Last year, Congress passed a bipartisan budget which was heavily supported by both Republicans and Democrats. A provision included a reduction in the Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) annual raises of military retirees under age 62-presumably because they are still young enough to find another job (according to Congressman Paul Ryan R-WI). What ended up being collateral damage to these Veteran cuts was the COLA increases for those Veterans who were so seriously injured from wounds sustained in combat with the enemy that the military was forced to retire them.
After the uproar from the Veteran community, Congress swore to never balance the budget on the backs of the Military or Veterans. Congress promised to introduce bills to reverse “what had to be done” in the first place, indicating that cuts could have been made elsewhere.
Now, Congress is set to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for 2015. Key provisions of it are a 1 percent reduction in the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) amounts, reducing the statutory 1.8 percent pay raise for the Military to only 1 percent and an increase for prescription medication copays if obtained off base. Sadly, these reductions are less than what the Department of Defense wanted. DoD asked for a 5 percent reduction in BAH (over 3 years) and an increase of prescription medication by $30 (spread over a decade).
These mean our Military families are taking a huge hit. The BAH will mean more out of pocket costs for service members that reside off base. The higher copays also come out of pocket. These cuts are due to the rising cost of personnel ($177 Million out of the $496 Million non-war budget), and civilian employees increase the cost to almost half of that budget.
America is embarking on a new way of using our military might, and our presence. It is a system of perpetual deployments. We already have troops deployed to Africa fighting Ebola; still deploying to Afghanistan fighting the Taliban; returning for new deployments in Iraq to fight ISIS/ISIL; and now preparing for deployments to Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim. Troops will have less Time on Station with their families, reducing morale and increasing stress with the higher Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO). These cuts will further add stress to the deployed troops who will worry about their family finances. PTSD will rise as will Veteran care after discharge.
Personnel are the key to our military might and our national defense. Without good people, America’s best men and women, all of our equipment is worthless. As is all of our planning. The Veterans Party of America believes that we must first take care of our Warrior forces before purchasing newer equipment to replace weapon systems which are already some of the best in the world. This is the results of the “compromises” we hear DC speaking of, all the time. Surely there must be other places to cut, not just the men and women, and their families, which are defending our nation. The VPA also recognizes these cuts are only a part of the NDAA. Further cuts to Military and Veteran benefits can still come with a new budget.
It is time to make cuts where needed. Cut the extravagant dollar amounts still spent on defense contractors. Our weapon systems are sufficient to last at least another decade while our nation gets back on its feet. As far as further cuts through the budget, we accept the necessary cuts, if applied across the board. Congressional leaders should cut their own salaries, perks and benefits, leading by example. Corporate welfare should be removed or reduced to not collapse our economy, as well as personal welfare abuses should be scrutinized and cut as necessary. Persons on public assistance should never earn more than our military members in combat.
Join the Veterans Party of America and replace those in office who have forgotten they represent the people of this nation. Once cuts are made to those fighting for our country, anyone could be next. Cuts could happen to Social Security and Medicare, leaving our elderly to suffer financially. It is time we put a stop to the mismanagement of our tax money by our elected officials. It is time that “We The People” take control once again.