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Reversing course, Congress restores military pension increases

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers restored a 1 percent cut to the cost of living adjustment to veterans’ pensions.

Veterans groups argued against the cuts, concerned about their impact on veterans whose costs are above and beyond their Veterans Affairs benefits packages.
REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
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Some veterans need to buy special beds to deal with service injuries, for example, but VA programs only provide for twin beds — individuals have to pay for anything bigger than that. Between 2008 and 2011 when there wasn’t a cost-of-living increase in pension rates, “that is pretty hard for some of our veterans … Not having that cost of living hurts.”

“It’s something that we frown on, that the government would not ensure cost of living for our veterans,” he said.

But some congressional budget writers and outside groups argue this plan would have only nicked what’s become a growing part of the federal budget: compensation costs for veterans. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, who proposed the cut, voted against undoing it this week, arguing, “[compensation costs] are taking resources away from training and modernization — and putting our troops at risk. This bill takes away over $6 billion from military readiness.”

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Rep. Tim Walz

“They kind of feel like they paid their co-pays and their share in Kandahar and Baghdad or back to Vietnam,” he said. “But they say, if we have to do more, just let us know and ask us on this. And the answer might be yes. But on this one, it felt to them like it was snuck on in the middle of the night, it went through on a must-pass bill where a lot of people were forced to vote on it.”