Gambling on Wall St. With a Soldier’s Retirement

By C. Arthur Reavis

The Department of Defense (DoD) is planning on privatizing the existing retirement system for current and future recruits. This plan is the brainchild of the Defense Business Board (DBB) and its chair, Richard V Spencer. Spencer is the former President of Crossroads Investment Management LLC, a venture capital and private equity firm. The whole DBB is comprised of big shots in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).  The DBB is spinning this new plan as being “fair[er]” than the existing retirement system. Currently a soldier vests after 20 years of service to get 50% pay. The new plan is modeled after private sector 401k plans, it would vest a soldier sooner. The new plan would also provide for slightly higher contributions from the DoD for hazardous/hardship tours. But the new plan would allow the military to limit contribution to rates similar to that of private sector 401k’s (about 4-12% annually) and supposedly help control recruitment levels.
It would also enrich a few bankers and corporate elite while financially straining our troops and their morale. 

Is it fair to change a soldier’s retirement contract mid-career? Isn’t it fairer to give that soldier the retirement package that was offered when they signed up? Additionally, why should a soldier HAVE to contribute to their retirement at all? Haven’t they EARNED it every day, especially after 20 years of service?

This new plan also places the money the DoD contributes along with a soldier’s MANDITORY contribution in the hands of Wall St. thugs. (Yes thugs, these are the very people who crashed OUR housing market and have consistently fought every piece of common sense regulation that they see.) However, it does not allow a soldier to collect that money (except for education or business acquisition loans) until the soldier reaches Social Security age.

There is absolutely no comparing a private sector job to the duties that our soldiers perform. Yet, now there is a push to do just that: privatize our Military’s retirement system so some banker can buy another luxury item, avoid taxes and screw the working and middle-class more.

Congress and Obama can’t bear to raise taxes on the top 1% of income earners or implement a minimum 20% corporate tax, ( that’s GE & Bank of America no more tax holidays under a minimum corporate tax) but they can literally bleed the lower and middle classes: on and off the battlefields.

Bush started two completely bogus ground wars and Obama is following suit. Yes we were attacked on 9/11, but by a terrorist organization: not Iraq or Afghanistan. 9/11 was a crime, not a call to war. The brave lives of our service people are to protect our freedoms, not to be used as tools for the MIC or Wall St. Yet that is how our politicians view them: as tools for corporate gain, so those very corporations can keep filling their re-election coffers. Now that’s not enough! Wall St. is now going after one of the last benefits a soldier has: retirement. We the citizens need to say ENOUGH DAMN IT!

Please contact your representatives in both chambers of Congress and DEMAND that the retirement system NOT be changed for current soldiers. And while you’re at it…truly support our neighbors in the Military and demand that ALL troops come home NOW!



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