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.
Top, you bring up a good point; and one which we were just talking about at Chow, 15 minutes ago... Waste Fraud and Abuse. Over here in "Trash-can-I-stan", we see more waste than I have in all my deployments to the three other theaters (Iraq, Balkans and Homeland Security) that I have been involved with over the past 14 years. It amazes me, how the DOS and DOD can justify so much waste in this place, yet as soon as a little guy trying to make it in the US, gets one line item wrong, his govt contract is shut down and his testicles are placed in a vice.
We have certain values in the Army, which I know the Marine Corp., Navy and Air Force share as well... Unfortunately today, we do not have leadership in positions which would warrant and demand these values... but we damn sure should!
If our politicians would uphold their oath... well, you all know where this is going... so rather than bore you with rhetoric, I will leave you with this:
No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as "The Backbone of the Army". I am proud of the Corps of noncommissioned officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.
Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.
Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!"
Maybe, just maybe, this is the blow that will motivate millions of Veterans to do something eh? Its about time the traditional Veterans Organizations step out of their 501-C 's and start pushing instead of writing.........................................................
If it isn't "the" straw to break this camel's back, Paul... it is certainly leading up to it.
Get rid of the treason players and the traitors. Get Valarie Jarrett out of the Oval Office. She is a pig.
Stop blaming Congress! The real fault lies in the people that put those idiots in their congressional seats. If you really want to do something about this, bombard yours and all other congressional idiots with your opinions. Write a letter and fax it to all of their offices, that is, their home state and DC. I do it. But I am one person. My congressperson know he is a RINO, because all I fax him makes sure he knows. I like to call him "RINO" Royce.
Semper Fi! GySgt Thomas Lakin, USMC Retired
You are correct...no one has to be in the military, but, those same military people you are cutting down are the ones that made it so you can read and write American English. Did you ever stop to think what language, what laws, what masters you would be speaking, obeying, or serving if it were not for those military? When I read the kind of fecal matter like you write, I always remind myself that I spent 20 years serving my country as an American and a patriot, not because I was looking for a better job! Living on less than one-forth the pay of a civilian counter-part, working seven days a week, as many as 18 to 20 hours a day and NO overtime pay or other extra benefits. So, Mr Van Loon, I will not stop you from moving to the big sand pile across the pond, and please keep in mind that not one day I spent in the Marine Corps is to be construed as protecting you and your ilk!
Semper Fi! GySgt Thomas Lakin, USMC Retired
Dead on target, Gunny,
If I may make an addition to your statement... Think about this Steve, would you rather have a military with experience and professionalism? Or would you prefer having your protectors be more of the quality of an unskilled laborer. Civilians who have no idea what the military is about, often spout off about cutting the military, but I bet they support beefing up DHS, at the same time... yeah, they know who they are. Hmm, we hate having a large Army, but we will acquiesce to a private/corporate Paramilitary corp which has no loyalty to the Constitution and acts much like praetorians did in ancient Rome.
If it weren't for career military personnel, you'd have the equivalent of 4 year specialists running the show... no real world or combat experience, and that, my friend, is invaluable to the force. I've not reached my 20 yet; am a 17 year vet and though I am in contracting at the moment, had given thought to going back to finishing my 3 for retirement. From a personal standpoint, I'll tell you it doesn't look as lucrative as it once did. Unappreciative Govt. and then there is the Up and Down mood of the people... We love them, we hate them... where are they? and "we wish they'd go away." Some Americans are so bi-polar with their thinking, it is no wonder we are in the shape we are in. Think about your job for a second... sure you do the job for pay and benefits, but there is also the job satisfaction. How motivated are you, when you customer, the American people, are so damn fickle (love you and need you when towers are falling but quick to get on the MSM bandwagon and start burning flags if the conflict goes longer than 103 hours on the ground.
People don't realize that an E5 over 8 years, makes an average of 67% of minimum wage, while deployed. That's about $4.50 an hour. Yeah, that's right. as an E7, I barely cleared min wage, if factoring in all the hours... Yet these are the men and women that put their life on the line, every day, for each of us. (I say us, because over here in the litter box, it's all about the person on your left and right.)
If people continue turning their back on our military, they will one day, cease to do the job. Most people wouldn't do their job for free, so why should anyone expect those who lug a 100lb ruck, 32 lb weapon system and trudge off into hostile territory, to perform the job without compensation. You get out there with us and lug that gear around, sleep under a HMMWV in the sand, eat crappy food from a plastic bag for months on end, and when your government is thru with you, your back is shot, knees are broken from jumps, scars outnumber tattoos and your friends are no longer with you... see if you don't think the 20 years you dedicated to serving, doesn't deserve a pension. McDonalds workers (unskilled Labor) want 15$ an hour and benefits... yeah, not to crap all over fast food workers here, but what's the hazard there. Sure Johnny dipshit might slip on a grease spill...
I usually do not go off on others who never served, unless they get down on the Military. Sure, there is a humble part to a Soldier or Marine that tells us, let it go... but that is what Progressive Liberals want and expect... continued silence. SCREW THAT! Time to call a spade a spade is long over due. Especially now, when we in service can see the writing on the wall. This administration is cowardly, corrupt, tyrannical and inept. Is that what you really want representing our interests in the military? Lead by example, right?
To answer your question... are we really serving our nation? If you have to ask, then I pity you. Of course, numbskull... We've said it too many times to count, WE more than anyone else, see what is happening to the military, we are the ones that hold our oaths sacred and we are the ones that will be coming home to secure liberty.
Let me ask you something... what have you done to help preserve our rights and liberty, while we have been taking care of your dirty work for the past 12 years? "Zactly" Now get off your ass and DO WORK SON!
Thank you, Sean. Most of what you write is very good. Just to get this straight, a Private, Basic Airman or Sailor, will get a GROSS wage of $1,516.20. Remove the Social Security and Medicare they are required to pay, which is $115.99. This leaves this person a net check before income taxes, of $1,400.21, or, based on the civilian work month of 176 hours, $7.95 per hour. However, I am a fair person, so we need to add into this the value of a room, usually shared with at least on other person that is maybe 300 square feet, and includes only a shower, sink, and commode. A commode for you, Steve, is a toilet! Since this Private, Basic Airman or Sailor gets to eat in the Mess Hall, add some chow money, which the government states is equal to $352.27 for a month! The housing allowance for this same person is a government value of $487.20 a month! The total is now a monthly amount of $2,239.68. If using the basic civilian work month of 176 hours, this person is making about $12.72 per hour. Now, lets get to the real numbers. This person is probably working as much as 10 hours a day, at least 6 days a week. This is stateside. When they go over to another country, like Afghanistan, you can double that, or more. Therefore, try $8.61 stateside, then going into a combat zone, this can be cut in half or less. Do not go on the assumption the men and women are a bunch of idiots. They all are no less than a high school graduate and many of them have college, to include a degree. When I retired from the Marine Corps I had my MBA in Accounting.
By the way, Sean, we do not have E-7 or E-8 ranks in the Corps. We have Gunnery Sergeants (like me), Master Sergeant/First sergeants...you get the picture.
Semper Fi! GySgt Thomas Lakin, USMC Retired.
Gunny, yes I do. We work along side the Corps. But according to the structure I know of the Coprs, you do have E8 and E9. Being your Master Sgt/ First Sgt= E8, and Master Gunnery and Command Sgt MAJ= E9, much like the Army.
I like the way you took time to break it down. You're on the marker with the pay rates. So yes to those asking, deployed grunts and leathernecks can expect to come out with about $4.50 per hour. With the hours worked, load borne, and stress of the environment, by the time one goes home, parts start to wear out. All for less than minimum wage. Keep abusing vets, see what it gets us... remember the saying, you get what you pay for. Eventually all this is going to come back to bite all of us in the keester.
First, let me thank for your time in the military. I appreciate it very much!
Just to bring up-to-date with us Marines, when I was able to wear my uniform, on the upper portion of my sleeves you did not see this: E-7. What you would see were these, if I was in my Dress Blues . We referred to these as “chevrons”, that is because we knew zebras and tigers had stripes.
For payroll purposes and only because of the way all services are paid by their rank, we were assigned a military equivalent “pay grade”, mine being an "E-7" for payroll purposes. This way, every pay grade in the military with the same time in service was paid the same amount.
As to getting what you pay for, that is a real truism for us, but not Congress or the rest of the government. As far as I am concerned, Congress, the illegal alien in the White House and most of the rest of the government employees are so overpaid and underworked that all I want to do is pack all their collective asses up and ship them to the biggest sand pile over the big pond that I can find. Let them try to survive with the locals!
For now, I see the most important part for all of us to make sure we can set up a form of neighborhood notification so when these idiots try to take a neighbors weapons, the person being attacked can send out a signal. One thought I have is to use the type of alarm that the regular alarm companies use, making sure they are not connected to the regular power system, and they can be set off with a remote switch. Another thought I have is to make sure the doors are as strong as you can get, steel if possible, including the frame. The idiots will try to come in in the very early hours, so, make it so they cannot break in very easily, have the remote next to you and set off the alarm. That way, everyone in the neighborhood will know. They should grab their weapons and surround your house. Do you think those ATF or other idiots would volunteer to take a round for the illegal alien in the White House?
Semper Fi! GySgt Thomas Lakin, USMC Retired
We wear the Chevrons and Rockers too. I get where you were going with it now. If I would have said SFC, some might have wondered... is why I used the numeric rank structure.
Do I think the BATFE's Boys would take a bullet for him? On a personal level? no... But Hypothetically speaking, I think some would be willing to act upon over Zealous Gun registration and/or confiscation; acts against our Constitution. I look at two incidents in the early 90's (Waco and Ruby Ridge) where all they did was try to justify their actions of killing Americans, by tying the incidents to firearms.
I still watch the botched initial raid and think, wow... that's our professionals at work? And to think that they were repelled so quickly. My only regret was that Americans were watching it unfold, rather than stomping a mud hole in the asses of the agents involved... Especially Lon Horiuchi, the FBI Sniper who murdered Vikki Weaver in cold blood, was supposed to have been under suspension after that and wound up on one of the 3 sniper teams at Waco.
So yes, in a way, I believe... no, I know for a fact that there are those in official capacity that would place themselves in that position.
I agree that communication networks need to be established. Just as in the military, when we do hourly radio checks, people who are connected should have some sort of notification system set up. Could be alarms, phone calls, whatever. KISS (keep it simple stupid).
Following Waco and Ruby Ridge, there were several events in Ohio and Michigan that would have made the national news, but only made local news for the fact that no one was shot, arrested and LE pulled back when it subsided.
I do want to build on what you and I discuss here about getting what we pay for. I've been witness to the changes in our military over the past 26 years. Having entered the Army in June of 1987, taking a 6 year break in '95 and coming back just in time to get deployed 6 months later, it was quickly noticed that societal norms were being carried into the Military service. I am not down playing the military as a whole, but I will say that the skills of the individual coming into service post 9-11, was vastly different than that of my generation, and likely yours too. In contracting, it gets even worse. Starting my first DOD contract in 2006 to 2008, as a manager for a Force Pro contract in the Balkans, and later moving to PSD/PSS in Iraq in 2010- 2011, I started to notice that the hiring qualifications were loosening up, as the pay was dropping. I got several individuals with no qualifications in weapons handling, no experience in theater and quite frankly, that I wouldn't have trusted to wash my truck.
One constant did remain in the military though... Value. What I mean here is that even though young recruits were entering the service with far fewer capabilities or work ethics (in general), the upper cadre were still able to salvage many of them and turn them into valuable Soldiers. In the Military, this is one benefit the "management" has... the undivided attention of the recruit, during Basic Training. In the civilian world, you don't have that. People get butt sore when you scream at them, telling them their mother dropped them on their head, or they're retarded...(these being the lesser of the terms used) and usually, if this were experienced in the civilian world, most would quit, or file a lawsuit against you. politicking in the civilian side of Combat Theaters, is a much needed skill set to be successful... that and knowing where to go to hire quality.
Here's were the rift begins... those examples were "then"; we are living in the now. As more experienced and patriotic leaders are forced out of service; as more benefits are cut... over time all they will be able to indoctrinate and field, are those with poor educations, poor work ethics and no national loyalty. These, are characteristics that produce individuals that are easily broken in battle. They come on hard, but their fuse is short and wet... they fizzle.
I hope and pray that the information that is coming out, regarding SCOTUS moves against the POTUS, eligibility issues that are coming to light and the furtherance of investigations against this administration, are true and will not falter. I hope that the pressure mounted against this administration, continues until the mission is done. I know, that as we push harder through the courts, redress of grievance and protest... they become more desperate. I know, a desperate enemy, eventually goes for broke. With this, I know, some of us will be attacked... some of us will be killed... many of them, having made the decision to carry out acts of treason, will justifiably not make it home either. True are the words, Freedom isn't Free. The debt we pay in blood is precious indeed.
So, for now, I will coin a phrase dear to all service branches, though based upon the USMC motto... stay ever "Semper Gumby"! (flexible, for those asking) Keep up the good fight and see you in the field one day.