“Cuts to benefits anger veterans” by Pauline Jelinek (front page, Dec. 24) has some misleading statistics. When a military person retires after 20 years, his retirement is figured on 50 percent of his base pay only. It does not include the housing and food allowance.
Although I have no statistics on how long the military retiree lives to receive his or her pension, those who live to collect 40 years of retirement pension after serving for 20 or 30 years is probably a smaller number than the article leads one to believe. The physical activities for most military doing that length of service take a toll that shows up during retirement. (After numerous surgeries during 30 years of active duty and after my retirement, I have had replacements of both knees, both shoulders and my left hip. I am scheduled for right hip replacement on Jan. 10).
Then there are the young men and women we have seen coming home over the past 20 years with arms and legs missing and with severe brain trauma, along with associated problems. Charities have sprung up — Wounded Warriors, for example — to provide these unfortunate heroes with medical care and equipment, such as artificial arms and legs, because the care and equipment they receive are not enough to improve their quality of life. One TV program host has collected donations for tracked motorized wheelchairs that give the disabled military person the ability to go outdoors. The Department of Defense and Obamacare do not provide for that.
Many of the disabled will require constant care for the rest of their lives.
The military disabled person whose benefits are being cut by Congress is getting little as it is before the cuts. Yes, we all knew the risks when we signed up. The longer one stays in, the greater the risk becomes for sustaining some life-long disability. The saddest thing of all is that many civilian and union retirement plans provide even greater compensation than that received by our heroes.
Our military is comprised of about one half of 1 percent of the total population. How could continuing these pension costs possibly cause that much financial upset in a country that provides free medical and hospital care to some illegal immigrants, free telephones for the asking, food stamps for almost 50 million people, and on and on?
These brave men and women deserve even more than they are getting now. God bless them all.
Paul S. Frappollo
The writer is a retired U.S. Marine colonel and combat-decorated pilot who served from 1949 to 1979.