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Veterans monitoring reports of military retirement and compensation cuts

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Area veterans are closely monitoring reports that reforms in military retirement and compensation could be a part of efforts to avoid deeper cuts from defense spending.

About fifty percent of defense spending goes to military personnel and the military pension system represents a huge unfunded liability for the government.

With another round of sequestration fast approaching, the pentagon faces a further $21 billion cut in its 2014 budget.

And that has raised the issue of terms with the militaries personnel related costs.

However, Valley Congressman Tim Ryan feels there are other areas besides compensation that should be considered.

"I think there are weapons systems, there are other things that we can get into ultimately that would save us a lot of money over the long haul," Ryan said.

And Ryan adamantly opposes sequestration because it represents across the board cuts. "Sequestration is a foolish, foolish way to go about it because it treats everybody the same. Good programs bad programs both get cut the same, personnel all of these things. So we've got to make sure that we don't go into a second year sequestration because the cuts will be way too deep," Ryan said.

At the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission, Director Barry Landgraver says it could be detrimental if experienced personnel are lost.

"Our retention would be seriously affected. We need to have senior NCOs and senior officers that are willing to stay for a career," Landgraver said.

One of the proposed reform measures would have military personnel begin to contribute a percentage of their base pay to the retirement system. Another would eliminate civilian employee pensions for military retirees who return as government workers.

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