Letters to the Editor

June 22, 2014

Lt. Col. Melvin J. Ladousier: Military benefits were earned

I would like to respond to Tom Slear’s commentary “Military benefits too generous” (Perspective, June 12). I am a college graduate who entered service as a second lieutenant at a base pay of $350 per month when my contemporary graduates were starting civilian careers at $500-plus per month with companies that provided benefits and retirement programs.

I spent 20 years on active duty, separated from family in short increments totaling roughly six years.

I flew only four operational missions, and never into a war zone. While my contemporaries, who left service after their initial commitment of six years, were earning six-figure salaries working 15 days a month and receiving lavish union benefits, I continued to serve my country for a third of their compensation.

Upon retirement, I received 50 percent of my base pay, which was about 66 percent of full pay, and have to pay 100 percent of dental, vision and hearing treatments along with a $550 health insurance premium and co-pays for services and prescriptions.

Those “substantial” benefits were earned. Service personnel pay into their benefit package in the form of sacrificed compensation, sacrificed family stability and sometimes in blood. Unlike federal legislators who retire at 100 percent pay and benefits on the taxpayer dime. Locally, our former county chief executive retired with 100 percent-plus pay. No one is worth 100 percent pay in retirement. Slear’s view is very narrow-minded to say the least.

Lt. Col. Melvin J. Ladousier, USAF Retired, Merced

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