NEW YORK (February 10, 2014) – This week, the Senate is expected to debate legislation that would restore cuts to military retirement benefits. Reports have indicated that this week the House may link a provision restoring military retirement benefits to legislation to raise the debt ceiling. As Congress considers multiple proposals on the issue, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is warning members not to use veterans as a political chew toy and instead work together to reach a bipartisan consensus to protect servicemembers and their retirement benefits. IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff today issued the following statement:
“It’s clear that there is a will in both parties and both houses of Congress to fully repeal the damaging cuts to military retirement benefits. What’s not clear is whether the parties can come together to support veterans and rise above the now predictable partisan squabbling.
“Unfortunately, some from both parties want to use the military retirement issue to score political points, and have proposed attaching the issue to highly-politicized debates.
“Veterans don’t want to be used as a political chew toy. Veterans saw enough of that during the government shutdown, and we are tired of it.
“We need Congressional leaders to get in the same room and ensure that the promised benefits to those who have served our country are restored – and restored immediately. Anything less is a breach of faith with the men and women who we sent overseas to fight in two wars.
“We can assure members of both parties that veterans are watching closely to see who plays politics – and who steps up to restore the retirement pay Congress so recklessly cut.
December’s bipartisan budget agreement included unprecedented cuts to military retirees. Reducing the annual cost-of-living adjustment for most military retirees and survivors will lead to a 20 percent cut to retirement benefits over the course of their lives. For a retired Army Sergeant First Class (E-7) that could mean the loss of $83,000 in retirement savings. Since December, groups like IAVA, the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars have fought for a total repeal of the retirement cuts, arguing that Congress shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of those who have already sacrificed the most.
“Going forward every member of Congress should know that we have taken the unprecedented step of mobilizing tens of thousands of our members to guard vigilantly against any future cuts to our promised benefits and we will be watching to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Rieckhoff said.
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 8,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.