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Civilians Side With Servicemembers In Opposing Cuts To Military Retirement System, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that middle-class servicemembers and civilians disagree with Defense Department's proposed changes to Military retirement benefits

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FORT WORTH, Texas — The majority of middle-class families are opposed to the Department of Defense’s proposed changes to military retirement benefits, according to a recent survey of servicemembers and the general population.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 83 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who are aware of the proposed changes are not in favor of them. Opposition is also strong in middle-class civilian families (those making at least $50,000), with 68 percent reporting that they do not support the proposed changes.

“Our recent monthly surveys of military families have revealed heightened worries over retirement benefits, but this latest finding shows that their concern is shared by the general population,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “This solid opposition from both servicemembers and civilians tells us that Americans in general think that making cuts to military retirement benefits is the wrong way to reduce military spending as part of sequestration and defense downsizing.”

Responses from servicemembers and their families also reveal that:

  • 59 percent do not agree that changes to retirement and other benefits are necessary to save money that can be used to build a stronger military.
  • 54 percent do not think changes to the current retirement system are needed.
  • 46 percent say it is “definitely” or “probably” fair that the current system offers no pension to those who serve fewer than 20 years.

Notably, the proposed changes to military retirement benefits have not altered the career plans of middle-class servicemembers. Almost three quarters of survey respondents (72 percent) do not feel that the proposed changes will impact their feelings about serving to full retirement at 20 years. Roughly nine out of ten (93 percent) say they plan to serve to full retirement.

“While the uncertainty surrounding military retirement benefits is fueling concerns in many military families, the good news is that it is not shaking their commitment to service or their preparations for the future,” Spiker said. “Our surveys continue to reveal that our men and women in uniform are taking positive actions to protect the fiscal health of their families, including cutting back on everyday spending and saving more for their retirement years. They are preparing for an uncertain financial future by getting their family finances squared away today.”

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


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