WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Association for Uniformed Services, in association with The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of uniformed services and veterans associations representing more than 5.5 million current and former service members and their families and survivors, issued the following statement to Congress regarding the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization bill.
The Coalition greatly appreciates both Armed Services Committees for acting so expeditiously on the defense bill and for working on a return to regular order. We thank both the House and Senate for rejecting the consolidation of TRICARE services and a means-tested TRICARE for Life enrollment fee. The Senate's inclusion of four authorized urgent care visits will go far to improve access to care while simultaneously lowering costs to deliver that care.
Compensation and Benefits
However, still at stake are provisions that continue to erode the appropriate pay and benefits needed to sustain the all-volunteer force (AVF):
- A third straight year of capping military pay raises below private sector wage growth (with four more planned)
- A second year of reducing the commissary subsidy (with one more year planned)
- A second year of slowing the active duty basic allowance for housing (BAH)
- An additional increase in pharmacy co-pays (already tied to COLA) for the third time in four years (with an additional 9 years of increases planned) These long-term plans repeat many of the poor cost-cutting decisions that led to the Services' retention problems they faced in the late 1990s where servicemembers endured a 13.5% pay gap as well as 20% out-of- pocket housing costs.
The Coalition strongly believes we are currently on a path to undo all of Congress' hard work that many of you completed.
On a separate issue, both the House and the Senate adopted recommendations of Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission accepting a hybrid retirement system. This hybrid system will provide a retirement benefit for those who do not wish to serve 20 years or more along with financial literacy training for all service members – something that the Coalition endorses. Retirement reform is certain; however, to improve the effectiveness of the new system, we believe the conferees need to make several key improvements to the proposals under consideration.
- Increase the multiplier to 2.5 for disability retirees
- Continue the TSP match beyond 20 years of service
- Provide a government TSP match of 5 percent
- Eliminate the COLA -1% penalty for future entrants
- Retain a minimum continuation payment while still giving the Pentagon flexibility to provide the payment between 8-16 years of service
The Coalition believes that further refinements may be necessary to incentivize careers of 20 years or more as well as adjustments to the reserve component retirement system. As an example, reservists drilling for points only may be disadvantaged due to their inability to deposit into their TSP. The Coalition views sequestration as the biggest threat to national security. Unless Congress addresses the law, the arbitrary budget cuts threaten the very existence of the AVF. Dedicated service personnel conduct operational missions across the globe and if we wish to retain and sustain the AVF, we must be willing to provide those serving in uniform with an adequate package recognizing their sacrifice.
SOURCE National Association for Uniformed Services