Retired Army Colonel W.A. Whittle's letter to Congress forwarded by RADM Stephen Barchet USN (Ret.) via BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret.)
The Honorable Bill Nelson
United States Senate
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0903
Subject: Rising Medical Costs Worry Pentagon, Hill; Washington Post
Dear Senator Nelson:
The recent Washington Post article is extremely disturbing because it indicates that neither the Administration nor the Congress understands why military medical benefits were put in place, let alone the fact that those of us who served full careers paid dearly for them in reduced income throughout our working lives. As an example of this misunderstanding, the article indicates that we pay only $500 per year for Tricare.
That's blatantly false, as I will explain below.
At Congressional direction, DOD used to publish an annual statement of Military Compensation that purported to account for the value of benefits above our actual pay. My 1991 statement shows that my military medical coverage equated to a plan that would have cost me about $5200 in the civilian sector. The implication is that my direct compensation was reduced by $5200 and medical care was provided in kind. Other benefits were also assigned dollar values so that we could see what was represented as our real military compensation not just the part that we received by check each month. Of course the numbers changed annually but in 1991, nearly 20% of my real military compensation came from benefits provided in kind.
What this means, of course is that I paid for every one of those benefits by having my paycheck reduced and receiving in kind medical care, retirement contributions, etc.
The “bottom line only” focus of the Administration and the Congress implied in the referenced article is scandalous. Of course we have to find ways to control budget outlays but we should not be balancing the budget on the backs of people who devoted an entire career to the nation under a contract that included specified benefits in lieu of competitive salaries.
I ask that you work your colleagues to educate the Congress and the Administration on the fact that we have paid our full share for the benefits that we receive and that the integrity of nation rests on the government living up to it's side of the bargain.
W. A. Whittle
Colonel, USA (Retired)
1637 Yorkshire Trail
Lakeland, FL 33809