A Meaningful Discussion

Yesterday, I attempted to clear up a couple of points I found to be misconceptions in a recent article posted to the Huffington Post. One thing that I think may have been lost in my novel of a post is the fact that I believe cuts to military spending need to happen. Even the quickest of glances at our Defense budget indicates that we are unable to sustain the status quo. I do not think that the government is out to get us (‘us’ meaning the military community), nor do I think that the military community lacks support from the general population. But when an article is published with the name of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist on the by-line, I expect the information to be accurate. And I felt the need to say something. So I did.

Something that may alienate me from some within the military community is that while I recognize the hardships of the military lifestyle, I don’t believe that service members are ‘better’ than any other hard-working functioning member of society. At the end of the day, my husband’s involvement with the military is simply a means to provide for his family and contribute to society in a meaningful and honorable manner (although, I am sure there are some that would argue otherwise). Yes, he deploys to less-than-desirable locations but he is also additionally compensated for such endeavors. As mentioned in my previous post, I do not believe the military is underpaid – especially when additional benefits are factored into the big picture of compensation. But we’re also not living a lifestyle that is far beyond our civilian counterparts with similar education levels and job responsibilities. And lump me in with the group of tax-paying American citizens who believe there is fat to be trimmed from the Defense budget. Yes, one could argue that our earning potential may be greater in the civilian world, but we are choosing to remain in the military. As this current point in time, the experiences and benefits of our military lifestyle outweigh the drawbacks. It isn’t always easy, but honestly, what lifestyle is 100% of the time?

Where do we go from here?

I am by no means an economist. But even as a lowly military spouse, I am well-aware of the overlap that occurs among programs funded by the Department of Defense to ‘help’ military families. And while free healthcare is a terrific benefit offered to the military, I do think we need to explore a co-pay system and/or the existence of a monthly premium to help offset medical costs. Such discussion couldn’t hurt. And while I don’t advocate trimming the military down to the bare-bones, I do think there are unnecessary positions and programs in existence that have little to no impact on the running of the military. Such cuts will likely draw debate from both sides of the aisle but as mentioned by many – our county cannot simply continue to spend, spend, spend. But in order for meaningful debate to take place, we must ensure that we’re validating our arguments with cold hard facts.

As my friend Jill points out, our current all-volunteer military force is perhaps the most lavish benefit provided to American citizens, myself included. When members of our society make the choice to serve in exchange for compensation (pay + benefits), it prevents other citizens from being drafted – a luxury that those of us born after the Vietnam War probably don’t fully grasp. In order for our military to remain a functional and all-volunteer force, meaningful budget cuts need to happen. And that will not happen without a valid and honest discussion about the role our society wants the military to play in our current world climate.

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35 thoughts on “A Meaningful Discussion

  1. Well said, Karen. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the room for some of these discussions, and I will tell you that your opinion is widely shared and valued by those making the decisions. Then, of course, the doors to the meeting room open, the cameras switch back on, and they too often become caricatures of themselves, bound by talking points and party-line reason. It’s manageable and extremely worthwhile, but it will require leadership on both sides to put duty ahead of reelection and leverage. Despite all I’ve seen, I remain optimistic.

  2. Karen,

    You post yesterday made me smile because not only were you articulate, you were and are right on the money – no pun intended. Your post today elicited the same response. I was a service member for years (company grade) and am now an Army spouse myself so I’ve seen both sides of the equation.

    There are PLENTY of conscientious ways to trim fat from the defense budget, without adversely affecting the soldiers and their families – or at least not drastically so. The military in and of itself does need to be downsized. This happened after the Gulf War in the 90s and overall, while it was a pain for many, it was not the end all be all of the Army. We endured and moved forward. After 10+ years of war, the same thing needs to happen. Promotions need to become competitive again, and those who cannot keep up need to be phased out.

    Excess spending can be trimmed as well – and there has been a lot over the past decade. For example, when I deployed in 09-10 to Iraq, I was offended by the gross waste of funds on “morale builders”. I’m not talking updating the MWR or USO or anything that actually improved the morale of soldiers downrange, I’m talking hiring local nationals to paint our unit insignia on building walls and bunkers to the tune of $250k. That money could be used for specific purchases, and for some reason decoration was included in that category. Funds should be used to support the military and keep them within the normal standard of living (i.e. asbestos free walls).

    Furthermore, our civilian work force could be chopped down to a manageable level. Service members (myself included) are consistently disgusted by the pointless civilian positions created, merely for the purpose of creating them. I cannot tell you how many times I have come across a man or woman, GS8, sitting at their desk watching YouTube and Facebooking ALL day because they have nothing to do. Somehow they were able to justify their job, are unable to be fired, and yet still continue to benefit from government employment. As with any bureaucracy, it is totally inefficient and could be combined/trimmed to save money – forget furloughing them. Give the work back to the soldiers and you will see returns.

    While I disagreed with the way they dealt with Tuition Assistance, I do agree that it had to go. That was not an entitlement, but a perk of being in the military. In this economy, with our debt, it was a luxury we could no longer afford. Other such perks can go. The only thing I disagree with you is the healthcare. I think that is an entitlement which should be preserved for as long as we can afford it. Now, could it be reformed? Certainly.

    I just think that we – or rather Congress – needs to proceed in the careful and conscientious way they said they were aiming to fix this problem, before drastically slashing defense spending. The other aspect of this lies in the “entitlements” provided to a large section of our population who do NOT give back and live off government subsidies without paying taxes or even having to give back to the community (i.e. volunteer service). This is where I get heartburn. If we are going to significantly slash the defense budget, and the perks/entitlements to service members and their families along with it, I think it stands to reason that we can afford to significantly slash other aspects of our budget as well. Prior to Carter, welfare and food stamps were not considered an “entitlement”; they were programs to be utilized by citizens down on their luck and struggling to make ends meet. Over the past 40 years, this has been a grossly warped and manipulated program that seems to be the bottomless pit. If you compare these two sects of our society: military and those on welfare I don’t think I need to tell you who is ENTITLED to what. We need reform here on qualification statuses and the duration/regulations under which you stay on welfare. Defense is only 20% of our budget, and slashing it to the detriment of our soldiers and military will do very little over the long run to fix our budgetary problems.

    Anyway, what began as a compliment to your insight and articulation dissolved in to a long tangent. For that I apologize. It’s a pleasure to read your blog, and I hope you continue to write so well!

    thank you!
    J.L.H.

    1. Military budget is full of waste. 1/3 of the budget goes to pay and retirement of military. It is unsustainable. The current military will ultimately, along with Congress, be the downfall of this great nation.

  3. Karen,
    I stumbled onto your blog and read your response to the Huffington Post article yesterday, and I couldn’t agree more. If that guy wanted to tackle a real issue, he needs to read this Time Magazine article (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2136864,00.html) on the cost of healthcare and think of a solution instead of writing incorrect and misleading info about the military lifestyle. If the govt could just fix the healthcare issue, the defense budget wouldn’t have to be touched. I work in heathcare and sadly enough, the Time Magazine article is spot-on. Our govt spends three times more on healthcare than on the military which is just sad to me!

  4. Another well said point. I think there need to be A LOT of frank discussions, about several areas of the national budget. Without them, we’re going to continue to wind up in this position over and over again.

  5. “Something that may alienate me from some within the military community is that while I recognize the hardships of the military lifestyle, I don’t believe that service members are ‘better’ than any other hard-working functioning member of society. At the end of the day, my husband’s involvement with the military is simply a means to provide for his family and contribute to society in a meaningful and honorable manner” – I couldn’t agree with you more! You are not alienated at all!

  6. I agree with your viewpoint! i told my husband that if people actually came down and talked to Commanders, First Sergeants, etc., they could probably each name many many cuts that could be made within their units that woudl make a major budget difference, but not cripple their ability to perform. As a spouse, I could point out many many items that I think could be cut to reduce expenses. My husband and I are also not afraid to PAY for his college education.

  7. Wonderful post. I also find myself in the minority of military spouses in the fact that I don’t think the military is “underpaid”, nor do I think my husband is somehow “better” than any other civilian.

  8. It is so wonderful to have someone give voice to my thoughts! I am an AF spouse, and if I dare to mention co-pays and minimal premiums (especially for dependent),I am practically shunned. I do think other areas of government waste should be addressed first, but why is that all things military are sacred and can’t even be discussed? We have dug quite a deep hole, and it is going to hurt to dig out of it. I am so glad there are others out there who see what I see.

  9. Well written, Karen. I am also a military spouse, and completely agree with you on all points. I commend you for your courage in speaking up and sharing your opinion.

  10. Karen, both of your posts on this subject are spot on. My husband is no longer in the military, but we still have many friends who are. Well said.

  11. Michelle – I think every American should be required to read that Time article. It’s equal parts mind-blowing and eye-opening how terrible our current health care system is. While my husband has recently joined the civilian world, I remember all of the grumblings from our military friends in the isolated desert community where we lived during the height of the health care debate. I stayed mostly silent on the issue – for reasons most of you have alluded to above – though at one point I got sick and had to spend an evening in the ER. As you are well aware, my accommodations, lab tests, and medications were fully paid for by Tricare. When I went through a similar situation in my early 20s before I married my husband, I remember having to set up a payment plan to pay off the medical bills. I actually dug up that old Explanation of Benefits and posted it on our fridge for all to see. What makes the older me more deserving of adequate, affordable health care than the younger me who often times made decisions to skimp on needed appointments and check ups because I couldn’t afford it?
    So I really just went off on a tangent there, but the point that I wanted to get to is that I agree there are many areas where defense spending could be trimmed without taking away benefits that military families receive. Again, I’ll reference the little desert community where we spent 2.5 years. Most homes outside the base operate on evaporative cooling systems b/c they work much more efficiently in a desert environment where humidity is low. Because of that, electric bills on average were about 4 times lower for homes using the evaporative coolers than homes using A/C. So what did the base do? They removed existing evaporative coolers and retrofitted all base housing with brand new A/C units and paid for temporary relocation of families while the renovations took place. The result? Many happy families with the A/C blasting at 60 degrees during the height of summer when 120 degree days were common. Every time our base friends had gatherings, I would bring a sweatshirt. These families never saw the electric bill and therefore had no incentive to conserve. As you can probably guess, base brown outs were a common occurrence over summer. There are other examples that I can think of, but I’ve already taken up too much space.
    Karen, thanks for the chance to discuss. Your thoughtful, well-rounded posts are a breath of fresh air! Funny too. Happy 3.14 day!

    1. Kady, as you mentioned, there are certainly ways to trim the excess fat that our Defense budget (and other Departments!) have been carrying around for years! Tricare is certainly a benefit that some military dependents seem to take for granted. The fact that our government is willing to pay all related healthcare costs for not only the military service member AND families too is quite remarkable, in my little old humble opinion.

  12. Very well said, agree totally with you! I think as a military spouse we can point out several hundreds of ways we see “government waste” at its finest! Base pay and BAH is not one of them! I hate to think that the civilian world actually believes the false ideas the Huffington Post article presents! Thank you for being a voice for us!

    10 year Active Duty Company Grade Officer’s Spouse

  13. “And while free healthcare is a terrific benefit offered to the military…” While I agree with so much of what you have said here, I would like to point our that our health care is NOT free. It is a benefit of the active duty member’s employment in the military. While a contribution to the cost of family coverage is not deducted as a line item on the LES, the health care is still most definitely a benefit, and not a gratuity. If he stops showing up for work, my family stops receiving health care. He, and all other active duty members, work for their personal and family health care, just as civilians do. Whether Tricare Prime for active duty dependents should require a greater cost share with the beneficiaries is a different topic, and one that can and should be discussed. But we do not get “free” health care any more than we get “free” housing!

    1. Jennifer, thank you for your insight. I used the terminology ‘free healthcare’ because we do not pay a monthly premium nor co-pays. There are organizations in the civilian sector that offer healthcare as a benefit (typically with the employer paying for part of the plan). Unlike Tricare, it often includes monthly premiums and co-pays.

  14. I normally am not one to comment on things like this but today I am going to. I agree with everything you have said for the most part. As a military spouse I honestly think that we make a decent pay. We are compinsated for time apart and deployments. I however think our health care is in a state of disarray. There are redundencies that exist that could save us time and money if fixed. having to see three different doctors to get referred to the one that I know I needed to see in the first place was a waste of money for the military. I honestly believe though that compared to our civilian counterpoints we we are not even close to equal to them when it comes to health care.

    For example, there is no way a person who is pregnant would ever be seen by a non OBGYN Dr. in the civilian world but it is a regular occurance in the military helath care system. My sister in law and I are both pregnant. I have to fight to be seen by Dr. on post when they put with nurse practitioners and sports medicine doctors even though I am deemed high risk. My SIL goes to a doctor that is covered by her plan and never once is seen by anyone other than a OBGYN doctor. She is having a normal (Not high risk) pregnancy. She recieves better care that is standard with those in civilian world where as I would deem ours as subpar.

    Equally I agree that there is room to trim the fat from the military. I however don’t think they are starting at the right end. As you already know, service members recieved a pay increase this year as well as a tax increase. This caused my husband to owe in taxes more than he recieved for his pay increase. Meaning he was lost money from his pay check while being told there was a “pay increase.”

    The cuts I believe are coming from the wrong places. For example lets examine retirement plans across the board. Like you I believe the military retirement plans are within the standard of our non military counterparts. They recieve half pay if they serve 20 years. This is pretty standard. My father a corrections officer recieves half pay if he works 25 years with the potiental to gain more (like military members) for longer service. Similarly my Brother an accountant has a smiliar opportunity for half pay if he works the standard 25+ years.

    Congress on the other hand is entitled to Full Pay after serving only one term. One term (6 years) and they get the FULL pay they recieved. Many of whom are weathly to begin with. No other job would you work for 6 years and recieve a full pay at retirement. This is where we should be looking at cutting our spending from. Of course they would never cut their own retirement plans as a way to save money but lets cut hard working service members or teachers who have worked 20+ years to be able to retire.

    I am not saying that this is an end all be all solution. I just think cuts need to start from the top and then work its way down, not the other way around. Those at the top however won’t dare look at their own spending (or behavior) as a jumping off point. Leading by example would make hard cuts easier from people to take.

    1. Jenna, you must not be able to perform basic 5th grade level research since your post is full of untruths (and down right lies). I guess you’d rather spew factually untrue statements.

      I’ll forgive you since you are probably just ignorant of the rules/laws. Here they are so you wont be ignorant of them any longer.

      From OPM.gov as well as the U.S.C (that’s United States Code – the law) here are the facts (to bad you couldn’t be troubled to look them up).

      Retirement benefits for government civilians, entering service after 1985 (approximately), are significantly less than what is presented below. There is a simple formula to calculate the government civilian’s retirement: # years * (high three pay) * 0.01. So if I worked and made 100,000/yr for the last 3 years and worked a total of 30 years, my retirement would be: 30 * 100,000 * 0.01 = 30,000/yr; if I work until I’m age 62, I get a an additional 0.001. As an example, I started work at age 27 and worked until I’m 62, (35 years). Lets say this employe is almost at the top of the civilan pay scale, their retirement would be: 35 * 150,000 * 0.011 = $57,750/yr. Compare this to an equivalent O-6 after 20 years, base pay $114,348, retirement after 20 (50% of base) yields $57,174/yr. Here is the major difference, this O-6 will be approximately 45 yrs old and will now go to work for private industry (or the government) and earn yet another retirement, while the civilian has reached the end of their working career.

      Compared to military retirement that is a significant reduction. I can’t draw my retirement until I’ve reached minimum retirement age (MRA) – for those born between 1956 – 1964 the MRA is 56.

      Sorry to bother you with the facts. For Congress its’ better but not when compared to the military retirement system.

      As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS (in place since the mid-80s) contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

      Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.

      The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.

      According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

      1. While you may not agree with my statement the fact remains true that they are starting with cuts at the bottom and not at the top where far greater cuts can be made that effect less people.

        I find it funny that you picked the rank of O-6 to use as your example for retirement. The majority of people in our current Army will never even make that rank as there are very little of them across the board. What you aren’t able to factor in because you clearly aren’t military is the time it takes to get to each individual ranks. These time spans change to meet the needs of the Army. They change every couple of years. In 2006 the average West Point graduate would likely pin on captain (O-3) within 5 years. Our army was at a place where they needed people in those positions and promoted many people early. However now that things are settling down it will take far longer for a current graduate to reach that Same position. It would take now for a person to reach the level of O-6 more than 23 years of service assuming they even got picked up for the position. Currently on the typical career progression an O-4 to maybe maybe an O-5 at max. These would be the more likely retirement ranks of some who started out at the officer ranks and progressed accordingly.

        What you also fail to account for is that the majority of the Army (to be specific) is not made up of officers. No more than say the average elementary school has principles. You wouldn’t compare a principles salary to that of a janitors any more than you can compare an O-6 (which would really be even higher than a principle, much more likely somewhere around the assistant superintendent position) to an mid level enlisted rank.

        What you also fail to account for is the average age that people enter the military in general. It’s not 18. It’s not even 21. Try 25. Add 20 years of service to that and the retirement age would be 45. Yes this is younger than the average retirement age of civilian counterpoint. However even after serving 20 years there are limited jobs for them available to work another 25 years. That’s even taking into account officers who get out early because they want to spend more time with family, make better pay, or any other number of valid reasons. The jobs for even officers are very limited. Not everyone who gets out will be doing what they went to school for even anything remotely close to what they did in the military. When a person enlists they have some (not much) say in what job they get to do. The same for officers even those out of West Point. That means you could be a mechanic for 20 years hate it and that’s all you might be qualified to do once you retire. I don’t know many mechanics that live in the lap of luxury.

        You also aren’t factoring in the amount of abuse soldiers bodies take on a daily basis. Yes it is part of their job but it will effect what they can and can’t do upon retirement. Hearing loss, knee injuries and back injuries are more in the military than most other lines of work. Clearly these will effect what they can and can’t do upon retirement.

        The average civilian household is a two income household. That means once they retire there will be two checks coming in. The average military family will only have one check upon retirement. There are a high number of spouses who are well educated and can’t find jobs because they are moving all the time. You can’t get a proper retirement when you work at 12 different jobs in a 25 year period. Most jobs require that work a minimum of 12 years at one location. For the vast majority of the military this is highly unlikely.

        Clearly you are not involve with the military in any way shape or form. It is easy to look at it from a distance and judge those on the inside. Yes there is room for improvements as there are in ANY job. All jobs waste money in some fashion. The military is just in the spotlight with it. Are we spending too much? Absolutely. There are areas to cut from. That being said it brings me back to my original point. We should start from the top with cuts. Leading by example.

        Next time you have a point to make be a man (or women) about it and us an actual name and email. I can only guess that you aren’t because you are afraid of being attacked for having such an ill thought out and attacking response. I’m my history people only take something that is meant to be a healthy debate and start in with name calling when hiding in the shadows. Next you chose to make a statement use your 5th grade research knowledge and look up what a healthy debate is all about.

      2. Everything I stated was a fact – you on the other hand called names – I never did. You also assumed numerous things about me and also used anecdotal evidence as fact.

        So for the record, I have worked for DOD for the last 25 years in various places within the military structure. I am a senior civilian and work in the center of DOD activity in the largest office building by floor area in the world. I have worked in that building for over 7 years. I know the warts, I see them everyday. The waste, the fraud and the abuse is everywhere and is in all of the uniformed services. Retirement and military pay are just one of those areas that I am intimately familiar.

        I have also deployed to many of the places the Navy goes and have spent over 5 years away from my family over the last 25 years. I am paid well but less than the equivalent Officers with whom I work. My retirement benefits are also approximately 2/3 of what the equivalent officer gets after 20 years and that is even if I work till I’m 62 (36 years). So in a nutshell I pay more tax on less income (almost all of mine is taxable, whereas the military BAH and BAS isn’t) and I get significantly less retirement after serving almost twice as long.

        I claimed you posted falsehoods and misconceptions, it is only fair I provide the facts, so here they are:

        You stated:
        1) Congress on the other hand is entitled to Full Pay after serving only one term. One term (6 years) and they get the FULL pay they received.

        This is not true. I provided the excerpt from the official OPM.gov website as documentation.

        You stated:
        2) Like you I believe the military retirement plans are within the standard of our non military counterparts. They recieve half pay if they serve 20 years. This is pretty standard.

        Although you may believe what you stated is true, it is a misconception both when it comes to Congress and especially when it comes to the retirement of the civil servant. I provided you the exact retirement benefits for any civil servants hired after the early 80’s.

        You stated:
        3) The fact remains true that they are starting with cuts at the bottom and not at the top where far greater cuts can be made that effect less people.

        Where are the cuts you state which are proposed for the bottom? The military (all ranks) has seen increases in pay above the the ECI (by 0.5%) since 2001. This is more than the military leadership has asked for. The civilian counterparts have seen no pay increase in 3 years and prior to that our pay was at least 0.5% below the military raise. Current sequestration plans cut pay for civilians only, there are no plans to cut military pay. The military will see some services decline but that will be primarily because the civilians that does those jobs will be on furlough those days.

        You stated:
        4) What you also fail to account for is the average age that people enter the military in general. It’s not 18. It’s not even 21. Try 25.

        5)

        This is a factually incorrect statement as well. With a little research on the official DOD webpages for each service you can find that statistic as well.

        Here are the official numbers from the Army for both Army Reserve and Regular Army.

        http://www.usarec.army.mil/support/faqs.htm#age

        Your number of 25 was not correct and was off by almost five years for the last reporting year, 2011. It was not accurate for any of the reporting years 2001 – 2011 and the minimum error in the age you listed was 2 years.

        Officer OTS ages are harder to come by so I don’t have exact numbers, my guess is the average age is less than 25, as I assume most join right after college or soon thereafter.

        I have firsthand experience with O-3’s – O-6’s in the Navy and have worked very closely with hundreds of them over the past 25 years. I can’t provide specific facts so I will provide anecdotal evidence: to a man, they are much better off financially than their civilian counterparts, it’s not even close. As to finding jobs after retiring, the civilian workforce is full of retired officers and prior enlisted; my last five supervisors were retired enlisted or officers and 80% of the civilians in the command I work are also prior officers or enlisted. The rest of my office are all Navy officers. I am intimately acquainted with military life as well as my wife was prior enlisted and we moved 3 times in 6 years.

        As to my name, I choose not to provide it as is my right.

      3. We can go back and forth about this all day. The fact is you are a civilian and feel that you are entitled to receive the benefits and pay of those around you whom are active duty service members. The world doesn’t work like that. Fair doesn’t mean equal. A fair pay for civilian contractor will be different than those that are active duty. The same goes for enlisted and officer. You are focusing on the officer side of things because that is what you deal with on a daily basis. The military however is not made up of only officers. There are far less officers than enlisted. A better comparison would be enlisted and civilian.

        You are trying to show that what you think should be equal but will never be. While I can sympathize with you spending time away from your family (no one likes that) if you wanted the equal pay as those around you, you should have taken the same path as them. A friend of mine whom was getting out of the military was offered a job as a civilian contractor basically doing what he was currently doing for the military. He chose not to because he would be asked to work overseas in a deployment zone. The risk came without any of the benefits given to those in the military. He would have been a fool in my opinion to do so.

        Like you I am a civilian. You chose to work for the military knowing very well that seperation and unequal pay was part of the package deal. I married my husband knowing that I will never get the opportunity to retire as a teacher. That I would have to move around every 3 years and that making the pay work for us and our lifestyle was part of the package. We both entered into these contacts knowingly.

        I could bitch night and day about how I feel my husbands salary doesn’t come close to reflecting the hardships that repeated deployments take on us and our family. Even months before he is truly out the door. The fact of the matter is he signed up for this when he took a career in the military. I agreed to these hardships when I married him. They are however are not equal to those in the civilian sector. My brother and sister in law even during a busy tax season will never understand the hardship of a deployment. While I don’t think the pay is substantial enough it is a fair pay but not equal in my opinion. I however know that this is what we signed up for.

        I however am done with this so call debate with the older man in the shadows. So mr. Anonymous, mr blog creeper, or mr blog troll (i’ll let you pick which one you prefered to be called as i am sure 99% of the anonymonus comments are from you) you are entitled to your opinions I however have better things to do than go back and forth with someone when we are clearly looking at things from different views and very different opinions. Washing my hair or watching paint dry frankly seems more appealing at this moment. On that note have a good evening.

      4. you cant debate with women, they typically aren’t designed for logical debates (this is a perfect example – all emotion, too many unfactual statements in your last post). Personally I don’t care what you believe or what you think you know.

  15. Karen, thanks for the quick response! Really, I do appreciate and agree with your post overall, and I do think it is a great response to a poorly written and poorly researched article in the Huff Post. In the interests of clarity for others though, the only part of Tricare that does not include monthly premiums, enrollment fees, and/or co-pays is Tricare Prime for active duty members. Tricare Standard, Extra, Remote, and Tricare for Life all require cost shares on the part of the beneficiaries. The prescription drug plan has cost shares (though they are admittedly lower than many of their civilian counterparts) and the dental plans offered also require annual premiums and cost shares for many of its services. I only belabor the point because, in the same way that there is a misperception that military members get “free” housing, that there continues to be the perception that our health care is “free” and that somehow we are not working for it.

    Thank you for your attention to these important topics, and I look forward to reading your future posts!

  16. Again, great post on this serious issue. I agree that copays or some kind of premium (like our dental care) would help ease the burden on tax payers. I also think it would discourage people from going to the doctor for every little ache and pain. I haven’t read the Time article yet – but I assume it will be very insightful.

    Also, thank you for the shout out on the previous blog!

  17. The statement Jill – “our current all-volunteer military force is perhaps the most lavish benefit provided to American citizens”, is a perfect example of the self centeredness that is evident in most of this blog. If this blog (and posts within it) is an example of the military lifestyle and feelings as a whole then I would come to the conclusion that self-pity reigns in the military and military spouse ranks. Jill’s statement also reads to me as if she is saying to the American people – “pat me on the back and I’ll pat myself on the back as well”.

    1. Do we have a blog troll in our midst? “Anonymous” seems to be fine with unnecessarily and inaccurately criticizing commenters, blog writers, and even people referenced in the blog posts, as well as making statements designed to provoke anger rather than intelligent discussion. Since this person is not even brave enough to give a name, I highly recommend that her/his comments from this point be given exactly as much attention as they are worth – none.

      1. Hahaha “blog troll” love it! I have never heard that term used before. I’ll have to remember that one.

      2. That is the typical military way – if you don’t like something or disagree with it – kill it.

  18. As a former dependent daughter of a Navy Corpsman, and a current Marine wife, I am always astounded by the amount of medical budget that is wasted. I have been saying for over a decade that Tricare could cut so much cost if they just instated a $10 co-pay for doctor’s visits. When my mother was stationed overseas there were moms that would bring their kids in at pretty much every sniffle because it was a SOCIAL OCCASION and even more sickening that most of these women would freely admit that they were there to socialize. They were wasting the time of the doctor’s and the corpsmen, but it didn’t matter. If you want to socialize, form a group and meet at a park or a cafe. Just that $10 fee would make so many people reconsider whether or not that appointment was truly necessary. There are more points that I could make, but I would be going on forever. Thank you for writing!

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