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‘Slowing the growth’ is really a failure: Learn from history

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Well, the good news is that there is a defense budget that actually was published on time.

Unfortunately, much of what is in the budget hits soldiers and their families in the wallet.

First, the defense department proposes a below-inflation pay raise that DoD calls "slowing the growth." We call it a failure to learn from history.

Below private sector inflation rate military raises in the 80s and 90s are what led to the 13.5 percent pay gap that it has taken more than a decade of above-inflation pay raises to reduce. It seems to fly in the face of logic to go down that road again.

DoD calls for below-inflation pay raises for the next five years.

Regardless of how you calculate it, when you add those reduced pay increases to the two that troops have already received, you will get close to a double-digit pay gap.

Add to that reduced spending power, the proposal to cut BAH subsidies by 5 percent over the next four years, and the proposal to cut commissary subsidies and proposed higher deductibles and copays for families using TRICARE and you get a big hit in the wallets of those who volunteered to serve our country.

Is there any doubt that when families discuss this over the dinner table, that the subject of leaving the service just might come up?

When potential recruits talk to their parents, many of whom have served in the military, do you think the idea that benefits for those serving now are being eroded just might give pause to young folks thinking about joining?

The most important thing to remember about these proposals is that Congress has the final say. It is Congress that you must tell about the impact of these proposals on your life and your family finances.

AUSA has prepared a letter to Congress that urges them to preserve military and veteran benefits, to keep the pay gap closed and to end sequestration permanently.

Add your voice to ours and send the letters using our website. Go to www.ausa.org, click on the red "Contact Congress" button on the right side of the page.

Enter your zip code in the box titled "Elected Officials and then click on the prepared letters "Protect Military Benefits," "Keep the Pay Gap Closed," and "End Sequestration Permanently."

Together we can fight to keep the target of budget cuts out of the wallets of soldiers and their families.

As readers of AUSA NEWS know, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president, is very concerned about the repercussions the spending cuts mandated by sequestration cause throughout DoD, exemplified by the reductions in this budget proposal.

Among the repercussions is a growth in the perception that military benefits might be ‘overly generous’ and need to more closely mirror private sector benefits.

Gen. Sullivan has made a concerted effort through letters to Congress and media outreach to send the message that:

The automatic, mindless cuts imposed by sequestration put the nation’s defense posture at serious risk.

Military service requires extraordinary sacrifice by those serving and their families over two to three decades – in essence, they write a blank check to the United States for an amount up to and including their life.

The unique nature of military retirement and healthcare benefits plays a key role in inducing high quality people to serve a full career under arduous conditions that civilians do not face.

Our government imposes no limits on the sacrifices of those who serve a career in uniform – less than one percent of our population – and in turn it must provide a substantial and predictable compensation package.

The richest nation on earth can afford to continue the current retirement system and benefits package for those few who defend it with a lifetime of service, if we as a nation are truly committed to those who are willing to carry our colors into battle.

To these thoughts we will add that Congress has provided military retirement, compensation and health benefits that exceed civilian benefits as an essential offset to the unique demands and sacrifices inherent in a military career, which far surpass the demands made on civilian workers.

This is hardly the right and prudent time to impose further financial sacrifices on military beneficiaries.

Read AUSA NEWS each month for the latest information on what will be an interesting legislative year.

- See more at: http://www1.ausa.org/publications/ausanews/archives/2015/04/Pages/%E2%80...