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Op-Ed: President’s 2.1-Percent Military Pay Increase Is Not Enough

(National Guard Flickr)
May 25, 2017

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The President’s plan to increase military pay next year by 2.1 percent is certainly welcome news! If the 2.1-percent increase includes all civil service employees, however, I believe it would be an insult to our Armed Forces.

Looking at this increase from the viewpoint of a 20-year retired Navy man who was a crew member of the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) during her first combat deployment to Korea in 1950/51 and a volunteer tour (boots-on-the-ground) in Vietnam during 1966/67, I see an obvious imbalance in the distribution of wages. Yes, I am also one of the many permanently disabled Veterans who are physically unable to seek gainful employment; who are forced to satisfy a deductible before we see a penny of travel reimbursement; who suffer the pain of their disabilities every single day, yet are denied COLA [Cost of Living Adjustment] increases to help them cope with their efforts to survive.

I would like to see Active Duty military personnel receive an increase of at least 3.2 percent. Veterans rated 50 percent or higher in their disability rating should receive at least a 2.2-percent increase in VA disability compensation! Civil Service employees, a 1.2-percent increase. Additional Combat Pay should also be increased by at least 2.2 percent.

Active duty personnel are “on call” 24/7, perhaps a transfer into a combat zone, and therefore should receive a higher increase in pay than Civil Service employees.

To offset the cost of these pay increases, the government might consider assessing a “deductible” identical to that which has been assessed VA patients since 1978 – before receiving a dime of travel reimbursement. Actually, travel reimbursement for government employees (including the Armed Forces) could be discontinued altogether! Doing away with travel pay would free-up more than a billion dollars, annually – WOW!

The President is rebuilding our military, and providing adequate salaries will entice some men and women to enlist in the Armed Forces. The President is also keenly aware of the need to supplement the healthcare being provided by our VA with a revamped Veterans’ Choice Program; however additional personnel (dedicated to speedy and adequate healthcare of Veterans), must be quickly and adequately trained to assist in the process of integrating Veterans’ Choice with standard VA healthcare.

Hopefully, our Congress will soon settle down to do what we elected them to do in Washington. President Trump has already made gigantic in-roads towards getting our country back on track. Right now, we presently have a one-party system and a Democratic Party who seem to be eaten up by the loss in the elections and who seem to be unable to accept the people’s choice and “move on!”

One of President [Abraham] Lincoln’s historical phrases is emblazoned across the front of the Capitol Building: “A House divided against itself cannot stand!”