Thursday, December 19, 2013

A devastating blow for veterans

Yesterday the boys and I did something completely new. We watched C-SPAN all day as the senate debated and ultimately voted on the Ryan/Murray Bipartisan Budget (H.J Res 59).

Having an official budget in place and avoiding another government shutdown sounds great, right?! But did you know they also included a bit about where they should get funds to help lower the deficit. I know, what you're thinking, and no, congress is not taking a pay cut.

Instead they voted 64 to 36 that retired veterans, disabled or not, will take a COLA decrease every year until they turn 62 years of age.

Let me put this another way. An E-6 who retires after 20 years of service is only eligible for $14,820 yearly. The current poverty line in America is set at $15,510 a year for 2 people. So if this E-6 is married, supporting children, or has a former spouse entitled to part of their retirement pay, this E-6 is not making a living wage according to our nations stats. And this is still before the COLA decrease.

That's kind of the low end of the spectrum. Let's look at a retired E-6. After 20 years of service they are only eligible for $37,312 a year. Again, that's assuming that they are getting every penny of their 50% pay after taxes.

That's not a shockingly high number.

I'm not going to go into what a congressional members pension looks like, but if you want to see a high number, I recommend reading this.

Here's what's worrisome. These veterans signed a contract. In this contract they were PROMISED certain retirement benefits, and now congress is laughing.  Promised? Promises are for campaign trails.

In fact Senator McCain stood on the senate floor and asked "What's the big deal?"
The big deal senator, is that not only are you stealing the "benefits" these men and women worked hard for, but you are sending a message to every single American, that we, as a country, will not take care of our own.

Military members don't get paid overtime. They are not guaranteed holidays with their families. Their bodies aren't even their own- they are considered "government property".
Many military members live paycheck to paycheck, and even with their full-time job, they still qualify for low-income subsidies. Why was it necessary to implement WIC overseas? Because sometimes it's hard to live on a military paycheck.

There is a petition asking President Obama to veto the bill. If you're interested you can sign it here.

Senator Murray- who co-wrote this bill stated that the inclusion of disabled veterans in this bill was a "technical error", yet made no attempt at trying to fix it. In fact, the very opposite happened. This bill was not allowed to be amended. Yes. You read that right.
It was not allowed to be amended.

You can also contact your state senators and urge them to fix the bill, as they promised to do on the senate floor yesterday.

Edit: Here's how the decrease will directly affect one family- This is an E-8 with 20+ years of service.