A new proposal in Congress could send less taxpayer money to divorced spouses of U.S. military personnel.
It’s part of a bill amendment that would change the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act.
Right now, retirement pay is awarded to ex-spouses based on the rank and years of service at the time of retirement, but the proposal changes it to the rank and years served at the time of the divorce.
“Twenty years in the Navy, I’ve seen a lot of relationships come and go,” retired Navy veteran Barend Watkins said.
Watkins said he knew fellow sailors who have been required to give large portions of their retirement pay to ex-spouses even if those service members divorced the spouses years before achieving their highest rank.
Watkins said the amendment can put a stop to that.
“It’s definitely a good step in the right direction,” Watkins said. “It’s fair to everybody.”
Retired Petty Officer Chris Taylor, who served as a hospital corpsman in the Navy, said he has known a number of people who are now remarried with families after going through a divorce early in their military career.
“I remember my first deployment when we came from Fallujah, there were probably four Marines whose wives at the time were sitting there with divorce papers on the flight line as we flew back,” Taylor said. “A lot of those guys have gone on to be staff sergeants, gunners, master sergeants, and when they retire for their wife at the time to get full benefits, I mean that’s crazy.”
Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., introduced the legislation in the House.