Top Officers' Raise Hits Nerve
Tom Philpott October 20, 2006
Readers of Tom Philpott’s Military Update column sound off.
Flag Officer Raise Touches Nerve
The 2.2 across-the-board military pay raise in January is a joke. So is the 8.7 percent raise set for 125 generals and admirals. How about reversing it?
Officers do not need the bigger raise. It’s the enlisted ranks who have people on food stamps and receiving assistance from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. With the price of gas and everything else higher, a 2.2 pay raise is a slap in the face.
It’s also a travesty what else our politicians did to the 2007 defense authorization bill. They basically screwed disabled retirees rated “IU,” or unemployable, by refusing to make them eligible immediately for “concurrent receipt” payments [of both full retired pay and their VA compensation].
Great. The same individuals who got us into this quagmire in the Middle East are getting an $1100-a-month pay raise, and my E-3, who is packing his bags next week for a year of "fun in the sun" Iraq, is to get a whopping $33. Unfreaking real…No, how shameful.
What is wrong! I don't see any of these flag officers on welfare or getting killed. They have a lot of aides and don't have much to do except make public appearances. They do make the decisions but they get input from those aides.
If they do not like their pay, why don't they get out of the military and work for a living. Instead they’ll become lobbyists or run for office.
I am not surprised that Congress has enough money to give O-9s and O-10s (lieutenant generals and generals) a huge pay raise but cannot find the funds to support those of us who have paid SBP premiums for over 30 years. I have paid into SBP for 36 years and now will have to wait until 2008 for them to stop [because Congress refused to accelerate the effective date of the paid-up SBP rule].
There is no justice in this congressional decision.
I am appalled at the inequity of pay raises voted for the upper ranks while lower ranks are getting 2.2 percent. I know why the services cannot recruit good people; they stay in civilian life where at least they get recognized for their efforts. Should we need even more men and women for the military in the future, the draft will be our only hope.
I will try to learn how my senators and representative voted. If they supported this they will not receive my vote next month.
My husband paid Survivor Benefit Plan premiums for over 30 years before he passed away. It will take me three years to get the level of SBP benefits -- 55 percent of his retired pay – for which we paid premiums all those years. That can leave a foul taste in one's mouth.
I support our men and women in service and will never publicly slander the President or our Congress. I will make my choices known at the polls.
Thank you for keeping us informed. The military pay raise of 2.2 percent is absurd. But the most astonishing part of your article describing the final defense bill is the effect on officers in pay grades 0-9 and 0-10 with the Secretary of Defense gaining authority to add an additional 2.5 percent to retired pay for each year served past 30. That is preposterous.
The very top grades already receive all of the "perks." They and their wives are given VIP treatment on each and every military installation. Their meals have to be their preference, sent to installations ahead of their arrival. They have Lear jets to ferry them wherever they wish to visit. They have preferred housing anywhere they are assigned. Enough is enough.
WILLIAM B. HATCHER
This regards your column on the new Traumatic Injury Protection under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI). I was injured June 30, 1991, at Travis Air Force Base right after Desert Storm. A few months after my original injury I was diagnosed to have developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It is an unbearable burning and painful condition first discovered during the Civil War. My RSD/CRPS was never cured.
The Air Force retired me under permanent disability retirement with a 50-percent service-connected disability rating. Through the years, and several VA ratings boards, I was given 100-percent, service-connected disability rating with loss of use of both legs.
Do I qualify for SGLI compensation? I was paying my monthly fees for SGLI before I got injured.
The TSGLI only applies to certain traumatic injuries sustained to active duty and reserve members after Nov. 30, 2005. Eligibility is retroactive only for those with traumatic injuries sustained in combat areas since Oct. 7, 2001, when U.S. troops first entered Afghanistan. – Tom Philpott
WHY END SBP-DIC OFFSET
My husband died from Agent Orange-related cancers in 1994, just a few months shy of his 59th birthday. When he retired he agreed to a minimum amount of Survivor Benefit Plan coverage, which at his death resulted in approximately $289 per month in income to me as his widow.
However, when it was decided I would receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the VA, I was denied the SBP. The government took back payments I had received and reimbursed me for premiums that my husband had paid prior to his death in mid-1986.
The SBP-DIC offset, which Congress has failed to eliminate again this year, is a “concurrent receipt” issue much like for retirees with disabilities for which many now receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation. These two payments, in each case, come from a different "pocket" of the government and are in no way related to each other.
SBP is similar to an annuity that can be purchased through most insurance companies. In fact, upon retirement, the feeling then was that it would be more cost effective to purchase your own annuity policy with the amount that the government deducted from retirement pay each month.
It is time for the...
Top Officers' Raise Hits Nerve
Tom Philpott October 20, 2006House and Senate to work together to address this issue. With the cost of living increasing substantially every year, it gets harder for military widows to make ends meet. If my husband were still alive we would be quite comfortable with his retirement and my social security but that did not happen.
JUDITH P. HARKHayes, Va.
Letters may be edited for clarity or length. Write to Military Forum, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA 20120-1111, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.militaryupdate.com
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