Group protests for military benefitsPublished 6:04pm Friday, November 11, 2011
The Occupy Southwest Michigan group gathered at the Four Flags Memorial in Niles Friday to rally against proposals by federal legislators in the Super-Committee to privatize military retirement.
Event organizer and military veteran Matthew Rosenhagen, of Niles, said Veterans Day was an appropriate time to protest the issue.
Rosenhagen, 30, said leaders from both parties are supporting a plan that would get rid of the system in which anyone who serves 20 years is eligible for retirement at half their salary.
In its place, veterans would get a 401K-type plan with government contributions.
The protesters, about 15 in all, also want to see more veterans find employment.
“Homeless veterans are unemployed at a clip of two to one compared to the average rate,” Rosenhagen said. “We don’t want a free meal one day a year. We want jobs. Veterans are good workers.”
Tina Trowbridge, of Niles, has been to all five of the Occupy Southwest Michigan rallies, three of which were held in Niles.
Trowbridge, whose husband is a Vietnam veteran, said she loves what the “Occupy” movement stands for but Friday was all about “respecting the veterans.”
The group collected food items to support local veterans at the rally and will continue the food drive all holiday season.
More information about Occupy Southwest Michigan can be found at www.occupyswmichigan.org.