The Washington Post again this week carried a story about the Pentagon wanting to raise Tricare fees.  Currently, military retirees pay $460/year for family coverage; cost varies, of course, by status and family structure.  Compared to most civilian insurance plans, the amount is trivial.

One side of the issue is that my spouse and I spent a total of over 44 years working toward that benefit.  It was authorized as an incentive for the military to in some way make up for the months and years of working for low pay, for being on call at a moment’s notice to head toward base and play wargames or to put your life on the line in real war.  Some of use had it easier than others; most today don’t wonder if they’ll be called to a warzone, but when.

I distinctly recall my recruiter telling me that if I stayed for 20, there would be medical care for me and my family — space available.  Little did I dream, at the time, of space not being available.  Others don’t recall hearing the “space available”.  I don’t recall hearing “free”, but it was certainly presented as a benefit, not an option available for purchase.

The other side of the issue is that my 22 years in the Air Force gave me skills that could be parlayed into a comfortable income.  I came through those 22 years nearly untouched by the hardship and horror seen by some.  Both my husband I spent some time away from the family, but not the 300+ days per year that many do.  We did not serve in active war zones, but that too was a luck-of-the-draw item due to the time we were in service and the work we did.  So, could I be expected to pay for my health care?  Perhaps.  Looking from this perspective, I can support a needs-based schedule.

Then I look again.

First, I don’t trust our government bureaucracy to devise a realistic needs-based schedule.

Nor do I trust many GIs and former GIs not to attempt to circumvent it in any way possible; many were successful in their careers because of what they could get away with within the letter or intent of the law/regulation.

Then I think about the time I did spend away from the family, and that my spouse did.  And I think of those serving now, and the difficulties they and their families face, and ask whether our nation owes us for keeping our promises; whether or not we were called in time of war, we were there and ready.

I guess it comes down to what price we as a nation are willing to pay to maintain a military that is ready in all instances.  Are we willing to mortgage our future for the military of a size that may overwhelm our ability to pay for it, both in terms of current hardware and training and in future costs?

I’m willing to pay more for the level of care I receive now.  I don’t have a lot of faith that the level will remain as high as it is, given the needs of caring for those harmed by service in war zones.

So I’m still conflicted.   I see both sides, and don’t know where the “right” solution may be.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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