NORFOLK--Members of Congress have moved swiftly to restore an important benefit for military veterans.
The cost of living adjustment for veterans under the age of 62 was cut by one percent in the December budget deal. The House and Senate voted this week to restore it, and the measure now awaits the signature of President Obama.
National and local veterans organizations were quick to praise the move. But at the same time, they want more. They're concerned the bill does nothing to help new and future veterans who enlisted after January 1, 2104.
"The VFW does not feel that balancing the budget on the backs of veterans is something this country ought to do," said retired Navy sailor and Veterans of Foreign Wars member Ken Wiseman of Norfolk. "There is an obligation to take care of our veterans. It speaks to the soul of a nation."
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said he and fellow lawmakers will now wait for a report from a Congressional commission on military pay and benefits due in February, 2015.
"And I think what we will likely do is wait for that panel to come back with their recommendations and see whether they recommend a change to this or now not or whether they recommend other changes," said Kaine. "Then we'll be looking at a complete menue that's been thought about in a very deliberate way where stake-holders like the VFW had a chance to participate.
Kaine, along with the other five members of the Hampton Roads delegation--Mark Warner, Rob Wittman, Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Randy Forbes--all voted yes this week to restore the cost of living increase for current vets.