The recent budget agreement which passed a Senate cloture vote on Tuesday, is understandably troublesome to many veterans. While spending cuts may help to ensure a more sustainable future, it can come at a grave cost to some of the most devoted Americans you could ever find.
A Washington Post article explains that this budget proposal is going to be a tough sell, and rightfully so. The budget agreement calls for a 1 percent cut in cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in retiree pay. However, this would only apply to those who retire after 20 years of military service, and are not disabled (and are typically in their 40s).
The reasoning? Because it will save $6.2 billion over the next 10 years.
You might think it seems petty to complain about this, especially since this deal would avoid another government shutdown for at least 2 years.
Unfortunately, when this deal was proposed, it was stated that it would only affect non-disabled, working-age military retirees who had served 20-plus years in the military. We now know that this is not the case.
It was discovered that this budget deal, in fact, does not offer an exemption for disabled veteran retirees. This deal is going to hurt many veterans that have truly earned every cent of their retirement pay. And for the ones who cannot physically work, despite being “working age,” this is really going to hurt.
Our service members who have served more than 20 years have made many unimaginable sacrifices. These sacrifices not only impacted their lives, but also the lives of all their loved ones around them.
Now, I recognize the need for cuts, and realize that a government shutdown is just as harmful to veterans as anything. And it is far from my place to say where those cuts should be made. One thing I do know, however, is that when lawmakers pull out the fiscal knife, veterans–especially those who are disabled–have earned the right to never be placed on the cutting board.
Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret.)