The Military Retiree Family - Second Class Citizens

 
The nations public is under the false impression that our government takes care of its career warriors. Many of these warriors feel like they are being treated as second class citizens. Second class citizens may seem like a clichГ, but consider the following inequalities imposed on these warriors, their widows and family.
 
 The government has admitted in court that it made the promise of lifetime medical care to career warriors, their spouses, and widows of the WW2 and Korea eras. It was promised for over forty years as part of delayed and earned pay for those who would serve twenty or more years in the military. The promise was made by all levels of the military hierarchy, condoned by Secretaries of Defense with such noted names as James V. Forestall and George C. Marshall, was printed in numerous government documents, all with the full knowledge of Congress. Now, all three branches of the government refuse to honor this promise.
 
To this day, the government continues to promise active duty military personnel excellent health care benefits in retirement after twenty or more years of service. The truth of the matter is that what is being promised, and now applies to military retirees under 65 years, old has been called by one Senator; "the
 worst health care program in the country."?  It is difficult and in many cases impossible for the military retirees and their families in this group to find a doctor who will accept the plan. Its lengthy shortcomings have been well documented by a military retiree group with experience with the program. Last year copies of this over 200-page documentation, paid for by the military retiree group, was hand delivered to
every member of Congress and the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense disagrees with the documentation but cannot specifically refute its contents. And Congress will not enact the recommended legislation to allow the military retiree family to participate in the excellent health care plan offered to all other retired government employees, including themselves.
 
 Participation in certain forms of the health care plan offered to the retiree family less than 65 years old requires enrollment in the plan with fees paid three months in advance. If during the three month enrollment period the retiree reaches the age of 65, where a no fees health care plan based on Medicare becomes effective, the government (DOD) keeps the refund due the military retiree. This is not common practice with any paid in advance program.
 
 The government convinced hundreds of thousands of military retirees to pay for survivors' benefits or their widows, the retirees believing that in the event of their death their widows would receive 55% of their meager retirement pay. After having the premiums deducted from their retirement pay, for up to 36 years in some cases, the widow upon becoming eligible for Social Security payments discovers that her survivor benefits are reduced to 35% of her husbands retirement pay. And it doesn't make any difference if the widow earned, in her own right, the Social Security benefits. In the government this policy only applies to the military retirees, not to any other government employee.
 
 Widows of those military retirees, whose death is directly attributable to military service, their husbands having given their lives for their country, are eligible for a monthly stipend in the form of Dependents Indemnity Compensation. If the deceased was paying for survivor's benefits for his widow the indemnity
compensation payments are deducted from the survivor's benefits paid for by the deceased. These are two totally different compensations -one paid for by the deceased retiree, the other compensation paid to all widows for the loss of their husbands. In effect the widow is being penalized for having a husband who cared enough to provide financial security for her after his death.
 
 The service connected disabled military retiree is the only government employee who has military disability payments deducted from the retirement pay earned for 20 or more years of service. This injustice forces the military retirees to pay out of their earned retirement income for being disabled while in the service of their country. For 17 years Congress has addressed this issue, with any hope of solution
left to die in committees. The feeble attempt in Congress to correct this injustice this year resulted in only a limited few receiving relief. There are thousands of these warriors, rated 100% service connected disabled by the Veterans Administration, but because their earned retirement includes some service if the armed forces reserve component, the qualifications set by DOD, in an impossible to achieve point
system, prevent them from receiving the benefits they so rightfully deserve.
 
The divorced spouse of a military retiree can be entitled to one half of the retirees pay for life. It makes no difference if the divorce occurred when the retiree was at a lesser rank, the spouse can receive one half of the pay at the time of retirement when the retiree is at a higher rank earned with no help from the spouse. It makes no difference if the divorced spouses remarry five times over, the court award can be and usually is for life. Few other class of citizen in this country is subject to such harsh divorce laws.

The military retiree family wants nothing from the government that they did not earn - all they are asking for is fairness and honesty in the way the government treats its career veterans. After all we were government employees and as such ask only that the government treat us the same as all other government employees in retirement. We have tried for years and years, through both Republican and Democrat administrations to get these injustices corrected through the legislative process. We have heard the empty promises of politicians, year after year, as they garner our votes by cosponsoring corrective legislation and then see them let the legislation die in Congressional committees. Most members of Congress do not have the fortitude or honesty to force the bills out of committees, whether they cosponsored them or not, on to the floor for a vote where the truth would be open for all to see.
 
The problem with some of the above inequalities is directly attributable to Congress refusing to take action to provide monies out of the general fund, as is the policy when dealing with all other federal retiree programs. Budgeting Congress does provide for the military retiree family is part of the yearly defense budget, controlled by the Department of Defense. In effect, monies for the military retiree family programs compete with the cost of all other programs operated by the Defense Department and appear at the top of the list to be targeted for reduction wherever possible.
 
As with past administrations, both Republican and Democrat, the present administration has used the threat of Presidential veto, insuring that little or no corrective legislation actions are taken to place the military retiree family on an equal footing with other government retirees.
 
The military retiree family is particularly outraged, and this nations citizens should be concerned, by the deception used by our sitting President to reap the military retiree family vote during the last election. Despite the following promises made, the administration has actually fought to make sure that the military retiree family remains in a status quo.
 
 September 6th 2000 - American Legion,
Milwaukee, WI; "To the American Veteran we owe
gratitude, shown not just in words of tribute, but
in acts of care and attention. As President,
I will work with Congress to raise the standard of
service, not just for veterans, but for our
military retirees."? - George W. Bush.
 
 January 19th 2001 - Pre-inaugural
commitment to military veterans in Washington, DC;
 
"In order to make sure the morale is high with
those who wear the uniform today, we must keep
our commitment to those who wore the uniform in
the past. We will make sure promises made to
our veterans will be promises kept."? - George W.
Bush
 
 August 20th 2001 - Veterans of Foreign
Wars, Milwaukee, WI; "My administration
understands America's obligations not only to
those who wear the uniform today, but to those
who wore the uniform in the past - our veteran"?
- George W. Bush
 
 Now read the words of wisdom spoken by another
President many years ago as he was leaving
office; "The willingness with which our young
people are likely to serve in any war, no
matter how justified, shall be directly
proportional to how they perceive veterans of
earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our
nation."? - George Washington
 
 The election campaigns have started for the
upcoming elections and the military retiree
family has heard enough empty promises and is now
prepared to demand that they be treated
better than second class citizens. We ask that the
citizens of this great nation join us in our
fight. We did fight for you when you needed us,
now we need you to join us in this fight. Help
us by contacting your Congressional members to
demand that fairness and equality be given to
this country's retired career warriors.
 
Edward V. Jeffords, USN EOD Ret.
514 S.E. Brookside Terr.
Port St. Lucie, FL 34983
 
Phone: 772-871-0296 E-Mail: