Sunday, December 22, 2013

Retirement/Disability Pay Cuts: Personal Costs to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Marines

A veteran's etter to the Editors, the weekend Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2013
The new budget deal doesn't contain "a little" military-pension reform. It will have a devastating effect on the personal finances of active-duty and retiring service members. The proposed 1% annual reduction to uniformed service retired pay Cost of Living Adjustment will reduce their retired pay by 20% at age 62.
While portrayed as a minor change, a 20% reduction in retired pay and survivor-benefit values is a massive cut in military career benefits, a de facto tax and egregious breach of faith to those currently serving, retirees and their families. A sergeant first class or chief petty officer with 20 years service who retired in 2013 would realize an $82,982.20 penalty, 19.3% of his pension by age 62.
Furthermore, the proposal in the budget agreement actually eliminates the appropriate review process, failing to consider long-term readiness and retention outcomes.
Currently serving members look at how they, their families, retirees and survivors are being treated when making career decisions. If Congress arbitrarily cuts the retirement benefit for those who have served their country for over 20 years, there could be a lasting adverse impact on uniformed service career retention, and ultimately, national security.
Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr. (USN, Ret.)
Military Officers Association of America

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Forest is Not One Tree

When I began to learn (and hesitantly practice) biblical peacemaking, I was stunned to see how often God opens ways out of intractable disputes.

I was so awed by my first encounter with Gods’ way of reconciling people that I didn’t fully appreciate that peacemaking grows in a forest composed of many majestic trees.

I began to recognize this deficiency when other Christians reacted in a guarded way to my advocacy of biblical peacemaking. Once I touted biblical peacemaking to a godly brother who responded,

“You mean that Matthew 18 stuff?”

A different response came from an elder of my church whom I admire:

“We have a lot of ministries; we can’t emphasize one ministry over others from the pulpit.”

At first I thought these brothers were discounting biblical peacemaking. I don’t think that now.

I think they felt uneasy about the way I seemed to push peacemaking out in front of other godly traits. In the Beatitudes Jesus outlined several:

Matthew 5:
2 And he [Jesus] opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I became convinced that becoming a peacemaker means progressing along a spiritual learning curve. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones said of the “Beatitudes,”

“There is a definite progression in the thought; there is a logical sequence.”  [Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Ch. 9]
I see there is a progression by which God makes a peacemaker. Becoming an effective peacemaker involves God cultivating us to become the godly people Jesus described as “blessed.”  Therefore, a peacemaker should be poor in spirit, sorrowful over his or her own sins, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, and willing to risk persecution. Wow!

Only Christ is the perfect peacemaker, but Christians who diligently seek Him will find Him. Finding Him, we can (and must) become peacemakers. Yes, there is more to it than “that Matthew 18 stuff.” However, we can do it if we believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are we that cruel?

December 18, 2013

Hon. John Cornyn                                                                              Fax: 202-228-2856
United States Senate                                                                         Fax: 972-239-2110
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Cornyn

Shall we cheat the people to whom we owe the most: our Armed Forces veterans, and especially our disabled veterans? Are we that cruel?

The Dallas Morning News today reports that

“A provision in the budget measure [now pending] would hold down cost of living increases in benefits that go to military retirees until age 62 . . . [T]he curtailment would apply to the retirement benefits of veterans who leave the service on disability.”

I have seen disabled male and female veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and have wept for what has happened to the lives of these young people.

Years ago during Viet Nam I saw a young Marine, legless in his splendid dress uniform, struggle down the folding steps of an airliner in Harlingen, Texas, proudly coming home. Even now I weep with thankfulness for him and people like him. 

How in God’s name can Democrats or Republicans make these indispensable people take the punishment for our Nation’s fiscal foolishness?

I plead with Congress: Do not do this shameful thing to the veterans who have taken the hit for the rest of us.


Douglas M. Smith