The continuing national conversation on military retirement, COLA reductions

By Chuck Wooten, CMSgt, USAF (Ret)

In what is shaping up to be devastating re-election efforts for many of our legislative representatives, few are showing signs of remorse for their vote in support of the Ryan-Murray budget.

In an open letter to the budget’s co-author, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, I chastised, or “Chief’d” him for his compromise on a long-term reduction in military retirement compensation provision of the budget while immediately afterward, asked me for a cash donation to the RNCC. It was very ill-timed and ill-advised.

The positive responses to the letter I received from civilians, service members and the media are astounding. The letter was posted to a private group on Facebook and within days had “gone viral.” I was subsequently invited on Fox News’ The Kelly File to discuss the letter and the impact of the COLA reduction. Within an hour of the show’s airing, I was also on Patriot Radio’s The David Webb Show to provide comment.

There was no response from Ryan. What could he say?

No response from him would appease the sleeping giant that has been awakened. The American people who took to social media, news media, and personal contact platforms to voice their growing outrage with our Government and their elected representatives are mad as hell.

They are tired of empty speeches, meaningless conversations with politicians who offer little in return but a blank stare, and broken promises.

While the open letter was used to make a single point to Congressman Ryan, the issue has grown into a much greater debate and morphed into a meaningful national conversation. That conversation is about the blatant disregard for military commitment and compensation for a job well done. Literally tens of millions of folks are engaged in the debate and are demanding to be heard.

The more Washington talks at us, rather than with us, the more obvious their disconnect becomes. Case in point: Congressman Ryan admits, “a mistake was made” when they included medically retired military veterans in the budget. In my view of this, I would offer a friendly amendment to the “mistake” comment. It was an unconscionable “mistake” to take earned compensation from any military retirees—at all!

Most will agree, military retirees earned every penny promised to them in continuing compensation for the faithful and honorable execution of their contract to serve for 20-plus years. That is a guaranteed promised made on “behalf of a grateful Nation.”

The Ryan-Murray budget flatly broke that promise.

To exacerbate the issue, Congressman Ryan says he got the idea from Secretary of Defense Hagel…the Washington blame game is alive and well!

What could make them think that the Nation’s veterans were a “harmless, timid, defenseless group” from whom they could steal? It must have been the fact that we have served this country in far worse circumstances without complaint. They must have had confidence that we would continue to take hits for our beloved country no matter what the cost. They are right; when necessary, we do what is necessary.

However, the massive, negative reaction to the budget from the entire American population demonstrates that no one is buying the lie. It wasn’t necessary to cut veterans’ benefits, but on Capitol Hill it was the easiest choice. The authors either believed that they would just “slip it by” the voters—again, or use the veterans – once again – as pawns.

The Americans are rising up as a free people and calling for an end this tyrannical abuse by our elected officials.

The people know that the Ryan-Murray budget is but a single, recent symptom of what America’s become under failed leadership. The giant swath of Americans that spoke out against the thievery against military retirees must be taken seriously as they, nearly overnight, became a huge force to be reckoned with.

During The Kelly File interview, I mentioned that any suggested “fix” of this provision that did not involve a complete removal of it was an abject failure. I, and two million of my retiree brothers and sisters in arms, stand by that statement and as a group are not interested or willing to accept anything less.

Of course, I agree with the correction of the fiscal disaster that has befallen America over the past decade. What I do not and will never agree to is a blatant attempt to marginalize the fighting men and women of this Nation by stealing promised benefits that were in exchange for unwavering commitment and sacrifice.

Instead of the Government holding up a mirror to itself to find the money they need to “right the ship” of the economy, they have chosen to victimize the American military. My message to every representative that voted YEA on this budget: American warriors are never victims. You had every opportunity to do the right thing by our troops and you chose instead to continue to turn a blind eye to payments for illegal immigrants; rampant Fraud, Waste and Abuse within the bloated Agency budgets (GSA—need I say more?); or by taking a single page from Senator Tom Coburn’s Annual Waste Book to find the paltry $6 Billion you pilfered from the military.

To all you that voted YEA, I leave you with this: Do not be surprised when your re-election efforts fall flat. I’ve heard personally from your constituents…they are on a mission to vote you out. Your votes have consequences.

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About Letter to the Editor 355 Articles
Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comment on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.