Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Debunks Military Benefits Myths

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In a new report entitled “Fact vs. Fiction: Will military pay and benefits ‘break the bank?’” and the two-page brief “Core Talking Points on Military Personnel/Healthcare Costs,” MOAA asserts military compensation and health care programs make up about one-third of the current defense budget, the same share they have comprised for decades.

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Fact vs. Fiction: Will military pay and benefits ‘break the bank? http://www.moaa.org/factvsfiction/

the focus should be on the failure, mismanagement, and disorganization of the structure and its leadership, not on the people in uniform who are on the front lines protecting our national interests.

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is taking the offensive to debunk what it contends are false claims about military compensation and health care costs.

In a new report entitled “Fact vs. Fiction: Will military pay and benefits ‘break the bank?’” and the two-page brief “Core Talking Points on Military Personnel/Healthcare Costs,” MOAA asserts military compensation and health care programs make up about one-third of the current defense budget, the same share they have comprised for decades.

In fact, the budget share for military personnel and health care costs is lower than that of many large corporations that are the closest comparables to the military, such as UPS, FedEx, and Southwest Airlines.

MOAA leaders assert the unique military compensation and healthcare package is the core career incentive to offset the unique and extraordinary demands and sacrifices that distinguish decades of military service from civilian careers.

These core programs fulfill a grateful nation’s reciprocal commitment to current and previous generations of career service members and their families from whom extraordinary sacrifice has been demanded.

For several years, various budget-minded think tanks and studies have proposed radical changes to military retirement and healthcare programs that would make them look more like plans typically offered to civilian employees. Such proposals might reduce short-term costs, but MOAA leaders say they would undermine the nation’s capacity to sustain the top-quality career military force needed for national defense. In fact, more modest reform efforts in the past had to be repealed after they hurt retention and readiness.

The core issue is that military service conditions are nothing like civilian working conditions, a fact that has been demonstrated many times, but is even more profound today after 12 years of war. Few Americans are willing to sign up for one term of service, much less two or three decades, even with the current career incentive package. If that package is significantly diluted, MOAA leaders say, the all-volunteer force would “go in the ditch.”

“There’s a good reason Congress has not acted on radical proposals to civilianize military pay and benefits,” MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan said. “Legislators understand what many narrowly focused think tanks fail to consider -- that it’s nonsensical and counterproductive to balance the budget on the backs of our military and their families. It’s ironic in the extreme that, even after a decade in which our troops have borne 100% of our national burden of wartime sacrifice, so many think tanks and others in and out of government are asserting their sacrifices for our country aren’t worth what we’re paying them. That’s pretty misguided thinking, in our book."

“There’s plenty to question about Pentagon costs, but the focus should be on the failure, mismanagement, and disorganization of the structure and its leadership, not on the people in uniform who are on the front lines protecting our national interests,” Ryan continued. “For example, multiple studies have proposed consolidating the military health care organization, which has three redundant service systems and four major contractors that all compete counterproductively for budget share, with no single point of overall budget and oversight responsibility."

“The Defense Department contracting and accounting systems are a travesty. They lose billions every year, and can’t account for where the money went. Pentagon leaders say they hope their accounting system will be auditable by 2017, as if their predecessors hadn’t been making similar promises for decades, without ever getting there,” Ryan concluded.

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Fact vs. Fiction: Will military pay and benefits ‘break the bank? http://www.moaa.org/factvsfiction/

About MOAA:
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is the nation’s most influential association of military officers. MOAA is a nonprofit and politically nonpartisan organization with 370,000 members from every branch of service, including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired, former officers and their families and survivors. We are a powerful force speaking for a strong national defense and representing the interests of military officers at every stage of their lives and careers. For those who are not eligible to join MOAA, Voices for America’s Troops is a nonprofit MOAA subsidiary that supports a strong national defense. To learn more, visit http://www.moaa.org.

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