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Military Retiree Benefits and My Letter to Congressman Steve Pearce

Date: 15 March, 2012

By: Chief

Imageere for your entertainment is a letter, an e-mail I specifically sent to my congressman. It is my opening shot in an effort too kill off any attempt at reducing or eliminating military retirement benefits. Enjoy.

Dear Congressman Pearce,

I am a 30 year military Navy and Marine Corps veteran (23 years of active service and 7 years in the fleet reserve). I am writing you because the health care benefits, which I and every other military retiree earned, are currently:

The reduction or elimination of military retiree health care benefits is part and parcel of Obama's "deficit-reduction plan."

Quoting the Navy Times (of Monday Sep 19, 2011. Web link: http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/09/military-tricare-benefits-cuts-obama-091911w/):

"President Obama's $4.4 trillion deficit-reduction plan proposes additional increases in Tricare pharmacy co-pays for military beneficiaries and would begin charging an enrollment fee for older retirees using Tricare for Life health benefits."

That is ludicrous. Again, quoting the same Navy Times story:

"The first-ever enrollment fee for Tricare for Life would take effect in fiscal 2013, which means no sooner than Oct. 1, 2012. The fee would generate $6.7 billion in revenue over 10 years, according to White House estimates.

"Tricare pharmacy co-payments would increase to more closely match federal employee benefits under the Obama plan. A White House fact sheet says the changes would not apply to active-duty members, but would apply to all active-duty family members and all retirees, regardless of age.

"Effective Oct. 1, Tricare beneficiaries having prescriptions filled at a retail pharmacy will pay $5 for generic drugs and $12 for a brand-name prescription, and $25 for brand-name drugs not on the preferred list. For mail-order prescriptions, the cost of a 90-day supply is free for generics, $9 for brand names and $25 for brand names not on the preferred drug list. Prescriptions are filled free at military pharmacies."

Yes, our co-pays have increased just as the story stated. Furthermore, courtesy of "Express Scripts" (they manage the Tricare drug benefit for DoD) Walgreens is no longer a Tricare drug benefit provider. Hence, my wife, who is an insulin dependent diabetic, cannot use her Tricare benefit to purchase syringes which are marked in 1/2 units — which are precisely the syringes she needs. Additionally, it appears that Walgreens is the only pharmacy which:

No other pharmacy carries 1/2 unit syringes that we have been able to locate.

My wife also receives Medicare from Social Security. Medicare will not pay for the syringes because my wife has Tricare. Therefore, we must pay full price for the blasted syringes courtesy of:

But wait! It gets worse. Again quoting the same Navy Times story:

"The pharmacy changes would cut federal spending by about $20.6 billion over 10 years.

"The White House fact sheet says the administration 'supports a generous health care benefit' but says co-payments for military beneficiaries 'have lagged behind other federal and private plans.'

"Similarly, the fact sheet says an annual fee for Tricare for Life benefits is warranted because this program now has no premium, 'unlike comparable services in the private sector'.

Has it ever occurred to anyone within the federal government that military retirees were, prior to retirement, military personnel? And that military personnel are the lowest paid federal employees in existence? Moreover, no other federal employee has to put up with all of things which military personnel must endure 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. As I wrote at the beginning of this ... tome, military retirees are the only group of federal employees who have earned their benefits.

Moving right along, Leon Panetta, our non-illustrious Secretary of Defense, submitted to the Washington bureaucratic juggernaut a plan to further reduce or eliminate military retiree benefits. Quoting the Washington Beacon (of February 27, 2012. Web link: http://freebeacon.com/trashing-tricare/):

"Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

[. . .]

"Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

"Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent - more than 3 times current levels."

If this happens the benefits which I and others have already earned — I shall not be able to afford. Period.

Tricare already is a "tiered" system. Indeed, I am honorably retired. As such I should be eligible for any of the Tricare packages. I am not. Why? Congress decided only those retirees who live with 75 miles of a military hospital should be eligible for Tricare Prime. It is one of those 'dirty little secrets' you don't find out about until after you have retired.

Simply put — I earned my retirement, just as every other military retiree earned theirs. How dare any administration attempt to take what we worked for and quite a few died in the process of trying to earn and trash it. It is an insult of the lowest order and absolutely beyond the pale.

I believe that articles of impeachment are drafted in the House of Representatives. I can think of two people who have most certainly earned the dubious honor of being impeached — Obama and Panetta.

It also appears that the military service chiefs support this act of treachery. Again, quoting the same story from the Washington Beacon:

"Congressional aides said that despite unanimous support among the military chiefs for the current healthcare changes, some senior officials in the Pentagon are opposing the reforms, in particular the tiered system of healthcare."

If this is true about the service chiefs supporting this garbage then the House of Representatives needs to draft articles of impeachment against every military service chief who does support this heresy.

Then enact legislation which would reduce the number of flag and general officer billets throughout the military by at least 75% — including the billets of military service chief(s). We have far too many admirals and generals on the pay roll as it is. Get rid of them.

Congressman, loyalty is a double edged sword. Yes it can be earned. Any leader worth his salt knows that. But — it must be re-earned each and everyday. And, to be sure, loyalty is very easy too lose.

Without doubt once loyalty is lost it can never, ever, be regained. This has already occurred within our military services. Our sons and daughters who serve our country, for pittance, have earned the best benefits our country has.

However, with grief condign, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense and at least some of the service chiefs have decided loyalty is only a one way street. The troops owe them loyalty, indeed the troops owe them enough loyalty to die for. But the Commander in Chief, Secretary of Defense and at least some of the service chiefs believe they do not owe the troops their loyalty. To be sure, our nation's top leadership has decided to stab military retirees and active duty troops as well smack dab in the center of the back.

Our nation's leadership has shown their complete and utter contempt for those who have served and are currently serving by reducing benefits and attempting to eliminate benefits to the only group of federal employees who actually earn them — our military retirees and our active duty military personnel.

Congressman, any and all negative changes to military retirement and military retirement benefits must be soundly and permanently rejected. Additionally, Obama, Panetta and those service chiefs who support reducing or eliminating benefits need and must be fired ... now!

With respect, --
[Name redacted]
[Street address redacted]
[City, state, zip code redacted]
[Telephone number redacted]

[Ed. note. Story update: No, Steve Pearce, rabid cur that he his did not answer my letter. Sigh.]

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