I am a long time member of the American Legion and a retired Army veteran. I am very angry over Congress cutting our retirement pay COLA. When will the Legion and the other veterans organizations really do something about this?
The American Legion has been working on this issue every single day; please take a look at our most recent point paper on the COLA cuts.
We have issued two Legislative Action Alerts and personally delivered letters to every member of the Senate. We didn’t just drop them off at the front desk -- we spoke with every military legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate.
We’re going to get this repealed and it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. You have to remember, too, that our only real power is through you, our members. Lobbyists have three key forms of influence: money, jobs and votes. As a nonprofit, we can’t offer money for congressional campaigns and we can’t bring jobs to the districts. But we do bring more than two million votes, and our power is exercised when Legionnaires contact their members of Congress to let them know that they support our message, and will vote accordingly. That’s why we use action alerts.
The American Legion has a staff of five registered lobbyists advocate who carry the Legion’s message to Congress. The Legion also testifies frequently before Congress, writes many letters of support for legislation and writes a few that oppose bills which are not in the best interest of veterans and their families. Our positions and expertise are often quoted in the media, and we continue to educate members of Congress, news reporters and Legionnaires about our message on important issues, e.g., the unfair COLA cuts for military retirees.
Since I collect military retirement, this is also a personal issue to me. When I first heard about the COLA provision, my initial knee-jerk thought was, as a veteran, to suck it up and chip in. But when I found out that military retirees were the ONLY group being asked to forfeit money, I was insulted, just like you. Fewer than 1 million military retirees will be affected by this provision, and after COLA benefits are restored to medical retirees, the number will drop to around 750,000 – about the same as the population of Baltimore -- being asked to shoulder the entire burden on behalf of America.
Why are we asking less than one quarter of one percent of the American population to suck it up and sacrifice their income for the sake of a government that can’t manage to control its spending, balance its books, or live within the sequestration limits it imposed upon itself?
The American Legion is, indeed, fighting tooth and nail every day to repeal this unfair tax, so we can all get back to work doing what we do best, working for you and the rest of America’s more than 21 million men and women who have served in the military. Whether or not veterans belong to The American Legion, we will always fight for their rights, and represent them whenever needed.
Louis J. Celli, Jr.
Director, Legislative Division