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Service Members, You Have New Mortgage Protections In 2014

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

BY Holly Petraeus
originally printed in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau blog

It’s no secret that the housing crisis in recent years was particularly hard on military families. Service members and their spouses at installations around the country, and even abroad, cited problems with mortgages as some of their most serious financial challenges. But now, the CFPB has written new mortgage rules that can help.

More than a third of the consumer complaints we’ve received from the military are mortgage-related. And at listening sessions around the country, concerned military families have told me about the painful consequences of poor mortgage servicing, sloppy lender recordkeeping, and inconsistent foreclosure practices. Obviously, service members aren’t the only homeowners who have run into trouble with mortgage servicers or faced financial hurdles. But the demands of military service sometimes increase the severity of the problems or limit the solutions available to address them.

So, I’m happy to report that we’ve written new rules that address some of the worst problems in the mortgage servicing industry and bring new rights and protections to borrowers, including service members. For military families, this means that when they seek help for a troubled mortgage or have to move because of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, they will get fewer nasty surprises and face less risk of losing their home.

Here are some changes that should help service members:

  • Restrictions on dual tracking. In the past, servicemembers dealing with mortgage troubles sometimes found that their mortgage servicer had moved forward to foreclose on their home at the very same time it was working with the service member on a potential loan modification. That’s called “dual tracking” and our new rules set up clear guidelines that restrict this practice.
  • More help for troubled borrowers. Too often service members have had to apply over and over again for programs that might help them keep their homes, being asked to send in the same paperwork repeatedly. Our new rules require mortgage servicers to evaluate a borrower who files a complete application for help for all the options that are available to that borrower. That means no more multiple rounds of applications and wasting of precious time and resources for the homeowner seeking help!
  • You can find out about options for helping service members with a troubled mortgage by watching our Military Educator Forum on the subject, finding a HUD-approved housing counselor , or calling 888-995-HOPE (4673). You can also Ask CFPB for answers to your mortgage related questions.

  • No more runarounds and missing documents. Our rules require mortgage servicers to train their people to answer your questions and, if you do run into trouble, the servicer has to assign people to help you. The servicer also has to have policies in place to make sure they don’t lose your paperwork.
  • Those are some of the new rules. In addition, servicemembers should know that we issued guidance in June 2012, along with other regulators, saying that mortgage servicers should have processes in place to handle requests for assistance from service members with PCS orders, and that they should clearly communicate their policies.

    In 2011, two important players in the mortgage market —Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac —updated their policies to say that a PCS move is considered a “qualifying hardship” for mortgage assistance options for service members. In other words, service members do not have to be behind on their mortgage payments before they can ask for help. It was also announced that a homeowner with a Fannie or Freddie loan and PCS orders will automatically be eligible for a short sale.

    Also, those service members who do a short sale (selling their home for less than they owe on the mortgage) will not have to pay the difference between the original loan amount and the proceeds from the sale if the property is their primary residence and it was purchased on or before June 30, 2012.

    Finally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also has provisions for a short sale called a “compromise sale.” Service members should contact their lender or the VA for more information on this program.  We work closely with the military community to get the word out about any policy changes that affect servicemembers. We encourage service members and their spouses to talk to their JAGs or military Personal Financial Managers (PFM) about these issues, too.

    We hope our new mortgage rules will allow service members to spend more time on their important mission and less time worrying about their mortgages. Learn more about our work on mortgages.

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    ROA Executive Director Testifies During A Hearing Of The National Commission On The Structure Of The Air Force

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Wednesday, February 5, 2014
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    By Jenny Swigoda

    ROA, Content Manager

    As the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) continues to examine the future of the Air National Guard (ANG) and the Air Force Reserve (AFR), ROA was asked to testify for the second time before the commission.

    Major General Andrew B. Davis, USMC (Ret.) testified on behalf of ROA during a hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 20, alongside Major General James N. Stewart, military executive, Reserve Forces Policy Board. In his statement, MajGen Davis outlined the affects of a combined ANG and AFR.

    “The reopening of the debate focuses on a 2011 proposal authored by 5 retired Reserve Component generals to merge to ANG and the AFR into a single Reserve Component to streamline force structure and save costs…The paper has several flaws, the worst of which is that it relies heavily on a 1997 analysis of a similar proposal to combine Army Reserve Component forces as evidence of potential cost savings,” said MajGen Davis.

    This 16-year-old study about Army force structure is irrelevant to a modern discussion of AF organization, MajGen Davis added. What is relevant is the parallels to the Fiscal Year 1974 National Defense Authorization Act, in which then-Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger rejected a similar proposal of merging the Reserve and ANG saying, “the small savings realized by combining the administrative headquarters could be offset by losses in combat readiness caused by a total reorganization of the Air Reserve component structure.”

    MajGen Davis went out to outline the complexities that could lead to losses in combat readiness while pointing out the vast differences between the ANG and AFR. He pointed to the fact that the basing models differ as Guard forces are state based and generally cannot be moved across state lines while Reserve forces are federal forces that are based in federal facilities. Other differences that could complicate the proposed merger include: untold consequences on careers and unit viability; differences in management structure; command and control structural differences; differences in recruiting and force structure and the limitations of the president’s accessibility if the forces are combined.

    The proposed merger would require major changes to the personnel systems and it could also have a large impact on retention. MajGen Davis concluded his testimony by pointing out that the white paper misses a larger issue, that the separate forces of the Reserve and Guard are complimentary, not competitive or duplicative.

    “While a ‘new normal’ on the Reserve Component’s operational use seems to have blurred the differences between the ANG and the AFR, there are distinct differences between the (two) that need to be maintained…After twelve years of war and 2 decades of sustained operations, the units of both the Reserve and the Guard have become operational and operate at a high op-tempo relative to the old strategic reserve.”

    As the commission continues to explore the future for the ANG and AFR, ROA will continue to provide a unique voice for Reservists in these hearings.

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    Exclusive: Interview with NCSAF Chairman Dennis McCarthy

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Tuesday, February 4, 2014
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    In his letter to the President and the ranking members of the Armed Services Committees in Congress, Dennis McCarthy, Chairman of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force praised the "open and inclusive process" that led to his commission's 42 reccomendations for the future of the Air Force. Continuing this transparent process, Chairman McCarthy granted an exclusive interview to ROA, and speaking candidly on the process, the conclusions and the future of the Reserve community that weighed so heavily in his commission's final report.

    National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) has released their report regarding the future force structure of the Air Force. The eight commissioners examined areas of divide concerning the active, Guard and Reserve Components in the nine-month study. In total, the report contains a list of 42 recommendations for the president and members of the House Armed Services Committee to consider.

    he National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) has released their report regarding the future force structure of the Air Force. The eight commissioners examined areas of divide concerning the active, Guard and Reserve Components in the nine-month study. In total, the report contains a list of 42 recommendations for the president and members of the House Armed Services Committee to consider.

    Q: What were your main tasks as you stood up as a National Commission? Where did you go and what did you do?

    A: The Commission decided as a whole to be as transparent as possible and to hear from as many stakeholders as possible. That included expertise from the business world and academia as well as from other DOD agencies and the Combatant Commanders. We also wanted to reach out to Governors for their input, and we determined that we would not limit ourselves to the Air Force’s senior leaders but hear from personnel at all ranks, including newly enlisted Airmen, NCO supervisors, junior officers, and squadron and wing commanders.

    This meant getting outside the Beltway. Our second public hearing was in Greenville, S.C., to coincide with a meeting of the Adjutants General Association. We also visited a total of 12 in-stallations around the country.

    Q:  How did you accomplish those tasks? How did you get the information, testimony, feedback to write your report?

    A: There were the normal channels of information gathering for a commission of this sort: the public hearings with invited testimony and public oral comments, a total of 154 individuals, some of whom testified more than once; the public comments, of which we received 256 at the time the report was written; and requests for information from the Air Force and other DOD agencies. We received thousands of pages of documents that we reviewed.

    But we also knew that to hear what Airmen are really thinking, we needed to meet them in their own work and living spaces. On our site visits we scheduled breakfasts or lunches during which individual Commissioners ate and talked with young Airmen from all three components. And in addition to attending mission briefings, we toured the mission facilities, listening to the people working there. 

    Q: We know your Report has a number of recommendations. Tell us first what primary conclusions led you to those recommendation?

    A: First, all three components of the Air Force are filled with dedicated, skilled men and women eager to serve. We need to make the most of that talent pool. Second, the situation that led to the formation of the Commission was disagreement over allocation of limited resources in a budget-constricted environment. In the current political climate we could reasonably assume that today's budget is very likely our fiscal ceiling. However, we felt strongly that budget con-straints should not constrain readiness. Third, with the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, we could predict that the pace and scope of operations would probably decrease to some degree over the next few years. However, you cannot count on that because there are hot spots simmering all over the globe that could explode into the next conflict involving U.S. forces. Additionally, the Air Force has been engaged in combat operations continuously since 1990, with enforcement of no-fly zones over Iraq between the two wars there, and it is the Air Force that is likely to be engaged first in future surges: witness the use of U.S. air power in Libya in 2011.

    Then, on our site visits and as we listened to Airmen and senior leaders, we learned that the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are not used to their full capacity. In more than ten years of war, they have performed exceptionally well every task, every mission asked of them. But we could ask more: just about every person told us of untapped potential in the Reserve Components. We did consider the possibility that this was just the talk of confidence and desire to do more, but because it was so unanimous and came from all levels, we had to take it seriously.

    Q: What were the Report’s main recommendations pertaining to the mix of the Air Force’s Active, Reserve and National Guard components?

    A: Since there is untapped potential in the Air Reserve Components, we need to set a number of conditions that allow the Air Force to use it on a sustainable, periodic, rotational basis that serves several purposes. It helps maintain readiness standards among the Reserve Components. It relieves stress on the Active Component. Using a part-time force of traditional Reservists and Guardsmen costs less, freeing up money now going to personnel accounts to be put toward modernization and recapitalization. And you still have the capability and capacity to surge.

    So, we recommend that the Air Force not reduce overall end strength to meet budget demands but rather move some of that end strength from the Active to the Reserve Component and ex-pand use of part-time Reservists and Guardsmen in day-to-day operations. We recommended greater integration of units and proportional fielding of new equipment. We recommended law and policy changes that contribute to a “continuum of service” for Airmen of all components.

    We recognized that some missions need to be done by full-time Active Airmen, but no mission set or core function need be 100 percent Active. The ICBM mission set is one example, where Guard and Reserve units could take part in force protection and helo support. Space involves 24-hour manning, so why couldn't Reserve Component Airmen take some of those shifts? There are other missions that lend themselves particularly to the Reserve Component, such as Cyber where the Air Force can tap into civilian expertise through recruiting cyber specialists to serve in the Guard and Reserve.

    Q: How did/do the differences between T10 and T32 effect how we organize our AF and your recommendations?

    A: You can't look at force structure without looking at force management, and that takes you di-rectly to Title 10 and Title 32.  And because both Title 10 and Title 32 are mutually but distinctly important, you have to build a force incorporating both, and that's why continuum of service is so important. We recommended that both the Congress and the Air Force re-examine these statutes to see how they can be relevant and useful to an integrated Total Air Force, and still retain their original intent.  

    In the singular form of federalism our nation uses, the Governors have authority over their state's National Guard. It is essential in the wake of natural disasters or similar emergency re-sponse that the Governor have direct access to and control of their Guard forces. It is also a fundamental tenet of this nation that the federal armed forces should not become a domestic police force. These two principles are at the root of the differentiation between Title 10 and Title 32. Integration is still workable under these parameters, and, in fact, the evolution of Dual Status Commanders who operate under both Titles 10 and 32 shows tremendous potential for dual use of forces.

    Part of our Congressional charter was to look at the Homeland Defense mission, and we rec-ommend that the Air Force give greater visibility to that mission within its established corpo-rate structure.  We also recommended that DOD re-examine some of its practices with regard to collaboration with its Council of Governors.  It was clear to us that overall DOD response in support of civil authorities has improved over the past decade, but we found there were still some communications gaps that need to be closed.
     
    The away game is also the home game now because many of our adversaries will not fight us by conventional means overseas but attack us at home. There was discussion over the course of the Commission's work related to whether some missions would be particularly suited to the Guard as a homeland defense force while others are clearly global reach more suited to a feder-al force. But, truly, we need a Total Force both home and away. And the more integrated that force can be while maintaining the basic tenets of Title 10 and Title 32, the better.

    It's more important to break down the other legal and administrative barriers that hinder the federal mission from accessing the Guard and that hinder the state mission from accessing fed-eral assets. We also need to allow easier flow of Airmen among the components, back and forth, and using their skills in smarter ways. For example, the policy that Guard Airmen cannot be used as instructor pilots for Active forces puts an artificial and unnecessary restriction on force management. Why not allow a pilot after a 10-, 15-, or 20-year Active career transition to the Reserve or Guard and continue as a part-time instructor pilot? That's just smart business practice.

    Q: If you could only get one recommendation fully implemented, which would it be?

    A: There is no single recommendation that deserves more consideration than the others. When we presented the report in our public meetings on Capitol Hill last week, Commissioner Wyatt said that this report has to be taken as a whole; that you can't pick and choose certain recommendations to implement and not implement others because they are all interrelated. And all the other commissioners agreed, including me. For example, the integrated wings are essential for shifting forces from the Active to the Air Reserve Components, and those i-Wings will cut costs and achieve true cultural unity and trust only if you remove the duplicative command structure, and that unity and trust can only be achieved by implementing the continuum of service piece and removing the legal and policy barriers restricting movement among the components. Each recommendation is interdependent with others to some degree.

    Q: Why did the commission not specifically address roles and missions- they would de-fine force structure wouldn't they?

    A: We decided early on that we would focus on principles and let the Air Force through its corpo-rate process create the force structure it would need for this year and for next, and for the next five years, and the five after.  We could have gotten into specific numbers, but it was more im-portant for us to focus on the process itself than the actual outcome. We were formed as an in-dependent review, and we took our independence very seriously. As an independent panel, we saw the opportunity to take a holistic look at the Air Force and not only its force mix but also its force management in order to find ways of achieving cost efficiencies without undercutting readiness—and, in fact, improving readiness. We concluded that addressing the overarching concepts or principles is the way to achieve long-term cost efficiencies and sustained readiness.

    Q: Did you discover any institutional impediments or cultural roadblocks in either com-ponent that would impede increased AC/RC integration?

    A: As mentioned above the multiple duty and legal status issues that have been discussed for so long continue to be a problem.  We believe significant reduction in the number of duty statuses will enhance integration and readiness, and will create greater opportunities for members of the Reserve Components.  DOD and Air Force policies as well as administrative practices also cause impediments in many different ways. Take, for example, the definition of deploying. DOD has established a mobilization-to-dwell ratio for the Reserve Components of 1:5, a deploy-to-dwell for the Active of 1:2. But many Air Force Reservists and Air Guardsmen in associate wings will fly regular missions; does that count as deployment? The standard differs from MAJCOM to MAJCOM. Many Reserve Component Airmen mobilize but remain assigned on the home station for a period of full-time duty: that's not a deployment in the eyes of their Active colleagues, but it is a deployment for that Airman's employer or school. And most often, Reservists and Guardsmen volunteer for a deployment, which doesn't count as mobilization. Something as arcane as how you credit an Airman for "deployment" is a hindrance.

    You use the phrase "cultural roadblocks," and that alludes to attitudes, both personal and insti-tutional. After more than 10 years of fighting wars together, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve are now accorded more respect from their Active counterparts and leadership than perhaps ever before. However, we still heard from Airmen who said they were perceived to be “quitters” when they moved from the Active to a Reserve Component. A total force man-agement policy that recognizes value to the Nation and to the Air Force in all types of service represents the best management of “human capital resources.”  Retaining and fully utilizing the talent and experience in all components without prioritizing one over the other will enable the Air Force to field its very best team.

    Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned/discovered?

    A: I was surprised at the unanimity of opinion that the Air Reserve Components still had signifi-cant unused capacity.

    Q: A bill introduced this week, H.R. 3930 calls for the formation of a National Commis-sion on the Structure of the Army. What advice would you offer any potential chairman of that commission, specifically as he/she deals with the potential for major cuts to RC end strength?

    A: We focused totally on the Air Force, and I’m sure an Army Commission would focus totally on the Army.   I believe the force management principles we recommend would be found useful to the other Services. But having said that, there are significant differences between land and air forces, so some of the other recommendations we made are not as readily transferrable. The Commissioners and I were unanimous about the impact of the Federal Advisor Committee Act had on our work, and I would hope the Congress will take that into account if it decides to form other commissions of this type.

    Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

    A: If there is a central theme to our report it is seizing the opportunity. The Air Force has long had policies in place that has created an equal level of readiness across all three of its components. It has a successful model for integration in place with its associate wings. Combat engagement is winding down, so it can reshape its force without being on a war footing. And the fiscal envi-ronment of shrinking budgets requires new thinking and new ways of doing things in order to meet the demands that certainly are not shrinking in an ever-dangerous world.

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    NCSAF Releases Report, Recommends More Reliance on Reserve Component

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Friday, January 31, 2014
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    By Jenny Swigoda
    ROA, Content Manager

    After months of testimony, hearings and studies, the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) has released their report regarding the future force structure of the Air Force. The eight commissioners examined areas of divide concerning the active, Guard and Reserve Components in the nine-month study. In total, the report contains a list of 42 recommendations for the president and members of the House Armed Services Committee to consider.

    While the idea of merging the Guard and Reserve forces had been proposed, the commission recommended against such a measure, instead suggesting reduction of staff across the three branches of the Air Force.

    “The Air Force has made superior use of all three components,” said NCSAF Chairman Dennis McCarthy, and former Executive Director of ROA. “The integration of staff at the headquarter level will create more opportunities, especially for Reserve Component members to serve at higher level staffs.”

    Members of the commission discovered that the Air Force maintains a level of readiness equally in both the Reserve Component and the Active Component. Commission member Les Brownlee said that he was surprised to learn that the Air Force maintains 30 percent of Reserve Component members full-time.

    The recommendations outlined in the report pointed to a total force structure more reliant on the Reserve Components.

    “A force structure more reliant on a larger proportion of the Reserve Component will not look exactly like the force the Air Force has successfully employed in recent decades. Changing that force is not a criticism of the preceding force structure; it is recognition that the current and future budgetary and security environments present challenges that require new solutions…Shifting to a total force more reliant on Reserve Component part-time forces, combined with potential divestiture of complete aircraft fleets, will have significant implications for installations,” the report said.

    The NCSAF was created in the Fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and was directed by Congress to determine how the structure should be modified to best fulfill current and future mission requirements for the Air Force in a manner consistent with available resources.

    “The report contained bold thoughts that captured all of the strengths and economics of the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard in a who new organizational structure,” said ROA Executive Director Major General Andrew Davis, USMC (Ret.). “There is an under-utilized resource in the Reserve and Guard that was echoed in testimonies delivered to the commission. The Reserve, Guard and Active Duty readiness is about equal so it’s time to make use of that talent.”

    The NCSAF invites comments from members and the general public on their findings, you may sumbit your comments by visiting their website.

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    Reserve Component Critical In National And Global Security

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Friday, January 17, 2014
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    By Jenny Swigoda
    ROA, Content Manager

    In a letter today to General Raymond Odierno and General Frank Grass, Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Tim Walz, D-MN, sharply warned against denigrating the unique service of members in the Reserve Component.

    The letter proceeded egregious statements by General Raymond Odierno, chief of staff for the Army, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., regarding the capabilities of the Reserve Components compared to their Active-Duty counterparts.

    “The capabilities are not interchangeable,” Defense News reported Gen. Odierno saying. “there’s a reason why the Active Component is more expensive. It brings you a higher level of readiness, because they’re full time. They are trained and ready to do things at a higher level because they spend every day focused on that. Our National Guard, [which has] done an incredible job in the last 10 years, trains 39 days a year.”

    The letter blasted this statement, calling it “disingenuous” to state that the Reserves only train 39 days out of the year, when that is the minimum. The two former service members (Hunter is a Marine Reservist; Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress) spoke from experience, saying that there are other “training activities that put the total number of training days upwards of 90 to 100 days.”

    The letter further pointed to false statements that the Active Duty force somehow provides cost-saving measures in maintaining readiness. The Representatives pointed out that “the total cost to maintain one Active Component infantry brigade combat team is about twice that of the Reserve Component.”

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    Needed Defense Dollars In The 2014 Appropriations Bill, But At Lower Levels

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

    By CAPT Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.)

    The House passed the Budget Omnibus bill on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Included in the bill is funding for defense. Defense News reports that the bill will “would ramp up war spending for the first time in four years, and it includes billions for new weapon systems.”  The bill allocates $572 billion to the Defense Department, of which $85.2 billion go to war funding.  

    Included in the legislation is $160 billion for operation and maintenance – $13.6 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level,” explains the House Appropriations Committee in a press release. “This also includes $447 million for Cyber Command, $157 million for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, and an additional $25 million to expand the Sexual Assault Victims’ Counsel program to all the military services.”

    Sexual assault was an unresolved topic that slowed the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Several different changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice were suggested. Legislation was included in the NDAA, but the debate continues.

    “The bill contains $63 billion – $6.9 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level – for research, development, test, and evaluation of new defense technologies,” states the press release. The White House had asked for $67.5 billion for research and development.

    The legislation provides a total of $92.9 billion for procurement – $7.5 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level– for equipment and upgrades. The White House had asked for $99.3 billion.

    It also “provides $9.8 billion for military construction projects – a decrease of $817 million below the enacted fiscal year 2013 level. “ The bill also includes $665.8 million for construction or alteration of Guard and Reserve facilities in 25 states.

    “The bill does state the Air Force would receive $10.3 billion to buy aircraft and $4.4 billion to buy missiles, reports Defense News. “The Army would get $1.6 billion for ground vehicles, $4.8 billion for aircraft, $1.5 billion for missiles and $1.4 billion for ammunition.

    “The Navy is set to get more than $16 billion for new aircraft, $15 billion for shipbuilding, $3 billion for weapons, and $549 million for ammunition. The Marine Corps would receive $1.2 billion for all of its procurement accounts.”

    The Senate Appropriation committee highlights the following as significant appropriations:

    Full funding for 29 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and a production ramp to 39 aircraft in 2015. Under a full-year CR, DoD would be forced to procure fewer than the 29 aircraft in the president’s request.

    Full funding for the Air Force CV-22 Osprey and C-130J Hercules. Also provides approval of the C-130J multi-year procurement contract which will result in at least 10 percent savings on aircraft purchases compared to single-year buys.

    Protection of the procurement quantities for Army CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache, and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Under full sequestration, the Army would be forced to procure as many as 15 fewer helicopters. The bill also provides an additional four UH-60 Black Hawk and ten UH-72 Lakota helicopters for the Army National Guard.

    Full funding for Navy EA-18G Growlers, P-8 Poseidons, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, MV-22 Ospreys, MH-60S/R helicopters, and Joint Primary Aircraft Training System aircraft. Also adds $75 million for advance procurement of additional F/A-18E/F Navy fighter aircraft, and multi-year procurement authority for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which will result in significant cost

    Full support of the Navy’s shipbuilding plan by providing for new construction of eight ships, as requested, and ensuring that construction schedules will remain intact. Under a full-year CR, new aircraft carrier construction and renovations would be delayed, funding would be provided for the construction of the wrong types of ships, and there would be a $700 million shortfall for the construction of new ships. Under the agreement, each of these problems is corrected.

    Full funding the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) and modifications for Special Operations Forces, neither of which would be funded under a full-year CR.

    $90 million for the M1 Abrams tank program to maintain the industrial base for future tank production. Also adds $45 million for the conversion of Stryker vehicles to the protective double “V” hull configuration for improved crew safety and survival.

    $70 million to fully fund the requirement for Radar Digital Processors, a key element of upgrading the Patriot Missile Defense system and maximizing the capability of the MSE missile.

    Full funding of rocket motors for the Trident II (D5) missile program, $32.9 million more than a full-year CR, supporting a critical component of our strategic deterrent.

    “The bill includes $10.2 billion for the U.S. Coast Guard – a decrease of $211 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $463 million above the president’s request,” stated the House press release. “Targeted increases are provided for: cutter and aviation operating hours, training, and maintenance; acquisition of the seventh National Security Cutter (NSC) and long-lead time material for the eighth NSC; six Fast Response Cutter (FRC) patrol boats; an additional C-130J aircraft; and urgently needed upgrades to family housing. The bill also allows the Coast Guard to receive a transfer of 14 C-27J maritime patrol aircraft from the Air Force. ”The bill sustains military pay and allowances for Coast Guard personnel.

    While the House claims that overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending went down by $2 billion, Defense News analysis suggests that the omnibus actually included an additional $5 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO) above what the White House had requested.  To align with the Budget Control Act, it appears that Congress shifted dollars from the basic budget to OCO funding. OCO funding can be used for weapon procurement to help reset the force and is outside the sequestration restrictions. Examples include funding for the procurement of Army AH-64 Apache helicopters, CH-47 Chinook helicopters, and upgrades to OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

    The National Guard and Reserve receive “$1 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account to ensure Guard and Reserve units have the critical, dual-use equipment necessary for both homeland security and overseas missions,” according to the Senate Appropriations summary of the bill.

    The bill provides $40 million to equip six Air National Guard squadrons for unmanned aerial vehicle operations, including the outfitting of operations centers and supporting units.”

    An appropriation of $13 million for Beyond Yellow Ribbon initiatives, such as National Guard and Reserve outreach and reintegration activities, employment enhancement programs and peer-to-peer hotline services for mental health and suicide prevention efforts, was included.

    The bill also includes $23 billion for Defense readiness funds, which is intended to reduce the bite of sequestration.  It also permits the Pentagon to sign multi-year contracts with industry and defense vendors. 

    ROA supports the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) fixes that were included in the bill, returning military disability retirees and surviving spouses to the full COLA rates.  The Free Beacon reports that the COLA fix only covers 17.5 percent of military retirees.

     At least 15 other bills have been introduced to provide budget offsets that will cover the costs of restoring COLA for other military retirees.   Federal Times reports that the bill also “gives a 1 percent pay raise to more than 200,000 blue-collar federal workers at military depots and other facilities.”

    “The bill also contains $32.7 billion – the same as the fiscal year 2013 enacted level – for the Defense Health Program to provide care for our troops, military families, and retirees,” reports the House Appropriations Committee. This includes a “$218 million increase for TRICARE to ensure service members are not paying higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care,” reports the Senate committee.

    Current funding ran out on Wednesday. Congress passed a 3-day continuing resolution to fund the federal government, permitting the Senate some time to review the omnibus bill. The Senate is expected to vote on the budget legislation before the end of the week.

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    Slow Moves for NDAA

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Tuesday, December 31, 2013
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    By CAPT Marshall Hanson, USN (Ret.)

    The National Defense Authorization (NDAA) is back on track with the Senate version of the bill going to the floor before Nov. 18.  The Senate Rules committee has shared that Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. will permit three-days of debate – one legislative week. 

    Historically, the Senate has taken up to three weeks to debate and vote on amendments to a NDAA. Hundreds of amendments are submitted for inclusion in this omnibus bill as it is the only defense legislation considered in the year. It is rare for a stand-alone bill about to be considered by Congress, as normally Armed Services Committee cherry pick from available bills to be included in the NDAA.

    "I put all Senators on notice: we will do whatever it takes to accomplish that, even if it means working weekends," Sen. Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday. The Thanksgiving holiday will help pressure the Senate for quick passage.

    The majority leader has several options: He can allow the rules committee to build a list of germane amendments, that would then be debated and voted upon; or he can work with the Armed Services leadership and pre-select a number of amendments which would be presented to the Senate as a managers’ package. If things look to controversial, the bill can be submitted to the Senate as it was marked up by the Armed Services Committee on June 14.

    The marked-up Senate bill has 25 provisions in it. Several years ago, the NDAA was sent to the House with only three amendments.

    Several provisions appear to be controversial. The most visible is how the military should review sexual assault cases. Personnel subcommittee Chairman Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. has garnered support from 46 Senators to develop a review process that is outside the chain of command. Her boss, SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wants to change the review process but keep it within the chain of command.  Last September, ROA sent a letter of support to Senator Levin. Other issues that will be discussed will be detainees at Guantanamo Bay/Gitmo, sanctions on Iran, and the National Security Agency.

    Leader Sen. Reid has stated that he would not tolerate "extraneous issues" that are unrelated to national defense. ROA has been told that a minimum wage provision may be attached to the Senate NDAA.

    With a truncated schedule, a Senate version of the Senate NDAA would be completed before the Senate leaves on Thanksgiving recess on Nov. 22. It would then go into conference with the House where leaders negotiate which provisions to include in the final bill. A conference report is issued, which each chamber would vote on, with no amending permitted. Normally this final version of the NDAA is passed with bi-partisan. It is likely that the final bill will be passed and sent to the president for signature just before Christmas.

    ROA will be following the NDAA as issues develop, and will be providing membership with a summary in the March/April issue of The Officer.

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    Reducing The Deficit

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Tuesday, December 31, 2013
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    Congressional Budget Office Recommends Trimming a Trillion from Defense

    After 12 years of war, Pentagon leadership, think tanks and military analysts and perhaps even Congress look to serving personnel, veterans, and retirees to continue their sacrifice by giving up benefits to help pay the outstanding bills for defense, and help reduce the deficit. The latest report to make such recommendations comes from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which addresses both personnel and equipment cuts.

    The CBO report coincides with the conference being held between the leadership of the Senate and House budget committees. This group is tasked to set up budget limits that will permit Congress to pass a budget (or Continuing Resolution) beyond Jan. 15, 2014 and avoid a debt ceiling cliff on Feb. 7.  

    In its reports, the CBO suggests 100 options for reducing the budget deficits. It covers a span of options including education, transportation, and tax revenue as well as defense.  Sixteen out of 100 of these recommendations are focused on military, retirees, and veterans. Another eight suggest changes to Social Security.

    Many in Washington, D.C. discount payments to military retirees, as it is assumed that they no longer contribute to national security. CBO has suggested that Congress can eliminate concurrent receipt of retirement pay and disability compensation if a military retiree is disabled as early as October 2014, in order to save $108 billion by 2023.

    The CBO also focused on TRICARE enrollment fees, nearly doubling TRICARE prime enrollment for families to $1100 per year (adjusting the 1995 rate for inflation). CBO also suggests that TRICARE Standard deductible would also be increased from $300 to $700, and to also add an annual enrollment fee of $100. Note: single user costs would remain half of family fees. All new fees would be indexed to match increases in per capita spending for healthcare. With these changes, CBO expects to save $19 billion, but they also suggest making military retirees ineligible for TRICARE Prime to save another $71 billion over nine years.

    Additional savings were found by CBO by introducing out-of-pocket requirements for TRICARE for Life (TFL). When introduced in 2002 as a supplement to Medicare, beneficiaries don’t pay anything more than Medicare Part “B” with TFL paying nearly all the costs not covered by Medicare. CBO’s recommendation would not cover the first $550, and would setup a cost share of 50 percent for the next $4950, increasing the costs in Fiscal Year 2015 from zero to $3,025. Under CBO’s recommendation, Military Treatment Facilities would charge copayments to seniors seeking treatment on bases. The calculated savings would be $31 billion.

    If TFL fees were established retirees would still have to pay Medicare Part “B.” Ironically, CBO has recommended increasing the Part “B” and “D” premiums as well. CBO suggests that Part “B” premiums increase by 5 percent and that means testing thresholds, not be adjusted for inflation, shifting more seniors into higher premium levels. CBO expects the savings to be $287 billion – although this affects the general population, not just military retirees.

    Veterans also would see change. The CBO suggests narrowing eligibility for veterans disability by changing qualifying disabilities to be from line of service, rather than line of duty.  “Qualifying injuries can be someth ing that occurs at home or on leave, or a qualifying medical condition can be something, such as diabetes, that developed independently of military activities.” By ceasing disability compensation for seven medical conditions that have been identified by the Government Accountability Office, CBO estimates a savings of $20 billion by 2023.

    Another target is veterans receiving unemployability benefits. More than 3.4 million disabled veterans receive compensation as they have been rated as being unable to work. The CBO suggests ending such payments if a veteran is past the Social Security full retirement age, typically between 65-and-67-years-old, because they wouldn’t be part of the labor force if not disabled. This would be a savings of $15 billion.

    The CBO would also end enrollment in VA Medical care for Priority Groups 7 and 8. These two groups of veterans don’t suffer any service-connected disability, with Priority 7 enrollment based on means testing. While these two priority groups pay co-payments, copayments and private-plan billing only cover 18 percent of the VA’s cost, but cancelling enrollments, the CBO calculates a savings of $48 billion.

    Personnel benefits aren’t the only military cuts recommended by the CBO. It suggests capping pay increase for serving military members to half of a percent below the percentage increase of the employment cost index (ECI - a measure of inflation). This is intended to offset the period between 2000 and 2010 when lawmakers approved raises that were often higher that ½ percent over ECI. By limiting pay raises, the CBO calculates a reduction of discretionary outlay of $25 billion.

    The CBO also recommends cutting the size of the military. CBO would eliminate 10 Army brigade combat teams (out of a planned force off 66 BCT’s in 2017); 34 warships (out of 244 in 2017); 170 fighters (out of 1,100 in combat squadrons in 2017); and two Marine regiments (out of 11 in 2017). In comparison, in 2013, the Army had 73 BCTs; the Navy had 214 warships, the Marines 11 regiments, and the Air Force 1100 fighter aircraft. The force cuts would reduce the need for budget authority by $552 billion through 2023, but the force could remain unchanged thereafter.

    Another suggestion is to replace some military personnel with civilian employees, at a projected savings of $39 billion. This suggestion can be challenged, as part of the personnel cost increase over the last decade is the Department of Defense (DoD) hiring 128,000 additional civilians, and also replacing military personnel with contractors who can cost almost three times as much. Also overlooked by the CBO, is that often the desk jobs of the military are their ashore rotation, assignments during their dwell time at home.

    Replacing the Joint Strike Fighter program with F-16s and F/A-18s is another recommendation. While many think tanks have suggested reducing the F-35 buy size, the CBO suggests cancelling the whole program, and upgrading the radar, precision weapons, and digital communications in the F-16 and F/A-18 fighters. CBO calculates a saving of 85.6 billion.

    Another program that gets a stamp of disapproval is the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program. Since 2004, the Army has invested $14 billion to upgrade its Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks. By keeping the Bradleys, and cancelling the GCV, $26.3 billion in savings is possible.

    The Navy is also targeted, with the cancellation of the Littoral Combat Ship program, limiting the build at 24 (rather than the planed 52) for a savings of $30.5 billion; a reduction of ballistic missile submarines from 14 to 8 when replacing the Ohio class submarines with the replacement class at an estimated savings of $26.2 billion. The Ford Class Aircraft carriers would be cancelled after the Ford and the Kennedy were completed, saving $28 billion dollars.

    These defense cuts would lead to a cost reduction over a trillion dollars, but would lead to a radical change in force structure and manning. While saving dollars, could national security afford the costs?

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    Budget Agreement Passed In House And Senate

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Tuesday, December 31, 2013
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

    Cost of living allowances for retirees to be reduced

    By CAPT Marshall Hanson, USN (Ret.)

    The Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Control Act on Wednesday, Dec. 18. The bill will be rolling back $31 billion in cuts the Department of Defense faced under sequestration over the last two years. It easily passed in the Senate, 64 to 36.

    Hastily passed by the House on Friday, Dec. 13, by a vote of 332-94, the contents of the bill were not thoroughly reviewed for impact. The six days between House and Senate brought details to light as the House bill was reviewed.

    Controversy arose when it was learned that “working age” retirees would have the cost of living allowance (COLA) reduced by one percent from when they retired until age 62. A number of Senators tried to delay passage of the bill passage, or amend it to provide an offset for the $6 billion that budget leadership planned to gain from reducing military retiree COLA’s. Ten percent of that $6 billion would be a reduction in COLA from Chapter 61 retirees, who were medically retired.

    Retirees who were drilling Reservists would only be affected for one year if they retire at 60-years-old. As written, the COLA reduction only lasts until they reached 62-years-old, with a recalculation occurring so that a retiree who is 62-years-old would have a constructed pay level that equates to what they would have received without the cut. A Reservist would only receive a reduced COLA at 61-years-old. Reserve Force veterans who earned earlier retirement serving in Iraq and Afghanistan would risk a COLA reduction during those earlier years.

    Examples of this haste, included in the House press statement, are about the COLA reduction itself. The statement included an explanation saying that the first COLA cut would be one quarter of a percent.  Some who have read the bill indicate it will be a full percent. In addition the House statement said that disabled military would not be included in any COLA reduction. VA disabilities are not affected, but ROA learned that military veterans who were medically retired are indeed included, as was confirmed by both the Pentagon and the Congressional Budget Office.

    The Federal Times reports that “Pentagon leaders support the plan, as do defense industry executives.”  As passed, DoD would receive $22.5 billion in readiness funds for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 and another $9 billion in FY 2015. While this does not totally offset sequestration and reduce some of the financial pressure. ROA hopes that this additional funding will put a pause on suggest cuts to the Reserve Forces.

    While DoD leadership avoided comment on the controversy, several flag and general officer retirees to weighed in. General Jim Jones, USMC, Gen. Chuck Wald, USAF, MGen. Arnold Punaro, USMCR and Admiral Greg Johnson, from the Bipartisan Policy Center, publically supported the Bipartisan Budget Act, with a statement that said “Such a change is much needed - but it's only a first step. Additional reforms to compensation to ensure benefits are both fair and sustainable will be essential to slow the rise of personnel costs and to ensure the military is able to make the necessary investments to maintain sufficient capability to fight and win wars."

    Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte, R- N.H, and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., disagreed with the cuts and held a press conference on the day of the bill’s passage, hoping to slow the process down. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., went to the Senate floor hoping to change to bill by amendment, but was procedurally stopped. The Senators have pledged to eliminate the COLA cut. Sen. Ayotte has already introduced legislation to provide an offset.

    Part of the motivation behind the agreement was to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 15.  Passage of the bill will permit Hill staff to work over the Christmas recess to develop an actual budget that can be passed when the Congress returns in January. The Bipartisan Budget Control Act was more a handshake agreeing to a financial architecture, rather than budget specifics. ROA didn’t support delaying the legislation.

    No cuts will occur before January of 2015. This provides at least nine months of legislative session in which to correct the problem.

    While he voted for the budgetary bill, Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. did so reluctantly. ROA received a phone call from his staff indicating that Sen. Levin and Ranking Member James Inhofe were caught by surprise by the provision to reduce the COLA and were displeased that they were not included in the process. It was pointed out that another group being possibly impacted by the reduction is the recipients of the Survivor Benefit Plan.  

    In their conversation with ROA, the SASC staff has promised that there is bi-partisan support to fix this within the SASC which was left out of the process. They expect to fix this provision during the next year, and are looking at offsets that will cover the $6 billion that were budgeted from the COLA reduction. 

    After the vote, many Senators who voted in favor of the agreement were making public statements that they didn’t support the cut to military COLA. It should also be noted that while Federal employees face a similar COLA reduction, it is for only new federal employees and not retroactive to current employees.

    The budget act’s co-author, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is now calling the COLA cut “a technical error,” and supports a correction.

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    NDAA Update

    Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Tuesday, December 31, 2013
    Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

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    Veteran Status - Still Waiting

    By CAPT Marshall Hanson, USN (Ret.)

    For the third time in six years the Armed Services Committee used a legislative procedure that isn’t taught in civics classes. A Senate defense authorization bill was never completed, yet House and Senate leadership pre-conferenced creating new legislation from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was passed by the House in June 2013, and the marked-up Senate bill that was a product of the Senate Armed Services Committee to complete an NDAA before year’s end.

    "This is the only way we can pass a bill this year," said Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a speech on the Senate floor, as he advised support for

    passage.

    The House passed the new legislation on a vote of 350-69 during its last week in session on Dec. 13."No" votes came from 50 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Then the Senate could only accept or reject, as any amendments would require a revote in the House, which was no longer in session. The Senate passed their bill on Dec. 19, 2013 on a vote of 84-15.

    The last thing that either the House or Senate defense leadership wanted was to delay a vote into January. Never in the last 51 years had an NDAA passage been delayed until the next year, except when it was vetoed by the president. Passage before the end of the year was considered “vital.”

    A letter from chairman of the joint chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, USA was sent to the conferees warning them that certain authorities would expire on Dec 31.  All combat, hazardous duty pay and reenlistment bonuses would be stopped if not passed as part of an NDAA.

    When the original Senate bill was debated, only two amendments were considered, and both failed to pass. The pre-conference considered 87 amendments that had been cleared by the Senate Rules committee with 79 being accepted in the new legislation. These Senate amendments had never been voted upon by the Senate, except as part of the overall bill.

    The legislation authorized $534.5 billion in spending for national defense, $17.6 billion for the Department of Energy and an addition $80.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. This is $7.8 billion less for war spending as U.S presence in Afghanistan winds down. 

    These numbers were consistent with the House passed budget, but were agreed upon prior to the release of the budget conference report that was also voted upon by the House and Senate before recessing in December. Staffers worked on Defense appropriations over the Christmas Holiday for inclusion in budget bills passed in January.

    Authorized end-strength for the Reserve Forces are 354,200 for the Army National Guard; 205,000 for the Army Reserve; 105,400 for the Air Force National Guard; 70,400 for the Air Force Reserve; 59,100 for the Navy Reserve; 39,600 for the Marine Corps Reserve; and 9000 for the Coast Guard Reserve.

    Bill language now requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide a minimum of 180 days notification before the cancellation of a Reserve Force deployment and a minimum of 120 day notification before a deployment.

    Language was updated to provide contact information to include and improve Reserve Force suicide prevention programs. A review is required of the effectiveness of the DoD/Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) integrated disability evaluation system. The bill also includes a provision directing DoD to provide the Department of Veteran Affairs with an electronic copy of a member’s service record.

    Additional funding is authorized for $400 billion for continued modernization of the Reserve Forces by providing additional funding in a National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment Account.

    One-year extensions were authorized for certain bonuses and special pays to Reserve Forces and health care professionals.

    Reservists who served in support of an overseas contingency operation will be provided a periodic review of their early retirement eligibility age, allowing members to correct faulty records earlier.

    The NDAA invested in weapons systems including supporting the Navy’s authorization request for a nuclear aircraft carrier, CVN 78; multi-year procurement for the E-2D Hawkeye and C-130J Super Hercules; modernization of the C-130H aircraft for the National Guard and Reserve; support for KC-46 tanker, the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), additional funding for advance procurement of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle, and additional investment in the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems.

    The NDAA restores vital readiness accounts to replace funds that were reprogrammed to cover unfunded combat operations. This includes restoring Army and Air Force flying hours, facilities sustainment, Army OPTEMPO, depot maintenance, ship depot maintenance, critical spares and combat support forces equipment and sustainment. It also provides for procurement to stabilize fuel rates. These steps are viewed as a stop gap and not a comprehensive solution to defense strategy, resources and roles and missions.

    With passage, Congress prohibits another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) suggesting that it would not only be costly, but a reaction to “temporary budget pressures at the expense of long term strategic assets.”

    Troop pay was limited to a 1 percent increase in keeping with the White House request. This compares to a 1.5 percent increase for military retirees, veterans and social security recipients which is based on Employment Cost Index calculations that estimate inflation.

    Language in the NDAA did reject all the Administration’s proposals to increase or create new TRICARE fees for military retirees. While fees will increase it is based on retiree cost of living increases. 

    “DoD’s record of incorrectly calculated TRICARE costs and their repeated requests to transfer billions [of dollars] in unused funds out of the [health care] program to cover other unfunded defense priorities raises questions about repeated claims by the Department of Defense that the Defense Health Program is unsustainable,” reproached House leadership in a statement about the compromise bill.

    Beneficiaries who have received notice that they are no longer included in Tricare Prime Service Areas (PSAs) will be grandfathered into Tricare Prime as long as they live within 100 miles of a military treatment facility and don’t relocate outside of their original zip code. Medical beneficiaries who have other health insurance and use military facilities to save money, may have their insurance billed under a new pilot program.

    Combating Sexual Assault was one of the issues that stalled out the NDAA in the Senate when two different approaches were debated on the floor without resolution when dueling amendments were submitted by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. 

    Over 30 provisions and reforms were included in the compromise NDAA. These reforms would strip commanders of their authority to dismiss a finding by a court martial, and prohibit commander from reducing guilty finding to a lesser offense. The 5-year statute of limitations was eliminated on rape and sexual assault. 

    The NDAA also establishes new minimum sentencing guidelines for sexual assualt, joining similar guidelines for murder and espionage. Victims will be provided special counsel, and can request for a permanent change of station or unit transfer. Members of the Reserves and National Guard will have timely access to Sexual Assault Response Coordinators.

    DoD is directed to do a review of jobs within the military to see what new roles are open to women, and emphasizes a need for gender-neutral standards as a means of entrance into individual military specialties.

    Using the Thanksgiving recess as a backstop, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had allowed three legislative days for NDAA debate, hoping for an expedited passage, but his efforts were derailed when Republican pushed backed. 

    Republicans were provoked by a move by Sen. Reid to change Senate rules, XXII, a cloture vote could only end debate with a “yea” vote by 60 Senators. The change permitted the majority party the power to elect judicial and administration nominees with just a simple majority. This frustration resulted in a slow down of the NDAA in the Senate. With passage of the NDAA, many Republicans went home, leaving Democrats to pass judicial nominations as the final business for the Senate before the holiday recess.

    Such shortcuts in the legislative process, handicap advocates on Capitol Hill. Normally ROA is approached by Senate offices to support specific amendments, and later when provisions go into conference, ROA can submit positions of support or rejection to be considered in discussions. Truncating the systems, reduces advisement from outside.

    Veteran Status

    One disappointment in the NDAA was the exclusion of veteran status for Reserve and National Guard members who qualified for military retirement at age 62, but haven’t had a long enough period of active duty.

    Included in the original House defense bill was a provision to recognize these overlooked veterans. Under current law, only Guardsmen and Reservists who have served on federal active-duty for other than training, regardless of their total years in uniform, may call themselves a veteran. The Senate Veterans Affairs committee protested and the provision was dropped from the NDAA as not being germane.

    While the House passed the Honor America's Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, H.R. 1405 in October, the Senate didn’t consider that bill. Instead, the Senate VA committee included language in S.944. that differed from that passed by the House. Nonregular service is hill-speak for reserve duty.

    “SEC. 807. HONORING AS VETERANS CERTAIN PERSONS WHO PERFORMED SERVICE IN THE RESERVE COMPONENTS OF THE ARMED FORCES.

    “Any person who is entitled under chapter 1223 of title 10, United States Code, to retired pay for nonregular service or, but for age, would be entitled under such chapter to retired pay for nonregular service shall be honored as a veteran but shall not be entitled to any benefit by reason of this honor.”

    “Shall be honored as a veteran,” falls short of being recognized as a veteran. So ROA intends to continue to work this issue. Resistance to a better definition has come from the ranking member, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. Worst case, ROA will try to improve language once Sen. Burr leaves the VA committee.

    Ironically, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., prevented S.944 from being considered in December, but not because of Sec. 807. The bill is expected to pass early in 2014. The office of Rep. Tim Walz – originator of the House bill – has suggested that when the House and Senate bills are in conference, they might have an opportunity to wordsmith the provision.

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