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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with airmen and soldiers at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., on Tuesday about the Fiscal 2015 budget request, which will be presented to Congress next week. Hagel noted that this is the first budget in 13 years that’s not a “war-footing budget.” He said, it “will represent a different environment, a different era, a different time.” Hagel specifically addressed concerns about changes in pay, compensation, and retirement benefits. The Defense Department did not recommend any changes to retirement benefits, opting instead to wait on a congressionally mandated retirement commission to report its findings. If changes eventually are recommended currently serving personnel will be grandfathered, said Hagel. The Fiscal 2015 budget request recommends consolidating the TRICARE health systems in an effort to be more efficient and effective. The change will gradually be phased in and won’t affect base health care or limit preferred provider options, noted Hagel. Although the budget request doesn’t recommend changes to health care co-pays for Active Duty service members, family members and working-age retirees will see a “gradual increase for out-of-pocket expenses from around eight percent today to no more than 11 percent,” said Hagel. Finally, housing allowance subsidies for service members, currently at 100 percent, will increase to five percent for out-of-pocket expenses over a five-year period with a 95 percent subsidy. (AFPS report)