This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of spending time with the National Association of State Directors of Veteran’s Affairs. These men and women are dedicated to ensuring that our veterans and their families receive the benefits and services owed to them – but no matter their dedication, if funds get cut there isn’t much they can do about it.
As Washington looks to squeeze savings from entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, another program — the health and pension benefits of military retirees — is growing rapidly; this makes it a prime target for cuts.
Military pensions and health care for active and retired troops now cost the government about $100 billion a year, representing an expanding portion of both the Pentagon budget and the national debt, which together finance the programs.
A recent New York Times article called military health and pension benefits a social welfare program – which is far from accurate. Those who have served, and certainly those who are paying attention, know that military health care and retirement benefits are earned. Often our service members will sacrifice pay, knowing that they will be compensated through benefits. The deal could change.
The intense push in Congress this year to reduce the debt has suddenly made retiree benefits vulnerable. The question is, should these cuts go through, will it make our country more vulnerable?