For the past several weeks, American Legion National Headquarters staff has been visiting with senators and representatives on Capitol Hill, urging them to repeal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) cuts for military retirees.
The Legion has repeatedly pointed out to members of Congress that the measure would reduce cost-of-living retirement benefits for military retirees by 1 percent per year until they reach the age of 62. There are published estimates that the potential loss of income is about $70,000 on the low end to $120,000 on the high end, depending on retired rank and years of service.
In the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act, just passed by the House and on the verge of Senate passage, an amendment in the bill would restore COLA benefits to veterans who were medically discharged – about 96,000 of America's 903,000 military retirees aged 62 or younger. For more than 800,000 military retirees, the amendment inserted into the omnibus bill means nothing. While several members of Congress have touted their support for veterans by engineering this amendment, they remain mute on why so many other veterans must bear the burden of reduced benefits by themselves.
The COLA decrease would be disrespectful to America's men and women who have devoted their careers at great personal cost to the safety and welfare of our nation. And I have made many public statements, sent letters to Congress, and issued two legislative action alerts to the Legion's membership – all to make clear this organization's strong opposition to taking away benefits from military retirees.
The American Legion is urging veterans to voice their concerns about the COLA cuts to the district offices of their congressional representatives.