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Family groups to rock Twitter over COLA rollbacks

Jan. 7, 2014 - 08:34PM   |  
(Twitter)
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Military families and advocacy groups angered by a planned rollback in military retirement pay increases will take to the Twittersphere Tuesday to protest the initiative.

The #KeepYourPromise Twitter town hall, scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, aims to stir up support for overturning a section of the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act that reduces the annual cost of living adjustment to retired pay for military retirees under age 62 by 1 percentage point a year.

Military support organizations, including the Military Officers Association of America, Association of the United States Army Family Readiness and the National Military Family Association, have thrown their weight behind the movement, which came together in December after the House passed the legislation.

“[Currently serving and retired military families] correctly surmise that this step is only the beginning, and if they don’t speak up now, more attacks on the all-volunteer force will surely be easier to accomplish,” said retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, MOAA president.

A similar event on Dec. 14 — two days after the bill passed the House and just days before the Senate also approved it — generated 44,327 tweets.

“The landscape of voicing your concern to Congress has changed,” said Jennifer Pilcher, CEO of the website MilitaryOneClick.com. “In the past, Americans had to call, write, or go to the capitol to get attention ... #KeepYourPromise has provided a mechanism where national supporters can finally be heard.”

The capped COLAs would kick in starting in December 2015. The provision would save $6 billion, according to the legislation.

But whether it ever takes effect remains to be seen. Several lawmakers already have introduced proposals to undo the COLA reduction before it is enacted. And a plan to ensure that the reduction does not affect troops retired for medical reasons seems all but assured.

Military advocacy groups say the change breaks faith with troops who chose to become military professionals at a time when the country was embroiled in its longest wars.

“A 20-percent reduction in retired pay and survivor benefit values is a very substantial cut in military career benefits and does not represent good faith to our men and women in uniform,” Ryan said.

The #KeepYourPromise event, which will live-stream on Facebook’s Spreecast, will feature moderators including retired Army Col. Mike Barron, MOAA government relations deputy director; Air Force veteran and Harvard Law National Security Journal editor Tony Carr; and Reda Hicks, an Army wife, attorney and partner at Diamond McCarthy LLP, Houston.

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