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'A Grotesque Bloating'

February 26, 1985

Upon reading your editorial (Feb. 18), "A Grotesque Bloating," it makes me wonder as to just who is "bloated" and equally "grotesque"--the writer or the subject of government pensions.

It is again, during these comparatively peaceful times, the time for those so inclined to take their best shots at the military, both active and retired. There is little bleeding, violent death, imprisonment, sudden dislocation, family separation, etc., thus the immediate accusation that the "huge civilian comparable" salaries are not being justifiably earned.

Something that is rarely, if ever, mentioned is the plain fact that this "generous retirement plan," "health benefit plan," and "other privileges" are indeed available to almost every American. They need only to devote the required years of their lives to an honorable, controlled service whereby they sacrifice family life, union benefits, 40-hour weeks (or time-plus for overtime), weekends at their leisure, etc., and yes, their very lives when conditions so dictate.

Having opted to serve a military career spanning three wars, the resultant combat flying, Berlin Airlift and other operations too numerous to list, I find your attitude--one obviously shared with yet another equally misinformed person, Budget Director David Stockman--to be repulsive, to say the least, from ignorance at best, certainly not from fact.

If you are so envious or anxious to partake of this "gravy train" I will gladly make every effort to assist in gaining you the opportunity of enlisting, whereby you can then smugly flaunt your comparable pay and bloated privileges.

W.C. STICKLER

Arcadia

Bravo for your editorial, approving Budget Director Stockman's timely and much-needed assessment of the excesses of the military retirement services.

Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger's rebuttal that Stockman's remarks were "insulting and demeaning" seem self-serving. President Reagan commented that this program "is a little different than any other pension program." Sure is. It's a sacred cow that should be retired (without pension) and revived in a form that is fiscally logical and socially equitable.

LOUISE HAUTER

La Canada

I am on vacation here with my family and just read your editorial.

As many others, you paint a false picture of the military retirement system, based upon misinformation and words that are easily misinterpreted.

I have spent 22 years in the Air Force. If I retire tomorrow, I will take a 70% pay cut. I do not get 50% of my pay as you state. But, in any case, I cannot afford to retire. My daughter is starting college in September. Get another job, you say? Doing what? I am 22 years out of college. The military has not allowed me to keep my skills current. What should I do, to compete in today's job market? Perhaps middle management is the answer. How many companies do you know that hire middle managers outside the company?

Let's be honest. The military retirement system is a payoff for being treated like dirt for 20 plus years. And, believe me, it's not enough. I moved and bought a house with an 18% mortgage. I don't have any dental coverage; my daughter's braces came out of my pay. If my family gets sick, they go to a public health hospital with the welfare folks. Every three or four years, my children leave their friends and start over. The list could go on, but I'm sure you see the point.

My retirement, what there is of it, is not a grotesque bloating. It's partial compensation for being treated like garbage for 20 years while defending you and your freedom.

Believe me, the price is right!

CHARLES LaBLONDE

Chelmsford, Mass.

Until the American people have the courage to man our nation's defense with their children the military retirement system will appear bloated. If high school graduates were drafted into the Army for two years the large pay raises wouldn't be necessary.

The military is in competition with private industry for young workers. Large pay raises may sway some people into joining the military. With a draft no large pay raises would be necessary, therefore the cost of retirement would go down.

Most articles written about the military retirement system conveniently forget a few facts. The serviceman's pay is taxed, both while on active duty and during retirement. The retiree also carries with him a set of orders that tell him where he is to report to in case of national emergency. And, here is the most important reason why the retirement system should not be changed. For 20 or more years the serviceman was always ready to go where ever America needed him. Unlike some, this man didn't avoid the draft.

To cheat this man would be to cheapen our self-worth in a way that may result in our forces not being manned in an emergency.

PETER L. ADAMSKI

Garden Grove

Your editorial calls for changes to the military retirement pay program. There is probably merit in examining the system, I agree. But Stockman's affront to the honor of the military retiree was not the way to start.

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