(9/30/09 Original) Barack Obama continues to amaze, and not in a good way. In the Anchorage Daily News last week:
In a strongly worded message to Congress outlining presidential priorities for a military spending bill, the Obama administration said Friday it disapproved of including money for pensions for 26 elderly members of the World War II-era Alaska Territorial Guard.
We can take over the entire healthcare system, but yet not afford to honor the commitment made to 26 elderly members of the Alaska Territorial Guard who patrolled the Aleutian Islands and Alaskan Coast after they were attacked by the Japanese?
This is incredible, just incredible. Why don’t you go ahead and spit in their face. It’s only $600 a month! Honor your commitment to these veterans! Their reasons?
A Senate military spending bill up for a vote in the Senate allows the former Guard members to count their service as part of active military duty, and it reinstates the pension payments.
State lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year to fill the pay gap until Congress made a permanent fix, but the White House said Friday it didn’t think it was "appropriate to establish a precedent of treating service performed by a state employee as active duty for purposes of the computation of retired pay."
They performed a invaluable service for the United States when we were at war, which by the way couldn’t be considered state service since Alaska was not yet a state, hello?
The Guardsmen are among those assigned to protect Alaska from the Japanese during World War II. The Army decided this year it would no longer count service in the Guard when it calculates the military’s 20-year minimum for retirement pay — although it still counts for military benefits. As a result, those eligible for pensions saw them decreased in January.
An estimated 300 members are still living from the original 6,600-member unit formed in 1942 to protect Alaska, then a territory, from attack. The 26 men have enough other military service to reach the 20-year minimum for retirement pay but would see it decreased if their Territorial Guard service doesn’t count.
Alaska’s Senators Murkowski (Republican) and Begich (Democrat) both condemn this action, and it should receive bipartisan condemnation. The state of Alaska is currently covering the pensions, and hopefully they will continue to. Former Governor Sarah Palin wrote a letter to Obama back in January about this, but evidently the Administration doesn’t listen to common sense arguments.
10/7/09 Update: The Senate passes a provision to reinstate these Vet’s pension. I’m curious if this needs action by the House or will it just be added in conference?