The new Chairman of the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), says he will be focused on improving the quality of life for service members, their families and veterans. But fiscal constraints and budget cuts will likely require a reduction in force to maintain their current quality of life. It seems clear that tighter budgets and force drawdowns - less people to do more missions - are in the military's future.
Being a retired Army National Guard Colonel with 28 years of service, Wilson has more military experience than most lawmakers. He earned his commission through Army ROTC at Washington Lee University. He served three years in Army Reserve before being transferred to the National Guard.
It looks like staying in the military may get tougher in the coming years. According to Wilson, servicemembers who want to make a career of the military should stay in shape and stay out of trouble since the armed forces will be looking to cut the fat from their personnel budget by reducing their personnel. The key to protecting careers will be to stay deployable, he said.
According to a recent Tom Philpott article, Wilson opposes the Secretary of Defense’s plan to raise TRICARE fees "modestly" for working-age military retirees, starting in fiscal 2012, and to raise fees automatically thereafter to match medical inflation. "I am looking at what can be done to avoid fee increases," Wilson said. But he will look at how military fees compare to other government plans.
Only time will tell exactly how committed to improving quality of life Congressman Wilson is. But for now there is hope.
Read Tom Philpott’s Military Update to learn more about Rep. Wilson’s plans for military personnel.