Largest Online Grassroots Effort to Preserve Military Benefits Unveils Advocacy Strategy
April 2, 2014 Washington, DC: Following the incredible grassroots success of the #KeepYourPromise Campaign, the Keep Your Promise Alliance announced plans today to ensure military family voices are a part of the ongoing dialogue on reforms to military compensation and benefits. The Keep Your Promise Alliance also made public two primary policy focal points for the next year.
Organizational Change: The Keep Your Promise Alliance announced its merger with the Protect Active Duty Retirees/Veterans from Losing Benefits group, another online Facebook page, to form the largest online grassroots network devoted to military compensation and benefits education and advocacy. The Keep Your Promise Alliance will provide up-to-date news, policy discussions, related activities sponsored by Alliance members, as well as action items when particular issues arise.
“This is only the beginning,” said Pilcher of MilitaryOneClick, a Keep Your Promise Alliance member. “We’re here to make sure military families and veterans are given a seat at the decision-making table. How? By engaging grassroots efforts to demand accountability, transparency, and good faith in the process.”
Schellhaas, founder of USMC Life and co-founder of Keep Your Promise, is hopeful about making positive change. “We took the COLA cuts directly to the people and forced it into the public eye using social media. We wrote letters and called every Representative out asking them to make the right decision to repeal the cut. We made and difference and we’re going to keep fighting for military benefits promised”.
Policy: The Keep Your Promise Alliance insists on an end to sequestration. Because the President and Congress have been unable to agree on a long term budget for our nation, the Department of Defense has been forced to cut its budget in a manner that does not allow forethought, planning or consideration of the sacrifices of an entire generation of men and women in uniform. The President and the Congress have a duty to come together and find a way to eliminate sequestration and its harmful cuts to our service members and their families.
The Keep Your Promise Alliance appeals to the President, the Congress, and the Department of Defense to delay budgetary decisions that involve military compensation and benefits until the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) presents its findings.
As Keep Your Promise Alliance co-founder, Jeremy Hilton, stated: “…the MCRMC is the most reasonable alternative for ensuring military families have a seat at the table as our country determines what it takes to ensure the ‘long-term viability of the All-Volunteer Force’ and safeguard ‘the quality of life for members of the Armed Forces and their families’, both MCRMC goals.”
The piecemeal approach DOD has taken creates a “drip-drip-drip” affect. Families don’t know when and where the next cuts are coming or if their spouse will have a job six months from now. The entirety of the process creates a massive trust deficit between our military families and our leaders, both elected and in the Department of Defense. This is a threat to morale, retention, and readiness.
In closing, the Keep Your Promise Alliance aligns itself with Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr., USN (ret.), in Thoughts on the All-Volunteer Force from Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery. He asks this question, “What is it worth to us to have these kind of people fight and die for us? How much should we pay them to make this kind of sacrifice?…As we seek to answer these questions, we must do so in a manner worthy of those who have worn the uniform and borne the battle.”
The Keep Your Promise Alliance was created in December 2013 by a group of military spouses angered over an out-of-touch Congress that voted to reduce the value of military retirements by tens of thousands of dollars. #KeepYourPromise became a viral effort by military families and veterans organizations, leveraging grassroots advocacy and social media (Facebook/Twitter) to ensure military families and veterans were heard. The campaign galvanized tens of thousands of online participants, leading to more than 157 million timeline hits on Twitter, and hundreds of thousands of individual calls and letters to legislators. The effort ultimately overturned the cuts,a mere 61 days after they were made law, in a landslide vote that might represent the least partisan action the 113th Congress had taken to date.
Alliance members include:
American Military Partner Association, Army Wife Network, Association of the United States Army (Family Readiness), Homefront United Network, John Q Public, Macho Spouse, Military Officers Association of America, MilitaryOneClick, Military Special Needs Network, Military Spouse Advocacy Network, Military Spouse CEOs, Military Spouse JD Network, My Military Life, National Military Family Association, NextGen MilSpouse, Tillman Troops, and USMC Life.