Thread: You Wanna Take Away My WHAT?!?!?

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  1. #1 You Wanna Take Away My WHAT?!?!? 
    I don’t normally delve into politics too deeply (at least publicly) when I’m on a deployment. In my opinion, harsh criticism of leadership is counter-productive in an environment where we need to be unified, sharply honed and focused to the task at hand. Throwing accusations and castigating remarks at the “powers that be” can confuse a soldier, and often, cause them to lose faith in their leadership and (ultimately) their purpose and themselves.

    However, there has recently (within the past month) been an issue that rose to the surface of media attention for a short time, faded into obscurity, then (recently) resurfaced within the past few days. I feel it is important to bring this topic to your attention and give it the focus it deserves. I’m talking about Military Retirement and Veteran’s Benefit Plans.

    For generations, our military has answered the call to defend and preserve freedom and liberty from all manner of threats. Millions have perished in the pursuit of this cause and millions more, still to this day, place themselves in harm’s way for no other reason than the fact that their country called them to do so.
    Today, Military Service Members (on active duty) have a retirement plan that pays one-half of their current salary after the service member has completed 20 years of active service. This is a benefit that has been in place for decades and one of the major incentives for persons who pursue a 20+ year career.

    Reservists and National Guard Members (currently) have a retirement plan based upon a “point system” that calculates time-in-service, pay-grade and age. Basically, these service members accumulate “points” that are counted towards “years in service” (e.g. 360 points = 1 year, 7200 points = 20 years).

    It would seem that (certain members of) the leadership of the very Nation we serve is now considering legislation to obliterate the paltry sum of money we are promised for our service, and institute another “program” that, in all seriousness, causes serious doubt and concern among veterans.

    In a recent (joint) interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta confirmed that the Pentagon is considering a drastic plan to do away with our current (promised) 20-year retirement plan, and implement a revised, GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED “401k” style plan. This topic recently resurfaced in the newly unveiled deficit-reduction plan released by the White House.

    Now, I mean no offense to anyone out there with a 401k. I too, have one from my time I spent employed at American Airlines (well… what little of it remains after the last 3 years of stock debacle). However, when I hired in to American, I knew UP FRONT what my retirement options were and I chose to participate. Not to mention, I had FULL CONTROL of the money in my 401k savings plan; American Airlines couldn’t touch it. This new plan the White House is proposing, if implemented, will essentially break all faith with the current ranks. If you have any doubt, look at what happened to our “Social Security” system.

    The average enlisted soldier doesn’t have a “golden parachute” to look forward to. Heck, Military service or not, most of us don’t. Even the average Officer (who makes considerably more than an enlisted man) is in the same boat. We work hard, serve our employer; we sign an employment agreement/contract and we BOTH are expected to hold our (respective) ends of the bargain. It would seem that (in the military’s case) someone has decided that our contractual agreement is now “subject to change” because our government simply cannot “afford” to keep their end of the deal. Apparently, we “cost” too much.

    Let’s explore that. We (the military) make up less than 1% (.794% to be almost exact) of the population. That’s a pretty remarkable thing when you think about it. Less than 1% of the ENTIRE United States population takes the oath and defends her. In case you’re wondering, that’s about 2,475,967 service members (combined) across all the branches of our military (To put it in perspective, roughly 16 Million men and women served during WWII – meaning we’re only 15% of what we once were).

    The overall total number of living veterans (both prior service and currently still in service) is approximately 22 million. That’s roughly 7% of the total population. Of that 22 million, approximately 9,800,000 receive pensions and benefits ( I break it all down later). That’s [roughly] 3.14% of the U.S. (veteran) population that receive pensions and benefits.

    Now… I think we can all agree that the percentages are small. However, the “powers that be” don’t highlight this fact. They choose to highlight dollar figures that will (appear to) justify their logic in dissolving Veteran’s Benefits. For example, it’s no secret that the average total amount of federal government spending for veteran’s benefits programs is approximately $95.6 Billion. HOLY $H!!ZZA!!! That seems like a staggering amount!! But wait… it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do simple math.

    Let’s work it out. Take 95.6 Billion and Divide it by 9.8 Million. That works itself out to be approximately $9,755.10 per veteran / year (averaged). That’s it? Yep. That’s it. Uhhhh wait.. no. That’s not “it”. There’s More… well.. Actually less....

    Of that 95.6 Billion, $44.7 billion went to compensation and pensions (taxable income), $43.4 billion for medical programs and the remainder to other programs, such as vocational rehabilitation and education. In other words, it’s not like this astronomical figure ($95.6 Billion) went directly into the pockets of veterans. A large percentage of this money is taxable… which means a portion of it went BACK to the government. Furthermore, the remaining money was used to pay doctors and medical professionals for their services to vets, and finally, what little is left is spent to pay teachers and vocational instructors. In summary… a HUGE percentage of this money is invested back into communities by paying for goods and services that veterans NEED. Veteran’s actually “pocket” a very small sum of this money. However, If you were to listen to the spin some proponents of the “benefit overhaul”, you’d think we were all out buying small private islands to retire on. HEY! Not a bad idea… I’ll get to that later.

    Now I’ll try to break it down further. It’s not fair to assume that EVERY Veteran gets a piece of this ($95.6 Billion) pie. Many do not. Some veterans do their initial tour or two in the military and choose to get out pursuing other vocational and professional interests. Many of them never even claim a benefit (although they are entitled). There are approximately 9.8 million people who make up this crowd.

    Approximately another 9 million veterans are over the age of 65 (retired) and enjoying the remaining golden years of their lives (presumably on their “private islands”, right?)

    That leaves us with approximately 3.2 Million veterans. Roughly 2.4 Million + serving in uniform, the remainder (maybe 800,000 or so), are under age 65, retired; medically disabled, or simply hanging out on their “private island” somewhere off the radar.

    Now I’ve thrown a lot of numbers at you but what I’m trying to illustrate to you is how incredible SMALL the numbers really are when you break it down into manageable pieces. Now, let’s compare this to other expenditures our fine government has seen fit to “invest in”.

    <Continued on next post>
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  2. #2 You Wanna Take Away My WHAT?!!? (cont) 
    The approximate number of individual welfare CASELOADS in the United States is 4,963,771. Now… a “caseload” can entail anything from a single person to a household of people but…for the sake of discussion (and my limited math skills), let’s just “assume” we’re talking about 1 person per case. That equals out to about 1.59% of the population. Now… who in the class wants to guess what the annual expense for this group is? Any takers?

    FOUR HUNDRED and NINTEY FIVE BILLION, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND Smackeroos! (That’s just too awesome to not spell out.) HOLY BEEJEEBUS!! That's nearly a HALF-TRILLION DOLLARS!!! You talk about a private island…? WOW! Seriously though, that works itself out to around $99,843.45 per “caseload” per year. The only problem is…. It’s not really per year; it’s more than that. It’s climbing. Every year we spend more… and MORE.

    Ok, Ok… I get it… I’ll freely admit that some folks just need some help in life. I contribute to charities and devote my time (when I’m not out here in Afghanistan dodging bullets and IED’s). I’ve seen the depravity of our economic climate and the devastation it has wrought through the lives of thousands and thousands (well wait… I guess that’s Millions and Millions… but I haven’t actually “seen” that many… you get my point) a WHOLE BUNCH of folks need help. I get it. But what I can’t get my head around is…. Why are VETERANS being TARGETED for budget cuts?!?!? Oh…. My bad. I guess it’s because we have a sworn duty to serve our country… even if it means “sacrificing” our hard-earned retirement and throwing ourselves and our families onto the sacrificial alter of fiscal irresponsibility.

    No… not this kid. Not this time. I want my island…. And here’s how...

    There are currently about 13 BILLION DOLLARS in earmarked funds JUST FOR “highway improvements” that can never be spent because some bonehead congressman/woman tried to earmark money for roads that don’t exist. Some “bean counter” caught the “mistake” and the funds are now just sitting there…locked in an escrow account, un-invested and wasted. Well… I got a road. It’s called the ULTIMATE EXPRESSWAY to Erik’s Totally Kick Ass Retirement Party and Private Island. I’ll even invite every Friend on my FaceBook Page and their friends too!! Heck… I’ll split it evenly with every member of my Battalion. That’s about $18 Million apiece. Not bad… and I’ll tell you what, Mr. “Military Pension Revamp Man”, you can keep mine. Just toss me one of these absolutely LUDICROUS demonstrations of totally wasted taxpayer money, and you’ll never hear from me again!!!

    Whoa….. ok. That was fun, but back to reality.

    Serious business folks. You and I know that “Uncle Sugar” is never gonna hand any one of us a chunk of cheddar like I mentioned above. The reality is… We (military) aren’t looking to screw the U.S. taxpayer out of their hard earned money. We only want what we rightfully EARNED. Nothing more… Nothing less.

    My “preamble” up to this point had multiple purposes. To try to keep you interested; humored and, in some small way, aware of what is happening. I’m not trying to deliberately target welfare recipients, nor make fun of their misfortune. Nor am I trying to make light of the seriousness of our current fiscal condition. There are TRILLIONS of dollars wasted on senseless things each and every year. Our fiscal deficit is so desperately in dire straits yet, our government is still spending like a bunch of drunken sailors (no offense to my sailor buddies but, I’ve drank with you guys and I know how it goes). What I AM trying to do is illustrate to you (and whoever would take interest) that the paltry sum of money collectively received by veterans through their pensions and/or benefits is NOT the reason for our financial deficit. Bogus Earmarks, Corporate Welfare, Over-inflated Military Expenditures (yes… I really said that), welfare fraud-waste and abuse, and Soooo much more. Trillions are on the current spending “plan”, folks. 3.73 Trillion to be exact. That’s a 1 with TWELVE ZEROS multiplied by 3.73. Just look at this baby… $3,730,000,000,000.00

    Ok… just for fun…. Let’s subtract 1 and spell it out:
    Three trillion, seven hundred twenty-nine billion, nine hundred ninety-nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine dollars and zero cents.

    THAT is simply Un-freaking’-believable. Can you imagine writing out a check? I’d have to pause halfway through for lunch or something.

    Ok… Movin’ on…

    Military Pension…Sure… I freely admit I have a vested interest in the matter. My retirement may be at stake; however, I’m gravely concerned about something more. I don’t have a lot of time left in the military (maybe less if the right people take exception to this message). Sure… I’ve got a few years left but, there will come a time when I must leave this institution and pass the torch on to others who will carry it forward. THEY need the assurance that they will receive compensation and financial income beyond their term of service.

    One of the beautiful and calculated reasons for our current retirement structure (50% of base pay after 20 years) is to galvanize and encourage service members to achieve greatness; to get promoted, to rise in the rank structure and, in doing so, achieve (and SECURE) a larger pension. Service Members who assume greater responsibilities and achieve promotions into demanding leadership positions DESERVE a HIGHER pension. It’s just that simple. You take that away… and why bother? Truth is… many will realize quickly enough that they can achieve a greater retirement and security out in the private sector. The Ranks of this honored institution will suffer from the sheer acts of self preservation by service members who have been driven out because they need to find a means to secure their solid financial future for themselves and their families.

    We need your help. Like I mentioned above, the total veteran population makes up about 7% of the TOTAL population. However, I truly believe that the combined numbers of our families and supporters can reach a staggering number, one that even the most pompous politician cannot ignore.

    Below is a link to find your local Congressman/woman and or Senator. Send them a message. Let them know that, before they decide to saddle their fiscal irresponsibility on U.S. Services Members both Past, Present and Future, they need to get their own act together and pass legislation to end the reckless spending spree. We DO have a voice. We have a VOTE. Let them know that THEIR actions do carry consequences.

    http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

    Oh… and before you go lambasting a poor unsuspecting Congressional Representative or Senator, don’t fall for the false rumor going around that claims members of congress get 100% of their salary for life after serving 1 term… yadda yadda yadda. That’s simply not true. They do (in fact) only receive a percentage of their salary, not to exceed 80% of their base salary their FIRST year of retire… wait… what the..??? EIGHTY PERCENT?!?!? And MY 50% is gonna bankrupt the pentagon?!?!?!?

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    Oh… and try not to make mention of the $1,446,009.00/year they (each) get for what’s called a “Members’ representational allowance (MRA)” (I’m not making this up). They’re kinda sensitive about that sort of thing.

    But seriously to you brave souls who managed to read all the way through this diatribe, THANK YOU for your continued support. I know this has been a long-winded read. I tried to keep it interesting but PLEASE, in all seriousness, this is a BIG issue for veterans. We need your help and support on this one.

    Best regards and (hopefully) bright futures,
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  3. #3  
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    Good post. Lengthy but informative. I am retiring as of 1 March. I served 26 years total active and reserve. I get paid for just under 22 for retirement. I assure you and the nation that I am grateful for serving and don't regret it. I was shocked however at the Voo Doo math that calculates my retirement check. The final number was less than overwhelming. I will have to find at least part time work to make ends meet.

    I have no bills or debt other than two mortgages and I'll be able to pay those. Keeping the lights on and groceries stocked is the only worry other than the liberals looting our treasury into oblivion. I will take an active role in politics once I retire and work to expose and defeat every liberal vermin in my area and Nationally when able. These turds don't appreciate this country and certainly don't deserve the freedoms I have spent a lifetime protecting.

    Welcome aboard Witmaster.
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  4. #4  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    Throw all those numbers around, and I'm lost.


    Is the plan to drastically change the pension plan of those currently serving, or for those who haven't enlisted yet?

    I have a pension, but everyone hired after 1997 by the state has a 401K plan, with matching contributions. Everyone who already was in the pension plan got to stay in it. If that is the way they are going to do it , then at least you and other current actives and retirees keep their current plans.
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  5. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    Throw all those numbers around, and I'm lost.


    Is the plan to drastically change the pension plan of those currently serving, or for those who haven't enlisted yet?

    I have a pension, but everyone hired after 1997 by the state has a 401K plan, with matching contributions. Everyone who already was in the pension plan got to stay in it. If that is the way they are going to do it , then at least you and other current actives and retirees keep their current plans.
    Both. They are looking every year at eroding benefits for veterans. Since I joined, several things have eroded. The retirement proposals are for future retirees. The all volunteer force is working well but that isn't good enough for DIMs. Once again the liberals want to "fix" what isn't broken.:(
    I will predict now that if this new retirement happens, the force will suffer either in numbers, quality, or both.
    Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
    C. S. Lewis
    Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. (Are you listening Barry)?:mad:
    Ayn Rand
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  6. #6  
    The proposal also includes a pay freeze while increasing out Tri-Care (health care) premiums and co-payments. Furthermore, Military Retirees will be required to pay increased premiums for their healthcare as well.

    Aside from the obvious reason that this impacts me and other veterans, what really pissed me off was the language they use to sell this. They portraying the United States Military personnel and some sort of culture within our government who receive benefits and "perks" that are far to "generous".

    Generous?!?!? Are you shitting me?!?! Out of the past 22 months I have been home (maybe) for 3 of them. We've buried 12 men in the past 3 months fighting this damn war.

    Now don't me wrong, we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into when we joined up. But to look at the totality of what we must endure, and then hear our commander-in-chief state our benefits are "generous" is a bit disjointing to me.
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  7. #7  
    Zoomie djones520's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    Throw all those numbers around, and I'm lost.


    Is the plan to drastically change the pension plan of those currently serving, or for those who haven't enlisted yet?

    I have a pension, but everyone hired after 1997 by the state has a 401K plan, with matching contributions. Everyone who already was in the pension plan got to stay in it. If that is the way they are going to do it , then at least you and other current actives and retirees keep their current plans.
    Last I heard, the military leadership flat out said that the plan won't change for those serving right now. We were promised something when we joined, we will get it. But Congress may have something differant to say about that. I highly doubt that they'd override what all our leaders are advising, but who knows.
    In most sports, cold-cocking an opposing player repeatedly in the face with a series of gigantic Slovakian uppercuts would get you a multi-game suspension without pay.

    In hockey, it means you have to sit in the penalty box for five minutes.
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  8. #8  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djones520 View Post
    Last I heard, the military leadership flat out said that the plan won't change for those serving right now. We were promised something when we joined, we will get it. But Congress may have something differant to say about that. I highly doubt that they'd override what all our leaders are advising, but who knows.

    If you serve this country in the military in the all-volunteer system, you are pretty much making a career of risking your life, or at the least, giving up your life for a long period of time in order to serve. I don't know of too many people who just serve for 2 years anymore. You should get the deal you signed on for.
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  9. #9  
    Zoomie djones520's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    If you serve this country in the military in the all-volunteer system, you are pretty much making a career of risking your life, or at the least, giving up your life for a long period of time in order to serve. I don't know of too many people who just serve for 2 years anymore. You should get the deal you signed on for.
    I believe the total percentage of folks who stick it out to retirement are 30%. So it's a good size, but not a huge number of the total force.
    In most sports, cold-cocking an opposing player repeatedly in the face with a series of gigantic Slovakian uppercuts would get you a multi-game suspension without pay.

    In hockey, it means you have to sit in the penalty box for five minutes.
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  10. #10  
    Best Bounty Hunter in the Forums fettpett's Avatar
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    honestly the entire Military should get raises, and as good a pension as Congress.
    "Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings..." Patrick Henry
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