BUDGET UNCERTAINTY FORCES MILITARY REDUCTIONS
VFW again calls on Congress to end sequestration
February 25, 2014
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
yesterday morning to learn firsthand the impact of his department's fiscal year
2015 budget request on future readiness and modernization programs, and on
those who serve in uniform and their families.
VFW and other veteran and military service organization representatives in
attendance also learned of the continued implications of congressional budget
decisions that could reduce defense spending by almost $1 trillion over the
are consequences to forcing the Department of Defense to first reduce its
budget by $487 billion over 10 years, then to double that amount due to
sequestration,” said VFW National Commander William A. Thien, a Vietnam veteran
from Georgetown, Ind. “And no matter how some might perceive these lower troop
numbers, weapons systems retirements and benefits reductions, the truth is
these cuts will continue to grow deeper the longer Congress is unable to
end the sequester.”
Joined by his top leadership, to include Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin
Dempsey, the defense secretary brought some of those consequences to light when
he unveiled major provisions of his department’s budget request.
announced reductions to the size of the active Army were increased, as were
reductions to the Army National Guard and Reserve, all of which could
worsen with a continued sequester.
budget plan had no new troop reductions for the other services, but the
proposed loss of some major weapons systems could further lower Air Force and
Navy personnel requirements.
VFW national commander is especially worried about the proposed reductions to
pay and benefits, because "in an all-volunteer force, the troops get a
vote," he said, "and a resurging economy will impact individual
decisions to join and reenlist."
the table for FY 2015 is a 1 percent pay raise for everyone below the pay grade
of O-7; admirals and general officers would have their pay frozen for one year.
Housing allowances would be gradually reduced from 100 percent of costs to 95
percent; payments would be grandfathered for troops in their current
assignments. DOD is again recommending a TRICARE for Life enrollment fee, but
this time it would be equal to 1 percent of retiree pay — not to exceed $300
per person — plus additional increases to pharmaceutical copayments, which
would impact military dependents as well as retirees. DOD also wants to merge
the three TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra programs into one, and reduce the
current $1.4 billion appropriated support of commissaries to $400 million,
which would force the Defense Commissary Agency to offset the difference either
by raising prices, increasing the 5 percent surcharge, or both. DOD estimates
that such decisions would lower overall commissary savings from 30 percent to
10 percent, which could close some smaller stores.
all the challenges of fighting a two-front war over the past 13 years, we know
America will continue to field the world’s most professional and lethal
military,” said Thien. “That’s why the VFW will redouble our efforts to work
with Congress and the administration to preserve the all-volunteer force, end
the sequester, and help bring some financial stability to a military that will
continue to operate in a very dangerous and unpredictable world.
are, of course, very concerned for our men and women in uniform, and for their
families who serve and sacrifice, too, and that is why we are asking the
Pentagon to provide more details on their people program changes,” he said. “The
VFW understands fiscal realities, but we also understand that it first takes
people to make our military the world’s best.”
BACK TO NEWS >