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I came to DailyKos during the 2008 election with the lofty goal of being a voice for military families in a progressive arena. Even back then, I knew that we would need civilian help when Congress decided to make cuts to military benefits. You see, I'm the daughter of military man as well and I watched Congress take away some of his benefits back in 1995. I knew they would try and do it again.

Even with that fore-knowledge, I have to tell you my heart is breaking. We have a serious problem. Congress is about to change the way military retirees are paid and it will mean a loss of anywhere from $80,000 to $124,000 per family.

I write family instead of military service member because the truth is that the entire family does serve. We spouses hold down the homefront when our husbands and wives leave for training, for deployment, for meetings with the boss, and for going to war. We rebuild our homes and our lives with each move (12 times for our family) and our kids change schools and teachers and friends like civilians change the oil in their cars. Military life is manageable and yes, sometimes even enjoyable, because morale is generally high and we feel we have the support of a Nation behind us. Well, we did feel that way. So many of us aren't feeling it right now.

And the biggest problem for me, the military spouse that has pushed progressive issues like no tomorrow is the silence from Democrats. I am literally in tears as I write this because I don't know how to get big D Democrats, those damn politicians, to speak up. I know of two and two only in the Senate who have said they are working on something but they won't tell us what that something is, Senators Begich (AK) and Casey (PA). Some of you will probably tell me to be patient. Well, my patience was spent while my husband was being bombed in Afghanistan. My patience was spent reading books to kids at night while we tried to pretend our life was normal and their Dad was perfectly safe. I'm done with patience.

Last night, the military community and their supporters held a Town Hall on Twitter and sent over 30 million tweets sent thousands of tweets reaching over 4.38 million people. They're done with patience too. The vast majority of tweets came from military spouses. We know that most of our husbands and wives will not speak out because they hesitate to cross the line. Being politically active while in uniform is not permitted and many of them see themselves in uniform 24 hours a day.

#KeepYourPromise is a political action - one we are taking to Congress. But military spouses can't do it on our own.

Our husbands and wives have had the Nations back through two wars. The sacrifice asked of civilians at the beginning? Go Shopping. Well, I'm asking for much more today. I'm asking that you call your Senators and let them know that this so-called simple change is not going to happen on YOUR watch.

We do have hope. It's a small one. Senator Wicker (R-MS) has proposed an amendment:

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today introduced an amendment to restore full retirement pay for current and future military retirees. The current Ryan-Murray budget agreement cuts retirement benefits for these retirees by more than $6 billion. The amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
Let's see some Democrats on this list of co-sponsors. Let's see a Bi-partisan agreement to this amendment. Because the only way it's going pass the Senate is if some Democrats vote for it anyway. They might as well jump on board while they can.

I, for one, am calling Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) today. But I also recommend focusing on Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Harkin (D-IO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (Ind-VT).

Thank you in advance for your support. Please recommend this diary so it will see the maximum amount of eyes. We need everyone helping us today.

7:20 AM PT: Senate Vote to advance the bill is on CSpan2 at this moment - http://www.c-span.org/...

Could someone tell me if this needs to advance in order to add an Amendment?

7:35 AM PT: The vote to proceed passed - 12 GOP joined Dems in support.

Let the debates begin. Vote on the budget supposed to be scheduled for later this week.

7:47 AM PT: Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) - "regrettable" that federal employees and military pensions were included. Speaking a lot about the cuts to Federal Civilian Employees.

But he has no solution. He's just disappointed.

He is asking to extend unemployment insurance.

7:51 AM PT: I'm headed out to buy my family groceries. The Senate is debating away and it is just making me very, very sad. Please, continue commenting below and continue calling your Senators.

10:58 AM PT: Looks like Senator Reid will not allow amendments.

That means the fat is about to hit the fire. Wicker, Ayotte, And Graham come out with an update:

Wicker, Ayotte, Graham: Military Retiree Cuts Would Also Impact Disabled Veterans
DoD Confirms Murray-Ryan Legislation Would Reduce Benefits of Service Members Retired Due To Injuries


“We want Congress to pass a budget, address defense sequestration, and restore military readiness, but it is wrong to try to achieve these goals on the backs of our military retirees—who have risked their lives to defend our country and who have already sacrificed so much,” said Wicker, Ayotte, and Graham in a joint statement.  “We were also appalled to learn that this legislation would even reduce the retirements of those who have been injured in the line of duty and have been medically retired as a result.  That is unconscionable, and we call on members of both parties to work with us now to replace these misguided cuts.”
And in the meantime, our own front page is having a party. Not even a mention of military families.

12:26 PM PT: AF Times reporting:

Military personnel who are medically retired — those with combat or service-related injuries so severe they were offered full military retirement pay and benefits — would see their retired pay cut as a result of the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said Tuesday....

Ayotte said she received confirmation from the Pentagon that this group is included in the cuts. “It was a challenge to get confirmation from the Defense Department, but they admitted it,” she said after the news conference. “It’s horrendous.”

“Is it a choice to save the budget or screw military retirees just to prove we can get something done?” Graham said.

The lawmakers said their colleagues were mistaken in believing the bill did not affect disabled veterans because it does not trim Veterans Affairs Department disability compensation.

12:36 PM PT: Military Times reporting:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Va., noted after the vote Tuesday that the restriction on military retirement pay does not affect the plan itself, only the cost-of-living adjustment.

Previous proposals have “wanted to eliminate the COLA altogether. This is basically a 1 percent cut for healthy people who are working other jobs. Really, there’s no bigger supporter of the military than people in West Virginia, but I think this is reasonable,” Manchin said.

1:06 PM PT: From Veterans Today:

Over the past several decades, American Servicemembers, and especially Veterans have seen a growing trend in our government. That is, the government sends our men and women off to war, gives temporary enticing incentives and makes other empty promises to attract and keep them in the military; and then once they retire or discharge, these veterans are disposed of like useless pieces of antiquated military gear.
The rest of the piece gives a history of the fleecing.

5:04 PM PT: Senator Shaheen announces legislation to roll back the pension cuts:

Shaheen, who is up for re-election in 2014, said that the plan would be paid for by closing “select corporate tax loopholes,” even though Republicans resisted doing so in the budget agreement that has yet to pass the Senate.

“This bipartisan budget agreement will create economic certainty for small businesses, help promote job creation, and protect our country from another government shutdown but like I’ve said before, it’s not perfect,” Shaheen said in a statement. “The plan I am going to introduce will undo changes to future cost of living adjustments for military retirees and will instead achieve savings by closing corporate tax loopholes. It’s a smart, pragmatic fix and I hope it will generate bipartisan support.”

Just a taste of twitter from this morning... there are so many tweets to read it is unbelievable.

Originally posted to A Progressive Military Wife on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 06:04 AM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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