Letter to the Editor

Breaking the pension promise

As an active-duty member of the military, I was disappointed to read the Dec. 20 editorial “Pension panic” advocating reducing military retirement benefits. The military retirement is a defined-benefit pension earned by service members over the course of (at least) a 20-year career.  Surely, The Post would not advocate revoking a portion of the company match to a 401(k) plan after retirement. Renegotiating the terms of a pension after the service has been provided is an identical financial maneuver.

The fiscal rationale behind such changes also is suspect. According to the Defense Department’s actuary, since 1984, the department has made accrual payments to a retirement fund to pay for future pension obligations. The cost of current retirees, and serving members, has been largely funded by prior payments.

Finally, I am incredulous that The Post would call a 6.2 percent, $108,000 benefit reduction “teensy-weensy.” The 38-year-old sergeant first class cited in the editorial takes a job after military retirement because his pension pays him approximately 34 percent of what he used to earn, or about $25,000 a year. That’s just slightly above the poverty level for a family of four.  He cannot afford to retire.

Fundamentally, a pension is a promise. I struggle to understand The Post’s willingness to break that promise so casually.

Ennis Parker, Alexandria

The writer is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.

“Pension Panic” mocks the 1 percent reduction to working-age military members’ retirement pay cost-of-living raises as “teensy-weensy.” If so, why violate a commitment to veterans — who kept their commitment to our nation by serving 20 or more years — for such a paltry amount? Certainly, the $6 billion (over 10 years) could be found elsewhere.

Carl R. Huebner, Keswick, Va.

 
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