Military pay raises, funding for veterans health care and the Post-9/11 GI Bill could be sacrificed to new fiscal realities as the result of the deal signed by President Obama on Tuesday to raise the federal debt ceiling, according to the Military Officers Association and veterans groups. The law requires the federal budget be cut $2.1 trillion over 10 years.
Since a revision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill was signed into law at the beginning of the year, we have made it a priority to explain the changes that could significantly impact students either attending school or about to start this fall. This week, many of those changes are being implemented, and it’s important that students understand how their benefits might be affected.
Representatives of veterans groups were assured by White House officials Monday that veterans benefits and compensation are safe from across-the-board spending cuts that could be triggered by the debt agreement under consideration.
More than a thousand Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder would be given lifetime disability retirement benefits such as military health insurance under the terms of a settlement reached between the government and the veterans.
The 10 ways Congress is targeting military and veterans’ benefits during today’s difficult fiscal times are to:
- Increase healthcare premiums for military retirees on TRICARE
- Increase pharmaceutical fees for troops, families and retirees
- Eliminate presumptive service-connected conditions for disabled and ill veterans
- Lock out or increase fees for Department of Veterans Affairs Priority Groups 7 and 8 veterans
- Reduce cost-of-living allowances
- Freeze military pay
- End government subsidies to military commissaries
- Eliminate Department of Defense elementary schools stateside
- Eliminate the 20-year military retirement plan
- Eliminate DOD tuition reimbursement programs for service members
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wants to cut taxpayer funding for non-military elements of the Defense Department, starting with making retired, uninjured service members pay more for what he described as “extremely low-cost health care for life” for themselves, their spouses and dependents under the Tricare Prime system.