Gates Warns of Rising Health Care Costs

Health care and pension costs are putting an ever-increasing strain on the U.S. military says Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a recent interview with National Public Radio.

“The Defense Department runs the risk of the fate of other corporate and government bureaucracies that were ultimately crippled by personnel costs,” he said, “in particular, their retiree benefit packages.”

Military health care costs more than doubled in the past decade, accounting for 52.5$ billion in next year’s proposed budget, NPR reports. Retiree pay will cost another $50 billion.

Gates’ proposal to increase Tricare fees from $460 to $520 a year – a $5 monthly increase – has met stiff resistance from veterans such as retired Air Force Maj. Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The DOD tracks financial costs to the military without taking into consideration the human costs of serving in the armed forces, Davis says. ”They forget — and don’t put any value on — what it has cost the people to serve.”

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