President Barack Obama recently released proposals to reduce the national deficit by creating new Tricare fees, restructuring military pharmacy benefits and creating a BRAC-style commission to look at ways to “civilianize” the military retirement system. What do these proposals buy us? Twenty-seven billion dollars saved over 10 years and generations of servicemembers who question our commitment to national defense and those who provide it.
And that is only the beginning. Sadly, for America and her warriors, the horizon seems dotted with pink slips and broken promises. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns that if looming trillion-dollar cuts to national defense are enacted, national unemployment will rise by 1 percent. That’s more than 1.53 million jobs lost; many of them servicemembers and defense civilians. Even if Secretary Panetta overstated the devastation by nearly 70 percent, the nation still faces 500,000 newly unemployed. Such job losses would equal more people than the number of unemployed in West Virginia, New Mexico, Maine, Nebraska, Montana, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alaska, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming and North Dakota combined.
For our brave men and women in uniform, the threat of getting a late paycheck during a government shutdown will pale in comparison to the prospect of joining the ranks of the unemployed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans who left military service in the last decade face nearly 12 percent unemployment, with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans specifically facing an acutely high 22 percent jobless rate. A recent piece in The Washington Post noted that while most veterans believe that the military helped them get ahead in life by building character, maturity and self-confidence, a recent survey also indicates that an increasing number of veterans, particularly in the last decade, have found the transition to civilian life difficult. And most of them left the service voluntarily. Imagine the impact on warfighters forced to leave service early and unwillingly.
(Rep. Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican, is chairman of the House armed services readiness subcommittee.)
As a Vet and the mother of an active duty deployed soldier … this transforms me into an angry mamma bear! There are several problems with this Obama policy, the foremost being the defense of the nation Obama took an oath to protect and serve. Maybe we should pay him in accordance with his merit?