Lawmakers Open To Changes In Military Benefits

The government's promise of lifetime health care for the military's men and women is suddenly a little less sacrosanct as Congress looks for ways to slash trillion-dollar-plus deficits.

Republicans and Democrats are signaling a willingness to make military retirees pay more for coverage. It's a reflection of Washington's fiscal austerity and the Pentagon's push to cut health care costs that have skyrocketed from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says personnel costs have put the Pentagon, in his words, "on an unsustainable course."

Veterans groups are mobilizing to fight any changes. They argue that Americans who were willing to die for their country should be treated differently than the average worker. Lawmakers are sympathetic to that argument but many are unmoved by it.

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  • by Nero Location: Rome, Italy on Oct 31, 2011 at 02:27 AM
    My fiddle is being tuned up and will be ready soon. The tigers are loose and hungry and are roaming our country from the north to south.
  • by Shakespear Location: England on Oct 25, 2011 at 10:08 PM
    "Kill all the lawyers" All the young men who went to battle for our country were willing to sacrafice their body and life for our country and willing to live off very little pay an unwilling to live off the money of others (welfare, housing, food, etc). Bugs bunny said, "Thats all folks".
  • by Tyee Location: Hyde County on Oct 25, 2011 at 03:13 PM
    Over 60,000 young draft dodgers went to Canada during the war in vietnam and most of them returned after the conflict. Some who stayed got too fat on purpose and were rejected for physical reasons.
  • by First Location: enc on Oct 23, 2011 at 10:46 AM
    First, let me say that I am not in favor of cuts to the vets. BUT, I find it interesting that there have been many vets on here who did not mind cuts to teachers, firefighters, first-responders, SS, and unions! It takes just 20 years to retire in the military, which leaves time for a second career and many "double dip" as they call it. It takes 30 years for most other careers. My main point is this, when they came for the "others"-we warned you-they WILL come for you!! The teachers, firefighters, and unions were fighting for YOU when they took on the millionaires, oil companies, and special interests. The military is part of the "working class" whether you want to believe it or not and it is time you realized that!
    • reply
      by Tyee on Oct 27, 2011 at 03:26 AM in reply to First
      To first location. I understand your reply in finute detail. But if you think we do not understand the full implications of your delima, you are mistaken. The world has changed in the last few years and our military strength has gone down dramatically and if we can not protect our country and the people in it, there will be terrible consequents. You are aware that we are dismantling weapons of mass destruction, if we do not stop this mess at this time there will be terrible consequences. It is up to all of us who really care about our country and all the people in it, that we get our politics straightened out. Sorry about any misunderstandings. But when we leave the military after 20 years of fighting, our fighting ability has been decimated. Double dipping for some applies but not for the normal Air Force man like me who is totally worn out after going to about l5 countries helping carry bombs 24 hours a day to protect you and your family. I was worn out physically and mentally. Others were lucky and did not have to lift a finger at carrying bombs or defend our country. Good luck and God bless you and your family. We did care about you, your family and the U.SA.
  • by Vet on Oct 23, 2011 at 05:41 AM
    There you go, we can't tax the rich but we sure can sock it to those who served in our armed forces. Ever take a look at how many US veterans are homeless? How many are unemployed? Now take a look at how many rich kids end up going to war. Nada, zip, zero. As taxpayers you should be ashamed of yourselves for allowing this to happen. Get off your butts and vote. Call your congressmen. Do something other than watching the Simpsons and stuffing your faces.
  • by Tyee Location: Hyde County on Oct 22, 2011 at 07:20 PM
    To simple supply and demand. Source please? My sources say the draft ended in 1973. Draft dodgers in ECU later than 1968. They had to register for the draft then and just before that our ROTC cadets were sometimes called draft dodgers. Thanks. Just wanted to get our thoughts together. Could be as simple as just notifying the draft board when they entered the AFROTC program? Know for a fact that we were not meeting our enlistment program in Greenville. Ref TSgt Strong. Dropouts may have enlisted in their home towns?
  • by simple supply and demand on Oct 22, 2011 at 05:52 PM
    There are going to be cuts everywhere. There's no choice. The debt has been run. Now, the piper must be payed. All branches are meeting their recruiting goals like not since 1958. Cuts will be coming.
  • by Wharf Rat Location: Manteo on Oct 22, 2011 at 04:55 PM
    This country needs a drastic makeover. 1. No millionares in Congress. 2.Public funded elections(kick all lobbyists and special interest groups OUT)3. One term limits, then GO BACK TO YOUR JOBS. Then you could see who was in it for the best interests of the country. P.S. Stop shoveling billions of OUR dollars to countries that want us all dead!
    • reply
      by To Rat on Oct 23, 2011 at 10:41 AM in reply to Wharf Rat
      1. Just how is an average American suppose to pay for a campaign? That's how politicians are bought and sold-they are indebted to their wealthy supporters. 2. The idea a public funding is good, but still, the average worker can not "leave" his or her job to run! It seems so simple, but it's not. People complain about the salaries of our congress, but it was put there for the very reasons you mention-to allow people who are not independently wealthy to be able to afford to serve. Finally, the Supreme Court just allowed corporations to give in an unlimited way-that would have to change before anything can be done to stop "special interests". They gave those "special interest" carte blanche!
  • by chill Location: enc on Oct 22, 2011 at 12:44 PM
    Thats why they are call a Con gress . First word CON. Please vote 2012.Lets clean up Washington DC and run the crooks out.
    • reply
      by You're right on Oct 23, 2011 at 06:38 AM in reply to chill
      You're right. Problem is, who do we vote for? They're all crooks. They all lie. The press feeds us only the information they want us to know because they are owned by billionaires who sit back and pull strings. The candidates who might be legit don't get any air time, or worse, the press makes look like losers.
  • by Roberta Location: New Bern on Oct 22, 2011 at 12:44 PM
    I can't believe once again the politicians want to cut the pay plus the benefits of the people who keep our country FREE. What is wrong with them. Lets take their benefits and pay and cut them in half and see how they like it. These men and women give their all for our country and they are the first ones everyone wants to cut. Do we the United State want to be like Russia, Iraq, ect. That is what is going to happen when they start cutting. DONT VOTE TO RE-ELECT ANY OF THE POLITICIANS.
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