SMW President

To all SMW Members,                                                                                 

This is the first edition of the SMW Newsletter in 2021 and many things have happened since our last issue. The one thing that has not changed is the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Who could have known back in April of 2020 that COVID-19 would still be with us today? I do not believe anyone imagined how much it would affect our families, friends and acquaintances. By the time Christmas came, few families had been spared the devastation of the pandemic in one way or another. Family members and friends became ill. Stay-at-home orders helped protect us, but caused loss of jobs for some. People could not attend church in person and friends could no longer visit one another. Even family members could not visit one another or attend holiday events. When leaving our homes, we had to put a mask on to protect ourselves and others. Yes, it has been a very challenging year and most of us were ready for it to end.

We must face the reality, however, that everything may not return to normal for some time. There are still restrictions in place and people are continuing to get the virus. We are still required to wear a mask and socialize at a distance.

But we also have much to be thankful for – doctors, nurses and medical personnel have gone above and beyond the call of duty. We have witnessed many acts of kindness and caring with neighbors helping neighbors and people helping people they do not even know.

Thankfully, the vaccines are now being given and hopefully we can begin to get back to normal times later in the summer.

We also have a new President, of course, and he and the new Congress have begun working on the many important and urgent issues our country is facing. At the Society of Military Widows, our job is to make sure the issues faced by military families and survivors are kept at the top of that list.

Near the top of our list this year is Medicare and Social Security. While those have not been historically seen as concern to military families, the massive increase in the federal debt leads us to believe there will be a huge push to cut federal spending during the next four years and that the defense budget and entitlement programs will be high on the budget-cutting target list.

Let me explain! Most military retirees are over 65 and their families rely upon TRICARE for Life for their health care. TRICARE for Life is the extended health insurance policy for Medicare-eligible uniformed service personnel and their families.

Because of the importance of TRICARE for Life to military retiree families, the way it is linked to Medicare, and the financial instability of Medicare, we believe we have to put it on our agenda.

And, because Social Security is a major part of so many military family’s retirement, we believe we have to put it on our agenda as well because the way Social Security is also linked to Medicare.

Both Social Security and Medicare face solvency issues. The 2020 Medicare Trustees Report estimated that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will become depleted in only five years – in 2026. But the high level of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus for seriously ill Medicare patients may shorten the life expectancy of the Medicare Trust Fund even further.

The fact is just a few years ago Medicare became the target of budget cutters. Those plans included reducing the annual Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) by tying it to the more slowly growing “chained consumer price index.” That would amount to a cut to one’s COLA every year.

It’s one of the main ways Republicans and Democrats in Congress want to cut spending – change the formula used to calculate your COLA so that you would receive a smaller COLA than you otherwise would each year. This could reduce one’s military retirement pay, Social Security payment, and VA disability benefit payment if you receive one.

At SMW, we understand the importance of getting the federal debt under control. But reducing the debt on the backs of the military and survivors is not the way to do it.

That’s why the Society of Military Widows has as its mission defending the promised and earned benefits of military families and survivors. Sadly, it’s a never-ending battle, but we pledge to continue the fight to defend you. That’s why we need your continued support of our efforts.

Margaret Melchi


7005 Ash Creek

Colorado Springs, CO 80922

Phone (719) 331-6689 (cell)