Edmonds Military Wire: Veterans sacrifice more in new budget

While some are celebrating the passing of the Congressional budget that will fund the government past Jan. 15, 2014, averting another shutdown and setting spending levels through fiscal 2015, veterans groups across the country are not pleased.

Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler

The budget deal requires new civilian federal workers and military retirees to contribute $12 billion in savings overall — $6 billion from each group — to help partially cancel the sequester for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015.

Current federal employees are not affected by the pension changes.

As reported by GovExec, a leading publication that tracks the Beltway initiatives and hot topics, “Working-age military retirees would receive less generous pensions until they reach the age of 62. The cost-of-living adjustment for those eligible retirees younger than 62 would be 1 percent less than the rate of inflation beginning on Dec. 1, 2015, until the retiree reaches age 62.”

What has working age military and veterans across the country up in arms is the broken promise to preserve and honor the contract of service. What also weighs heavy is that current federal employees are not impacted, causing some to suggest Congress values desk jockeys and bureaucrats over men, women and their families who answer the call of service to our military.

Another area that is causing concern is that the current bill does not exempt disabled veterans from the pension changes.

Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., who has been a longstanding advocate on veterans’ issues, plans to introduce stand-alone legislation that would exclude the retirement benefits of disabled veterans and their survivors from the pension changes.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis, who assisted Murray on brokering the budget deal, plans to support Murray’s legislation that would protect disabled veterans.

The timing on when Senator Murray will announce this new legislation is yet to be announced.

Despite uproar from military and veteran organizations, several “insiders” shared with me that the Department of Defense is satisfied with the budget as it preserves some critical training and preparedness areas of their budget.

In addition, many federal employees are breathing a sigh of relief.

Bottom line: Expect change. How you deal with it often determines the quality of your life.

– By Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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