Department Of Defense Cuts Could Impact Healthcare For Marine Corps

The Department of Defense has laid out its latest cost-cutting plan. On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans for widespread cuts to the military.

The biggest force reduction would come from the Army, but that doesn't mean the local Marine Corps community isn't feeling the pinch.

The cuts that really have people talking near Camp Lejeune are those that could impact the healthcare coverage of both active duty and retired military.

For Grant Beck, who retired from the Marine Corps back in the 1980's, the proposed cuts could impact Tricare deductibles and co-pay.

Sergeant Major Grant Beck said, "I think a lot of the retirees, especially those that aren't eligible for Medicare yet or Tricare for life, it's really going to hit them hard. I believe with the way costs for medical care is rising over the last few years, it isn't going to go anywhere but up from here."

On Monday, Department of Defense officials said the Marine Corps fighting force would go from about 190,000 to 182,000 people. If sequestration continues, that force could shrink to 175,000.

Nat Fahy with Camp Lejeune Public Affairs said, "Across Eastern Carolina we're going to see man power reductions to the tune of 10 to 12,000 in active duty personnel. Either through the units being discontinued or in natural attrition process. We'll see that. We have been seeing that since 2012 and we'll see that all the way to 2017."

Mayor Sammy Phillips said a reduction in marines is never a boost for the economy, but feels the city can weather a reduction.

Phillips said, "This is something that is being recognized nationwide. The fact that we saw today that the military strength is going to be cut down to pre-World War II numbers. So that's something we're going to have to adjust to."

Sergeant Major Beck hopes troop value isn't lost as well.

A one percent raise for military members is also in the budget. The proposed changes still require congressional approval.