Alexandria, Va. (PRWEB) September 30, 2015 -- Defense bill negotiators reached a bipartisan agreement last evening on the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Some proposals harmful to military families were averted, but MOAA believes the final bill will degrade the morale and readiness of the nation’s all-volunteer force.
“We are disappointed in the final defense bill and its adverse effect on military families,” stated retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, president of MOAA. “The House gets credit for putting forth a solid, yet cautious bill. However, I’m disappointed we couldn’t convince the Senate to more closely align with the House on the troops’ total compensation package,” said Ryan. He cautioned, “We must reverse this trend of eroding pay and benefits because we’re sending the wrong signal to the troops at the wrong time.”
Ryan continued, “A 1.3-percent pay raise is below private-sector pay growth and continues a worrying trend of capping pay for a third consecutive year. Slashing military retirement pay by 20 percent may erode career retention and only provide a greater incentive for members to leave service early. While we support government matching of personal Thrift Savings Plan accounts, it should not come at the expense of cutting military retirement. The current retirement system has stood the test of time in hot and cold wars for over 60 years.”
MOAA found the following provisions encouraging:
• Repeals COLA-minus-1-percent penalty for military retirees.
• Grandfathers current force in the old retirement system.
• Extends government Thrift Savings Plan matching to 26 years’ service (MOAA supported match beyond 20 years for remainder of career).
• Retains dual housing allowance for military couples.
• Supports commissary funding.
• Authorizes Survivor Benefit Plan coverage for a spouse in the event a former spouse predeceases the military member.
• Preserves no-fee prescriptions at military treatment facilities.
MOAA found the following provisions disappointing:
• 1.3-percent pay raise vice 2.3 percent supported by the House.
• Lump-sum payment option at retirement — reminiscent of the 1986 retirement change that had to be repealed a decade later because it hurt retention and readiness.
• 1-percent housing allowance cut in FY 2016 and by 5 percent in 2019 and thereafter.
• Denies honorary recognition as “veterans” of certain Reserve retirees.
• Hikes retail TRICARE prescription fees for generic and name brand medications.
“Leaders make a real difference, and the last thing this administration and Congress should do is balance the budget on the backs of the very people who bear the burden of security for this nation and who have given so much over the last 14 years,” Ryan concluded.
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is the nation’s largest officers association with more than 380,000 members from every branch of service, including active duty, retired, National Guard, Reserve, and former officers and their families and survivors. MOAA is a nonprofit and politically nonpartisan organization and an influential force in promoting a strong national defense. MOAA represents the interests of service members and their families in every stage of their lives and careers, and for those who are not eligible to join MOAA, Voices for America’s Troops is a nonprofit MOAA affiliate that supports a strong national defense. For more information, visit http://www.moaa.org or http://www.voicesfortroops.org/.
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MOAA Communications (Public Relations), Military Officers Association of America, +1 703-838-0545, [email protected]