Letters to the Editor

A promise with an asterisk

As a military retiree myself, I read the BND article on TRICARE price increases with great interest.

The reporter interviewed an 89-year-old Air Force retiree who said his recruiter had promised him free health care for life when he enlisted, should he choose to make a career of it. The retiree went on to say, “It’s a screwed up mess,” now since “It’s supposed to be free.”

Evidently unable to get in touch with his recruiter, the reporter contacted the Military Officers Association of America to get the straight skinny.

A senior member of the MOAA staff denied the U.S. government ever made that explicit promise to recruits. He added, “The reality is what they were promised was access to health care for life.”

Knowing what I know now, the MOAA staffer’s comments may be closer to the truth from a policy perspective. That certainly doesn’t justify him calling the Air Force retiree a liar.

I enlisted in the Air Force in 1968. My recruiter also told me I’d be entitled to free health care in retirement if I decided to make the Air Force a career.

A friend of mine was an Air Force recruiter in the ’70s. He said healthcare for life was part of the standard spiel given to every potential recruit. If a recruiter told a potential enlistee about free healthcare I’d not expect the recruit to ask for the promise in writing.

A handshake was worth more back then.

Bill Malec, O’Fallon