It Isn’t Military ‘Entitlements’ That Kill Readiness: Letters to the Editors

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DeM Banter: similar thoughts on the blog at the link below…it’s all about Blood and Treasure.

Wall Street Journal
August 5, 2013
Pg. 12

Military “entitlements” aren’t what’s hurting military readiness; military pay and benefits are hardly generous.

Regarding Mackenzie Eaglen and Michael O’Hanlon’s “Military Entitlements Are Killing Readiness” (op-ed, July 26): We veterans, who account for only a few percent of the population, aren’t killing readiness. A private in the Army is paid at or below the federal poverty level for a family of four. How many active-duty members are on welfare? How dare you disparage the meager commissary “benefit” we receive. You don’t understand the financial strains that TriCare has imposed on military families, and you obviously don’t understand that we have been at war for a decade. War means casualties and disabilities, therefore higher medical costs for treatment. Should you ever lose an extremity, I hope no one blames you for the increased medical costs.

It is unconscionable to disparage the support troops as if somehow their contribution to the military is beneath those on the front line. Those who serve on the front line deserve a retirement package regardless of years of service. Don’t slash and burn everyone else to make that happen.

If salaries are so “solid,” why are so many active-duty service members on food stamps? An Army enlisted person retiring as an E6 (staff sergeant) with 20 years of service will receive about $1,500 per month and can expect to live only another 18 years. Is that really your idea of “an extremely generous pension”?

Christopher Burns, Spring, Texas

***

The authors bemoan the fact that not every servicemember receives a retirement benefit. Retirement benefits do not begin for 20 years as an incentive for midcareerists to complete a full military career—one of the hallmarks of the highly professional all-volunteer force that has performed so admirably. Those who choose to serve for shorter periods know they will leave with significant educational benefits under the GI Bill, veterans’ benefits, if they have been injured, and solidly marketable skills from their military training.

If the nation is to maintain a high quality all-volunteer force, it must provide an appropriate compensation package for the unique sacrifices required of service members. It’s time to stop demonizing those who have given so much to the nation. Freedom isn’t free.

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan,(USA, Ret.),

President, The Association of the United States Army, Arlington, Va.

***

My military pay tracked at half that of my civilian peers with similar engineering degrees. The net present value of my lost pay is $2.4 million at the average CPI during my 26 years of service. I traded away this income in part as a patriot, but also because I looked forward to a second career at higher earning levels and health care provided by the nation I served. Messrs. Eaglen and O’Hanlon would penalize me for my current success while not acknowledging my previous sacrifice.

Col. William Klimack, Ph.D. (USA, Ret.), Mandeville, La.

***

Public employees get to go home to their families every day, but military duty is often 24/7. When deployed in a combat zone, life and limb are on the line 24/7, with the family at home every day dreading a knock on the door. Even in peacetime military personnel may be sent to a faraway duty station, leaving their family behind with only one parent to maintain family life and to sleep alone. Then there are the constant changes of duty stations and the uprooting of the family that is especially hard on children. The bottom line is that life in the military isn’t a day at the beach, and those who serve deserve our admiration and respect. They deserve all that they receive, which should be more, not less.

Richard Robbins, Santa Rosa, Calif.

***

Tricare is self-evident proof that the promise of free lifetime health care was made not by “some military recruiters,” but as official policy.

Regarding the implied contention that higher utilization of inpatient and outpatient services somehow reflects potential abuse of the system, it should be pointed out that these are combat personnel, not shoe clerks. Their duties involve physical risk, exposure to hazardous materials and heavy-equipment operation. Even those service members who are combat-support personnel must meet rigorous physical and training requirements.

Believe it or not, Wal-Mart and Home Depot don’t have stores every place there are military personnel and their families who need to buy food and other necessities. Additionally, our military family has many members who want to buy food that speaks to their culture—commissaries stock those items. Many times other stores don’t or they are more highly priced.

Col. Robert I. Recker Jr. (USAFR, Ret.), Orinda, Calif.

***

We support the troops. We just don’t want to pay them when the budget gets tight.

Dave Landis, Highlands, N.C.

Editor’s Note: The op-ed referred to by Mackenzie Eaglen and Michael O’Hanlon appeared in the Current News Early Bird, July 26, 2013.

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