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

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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: My son and daughter I law are both active military, I am ashamed of this congress and the decisions they are making on the backs of our military! Instead of cuts we should be strengthening our military! It makes me sick that the government makes a contract with our service members and now is trying to do whatever it can by "budget cuts" to take away the very benefits they were assured of having! Shame on you Secretary Hagel... Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Submitted by: Uscgpeg on February 27, 2014
Comment: I grew up in a military family. This is wrong. If the government wants to cut cost cut their benefits. The president shouldn't get paid for life. What other job has that kind if benefits. If the President and Congress had to find a job after office to survive things would be different. I do think people who are in congress and the president should gave to serve before they can be elected. Things would be very different. They are going to take away from the people who put their lives on the line for this country while they sit behind a desk.
Submitted by: Jamie on February 27, 2014
Comment: How about congress and all officials cut their pay to E4 pay. I say E4 because that's about the time when service members get married and start families.
Submitted by: Yepiwentthere on February 27, 2014
Comment: DoD has decided without educating themselves on how I should manage my Diabetes. I use a V-Go, a disposable insulin pump, that is replaced every 24 hours and the used pump is disposed of into a sharps container. Similar to a one time use Syringe. So now I am told that I must purchase through a Durable Medical Equipment Supplier. Funny, when I have called 3 companies that Tricare has referred me to, I get "we don't carry those", which I am aware of. I purchased them through Rite Aid, until February 2, 2014. So now I cannot purchase, what I have managed my diabetes for over 1 year. Now I have explained to Tricare the difference. They say there is nothing they can do, because DoD made the decision on this. Funny, I bet there is no one that made this decision, that is a medical professional. I have no one to fight for patient rights. Where do I go from here.
Submitted by: clevario on February 27, 2014
Comment: The DOD, without educating themselves has decided to classify a disposable insulin pump V-Go as a durable medical equipment product. DME suppliers do not carry them and Tricare members can no longer purchase through Pharmacies after February 2. So now my diabetic treatment plan is changed back to insulin shots because DOD has decided without being informed of the product how to manage my diabetes. Is this just wonderful how they can decide on our care when they are not medical professionals.
Submitted by: clevario on February 27, 2014
Comment: This is greatly disheartening. After all we and our families have sacrificed in our service to this country and now it feels like we are getting the shaft. This is very disappointing. I'm like to see our congressmen and senators, heck how about the president even, make the same or similar cuts on their pay. I understand that cuts are necessary; quite honestly, it never should have gotten to this point in the first place.
Submitted by: Hard Working Service Member on February 26, 2014
Comment: This is a stab in the back of all the military, .Especially our Iraq and Afgjanistan. George Bush they need your support.
Submitted by: kit on February 26, 2014
Comment: We pay taxes as citizens for the protection of our government meaning our government exists to protect the people. Why are they cutting Protection but increasing entitlements to those who do not work or are illegal? So you are telling me that the people and the protection of the people are not as important as buying votes. Pathetic. I really think this Administration Hates America. If you like your retirement you can keep your retirement. If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance. If you like your BAH you can keep your BAH. The joke is on us. Everyone who votes for this and for increased entitlements should have to live under OCare.
Submitted by: Yep on February 26, 2014
Comment: AD military and DoD retired personnel account for lesser amount of votes than freeloaders and druggies on welfare with free food housing and Obamaphones, plus most of vets do not vote Democrat either way. It is time to legalize illegals also so Clinton can get elected after she left Americans to die in Lybia
Submitted by: hmm... on February 26, 2014
Comment: Email your representative and let them know how you feel and that if this passes you will not vote for them again. Click the link to find your rep, it takes 5 minutes.
Submitted by: armyspouse678 on February 26, 2014
Comment: This is terrible! Cutting our commissary savings and then also hurting our housing allowances seems a bit much. It is hard enough that we went from a dual income family before my husband was commissioned to now being forced to quit my job every two years and having to try to find a new one with benefits and decent pay. It is hard enough trying to keep dual income in our household of six. This will hurt our family deely.
Submitted by: Eliz on February 26, 2014
Comment: This is so very sad. Our military doesn't make enough as it is. Shame on you!!
Submitted by: Retired Navy Wife on February 26, 2014
Submitted by: Craig G on February 26, 2014
Comment: I think it's a shame that the government is trying to take away the little benefits the military families have along with taking their spouses away for long periods of time. How can this even be justified? The members do not make a lot of money and being able to save as much as possible at the commissary is a military spouses best option - especially since so much money goes to the deployed spouse in order for them to have a life away from the family as well. Essentially supporting two families on one income. It's a disgusting way to treat the ones that get left behind to raise and protect the member's emotional and mental treasures. Why should the military families suffer more pain?
Submitted by: Saarsenault on February 26, 2014
Comment: I pray that this doesn't happen. My family depends on each thing listed to survive. Why is is the Military that gets the cuts?! Isn't it bad enough that they are sacrificing their lives every other year in foreign soil to defend America? But this is the thanks they get... Smh...
Submitted by: Michelle on February 26, 2014
Comment: I'm so sad and disappointed for all of us.
Submitted by: USMC wife on February 26, 2014
Comment: This makes me sick. My husband is an airman and we have two kids. This will affect our family.. Why are they making cuts to the military? There is no where else they can make cuts? Come on!
Submitted by: RAJZ on February 26, 2014
Comment: How could we ever turn our backs for one second or one dollar on our military men & women who make it possible for us to actually be Americans? Please, we cannot!!!
Submitted by: Pigpenpam on February 26, 2014
Comment: Why aren't all the military organizations and support groups getting together to stage protests and get this out to the public? When is enough going to be enough? They can't balance the budget on the backs of the military and this government is clearly more concerned with entitlement programs than anything or anyone else and that includes the troops and their families.
Submitted by: Amy on February 26, 2014
Comment: When I joined in 1966, I was told that at 20years of service I would get "free" medical the rest of my life. Then came tri-care (money out of pocket) then medicare(even more money). I can't afford too much "free" stuff!
Submitted by: Pete on February 26, 2014
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