By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, June 24, 2015 – Questioners didn’t pull any punches during the Facebook town hall conducted by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this morning.
In his fifth social media town hall, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey was asked if proposed changes to the pay and compensation package were a betrayal of those who have served faithfully and their families.
The questioner said she has seen erosion in the military pay, retirement and commissary benefits.
‘Our Profession Runs on Trust’
“Our profession runs on trust, and keeping faith with the men and women who serve in uniform and their families is non-negotiable,” Dempsey said.
The chairman went on to stress that he and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have made it clear that any changes to military retirement must be grandfathered. Simply put, all currently serving service members would have the choice to retire under the present system or opt into the new system.
No one joins the military to get rich, the chairman said, but a fair pay and compensation system is needed to ensure the services can recruit and retain the best people even in a budget constrained environment.
‘We are Working to Balance Manpower Costs’
“In today’s difficult budget environment we are working to balance manpower costs with training, modernization and operation costs,” Dempsey said. “We’re doing it carefully and transparently, and we will continue to monitor fluctuations in cost of living to ensure our men and women in uniform remain fairly compensated.”
Changes have been proposed to the military retirement system as part of the proposed fiscal 2016 defense budget. If Congress approves the budget and President Barack Obama signs it, about 85 percent of all service members will receive some form of a portable retirement benefit, a Joint Staff official said.
Those who serve 20 years would receive 80 percent of the current pension, according to the official.
“They will also have the opportunity to achieve nearly equivalent or better retirement benefits when they reach retirement age through a series of defined contributions to their Thrift Savings Plan account with DoD TSP matching,” the official said.