Local veterans feel betrayed by pension cut, advocate says, adding he expects repeal

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 8, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- A local advocate for military veterans believes a small cut in pensions could have big implications for the future.

Rick Delaney, national president of The Enlisted Association, said maintaining an all-volunteer military will be difficult if promises aren’t kept. He thinks it could lead to a return of the draft.

“People will say ‘If they don’t keep their word then I’m not going to join the military,’” Delaney said. “As much heat as Congress is getting, I would be surprised if it wasn’t overturned.”

The Retired Enlisted Association works to preserve veterans benefits, both for enlisted retirees and officers.

Delaney said the organization is one of more than 30 veterans groups that have made overturning the pension cuts a top priority.

“We are pretty heavily involved in it,” he said.

The bipartisan budget agreement approved by Congress and signed by President Obama last week reduced by one percentage point the annual cost-of-living adjustment for military retirees who are under 62. The change would go into effect December 2015.

Delaney said local veterans he has spoken with have not taken the news well.

“They feel betrayed,” he said. “It’s a shame that we always have a target on us.”

In an emailed statement, 8th District U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ashburn, said he voted for the budget agreement because it relieves some of the pressure on the military from automatic spending cuts. However, he said he is a co-sponsor of a bill that would remove the provision that cuts military pensions.

“It is a top priority of mine to ensure that our service members have access to the health care, pay and benefits they have earned during their service to our nation,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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