December 13, 2013: 3:39 PM ET
Retired military veterans are outraged that their pensions are being cut by the budget deal.
The Military Coalition, some 27 military groups, wrote to leaders in Congress and President Obama late Wednesday about their "strong objection" and "grave concern" over the budget deal.
The deal cuts pension cost of living raises by 1 percentage point for military retirees who aren't disabled and not yet 62 years old. Cost of living hikes are automatic raises intended to keep up with inflation.
The problem is, most military retirees are a lot younger than private sector retirees. They enlist in their 20's and retire in their 40's. Very few stay on till they are 62 -- those who may be lucky enough to escape major injuries at war, or rose to higher echelons in the military system.
When compounded, the 1 percentage point cut could result in much more than a 20% reduction in retiree pensions over 20 years.
The average cut in pension payouts, including compounding interest, for a retiring Army Sergeant first class, would be about $3,700 each year, according to the Military Officers Association of America. Over 20 years, the total losses could balloon to more than $80,000.
"While portrayed as a minor change, a 20% reduction in retired pay and survivor benefit values is a massive cut in military career benefits," wrote groups, including the Air Force Sergeants Association, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Marine Corps League, among others in the letter.
The change is infuriating to military retirees like Army Col. Michael Barron, who retired nearly 4 years ago, after 30 years of service, which included being deployed to both Iraq wars.
"It's not fair at all. I spent a 30 year career in the military. I clearly understood what the (cost of living increases) would be," said Barron, deputy director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. "This is the worst kind of example of a shady, backroom deal."
The cut is forcing some to reconsider how much longer they will continue to work with the military.
Rebekah Sanderlin's husband is two years away from hitting his 20 year retirement mark with the Army and she's wondering if its worth it. He's served in Afghanistan four times, among other places, and has many injuries.
"The war has been very hard on our family," said Sanderlin, a writer. "We'd like to stay in, but it seems stupid to give more time to a government that goes back on their word."
Military groups say the cut is particularly unfair because the changes will affect those who have already put in their years of service.
"To tax the very men and women who have sacrificed and served more than others is simply a foul," the letter stated.
Washington leaders, and House Republicans, in particular, have been worried about the cost of military retiree benefits.
In 2012, the Pentagon spent $52.4 billion on 2.3 million military retirees and s..., a cost that is expected to rise over the next few decades, according to the Department of Defense Office of the Actuary.
House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan's website states that military retirement "provides an exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payments in return for 20 years of service," as it explains why benefits should be trimmed.
"Current levels of military compensation are incompatible with the overall demands on the defense budget," according to a House Committee on the Budget Report.
Military groups say they're open to reforms, but they'd like such changes to go through the normal legislative process that allows time to review and "assess any recommendations that could significantly impact retention and readiness."
Barron said groups like his were "blindsided" by the cuts to military pensions.
The cut ends up saving the budget $6 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Congress would also make newly hired civilian federal workers contribute 1.3% more of their paychecks to pensions if the budget deal becomes law.
The Department of Defense wouldn't comment on the Military Coalition letter and pointed to a statement by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying the budget deal provides greater "budget certainty," while reducing the impact of massive cuts from so-called sequester.
I DON'T GET IT ANYMORE ( WHAT THE HELL IS IT GOING TO TAKE YOU MIGHT THINK THE MILITARY WOULD HAVE THIS FIGURED THIS OUT BY NOW ) +++++++ THE TREASON & TRAITORS ARE OUT IN THE OPEN +++++ I SIMPLY DON'T GET IT .
I do not understand it either. I guess they have no good leadership anymore.
Leadership starting with the CIC. (I loath the idea of calling obama our CIC)
the scumbags that want to call themselves congress past and present need to take a big cut in pay they haven't earn nothing as far as I am concerned and they are way over paid and leave the military alone
I agree. Leave the military alone.
and how Much are the President and the Congress getting for their perks and retirement?
way too much
BRING THEM ALL HOME THEY ARE FIGHTING & DIEING FOR NOTHING...... AND CONGRESS SHOULD BE BOUGHT UP ON THE SAME CHARGES, BUT THEN OBAMA HAS THERE BACKS, UN-AMERICAN, THEY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF WHAT THERE DOING.
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Mostly tyrants, like about a thousand to one ratio, Rev. Bob!
I am not averse to permanently disposing of tyrants, but, I am not sure all of those that make the correct sounds are capable of doing what we, the men and women that have served this country are able to do if we get pushed more than we can stand.
Lock and load, Patriots! Already on the left. Already on the right. Watch your targets...
Semper Fi! GySgt Thomas Lakin, USMC Retired
Little Chuckie Schumer wants to take real dollars and much needed programs from Veterans to show some cost savings in the next budget. To which I say... Horseshit! Their is no other group in America that has earned every dollar and program this country can afford. Let me repeat that... "they have EARNED IT, THE HARD WAY". They were not born into a system of living off the government teet. They aren't some special class of citizen that had a political party give them almost everything in exchange for their votes. No instead THEY EARNED IT. And yes, even their families have earned it because they suffer right along with the Vet. WITHOUT THE VET, this country would have nothing, and long ago we would have changed our official language to either German or Japanese. I am against a single Dime being cut from any Veterans program or pay hikes, or living allowances. Cut the Food Stamp program. Cut HUD. Cut free Condoms for the kiddies. And to be fair, if you must cut anything connected to the military, cut the Billions in waste on weapon systems that are obsolete, don't work, or simply give a great return for the money spent. Those systems are easily identified and make the most sense (unless their is a useless weapon system being built in the Congressional District of a Power Player in D.C.)
Sorry for going-on so much. I just get so damned mad at these idiots in D.C. and especially idiot Liberals.
Smoke and mirrors, Chuck Hagel isn't that honest, and the problems he has in DOD and Congress have been going on for over 50 years, LBJ's time in the CinC started the concealment of rising errors in funds within the DODm, and started the manipulation of the Social Security Funds. There was only one president that tried to stop the dishonesty, That was