Military chiefs support grandfathering retirement pay changes

Military chiefs announced their support for grandfathering any changes to military retirement pay, while acknowledging more changes might be on the way.

“The Joint Chiefs, our senior enlisted leaders, and I support grandfathering any changes to military retirement,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said on his Facebook page Wednesday. “We remain committed to keeping faith with our military family while also ensuring we build a balanced force for the future.” 

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He said this would include the reduction of the cost of living adjustment (COLA) made to working-age military retiree pensions, included in the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act. 

The Pentagon has appointed a commission to look at military benefits and compensation for current and retired service members, which officials say are eating up the defense budget. 

Although the commission’s recommendations are due in February 2015, the issue gained attention after the COLA cuts angered many veterans groups and service members

Defense officials say they did not know the budget deal would include the cuts, but at the same time, say it’s a modest change that leaves other benefits in place.  

Veterans groups say 800,000 service members and retirees would be affected by the cuts, and the majority affected would be enlisted service members at a rank of E-7, who would lose approximately $80,000. 

There are more than a dozen congressional proposals to reverse the cuts, but so far, none have gained bipartisan support. However, lawmakers say they are confident a solution will be found soon. 

Pentagon leaders have remained largely silent on the cuts, but earlier this week, during a congressional hearing, officials said they supported grandfathering the changes. 

However, Dempsey acknowledged the military needs to “slow the growth of compensation to ensure the all-volunteer force remains sustainable.” 

“We have a sacred obligation to those who serve. When we ask them to go into harm's way, they must be the best trained, best equipped, and best led force on the planet,” Dempsey wrote. 

“That will mean we have to make necessary and appropriate investments in training, readiness, leader development, modernization, and manpower.”