Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Remembering those we've lost to war and military suicide this Memorial Day

Our military faces an epidemic of trauma among troops who are sent back into war without treatment for their hidden wounds. At Fort Hood, Texas, 10,000 soldiers each month get mental health evaluation and treatment, and more sit on waiting lists. This is only the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that 20-50% of those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.

Congress members who vote to continue spending for these wars don't take into account the full costs that our society will be paying for decades to come.

This summer, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from the Operation Recovery Campaign are at Fort Hood investigating the epidemic of trauma and organizing soldiers there to do something about it. Operation Recovery aims to defend a soldier’s right to heal and calls for an end to redeploying troops who already suffer from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma.

This Memorial Day, let us remember those who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan and past wars. But let's also think of the thousands who have committed suicide as a result of their war trauma, and those for whom we can prevent a similar fate.

Iraq Veterans Against the War has launched the Operation Recovery campaign to stop the deployment of troops suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma. Thousands of troops are being re-deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq despite suffering from serious trauma from previous combat tours.

Take the Pledge to Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops!

Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper!

Note: Copy taken from IVAW material.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Changing the Effective Date of Reserve Early Retirement

Since 9/11/2001 the Reserve Component has changed from a strategic Reserve to an operational Reserve that now plays a vital role in prosecuting the war efforts and other operational commitments. This has resulted in more frequent and longer deployments impacting individual Reservist’s careers. Changing the effective date of the Reserve early retirement would help partially offset lost salary increases, lost promotions, lost 401K and other benefit contributions.

Read an excerpt from The Statement of the Military Coalition (TMC) before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.

"Operational Reserve Retention and Retirement Reform – Congress took the first step in modernizing the reserve compensation system with enactment of early retirement eligibility for certain reservists activated for at least 90 continuous days served since January 28, 2008. This change validates the principle that compensation should keep pace with service expectations and serve as an inducement to retention and sustainment of the operational reserve force.

Guard/Reserve mission increases and a smaller active duty force mean Guard/Reserve members must devote a much more substantial portion of their working lives to military service than ever envisioned when the current retirement system was developed in 1948.

Repeated, extended activations make it more difficult to sustain a full civilian career and impede Reservists' ability to build a full civilian retirement, 401(k), etc. Regardless of statutory protections, periodic long-term absences from the civilian workplace can only limit Guard/Reserve members' upward mobility, employability and financial security. Further, strengthening the reserve retirement system will serve as an incentive to retaining critical mid-career officers and NCOs for continued service and thereby enhance readiness.

As a minimum, the next step in modernizing the reserve retirement system is to provide equal retirement-age-reduction credit for all activated service rendered since Sept. 11, 2001. The current law that credits only active service since January 28, 2008 disenfranchises and devalues the service of hundreds of thousands of Guard/Reserve members who served combat tours (multiple tours, in thousands of cases) between 2001 and 2008.

The statute also must be amended to eliminate the inequity inherent in the current fiscal year retirement calculation, which only credits 90 days of active service for early retirement purposes if it occurs within the same fiscal year. The current rule significantly penalizes members who deploy in July or August vs. those deploying earlier in the fiscal year.

It is patently unfair, as the current law requires, to give three months retirement age credit for a 90-day tour served from January through March, but only half credit for a 120-day tour served from August through November (because the latter covers 60 days in each of two fiscal years).

In addition, the law-change authorizing early reserve retirement credit for qualifying active duty served after 28 Jan 2008 severed eligibility for TRICARE coverage until the reservist reaches age 60."

Read the full Military Coalition Armed Services Statement:

Other Helpful Links

Early Retirement Talking Points:

Congress Overlooking Reserve Sacrifice Prior to 2008:

Contact Your Legislatures: