November 24, 2011 Issue


Changes in military retiree health benefits

Dear Editor:

I am not sure how many veterans live in the local area but as the wife of a soldier who served for 22 years I am disgusted with the new proposed changes to the retiree health benefits.

They are trying to now charge for benefits that were promised to these retired soldiers when they entered the service. They are saying that the military retirement and benefits needs to be more in tune with the civilian sector.



It may surprise some of you to know that lower enlisted soldiers E-1ís thru E-5ís with a family can actually qualify for food stamps. Some people think, oh the military gets all these benefits and health care but nothing about the military is like the civilian sector.

Civilians are not required to put their lives at risk, they are not required to leave their families for a year or longer while being put in harmís way. They are not required to pull up their families and move every three years, pulling their children out of school and away from friends.

Some may say well they donít have to do it, but ask yourself where would our country be if they didnít. Unless you or someone you know has served in the military you cannot appreciate the sacrifices that are made by not only our soldiers but by their families.

For the soldier it means serving 24 hours a day, being ready to move at any given moment. Soldiers donít get paid by the hour like private sector jobs; their pay is the same regardless of the number of hours they work in a week. They are asked to lay down their life for the freedoms that we enjoy and their families are left behind to worry and pray for their safe return. I know how that feels, I have endured the heartaches of separations, and I have had sleepless nights worrying if everything was ok.

Donít get me wrong, I am not against retirees or veterans helping out and doing their part but when you allow even small changes to be made to benefits that were promised to these men and women when they came into the service, not only are you breaking promises but you are opening up for even more changes and more loses of benefits later down the road.

So I ask, is Congress willing to take a cut in their pay? Are they willing to pay more for the healthcare and benefits that they receive? A Congressman with 20 years of service can retire at 50 with at least 80 percent of their last three highest year salary earnings.

I have not heard one of our elected officialís say that they are willing to take a cut in their pay or retirement or that they are willing to pay more for their healthcare to help out our country. They sit up there in their comfy offices, and make decisions that affect our lives and usually in a negative way.

I never thought that I would ever lose faith in my government but I have and I donít think I am alone in the way that I feel. I wonder if the average American is aware that Congress is paid out of taxpayer dollars. The Speaker of the House earns about $223,500 a year.

House and Senate Majority Leaders earn around $193,000 a year. We pay the 541 members of congress an average of $95.8 million dollars a year, however when you add in perks like their jam up health care plan, their travel, security details and personal spending accounts, from the research I have gathered for FY2010 those things add up to an additional $4.66 billion in taxpayer funds.

These amounts do not even include the amounts paid to members who are retired already. So hey, Congress is sitting on the high horse as I see it, and I ask why do they get paid so much to do so little?

I say if President Obama and Congress want to cut Federal spending then start from the top. If the average pay in America is $38,500, then that is what the members of Congress need to be paid for their time. If the average amount of credit available to a family is $10,000, then that is the amount of personal spending the members of Congress should be allowed to have. If the cost of health care per person in America is $8,500, then that is what the Congress should pay into the system for their health care.

We all know that will never happen but look at the differences in their pay and benefits and the average American or Military retiree and tell me where cutbacks should start.

I urge all military retirees to write to their state representatives and congress and tell them that you are against these changes in retiree healthcare, if you served your time them you deserve to get what was promised to you and they should make good on contracts that you signed.

Tamera Gaskin

Get informed, stay informed

Dear Editor:

I am writing to share my growing concerns regarding how our local government is being run or managed. Romans 13:17 reminds us that governments are established by God for the good of the people. It only stands to reason that Godly people should be holding office or be involved in government in any way.

As citizens of Jefferson County, we must make every effort to get informed, stay informed and get involved! With all the other responsibilities we juggle, it can be difficult to stay informed about national happenings even with the media, but even harder to stay informed on local issues, particularly when they are so secretive about what is going on in the county and seem to do things behind our backs.

I think it is our responsibility as a citizen, a parent, a voter or just as a Godly influence in our county to get involved and educate ourselves and others on what it should take to hold office in our city and county government. I am troubled by the waste, mismanagement and failure of leadership that is taking place on a number of levels in our national, state and local government. How is it possible for our business and community leaders, the people who have been appointed to serve on our boards and committees to stand by and allow this to continue?

Are the current board and committee members here in Jefferson County liable to all of us? I believe it is time we all take a deep look at how our county and city is being operated. We should have people in office, serving on our boards and committees that are wise, responsible individuals with total accountability and transparency regarding how revenue is being used and spend in the county and city.

These organizations should give the public detailed information. I believe the public has a right to know the details. Many of us have questions and answers are needed.

One of my major concerns right now is the question about the re-zoning of this property located on U.S. 319 in Wadley. We have been told this land was purchased by the Development Authority of Jefferson County for another industrial park over a year ago. Why?

There are two other industrial parks already in Wadley. They said they had money they had to spend on another industrial park in the southern end of the county. Why?

The land is zoned agriculture-residential. That is why land is zoned in the first place, to keep such as this from happening. That is why we have zoning in place for this kind of project. We already have existing industrial areas for this so what is the purpose of zoning ordinances if this is to be allowed? Why would you come into the middle of a residential Ėagricultural area and think it would be fine with the residents of this area and why would a zoning board even consider this appropriate?

Why should the residents have to endure this when it would have made more sense to go where there is other industry already? Has our Jefferson County Zoning Board been hustled by the greatest salesmen in Jefferson County?

We shall see.


Julia Hall

Community proud of improvements

Dear Editor:

On Nov. 7 the community of Rufus Wrenís Subdivision, thatís known as Wrens Quarters, gained its historical name back. The subdivision was established in the mid and late 1960s.

The community of Rufus Wrenís Subdivision had signs placed up along with neighborhood watch signs.

Rufus Wrenís Subdivision community, Commissioner Johnny Davis and the County of Jefferson have merged together to keep the community clean once a quarter, four times per year. The community held a meeting every second Monday of the month at Louisville Library at 7 p.m. to continue improvement for the community.

The community thanks each and everyone for their support.

Carrie Brown


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