CDR Bert Ortiz, USN (Ret)Posted by Bert Ortiz | May 11, 2012
Throughout the years as I evaluated my continued service and advised others to continue their service, benefits and compensation packages were often at the heart in deciding whether to continue to wear the cloth of our nation as one of its defenders. These packages were unquestionable in their firm backing by our nation and made the decision to continue serving or separate exceptionally difficult. So I say with firm conviction that military pay and benefits are the core foundations of the all-volunteer force and are crucial to retain and maintain this highly educated and technically savvy workforce.
I am genuinely and deeply concerned about the growing and continued attack on these pay and compensation packages, including health care and benefits for our active duty, veterans and retirees, flippantly labeling them as entitlements to be evaluated for cuts equal with other entitlement programs. We have paid for our benefits through extraordinarily steep premiums and have earned our compensation. These earned benefits are not entitlements and I take exception to the comparison. I also continue to believe that the military career incentive package must be unique because military service conditions are unique and have no civilian comparison. Continually enduring arduous and stressful combat deployments and family separation, where working seven days a week and often well over 18 hours a day were often the norm, have no equivalent. Few Americans are willing to accept those conditions and least of all endure a single tour in uniform, let alone a career of 20 or 30 years. So I can also unequivocally say that cuts to the crucial incentive packages that sustain a top-quality career force will undermine our military’s retention and readiness and directly affect the ability to support long-term national security. Coupling this attack on compensation and benefits with the threat of pink slipping over 200,000 members of a battle experienced fighting force, leaves a hollowed shell to defend this nations interest in light of our highly volatile world climate. We painfully lived through a similar period in a post-Vietnam environment… must we once again need to relive that lesson?
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