Members of our military and their families sacrifice enough as it is, and recent reports indicate many are at their breaking points.
The latest Military Times Poll found that large majorities of military members believe our elected officials don’t care about them. Veterans have been—to put it mildly—shafted by the very bureaucracy tasked with caring for them. Now compromises made on December 2 to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, signed by President Obama on December 19, appears to be, as The National Military Family Association puts it, balancing the budget “on the backs (and pocketbooks) of military service members and their families.” Specifically, the NDAA contains:
- lower pay raise than called for by law (1% vs. 1.8%)
- a cut to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) of 1% for military families who move to a new location next year
- an increase of $3 to pharmacy co-pays
Elsewhere the NMFA reports that the CRomnibus:
…also contains the double whammy of reduced pay raises and basic allowance for housing…
What’s more, sequestration will have an impact for years to come, as the NMFA continues:
This compromise bill [NDAA] contains significant threats to the financial stability of military families. But the hard choices Congress needed to make to finalize this bill pale in comparison to the continued threat of sequestration. While we have had a minor reprieve with the Balanced Budget Act in 2014 and 2015, the full strength of the cuts will loom again in 2016. Continued sequestration will require further cuts, not just to pay and benefits, but also to the size of the military force, family support programs, and the training and equipment our service members need to do their jobs.
In particular, fully half of the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts over the next decade mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will come from defense reductions.
This year, more than 1,700 Army captains and majors alone will be shown the door. Last year, it was announced that officers with poor performance or conduct would be targeted first. It turns out that nearly one out of five of the officers being forced out worked their way up the ranks as enlisted members, indicating sustained and superior performance—not to mention spotless conduct.
A strong national defense is a core constitutional responsibility of our federal government. Rather than (unconstitutionally) expanding into virtually every facet of Americans’ daily lives, D.C. politicians should focus on their primary jobs first—starting with taking care of our fellow Americas willing to sacrifice their lives to protect ours.