Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently responded to the tough questions he has faced since announcing the defense budget – specifically the plans to increase TRICARE fees and co-pays.
In his 'Chairman’s Corner' column Gen. Dempsey, explains that “there are no easy answers in cutting $487B from the budget.” He added that he is concerned about the possible negative impact that sequestration forced cuts will have, not only on pay and benefits, but also on our ability to “remain the best trained, best equipped, and best led military in the world.”
Gen. Dempsey also wrote that when creating the budget proposal, Pentagon leaders considered "all the cost variables." Adding, “pay and benefits account for more than 1/3 of the budget” and “health care costs in particular have increased from $19B in 2001 to $48B today.” Adding, “We had to act to slow this growth.”
The General’s column closed with the following:
“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we've heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for TRICARE in retirement. You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible”At one point in his column, Gen. Dempsey used the phrase “we intend to keep faith with our armed forces.” Based on the tough questions and feedback he has faced lately, it appears many retirees would disagree.