WASHINGTON: Career soldiers can retire at 42, get a great deal on Tricare health insurance, take home a pension, and get paid a good private-sector salary on top of that. That can’t continue to be the norm for the military and Congress must create a two-tier pay system, says Rep. Duncan Hunter, Marine Corps reservist and member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“It’s time for Congress to look at this,” Hunter said at the inaugural Defense One conference. The message must be sent that, “If you join tomorrow things are going to be different.”

Hunter was careful to argue that those currently in the military should still get the benefits promised them, but the next group must receive reduced benefits, because growing compensation costs will eat up a majority of the defense budget should they go unchecked. If a servicemember retires and gets a good private sector job — say as a defense contractor — then they don’t need Tricare, Hunter said: “You should have to buy into [private] healthcare and stop being subsidized by the American taxpayer.”

Congress, however, has been a big part of the problem, repeatedly increasing benefits over what’s proposed in the President’s budget and rejecting even modest increases in, for example, Tricare fees. “When a recommendation comes from the Department of Defense and then what comes back is a number higher than what was proposed, of course we have to pay that,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the Army’s outspoken director of strategy, plans, and policy, at the conference this morning. “This is a challenge because the Congress has opted obviously in some cases to pay even more than we asked.”

But Hunter was hopeful about his colleague’s willingness — thus far completely absent — to grapple with the threat of being called out for being against the troops. “I think Congress will finally have the guts to face that in the next authorization bill,” he said.

While the senior civilian Pentagon leadership has repeatedly noted the enormous and growing financial burden of the current pay and benefits, there is clearly support for it in the uniformed ranks — if only to keep good people.

“First of all, with regard to retirees we need to retain … career servicemen and women that serve 20 years and beyond, we absolutely need to have that, and we also have to make it worth their while,” Maj. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, the Marines’ head of plans, policies, and operations told my colleague Sydney this morning at the conference. “The current retirement plan that we have – and it’s been modified over the years – has resulted in a lot of folks staying in.”





  • Russell K. Terry

    He can do it but the rest of the military cannot??? Wow…

  • Alchemist Apprentice

    On Defense Spending Reforms

    Options for Reducing

    Deficit: 2014 to 2023

    Option 1 Reduce the Size of the Military to Satisfy Caps Under the Budget Control Act

    Option 2 Cap Increases in Basic Pay for Military Service Members

    Option 3 Replace Some Military Personnel With Civilian Employees

    Option 4 Replace the Joint Strike Fighter Program With F-16s and F/A-18s

    Option 5 Cancel the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Program

    Option 6 Stop Building Ford Class Aircraft Carriers

    Option 7 Reduce the Number of Ballistic Missile Submarines

    Option 8 Cancel the Littoral Combat Ship Program

    Option 9 Defer Development of a New Long-Range Bomber

  • Gary Church

    I knew this was coming because I have seen it before; every so often we end up with too many troops and too many toys. Guess which gets the short end every time?

  • bridgebuilder78

    Of course, open the money spigot for LockMart and contractors at all cost and tell the servicemen and women to take a hike.

  • Major Lee Gassole

    Our VOLUNTEER organization still has people on food stamps! Politicians sit on their lazy asses and collect nothing but benefits and unwarranted pay – AND GET TO VOTE FOR THEIR OWN PAY RAISES! Our military gets families split up and our forces sit in the line of fire. And these pathetic politicians usually have them doing it FOR another country. We’re sending our men and women to another country that hates us to die for their people. “Uncle Sam Wants You!… to die for free”

    PLEASE read the following pages and look at the ridiculous benefits our fearless leaders receive.
    The current salary (2013) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.
    As of January 2010, the annual salary of each Representative is $174,000.

  • OHG2AZ

    This is BS… need to start cutting at the top, stop these life long paychecks and benefits to the President and Congress. SMH and so disappointed in our Government!

    • Major Pain

      Myth: Congress and the Presidents do not get “lifetime salaries.” That was never true. At best (before 1984) a Member of Congress needed 30 yrs in office and could retire at 80% of his salary. Today, a 30 yr term gets a Senator or Rep. a pension of 44% of his former salary. The only way a President could earn the same rate (44%) would be if s/he had 22 to 26 yrs in Congress before election as Pres.

      • David

        After one term, a president gets a pension for life, they also get an expense account. Anyone is stupid if they think civil servants , both federal and state don’have a much better retirement system than our military.

        • Jan

          Military can retire at age 38 to 42 with 20 years service. Federal employees HAVE to be 55 and have 20 years service. Civil service cannot draw a retirement at any age below 55.

      • rb325th

        Presidents, even one termers do receive a pension of 191,300.00 starting the day the leave office.
        Congress is on the same retirment plan as all other Federal Employees. They pay into it through payroll deduction, and will only receive their pension if they have enough time served in the Federal Governmet combined with age to retire.

      • Desparate in CA

        Obama is president and you are telling me he did 22 to 26 yrs in the government / congress or Mayor what ever he was. Never even heard of the man till he ran for President. Go back and educate your self a bit more.

  • sotarrthewizard

    of course, that they SURVIVE to 42 (or older), still have all their
    parts intact, have a marriage that has survived numerous deployments and
    PCSs, isolated bases, low pay, etc. . .

    Tell you what. . . . we allow Civil Service and Elected types to retire on EXACTLY the same terms as military. THAT should save a HUGE amount of money. . .

    • Ben

      “we allow Civil Service and Elected types to retire on EXACTLY the same terms as military. ”

      This is absolutely, 100%, false. The retirement systems and benefits are completely different.

      • sotarrthewizard

        Read closely: my suggestion was that the Elected and Civil Service people retire on exactly the same terms as the Military, not that they currently do. . .

        • Ben

          It doesn’t clearly read that way, but I can see it to read that way.

    • Jan

      Civil Service retirees have to be 55 years of age (not 38 to 40 yrs of age like some military) and have 20 years service to retire, and a civil service retiree has to pay for their insurance out of their retirement, when and if they get a small cost of living raise, their insurance goes up more than the raise they received. If a civil service retiree is fortunate enough to get social security it is at a reduced rate no matter what they have paid into SS and a civil service retiree most times cannot receive any social security benefits based on a spouse’s social security. These laws are referred to as WEP and GPO. Tell you what, let the military retire on the same terms as Civil Service and ensure they are 55 years of age BEFORE they receive one dime of retirement as does civil service. Now THAT would save a HUGE amount of money. This is also assuming civil servants SURVIVE to age 55

  • anderson

    Our soldiers deserve every benefit they receive and more–how about cutting the pay and retirement of the idiots in Congress and decreasing some of the benefits we hand out to illegal aliens and people who choose not to work–cut all of that before you even think of reducing the miniscule amount our soldiers receive.

    • Desparate in CA

      AMEN Anderson, I read somewhere that the congressman and women, presidents, and speaker etc., get 6 digits retirements for the rest of their lives.
      Assuming they ever retire. I see so many in the house or senate, so old they cant even keep their eyes open. Knowing they will never have to worry about anything after they retire. Its a damn shame. They sit in chairs and our military sits in the line of fire and then some. Enough!!! leave the retirees alone. I am tired of losing what I was promised when I signed my contract. Did the time away from my family, in harms way every day, and all they have too do is sit there and see what they can take away today. Don’t even get me started on Social Security.
      Worked my entire life and don’t think I will live to even get any SS. But the welfare depts. never run out of anything. Enough to make a person puke.
      We care more for the refuse to work,people or pop out kid after kid and more money for them. But screw the military, that’s the way it is.
      Never hear about taken entitlement’s YEAH, from Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC, and Monthly checks eating better then we do. I have seen it with my own damn eyes. Lobster, eating out in restaurant’s, pop out babies and cant even afford to feed them formula, they have WIC to feed their babies. My kids formula was bought with my husband and I, pay checks. God help us please. Anderson, why don’t you run for president? Everyone that has a name is throwing in their names. You have my vote.

  • f0rtylegz

    This has been going on for half a century. It must be changed.

  • 65run

    If a servicemember retires and gets a good private sector job — say as a defense contractor — then they don’t need Tricare, Hunter said: “You should have to buy into [private] healthcare and stop being subsidized by the American taxpayer.”

    What about congressional members that serve one term and get benefits for life. This on top of paying Congress even if they do not do their jobs of passing 12 approps and authorizations by 30 Sep?

    • rb325th

      A congressman who serves only one term does not get life time benefits. Please do some research on this as it is the mnost widely reported falsehood/internet myth out there.

  • skifri3

    Public sector pension/benefits is a problem in all sectors from the federal to state to local levels. Rather than paying people more up front (which is a much easier cost to control) they hide the fairly pay via benefits, which are hard to control since you can’t control how long people live and receive their retirement benefits. So someone who says they’re making 30K a year is actually making somewhere closer to 45K a year when you add in healthcare and money for their retirement account. I know that it is adversely affecting education since a higher and higher % of the budget is being paid out to retired teachers, while they cut down on the number of teachers being hired in order to save money. So they’re pretty much blowing a bunch of money to pay people who no longer work, which means the people who they need to hire, don’t get hired.

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least bit that it is the military leadership is willing to call itself out on this. You certainly don’t see this kind of rational thinking in other public sector groups.

  • havoc

    This is just the beginning of an on coming anti ex military campaign. The soldiers that they wanted so desperately 10 years ago are soon to be the targets of the american public because their tax dollars pay military benefits, and pay. The only reason you may get a sense of entitlement from ex military personnel has a lot to do with the fact that many of them signed a contract(which actually has a random paragraph in apendix B stating that it can be null and void whenever the secretary of defense deems it necessary. So, basically you’re signing a contract that agrees that they can deny the contract at any time they want) voluntarily during a time of war. So, congress with pass this, and then there will be a huge uprising from vets, while yet again, the country is divided on another issue. The only difference is that vets are going to separated and singled out from the rest of the American public and they will be far out numbered. They’ll be the reason for the countries financial issues, and I’ve noticed that many more headlines than usual are using the fact that somebody who committed a crime was ex military, and they use it as a headline. I love how the media uses psychology to sway the opinions of those who don’t understand it. The guy could have been a marine for 3 years, worked for the forest service for 12 but they won’t mention the forest service. Now, why is that? Why is our country now trying to down size the military, while flooding people’s email with job offers from homeland security and other various private sector security groups with government contracts? Is that really downsizing, or just an attempt at shifting personnel out of the public eye… and you’ll still be paying their fat salary, and for their benefits. Also, private security is just a way that the government can divert blame from themselves. So, now instead of soldiers fighting for what they believe is right, you’re going to have soldiers of fortune fighting your wars, and YES they make WAY more than your average 11B 1P soldier at the same level. So, buckle down, soldiers. I fear you’re going to have the finger of the entire country pointed at you as the reason their life sucks, while the private sector just does whatever they want. This is just another division tactic. We’re being divided by design, folks

  • kmtominey44

    Notice this clown is not/never
    has been active duty. You have you serve 20 years to get anything at all unlike civilian workers like the Congressman. In civilian world you vest starting right away. Military who actually serve are like police or fire fighters – high risk,.physically demanding work. Maybe TRICARE premiums could be higher or scaled based on means.

    He needs a brain transplant as well as an actual soul.

  • rb325th

    Perhaps Duncan Hunter instead of targeting the easy target that the Military is, instead focus his attention on reforms in welfare and other entitlement programs. Perhaps they could go after the billions in medicare fraud, the potential as reported by 60 Minutes recently that upwards of 50% of all Social Security Disability Claims being paid are fraudulent and costing us billions. There is so much fraudd and abuse in every single aspect of government spending that to sit there and say that a person who just spent at least 20 years serving their nation does not deserve the benefits for which all current retirees get is disgusting, insulting, demeaning, demoralizing, and does nothing to enhance readiness now or in the future of our Military. If anything, it will hurt it even more than recent deep cuts to defense have.


    Yes, let’s cut the pay & benefits of our troops because how else will we have the extra billions in welfare to give to the future employers of Generals, Admirals, and politicians? Don’t you get it? The Generals, Admirals, and some 1 or 2 term politicians retire and immediately get hired by Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, etc. They are basically looking out for their future career prospects so they can tell those companies, “Hire me because I got you all of that money in government contracts.” In a nutshell, reduce the money we spend on people so there’s more money to give to government contractors and welfare to the Military Industrial Complex. Oh, and when was the last big government procurement that came in ON BUDGET instead billions OVER budget? Osprey? Nope. Joint Strike Fighter? Nope. AAAV (advanced amphibious assault vehicle)? Nope. Littoral combat ship? Nope. It doesn’t exist because what the military industrial complex does is lowball their bids to get the contract, knowing full well they can’t deliver the goods for the lowball price, and then we invariably have the ‘cost overruns’ because once 1 contractor has been selected and we’ve sunk hundreds of millions into a project, it’s cheaper to just pay the ransom (cost overruns) than start over with a new contractor. This is a game that just repeating itself.

  • cassis for all

    Give me a break!!!
    really starting to feel this site is anti mil benefits– hey editors!! soldiers EARN their bennies every darn day! so many postings from these think tank/fellows at these places, (read the past articles on this site to get some idea), where they sit in their CUSHY offices, away from the stress and strain of being in the military.
    What about changing the congress retirement, bennies? So many at the top jump ship to work at “Northrup grubby-hands-man”, and “Lock-Greed Martin”!–should change the name if this site from breaking defense to breaking the soldiers…

  • AirSarge

    Who about we cut taxpayer monies to ILLEGALS? And terrorist nations? And congess?

  • ComputerGeezer

    We should be very careful before we throw away the “golden handcuffs”
    Mid-career retention will plummet if we switch to a system which gives partial benefits for less than 20 years service or drops the health care benefit. If “six more years” doesn’t provide a significant benefit to a soldier, we’ll lose them as soon as a better job comes along.

  • Vokaae

    Where do you get these so called Generous Pensions?? My husband is a retired disabled vet and he gets a whopping 700.00 a month pension! People who run their mouths without the facts piss me off! As for Tri-care…We pay for it out of his retirement Check! There are no gifts here!

  • CA_Dreamin

    I haven’t seen lot of E7s working in DoD contract companies.

    • Jan

      I have seen plenty of SF retirees working for DOD contractors making lots of money, receiving a military retirement and collecting 100% disability. If someone is 100% disabled how the hell can they go back and work for a contractor doing almost the same thing they did in the military. If you are collecting SS disability you cannot work at another job.

      • Margaret Sieger

        If they are 100% disabled, they can’t work. At least that is what my understanding is of the disability system. So either they are omitting something somewhere, or they aren’t 100% disabled.

  • Margaret Sieger

    So much is sacrificed by an individual in the military. At age 42, they feel like they are 60. The demands of military service are so much greater then most government sector jobs.

  • Margaret Sieger

    I need to have a letter wizard put on my computer. Who do you want to
    send this to? The idiots in charge, who don’t seem to take any kind of direction from their “public”, who they are supposed to be representing. What do you want to say? Get the
    hell outta here! Automatic postage? Yes, please. Send one a day? Of