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Ahead Of Memorial Day, A Look At Employers' Duties To Vets

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Friday, May 23, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

By Scott Flaherty

With Memorial Day approaching, the time is ripe for employers to bone up on their duties under federal laws that affect the employment of U.S. military veterans returning from active service.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act lays out a number of obligations for employers when they bring back on board employees who left their jobs for military service. As long as certain conditions are met, the law requires employers to rehire employees who return from a period of active duty of up to five years and who apply for re-employment when they come back.

While there are some limits on USERRA's reach — for one, employees returning from a period of active military duty have only a certain amount of time to apply for re-employment, based on how long they spent in the service — attorneys say it is one of the strongest federal employment laws on the books.

“From an employer's perspective, USERRA is one of the most robust anti-discrimination, positive-obligation-to-accommodate statutes that there is,” said James H. Fowles III, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC and retired U.S. Navy Reservecommander.

Here, experts explain some of USERRA's key aspects:

Anti-Discrimination Provisions

USERRA experts explained that — like other federal employment statutes, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act — the re-employment law prohibits employers from discriminating against veterans returning from active service.

That means, in effect, employers are barred from refusing to hire someone returning from active duty based on his or her military service. Employers are similarly barred under USERRA from passing up veterans for promotions or firing them.

As Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC's Peter Romer-Friedman put it, “USERRA prohibits discrimination at all stages of employment — hiring, promotion, wages, etc. — on the basis of an individual’s veteran or servicemember status.”

Right to Re-Employment and the 'Escalator Principle'

Beyond the anti-discrimination provisions in USERRA, some of the law's most potent protections for those returning from active military service — and one of the areas where employers might be most likely to slip up — stem from the rights it provides for re-employment based on the so-called escalator principle, attorneys say.

Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Samuel Wright, director of the Service Members Law Center, explained that there are conditions placed on a returning service member's rights to re-employment under USERRA. To qualify, a returning veteran must have provided notice to the employer of his or her military service and must have spent five or fewer years in active duty while with the employer. The veteran also has to return to work within a certain period of time after the end of the military service and must have provided “superior service” during the active duty.

“If you meet those … conditions, then you're entitled to re-employment,” Wright said.

Wright and others noted, however, that instead of simply reinstating an employee to the job he or she had before leaving for the military, an employer is required under USERRA to bring a qualifying employee back based on the escalator principle, which specifies that returning veterans must be re-employed at whatever position they would have obtained if they hadn't gone into the military and had, instead, remained in their job.

“It's very, very unique to USERRA and it catches even savvy employers by surprise,” Fowles said. “The actual obligation is to put him into the 'escalator' position. What that means is the job he would have been in, but for the military service.”

Romer-Friedman said the re-employment provisions and the escalator principle make USERRA “one of the strongest employment laws that we have in the United States” and explained that the law has been particularly important for veterans in recent years, in part because the U.S. military relied to a large degree on Reserve members during the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The need for a strong re-employment rights law is more important now" because of the heavy reliance on National Guard and Reserve members, Romer-Friedman said.

USERRA's re-employment rights and the escalator principle extend to other aspects of the relationship between an employer and employee, including leave and pension benefits.

Romer-Friedman explained that employers are required to provide vacation or sick time that an employee would have accrued during the period of time he or she spent during active duty.

“They also can't be forced to use that leave [to cover the period of] military service,” said R. Joseph Barton, a partner at Cohen Milstein.

A similar approach applies to pension benefits, Barton explained.

“If they do come back … it's as if, for purposes of pension, they never left,” he said.

One other consideration with respect to the escalator principle is that it goes both ways — that is, if a returning veteran's position might have been cut as part of a reduction-in-force, an employer may be able to justify a decision not to bring the veteran back on board.

But, as Fowles noted, it's exceedingly rare that an employer would be able to use that interpretation of the escalator principle as a defense for not rehiring a returning veteran.

“I've only advised a client that they were safe to rely on it maybe once or twice,” he said.

Accommodation Requirements for Disabled Veterans

Another key piece of USERRA is the law's requirement that employers accommodate veterans who return to work with disabilities. While veterans, like other employees, are afforded the right to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the obligations under USERRA for accommodating disabled workers go a step further.

Romer-Friedman explained that, under USERRA, employers have an obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for a returning veteran with a disability. But if the person can't do that job because of the disability, the employer is also required to make an effort to place the disabled veteran into a position he or she could be qualified for.

Or as Fowles put it: “If they come back and their injury is service-related, you have an obligation to train them to try to get them into another job.”

Beyond the formal accommodation requirements under USERRA for disabled workers, Fowles said, there are other considerations employers should keep in mind when it comes to bringing back military members after a stint of active service — regardless of whether they have some disability.

He explained that while many employers do well on the “front end,” by making a commitment to hire returning military and to meet USERRA's obligations, they often fail to account for the myriad other adjustments veterans must make when they return to life as civilians.

“It's the follow-through that sometimes falls short, not because of a lack of desire or intent, but because of a lack of knowledge,” he said.

As a practical suggestion to account for those adjustments, Fowles added, employers may want to consider training supervisors that employees returning from military service may have behaviors or issues that wouldn't crop up with other employees. Some employers, he said, provide a mentor program in which a former military member who has been with the company for some time would help a newer returning veteran get used to working again in the civilian world.

“It's not as easy as it sounds,” Fowles said.  

This article originally appeared on Law360

-Editing by Jeremy Barker and Chris Yates.

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USERRA Case Makes History

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, May 22, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

The United States District Court for the District of Colorado has approved an unprecedented settlement in a class action lawsuit filed against United Airlines (UAL) by more than 1,000 of its pilots serving in the Reserve & Guard. On May 19, 2014, the court issued the final approval order for a $6,015,000 settlement.

The pilots alleged that during the 2000-10 period, UAL made retroactive payments to the pension accounts of individual pilots returning from military service, but those payments were computed based on the minimum guaranteed hours, not the hours that the individual would have worked if continuously employed as required under the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

In a statement, ROA's Service Members Law Center, lauded the precedent set by the historic settlement. "The UAL settlement becomes the single largest publicly disclosed award amount under USERRA by a margin of more than 5 million dollars," said CAPT Sam F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret) who heads up the SMLC.

"The SMLC alone answers nearly 800 inquiries a month from Reservists in some form of legal distress." Wright said most of those Reservists are frustrated with a USERRA issue.

"Wins like this one tell those thousands of Reservists that there's hope. They just need to know their rights and options under the law. Ultimately, we're here to make sure those Reservists have a resource to help turn those pieces into meaningful action."

ROA's Service Members Law Center (SMLC) is the nation's leading provider of free legal guidance on USERRA and other Reserve specific employment issues. Read more about the SMLC's work on USERRA by visiting us online.

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Reservists Reject A-10 Plans, Urge Complete Review of Air Missions

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, May 15, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

The Reserve Officers Association (ROA) today joined lawmakers in voicing objections to the deactivation of the A-10 fighter. Speaking for a community of 1.1 million Reservists nationwide, ROA pledged support for those efforts to continue funding for the Warthog for close air to ground support missions. In a press release ROA, praised the A-10 as a proven, capable and cost-effective asset in our air arsenal.

From ROA's statement:

ROA is chartered by Congress to promote an adequate National Security with a fully capable and equipped Reserve Force as a pillar of our defense. As this nation’s sole advocate for Reservists of every rank and service, ROA cannot back an Air Force proposal that robs our troops on the ground of the most capable and reliable ground support aircraft in the history of our Air Force. Our 54,000 members feel that the Air Forces plans to divest itself of the A-10 are premature.  Abandoning this proven and cost effective asset to our arsenal on the promise of delivering unproven or less effective aircraft is both strategically shortsighted and tactically risky.

The USAF established the F-35 requirement at 1765 fighters almost 20 years ago – 1996. The threat, the world environment, and our fiscal outlook has changed dramatically in the intervening years while the 1765 number has stayed the same. Before retiring any more paid for, proven, combat relevant fighters that are ready to go to war today in order to buy unproven F-35s tomorrow, the AF must explain why it still “needs” such large number of F-35s. Why not 600 F-35s – enough to take down enemy defenses to allow the A-10s and F-16s to do the finish work at only 30% of the cost. Yes, both the A-10 and the F-35 can kill a tank. But the A-10 can kill that tank for about $20k while the F-35 would cost about $350k not even counting the aircraft costs (cost per flight hour, maintenance and munitions).

There is currently no other airframe that can do what the A-10 can do. The Warthog has supported countless service members, including many of the 880,000 Reservists and Guardsmen, on diverse battlefields and varied missions. Not only can it carry 16,000 lbs. of ordinance and aim it on-target, but also it does so stealthily, so the enemy is unaware of an approach, until the A-10 passes overhead - with explosive munitions close behind.  It strikes like the thunderbolt after which it is named.

Suggestions that the F-16 fighter or B-1 bomber is capable of close air support are even debated internal to the Air Force. The F-16 proved in Desert Storm that it didn’t have the necessary loiter time over the battlefield to accomplish the same missions our troops have come rely on from the A-10. 

Close air support requires excellent coordination with ground forces. The B-1 bomber uses precision-guided munitions, relying on GPS for accuracy.  Many speculate that in future conflicts, the fight might be without GPS satellites for guidance.

At a lower altitude and speed, the A-10 munitions are more precise, reducing collateral damage.  Its Gatling gun fires at 65 rounds per second providing cover for endangered troops.

When the Air Force says divest, it means scrap. If given the opportunity, they will place the A-10 under the guillotine at the Davis-Monthan Air Force bone yard. This has been done to other aircraft that the Air Force wanted to remove from its inventory.  If allowed, there would be no coming back.

If the Active Air Force no longer wishes to support the A-10, this becomes an ideal mission for the Reserve and National Guard to protect this asset for use against unanticipated threats. Reserve Force A-10 squadrons already exist, and have been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan with great success.

Most importantly, protecting the A-10 protects our fighting men and women with boots on the ground. The Citizen Warriors we represent have spoken loud and clear. We reject plans to discard the A-10 and support today’s action to halt their adverse effects.

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ROA Endorses Suicide Prevention Legislation

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, May 15, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

Ahead of the Senate Armed Services Committee consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, ROA this week endorsed U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s bipartisan Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2014. Donnelly serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is set to work on the NDAA starting on Tuesday, May 20th. Last week, Donnelly introduced the bill with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and together they will push for its passage as part of this year’s NDAA.

In a statement, ROA cited the Act's provisions for parity across services and components as a solid first step towards repairing a mental health system that too often fails to provide the tailored research and targeted support Reservists need.

“Today’s citizen warriors sign up for service in the Reserve and Guard with the clear understanding that their duty will carry unique burdens. They understand that they will enter a culture of service and a system of support that is ill-suited for the challenges presented by the duality of their lives in and out of uniform. The staggering rate of suicide among members of America’s Reserve and Guard is the result of ‘one size fits all’ mentality of prevention. Reserve service carries unique burdens and the challenges of post-deployment life and civilian transition are largely misunderstood by a public weary of war and a Congress strapped for cash. Reservists operate outside the cocoon of support found on Active duty installations. The Sexton Act is a solid first step towards providing the tailored research and targeted support our Reservists need and ultimately the parity in service they deserve.”

The distinct impacts of deployment on Reservists and their families is only beginning to be fully understood. The fact is, there are major gaps in service across the board for Reservists and one size simply doesn't fit all when it comes to mental health.

After implementing some 900 different programs to prevent suicide in their ranks, the military’s active duty suicide numbers declined from a record high of 343 in 2012 to 289 in 2013. More than half those came from the active duty side of the Army, the Pentagon’s largest branch. But the fact that last year’s Guard and Reserve suicides—152, up from 140 the previous year— eclipsed active duty numbers is concerning researchers.

ROA reported on this trend last year in a special to The Officer magazine, citing among other bellwethers, statistics from a 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health in which a study found:

  • Reservists who had deployed reported higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts than active duty personnel who had also been deployed.
  • Among Reservists, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) service was asso-ciated with higher levels of family stress and symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disor-der (PTSD), and poor mental health limiting normal activities.
  • Significantly more Reservists who served in OIF or OEF showed PTSD symptoms, compared with active duty personnel.

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Texas Reserve Unit is First-of-its-Kind

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Friday, May 9, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

Reserve Officers Association’s Department of Texas recognized the Special Operations Detachment –Africa (Airborne) as the Unit of the Year (small unit category).  This prestigious award selected the SOD-A amongst all Army Reserve Component units in the State of Texas.  Its commander and senior enlisted leader, Colonel Douglas O’Connell and Command Sergeant Major Ben Bitonel, accepted the award on behalf of the SOD-A.  The 71st Troop Commander, Brigadier General Sean Ryan and the State Deputy Adjutant General BG Orlando Salinas represented the Texas Military Forces during the award ceremony.   An additional honor was bestowed to the unit when Captain Adam Moore (J4) was honored as the ROA Department of Texas Junior Officer of the Year. 

The Special Operations Detachment – Africa (Airborne) is a newly-formed unit in the Texas Army National Guard, responsible for conducting expeditionary command and control of joint and combined special operations in support of Special Operations Command – Africa.  In addition, the SOD-A conducts sensitive interagency liaison missions in support of State and Federal Homeland Security Operations.

The Soldiers of the SOD-A played a critical role in the successful support and command and control of over 1,700 military and security personnel from 18 countries and participated in several joint special operations exercises in Africa within the first year of its formation. 

Colonel O’Connell praised the members of the unit for their enduring professionalism and devotion to duty during a hectic and challenging stand up process.  Although he was pleased with the unit recognition, he pressed the members to enhance their mission capability readiness as they do their part to support the State and SOC-Africa.

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Reservists Get A Raw Deal On Employment, ROA Says

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, April 3, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

ROA testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing on “Access to Justice for Those Who Serve”

By Jenny Swigoda
ROA, Content Manager
posted on Thursday, March 27

Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, ROA urged the panelists to consider the unique plight of Reservists who are uniquely positioned for discrimination in the workplace due to their service.

ROA Executive Director Major General Andrew B. Davis, USMC (Ret.) delivered testimony before the committee and pointed to high numbers of unemployment for members of the Reserve and Guard.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in February 2014, unemployment has risen back to 16.6 percent of veterans between 18 to 24 years of age, and climbed to 18.8 percent of veterans between 25 to 29 years of age. The 18 to 24 year old group and the 25 to 29 year old group are made up in large part of the Reserve and Guard. The overall veteran unemployment rate was 6.3 percent.”

Committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) needed reform as the law contained several holes for employers to fire employees for their service duties and only receive minor penalties. Although the law was formed to prohibit employer discrimination, few lawyers are knowledgeable of its existence.

“Those rights have to be protected,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “They’re not only necessary, they’re essential.”

Also on the panel of witnesses, Lt. Kenneth “Gene” Savage recounted the hardships his family has been through since he lost his job at FedEx. Although the corporation didn’t outright express it, the Airman believed the firing was due to his Reservist duties. His case is still pending, but he thanked ROA’s Service Members Law Center for their guidance in his case.  

Click here for ROA's written testimony. 

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ROA Points To Inequities In Compensation, Health Care

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, March 27, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

ROA Delivered Testimony Before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel Today

By Jenny Swigoda
ROA, Content Manager
Published on Wednesday, March 26

On the heels of the release of the President’s Budget and the recently released Quadrennial Defense Review, the Senate Armed Services (SASC) Subcommittee on Personnel met today with leaders from Reserve Officers Association and other military-related associations to receive testimonies on issues that face the military in the constraints of personnel given the current fiscal climate.

Legislative Director CAPT Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.) delivered oral testimony and also submitted a written testimony on behalf of ROA and pointed to inequities in programs and resources available to members of the Reserve Component. As the Army expects to make extensive cuts to end-strength numbers, CAPT Hanson pointed out that this proposed scenario would become more reliant on the RC. And while there has been a steady influx of studies that point to a Total Force more reliant on the Reserves, the Army has pushed back against using the Reserve Force in times of crisis.

“Cutting the Reserve and Guard as well as the active forces will make achieving readiness goals even more difficult,” said CAPT Hanson. “This is why there is a need for caution before making compensation cuts to the Reserve Force. Compensation needs to keep pace with the nation’s ever-increasing reliance on the Reserve and Guard. Yet DoD wants to reduce monthly reimbursement, has suggested changes to retirement, and cost increases to benefits.”

CAPT Hanson went on to describe issues Reservists face when it comes to health care. He painted an eerie picture of Service Members needing to reenroll into different military health care programs as they transition in and out of Active Duty.

“Reserve Force members have proven themselves over the last 13 years and should have a health care program fit for warriors…If any warrior is asked to take a risk, their benefits should not be discounted — because no one is part-time in a war zone.”

This Reserve gap has been a point of contention from ROA and members of the RC at large and ROA is working steadfastly to bring these issues to the attention of committees such as the SASC. 

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Reserve Community Weighs Retirement Options

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, March 13, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

Amid ongoing budget battles and strategy scrutiny the Department of Defense made more waves this week by introducing proposals for dramatic change in the military retirement system. In a white paper submitted to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC), the Department outlined two distinct design concepts described as a “hybrid military retirement system."

In a phone call with several military service organizations, DoD planners were careful to avoid outright endorsement of either option, instead underscoring the requirement put forward by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 for the Department to transmit its views on modernizing the current system. DoD authors said they aimed to retain a defined benefit while also including a modest defined contribution benefit that allows for some amount of portability.  Additionally, the concepts shift some compensation from deferred (post-retirement) compensation to current compensation (supplemental pays), and streamline disability retirement and the survivor benefit program. 

For Reservists, the proposal delivers two options as little more than an afterthought (buried in the last paragraph of the report). Keep the current system, or adopt supplemented recommendations from the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC). The QRMC advocates transitioning the Reserves to a regular military compensation (RMC) model; a plan which offers the promise of earlier Reserve retirement offset by dramatic changes to drill pay.

While the MCRMC’s final recommendations are not due until Feb 1, 2015, the complexity and interconnectivity of the issues before the Commission are stacking up with serious implications for recruiting and retention. While the Reserve community weighs its options carefully, advocates like ROA are committed to ensuring the RC is thought of as more than a footnote when the final report is delivered.

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Defense Budget Widens Gap for Reserves

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, February 27, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

As DoD's new budget proposal made the rounds on the day of its release, Secretary Hagel met with members of the MSO/VSO community to explain the strategy and field questions on the impacts to various constituencies. As ROA leaders were told first hand, the Reserve and Guard can't expect to avoid this round of reductions. In detailed remarks, Hagel outlined his department's plans for what Pentagon brass are hoping will be viewed as an honest effort to maintain operational solvency.  While the bulk of the cuts will come from active duty forces, Hagel made clear that the RC will have to make its own set of sacrifices.

Hagel's remarks emphasized a new era of defense strategy, echoing talking points heard for some time now: agility, flexibility; a streamlined vision for defense. Predictably, that vision has been met with equal parts apprehension and rhetoric across the military community. As for the RC, Hagel telegraphed several proposals which, taken together, paint a disconcerting picture for the Reserve's role in this new defense posture.

At a time when readiness demands austerity, the Department of Defense has chosen to ignore the most cost effective tool in its arsenal. And in doing so, reaffirmed what many in the Reserve community have feared for more than a decade. That despite equal service and unprecedented sacrifice, the Reserves are still seen as a second class force. Seemingly unable to overcome an outdated perception of the RC, DoD has ignored 13 years’ worth of evidence building towards the conclusion that the Reserve force is the best insurance policy for our national security. That a trained, equipped and ready RC offers the type of flexibility and selective surge capacity that this operability model calls for.Hagel’s detailed remarks on a proposed five percent reduction in Army end-strength offer the most telling evidence of this gap in perception.

As framed in the Secretary’s preview, DoD has once again failed to account for those soldiers in the pipeline: new recruits who have to be trained in basic skills and a MOS. As a result, DoD’s readiness estimates for the RC are optimistic at best. Beyond questionable accuracy, the proportion of ANG to USAR cuts is cause for concern. Legislation currently pending in the House (H.R. 3930) which calls for the formation of a national commission to review the force structure of the Army would freeze the Guard an end-strength of 350,000 for the duration of the commission’s review. That legislation also places a hold on transfer of attack helicopters from the ARNG to AC Army. If passed, and those delays are enacted, the USAR stands to disproportionately absorb the brunt of these cuts.

Hagel’s justification for the 5 percent reduction included a one-two punch intended to cast doubt on the value of the RC. Downplaying the strategic benefits of an operational Reserve force he contended that “surge capacity is just one factor.” Next he undercut the cost savings of Reserve capability by qualifying the timing of that savings, citing reserve units as being, “roughly the same cost as an active unit when mobilized and deployed.” He continued by invoking “experience” to justify limited integration of “specialties requiring grater collective training to achieve combat proficiency”.

While the Secretary’s remarks superficially heaped praise upon Reservists (“we affirm the value of a high capable reserve component”) to historical observers of defense policy, the substance of these proposals place the RC on the path back to a strategic force. Under the pressure of austerity the department is marginalizing the progress made towards a total force model.

While we accept that cuts are coming and as the Secretary stated, “No component of DoD can be entirely exempted from reductions.” we cannot subvert the value of the RC with a return to outdated force models and antiquated rationale. Hagel’s remarks indicate a logic that dictates “mobilize, train, deploy”. If the past 13 years of war have taught us anything we can use to prepare ourselves for future threats it should be that we must think “train, mobilize, and deploy”. The RC must continue to be an integral part of a total force model that prepares our military for any contingency.

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COLA Fix Passed, Awaits President's Signature

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

By CAPT Marshall Hanson, USNR (ret.)

On Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation to fix the military Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) reduction by a vote of 95 to 3. Without passage, working age retirees would have had their COLA reduced by 1 percent annually starting in 2016.

The vote brings an end to a dynamic debate in which despite a common agreement over a need for a fix, funding predictably became a point of contention. The national debate underscored a more glaring disparity for members of the Reserve and Guard who do not see a retirement check until age 60, let along a 2 percent cost of living adjustment annually from age 40 to 62. The comparative inequality of Reserve retirement made them the least affected group, facing only 1 year of COLA reduction. Not opposing a fix, ROA supported solutions that would not affect readiness or training funding as without an offset solution, the Department of Defense would have borne the expense. 

The day before in a lopsided 326-90 vote, the House passed legislation that would restore COLA that was reduced under the bi-partisan Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2013 that was passed in December by Congress. As the House waived rules to consider the fix, it required a 2/3rds vote for passage. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WS., co-author of the 2013 BCA, blasted the House bill as a way of dodging needed reforms to military retirement compensation, according to the Washington Post. 

While the Senate had several pieces of legislation of their own, a bill introduced by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., which was to be the first considered by that body, was sidetracked in favor of the House legislation. Faced with a snow storm that threatened Washington, D.C. on Wednesday evening, the choice was made for an expedited passage, rather than a prolonged debate over the Pryor legislation. The Pryor bill had no funding source, which would have caused deliberations between Democrats and Republicans on how to pay the $5.5 billion that the correction would have cost. Democrats disliked the House solution of extending sequestration until 2014 on Medicare, but recognized the importance of fixing the COLA reduction. DoD budgeting were changed by the COLA bill.

Over 15 bills were introduced in Congress by elected officials to correct the COLA reduction for active duty military retirees under the age of 62. Support for most bills split along party lines based on disagreements over how to pay for the correction.

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