Group: Benefit Cuts to Cost Military Families $5,000 Annually

Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 08:55 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Proposed cuts in benefits will cost military families up to $5,000 annually, according to the Military Officers Association of America, The Washington Times reported.

In coming up with the figure, the association examined the impact of higher food costs, reduced housing subsidies, increased co-payments for healthcare, and cutbacks in retirement benefits on an average U.S. Army sergeant.

"When you combine all these different issues, you have quite a bit of a financial impact," retired Air Force Col. Mike Hayden of the officers association told the newspaper.

The cutbacks hurt past, present and future service members, said retired Army Maj. Karel Butler. "The stress that your family goes through, that your body goes through in a 20-year career, it is tremendous. And for them to even consider reducing those benefits is a slap in the face."

Military advocates say food costs are expected to rise because of subsidy cutbacks at base commissaries in the U.S. where military families count on reduced prices for groceries. The cost of rental housing will rise by about 5 percent as subsidies are lowered.

For both active duty personnel and retirees, changes in Tricare medical coverage are expected to result in "modest" increases in co-payments and deductibles, according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The association said annual healthcare costs for a military family of four could go up to $816 within five years.

At the same time, active-duty pay increases will be held to 1 percent annually.

Changes in the military retirement benefits system could also likely result in a smaller average monthly pension for those still on active duty. There are also concerns that lawmakers will come back for more as they target military retirement entitlements.

Younger military retirees briefly faced the threat of cut in cost-of-living adjustment though the plan was rescinded.

Navy veteran Kinyell Haymore said that young people who are considering enlisting would think twice in the face of reduced benefits. If that happens the services might not get the quotas they need, she said.

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