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If you've ever said, Thank you for your service to a man or woman in uniform and wondered what else you might be able to do to show your thanks, here's your chance.

Tonight, at 9pm Eastern, the military community will be holding a Town Hall on Twitter (#KeepYourPromise) and Facebook. We are hoping to join forces with a large number of civilians in order to fix what the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal believe is a small adjustment to military pensions.

That small adjustment is a cut in COLA increases - the same kind of cut that Republicans keep talking about for Social Security. And the cuts total to large amounts in a family budget, anywhere from $80,000 to $120,000 per military retiree. Call this budget cut a test item - Congress is waiting to see how palatable it is to mainstream America. If it works here, why won't it work for Social Security?

And if you listen to their wording, it sounds pretty reasonable. It's a cut to 'working age retirees' who have the opportunity to make up the loss in their next job.

Let me tell you a couple of things about military retirement.

1. Retirement is a misnomer. Most military retirees will work a second job, if they can find one. And most won't go work in the DC Beltway for military contractors.

2. Military retirement is part of a compensation package intended to help keep quality Senior NCO's and officers serving. You can't exactly hire a Chief Master Sergeant off the street. If you want a quality service, you offer quality benefits.

3. Military retirement is half of base pay - it won't come close to what a soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman earns while on active duty since it won't include housing and allowances. Even with those extras, many military families have a hard time making it while on active duty. The idea that a military retirement is actually something to live off is a joke. It's more like a savings account to help pay for those things you couldn't save for while serving.

The fix? HR 3790. It's been referred to the House Armed Services Committee. And it's a simple fix with bi-partisan support and it's the only bill without any offsets. All other bills will have a hard time because they either call for offsets that are not acceptable to Democrats or not acceptable to Republicans.

The problem is that not everyone in the military community yet agrees on an approach. And, as you can imagine, we're a mixed group politically. Finding agreement can often be tough. This bill is great because it already has support from both parties. If either party wants an off-set, let them fight for that in the next budget bill.

That's part of why I'm asking YOU to join us tonight. Help keep the Twitter conversation flowing in a healthy way. It's one of the most helpful things you could do for the military community at this moment in time. Help correct misperceptions about those who support the military and about those that serve:

And while we're doing that, we can also Tweet in ways that actually help the cause. Let people know about HR3790. And make sure they know how to tweet their Representatives and their Senators.

Thanks in advance for your support. If you have any questions about military retirement, please ask in the comments below. I'll do my best to give you an educated response!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Here's a link (8+ / 0-)

    to the members of the House Armed Services Committee:

    http://armedservices.house.gov/...

    Not sure how many of them are on Twitter, but a few directed #KeepYourPromise Tweets might not be amiss. Maybe someone can do some searching to see who has Twitter access? (I'm heading off-line soon to do Real Life stuff.)

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:32:40 PM PST

  •  To quote Rachel Maddow, Talk Me Down... (2+ / 0-)

    Why is it referred to as service, when the military is currently filled with people who get signing bonuses and earn salaries, and enter into a contract on that basis?

    Is it not, these days, a form of employment?  Job offer tendered...and job offer accepted?

    I have two neighbors who are former Army Vets.  One in his mid 40's, the other closing in on 40.  Neither work, and seem to subsist more or less comfortably, upon whatever it is they are getting from the US Government.  Both seem to have PTSD claims, but both are, from all outward appearances, pretty damned functional, and they both work in the "gray market."  That's to say, they don't show up on anyone's payroll, but they work under the table for cash to supplement their checks.  They both seem to prefer it that way, after having had conversations with them.

    Someone, 50 years ago, who was drafted and sent off to VN, in my opinion, has a much more valid claim to have provided "service" to the country than a recruit 12 years ago who walked into a recruiting storefront, listened to the pitch and the perks, and signed up.  Would you not agree?

    What were the recruiting bonuses?  Say, 11 years ago?  To what tune did US Taxpayers sweeten the pot in order to coax potential recruits to sign on the dotted line?

    What are the other perks associated with military service, besides pensions, that Vets can afford themselves of after 20 years?  In terms of home loans, schooling, dependent benefits, car insurance, health care, etc?  How do those perks compare with the private market?

    L'enfer, c'est les autres....Jean-Paul Sartre

    by Keith930 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:15:23 PM PST

    •  Don't know if I can talk you down. (7+ / 0-)

      If your experience with military service are two guys that live down the street and your interactions with them prove to you that they get more than enough, nothing I say will probably help. It won't stop me from trying.

      First, let me say that I can't comment much on your neighbors because PTSD is a strange beast. Neither you nor I can diagnose their problems based on daily interactions. If you lived with them, or even worked with them, you might see some of the issues that they deal with on a day to day basis.

      So let me tackle your other issues with military service. You call it a job - job offered, job tendered. Those in the military and their families call it a duty. 24 hour duty because they are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And a normal workday at a normal base is far more than 8 hours. So no, it's not a job offered and a job tendered. There does have to be some level of desire to serve the public good.

      And I think that the draftee and the volunteer both provided a service to the country. Without volunteers, we would be drafting all over again. In some respects, that might be better because it would help prevent us from entering wars of choice that are ill-considered. The American people would be more likely to speak up if they or their family members would be going to war directly.

      The only recruiting bonuses I know of are for careers that are hard to retain folks - usually dangerous and with a higher chance of injury or death or requiring a level of education that would mean much higher salaries in the civilian world, like lawyers and doctors. Though most of the latter end up signing up for programs that pay for their education and don't get bonuses. I would have do to a lot of homework to be sure.

      As to all the supposed perks you claim, a lot of them I'm unfamiliar with. Yes, home loans are available through the VA - not just for retirees but for anyone who has served. No extra special benefits for those who served 20 plus years there. Schooling? The GI bill will help a ton. Do you think that the GI bill is a program that shouldn't be offered? Or should only be offered to certain vets? Dependent benefits? What are those? A spouse does get health care through her retired spouse's service but it's no longer free. That was taken away back in 1995. Retirees pay to have health care until they reach medicare age. There have been programs to help spouses with their education, a way to help keep families serving. Too many spouses can't get jobs and the extra education is supposed to help in some way, shape, or form. But those programs are mostly gone at this point. Car insurance? Government doesn't help with that for active, retired, reserves, or veterans.

      As to the private market, a pension used to be a pretty normal thing. And, in my mind, it still should be. I don't believe the government should stop paying pensions because the civilian world decided that 401Ks made more sense.

      If you think that my husband doesn't deserve the deferred compensation that his pension is supposed to be, then don't call your Congressman. But if you're just angry that military folks are getting something that you think civilians should get as well, then fight with us, not against us. I'll certainly join you in fighting for pensions to return to the civilian world. It's a travesty what's happening in Detroit. I think college should be free for everyone and I'll fight for that as well. But destroying our system won't bring anyone else's pension back. In fact, it will only help continue to erode what the system we have left.

      •  Excellent response angelajean. As to the car (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, divineorder

        insurance allegation, perhaps Keith930 thinks USAA, United Services Automobile Association, is a government program rather than private insurance formed to serve members of the armed forces and their family members. As Keith930 served in the military, he probably has a USAA number assigned to him even if he isn't aware of it.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:33:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  a deal is a deal... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, angelajean, divineorder

      if the united states made a contract with these men and women, then it needs to keep its word just like any other employer.  otherwise it's a form of fraud.

      i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

      by joe shikspack on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:38:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We do get a VA home loan option (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      But the home you purchase must pass a strict inspection to qualify for a VA mortgage and you have to have the healthy down payment.  It wasn't considered much of a perk in 2004, real estate agents attempted to steer those who qualified for the perk away from using it because it comes with extra headaches.

  •  Pensions for military professionals (3+ / 0-)

    are no more (nor less) sacred than pensions for other government employees who sign up and stay the course. We need solidarity on the public pensions issue.

    A promise made in our name should be kept -- whether the promise is to a soldier, a stenographer, or a teacher.

    We also need to direct some serious attention to the way we attend to the young, disenchanted veterans who serve for a few years, leave the service, and are thrown back into this bad economy/crazy culture to fend for themselves...the ones who will never qualify for military pensions, and for whom even social security is no sure thing.

    They are waiting in long lines for ptsd assessment/treatment. They are taking out loans for college, working at minimum-wage jobs, losing a little more traction every day.

  •  "$80,000 to $100,000 per military retiree"? (0+ / 0-)

    From where is that range of figures derived?

    If it's the estimated loss throughout one's years of collecting retired pay, you should say so.

    Otherwise, it looks like spin/hype once you admit "well, yeah, that's the total over X years..."

    We'll be better off if we make the right argument up front - especially since the "never catch up" pains will only grow stronger as former service members move through their retirement years.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:20:32 PM PST

  •  Wanted to let you know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, Lily O Lady, onceasgt

    That the link to that excellent writing you put in my facebook feed has made its way to Camp Red Cloud and the army division there.  Some soldiers who will be affected are deployed right now, and when you deploy the 8 hr work day really goes away.  Soldiers are literally too busy to be able to fully understand and comprehend what Congress has done and how it affects all of their futures and how it will even affect the future force that will serve after they are gone.  Thank you for your energy and activism and professionalism.  You are exceptional, military families are so fortunate to have you!

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