Betrayal of the Old Retired Military Veteran

Bend OverBy Charles Henderson

Betrayal by the United States Government of its Retired Military Veterans just keeps getting worse. I spent more than two decades in the United States Marine Corps, and when I retired in 1993 with full benefits for myself and my wife and other dependents if I had any, we were guaranteed full medical benefits for life.

I enrolled in Tricare Prime, an unpleasant surprise just before retirement, because the Department of Defense had decided that Military Retirees ought to at least pay some sort of premium for medical benefits since the DOD saw fit to farm out medical care coverage of Active Duty and Retired Military to civilian medical care insurance companies. A way of saving money. So, I went from nothing to paying a small premium for annual coverage for my whole family. My last premium that I paid this year, yes this year, and that is important to remember, was $413.00. It provided for hospitalization, doctors visits, medicines, the whole ball of wax basically.

I tuned 65 years old this year, August 26. In May, I received a letter announcing to me that on August 1, 2013 I would no longer have military medical benefits through Tricare Prime. I would be moved to Tricare for Life. I am ordered to enroll in Medicare Part A, which I had already paid for with my decades of Medicare Taxes, and Medicare Part B, which requires an adjustable premium, based on how much the Medicare eligible recipient earns in the tax year. Some unlucky souls can pay as much as $246.00 per month, and the lowest of the low end is $105.10 per month.

Hold on a minute,” I protested. “What about my guaranteed Medical Benefits for Life that I earned by risking my life and limb for my country for more than two decades? How come I am now getting hosed for Part B medical coverage, which only covers seeing a doctor, and covers only me, for the tune of $630.60 every six months, or $1261.20 per year, when I paid $413.00 per year for myself and my whole family, and that covered everything!!!?”

Sorry, but you got “hosed” by President Bill Clinton in 1997 when he declared the “Peace Dividend.” Part of that “Peace Dividend” was Clinton kicking all honorably retired U. S. Military Retirees out of Tricare Prime–robbing them of their earned benefits–and forcing them into Medicare Part A and B. And they pay the Medicare Premiums! It is as if the Retired Military Member never served a day.

Oh, Tricare for Life works as a “supplemental” insurance, in case Medicare A and B don’t quite get it all. Almost the same as nothing.

I took this to Congressman Doug Lamborn, our United States Representative for the 5th Congressional District of Colorado. He offered me sympathy and agreed, that it was not right. It is the “Age Penalty” tax charged to all military retirees when they turn 65. Even if you do not collect Social Security–which I do not collect–we still pay the stinking premium or we get no medical care at all.

The cause I took up was for Congressman Lamborn to author a bill, an amendment to the Military Authorization Act for this coming budget, or maybe even next year, and give back to all Military Retirees aged 65 and older who were robbed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, by the same Military Authorization Act of that year. I would think that a Republican Congressman would jump at the chance to do something righteous for the Retired Military Veteran. After all, we gave the best parts of our lives to this nation!

Congressman Lamborn said he would look into it. A staff member in Washington, DC, name Keith, called me. I expressed my frustrations, and he sympathized with me. I proposed that instead of penalizing Military Retirees when they turn 65, keep them in the Tricare Prime program, let them keep paying the same premiums that all Active Duty and Retired Military under 65 years of age pay. And have Medicare Taxes, which all the military active and retired pay, and have paid for decades, transferred to the Department of Defense for the supplementation of Tricare benefits. Yes, he said that sounded like a good idea.

Then, Keith called me back. He said he had words with the Veterans Administration, which has absolutely NOTHING to do with retired military medical care, but everything to do with disabled veterans care (and I am 30-percent disabled) and the Veterans Administration Disability Medical Benefits earned by Disabled Veterans is not affected. My brother who is fully disabled from Agent Orange disability, gets full medical benefits, doctors office visits and all medications with zero premiums to pay and because he is Disabled under VA, he does not use his Medicare A or B or anything, nor does he have to pay.

At any rate, Keith called back and said he spoke to the VA about the issue (I smell a lie) and that there is nothing that Congressman Lamborn can do at this time.

“Don’t you see,” said Keith, “during this time of sequestration, Congressman Lamborn cannot go to Congress and ask them to fund something? Not when we are cutting everywhere else.”

I tried to argue that it is not asking for additional funding of anything, but simply giving back what Bill Clinton robbed from Retired Military Veterans, and stop them from getting Penalized for Being Old!!!

Very quickly I realized it was useless. The politicians give us lip service, and little else. They proclaim how they stand up for our Military Warriors, but in truth they cut our bloody throats!

Only days after I had my kiss off from Keith, I saw in the news that Department of Defense had given Full Benefits—Medical and the whole nine yards—to gay married members. They also extended other services and benefits, costing millions more.

I felt the hose slide in deeper.

On August 1, I enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. The woman who enrolled me at the Social Security Administration said that in a few months I would get a bill for the first quarter premiums. Oh, and by the way, when I enrolled, as I sat in the Social Security Administration outer waiting area, waiting my turn into the bureaucratic termite mound that is the SSA office, I counted 200 people waiting with me. All there regarding their Social Security Benefits. Most of the people were young, in their 20s and 30s. For the most part they looked like they lived in boxes somewhere, dressed in baggy pants, tattoos, flat billed caps, chains, heavy smokers. There were two people visibly disabled, and they were both in their late middle ages, not young or able bodied at all. There were 10 people, I counted them, who looked like they were in their 60s or older, Social Security eligible ages. The rest were young, appearing able bodied, and scummy looking, there to get disability benefits, I am sure. Oh, and all of them had cell phones. Yes, cell phones. Part of the free benefits given deadbeats who choose to not work these days.

Anyway, the Social Security Administration representative that I saw told me I would get a bill that would cover the first quarter of my Part B coverage in about three months. October, I thought.

Today, in the mail, I received my Medicare Part A and/or Part B premium bill, covering 08/01/2013 to 12/31/2013, and the amount is $524.50. It is due no later than 09/25/2013.

The top on my bottle blew its cork. The hose just went in all the way.

My first thoughts were of Congressman Doug Lamborn, and his words of encouragement to me. And then Keith came to mind. Then I looked at the bill once more.

It covers just me, and only covers me going to the doctor. What a rip-off. What a hose job! Yes I feel thoroughly betrayed.

I retired in 1993 with the belief that I had medical benefits for myself and my family for life. I had put my life at stake and that was one of my rewards. Solid medical care. I did not have to worry!

Think again. They robbed me four years after I retired and did not even have the decency to tell me that the train was coming. They don’t tell anyone. When someone is sticking a knife in your back, they don’t tell you about it before they do it.

Nobody cares that most military retirees live only 20 years after retirement. That means that most don’t even draw Social Security and most never use Medicare Part A or B. I am one of the retirees askew who have survived 20 years beyond my retirement. Yes, this year, on July 1, 2013 I was 20 years retired from the Marine Corps. Still alive.

But darned if I am not angrier than ever. Totally betrayed by the country that I spent the best part of my adult life defending. Defending at risk of my life and my limbs.

Congressman Lamborn, come election time, don’t come asking for my support. Nor should you ask for the support of any other Military Veteran. You aided and abetted the screwing we all got.

 ©Copyright 2013 Charles W. Henderson 

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