U.S. Fiscal Cliff Cuts Worry Military Families

In this May 26, 2010, photo, a U.S. soldier stands next to a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery at an army base in Morag, Poland.

In this May 26, 2010, photo, a U.S. soldier stands next to a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery at an army base in Morag, Poland.

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By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Emerging from more than a decade at war, military families are confronting a new worry at home: the prospect that a Washington deal over federal spending cuts could chip away at military benefits long considered untouchable.

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If Congress and the White House don't agree on a plan by Jan. 1, a package of across-the-board cuts would take effect that would hit the military heavily. If they do agree on tax and spending steps, the military may also see cuts, but there no specifics yet.

Military families and retirees worry any cuts could hurt assistance they depend on, including military health insurance, pensions or on-base services such as child care and commissaries.

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Military spouse Jeremy Hilton of Burke, Va. calls it "fear of the unknown."

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