AMVETS in Action

Category: Press Release

VMI Announces Partnership with AMVETS

VMI Announces Partnership With AMVETS, Named As Official Vehicle Mobility Partner

PHOENIX, Ariz. – April 8, 2014Vantage Mobility International (VMI), a leader in the manufacture and distribution of wheelchair accessible vehicles, announced today the company has partnered with www.amvets.org in support of U.S. active military, veterans and their families. The partnership, which recognizes VMI as an Official Vehicle Mobility Partner, is part of VMI’s ongoing effort to bolster its Operation Independence program.

“Like VMI’s Operation Independence program, AMVETS leads the way in helping improve the quality of life for our military veterans,” said Jeff Weston, vice president of sales and business development at VMI. “Our partnership will enable our organizations to reach more and do more for the courageous men and women who serve our country. We’re excited about being affiliated with the wonderful team at AMVETS and being recognized as the organization’s Official Vehicle Mobility Partner.”

AMVETS, which is the first World War II organization to be chartered by Congress, is now represented in virtually every state by national services officers (NSOs) who provide sound advice and prompt action on compensation claims at no charge to the veteran. Recently, AMVETS national service officers processed more than 24,000 claims that resulted in veterans receiving some $400 million in compensation. The VMI and AMVETS partnership was finalized in February.

“VMI has played an important role in supporting our disabled veterans through their Operation Independence program,” said J. Michael Fisher, development director at AMVETS. “The VMI team shares our belief that military men and women deserve the absolute best in care, support and resources in return for their honorable service. We look forward to working VMI to help disabled American veterans find access to quality mobility transportation.”

About Vantage Mobility International
Vantage Mobility International is a manufacturer and distributor of the most innovative, reliable, highest quality and easily accessible transportation in the world. Their full line of products include domestic and import minivan conversions, full-size van conversions, platform lifts, scooter and wheelchair lifts and transfer seats. For more information, call Aaron Cook at (214) 520-3430 Ext. 306 or visit http://www.VantageMobility.com.

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.

Impotent U.S Foreign Policy Aids Russia’s Imperialism, Says Stewart Hickey of AMVETS

Russia is poised for exploiting another opportunity. Given that history tends to repeat itself, no one should be surprised by the uptick in tensions in Ukraine in the past couple of days and the recent events in Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions and perceptions of what may be coming do nothing more than hark back to the glory days of the Imperial Russian Tsars.

It was only a mere six years ago that Putin started down this path of aggression when he conquered Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and the world allowed him to do it with impunity. With the taste of victory still in his mouth and with Russia experiencing a surge in nationalism and economic growth, Putin, like any good chess player, struck where there was unopposed opportunity and where his opponent was weakest. On February 28, 2014, Russian soldiers, assisted by the local pro-Russian militia, usurped Ukraine’s territorial rights by occupying important sites across the Crimean Peninsula.

If this series of events seems familiar, it’s because it’s all been done before. Remember Saddam Hussein in 1990 when he attempted to make Kuwait a province of Iraq? Remember Adolf Hitler? The annexation of Sudetenland in 1938 was one of the important events that led to World War II. The current Administration’s weak European policies, lack of leadership in foreign policy along with the massive downsizing of our Armed Forces is causing a lot of stress among our allies who are beginning to question our commitment to defend them.

Lacking the bold approach and ‘tooth’ needed to protect and advance U.S. interests, we are surrendering America’s reign as a powerful global leader. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll be able to defend our allies. Devastating cuts will leave the U.S with its smallest Navy since World War I, its smallest Army since before World War II and its smallest Air Force, ever. While the U.S. and Europe have drastically cut their defense spending, Russia has increased its defense spending by about 30% since 2008. The West has done nothing more than pave the way towards the building of a new version of the Soviet Union and is currently in no position to bring Russia to heel.

Lacking military strength, consistency in foreign policy and the determination to follow through, we are enabling a repeat of history. Without the U.S. and its Allies willing and able to firmly stand up to the bullies of the world, the question we all need to ask ourselves is – where will Putin stop?
Stewart Hickey is the National Executive Director for American Veterans – AMVETS

Media Con­tact: David Gai, (301) 683‑4035, Dgai@AMVETS.org

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in pre­serv­ing the free­doms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS pro­vides sup­port for vet­er­ans and the active mil­i­tary in procur­ing their earned enti­tle­ments, as well as com­mu­nity ser­vice and leg­isla­tive reform that enhances the qual­ity of life for this nation’s cit­i­zens and vet­er­ans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered vet­er­ans’ ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions in the United States, and includes mem­bers from each branch of the mil­i­tary, includ­ing the National Guard and Reserves. For more information about AMVETS, visit www.amvets.org.

VA has no business in Gun Control, Or Does It?

By Stewart Hickey, National Executive Director for American Veterans (AMVETS)-

VA appears to be positioned as a political pawn in the government’s bully pulpit to beat up on the Bill of Rights by hanging a public service announcement (PSA) on gun control and safety onto the suicide prevention-centric Veterans Crisis Line. VA’s message and intent to associate gun safety with the mission and purpose of the Veterans Crisis Line is muddy here. Are veterans so juvenile that they need the paternalist government telling them how to properly secure their weapons in their own homes? Never mind that there are four higher causes of injury-related deaths than firearms. Never mind that taking away the means doesn’t resolve why 22 veterans tragically resort to suicide every single day. This type of negative and inappropriate message only helps perpetuate the already skewed perception of veterans as unstable, dangerous and public threats. The solution to the problem is not the instrument being used, nor hyper-vigilance in the home, nor gun safety “best practices.” The solution starts with bettering the environment of hope, caring and resiliency for those in crisis and providing a timely and appropriate way forward. It starts with quick access to evidence-based treatment, counseling and support. The Veterans Crisis Line is a critical element of the solution and a pathway forward. We all realize that VA only wants what’s best for veterans but political distractions are interfering with their priorities. Pushing a gun control agenda on veterans is an irresponsible, disingenuous, ham-handed move on the part of the VA. This, coupled with a Surgeon General nominee (Dr. Vivek Murthy) who advocates for all doctors asking patients if they own or possess guns, makes one skeptical about our government’s interpretation of the second amendment. Just as my doctor has no business knowing whether or not I own a gun (since it also has no bearing on my medical condition), the VA has no business advocating the politics of gun control (since it has no bearing on the hope, care and support VA is supposed to be providing to our veterans). By itself, a PSA on gun safety seems insignificant, but it strikes me as being one more little seed being planted in the overall public landscape. Seed-by-seed, an unsettling collective pattern is starting to germinate around gun control, confiscation of weapons and similar influences and threats to the second amendment, all in the guise of gun safety. When we lose the rights we were born with as Americans we lose our freedom and that’s the one thing that all veterans have risked their lives to protect.
Media Contact: David Gai, (301) 683 4035, Dgai@AMVETS.org

DoD Budget Doesn’t Bode Well for Veterans and Service Members

LANHAM, MD – Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs’ Chairman Martin Dempsey and other senior leaders afforded AMVETS and other Veteran Service Organizations a much-appreciated first look into the 2015 Department of Defense Budget plan. This 30,000-foot view gave VSOs a peek at the budget challenges and tough decisions DoD has made and will need to make. However, AMVETS believes a closer look reveals the full impacts anticipated on our nation’s security, the readiness and retention of our all-volunteer force, as well as the quality of life of the extended military family (active duty, reserves, veterans and their families). By all appearances, this has little to do about DoD being able to manage its business decisions to gain efficiencies. It is more about DoD having to further take on the brunt of the President’s political decisions to reduce the deficit without balancing with entitlement cuts.

“Further reducing our military to its smallest size in three-quarters of a century, curbing the growth on military pay and benefits in the shadow of more sequestration is bad for our national security, and bad for the service members and their families who will ultimately bear the costs,” said Stewart Hickey, AMVETS National Executive Director.

DoD has already been reducing infrastructure, (30 percent since 2000) and operating costs, (20 percent cut / $5 billion in upper echelons’ operations over the next five years). DoD has also been making significant force structure and modernization changes to face the global uncertainties and future threats.

“Forcing DoD to further meet targets under the President’s budget or sequestration levels will include further cuts to military compensation and benefits, which will directly impact military families,” said Hickey, adding that benefits and pay raises are key to maintaining a healthy all-volunteer force.

Most noticeable will be the reduced purchasing power of veterans and service members, and their increased out-of-pocket expenses. A proposed one percent pay raise for service members in FY 2015, will be erased by significant cuts in commissary subsidies and subsequent higher prices, reduction in Basic Allowance for Housing rates, and increased TRICARE fees for some currently serving families and retirees.

“Nearly $104 million in food stamps were redeemed at commissaries last year,” said Hickey. “Now the Defense Department wants to cut subsidies that service members use. The minimal pay raise + loss of commissary savings + reduced BAH + more out of pocket medical costs is a bill that must not be paid by our service members and families.”

“Our government is squeezed and tough decisions will continue to be made,” said Hickey. “But when the official budget is unveiled to Congress in March, Congress must honor its commitment to our military and find better ways to reduce the squeeze.”

Note: AMVETS and other select Veteran Service Organizations met February 24, 2014, with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other senior leaders to unveil the Department of Defense (DoD) Budget plan for 2015. This meeting preceded the official press conference announcing DoD’s proposed $496 billion budget which will be a part of the President’s Budget set for release March 5.

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. For more information visit www.amvets.org.

Miller Legislation Targets Much Needed Accountability at VA

LANHAM, MD – Yesterday, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller introduced H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, legislation that would give VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and future VA secretaries complete authority to fire or demote VA Senior Executive Service or equivalent employees based on performance.

“Under the current, antiquated and morbidly dysfunctional civil service system, it’s nearly impossible to dismiss or do more than slap the wrists of incompetent, ineffective and wasteful Senior Executive employees,” said AMVETS National Commander John H. Mitchell, Jr. “No matter what ideas and policies the VA Secretary wants to implement, without the ability to remove deadweight executives, his hands are tied,” Mitchell added.

Miller’s legislation targets the elimination of the bureaucratic red-tape currently hindering VA leadership’s ability to address systemic strengths and weaknesses in department managers. Secretary Shinseki currently lacks the authority he needs to fix things and hold his roughly 448 career SES employees accountable. H.R. 4031 would amend title 38 U.S.C., and give the VA Secretary the authority to remove employees of the Senior Executive Service whose performance the Secretary believes warrants removal, from the government service completely or transfer them to a General Schedule position within the current civil service system.

“Veterans are tired of platitudes and broken promises,” said Mitchell. “The only way to break the cycle of ineptitude at VA and restore our veterans’ faith in the system is to eradicate problems at the root – the Senior Executive level. We applaud Congressman Miller and his bi-partisan committee’s continued efforts in support of America’s veterans.”

Media Contact: David Gai, (301) 683-4035, Dgai@AMVETS.org

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. For more information about the Veterans and Servicemembers Employment Rights and Housing Act of 2013, visit www.amvets.org/legislative.

Supersized Veterans’ Bill Promises Much – Mostly Broken Promises

By Stewart Hickey, National Executive Director for American Veterans – AMVETS

There are some organizations holding back and asking the hard questions about Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I–VT) supersized veterans’ bill, S.1982 (formerly S.1950, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014). We at AMVETS and Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) certainly appreciate the good intentions of Senator Sanders in introducing S.1982 and those of our colleagues for supporting it. Many have rallied to the flag of S.1982 in large part due to the prospect of the reinstatement of COLA benefits without fully examining the details and practicality of the bill.

While we agree the bill addresses many critical issues and recommends important solutions for our veterans we do not support this bill for several reasons. First, it would be morally irresponsible and fiscally unsound, given the historically volatile situation in Afghanistan, to hang the funding for such robust legislation on any potential “peace dividend.” Throwing more money — upwards of $30 billion, and taken from war funds no less — at a failing department will only make matters worse.

This kitchen sink-like bill also endeavors to be all things to all veterans, and is very enticing to all of us ‘Veterans Service Organizations’ as the panacea for all of our legislative agendas. The problem is, in its current configuration, it has little to no chance of passage. It’s just too “pie in the sky” and has lacks the power base to hold VA accountable for providing excellent care and services to veterans currently accessing the system.

At present there’s a distinct lack of bi-partisan support for S.1982. Inviting political infighting to get in the way could potentially relegate this legislation to no more than a political exercise. There is so much good they could do by supporting legislation that has potential for bi-partisan support and passage. Sen. Ayotte’s (R-KY) S.1977, for example, seeks to repeal section 403 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (repealing the military retirement COLA cuts) while not adding additional deficit spending. With similar bi-partisan support is Sen. Blumenthal’s (D-CT) S.1281, the Veterans and Servicemembers Employment Rights and Housing Act of 2013. This nearly cost-neutral legislation would make it illegal to discriminate against individuals based on their military or veteran status and give veterans legal recourse. In fact, twelve states have passed state laws similar to S.1281 to protect vets.

The passage of S.1982 would unfortunately condemn S.1281 to a mere study, the Washington term for make work, kill slowly, or death by committee. At any rate it will be delayed at best for years and at worst killed off quietly while our veterans continue to have problems with employment and housing.

We all want what’s best for the veterans community, and many of the provisions in S.1982 are positive. However, ‘bigger’ doesn’t mean ‘better,’ and the Sanders bill further expands a VA system that is already overwhelmed and cannot meet the current needs of veterans. Before overcommitting the Department of Veterans Affairs and subjecting our veterans to more broken promises, Congress should rally on legislation that keep the promises already made.

Media Contact: David Gai, (301) 683-4035, Dgai@AMVETS.org

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. For more infor¬ma¬tion about the Veterans and Servicemembers Employment Rights and Housing Act of 2013, visit www.amvets.org/legislative.

Veteran Service Organizations Urge $72.9 Billion Investment in Veterans' Health Care and Benefits

Veterans Service Organizations Urge $72.9 Billion Investment in Veterans’ Health Care and Benefits

Annual ‘Independent Budget’ Stresses Need for Funding Particularly in the Areas of Construction, Veterans Health Care and Claims Processing

WASHINGTON, DC — Four of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations—AMVETS, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)—are urging the Administration and Congress to provide $72.9 billion to sufficiently meet veterans’ health care and benefits needs. The recommendation is contained in The Independent Budget, released today and available online at www.independentbudget.org.

The Independent Budget for Fiscal Year 2015 recommends the following:

  • $61.1 billion total for health care for FY 2015—$2.3 billion more than what the Administration recommended ($58.8 billion) in the FY 2015 advance appropriation last year
  • $62.4 billion total advance appropriation for health care for FY 2016
  • $2.5 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration—approximately $44 million more than the FY 2014 appropriated level
  • $3.9 billion for all construction programs—approximately $2.7 billion more than the FY 2014 appropriated level and well below the true funding needs of construction projects that the VA must undertake
  • $611 million for medical and prosthetics research, which is approximately $25 million more than the FY 2014 appropriated level

Of great concern to The Independent Budget coauthors is the serious underfunding of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) construction accounts. From FY 2002 through 2014, The Independent Budget recommended $23.5 billion for major and minor construction, yet less than $13.5 billion was appropriated to keep rapidly aging facilities safe and operational for the proper care and treatment of millions of wounded, ill and injured veterans of all generations and for the staff who serve them.

“World-class health care requires first-class facilities, but through 13 years of war, VA construction accounts have only received 57 percent of what’s required, and we project VA will need to invest $31 billion over the next decade to close its major and minor construction gaps,” said VFW National Commander William A. Thien. “Sixty-year-old facilities do not get better with age,” he said, “and continuous underfunding only makes construction more expensive, our facilities less safe, and jeopardizes the VA’s ability to honor its commitment to America’s veterans. We urge the Administration to request and Congress to appropriate sufficient funding to correct these deficiencies now.”

AMVETS National Commander John Mitchell added the following addressing the breakdown in the appropriations process and effect on VA operations.

“The significant delay in the Administration’s funding recommendations for VA in FY 2015 and the ongoing breakdown in the appropriations process are major concerns about how program funding may be impacted going forward, and will most certainly have a negative effect on all VA operations,” stated Mitchell. “Underlying the issues, are the accountability of our Congress and the Administration to not forget the sacred obligation they have to those who serve and protect this country. Our nation must remain steadfast and committed to ensuring that our military, veterans, their eligible family members and survivors receive their earned benefits in a timely and efficient manner.”

DAV National Commander Joseph W. Johnston stated the following addressing the need for appropriate funding of VA’s Information Technology infrastructure.

“We applaud VA’s progress during the past year in reducing the benefits claims backlog and putting in place a new organizational paperless claims process model, and we hope the Administration and Congress remain committed to providing the resources needed to continue this vital transformation,” said Johnston. “That means funding the proper staffing levels and providing sufficient training. Additionally, it is crucial that appropriate funding is provided to continue building and maintaining the VA’s Information Technology infrastructure.”

The organizations are also calling for the House and Senate to immediately consider and approve H.R. 813 and S. 932, legislation that would extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary and mandatory appropriations accounts.

“The past couple of years have clearly shown the benefits to the VA of having the health-care system funded by advance appropriations,” said Bill Lawson, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. The VA health-care system has been shielded from the severe negative consequences of political gridlock that ultimately led to a partial government shutdown last fall. It is time that the rest of the VA is afforded the same protection.”

In its 28th year, The Independent Budget is an annual comprehensive budget and policy document, written by veterans for veterans detailing funding requirements for VA. The Independent Budget aims to present a full picture of veterans’ needs—and how government can meet these needs. The full report can be viewed online at www.independentbudget.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
AMVETS: Dave Gai, 301-683-4035
DAV: David E. Autry, 202-314-5219
Paralyzed Veterans: Doug Larkin, 202-416-7686
VFW: Joe Davis, 202-608-8357

About

AMVETS – a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces — provides not only support for veterans and the active military in procuring receipt of their earned entitlements, but also community services that enhance the quality of life for this nation’s citizens.
www.amvets.org.

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.

Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a group of seriously injured American heroes from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II. They created a non-profit organization to meet the challenges that they faced back in the 1940s — from a medical community not ready to treat them, to an inaccessible world. For more than 66 years, Paralyzed Veterans national office and 34 chapters across the nation have been making America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. www.pva.org

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and eligible members from the active, Guard and Reserve force. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization, with almost 2 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in 7,200 VFW Posts worldwide. For more information or to join, visit the organization’s Web site at www.vfw.org.

Exclusive Corporate Alliance Will Expand AmVets Members' Discounts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AmVets Joins Forces with AT&T to Bring Added Benefits to Veterans

Exclusive corporate alliance will expand AmVets members’ discounts

Lanham, Md., January 24, 2014 — AMVETS, a leading veterans service organization that assists veterans, their families, and the communities they live in announced a three-year agreement with AT&T, Inc. under which all AMVETS members will be able to secure a veterans’ discount on qualified monthly wireless plans simply by presenting his or her AMVETS membership card in their local AT&T store.

“AMVETS is dedicated to the important work of assisting and supporting active military, veterans, and their families,” AMVETS National Commander John H. Mitchell said. “We believe our alliance with AT&T will provide a great discount for veterans and outstanding support for our numerous initiatives supporting active duty military in the field.”

“Instead of having to dig up your DD214 and take it into an AT&T store, now all it takes is to show them the AMVETS membership card,” AMVETS National Executive Director Stewart Hickey said. “We’re delighted to have such a military friendly company who values veterans and their service as much as AT&T does and AMVETS is proud to have them as one of our corporate partners.”

“AT&T’s alliance with AMVETS is another example of AT&T’s efforts to develop and provide outstanding communications solutions to the veteran community,” said John Klebonis, Vice President, Department of Defense Segment, AT&T Government Solutions.

In addition, AMVETS National Career Centers and AT&T are engaged in a national drive to hire veterans. This year AT&T has doubled their commitment to hire 10,000 veterans over the next five years. AT&T has hired over 3,600 veterans in 2013 and AMVETS National Career Centers look forward to expanding that number in 2014.

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.

About AT&T’s Federal Government Business:
AT&T is a long-standing, trusted source of network-enabled solutions for the federal government, integrating unmatched network resources and IT and software engineering expertise with innovative technologies from AT&T Labs and industry-leading partners. Among Federal Government agencies and customers, AT&T is best known for network leadership in voice, data, video and managed services and as a proven solutions integrator, with expertise in areas such as Cyber Security, Network Solutions, Application Solutions and Mission Support.

Media contacts: AMVETS: David Gai, DGai@amvets.org, (301) 683-4035

Ayotte, Graham and Wicker Press Conference

AMVETS National Legislative Director, Diane Zumatto and acting Communications Director, Andrew Keirn, along with leaders from more than 14 military and veteran service organizations joined U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) at a press conference Tuesday, December 17 to urge Senators to use alternative savings to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for current and future military retirees. Watch the press conference below.

AMVETS Questions Government’s Commitment to Care for its Troops

Congress and DoD cutting into our country’s muscle, not trimming the fat

LANHAM, Md., Dec. 13, 2013 — Recent political uncertainties are greatly affecting our nation’s military and veterans. AMVETS is speaking out against recent decisions that are gravely impacting the benefits our uniformed service members have fought for and earned through their honored service to our country.

There is an unsettling focus being aimed toward our military and veterans in an effort to “trim the fat” during budget cuts. Unfortunately, the government is cutting into the muscle of our country, not the fat. The recently House passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 seeks to penalize current and future military members who have served our nation for over 20 years by implementing a 1 percent reduction to uniformed service retired pay Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for those under age 62, and the Department of Defense plans to possibly close the 178 state side commissaries, decrease housing allowances, and eliminate our military’s primary news source since the Civil War, the Stars and Stripes, which would tremendously affect the quality of life for countless service members and veterans.

“Once again our congress uses military retirees to find ways to cut the nation’s budget,” AMVETS National Executive Director Stewart Hickey said. “Maybe they could look in some areas where no one has contributed anything to this country first. Veterans, military, and military retirees are fed up with being the bill payer every time congress wants to cut, go to the real fat at the pentagon, don’t cut the trigger pullers; cut the massive staffs. We need more PFCs and fewer generals. How many receive government handouts for doing nothing? If congress wanted to they could make real cuts in wasteful programs, but they always take the easy route and hit the military and military retirees.”

Less than 1 percent of our nation has chose to serve this country. That choice is different from any other career path and these men and women take on the full weight and responsibility to protect the United States and fulfill our national security requirements. The benefits they have earned should not be so easily cut. These decisions not only have devastating long-term impacts on our military retirees and veterans but also will greatly diminish uniform service career retention, which in turn adversely impacts national security.

AMVETS understands the importance to rid the government of wasteful spending and believes there is a need for each to do their part and sacrifice for the overall good of our economic future. However, when there are programs such as the Air Force’s new long-range bomber, which may cost as much as $81 billion for the 100 planes planned, being put ahead of the earned benefits and quality of life of those who have already paid an enormous price to be able to receive them, the decisions being made need to be questioned.

“Congress, the President, and the DoD seem to have either forgotten the promises we so sacredly made to our heroic men and women who served in our military forces, or they are choosing to blatantly disregard those promises,” AMVETS National Commander John Mitchell said. “Our veterans and military have given enough and sacrificed enough. These cuts need to stop and AMVETS will continue to fight to protect the earned benefits of America’s honored warfighters.”

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.AMVETS.org.