Casey Letter to the Editor: Honor Service Members by Protecting Benefits

To the Editor:

Your editorial highlighted the long-term costs of military pensions without fully acknowledging the sacrifice of our service members and their families.

While I agree that replacing the current pension system with a 401(k) plan is ill advised, delaying pension payments until normal retirement age would break a decades-old commitment to our veterans. We should not ask for additional sacrifices from our troops.

While an 18-year-old enlistee may retire at 38 after a 20-year career and begin receiving a pension, he is not on easy street. The average service member with a pay grade of E-7 after 20 years of service would receive an after-tax yearly pension of under $17,000. This is not a paltry sum, but hardly enough to retire and live out the rest of his life unemployed.

That retiree must re-establish himself in civilian life by finding a new career, likely requiring further education and job retraining. He or she may also have children to support.

We ask our service members to endure many burdens so that we may live in safety and security. The least we can do as a nation is maintain our commitment to properly compensate our service members for their service.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey