“Rep. E. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) told Gates that based on his conversations with retirees, who had enlisted with the expectation that they would get free health care for life, the proposed increase was ‘a breach of trust to change the deal.’”
For thirty-three years in uniform I swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same. . . .” Just because I retired does not mean I no longer serve the nation, I do, and in that capacity and as a taxpayer I have an obligation to do what is right for the country.
Secretary Gates has proposed modest fee increases for Tricare, proposed fee increases are 13% higher than the premiums pay today by military retirees. The current Tricare fee would rise from $460 per year for a family to $520 per year for a family. In addition my wife and I pay over $1200 per year for her Government Employee Health Care policy which is my secondary insurance and her primary insurance. Together that is still a bargain as my brother pays almost $10000 per year for his private health insurance.
If you believe what the politicians say; our country is on the verge of financial disaster. Admiral Mullen has said the financial problems of our nation are a National Security issue. Across the nation State and Local governments are reducing benefits for employees in order to balance the budgets. My generation, the baby boomers are at or approaching Social Security age; our nations financial problems must be dealt with and all of us must be willing to make some sacrifices.
Yet, if you listen to Military Officers of America Association (MOAA), or some members of Congress, or individual retirees raising the Tricare fees is a breach of faith to those who served. I am here to tell you it is not.
The breach of faith would be not to raise the fees, to force the services to spend more and more money on healthcare leaving less and less money for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. It would be a breach of faith not to raise the fees and force the services to make choice between weapons or paying more for health care. It would be a breach of faith not to raise fees and lessen the care for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on active duty because the retirees did not want to do their part. It would be a breach of faith with the American people not to raise fees and make our armed forces less ready to defend our nation against all enemies.
The choice is up to all of us who are retired from the military. If we want to be seen as just another special interest that is part of problem and not the solution well and good. If on the other hand, we believe that our oath still applies even when we retire, we will lead from the front and show our fellow citizens, that through shared sacrifice we can all help the nation avert financial disaster.
I know not what my fellow retirees will do, but I believe that supporting the increases in the Tricare fees proposed by the Secretary of Defense is the right and proper course to follow and my fervent hope is Congress will heed the Defense Secretary’s request.