Congress has turned back on military again
by Ted Daywalt
December 24, 2013 10:00 PM | 1641 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The two-year spending bill passed the Senate by a bipartisan 64 to 36 vote on Wednesday will be sent to the president’s desk and includes a provision that penalizes working age military retirees younger than 62 by cutting a full one percent from future cost of living adjustments.

Veteran Service Organizations like the VFW and American Legion have calculated that a gunnery sergeant or sergeant first class (E-7) with 20 years of service would lose more than $80,000 in income by age 62. Officers could lose as much as $140,000.

The budget also unfairly punishes those who have been medically retired as a result of their wounds defending our nation.

These cuts were only directed at the military.

One would not mind taking a financial hit as long as it is evenly applied to all in the interests of deficit reduction. However, to be a part of a group specifically singled out by Congress while other entitlements are untouched smacks of grave injustice.

This is totally unacceptable. It will have a devastating impact on retirement benefits for retirees and survivors and jeopardizes the future value of military career benefits, while also adversely affecting recruitment, retention and our national security.

While Veteran Service Organizations are working with members in both the House and Senate to find a bipartisan solution that will replace this unacceptable provision, the fact that it was included speaks volumes to veterans who put their lives on the line and sacrificed for America.

The Congress has in essence said once again that promises made to the military by Congress will not be kept. The silence from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and from the White House tells the same tale. Our president and military leaders no longer protect the backs of the troops. If the president signs this legislation, he is confirming again he does not care about the military.

George Washington once said: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

Washington was referring to the nation’s citizens on whose behalf her military veterans have served and sacrificed as well as the government.

I had the opportunity to serve and spent 28 years in the Navy and retired as a captain. They were the best 28 years of my life. But with this spending bill I cannot in good conscience recommend any youth of America today to join the military.

By this bill, the Congress has proven that the military is no longer important. The promises made by Congress, of which many over the years have been broken, can no longer be counted on. For the Congress to say they support the military is the height of hypocrisy with this budget bill.

It is a sad day for those who have given their lives, been wounded and dedicated themselves to the protection of the country.

America no longer deserves the dedication and sacrifice its military has given.

Capt. Ted Daywalt, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is president of VetJobs in Marietta.

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