MOAA President Sounds Warning on Benefit Cuts in ‘The Hill’ Commentary

MOAA President Sounds Warning on Benefit Cuts in ‘The Hill’ Commentary
A Marine takes part in a training exercise at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Jan. 8. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Haley Fourmet Gustavsen/Marine Corps)

By MOAA Staff


Just months after the end of the war in Afghanistan, and despite the massive buildup of forces in Europe, signs point to pressure on lawmakers to cash in some of the “peace dividend” at the expense of servicemembers, veterans, and their families and survivors.


Instead of appreciation for the uniformed services community, such talk is “creating a much different, unsettling message,” wrote Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA’s president and CEO, in a Feb. 9 commentary published by The Hill.


That message: “Thank you for your service and sacrifice, especially after two decades of war, but we need to cut your pay and benefits to modernize.”




Atkins addresses the “false choice between bullets and benefits” offered in some corners to justify increasing materiel budgets while leaving personnel accounts flat … or worse. While this narrative poses a threat to the benefits earned through service, it’s not a new fight, Atkins points out, highlighting budget-driven moves made in the last decade such as:

  • The “pay gap” from 2014 to 2016, which shortchanged servicemembers and will cause ripple effects in retirement compensation for decades.
  • Increases to TRICARE pharmacy costs and program fees outpacing retiree cost-of-living adjustments.
  • The Blended Retirement System, which will reduce the value of a 20-year military career and cost DoD less money, with unclear results beyond readiness issues, as “mid-career service members consider leaving early — and taking their wealth of experience out the door with them,” Atkins wrote.


[TAKE OUR SURVEY: Are You Currently Serving? What is Your Blended Retirement System Experience?]


Only by engaging on these efforts to lessen benefits now will the uniformed services community avoid similar actions in coming years, especially in the face of inflationary pressures and other fiscal threats. “Our economy may fluctuate,” Atkins wrote, “but our resolve on behalf of service members cannot.” 


MOAA will mobilize this spring for its annual advocacy campaign, with an eye toward protecting military pay along with other critical legislative objectives. Watch for more details at, and bookmark our new Legislative Action Center to keep up with ongoing action items.


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