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Chronology of a COLA War

Featured in Legislative Center

Aug. 30, 2011
“As a nation, we’re facing some tough choices as we put our fiscal house in order. But I want to be absolutely clear: We cannot, we must not, we will not, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. As Commander-in-Chief, I won’t allow it.”
President Barack Obama, speaking at the 93rd National Convention of The American Legion in Minneapolis

Nov. 21, 2011
“They were given an important job to do, and they failed. What this means to the future of our military and our veterans remains to be seen, but the challenges have now intensified for those who believe in a strong national defense and want to protect the hard-earned benefits of veterans. We are profoundly disappointed in the work of this committee.”
American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong after the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka “The Supercommittee,” failed to find a solution to a federal budget deficit, triggering automatic cuts sequestration in 2013

Sept. 20, 2012
“We try to protect families wherever we can, but we have to make some of these cuts."
DoD Comptroller Robert Hale in a Sept. 20, 2012, hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, with participation by The American Legion

Oct. 16, 2012
“While there is plenty of blame to go around as to who caused the current deficit crisis, it is certain that it is not the soldier or the veteran that created this mess.”
American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz in a nationally distributed editorial about cuts of sequestration set to hit in January 2013

May 8-9, 2013
The American Legion passes Resolution No. 25, opposing any lowering of cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees, at the spring meeting of the National Executive Committee in Indianapolis.

Sept. 2, 2013
“The American Legion recognizes and supports the need for a fiscally responsible government and looks forward to working with Congress to develop deficit-reduction strategies that do not degrade the nation’s ability to defend itself, or further assault the earned benefits currently being received by our nation’s veterans.”
Item No. 1 on The American Legion Legislative Priorities report, delivered to the 113th Congress

Sept. 10, 2013
“The message we want you to carry to the Armed Services committees and to DoD couldn’t be more clear – military retirees are veterans, too, so leave retiree benefits and TRICARE alone.”
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, testifying at a joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs

Oct. 1-16, 2013
Failure to enact legislation to fund the federal government leads to a shutdown that furloughs approximately 800,000 employees, threatens benefits for veterans and military retirees, and closes down national parks. One site under administration of the National Park Service, the National World War II Memorial in Washington, is closed to veterans who simply remove the barriers and go to the site anyway.

Oct. 4, 2013
"It is inexcusable that this failure to govern has disproportionately impacted U.S. military veterans and their families. I implore Congress to fund the government and end this shutdown now. It is an embarrassment to our nation; it is a cruelty to veterans and their families."
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, in a press conference at the National World War II Memorial, as veteran benefits were threatened by the budget impasse that shut down the U.S. government for more than two weeks

Oct. 17, 2013
President Obama signs a bill that temporarily ends the government shutdown and raises the U.S. debt ceiling.

Oct. 18, 2013
The American Legion hosts a Military and Veterans Benefits Summit in Washington, inviting several other veterans organizations, to establish a unified front in the battle to protect the benefits of those who have served our nation in uniform.

Dec. 12, 2013
"While The American Legion applauds the proposed National Defense Authorization Act’s prohibition against new TRICARE user fees and its limitations on raising existing fees, we strongly oppose any decrease in the annual cost of living allowance for veterans, retirees – who are also veterans – or their dependents and families. The men and women who have served our country honorably and well deserve to be treated in like fashion once they have hung up their uniforms. Few sacrifice as much as servicemembers, most especially those who have devoted their careers at great personal cost to the safety and welfare of our nation."
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, after 1-percent reductions in annual cost-of-living increases for military retirees were included in a bipartisan agreement to advance a budget bill was crafted by Sens. Patty Murray and Paul Ryan

Dec. 16, 2013
"For The American Legion, this is not a fiscal matter. It is a direct attack on our military veterans and their families. After serving their country, many in harm’s way, these same servicemembers and military retirees, and their survivors and families, should not now be asked to balance the nation’s books by forfeiting their retired pay."
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, in a letter hand-delivered to every U.S. senator, demanding that reduced cost-of-living benefits for military retirees be removed from the federal budget bill

Jan. 1, 2014
“Does Capitol Hill lack the resolve to find those savings elsewhere? Out of all Americans receiving benefits from the federal government, military retirees were the only ones targeted for a direct reduction in payments.”
American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger in an editorial published in USA Today.

Jan. 9, 2014
The American Legion issues a nationwide appeal to its 2.4 million members to contact their congressional delegations to demand removal of all COLA reductions for military retirees from the budget bill.

Jan. 15, 2014
The House passes a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that removes COLA reductions only for medically disabled military retirees, about 96,000 of America’s 903,000 military retirees who would be affected.

Jan. 16, 2014
“Senate leaders are using medically discharged veterans to try and convince the American people that they really have not broken faith with our veterans. Congress needs to restore COLA benefits to all military retirees, not just some of them."
American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger in a statement before a Senate vote on the omnibus spending bill

Jan. 17, 2014

“The American Legion supports repeal of the COLA provision... and applauds your leadership in addressing this critical issue facing our nation’s service members and veterans.”

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger in letter of support for “Responsible Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014" (S. 1931) written by  Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

 Jan. 24, 2014

Legion issues Action Alert to members asking them to contact their U.S. senators and congressmen and voice strong opposition to the COLA reduction.

 Jan. 27, 2014

Legion voices its adamant opposition to COLA cuts for military retirees in written testimony at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

 Jan. 27, 2014

Legion amplifies its anti-COLA reduction views at a post-hearing press conference conducted by Sens. Roger Wicker, (R-Miss.), Kelly Ayotte, (R-N.H.), and Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Jan. 30, 2014

Legion meets with Senate leadership and Senate Budget Committee staff to further express its position on COLA cuts.

Feb. 4, 2014

Legion speaks at a press conference called by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to tout his omnibus bill strengthening veterans' health care and benefits. Legion takes opportunity to reiterate its opposition to COLA cuts.

Feb. 4, 2014

Legion staff meets with Master Chief Petty Officer of  the Navy Mike D. Stevens to discuss joint efforts to repeal COLA cuts.

Feb. 6, 2014

Legion staff discusses possible legal strategies against COLA reductions with veteran legal scholar.

Feb. 10, 2014

Legion expresses support for bill introduced by  Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., to repeal COLA cuts. Senate subsequently votes 94 – 0 to move legislation toward full Senate consideration.

Feb. 11, 2014

"What the House did is commendable on one hand and rectifies an unfortunate earlier move to restore full COLAs only to veterans with disabilities. However, this action still falls short of reversing the COLA cut for all eligible military retirees, current and future. Again, as in targeting the Department of Defense for sequestration, this legislation places the responsibility for correcting our nation’s fiscal crisis almost solely on our servicemembers.”

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger after House of Representatives passed S25, a bill that restored full COLA to current retirees and future military pensioners - but only those who joined the service on or prior to Jan. 1, 2014.

Feb. 12, 2014

"I cannot say that I am completely satisfied with the decisions by both the House and Senate to maintain a cut to future retirees’ pensions…but we can at least breathe a sigh of relief on behalf of our current retirees and career servicemembers. The American Legion will continue to fight for a full reversal of COLA cuts for military retirees today and those yet to serve. It is the right thing to do."

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger after Senate passed bill identical to House version that restores full COLA to current retirees and servicemembers.

Feb. 15, 2014

President Barack Obama, while on a golf outing at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., signs S25 into law, thus restoring full COLA benefits for younger military retirees. The bill was flown to the president from Washington the night before.

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SSG William H, Couch, USA, Ret

February 20, 2014 - 5:14pm

I think Congress should take a 5-10% pay cut on their salaries instead of the Military taking a COLA cut. The military gave their all and the retirees too, now it's time Congress to step up to the plate and take a large pay cut too. What's good for the goose is good for the gander!!!!

Sgt.Ronald W.Fox II U.S.A.R(RET)

January 20, 2014 - 1:37pm

I Have Read The Comments Made By Other(VETERANS)And I Agree With Most Of What Has Been Said By Them.Lets Have The Congress Balance The U.S. Budget,But Not on The Backs Of (VETERANS).Yeah Write Your Congressman And Senator And Tell Them What You Think.God Bless America And Our (VETERANS).

Scorekeeper

January 20, 2014 - 1:26pm

No Country in the history of the planet that has run up massive debt has been able to maintain a military empire. Our's is going to try and cola will only be the first cut in this effort.

backusjm

January 17, 2014 - 8:05am

I hear the same thing every time vets or current service members are targeted by Washington. We are compared to civilians in our compensation and benefits. We are not civilians. We are and should be thought of as our nations guardians, our nations security. There is a reason why we should be compensated in a different manner, and not compared to civilians.

Black

February 23, 2014 - 7:30pm

I absolutely agree. Military should be compensated differently than civilian. We are the guardians of this nation!!

G. E. Rutledge, USA (Ret)

January 16, 2014 - 5:58pm

There are many other Federal Agencies in the US Government. I have not seen that these other agencies are being asked to shoulder the "cuts" that are being imposed on the military. These cuts were tried before with the result that the military forces were not able to meet their volunteer enlistment goals. I wonder why? Are we to repeat the failures of the past and not have a well trained and professional military defending our country? Congress and the President should abide by the contract that was promised every militry person that rised their right hand to defend this great nation. The military has fulfilled it's part of the contract, now Congress and the President should do their part. Stop the unfair "cuts" to the military services.

Art Cold Warrior

January 16, 2014 - 4:23pm

No ones benefits are being cut. The rate of increase is being reduced by one percentage point, the same type of thing that has been done to Social Security and most other federal payments in the past. When I was in they promised 50% of my ending base pay for life at 20 years, 75% at 30 years, no more than that, and there was no promise of inflation adjustments at all. To claim that we should not do our part when the active duty is being cut to less than 500,000 and our fiscal house is a shambles is irresponsible. We as veterans are above that.

Norm

January 17, 2014 - 3:30pm

What other pension increases are being cut? Please name other Gov. pension program COLA's being reduced. From what I know, the only COLA increases being cut are for the Veterans. These fiscal issues should not be relieved on the backs of Veterans. If that is your point then I disagree with you. Balance budget amenment is a remendy and a prevention of such irresonsiability by our law makers and President. Printing and borrowing money, we gave all our Gold out of Ft. Knox to the Chinese years ago. We are Broke and so much $ is being wasted through Fraud and stolen. Our leaders must be be held, they should all be docked 25% of there budget and staff salaries. Let them feel the pain.

America First

January 16, 2014 - 9:06pm

I don't think most veteran's would mind the cuts IF they were done fairly and with thought of efficiently running the government. The main point is, it is a promise the federal government made to Veteran Retirees and MOST of all there is no fairness in the cuts; Military Veteran's Past, present, future are being signaled out: from above read in the journal this fact. You don't see the same hypocritical politicians stepping up to cut their own pay and benefits. How do we say that in the military "Lead by Example" From Journal of the Pay Cuts above "Jan. 1, 2014 “Does Capitol Hill lack the resolve to find those savings elsewhere? Out of all Americans receiving benefits from the federal government, military retirees were the only ones targeted for a direct reduction in payments.” American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger in an editorial published in USA Today

Gibson

January 16, 2014 - 4:56pm

I put in 30 years and served in every war and uprising in that time. I served honorably and was proud to do so. I was also proud to be providing for my family's future. I was told I would have FREE medical for myself and my family for life, I would have COLA increases, commissary and PX privileges. I am now 80% disabled with PTSD and have been through more hell than civilians could ever dream of. If you take MY COLA, then you must be doing the same thing to EVERY employee of the government - including Congress the Senate and white house staff. If I have to pay co-pays on medical then I want to see them do the same. Our fiscal house is a shambles because of OUR money being spent on things that are of no benefit to the nation as a whole.

John Storms

January 16, 2014 - 4:06pm

None of our U.S. Military Veterans benefits should be reduced by even one penny. If cut's must be made to keep our Government solvent then let it be on the backs of the current U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate and all retired members of both of these houses of our Government. This should include former Presidents, their staff members and White House appointee's who are getting retirement pay from simply working for a certain President and Vice President. Cut from the top as these are the people who can withstand these Government cuts. Not the retired U.S. Military member who fought for the freedom (taking a real chance of loss of life and limb.)These are the people who are responsible for the existing Government today. "Many gave some and many gave all." This is our famous statement and should be considered first and foremost before any Government cuts are considered. If not for these former and retired Military personnel, there would not be an American Government and this is something our entire Nation realizes completely. We were there for our Nation in time of need, placing our lives on the line to protect this Government and should be of utmost importance.

Karl A Siegler MMCS/SS Retired

January 16, 2014 - 3:23pm

If the COLA is reduced for all retired federal employees as well as all military veterans, then I too will make a sacrifice.

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