Longtime Tenn. vets angry about budget deal - WKRN News 2

Longtime Tenn. vets angry about budget deal


Nashville's Operation Stand Down is a place filled with veterans who have questions, concern and anger about the just passed bipartisan budget deal in Washington.

"I think a lot of the veterans are really concerned on why they are targeted so much," said Sgt. Bruce Bailey.

The still active Tennessee National Guard member and Iraq veteran helps out at Operation Stand Down after a long-time Army career.

The 41-year-old could be affected by the budget deal when he hits retirement.

"We are not asking for anything in return, these are things that were promised to us," he told News 2. "It's kind of an insult."

The bipartisan budget deal cuts cost-of-living adjustments (COLAS) for military retirees with 20-years of service by one-percent a year until the age of 62.    

"It's a hard pill to swallow," added Sgt. Bailey.  

He points to estimates from military advocate groups that say those with a 20-year career would lose nearly 20% of their retired pay.   

Another vet at Operation Stand Down worries about the impact on future soldiers.

Retired Army Major Bob Ousley even wrote a letter to Tennessee Congressional member Diane Black who voted for the budget deal.

In the letter he told Rep. Black that, "Now that I have served my country and suffered physical disabilities, divorce, the emotional scars of war and the loss of close personal friends you want to change the rules of the game."

While Maj. Ousley feared the COLA cuts of the budget deal would affect him, representatives in the office of Tennessee U-S Senator Lamar Alexander say any 20-year career vet over 62-years of age would not be affected.

Still, he wondered about lingering effects of the action.

"The result of this action is going to be young people having second thoughts about making the military a career," Maj. Ousley.  

After being the shown the critical letter from Maj. Ousley, Rep. Diane Black's press secretary Tom Flanagin responded in a statement that said in part, "The military retirement reforms don't affect benefits until December 2015. That means Congress will have time to replace these with alternative savings long before any cuts to veterans would take effect. [Rep. Black] will be closely reviewing proposals to replace veterans' cuts with alternative savings, such as closing loopholes that allow illegal aliens to claim welfare benefits, and make sure that those who have served are taken care of."

One estimate is that about 30,000 retired veterans in Tennessee would be affected by the budget deal.

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