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Begich Advocates for Military Retirement Benefits

Senators urge defense secretary to leave system unchanged for members of the military



Recognizing the need to make good on the commitment made to our military members and their families, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is urging Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to oppose cuts in military retirement benefits for those now serving our country.



In a letter signed by Begich and 14 other senators, they ask Panetta to not look to the military retirement system for ways to cut the federal budget.



"While deficit reduction is essential, balancing the budget and curbing costs in the U.S. Department of Defense by cutting retirement benefits to those now serving is patently unfair to our military members and their families and puts in jeopardy the recruitment and retention of our nation's future all-volunteer force," the letter states.



The Defense Business Board has put forward a proposal to dramatically alter the retirement system by establishing a mandatory thrift savings contribution plan and delaying payment of benefits to age 60 or 65. The current military retirement system provides a percentage of basic pay to individuals who have served for 20 or more years immediately after retirement.



Begich, a member of both the Senate Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees,  has heard from dozens of Alaska military members and veterans about the need to preserve the retirement benefits that were promised when military men and women signed up to serve.



"It's unacceptable to me to change the retirement system for those currently serving and our veterans who are retirees. We promised those benefits, and they've earned them," Begich said. "I will work to ensure our 5,000 Alaska service members in Afghanistan and all of the other current military members at home and fighting overseas, get the benefits they deserve."



The joint letter urges Panetta, when considering defense cuts, to oppose the recommendations by the Defense Business Board.



"We encourage you then to ensure the security of America's military by relaying to Congress your deep commitment that our nation not undertake any detrimental changes or reductions in military retirement for those who are serving," the letter adds.

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