One Retired Veteran’s Story

And you wonder why Donald Trump won the election…?

I received the following email from a friend who is a Retired Marine Officer.

He and I enlisted in the military about the same time, during the midst of the Viet Nam war. While both saw military service as a duty, we were also heavily recruited with promises of full retirement after 20 years of service, and, among other things, full medical coverage at a military medical facility—for life—after retirement.

My friend has also been financially disciplined and astute. From the time he began to draw military pay, he set up savings and investment programs—saving a portion of his pay check each month. He retired after 20 years—and a tour in Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam war. Also, in typical Marine fashion, he has maintained a regular fitness routine after retirement and, now in his early 70s, is in good health.

Following is the email I received.

“My annual social security ‘earnings statement’ came the other day, so I’m guessing you’ve gotten yours, too?  If it weren’t so infuriating, it would almost be funny. Only government could come up with the computations it showed; i.e., in light of receiving a 0.2% COLA increase, my gross monthly payment goes DOWN!

“First remember that I was promised that if I served on active duty long enough to retire, I would be provided with free medical care for life from military treatment facilities.  However, since that promise was abrogated, I’ve been shunted off to Medicare like any civilian who never spent a day in uniform.

“As if that weren’t insult enough, my government has another way of saying ‘thank you for your service’. Because I have spent most of my life living beneath my means, saving conscientiously, investing conservatively and generally trying to make prudent life-style choices to remain healthy to ensure that I would never become a public burden and have to be supported on public welfare, I get to pay not the regular monthly Medicare premium of $134, but – lacking but one thin dime – exactly twice that amount.

“This is because I have violated the Obama decree that, ‘at some point, you’ve made enough money’. Apparently reaping the benefits of my conservative lifestyle has caused me to ‘earn’ too much money by liberal standards, hence the privilege of paying the ‘enhanced’ premium.  This for the exact same coverage that a non-military civilian gets, except that he may smoke, drink, and be obese he likely uses a lot more medical services than I do.

“So, in reality I’m paying a lot more than merely twice for the same services actually provided. And, obviously, it’s because this premium has gone up that my social security payment has gone down.”

“Since Medicare is supposed to be an insurance program, in the real world someone who is most likely to use the least services would be charged the lowest premium. Like car insurance? If you don’t drive too many miles and you have a good driving record (‘low risk’), your premiums are lower than someone in the opposite (‘higher risk’) categories.  But like I say . . . only government.”

“I seriously doubt that the average non-serving person cares much about my predicament, but it is so aggravating that I have to vent to somebody.  Lucky you.    Sorry, but thanks for listening!”

So I did a little research on the history of military medical care.

Remember, when he and I enlisted we were promised by recruiters, both orally and in writing, free medical care for life, if we made the military a career.

The following are excerpts from a white paper titled: A Briefing on the History of Military Retirees their Dependents and Survivor’s Health Care  (An Issue of the Honor and Trust in the US Government)*  by Norman Campbell

“Military recruiters and active duty retention personnel, to include those in top command positions, made the promise of free medical care continually from the 1940’s to 1992 orally and in print.

“Major Commands and Unit Commands established Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer retention positions with instruction to make the promise of free health care for life to entice reenlistment and a commitment to make the military a career. More so than basic recruiting, it was the retention of trained personnel that was the goal of the promise of free health care. 

 “The standard wording was; “Your pay is substandard as compared to civilian pay, but you are earning as a form of delayed pay, lifetime free medical care for you and your dependents for as long as you live.”

  1. In 1994 Congress enacted law to establish the military TRICARE health system providing three levels of medical insurance for active duty, their dependents and military retirees and their dependents under age 65.
  2. Military retirees and their dependents age 65 and over were excluded from military health care insurance. They were eligible for Medicare only and most forced to purchase expensive supplemental medical insurance. The promised free health care became nonexistent for those ages 65 and over.”

We continue to recruit young men and women into the military services and expect many of them to be exposed to dangerous combat situations. And yet, medical service for veterans has continued to diminish; just consider the continuing horror stories of veterans trying to get critical (and promised) medical services through the Veterans Administration.

Many of us who answered the call to serve in the military feel betrayed, official government promises were not kept, nor were they replaced with better, or even comparable, medical services.

We live in a potentially dangerous world, and if we, as a nation, expect to continue to exist we will require the be ability to defend ourselves, i.e., a strong defensive force, we are going to have to rely on our military service people—men and women who risk injury and their lives—to stand between us and those would be our enemies.

I understand that there are people—citizens who do not care about the military—the very military that protects them so that they can think anything they want, but those people should not—in my opinion—be in Government.

*Read the complete whitepaper here: http://www.vfw6872.org/History%20of%20Military%20Healthcare.htm

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2 Responses to One Retired Veteran’s Story

  1. GP Cox says:

    At least 90% of our government is run by people who never served. I can fully understand your beef and that of your friend. Obama-care is caving in on itself, and and cost of living keeps going up with social security being overlooked, etc etc. I’m not much of a political person, so I can only hope things will change somewhat now that our pres-elect will have a friendly Congress.

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