What is The American Legion doing to persuade Congress that it should not cut veterans benefits in its efforts to reduce federal spending, as proposed by the November 2013 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, ‘Options for reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023’?
A: Thank you for your concern over these proposed options to reducing the deficit. American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger shares your concern and has sent the following letter to every member of Congress, in response to the CBO report:
Dear Member of Congress,
On behalf of millions of veterans and their family members that make up The American Legion Family, I write to you today to express our profound opposition to several of the proposed policy options listed in the November 2013 Congressional Budget Office report entitled Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023.
The American Legion believes it would be inappropriate for Congress to consider these options as possible budget reduction choices because of the harm they will cause, if implemented, to our military personnel, our veterans and military retirees, and their families; all of whom have earned those benefits due to their selfless and honorable service to country. We would also like to bring to your attention that the long-term impact of some of these deficit reducing strategies would have the unintended consequence of increasing future spending by raising future entitlement obligations.
The policy options that The American Legion specifically opposes by resolution include;
➢ Eliminate Concurrent Receipt of Retirement Pay and Disability Compensation for Disabled Veterans Retirement,
➢ Narrow Eligibility for Veterans’ Disability Compensation by Excluding Certain Disabilities Unrelated to Military Duties,
➢ Restrict VA’s Individual Unemployability Benefits to Disabled Veterans Who Are Younger Than the Full Retirement Age for Social Security,
➢ Use an Alternative Measure of Inflation to Index Social Security and Other Mandatory Programs,
➢ Introduce Minimum Out-of-Pocket requirements Under TRICARE for Life,
➢ Modify TRICARE Enrollment Fees and Cost Sharing for Working-Age Military Retirees and,
➢ End Enrollment in VA Medical Care for Veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8.
While we appreciate current fiscal realities, and acknowledge White House and Pentagon concerns about what they term ‘spiraling personnel costs,’ we remain steadfast in our belief that economic concessions should not be made at the expense of those who have already sacrificed much for our country. More importantly, these strategies fail to analyze the costs to our nation’s future, and our national security. If our nation’s young people witness Congress arbitrarily imposing the politically expedient benefit cuts entailed in these proposals on those who served, and on those still serving, we fear that our nation’s youth will fail to recognize the importance of honoring all who have served by providing their earned benefits as the thanks of a grateful nation.
In conclusion, The American Legion cannot help but be concerned about our nation’s deficits and growing national debt. The solutions to these national dilemmas, however, cannot be found through the implementation of policies that reduce benefits already earned by those who have given faithful service to this country.
As always, the American Legion stands ready to work with you and your staff to come up with sustainable reductions that also protect the benefits earned by our military and veteran community. Thank you for your support of our nation’s military personnel, veterans and military retirees, and their families.