I need some advice. Have I earned my retirement benefits or am I nothing more than a greedy government employee, dragging my Nation down with my insatiable desire for free stuff?
I served 20 odd years in the US Army, don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it. Every. Single. One. I’m retired now and my family enjoys one of the benefits I feel I earned. Our medical insurance is called Tricare, myself and my family are enrolled in the best of the options, Tricare Prime. Now I see that that bastion of conservatism, the “maverick” Senator from Arizona, the only man ever to make me swallow vomit while in a voting booth, Johnny McLame, thinks my medical insurance is just too expensive to provide any longer.
The congressional panel tasked with making deficit-reduction decisions is facing sharply conflicting views on whether military retirement and health benefits should be put on the chopping block.
In the mix is a radical proposal from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would have potentially far-reaching effects on the health care of retirees and active-duty family members. McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has proposed barring military retirees from signing up for Tricare Prime, the least expensive Tricare option available to them.
The proposal is drawn from a March 2011 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on ways to reduce the federal deficit.
Tricare Prime is the military’s managed care plan, with an annual enrollment fee of $460 for individuals and $520 for families and low co-pays for treatment. The CBO said barring retirees and their families from Prime would reduce Tricare costs by $111 billion over 10 years.
But the proposal could have the secondary effect of reducing the number of civilian doctors willing to be part of the Tricare networks that provide care to active-duty family members, according to industry sources who asked not to be identified because they did not want to be quoted criticizing McCain.
Personally, I enjoy being quoted criticizing McLame. He’s a progressive RINO and if our “Truth in Advertising Laws” applied to politicians he would have a (D) behind his name every time you saw it in print.
My problem began in the middle of my loud and violent rant resulting from reading the article. After several minutes of diatribe that cannot be reprinted here, several thoughts struck me.
1. Greedy government employees are dragging the entire world into recession, depression and utter chaos.
2. My retirement benefits come from the government.
3. What makes me different from them?
The next few minutes weren’t pretty but I decided to ask some friends before I committed myself to suicide by tattoo machine.
I joined the US Army in 1988 at the ripe old age of 24. I spent the next 20 years accomplishing the missions that the Army gave me. I ran an average of 20 miles a week, every week. That’s 20,800 miles, all on the same set of knees, hips and ankles. My knees stopped hurting a few months ago, I enjoy that greatly! For years it took me 15 minutes to get out of bed, most of that due to building up the courage to bend my knees then the time necessary to force some circulation through them in preparation for holding my weight once I dared stand upright.
I routinely carried 75 to 120 pounds of equipment on my back and could traverse 12 miles in 3 hours with that load. We often walked much farther, just to prove we could, just in case we might have to someday. It’s called training and General Patton was right, the more blood you spill in training, the less you spill on the battlefield. That kind of marching is not something you do without the proper train up or without continual conditioning; you do it as much as possible to maintain the ability. My first two years in the Army, courtesy of the 25th Division (Light), revolved around the blisters that such walking also provided. Another of the benefits I still have in retirement, bullet-proof calluses covering my heels and Achilles tendons. Oh, and I still despise Hawaii to this day.
I worked ungodly hours. While serving as a Drill Sergeant at the Ft Benning School for Boys (US Army Infantry Training Center) I once calculated my hourly wage. I was at work every day by 0400, that was when my trainees got up, the first thing they saw every day was my smiling face, I know they appreciated it. Most nights I was home by 2200, except for the late nights. The hourly wage came out to be $1.67 an hour, figuring overtime for anything over 40 but none of the latest special stuff like over 8 hours a day or seven days a week, blah, blah, blah. The government got a pretty good deal on that salary. Even after I left duty as a Drill Sergeant they got their money’s worth out of me, a 12 hour day was rare, 15 was probably the average, in garrison. If we were in the field conducting training we would go for 36 or 48 hours straight, catch a little nap when we could and start again. You never know if you might have to do it so you’d better train for it.
I jumped out of Airplanes for 12 years. Not the “perfectly good” airplanes of lore, these were Air Force Aircraft and judging from the frequency of their breakdowns and “scratched” or cancelled aircraft they are in about the same shape as your son’s 1983 Chevette. The C 130 was built in the 50’s you know, exiting those aircraft while in flight often seemed to be the best possible option. It was fun, I love to brag about my status as a Paratrooper, I, like every other Paratrooper in the Army volunteered for it but I did so believing that the Army would take care of me if anything went wrong. Paratroopers get paid an additional $150 a month provided they jump at least once a quarter. The 82nd Airplane Gang does it more like once a month so that’s a gross of jumps. Out of that many there are going to be a few that just don’t go well. There were. Feet, knees, face is not the recommended method for a parachute landing fall but it is “A” method. Every now and then its the only available method. My knees have recovered, my back is still sniveling about it, I just refuse to listen. We’ll just skip over what happened to the face. Never mind.
I spent a year in Fallujah, Iraq and 15 months in Bagram, Afghanistan. That doesn’t make me special, hell, most Soldiers today have many more than my paltry two deployments. The extra three months in that 15 monther were an eternity in themselves. Oh well, the surge worked, it was necessary.
As the years wore on I choked back my disgust at a Commander in Chief who would lie after being caught committing adultery, either offense, lying or adultery, would have gotten a military member court-martialed. I slept in mud and dirt, sweated and bled, cursed and cried and prayed, all with the goal of earning my retirement benefits and remaining alive, which request had top priority depended on the direness of the situation that prompted the prayer. Medical insurance is expensive! I didn’t pay in money to earn my benefits; I paid in missions accomplished and Soldiers trained.
I’m not broken, my body is bent in a few places but it’s not broken. Some of those bends are acting up but I guess if I’m stealing my benefits from my fellow taxpayers I’ll pony up.
If I didn’t provide anything more than a Democrat voter drawing money from SSI, eating off food stamps, not paying taxes and too lazy to work I’ll start paying for the benefits I’ve earned.
You know, they earned their benefits too…