As the Department of Defense looks to cut costs in the wake of sequestration, there has been substantial controversy surrounding what impact it could have on military families. Specifically, the community was concerned about purpose plans to reduce service members' annual raises and increase TRICARE fees. Those criticisms did not go unnoticed, and the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel is set to introduce legislation officially opposing the move, reports Military Times.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson, brings the conversation over pay reductions and fee increases to a new level. Pentagon officials say that the changes are modest – troops would still see a 1 percent bump in pay – and are necessary as it looks to cut costs. Additionally, the TRICARE fee hikes would only apply to working-age retirees. However, Wilson and other military advocates do not see it that way. This new piece of legislation would keep the pay raise at 1.8 percent, which is keeping pace with private sector wages, while removing any fees associated with the military's healthcare program.
The need for savings
Although it's important for military families to receive the support and benefits they've earned, DOD officials maintain that they need to find ways to reduce military spending, and dropping pay raises is a good start. By reducing the raise to 1 percent, the DOD could save about $536 million in the 2014 budget and $3.5 billion over the course of five years.
"We are at a strategic turning point and the defense budget is a reflection of the changes in defense strategy announced by the president," defense officials said in a recent letter to Congress. "There were hard choices that had to be made in every budget category, including military compensation."
Military community already feels the pinch
While it has only been two months since it was enacted, the sequester has already made its presence known in the military community. This has been especially evident in recent days as the number of Memorial Day celebrations across the country have been cut, according to Military.com. Experts estimate that sequestration could result in $1 trillion in cuts – more than $500 billion coming from the military – over the course of the next 10 years.