Military retirees gathering in Killeen this weekend said they are celebrating Congress’s repeal of cuts to retiree benefits, while preparing for future battles.
More than a dozen chapters from the Military Officers Association of America Texas Council of Chapters came together Friday evening at the Shilo Inn in Killeen. Members enjoyed dinner and entertainment from a barbershop quartet before hearing an update from a representative of the organization’s national headquarters.
“We are about military pay, compensation and benefits for those who currently serve, are separated or retired,” said retired Air Force Col. Brian Anderson, deputy director of council and chapter affairs for MOAA in Washington, D.C.
Proof of their work can be seen in the past week’s repeal of cuts to the cost-of-living adjustments for working age retirees, he said to applause from the crowd.
“Thank you to all of you, the membership who stepped forward on this issue,” Anderson said.
His office sent 300,000 messages to Congress on the issue from a national membership of 380,000, he added.
“It you think they’re going to stop there, you’re kidding yourself,” Anderson said. Other benefits he worries are on the chopping block include the commissaries, Tricare and pay raises for active duty.
To protect these benefits, the goal of MOAA is to have a chapter in each congressional district in America, and help bridge the gap between veterans and civilians. He cited only 5 percent of the country has served, and many are of the rapidly aging World War II and Korean War generations.
“We need you out there in the community standing up for veterans and military members by sharing what it means to serve,” Anderson said.
Locally, about 60 people participate in the Central Texas chapter. Pat Christ, a Harker Heights councilman, was inducted as the 33,000-member Texas Council of Chapters president at the end of the meeting, replacing Jim Snow of Bullard.
Christ said it’s important for the state chapters to come together to develop ideas and help each other thrive, and to let their voices be heard. After retiree compensation was cut, he said the reaction from retirees really got the attention of Congress and helped the repeal go through.
“They thought they could get away with it and they got a lot more static than they thought they would’ve,” he said. “I don’t think Congress at that time was ready for the assault they got.”