Originally created 03/14/97

Seeks showdown on retiree benefits



As far back as the Revolutionary War, soldiers were promised incentives to join and serve in the military. ... The incentives evolved until, after World War I, the Veterans Hospital was created to assist those maimed during the war. The incentive to stay in the military was health care and retirement pay. Health care was to be provided to those who had retired for length of service or for disability.

The current Army regulation continues this incentive. The commitment to care for the retired soldier is stated in Army Regulation 40-3. The priority is that the active-duty soldier will be treated first, and the retired member and his dependents are authorized the same medical and dental care as the active-duty member.

Retiree pay is just that - pay, not pension. Retired personnel are on retired inactive reserve status. Failure to notify the records branch each year of medical status and location automatically stops the retired pay. The retiree is subject to call to active duty at anytime. This has occurred during each conflict since 1921.

After each conflict politicians who did not profit enough politically by the conflict did so afterward by complaining about economics and curing the complaint by reducing veterans' benefits. The veterans have demonstrated in the past to counter the political reneging. This action wasted time and the veterans suffered.

The latest action was the attack on health care. The method is called the Tricare Plan.

At Fort Gordon's Eisenhower Army Medical Center, the retiree non-member is displaced by those in the Tricare plan. Active duty people are segregated the same way. Tricare is all-inclusive, blocking the use of all other insurance.

The Coalition of Retired Military has lodged a lawsuit for clarification of the benefits program. ... The other veteran services are still trying to remedy the problem politically. This makes more money for the politicians who caused the problem. The Coalition, using the legal system, seeks another method by making the problem a legal question. The resolution of the question makes the incentives a binding debt or voids the incentives. By voiding the incentives the court would say that Congress could not lure people into the military with the empty promises of the past. Either way the findings of the court would show that democracy can work without demonstrations and violence.

John Bacon, Augusta