During a congressional hearing on Friday, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), expressed his amazement over the fact that the private sector can actually lure military people away… considering all the exceptional benefits they receive.
“I’m totally for you, but it’s unfair for people to say it’s just not enough,” Farr told the military services’ top enlisted leaders.
The senior enlisted advisors from all four branches spoke last week at the hearing of the House Appropriations panel on military construction and veterans affairs. They all told lawmakers they’re concerned about budget cuts’ effects on the morale of troops and families, Military Times reported.
“Congress members have not had a COLA in 10 years. Talk about the morale here. And the retirement… I’ll retire here after 26 years of federal service and the retirement is $60,000,” Farr said. “It’s not a lot.” Last October, Government Executive reported that federal and military retirees will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2016 — largely because of low gas prices.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody said: “When someone decides to join the military, they know what benefits are available, and they know what they are committing to… let’s have a real conversation and not try to arbitrarily correlate their service, what they do for their nation, compared to what anybody else does for their nation.”
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green says Marines need more information about the new blended retirement systems. There’s also concern, he said, about the barracks and other buildings on base which are starting to deteriorate. Green also pointed out that a decrease in funding continues to “eat away at our readiness.” He says, the Marine Corps “shouldn’t have to make decisions between quality of work and quality of life.”
Cody also talked about concerns over slow growth in compensation, lost buying power, child care and budget problems affecting readiness and resources for Air Force missions.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens also discussed cuts in pay and compensation as major concerns for his sailors. He also echoed his counterparts’ concerns about worsening conditions of buildings on base and the effects of decreased funding on resources and readiness.
Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey also brought up readiness. His soldiers need “consistent and reliable” resources to stay well above the pace of adversaries, he said. Dailey told lawmakers he’s visited dozens of installations and spoken with thousands of troops and families during his first year in his position.
“Fiscal conservation is our duty as leaders in the public sector. But it’s hard to explain program and compensation cuts to a young soldier and his or her family,” Dailey said. “Whether actual or perceived, these things affect how they view our decisions… we have to ask ourselves, is the value of these cuts worth the potential impact on our soldiers and their families? They’re still deploying and still separating from their families.”
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