Stan Spangle Sr.: Let’s keep an eye on Congress and budget plans

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 01:30 AM

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day with family and friends. I had a great time and a great meal (I ate too much). Everyone I talked to agreed that they, too, “ate” too much.
This time frame (Nov. 27 through Dec. 13) is always a stressful and depressing for me and others that were with the 1st Marine Division. At this time 62 years ago, we were in “The Breakout” from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Time does help the healing process. Today is also the anniversary of another major event that happened 71 years ago. You know the one ...
The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), of which I’m a member, reports the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, has released a report calling for a complete overhaul of military benefits. Some of the changes proposed are: capping active duty pay raises, eliminating health benefits for retirees who are covered by an employer provided plan, and raising fees on those that want to stay on TRICARE, also starting a 401k type retirement system and making active duty retirees wait till age 60 to start receiving it.
I hope these changes don’t fly, but they fall in line with other deficit reduction plans put forth by the Department of Defense. These ideas and other rule changes could not be in worse taste to do, after more than 10 years of constant war. Those who volunteered and answered the call deserve better.
After the election and its first day in session, the Senate passed S2259 giving a 1.7 percent cost of living increase to compensation benefits paid to disabled veterans and their survivors. The House version had already been passed, back in July. The sponsor, Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., said: “Veterans fought hard for  this country and earned all of their benefits. It’s my job to make sure those benefits keep pace with economic realities, and I will fight to improve the lives of veterans across Montana and the country.” The new COLA went into effect Dec. 1 and is expected to be in the checks sent out in January.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate VA Committee,  issued a Veterans Day statement last month. I’ll quote from the first and second  paragraphs, which are the best. And even those these were Veterans Day comments, they are still appropriate for Pearl Harbor Day.
Murray said: “Today is a very special day in America. On this day, we celebrate and honor the great sacrifices our veterans have made for each of us. It is because of their sacrifice that we are a free people; that we enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship, that just last week we democratically and freely elected, as we do every four years, a president of the United States. But as we spend time today reflecting on, and giving thanks for, the sacrifices made by those who have served, let us also reflect on the shared duty we owe to our nation’s veterans.”
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, had this to say on Veterans Day:
“Every day is Veterans Day. America has many great qualities, each of which makes us the greatest nation in the world. Few of these qualities are as vital, however, to America’s success as the strength and determination of her war fighters. For over 225 years, Americans have signed up, at great peril to themselves, to defend the ideals upon which this nation was founded. To me every day is Veterans Day.”
We may need to remind most of Congress of their thoughts and statements on Veterans Day as they make decisions about budget cuts.
Semper Fi. And pray for the families of the fallen.

Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.