My name is Brandon Bennett and I am a son of Arizona. I was born and raised in Phoenix and was stationed in Tucson for 17 of my 20 years in the Air Force. I start my terminal leave in preparation for my retirement from the military next month.
When I joined in 1994 and subsequently every time I reenlisted, there was never a question what I was sacrificing for when it came to my benefits. There was also never a question when it came to my decision to serve my nation and I have done so proudly and with honor. I have spent years of my life away from my family in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have 248 combat sorties and over 1,400 combat flight hours as an EC-130H Flight Engineer. I have been shot at, rocket attacked and endured many of the perils a combat zone has to offer.
Not only have I sacrificed but my family has put their needs aside for the good of our nation. My wife, Tammi, has been a single mother and my son, Chaz, doesn’t know what it is to have his father at home. I have injuries and illnesses from years of combat exposure which affect me and my family. These issues will disable me for the rest of my life, not just after age 62.
As I finish out my 20 year career, the last thing I expected was to find out the government is now going to penalize my cost of living adjustment on my retirement pay for the next 22 years. Over the past few years, the government has threatened to not pay me numerous times and I find it absolutely despicable the United States Government has to put the burden of a budget on the back of it’s military. The fact we require a law to protect the pay of our military demonstrates a fundamental disconnect the government has from the citizens.
Be that what it is, I will press on with pride and explain to my wife and son, this is yet another sacrifice we will make for our great nation. It seems to me the cost of freedom keeps going up every year, but now I am being told my retirement pay won’t keep up with that cost. I guess the old adage is true, freedom isn’t free.
Please seek a resolution to this problem as my family and I should not be penalized to subsidize the budget.
Thank you for your time.
Brandon Bennett, MSgt, USAF
MSgt Bennett has been a member of IAVA for almost three years and flew combat missions with IAVA staffer Matt Colvin in Afghanistan. He sent this letter to his senators and then shared it with Matt. When we asked for permission to repost it here, he replied, “If Matt says to do it, I’m all in. Trust that guy with my life today the same as I did in Afghanistan in 2005!” For the latest updates on how the Congressional budget deal affects veterans, follow @IAVA on Twitter.