Veterans urge lawmakers to restore full funding of pensions

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Updated: 1/10 7:47 am

ALBANY, N .Y. – Washington recently passed a bill that would cut part of the annual cost of living allowance for retired service men and women, and now some lawmakers are considering a repeal.

Washington D.C. lawmakers passed a budget in December 2013 that included cutting one percent from the annual cost of living allowance for retired service men and women, including the disabled.

Some local veterans are upset that the government isn't going to follow through with the promise it made to them.

"It saddens us so much, and it saddens me so much," New York American Legion executive director James Casey said.

Veterans are upset with the way Congress decided to balance the budget.

"Without even doing [it] face-to-face, they're just going to deduct it from his check," Casey explained.

Casey said it's wrong to balance the cost of running the country on the backs of those who faithfully served it.

"And now, for them to come back and cut it and take it away, I mean they didn't take anything away from anyone else," he said.  "It seems the veterans are the only ones that are getting a benefit cut."

Larry Eleby joined the U.S. Army in 1970.  He was promised a pension and devoted his life to serving the country.

"Went through the ranks as a surveyor, and then crossed into leadership positions," he said of his time in the military.

He retired as a first sergeant after 22 years of service.

"So, you're thinking all along that I'm going to have this promised to me,” he said. “I'm going to get this, my fellow veterans that I care about, they're going to get this."

Unless lawmakers repeal the cuts, many veterans won’t receive the pension they were promised. Many of them are under the age of 62.

Eleby fears the cut in funds could mean to some of his fellow veterans who rely on it.

"When you get on that fixed income, that's all you have," Eleby said. "[A cut] doesn't keep up with the cost of living. And so if you start going the other way, then the gap really widens." 

Eleby hopes New York congressmen hear his voice.

"We answered the call, okay," he urged.  "We went where we were required to go, we did what we were required to do, and we did it the best that we possibly could." 

And now, they want their country to do the same.

"So, we just simply ask for a little honor back to us," Eleby said.

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