Monday, December 16, 2013
VFW, TMC Partners Storm the Hill for Retiree COLA
This afternoon your VFW took to the halls of the Senate alongside colleagues from The Military Coalition, or TMC, telling legislators to fight a proposed cut to military retirement pay as part of the proposed two-year budget deal.
Last week the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees announced a budget deal that would avert a government shutdown in January, temporarily end some sequestration budget cuts, and fund the federal government for two years. Unfortunately, the chairmen — Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. — chose to balance the budget on the backs of working-age military retirees younger than 62 by slashing their cost-of-living adjustments by a full percentage point annually. By VFW’s estimates, some retirees could lose as much as $600 in retirement benefits per month by the time they reach age 62.
The VFW and its TMC partners quickly mobilized against the proposal, calling on VFW members and advocates to call and write their legislators, demanding the preservation of military retirement benefits. As of Monday morning, VFW advocates generated more than 14,000 email messages to every House and Senate office on Capitol Hill. To reinforce this message, VFW Washington Office staff knocked on Senate doors all afternoon, urging Senators to fight the cuts to retiree COLA.
To contact your legislator and take action, click here.
“We know the federal government needs to curb its spending, balance its budget, and put an end to the sequester, but penalizing military retirees is not the solution,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief Bill Thien in a press statement last week. “Although Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, we can’t allow Congress to dismantle the programs they created over the past 12 years. A nation that sends her military to war has a sacred obligation to care for them when they come home wounded, ill or injured, and to ensure that the one percent of the population who serves isn’t forgotten after the war ends.”
Last Friday, the House approved the flawed budget deal by a vote of 332-94. In light of this vote, VFW and its partners in TMC have ratcheted up the pressure on the Senate.
One key ally, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., joined the fight to preserve military retiree COLA, and this morning hosted a press conference at VFW Post 8641 in Merrimack, N.H., calling for the Senate to stand with military retirees. Other Senators have since joined as allies.
TMC is a consortium of 33 military and veterans service organizations, including the VFW, that advocates with a unified voice on issues like military retirement and veterans’ benefit programs. Monday’s push on Capitol Hill capped a week of advocacy that saw thousands of advocates from each TMC organization take to the phones and internet, calling on Congress to do the right thing. Check back regularly for updates.
(Images: Top: Mike Hayden, director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America; Chris Slawinski, director of veterans’ services for the Fleet Reserve Association; and Ray Kelley, legislative director of the VFW walk into the office of Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., during this afternoon’s Capitol Hill visits. Photo by Ryan Gallucci. Bottom: Flanked by New Hampshire VFW leaders, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., voices her opposition to cutting military retiree COLA during this morning’s press conference at VFW Post 8641 in Merrimack, N.H. Photo courtesy of VFW Post 8641.)
Retrieved from: The Veterans Voice on the Hill