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Home News Legion opposes cuts to military compensation, benefits

Legion opposes cuts to military compensation, benefits

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As threats of military compensation and benefits cuts loom over Congress, House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on Tuesday to cut military benefits and increases TRICARE prescription co-pays on.

The American Legion is opposed to the cuts. “Benefits and compensation should not be affected by readiness,” said Joe Sharpe, director of the Legion’s Veterans Employment and Education Division. “They are completely separate entities and should be funded as such.”

Initially, lawmakers proposed a significant increase in TRICARE co-pays and a 5 percent reduction in the housing allowance growth rate over the next several years.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4435, the Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 last June, rejecting the administration’s request to significantly reduce military compensation, including reductions to pay raises for troops, increase in TRICARE pharmacy co-pays, and reductions to basic housing allowance for military personnel. The Senate version of the bill, S. 2410, adopted the proposals to cut military compensation and benefits.

Earlier this year The American Legion urged Congress to raise military pay wages by 2 percent. A 1 percent troop pay raise was approved.

“With a war in Afghanistan, boots back on the ground in Iraq, and ISIS on the loose in the Middle East, is a 1 percent salary raise really the best we can do for the men and women we expect to meet those challenges,” said Michael Helm, natioal commander of The American Legion, back in September. “We are well aware of the budgetary constraints our government is operating under. We are also aware of the fact that America’s servicemembers received only a 1 percent increase last year – the lowest since the all-volunteer force was created.”

Legislators proposed a new bill that increases co-pays for military families by $3, cuts housing allowances by 1 percent, and includes a pay freeze for general and flag officers for the fiscal year.

Along with those changes, a 2015 budget of $521 billion was allocated with approximately $17 billion going toward defense programs at the Department of Energy and over $63 billion going toward overseas contingency funds.

The budget is scheduled to be introduced in the House this week.

John Stovall, director of the Legion’s National Defense/Foreign Relations Division, said he hopes legislators will remain vigilant to resolve present and future budget cuts. “We can’t continue to balance the budget on the backs of our servicemembers and their families.”

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