Vets bristle over pension cut in budget compromise

Veterans stand to see their pension benefits shrivel as part of the budget deal.
Veterans stand to see their pension benefits shrivel as part of the budget deal.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Tennessee Valley veterans gave a dim reception to a federal budget compromise plan that will cut their pensions.

The spending plan passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 64-36 Wednesday night, over the objections of defense supporters such as Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who condemned billions in cuts to military retirement benefits.

Veterans called the plan a reversal from promises they'd received years, in some cases decades ago, when they enlisted and promised to serve and protect the United States of America.

"I don't want to say 'a lie,'" said retired army First Sergeant Glenn Theriault of Huntsville, "but things have changed a lot and we are not given what we were told we'd be given."

At 59, Theriault stands to see his retirement benefits shrivel into the future. The compromise budget plan would reduce by a percentage point annual cost of living increases for retired vets.

Older veterans such as retired Command Sergeant Major Roy Hall is out of reach of the cuts because they are only slated to apply to retired vets under the age of 62 but he called the budget a devastating broken commitment .

"They can spend all this money and then penalize the troops that served the country," he said.  "And all these people that done that never heard a round crack over their head."

"Our government was going to take care of us," said Theriault, "because we were protecting our government, our president, our senators, our congressmen and our way of life.  And they let us down."

Hall said he was concerned about U.S. troops now serving, some of whom have been repeatedly under fire since 2001 in Afghanistan and Iraq   But he also worried about what kind of future the U.S. Armed Forces could have if it cannot be trusted to keep its promises.

"Wait till they stop serving," he warned. "Then we'll see what happens."

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