By Debbie Gregory.
A new bill was introduced to the U.S. Senate on January 16th that could potentially save military pensions. Senate bill S.1950 was written and sponsored by chairman of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The bill is intended to repeal the already approved controversial budget cut that will reduce military pensions for all armed forces retirees who are under the age of 62.
In addition to saving military pensions, S. 1950 is designed to expand other Veteran benefits, improving medical and dental care for Veterans. The bill would also affect Veteran education benefits and caretaker stipends. Essentially, if approved, S.1950 would improve the lives of Veterans and their families. But as it now stands with the current budget in place, working aged military retirees are set to have their pensions reduced, starting in 2016.
According to Sen. Sanders, S.1950 could cost up to $30 billion over 10 years. This is no small sum of money. However, Sanders and supporters of the bill are quick to point out that the money would be spent on a legitimate and necessary cause, the men and women who served their country.
Opponents to S.1950 will say that an able-bodied 40 year old should not expect to receive a full retirement. The opponent to this bill will ask why is it fair that this person should receive a full pension and other Americans must work until they’re of retirement age to receive their pensions.
To opponents of the S.1950, we should answer their questions with questions of our own: Have you served in the armed forces? Did you ever sign a contract and raise your right hand and swear to fight in support or defense of your country and its constitution? Have you ever put yourself at risk for anyone or anything other than yourself, your family, or your property? Did you ever say good-bye to your family for months and years at a time, wondering when or if you would ever see them again? Did you ever spend any holiday, or your spouse’s, child’s, or your own birthday away from your home and your family? And have you ever knowingly confronted ALL of these adversities, for 20 years, solely based on the contractual promise of a better life for you and your family, if you survived? Military retirees have. And now our Veterans are being cheated out of their full pensions by the same people who sent them to war.
Many Veterans groups have voiced their support of the bill. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Wounded Warrior Project, and the Military Officers Association of America are among the Veterans groups who have voiced their support of S.1950.
Military pensions have already been approved to be reduced for working aged retirees. In order to repeal the approved budget and give Veterans what is owed to them, a new bill, be it S.1950 or one like it, must be approved by Congress. To accomplish this task, every citizen is urged to pressure their local Representative or Senator. Every military retiree, Veteran, dependent and supporter is urged to join the fight to save military pensions. Contact your lawmakers and tell them that you will not stand by while they betray the men and women who have served their country.