In a visit with sailors in Naples, Italy, on Friday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that there should be no cut in benefits to military troops who are currently serving. “The line that I’m drawing is to say we are not going to impact those who are in the service.” However, he did say that the current system needs review and may change for future soldiers, sailors and airmen. “It’s really important we protect the benefits that were promised.”
This is encouraging news from the new Secretary of Defense. The Congressional mandated $350 million cuts in the Defense budget, along with the reports of various commissions and federal boards that recommend changing the current retirement system, have caused many current and prospective servicemembers to wonder about the future of military benefits. Talk about ending the current 20 year retirement system has caused tons of uproar and confusion amongst military members and their families.
Secretary Panetta's comments reinforce my own belief that most currently serving members are unlikely to see any change to their retirement structure. Any new changes that might occur are most likely to either apply to only new recruits, or possibly people who currently have very few years of service. While I always hoped I was right, every time I hear an official support my thoughts, it is a little more reassuring.