Since the sequester took hold in March, there have been no official changes to benefits received by servicemembers, but on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned that some may be looming in the future. Speaking to troops at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hagel said that the Pentagon is considering reducing retirement benefits and enacting changes to healthcare and prescription drug coverage, according to U.S. World and News Report.
Any changes to benefits could deter troops from enlisting in the first place. Many soldiers join the military with the expectations that they will be receiving the same hard-earned benefits that their predecessors had. Veterans advocates say that without those incentives, the Department of Defense may find it difficult to entice troops to stay in the Armed Forces for their professional lives. Still, Hagel says there may be no choice.
"We are reviewing every component of our budget, and we have to look at personnel costs because they represent the biggest part," he told the crowd, as quoted by U.S. News. "We are looking at everything across the board, [such as] entitlement programs, in every way."
Hagel certainly does not have an easy task ahead of him. The Pentagon chief has to find a way to cut spending from the DOD budget by nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years, according to NBC News.