them that targeting our military retirees in order to cut spending is beyond wrong. Let them know that this provision in our recently passed budget cannot remain, that America must keep its promise to those who serve. Here's where you can find the contact information for your particular representative:
Tell them that reducing the National Debt cannot and must not come at the expense of those who put themselves in harms way for our nation.
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