President’s Budget Released – Questions Still Persist for Military Families

Together we're stronger

The Administration released the 2015 Budget Proposal on March 4, 2014, giving us more details on the Department of Defense (DoD) proposal we caught a glimpse of a week earlier.

The proposed budget includes cuts to military compensation and benefits which – if passed by Congress – will affect you as a military family. The proposals include a one percent pay raise for service members in 2015, significant cuts in commissary funding, reduction in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates, and increased TRICARE fees for some currently serving families and retirees.

We will spend the next few weeks in meetings and roundtable discussions asking a lot of questions about how all of this will be implemented and how it will impact military families’ quality of life.

Here’s what we do know:

Lower pay raise + loss of commissary savings + reduced BAH + more out of pocket medical costs = service members and families bearing the costs of flat budgets and sequestration.

Proposed Cuts and Changes to Compensation and Commissaries

The DoD budget proposal includes the following changes that will affect military families:

  • A one percent pay raise for service members in 2015. General and Flag Officers will have their salaries frozen at present levels.
  • A $1 billion cut to funding for commissaries over a three-year period. Overseas commissaries and those in remote areas will still be subsidized. Cutting DoD support to commissaries will result in significantly smaller commissary savings for military families. DoD says it will not close any commissaries but will a reduction from 30 percent to 10 percent savings discourage you from shopping at the commissary?
  • Slowing the growth of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments from covering 100 percent of housing costs to an average of 95 percent. DoD will no longer include the cost of renter’s insurance in BAH calculations. This will be a phased-in cumulative decrease of 6% over time.
  • Modifying the TRICARE fee structure so some currently serving family members and retired beneficiaries will pay more in deductibles and co-pays. This may change the TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra options as we know them today. DoD says these changes are designed to encourage TRICARE beneficiaries to get health care from facilities and doctors who operate at lower cost to the government, such as military treatment facilities (MTFs) and preferred network providers. Medically-retired service members and their families, as well as survivors whose military sponsors died on active duty, would see smaller fee increases. Bottom line: if you go outside the MTF or the network, currently serving or retired, you would pay more.
  • Adjustments to pharmacy co-pay structures and establishment of a modest annual enrollment fee for the TRICARE-for-Life coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees.
  • The plan does not propose any other changes to retirement benefits. The overview recognizes the role of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission and the importance of allowing the commission to complete its task.

Proposed Cuts Have a Long-Term Impact

These changes to military compensation and benefits will have a profound effect on the financial well-being of service members, their families, retirees and their families, and survivors. We understand cuts and changes need to be made. But why should military families absorb those cuts while we remain a military at war?

Our Association continues to stress to policy makers the importance of the commissary savings, a realistic and responsive housing allowance, robust access to health care, and overall compensation commensurate with the service performed and the sacrifices military families are asked to make. We will continue to share with DoD, Congress, and other policy makers why this compensation is so important to maintain a ready force. Remember, this is a process. Add your voice to ours. We call on Congress to honor its commitment to our military.

Add your voice in the comments below:

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Comment: Press releases from when TRICARE was first rolled out talk about how much money it was supposed to save. Before increasing rates we need to see why TRICARE isn't delivering on what is promised. Maybe the answer isn't raising rates but rather scrapping the system in favor of one that works better.
Submitted by: Rob on March 23, 2014
Comment: I think it is a shame how are country treats our military. They give their life's so we can have the freedoms we have.they sacrifice so much more than most of us can even know. Now the government wants to take away what they have been promised. Shame on us !!!
Submitted by: Country girl on March 5, 2014
Comment: Keep the benefits we were promised when joined and made the military our careers. Focus needs to turn to cuts in congressional benefits and pay. Since when are these Americans placed higher and above our soldiers and families. We voted them into those positions and that means their $100k+ retirements for life! medical care for life, and other big benefits need to be reduced and trimmed as well. Let's put things on an even playing field.
Submitted by: Support our Soldiers on March 4, 2014
Comment: Non working, govt funded recipients get FREE money and care, but our military who have served and protected our country are thrown under the bus? Vote out these people, and vote in those that support our military!
Submitted by: more than ticked on March 3, 2014
Comment: No re-elections
Submitted by: on March 3, 2014
Comment: As I keep telling everyone, vote,out everyone of your legislators! Stop voting them in to continue this crap! If everyone votes for the new guys, no one will have seniority! Incoming can't be any worse & without seniority, they can't have power over anyone! 8 yrs term limits mandatory! Does anyone think it is wrong that there is even a wounded warrior project & all the others? Why isn't taking care of their soldiers forever, that were injured on the job! Forever period! Very sad!
Submitted by: Serenasun on March 2, 2014
Comment: Stop screwing up our country. Welfare should be cut not working military families!!!!!!! We need the FAIRTAX!!!
Submitted by: Sherry on March 1, 2014
Comment: This is a shame our soldiers have done everything that they been asked to do to us safe and Free. I am very upset about this it is close to my heart my Uncle served in Vietnam and my husband was in Iraq and did not come back the same way. This totally unsatifactory they have done what they were told and now we are going to take away some of their earned benefits. You should betaken some of the Congressman's money and some of the welfare people benefits siince they keep making children and don't get a Job to help support them and leave our Vetrans benefits Alone.
Submitted by: Tami on March 1, 2014
Comment: I got an idean, how about quit sending money to the Middle East and supporting them, that way we wouldn't have to make any budget cuts for the Military.
Submitted by: on March 1, 2014
Comment: How dare you treat our military and their families this way! You need cuts?? Start with CONGRESS! Our military makes sacrifices that neither CONGRESS nor THE PRESIDENT will ever understand and they should be rewarded for it NOT punished by making their small income/benefits even smaller whenever cuts are needed! SHAME SHAME SHAME on you!!
Submitted by: AirForceMom on February 28, 2014
Comment: How about, instead of cutting funding for personel, DoD cuts failed, over priced, over budget projects like (my favorite waste of money) the F-35 money hole. Our troops deserve to receive the funds channeled into this pit of failure, not more to contractors.
Submitted by: MK2 on February 28, 2014
Comment: Lessen their pay even more? After all the sacrifices these Men and women do for us all! ! Just start the cutbacks on Congress now!! Shame shame on Our congress!!! I'm outraged for Our military!! They deserve alot more than this from YOU!!
Submitted by: Ms.Latina on February 28, 2014
Comment: How can our Country betray those who served to protect us?!!!
Submitted by: Renee on February 28, 2014
Comment: I am a active-duty Marine spouse and mother to two active-duty Marines. This latest budget proposal is a travesty and breaks faith with those who serve this Nation in the most dangerous of places. I urge the Secretary of Defense to reconsider these proposals as they will hurt our most junior and vulnerable service members. These are the same families who already qualify for food stamps, though many are too proud to use them. Please find cuts in other ways other than from the backs and pockets of your service members.
Submitted by: Marine Mother and Wife on February 27, 2014
Comment: Will anybody in Congress stand up for our Military Families? This is not right, this is not fair, and this should NEVER be considered as an option!
Submitted by: Orvie Baker on February 27, 2014
Comment: Haven't we sacrificed enough yet. Our lives and that of our families isn't enough.
Submitted by: Kae on February 27, 2014
Comment: I say shame on Obama who again turns his back on those who have given so much to this country. He couldn't last 6 weeks in the military and he doesn't respect those in uniform.
Submitted by: phd on February 27, 2014
Comment: I think this is completely wrong for this to happen. To many loved ones have been lost. How much more does the government need to take from The ones who put their lives on the line from to protect us and our country? This is so sad and wrong!
Submitted by: Lambkin's on February 27, 2014
Comment: These men and women are the reason we have our freedom, they have sacrificed their lives multiple times and sacrificed time away from their everyday life and family to do what they do. Maybe congress should be the one living on their salary while our military receive congress pay!!!!!! Seriously? Support our troops dont break them down!
Submitted by: disgusted! on February 27, 2014
Comment: How about fire everyone in congress and president for this bill. We need to make a military bill to protect us from them
Submitted by: Navywife on February 27, 2014
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