Sharing the Burden
By J. MICHAEL McGRATH, National President
One of the cornerstones of the
Navy League mission is “to
improve the understanding and
appreciation of those who wear the
uniforms of our armed forces and
to better the conditions under
which they live and serve.”
That aspect is more important
today than ever, as the specific
financial, emotional and physical
challenges facing our service members and their families are overshadowed by an economic crisis
that affects all Americans.
It is our job as Navy Leaguers to
make sure our legislators, our community leaders, our neighbors do
not let our service members slip off their radar screens.
Compensation, health care, affordable housing, and
educational and training opportunities all feed into a
satisfying quality of life and a rewarding military
career, and are key to recruiting and retaining dedicated, qualified professionals.
It is important that our men and women in uniform
be given the tools they need to be as successful on the
home front as they are on the battlefield. They need to
be made aware of the financial planning and money
management assistance offered by the Navy, Marine
Corps and Coast Guard, as well as civilian agencies.
The sharp rise in home foreclosures has not left
service members unscathed, yet active-duty personnel
may not know about options other than bankruptcy,
that they can gain some relief and protection under the
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Sailors, Marines and
Coast Guardsmen and women should not have to carry
their financial burdens into battle.
Also in the financial arena, we must push for annual pay raises of at least 3 percent, commensurate with
salary increases in the civilian sector, and provide
retention incentives in the areas of education, retirement benefits, child care and health care.
The physical and emotional well-being of our service members is another primary concern. Many of our
wounded veterans will bear the scars — mental and
physical — for the rest of their lives. The nation’s
responsibility to those wounded in its service does not
end when medical support is completed.
It appears the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) feels
the same way. Acting Comptroller
General Gene Dodaro on Nov. 6
unveiled a list of 13 “urgent issues”
that need the immediate attention
of the Obama administration and
the 111th Congress.
Among the issues requiring
“urgent attention and continuing
oversight to ensure the nation’s
security and well-being” is caring
for service members, with particular emphasis on timely and accessible medical care for those return-
ing from combat.
On its 2009 Congressional and Presidential Transition Web site, the GAO notes that “identifying and
treating service members for specific combat-related
health conditions, providing timely and accessible disability services and addressing continuity of care issues
are critical challenges facing our nation and will require
sustained attention, systematic oversight by the
Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and sufficient resources.”
For more information about the transition Web site,
or to find answers to military personnel financial questions and concerns, visit the Service Member Resources
section of www.navyleague.org.
As the United States transitions to a new administration and Congress, and continues to grapple with
financial hardships and uncertainties, we must not lose
sight of the unique challenges facing our military men
and women and their families. They proudly bear the
burden of our national safety and security, so we must
do our part to ease their burdens at home.
One Mission — One Team