The sound of promises breaking

It’s funny, ironic, disingenuous, and sad that the clamor of support for the men and women who answered the nation’s call to arms has changed to a clamor for the evisceration of the benefits that were promised to them for risking their lives to protect those unwilling to serve.

Even though the bullets are still flying and Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan, the elected and appointed leaders of our nation are shamelessly backing away from the commitments they made to those in uniform.

It started with “pension reform”, which is a blatant and arrogant rewriting of history in order to shave a few billion dollars off of the promised pension benefit that those who devoted twenty or more years of their lives to the nation earned.  When I enlisted I was promised that if I served a career in the military, I would receive a pension that included a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that was based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), not the CPI minus one percent.

I served a total of 27 years under that assumption.  Unfortunately, Senators Ryan and Murray (neither of whom has served a single day in uniform or watched their friends go home in a body bag) decided that my assumption was incorrect and that the promise my recruiter made in 1984 was a lie.

Awesome.

Then came the retraction in TRICARE Prime service area availability.  It turns out that if you retired from the military and took advantage of TRICARE Prime, you were entitled to utilize the program wherever you decided to plant your flag.  As of last October, however, 171,000 retirees found that the promise was subject to the expedient whims of the people who promised such coverage.  That is in addition to the intractable whining by those who have not earned the benefit of subsidized TRICARE Prime premiums and are eager to make sure that veteran retirees pay “a fair amount” for their health care.

Awesome.

Then came the news that the pentagon is working to eviscerate the commissary system.  Sure, I am now retired and can shop at the local supermarket, but since I live by a military base I don’t.  I shop at the commissary because it is a benefit that I earned through my service in a couple of wars and a few decades of peacetime service. Again, my recruiter is a liar because he promised me something that the DOD has decided I probably don’t need.

Awesome.

I say thank you to everyone who wants to cut the benefits that military men and women have earned in the service of the nation.  You have confirmed that you lack the moral courage to actually pick up a rifle and use it on the enemies of the United States, but you have the shameful mendacity to plunge a knife in the backs of those who have.

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13 responses to “The sound of promises breaking

  1. Excellent post. Lucid, insightful. Not to mention young service people with young children who are on food stamps at the beginning of their careers. There also seems to be a discrepancy between keeping some promises, not keeping promises long sanctified, and making new promises to special interest groups with large demographic impact. Keep on going!

    HaveHHHave a great day! – private – private – private

    Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:01:32 +0000 To: learnergrice@hotmail.com

  2. Here’s something else to think about. My husband is retired military. I’m retired civil service. I’ve always paid for full coverage for our health care, under my career with BC/BS. Those in the civilian sector like to think our coverage is free but we’re nearing $1,000/mo. We received a shock we hadn’t expected when we turned 65. The gov said we had to take Medicare or we would lose Tricare for Life. We wouldn’t care about not having Medicare but then we’d also have to give up all of our social security and both of us paid the maximum our entire careers. Social Security isn’t such a great deal as it lowers our federal retirement. The bottom line is that Medicare healthcare has nearly killed both of us twice due to the quality of care. Medicare has to be the first payer before BC/BS pays there part and of course Tricare gets off for free.
    Tricare only pays the deductible on our medications, so they are getting a darn good deal on this retired couple.
    Our commissary costs are almost equal to what it cost to shop the major supermarkets in our area and the Base Exchange is often higher.

    • Thank you for sharing your challenges and disappointments with the benefits that you and your husband are receiving. It is very distressing to learn how things don’t turn out the way that are expected, and unfortunately it looks like it is only going to get worse.
      Thanks so much for sharing!
      Mike

  3. I’ve been retired from the Army for 30 years and have witnessed a number of attacks on the promises made to us. The ones that are easiest to defeat are the frontal attacks like this one; they are in the open for all to see.

    The ones that are much more insidious and effective are those perpetuated by the very bureaucrats that are charged with administrating the benefits. It has become clear to many of us that they are more concerned with furthering their careers on the backs of military retirees and their families than insuring that promises are kept.

    These attacks are done against small groups to start and then spread to others. Because they happen under claims of improving the benefit Congress and the Service Organizations seldom take notice.

    I live in the Philippines along with more than 11,000 other retirees, survivors and their families who are entitled to medical benefits under the TRICARE Overseas Program. This program is limited to TRICARE Standard even for those over 65 as Medicare does not apply overseas, however we still are required to purchase it.

    The Defense Health Agency has seen fit to create a modified Standard for the Philippines and as if that weren’t enough they also set up another modified program known as the “Demonstration”. There are no options here, you are required to use both distinctly different programs depending on your physical location at time of care and the specialty you require; get it wrong and use the wrong one and all claims are denied. In essence these programs are designed to limit access to care and reduce the cost to the government. Using their data we compared the per capita expenditure in the Philippines with the program average. Even after adjusting for lower costs here they expend 13% of what is spent on everyone else which is a clear and obvious indicator that our access to care is extremely limited.

    Some of the “benefits” we see from these programs.
    1. Costs under the Demo have increased from 2 to 5 times over normal local rates.
    2. Providers that collect full payment under the Demo due to deductibles don’t file claims so we never get credit.
    3. Demo patients often are required to see a single provider in violation of published patient rights.
    4. There are no quality checks on the providers under the Demo.
    5. Under our Standard we are not allowed to choose but must use “certified” providers. If there are none in an area we have to pick someone and then take our chances on them becoming certified. If they are denied we are told the reasons are secret. Retirees have used certified hospitals and had their claims denied and were told the reason was the hospital went out of business and closed its doors the day before they were hospitalized and were decertified; a year later the hospital is still functioning.
    6. Major internationally accredited hospitals are not certified as well as the Red Cross and the reasons are also secret. If we need blood we must pay for it ourselves.
    7. We are required to convert local global bills into the U.S. itemized and costed standard which requires knowledge of medical coding and medical claims processing; fail to do this and the claim is denied.

    We fight this as best we can. Some of us operate a forum, blog and publish a newsletter to assist beneficiaries in coping with the many constantly changing rules. But we have little support in getting this changed; out of sight, out of mind. Many believe it is a losing battle and don’t seek care rather than destitute their families.

      • The issues we face are limited to the Philippines as nobody else overseas has the same draconian rules applied to them. The reasons date back 10 years and the result of incompetence on the part of those managing the program at the time. We are the second largest overseas population and have no local representation unlike in Germany, Japan and Korea and also part of the problem. We were promised a local TRICARE employee more than 6 years ago, even the DODIG in 2011 recommended this, but the promise turned out to be one more broken promise by DHA. DHA and contractor staff claims to be afraid to come here because they are afraid crowds of beneficiaries will become unruly. Once they even requested Marines from the Embassy be present to protect them from us but the request was turned down. On the rare occasion they do come they limit attendance to 25 and publicize the meeting 1 or 2 days before arrival. To me that speaks volumes to how we are treated and that those responsible are well aware of what they created.

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