Veteran opposed to Pentagon's plan
As your voting constituent, I urge you to oppose the Pentagon's penny-wise dollar-foolish plan to shift far more of military health care costs into the pockets of those who served 20 to 30 years in uniform.
The President's budget for FY07 will propose forcing thousands of military retirees to pay $1,000 a year more for their military health coverage. The Pentagon has recently announced the intent to double and triple Tricare enrollment fees for a system that is already broken and money will not fix the problem.
The Pentagon's purpose is to help offset the cost of Congress' action to authorize TRICARE as second-payer to Medicare for older military retirees. They say military coverage is now "much richer" than typical civilian plans. The Joint Chiefs of Staff say these increases will help pay the cost of new military weapons systems. (Increased premiums will pay for new weapon systems?)
For more years that I care to remember Congress consistently explained low military pay (well below cost of living, inflation, civilian equivalent, etc.) as accounting for the "retirement benefits of commissary privileges, post exchange access and no cost life-time medical care" to justify the low compensation. Year after year warriors heard the congressional explanation, didn't like it, but sacrificed quality of living, long periods of separation from loved ones, and life threatening conditions in service to our nation…fully expecting the US Government to keep its promise. Congress clearly stated that military members were purchasing no cost heath care and other retirement benefits from the inadequate pay being held back at the time of service (so-called "deferred compensation").
Congress and Pentagon leaders are forgetting that military retirees paid far higher premiums for their health coverage than any civilian – through decades of service and sacrifice that few Americans are willing to endure.
A government that has been able to afford hundreds of billions of dollars in pork spending and tax cuts can certainly afford to pay for both military weapons and health care for those who fought this country's battles through all the hot and cold wars of the last 70 years.
I want to know what you are specifically doing to advance military retiree benefits. I also want to know what your position is relative to the DOD's intention to raise Tricare fees.
These are very important issues for the military retirees in your district and we intend to hold you accountable as our elected representation in the Congress.
Kids Day sponsors thank community
American Legion Post 52 and its auxiliary would like to thank the Hartselle community for its generous support of our 58th annual Kids Day Program, which was held at Sparkman Civic Center Dec. 9.
It was exciting to see the faces of the children light up as their names were called and they stepped forward to receive their wrapped gifts from Santa. Each also received a bag of fruit and candy as they left the building to board buses and return to their schools.
The program reached more than 400 children from kindergarten through fourth grade in eight schools in Hartselle and Morgan County. Chaperons did an excellent job of keeping the children under control in an orderly yet relaxed manner.
Playing important roles in the success of the program were the Kids Day Committee headed by Jerry Cleek, contributors including Volunteers of America and volunteers who wrapped gifts and helped at Kids Day. The volunteers included Hartselle High School students Daxton Maze, Nathan Kimbrell, Erica Watson, Cody Stisher, Keith McCaghren, Steven Chop, April Pershin and Lindsey Ellison.