A new year is right around the corner, people will talk about how 2017 will “be their year,” everyone will resolve to make changes in their lives and very few, if any, will follow through.
I’ve personally come to the conclusion that new year’s resolutions are just not my thing.
Could I stand to lose 20 pounds? Yep. Making a resolution, however, is guaranteed to make sure it doesn’t happen.
This year I’ve decided to work on things with a broader impact than me regaining the waistline I had before I retired. I want to bring to light two subjects near and dear to my heart: One of those subjects happens to affect me and my fellow retirees, the other affects the soldiers whose welfare I still feel responsible for.
A few days before Christmas, the Army Times put out a story saying the Congressional Budget Office is advising Congress that billions of dollars could be saved by ending concurrent receipt. Concurrent receipt allows a military member who serves 20 or more years to receive both retirement pay and Veterans Affairs disability pay at the same time.
This may sound like a great idea until you realize the payments are completely separate issues. Retirement pay is for time served and comes from the Army’s budget. Disability pay comes from the VA for injuries sustained during a time of service.
In essence, the budget guys are saying that either my time was important or the physical/mental injuries sustained during service is important — but not both.
My family would say differently, as it’s my family who dealt with all the years I was deployed overseas and my family who deals with my aches and pains from those missed years.
The other issue which concerns me is that soldiers will still be expected to begin paying premiums for their health care starting in 2018.
Whether you have served or not, the thought of making a soldier pay for the right to health care after he or she was shipped off to a combat zone is one which should be unacceptable. Our military may be an all-volunteer force, but it’s the federal government which chooses to send those volunteers into harm’s way.
Telling a soldier he or she will have to pay for the privilege of getting a new leg after losing one to an improvised explosive device isn’t just a slap in the face for service, but a punch in the gut to add insult to injury.
These issues can be addressed, but it will take many of us speaking with one, loud voice to do so.
Put your congressman on speed dial. Add your senator’s email address to your distribution list.
Contact them often, because if enough of us speak, I guarantee they will listen.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.