The Erosion of Promises

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Bush administration is planning on tripling the cost of TRICARE
by Charles R. Kotkin, U.S. Navy Retired

The Bush administration is planning on tripling the cost of TRICARE, the military retired health care system. All of the talk of the Bush administration about how they support the military and this pops up above the radar. The worst thing about this proposed increase is that the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that it is a fair thing to do.  The retired community is not made up of exclusively four star generals or admirals.  A few of us retired as mid-ranking, or lower, enlisted people.  Maybe 4 stars have so much money they don’t care if they get screwed out of promises.  All of the rest of us do.

In my view retired military personnel are a group of special people who deserve the utmost respect from our fellow countrymen. We have already done our duty. We have spent the best parts of our lives defending our country. The people in the military now deserve respect, of course, but they are in the beginning of their careers. Many of them will never make a career out of the military and therefore they will not become retirees.

All military retirees since 1776 are a national treasure and should be treated as such…

     

I firmly believe that we retired military were promised free health care for life during our military careers. Throughout my military career I considered free health care for life one of the motivators to endure the hardships of military life. I looked forward to a time when my wife and I would not have to worry about expenses for medical care.

I can’t tell you how ashamed of my government I am. I also can’t tell you how angry I am. I am counting on you to let the public know what the government is planning on doing to just one targeted section of the retired military community.

Medical care for retirees should be free, absolutely free. I am not the only retiree who thinks like this. There are millions more who think like I do. It is not the money. I can afford the increase even if the fee is tripled. That is not the point. A promise is a promise is a promise.

Especially when it is made to our fighting men and women who have already sacrificed. This is not the time to forget us; after we have already served; long after the mortars and rockets, and bullets have stopped whizzing by our heads.  The tripling of TRICARE fees is being targeted at a certain group of retirees- those retired and under 65 years of age. This is pure and clear discrimination. The active duty personnel are not being asked to pay more and those retirees over 65 are not being asked to pay more for TRICARE.

How is it that one retiree is different than another retiree? The government is discriminating just because it can?

This is not the time to spit in the faces of 600, 000 retired military people. If the best that can be done is that the current rates be frozen at the level they are at now and kept that way permanently, that would send us a message– that our country does care about what we did to preserve freedom.The current military is strong because of those who went before them. Just as we were strong because of those who fought WWII.

So much money is so poorly managed and there is so much fraud, waste, and abuse in government that to suck blood out of one particular targeted group of retirees and ask them to pay triple what they currently pay, makes even thinking about doing such a thing that much more of a crime.

Please don’t let the retirees down. It is not a matter of paying our fair share, we already did that and then some with putting our lives on the line for the best years of our lives. Forcing us to pay the medical fees at the places where we work would be very demeaning to all of us retirees. Especially because free medical care was one of the greatest motivators for us to remain in the military.

Making TRICARE very expensive would be a grave injustice to those targeted, discriminated against, American retired service men and women.

I feel so insulted every year when I pay the $426 for my wife and I. I have the money. I know it is cheap compared to what a civilian has to pay. That is not the point and it should not be factored into the promise that was made to all of us retirees.

No price can be put on the sacrifices we retirees made for our beloved country. Free medical care would be a small token of what our country owes us. Please take this matter seriously and do something to stop this very serious injustice.

If the tripling of TRICARE fees is allowed to happen then the honorable active duty service members who are about to retire will never know low health care fees.

Recently Senator Graham declared that the tripling of military health care fees was a non-starter.  He also said that the military retired community can expect a future erosion of benefits.  Members of the retired military community who are at the tip of that spear understand that comment to mean: you can expect an erosion of promises.

What needs to be done is more money needs to be added to the defense bill so that free medical care for all retirees is factored into the budget. Then the government should not whine and complain and insult the retirees, they should very respectfully keep their promise to us.

From the figures I saw this health care could have been paid for with the 9 billion that was ‘lost’ in Iraq.  Whatever it costs, the retired military community have earned the medical benefit.  The budget for retired medical care should be made separate from the general military budget.  It will raise each year and the government should provide whatever it costs.  The government can do all in its power to control prices, and to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.  But ultimately the government made the promise and it must be kept.  It is not acceptable to the retired military community that there will be an erosion of benefits in the future.  That is not an erosion of benefits it is an erosion of promises. 

It is the government of the United States spitting in the face of every retired military person and letting us know that our service was taken for granted and that the government of the United States doesn’t give a damn about the retired military community.  By action this way the government makes it crystal clear to those currently serving that whatever promises it makes to them will be broken in the future. 

The government says to those currently serving no matter how what you do for your country your country will never really appreciate it and you will end up paying through the nose for benefits that were previously promised to you. 

This is disgraceful.

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