Sens. Begich (D-Alaska) and Tester (D-Montana) Join Veterans to Introduce Report
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Jon Tester (D-Montana) today released a first-of-its-kind report entitled Social Security: Serving Those Who Serve Our Nation showing the critical importance of Social Security to the nation’s veterans and their families. The Senators were joined by a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Dabney Montgomery, from New York. The report was prepared by Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign and is co-sponsored by ten veterans’ organizations.
“Cutting vital social security benefits is not an option for Alaska,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska). “We aren’t talking about summer homes and luxury vehicles. For many, Social Security is a primary source of income that puts food on the table, pays energy bills and helps make ends meet. Current talk about cutting social security benefits and destabilizing the economic security of our veterans undermines the sacrifices they have made for our nation. It’s a disservice our veterans don’t deserve.”
“This report tells us what Montanans already know—that hardworking folks across the country, including our veterans, can’t afford to weaken Social Security,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), Montana’s member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Some politicians think the way to balance the budget is to cut veterans’ benefits, or services like Social Security and Medicare. They’re wrong. We can responsibly cut spending while honoring our promises to those who’ve served. That’s a Montana value, and that’s what I’m fighting for.”
In featuring case studies of retired veterans, severely disabled veterans and young widows and children, all of whom depend on Social Security for between 40 percent and 70 percent of their income, the report highlights the personal stakes that veterans and their dependents have in the program. Veterans and family members of service members state strongly in the report that political leaders should restore fiscal discipline without going back on this country’s promises to veterans, including the promise of Social Security. Every dollar of their Social Security benefit counts, they said. Any reduction would mean real sacrifices in their standards of living and income security.
Among the report’s findings are:
Thirty-five percent of adult Social Security beneficiaries are veterans and their families.
Since Social Security is the primary income source for many veterans and their families the Senators urged their colleagues not to cut Social Security benefits.
“Social Security remains a vital promise made to all Americans, veterans and non-veterans alike,” said Douglas K. Vollmer, Associate Executive Director for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Policymakers willing to consider benefit cuts simply do not understand the role that Social Security disability insurance plays in supporting veterans with disabilities and their families. Nor do they understand how important Social Security is and will be for retired veterans. This is not just a political issue, it’s personal for millions of Americans.”
The study is co-sponsored by leading veterans’ organizations including American GI Forum; Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.; Blinded Veterans Association; National Association of American Veterans; National Military Family Association; Paralyzed Veterans of America; Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO; VetsFirst, a program of United Spinal Association; Vietnam Veterans of America; and VoteVets.org. The full report can be found here.