I served this great nation for over four decades. My fellow veterans and I are proud that our country was able to count on us. Now we're counting on the benefits we earned through our service. That's why I find it deeply troubling that some in Washington are considering a plan to cut veterans' benefits.
The proposal sounds innocent enough. It is called a "chained CPI" and is described by supporters as a more accurate means than the current inflation index for calculating cost-of-living adjustments. The chained CPI assumes that when the cost of something you typically buy rises, you just switch to another product.
But as so many veterans and seniors understand, this assumption is deeply flawed. Many veterans and seniors spend much of their money on basic goods such as health care and utilities that don't have lower-cost substitutes. For many veterans and people with disabilities, a chained CPI means we won't be able to keep up with inflation.
In other words, this proposal is not only illogical but also unfair. The chained CPI would cut benefits more each year, so that over our lifetimes, veterans, seniors, and our nation's most vulnerable citizens would lose thousands of dollars.
For millions of veterans, Social Security represents the cornerstone of financial well-being in our later years. The "longevity penalty" central to a chained CPI would hit Social Security recipients hard.
That's a far cry from the compassionate action of a grateful nation. We all appreciate the compliments public officials send our way. But we veterans know that both on the battlefield and in the political field, what matters most is not what people say but what they do. You can bet veterans will be watching closely to see if our representatives cut our benefits through a chained CPI.
Michael D. Spellman
Retired U.S. Army colonel