The following letter, penned by a US military veteran (who wishes to remain anonymous) to Washington State Senator Patty Murray, came to my attention recently. In it, this veteran admonishes the senator for her role in the budget deal and attempts to present to her the real world impact this “deal” will have on real American military families.
I have never written a member of congress before this week but I feel compelled to do so reference the current budget plan. I recall in 2012 getting a letter from your campaign asking for my support as a military veteran. You touted your track record for fighting for veteran’s benefits and how proud of you were of your father who is a WWII veteran. Your website describes how much you were impacted as you served, what must have been, a very difficult internship at the Seattle VA in college.
As I have watched the budget debate unfold on the news over the last few weeks, it has become apparent to me that I can no longer trust my government to keep its promises to its veterans. I have served two tours in Iraq and was wounded twice. I have spent 17 years in the Army and continue to serve my country faithfully. For the first time in my career, I feel that the trust I had in my government has been broken. The very fact that you mention me and my fellow service members in the same breath as “other government employees” is an insult. Does the Department of Agriculture, the IRS or any other government agency ask their employees to sacrifice as much as the Military does? I have been overseas and worked with other government agencies. Trust me, Madam Senator, it doesn’t even compare. I have literally bled for my country and spent two years of the prime of my life in a dusty desert that most people only see in the movies or on television. I don’t think that is even in the same ball park as a State Department employee that spends their entire career in the beltway and refuses to go to Afghanistan.
The COLA adjustment reduction is a complete travesty. I have heard proponents talk about it only being a one percent reduction and that we will get it back when we reach age 62. Well, 1% is a pretty big deal when the average COLA increase is 2.5%. I haven’t heard a proponent refer to it that way yet. If you do the math, Madam Senator, that is over $120,000 for me and my family if I retire at 45 years old. That may not seem like a lot to you or your colleagues in Washington, but it is to me. Is Congressional retirement impacted in this same deal? I think we all know the answer to that. I fully understand that there are areas in our government, the Department of Defense included, that are wasteful and need to be cut. I believe you called the cuts in this deal “a compromise with smarter cuts”. They have to be to keep Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act going. My question is why do you turn to your veterans first? We are the only current employees impacted in the deal.
I am sure that my letter will never reach you and one of your staff members will delete this email by the second paragraph. On the slim chance, however, that this does reach your attention, know that you can post all of the great things you do for veterans on your official website, but those words are hollow and untrue. As you so eloquently were quoted on the 10th of December “restore trust that had been lost by people across the country that we could function as a Congress and as a democracy”, know that you are doing so as a result of yet another sacrifice by me and my colleagues. I am sure that your father is proud. So, thank Rep. Ryan for me the next time you see him. I look forward to casting my vote in 2018.
Signed ~ A United States Veteran