Military Retiree Benefits Did the Government Keep Its Promise Thesis

Pages: 46 (12717 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

¶ … military retirees are entitled to the sheer enormity and the scope of the endeavor are so gigantic that it borders on the overwhelming. The United States government has a plethora of benefits that encompass the health, welfare and continued treatment of medical issues involving the service men and women throughout the Armed Forces. There are also numerous retirement benefits, for instance members of the U.S. military receive various health benefits, retirement and Social Security incentives and significant Cost of Living Adjustments. These benefits, among numerous others are part of an attractive package that military recruiters utilize to attract young men and women to serve in the armed forces.

The largest benefit of all is the G.I. Bill which provides for educational expenses for all active and retired military members. This Bill, passed in the 1940's essentially covers the cost of education for military members through the general revenue funds of the United States Government. The G.I. Bill in conjunction with the variety of benefits that military members retain due to their service constitutes promises and agreements that the Federal Government has made to the members of the military. These promises constitute a relationship between the Government and the military members. This portion of the Introduction will review the main benefits the Federal Government bestows upon those that serve in the Armed Forces.

Discussion

The main benefits of those that serve in the U.S. military extend from educational, financial and health care and medical benefits. There are numerous departments within the Department of Veterans Affairs that handle the plethora of benefits that all military personnel take advantage of. The first benefit is obviously, the pay the military retirees receive. According to the latest Department of Defense Military Officer Pay Schedule, those Military Officers that retire with significant service records and years of experience are eligible to retire with significant amounts of pay. Those retiring as officers with upwards of 20 plus years of service will receive approximately $11,000 in military pensions per month. This represents a significant amount of pension funds distributed to military retirees, in total; an individual qualifying for such amounts of retirement pay can aggregate upwards of over $130,000 in retirement pensions. In addition to the pensions that military retirees are entitled to there are other benefits in terms of insurance; the most important benefit is those that involve health and medical coverage.

In October 1996, Congress passed the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act, paving the way for the Medical Benefits Package plan, available to all enrolled veterans. The Medical Benefits Package emphasizes preventive and primary care, offering a full range of outpatient and inpatient services. In addition combat veterans returning from active military service may be eligible to receive free health care services and nursing home care for up to two years, beginning on the date of separation from active military service. This benefit covers all illnesses and injuries except those clearly unrelated to military service (common colds, injuries from accidents that occurred after discharge, disorders that existed before joining the military). Dental services are not included. The important designation within this section is the idea of "combat related" injuries. To this end the Veterans Administration has published several guidelines regarding the benefits that military veterans and retirees are entitled to regarding these various conditions.

The Veterans Administration has adopted several medical packages they offer to retirees and veterans. Each package contains numerous benefits and policy restrictions. The most commonly offered package is the Military Benefits Basic Package. This package contains provisions for a variety of conditions and offers coverage within a variety of contexts. The most common provisions within this package is Outpatient medical, surgical, and mental health care, including care for substance abuse; Inpatient hospital, medical, surgical, and mental health care, including care for substance abuse; Prescription drugs, including over-the-counter drugs and medical and surgical supplies available under the VA national formulary system; Emergency care in VA facilities; Emergency care in non-VA facilities in certain conditions: This benefit is a safety net for veterans requiring emergency care for a service connected disability or enrolled veterans who have no other means of paying a private facility emergency bill. If another health insurance provider pays all or part of a bill, VA cannot provide any reimbursement ("Military Advantage," 2010).

The Basic Benefits Package also provides for preventative care including immunizations, periodic medical exams, health care assessments and medical screening tests ("Military Advantage," 2010). This is only one example of the myriad of benefits that military retirees are entitled to. One other important benefit aspect and one that will be discussed within the Literature Review, is the Civilians Health and Medical Program from the Veterans Administration. This program was adopted shortly after the creation of Medicare to provide for those veterans and retirees to young to qualify for Medicare. In general the CHAMPVA program covers most health care services and supplies that are medically and psychologically necessary. Upon confirmation of eligibility, beneficiaries will receive program material that specifically addresses covered and noncovered services and supplies in the form of a CHAMPVA handbook ("Military Advantage," 2010). In addition to the health care and medical insurance the military retirees are entitled to receive there is yet another benefit related to health coverage that military veterans are entitled to receive. The United States military offers Life Insurance to all of its veterans and retirees.

This insurance is referred to as the "Servicemen's Life Insurance Guarantee." SGLI is a VA program that provides low cost group life insurance to members of the Uniformed Services, including commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cadets and midshipmen of the service academies. Members are automatically insured under Service members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) for the maximum amount of $400,000 unless an election is filed reducing the insurance by $50,000 increments or canceling it entirely. In addition the SGLI coverage now includes Traumatic Injury Protection. This coverage provides service-members protection against loss due to traumatic injuries and is designed to provide financial assistance to members so their loved ones can be with them during their recovery from their injuries. The coverage ranges from $25,000 to $100,000 depending on the nature of the injury ("Military Advantage," 2010). These benefits are only a sampling of the many benefits military retirees receive, to devote space to discussing all of the benefits would ultimately lead to an entire dissertation simply discussing the benefits for military retirees and their dependents. The advent of all these benefits has been the saving grace for countless disabled veterans and retirees. However, the creation of these benefits has lead to some to falsely claim they were "promised" certain benefits-namely, the access to free health care and that this access is "guaranteed." This is the problem that is the cornerstone of this dissertation. The main premise of these groups that argue from this standpoint is that the government "promised" that all veterans would have access to "free" healthcare after they served in the United States military.

However, after examining the massive body of work devoted to explaining the benefits as promulgated by the United States Veterans Administration it can be logically deduced that nowhere in any of the information does it say that access to "free" health care is in fact "guaranteed" and furthermore, it does not contain any language that creates or establishes the existence of a "promise" or "contract" between the military member and the various branches of service. However, this does not prevent these so-called "Veterans' Advocacy Groups" from filing suit, rallying veterans and falsely claiming the government violated its promise to all veterans. The remaining portion of this chapter will focus on the nature of this problem and what will be done to analyze it.

Nature of the Problem

The very nature of the problem presented within this thesis is the entire definition of the word "promise." The term "promise" typically has a universal connotation inherently expressed. However, there are some that are bent on continuously modifying this simple word in order to achieve a certain goal or objective. Currently within the United States there are numerous groups that are couching themselves as "Veteran Advocacy Groups" that are encouraging veterans-their target audience is disable veterans-to engage in litigation against the various branches of the United States Military and the Department of Defense under a "breach of contract" theory claiming the Defense Department was willfully negligent in their violation of the "contract" that was established between the military and the service member to provide for certain benefits after their time of service was completed.

These group's typically produce claims that convey the story of an individual who most likely served upwards of 20 years in the Army, Navy or Air Force and is significantly disabled and ultimately was denied access to a physician under the auspices of "free" health care from the Veterans Administration. Although these arguments are emotional and pull at the very fabric of which we are as Americans, they lack… [END OF PREVIEW]

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