View in browser
Reserve Organization of America
                                         Reserve Voice Newsletter for July, 2020
Registration now Open for ROA 20220 National Convention, with In-person or Virtual Choice
Have it your way, but please register for ROA’s annual National Convention, Sept. 17-20, in St. Louis, Missouri – you can attend in person or choose to participate via virtual means at a significantly reduced registration cost.

“An annual meeting is required by ROA’s constitution, and the association’s leadership saw value and prudence in offering members a choice of in-person or virtual attendance.  Of course, we will monitor the health situation as September nears, but our hotel is taking all precautions to provide a safe venue,” said ROA’s executive director, Jeff Phillips. “We look forward to meeting with members – be it in person or by digital means!”
House Vets Committee Chair Takano asks ROA its Views on Wide Range of RC Issues
On Wednesday June 17, 2020, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) invited Maj. Gen. Jeff Phillips U.S. Army (Ret.), ROA’s executive director to speak with him on Reserve and National Guard parity.  Topics included RC support to the pandemic fight (including ROA’s leadership in extension of “89-day” orders, optempo friction with employers and families, and battlefield toxicity. See the full conversation here.
                            Watch the full conversation here.
“Thank you for joining us Major General Phillips-- we’re grateful to have you here with us virtually,” said Chairman Takano. “Our Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity has been hard at work to address the pay gaps and differences in benefits that too many servicemembers are experiencing because of their orders. It was egregious in the eyes of many in the public because even though our Reservists are not [necessarily] facing combat, they are still being put in harm's way to fight the pandemic and be there to erect mobile hospitals. But many Reservists have their federal orders stopped just a day short of being eligible for benefits. Benefits should be tied to individual days served, not arbitrary minimum thresholds. To help resolve this issue, Representative Levin introduced the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act. If this becomes the law, I think this would really help your members a lot. Thank you so much for our time together, I look forward to working with you.”

“I very much appreciate your support, Mr. Chairman,” said Major General Phillips. “I have an anecdote that goes back to 1995--remember the Reserve was denied rights because their orders were cut short? This is shot through the fabric and the way ROA looks at this is, yes, it is an issue of individual fairness for the members of the Reserve and Guard, but given the increasing difficulty of the force to recruit and retain at goal, this is a readiness issue. The ROA put out an op-ed a few weeks ago regarding the curtailment of some orders for members of the Guard and Reserve a day shy or so before they could attain certain benefits. This has been going on for a long time, and it is really an issue for the Reserve with the operations tempo being what it is. Law and policy haven’t quite caught up with reality. Thank you Mr. Chairman and thanks for your support.” 
ROA goes to bat for Texas Reservist Suffering USERRA Abuse by State
ROA Executive Director Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, U.S. Army (Ret.), penned two letters in support of USERRA. The first letter was in support of Torres V. Texas Department of Public Safety, Whereas Le Roy Torres, a retired Army Reserve captain, was forced to resign his position with the Texas Department of Public Safety due to a medical condition linked to his deployments and his exposure to burn pits.

ROA has monitored this case for almost two years and has asked the governor to intervene on Captain Torres’s behalf. Torres V. Texas Dept of Public Safety went up to the Texas Supreme Court and was turned down with no further explanation.

Please click the below link to read the full letter or visit
www.roa.org.

Torres V. Texas Department of Public Safety Letter to Gov Abbott

The second Phillips letter was opposing mandatory arbitration. This unfair practice has plagued our servicemembers for years and ROA has continued to advocate against it.

ROA believes forcing members of the Reserve and Guard to sign mandatory arbitration agreements as a continued employment or initial employment requirement is an unfair practice proven to inhibit them from exercising their employment rights under USERRA.

Please click the below link to read the full letter or visit
www.roa.org

ROA letter to SVAC S. 2459 Justice for Servicemembers Act
Guard DOMOPS Decline; Review of Unrest Response Ordered

Tens of thousands of Guardsmen remain on duty for domestic operations, even as the historic response appears to wind down.

Nearly half the number of Guardsmen from a week ago remain on mission related to the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest related to alleged racial injustice.

That number had approached 100,000 soldiers and airmen a week ago, according to the National Guard Bureau. It had dropped to just more than 49,000 Guardsmen as of Monday morning.

The response, which began with pandemic missions that began in March, was the largest domestic Guard mission in history, topping the approximately 51,000 Guardsmen who were activated in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.

The missions took place while tens of thousands of Guardsmen remained deployed for overseas missions. As of Monday, more than 84,000 Guardsmen were deployed for homeland or overseas missions, according to NGB.

Most Guardsmen, about 37,000, are currently on missions related to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Those missions are taking place in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

More than 7,000 Guardsmen remain activated for civil unrest mission in support of local officials. That’s a considerable drop from more than a week ago, when more than 40,000 were deployed to assist state and local officials amid a wave of protests following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed while in police custody in Minnesota.

While largely peaceful, some protests over the killing were marred by violence. Guardsmen were deployed to keep the peace and protect key infrastructure in major cities. The response included thousands of Guardsmen from across the nation who were deployed to Washington, D.C., to help protect national monuments and federal buildings.

Late last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he has ordered an after-action review of the Guard’s response in such missions. The review will specifically evaluate the Guard’s efforts working with local and federal law enforcement.

Previously, Esper has said the Guard was best suited for providing support to civil authorities. He is a former Guardsman.

The use of the military has come under scrutiny in recent weeks amid the nationwide protests.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy will lead the review, according to the Pentagon.

According to Military Times, Guardsmen in Kentucky have been implicated in the shooting death of a man who fired his gun as law enforcement approached during a night of protests.

In other states, Guardsmen have reported injuries at the hands of protestors or have contracted COVID-19 while on civil unrest-related missions.

A separate investigation is underway into the use of a D.C. National Guard helicopter which flew low over protestors. Videos show the helicopter snapping tree branches and spraying protestors with rotor wash.

Army Tweaks New Fitness Test, but it Won’t Count Until 2022
DOD Photo by Marv Lynchard

Soldiers who fail the new Army Combat Fitness Test later this calendar year will not need to worry about it negatively impacting their careers.

Army leaders have announced that while the ACFT will become the force’s test of record on Oct. 1, the scores will not count until 2022. 

The delay was caused in part by the ongoing suspension of physical fitness tests, brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The Army suspended such tests in March and has not announced when they will resume.

Officials announced the delay Monday the 15th of June 2020, while also detailing other modifications, including changes to alternate events, as part of what the Army calls ACFT 2.0.

The core of the six-event test is unchanged, according to Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston. The six events include a deadlift; standing power throw; hand-release push-ups; sprint, drag and carry; leg tuck; and two-mile run.

But under the latest changes, soldiers who cannot pass the leg tuck portion will be able to substitute with an alternative plank event, which will require soldiers to balance on their elbows and toes for a minimum of two minutes.

Officials said the event is a temporary alternative.

Another change was made to an alternative assessment, with the length requirement for the stationary bike event dropped from 15,000 meters to 12,000 meters. The bike assessment is an option for soldiers on permanent profiles who are unable to complete a two-mile run.

Sergeant Major Grinston said the delay will give soldiers more time to train for and pass the test without fear of it hampering their military careers.
SASC Approves NDAA with Pay Raise, but No Space Guard
Army Photo by Sgt. Leia Tascarini

The Senate Armed Services Committee has pushed forward its version of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, but the potential impact on the Guard and Reserve is not entirely clear.

A full version of the NDAA text has yet to be released. But it has bipartisan support, with senators praising the bill as “a needed step toward strengthening national security and prioritizing national defense resources.”

“This year marks the 60th year in a row that the committee has fulfilled our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense by advancing the National Defense Authorization Act – once again with overwhelming support,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the SASC chairman. “There’s a reason for this: it’s because this bill is, to its core, bipartisan, reflecting equal input from Republicans and Democrats alike.”

The bill will head to the Senate floor in the coming weeks. The House Armed Services Committee will mark up its version of the bill on July 1.

A key omission from the bill is the creation of a Space National Guard, something Guard leaders have been advocating for.

Instead, the Senate version of the NDAA delays the establishment of such a force until completion of a Defense Department study.

In all, the Senate version authorizes $740.5 billion in total defense funding, including $705.4 billion for the Defense Department. That includes a 3% pay raise for military personnel.

The bill would also prohibit the Air Force from divesting A-10 aircraft, require an annual aviation procurement plan for all services and provide reserve retirement relief for service members impacted by a COVID-19 stop movement order.

Other provisions that could impact the Guard and Reserve include the requirement for a study of Reserve Component suicide prevention efforts, a review of the Guard response to cyberattacks and a pilot program to help prepare the Guard to provide remote cyber assistance in the event of such attacks.

ROA’s June total membership up

ROA finished June with membership tallies that indicate the association’s steady rebound from its persistent declines of yesteryear.  The increases show steady growth over time: since April 2017, ROA has shown virtually uninterrupted net growth in term and associate memberships, although our losses among life members sadly often counterbalanced the growth. In June, however, as once or twice last year, we see net annual growth.

“ROA’s membership growth reflects the hard work done in our departments and chapters, as they recruit new members, retain existing members, and attract lapsed members,” said executive director, Jeff Phillips. “ROA’s leadership thanks our departments and chapters as it works to provide them the resources and support they need!”

Since the beginning of the fiscal year (April 1):

  • We have a net gain of 96 associate members.
  • We have a net gain of 361 term members.
  • We have a net loss of 90 life members.
  • We have an overall net gain of 335 members.

Since May 2020:

  • We have a net gain of 9 associate members.
  • We have a net gain of 101 term members.
  • We have a net loss of 31 life members.
  • We have an overall net gain of 79 members.
Call-To-Action this month from ROA
H.R. 6957 Help Guard & Reserve on COVID-19 Orders
ROA asks you to participate in this Call to Action on H.R.6957 (Rep. Panetta CA-20),to direct the DoD and VA Secretaries to treat a period of full-time National Guard duty as not shorter than 90 days when performed for the COVID-19 national emergency declared on March 13, 2020.  This is a priority and ROA asks for additional co-sponsors and an amendment to strike “National Guard” and insert “Reserve Component” because the bill as written would not include Reserve members on COVID-19 orders. As of today, approximately 46,500 National Guard and 7,500 Reserve servicemembers are on orders.

This legislation would ensure that all Reserve Component members who were activated in support of COVID-19 get the 90 day benefits they deserve --Post 9/11 GI bill credit and early age retirement.  As the bill is currently written only the National Guard would receive these benefits

To respond to this Call to Action please click the link below.
     
•  H.R 6957 Help Guard & Reserve on COVID-19 Orders
H.R. 6072, Coast Guard Retirement Parity Act:
ROA supported the Coast Guard last year when they were not funded during the January 2019 government shutdown.  At that time an additional 50,000 Coast Guard retirees were at risk of not receiving their retirement pay.

According to Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS), “Currently, retiree payments come out of the yearly Coast Guard budget as a mandatory appropriation, also known as ‘pay as you go’. However, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force retirees are all paid by the Department of Defense, which switched from a ‘pay as you go’ system to an accrual system in 1984.”

Because of the accrual system DoD servicemembers will never lose their retirement pay by a government shutdown.  The Coast Guard is excluded from this fund and this bill will right this wrong by implementing safeguards for future retirement pay for Coast Guard retirees.

To respond to this Call to Action please click the link below.
     
•  H.R 6072, Coast Guard Retirement Parity Act
Legal analysis on the issues impacting your life in and out of uniform

Former Service Member’s Law Center director, retired USNR Capt. Sam Wright, provides periodic law review updates. This past month 7 new Law Reviews have been posted. They are linked below. Please visit ROA’s Law Center webpage to access all of the more than 1200 ROA Law Reviews available online.

No. 20054 If you Marry after you Receive your Reserve Component Retirement Notice of Eligibility, you Can Elect to Participate in the RC Survivor Benefit Plan, But you Must Act within One Year after the Marriage.
No. 20055 The SCRA Protects you from Having To Pay Personal Property Tax on the Vehicle that you Own, But Not a Vehicle you Lease
No. 20056 You Must Stay within the Five-Year Limit To Get USERRA Pension Credit for your Military Service Time.
No. 20057 You Have the Right To Use Vacation Days or other Paid Time Off for Your Military Duty, without Regard to State Law, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, or the Employer’s Policy
No. 20058 Paid Military Leave for Federal Civilian Employees
No. 20059 The USPS and USERRA
No. 20060 Why Did I Receive this COBRA Notice after I Left my Job To Go on Active Duty?
To publish your reunion notice in Reserve Voice, email jphillips@roa.org or send by mail to
ROA Reunion Notice
1 Constitution Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002

USS Taylor (DD/DDE-468) Reunion
Date: 27-31 August, 2020
Location: Hershey – Harrisburg, PA
POC: James G. O’Neill, 14200 Hollows Drive,
Montpelier, VA 23192 • ph: 804-212-8911
Email: oneillfalm@aol.com

USS Hornet (CV-8, CV, CVA, CVS-12), 72nd Reunion
All Ship's Company, Officers, Air Groups, Crew, Marines & Families
Date: September 16-20, 2020 • Location: Buffalo, NY;
POC: Sandy Burket, email: hornetcva@aol.com
PO Box 108, Roaring Spring, PA 16673-9817
Phone: (814) 224-5063, cell: (814) 312-4976

USS Abnaki ATF96 Reunion
Date: 27-30 September, 2020, San Antonio, TX
Staybridge Suites Downtown Conv
POC: Steven Andersland  PH: 210-410-1820
Email: sandersland@outlook.com

USS Yellowstone AD 27 Reunion
Dates: 21-23 September, 2020
Location: Westgate Branson Woods Resort, Branson, MO
POC: Karen A. Bowen • 603-948-2821
30 Briar Drive, Rochester, NH 03867
Email: pkbowen@atlanticbb.net

USS Ranger CV/CVA-61 31st Annual Reunion
All former crew members
Dates: 30 September – 3 October, 2020
Location: Sheraton Norfolk Waterside
777 Waterside Dr., Norfolk, VA
POC: Tom Ballinger, Sec/Treas.  210-403-3302

12TFW  2020 Reunion
Includes 12th TFW MacDill AFB, FL; Cam Ranh AB & Phu Cat AB (Vietnam) & 12th FEW/SFW Bergstrom AFB, TX (Korea) and all supporting units. A memorial dedication to the 12TFW will occur during this event.
Dates: October 28-31, 2020
Location: Dayton, Ohio
POC: E. J. Sherwood, 12TFW Association
Email: EJ12TFW@cox.net • Ph: 480-396-4681
(Photo: Arlington National Cemetery)

During May 2020, ROA was notified of 56 of our ROA comrades passing from our ranks. On behalf of our membership, we thank these brave men and women for their many years of service and wish their families peace. READ MORE>

Published monthly by
Reserve Organization of America
1 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002
WWW.ROA.ORG

unsubscribe