ACTION ALERT: Stop Plan to Hike Cost of Calls for Soldiers
January 11, 2005
Ronald A. Duchin, Col. US Army (Ret.) / Concerned Vets.org
Washington regulators are considering imposing new fees on calling cards that could "hit military wallets like an armor-piercing bullet" according to The Marine Corps Times. ConcernedVets has issued an appeal for letters of concern to the Federal Communications Commision.
The FCC chairman is attempting to show his patriotic gratitude in the oddest of ways: He's trying to raise the prices for the very pre-paid, inexpensive telephone calling cards that 95 percent of the troops use to communicate with their anguished family members who wait with hope of life reassured with the telephone's ring.
— Sun Sentinel: "FCC chief a Grinch about Phone Cards" (December 2004)
Unjustified new access charges ...would directly interfere with the ability of military men and women to phone home from far away because as costs rise to providers, they will quickly be passed along to consumers – including men and women in uniform.
— USO Statement
Washington regulators are considering imposing new fees on calling cards that could "hit military wallets like an armor-piercing bullet" according to The Marine Corps Times. That's why we're writing — we need your support to stop this misguided plan!
Here's the issue:
The Federal Communications Commission is discussing whether to force calling card providers to pay new charges on long distance calls made with a pre-paid calling card. These new charges could wind up raising calling card rates by 20 percent.
Tens of thousands of active duty servicemembers, Reservists, and National Guard members rely on these cards to stay in touch with family and friends! Affordable calls home are critical to keeping morale high among our fighting men and women!!
In August, Marine Corps Times wrote, "Making soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines victims of the intense competition in the telecommunications industry would be a terrible move at the worst possible time."
The USO is also strongly against these proposed new phone charges. So are many state and local chapters of retired military organizations. The VFW has written directly to Chairman Powell about this problem as have other prominent veterans service organizations.
PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD TOO!
The FCC would set a terrible example if it approves this misguided plan to raise phone prices on our military. Please find out more about this issue by going to our website at www.concernedvets.org and make your voice heard! Or, call the White House at 202-456-1111.
For the Concerned Veterans Communication Coalition:
Ronald A. Duchin
Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)
Calling Card Letter to Chairman Powell
Draft - January 11, 2005
Re: Docket #03-133
Dear Chairman Powell:
I am very concerned that the FCC may soon take action to raise calling card rates. Calling cards are the primary way our military personnel maintain voice contact with their families back home. Our nation is at war, our soldiers overseas endangered. Now is not the time to increase the cost of their coveted calls home.
What angers me about this is that it boils down to nothing more than a turf war among wealthy telephone companies. Yet it is our soldiers and their families, those already bearing great personal and financial hardships to protect our nation's security, who would be the big losers.
Furthermore, it's a well-known fact that a soldier's morale suffers when he or she is denied contact with loved ones during deployments. That's been particularly true during Operation Iraqi Freedom and now during Operation Enduring Freedom, when we're seeing deployments extended because our nation must depend on these soldiers to give more and more of themselves for the cause.
Chairman Powell, please do the right thing and refuse to raise calling card rates now. Our nation should do everything it can to ease the way for our brave soldiers. It would be a great injustice to add to their burden by raising the cost of much-needed family contact while they are serving our nation so valiantly. Deny the decision to raise calling card rates.
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