Battle Stations: Sound the Collision Alarm NOW! 3

Military and Retiree Healthcare at Risk

After delaying almost all of its essential work until the last two weeks of the year, Congress has scrambled to pass a defense bill, pass annual appropriations, and extend unemployment benefits.

But fixing the biggest threat to military and retiree family’s healthcare access – stopping the January 1, 27% cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to doctors – seems to have slipped down on legislators’ priority list.

This is a huge deal.

Everyone in Congress wants to stop the cuts, but they’re still bickering over how to pay for it, and how long they can afford to delay the cut.

The Republican House-passed payroll tax extension bill included a two year fix, but Democrats opposed to offsets to pay for the bill, which included an even lengthier freeze of federal workers’ pay, among other things.

With time running short, it’s time to send your legislators a message asking them to work across party lines and reach a quick agreement to avoid a 27 percent cut that would devastate military and Medicare beneficiaries’ access to health services.

Two questions for you:

If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have noticed that health care for the Military and Retirees is under attack.

Do you belong to one of the major Veteran’s Groups?

If not, why not?

Use Your Voice, Raise the Alarm, and Get Involved


The slow and steady drumbeat of change has continued along the Potomac River. Leon Panetta has already begin softening the path for radical change in the retirement system.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a retired Army officer and military analyst, wrote in The Washington Post on Aug. 22 that the effect of the board’s proposed solution “would be to transform profession into trade, reducing long-serving officers and noncommissioned officers to the status of employees, valued as long as they are needed, expendable when they are not, forgotten the day they leave.”

The emphasis continues to be placed on two key arguments: fairness to the people who serve less than twenty years and costs

The first argument is disingenuous since any person has the opportunity to make a career of the military. This argument is purposely made to divide and conquer military personnel and their families away from the fact that a successful program is about to be  fundamentally destroyed.

The second argument about costs conveniently forgets that we need a long serving core of officers and skilled technicians to train the reserve forces in time of war and rapidly stem the threats of any enemies that try to surprise us (such as at Pearl Harbor).

Stay educated, communicate with your service organizations (American Legion, VFW, MOAA, FRA and so on). Finally, continue to educate the congress about why this is a very bad idea and very short-sighted in view of the very real dangers in the world.

 Mister Mac

Click on the link below to let your representative know that you will be watching very closely how they support and defend this country and its heroes.

I don’t care how old I get, there are a few sounds I can distinctly remember. The original Claxton diving alarm. The annoying replacement for that Claxton (was somebody mad at their dog the day they created that thing?) The sound of the vents opening on the first dive after an overhaul. And of course, the General Alarm for Battle Stations.

Normally the sound would only come after being awake working rebuilding a HPAC all night long. Or, if you were an electrician, cleaning the brushes on an MG set. You are tired, probably just cleaned the surface dirt off enough to be somewhat comfortable and you know you are going on watch in about an hour.

But you get up with the rest of the crew and race to the your  assigned Battle Station . Depending on where you are in the world and how expected the alarm may or not have been, your adrenaline gets pumping pretty hard. Your body, no matter how tired, reacts in the way you have trained on under the circumstances. Suddenly all that training about how to rig a submersible pump in the dark doesn’t seem so pointless.

There are steps that are required every time the crew goes to Battle Stations:

1. It is critical that each time the alarm is sounded, a sense of urgency is clearly communicated. This helps all hands see that immediate action is required and strategies for overcoming the chaos of a battle situation are being addressed.

2. A powerful guiding team is assembled and put in the right places. The best of the best get assigned to the key roles. The COB often takes the dive, all officer’s assume a role in the targeting party (except the DCA). You put your best and most accurate planesmen/helmsman on the sticks and top it off with a Chief of the Watch that’s unflappable. The hallmarks of this group are that they have a bias for immediate action, they have a honed communications ability, they are trustworthy by all members of the crew, they have the authority to act, and they are able to employ their analytical skills in rapid response to the emerging threat.

3. The guiding team quickly establishes the response to the threat. This is a combination of the longer term vision (we need to survive) and a pathway to overcome any threats that will cause the long-term vision to fail

4. Then that clear vision is communicated from the Commanding Officer on down. Soundpowered phones and face to face communications compliment the 1MC and engineering/weapons circuits. In order for the ship to operate as one fighting force, communication is absolutely critical

5. Once the controlling party is in place, the teams throughout the boat are empowered for action. Local leaders take up key roles and operate to contain any casualties or battle readiness issues under their immediate control. This means training and dedication of resources at all levels. These local teams address as many local issues as they are able and continue to feed information back to the control room party. Every person plays a key role. There are no riders on a sub crew (maybe some visitors from other commands, but other than that everybody plays).

6. Execution of the key actions and rapid adjustments in response to the results of those actions. The team is ready to answer all bells, answer any command, and bring victory to the long line of US Naval historical victories.

Today, you are once again being called to Battle Stations

No one can deny that our country has some large and looming financial problems. The phony promises of elected officials on both sides have brought us to a point where hard decisions need to be made. These same politicians are now saying that “nothing is left off the table.”

Really? What about the one Constitutional Obligation that actually exists that has been getting less attention than the ones that do not? Article 1 Section 8 clearly defines “provide for the common defence” “to define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high seas” “To provide and maintain a Navy”.

Now the siren song of unwise people is once again being heard. “Smaller Defence… big saving” “How many ship’s do we really need?” “A career force doesn’t need to be that big does it? I mean who are we at war with anyway?” “Look how much money we can save if we just cut back on medical and retirement costs”

There are 24 million veterans living in the United States. They are represented by associations like the American Legion, VFW, AMVETS, MOAA, FRA and on and on. Imagine the voice we have if we are acting in accord. Members of these groups have all  seen the results of and suffered to one extent or another of decisions made by ill-informed elected representatives with too many conflicting interests.

We must stand together and demand an accounting. The threats today are real and the ones coming in the future will challenge us to our core. But in order for Freedom to Stand, we must stand together. Contact your representatives, contact your associations, contact your friends. We have always been able to overcome those who would destroy freedom. But there is a price to pay for that.

By the way, I do have a novel way to solve many of our budget problems. Have Congress live under the same rules they legislate for others. You want to have a new health care program, fine. Live within your means and limit yourselves to the same program you would have your constituents. Revamp congressional pay and retirements first. Show us some leadership by taking the pain yourself before you inflict it on people who actually go out each day not knowing if they will be coming back that night. That would really show us you are sincere. Limit terms to a reasonable amount. No more career politicians (although frankly, if they lost their golden perks and pensions, I don’t think this would be much of a problem).

We have demonstrated in a real way we were willing to sacrifice much. I imagine we will be able to do so again. But it would convince me that our leadership was a bit more sincere if they actually made some sacrifices themselves.

Please pass it on while you are headed to your Battle Station.


  1. I agree with you 100%. The politicians in Washington got us in this mess. I also remember that we paid Egypt for their support for Desert Storm, by commuting their loans to us. I think that we could do some of that (commuting of our own debt), but by far the best solution is for Congress to apply for themselves a strict diet, eliminating the perks they get and re-structuring their pay. Just like in the boat “we are in this together and either we become fish food or we surface vicitorious!”

  2. I served 17+ years on active duty and over 12 in Reserve only to have my I’d and privledges revolked and be placed in something called the “Honerary Retired Reserve”. I can’t even go to the base commisary or exchange any more. I’ve written everyone I could think of and have never ever received a reply. I’ve heard the General Alarm hundreds of time in the service of my Country but now I am forgotten. Bitter? Yes I am!

    • Chief
      Thank you for your service. I am not sure what state you live in but I know in Pennsylvania every Congressman has local offices and staff. Is it possible for you to set up an appointment with one of those offices? This is an election year. Every congress person will be up for reelection and the time to get their attention is now. Are you eligible to join the FRA? They are advocates for the retired community and may have some advice. FRA helps shipmates solve individual career and entitlement problems, working with TRICARE, DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other government agencies to cut through red tape and find solutions. The American Legion also has service officers that can assist its members to find their way through the maze. Please let me kow if any of this was helpful. My email address is God Speed Shipmate
      Mister Mac

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