90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Military Retirement Benefits At Risk In Budget Bill

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) greets James Adams, Claims Consultant of National Veterans Service, after a news conference on veteran benefits December 17, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) greets James Adams, Claims Consultant of National Veterans Service, after a news conference on veteran benefits December 17, 2013, on Capitol Hill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Senate is slated to pass a bipartisan budget bill that includes a provision that would cut retirement benefits for military retirees by $6 billion over 10 years.

The House Budget Committee chair, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, put the provision in the bill. His committee has defended the action, saying that military retirement is an “exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payment in return for 20 years of service.”

But there has been a lot of criticism, even from other Republicans, including Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions who said, “It’s not correct and it should not happen.”

Retired Army colonel Mike Barron, who is deputy director of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America, joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the impact of the measure.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Michael

    Amazing how a politician, who receives guaranteed benefits after ONE term, can vote against pre-set retirement benefits for our military members who serve 20 or more years.

    • willye

      US Congressmen do not get pensions after one term. While I agree that a deal is a deal, what is being proposed is a pretty modest cut: veterans who are receiving benefits get a reduced cost of living adjustment until they reach age 62.

      • pedro bundol

        Your know what will happen. You have been living under Obama to know that this is only the start. The bait before the switch. The man never keeps his word.

      • CSM

        Oh yeah how right you are. Congress have to serve a whole 5 years before being able to get retirement. Ok now yes they will wait until they are 62 to collect that check if all they did was 5 years BUT all they have to do is 5 years. But I do 20 years of service in the Army and they want to cut my check. Last time I checked there ass wasn’t there doing the fighting so I’m sure they worked really hard in the 5 years they must serve to get the check.

  • dean kahler

    I think it is a shame what congress is proposing. One cautionary note. Maybe it is time the military show some love to Democratic candidates. What are they getting in return for so much love of Republican’s?

    • pedro bundol

      From the frying into the fire, they would say. At least many Republicans fought the bill from passing. Democrats were solidly behind it.

  • JohnRetiredVetinGA

    When Paul and I were in Afghanistan during the early part of Enduring Freedom… wait, that wasn’t him, I don’t believe he has served… The only generous federal retirement is congressional, at least I earned mine.

  • pedro bundol

    Reading all these is so hard to believe. Since Obama came into office it is downhill for the US military, its security, intelligence and secrets. Saddest part of it is those who served the military with honors are the ones complicit in its implementation. Hagel knows what Obama had in mind for the military. Yet he sought out this position as Sec of Defense knowing fully well he will be pressured to do it. Starting with the gays in the
    military and now this. Another is McCain. For a war hero, McCain is such a huge disappointment. Never at peep from him in protest but he voted for this bill knowing that
    the US military retirees benefits will be cut. Other veterans were not so lucky as him in politics as well as in marriage. It is just sad seeing the country you love going downhill.

  • Military Spouse

    As a military spouse of 15 years (of service) I am outraged that military benefits are being tampered with by Congress. I was also disappointed in the interview by Ms. Young of retired Colonel Mike Barron. When she mentioned if military benefits should undergo “means testing” I found myself shouting at the radio in my car. It needs to be understood that the military lifestyle is very demanding not only on the service member but also on the family. The earning potential of the spouse must also be in consideration when cuts come into play. I have been fortunate in the fact that I have been able to piece together a career in my profession of social work, but after moving five times in the past 15 years I have had many months of looking for work or not being able to get supervisory positions because of the constant moving. My children have attended three schools and they are only in elementary school. Our moves are actually very moderate when compared to other military families I know. We have been at war for 12 years and many military members have undergone several deployments. The military is a voluntary force and despite war for 12 years there has not been a draft. I highly suspect that the vast majority of those who are proposing these cuts have not served in the armed forces nor have family that has served. This is not a job at Microsoft or Boeing, service in the armed forces is a family affair and the costs of war have been paid by too few in this country.

  • Tom Lark

    May I suggest here that this is nothing more than a ploy to rile the country. The actual budget does not go into effect for two years for military reduction.. That gives the politicians up for reelection time to save the day by fixing this and looking worthy of reelection. This has been barrack’s strategy since he took office. Screw the vet, then let his spineless crew fix it while he blames his target of the day.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 19 2 Comments

Abandoned Homes In Buffalo, N.Y. Selling For $1

Instead of tearing the homes down, city officials are selling them for $1, as part of the "Urban Homestead Program."

August 19 Comment

A Look At U.S. Military Options In Iraq

Retired Admiral William Fallon, who was head of United States Central Command during the Iraq War, discusses the current conflict.

August 18 37 Comments

More Americans Are Flocking To The South

A New York Times interpretation of census data finds the South is seeing significant in-migration for the first time.

August 18 10 Comments

As Pot Laws Relax, Restrictions On Research Still Tight

The firing of a University of Arizona doctor highlights the complexity and politics of marijuana research.