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December 6, 2019  


















Here are last month’s survey question results………

Were you a "Gray Area" retiree? If so, how long after you became eligible for pay did it take to get your first payment?

A. 0-3 months (41 out of 61)
B. 3-6 months (11 out of 61)
C. 6-9 months (1 out of 61)
D. 9-12 months (0 out of 61)
E. More than 12 months (8 out of 61)





Talk to ROA is a way for the ROA legislative team to ask a question(s) on issues being worked either through legislation or policy.

ROA member responses will help inform ROA’s actions going forward. Each Reserve Voice newsletter will include a Talk to ROA question.

Survey results will be shared with ROA members.


You are encouraged to share the link with other Reserve and National Guard servicemembers who may not be ROA members. This can be a recruiting tool you can use to increase ROA Chapter membership!


December Question

Some argue that military tuition assistance such as the GI Bill should be the subject of new restrictions (please see accompanying article in Legislation), making it harder for for-profit schools to use these funds.  Increasingly, for-profit schools offer options that traditional schools do not, such as technical and other “career” training.  While the for-profit sector has in some cases gotten a bad reputation, our research indicates the occasional problems these days are far outweighed by the benefits offered by good for-profit schools.

The VA itself testified before Congress that this could cost some 66,000 GI Bill beneficiaries their educational options – their schools would shutter or close programs or raise tuition, etc. That’s more than the size of the Coast Guard and it’s almost exactly the Army’s annual recruiting goal. It’s also about 10 percent of GI Bill beneficiaries. Where else would we as veterans’ advocates support a reduction in earned benefits that hurts 10 percent of beneficiaries?

The ROA legislation team conducted research of our own: based on a May 2019 Congressional Budget Office report, five of the 10 most popular institutions under the Post 9/11 GI Bill were private for-profit, with more than 72,000 veterans who likely would be affected by a 90/10 rule change. (That’s just the top five for-profits . . .).

ROA is interested in the real, on-the-ground, truth about where veterans attend secondary education. Please take the survey at the below link and tell us where you attended secondary education. 
www.roa.org/survey

Secondary Education

What type of secondary education did you attend?

A. Public non-profit
B. Private non-profit
C. Private for-profit
D. Public trade/certificate

E. Private non-profit trade/certificate
F. Private for-profit trade/certificate





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Legislation







Spano Introduces Bipartisan TRICARE Bill to Help Veterans

On Tuesday November 19th,2019, U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., paired up with a Democratic presidential candidate to bring out a bill to reform TRICARE for National Guard and Reserve personnel.

Spano introduced the “TRICARE Fairness for National Guard and Reserve Retirees Act” on Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hi., as the cosponsor.

“The bill aligns the eligibility age for TRICARE Standard, Extra, and Prime with the age at which National Guard and Reserve personnel begin receiving their retired pay,” Spano’s office noted. “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 lowered the retirement age for Reserve Component personnel from 60 to a lower age, but not below 50, based on active duty performance. However, the age reduction for retired pay eligibility for non-regular service did not reduce the eligibility age for health care. Qualified retired reserve members under the age of 60 looking for TRICARE medical coverage may now purchase TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR). Once they reach 60, they and their qualifying family members become eligible for TRICARE Standard, Extra and Prime (where available).

“As a comparison, TRR for FY19 was $451.51 per month for an individual plan or $5,418.12 annually. TRICARE Prime for servicemembers who began service prior to 2018 has an annual enrollment fee of $297 for an individual. TRICARE Select has no yearly enrollment fee for those same servicemembers,” Spano’s office added.

Spano, who was first elected to Congress last year, weighed in on why he had introduced the proposal.

“We have heavily relied upon our National Guard and Reserve personnel for the past 20 years, and they have made major contributions to our force structure for over 200 years,” Span said on Tuesday. “A decade ago, Congress lowered the age they can receive their retired pay based on active duty service. It’s not right that their eligibility for traditional TRICARE was left at age 60. This has resulted in early retirees often spending the vast majority, if not all, of their pension on TRICARE premiums until they reach 60. This bill will help servicemembers transition into retirement as intended when Congress reduced their retirement age.”

“National Guard and Reservists who are eligible for early retirement currently do not have similar eligibility as Active Duty early retirees for traditional TRICARE because of a technicality. This means they have added costs to get the healthcare they need,” said Gabbard. “This bill honors their service and sacrifice by improving their retirement transition and make sure they get the healthcare they have earned.”

The Reserve Organization of America (ROA), the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) are all behind the proposal.

H.R. 5169 it was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday the 19th of November 2019. So far, there is no counterpart in the U.S. Senate.






ROA speaks at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Veterans Round Table



ROA speaks at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Veterans Round Table
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s quarterly round table for military and veterans groups draws a lot of attention throughout the veteran community.  ROA, with its sole focus on the Reserve Components, always receives attention.

ROA’s government policy and legislative director, retired USAFR Lt. Col. Susan Lukas told Congressional members, “Too often, the Reserve Component is treated as an afterthought despite its success in our wars and being responsible for up to 100 percent of certain mission areas in our military.”

Susan spoke in depth about the gap in DD form 214s for the RC and how that effects RC access to key benefits. Susan held up at revised version of the DD form 214 to show the simple correction it would take to fix this complex problem.  Getting this done is an  
ROA priority.

   
   
    ROA fights restrictions on GI Bill and tuition assistance choices

ROA’s executive director, Jeffrey Phillips, and the legislative team, presented to The Military Coalition on Thursday ROA’s objections to proposed legislation, 
“Protect Veterans' Education and Taxpayer Spending Act of 2019”, S. 2857, that would have the effect of limiting education options for servicemembers using the GI Bill and DoD tuition assistance.  Proposed legislation responds to charges of abuses and aggressive marketing by “for-profit” schools that in many cases are outdated and/or rectified.  Unfortunately, it would also affect technical career and vocational schools that provide much-needed skills and would hobble this sector’s ability to use GI Bill and TA funds.

In fact, these schools are increasingly filling an important role. The attached ROA letter to the coalition’s members lays out our concerns.  Among many veteran and military groups there is strong backing for this proposed legislation, the feeling being that we must protect beneficiaries who could be financially harmed and that we should limit chances for “government money” to be misused.

The proposed solution would levy additional standards on “for-profit” schools only, not public non-profit schools, and make it harder for these schools to use GI Bill and TA money. ROA believes veterans and members of the Reserve and Guard have earned the right to make their own choices, with robust “consumer” information on schools so they can choose wisely; and that standards should be adequate, fairly administered across the board to “for profit” and private non-profit schools, and clearly communicated.
   
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VHIC for in-person Commissary, Military Exchange, MWR access



Veterans need VHIC for in-person Commissary, Military Exchange, MWR access
The Defense Department has announced expanded Commissary, Military Service Exchange and MWR access Jan. 1 and established a standard for physical access to military installations.

Veterans and Primary Family Caregivers who are eligible and want to take advantage of in-person benefits must have a Veterans Health Identification Card, or VHIC. Primary Family Caregivers must have an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.

Veterans use VHICs for identification and check-in at VA appointments, but will also use them for base access under the new program.

Read the full story at the link below:
Veterans and the VHIC




The Army is facing a major performance divide in its new combat
fitness tes
t

It may take up to five years to finalize the standards for the Army Combat Fitness Test as the service struggles to address the performance gap between male and female soldiers on the service's first-ever gender-neutral fitness assessment.

The Army just completed in late September a year-long field test of the ACFT, involving about 60 battalions of soldiers. And as of Oct. 1, soldiers in Basic Combat Training, advanced Individual training and one station unit training began to take the ACFT as a graduation requirement.

So far, the data is showing "about a 100 to a 110-point difference between men and women, on average," Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the Center for Initial Military Training, told Military.com.

ROA’s is very concerned about this and know it will only be compounded in the RC. RC doesn’t have the training time and the ability to conduct PT 4 days a week. We will continue to monitor this situation. CONTINUE READING >



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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Veterans Day Observance Arlington, VA


Vice President Michael Pence speaks at the Annual Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Veterans Day Observance.

“I think sometimes Veteran’s Day has become a day we as veterans, use to go get a free meal or discount on an item we have been shopping,” said Kevin Hollinger, ROA legislative director and serving Army National Guard sergeant first class and Army Ranger (11 combat deployments). “This was my first Veterans Day in Washington, D.C., and I could not help but be overwhelmed. I attended the Department of Veterans Affairs National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery. I was moved by Vice President Pence’s words and was extremely proud, not of only my service, but the honor of serving ROA every day as the legislative director.”

“Thank you all. It is the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. One hundred years ago, on this day, America first celebrated Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the day in 1918 when the guns of World War One fell silent,” said the vice president.  “You know, there is a day in May when we remember those who served and did not come home. But today, all across America, in gatherings large and small, in cities and towns, we pause to remember all those who served in uniform and did come home. It is Veterans Day in America.” 

Here is the vice president’s full statement: 
Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Veterans Day Observance




Department and Chapter Grassroots Efforts








During the month of December, the House and Senate are only in session for two weeks out of the month and will hopefully be turning their attention to passing a budget and the NDAA.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have finalized the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 but cannot agree on several provisions. A “skinny” NDAA with must pass legislative provisions has been proposed.

This may be the first time we see the end of the year come and go without either a budget or authorization bill for the Department of Defense.



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Reserve Component Mobilizations


By the Numbers (as of December 3, 2019 )
The Department of Defense publishes contingency activations of the Reserve Components on a weekly basis.





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Membership



More Seminar information on at: https://www.facebook.com/CIOR1/videos/1046696845721990/



Defense Department Announces Cost of Living Increase to Retired Pay

NOV. 6, 2019 Defense Department Announces Cost of Living Increase to Retired Pay Today, the Department of Defense announced annual cost of living adjustments that will benefit military retirees and survivors during calendar year 2020. Most military retirees will receive a 1.6 percent increase to their retired pay beginning with the pay they receive on January 1, 2020. Likewise, survivors of members who died on active or inactive duty, or survivors of military retirees who participated in the Survivor Benefit Plan will, in most cases, see a 1.6 percent increase to their annuities beginning in January. Survivors who are eligible for the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) will also receive an increase to their SSIA payments that reflects this 1.6 percent adjustment. The maximum amount of SSIA payable will be $323 beginning in January. These cost of living adjustments are calculated based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the four quarters ending with the third calendar quarter of 2019 (July, August, and September 2019), and generally go into effect for all pay received beginning in January 2020. Those military retirees who retired during calendar year 2019, and all military retirees who retired under the REDUX retirement system receive a slightly different annual cost of living adjustment. The complete list of updates to military retired and retainer pay, and survivor annuities, allowances, and premiums can be found at
https://militarypay.defense.gov/Pay/Retirement/Cola.asp

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Military Family





There are new exciting expansions of access to the BX/PX! Click the link below to see them all:
http://www.roa.org/resource/resmgr/docs/news_and_views/expanding-access-fact-sheet.pdf




Maj. Gen. Margaret “Peggy” Wilmoth inducted into the U.S. Army Women's Foundation Hall Of Fame




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The IG has recently completed a report on the leadership challenges we are facing in the near future. This report is on ROA’s web page or you can click the link below to read this report in full.
http://www.roa.org/resource/resmgr/docs/news_and_views/top_management_challenges_fy.pdf


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Influenza Vaccine

BACKGROUND:
Active Duty and National Guard and Reserve Members are required to receive the influenza (flu) vaccine annually. TRICARE covers this vaccine for all beneficiaries at no cost at military hospitals and clinics and via participating network pharmacies. Manufacturer delays in shipment of the flu vaccine have resulted in limited availability at military hospitals and clinics. The vaccination is currently in the process of being shipped out to military hospitals and clinics. Beneficiaries should call ahead to determine availability before attempting to receive their vaccination. Additionally, some states have age restrictions for vaccination at pharmacies, which may affect beneficiaries’ ability to receive the vaccination at participating network pharmacies. READ MORE (pdf) >






Exchange Shoppers Get the Best Deals with Holiday Price Guarantee

DALLAS — The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is keeping its promise to Warfighters and their families to offer competitive prices this gift-giving season.

With the Exchange’s extended holiday price guarantee, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, shoppers who make a purchase at ShopMyExchange.com or in-store and find the identical item at a lower price at another retailer can receive an Exchange gift card for the difference. Shoppers must present a receipt or online order confirmation along with a local competitor’s current ad at their local Exchange customer service desk. Some exclusions apply.

The Exchange’s regular price guarantee allows for price-matching within 14 days. The holiday extended price guarantee lets Exchange shoppers get the best deals through most of December.

“The Exchange is committed to making sure Airmen, Soldiers and their families receive the best price on all holiday purchases,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor. “We strive to make the Exchange the preferred retailer for the entire military community with tax-free shopping and military exclusive pricing year-round.”

Military shoppers, including honorably discharged Veterans, who made their purchase at ShopMyExchange.com can receive their gift card by filling out a
customer feedback form at
ShopMyExchange.com/customer-service or by calling the Exchange Customer Contact Center at 1-800-527-2345. Read more: https://wp.me/p9Q7PG-1de




Law Reviews




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 10 new Law Reviews have been posted. The latest 5 are linked below. Please visit ROA’s Law Center webpage to access all of the more than 1200 ROA Law Reviews available online.

No. 19099 Multiple Tours of Active Duty with Short Breaks
No. 19100 You Have the Right To Terminate your Apartment Lease when you Go on Active Duty
No. 19101 DOJ Sues Walmart for Violating USERRA
No. 19102 The Definitive Reference on USERRA—2019 Edition
No. 19103 Sorry, but I Don’t Have a Magic Wand
No. 19104 Recent Favorable Appellate Court Decision on USERRA
No. 19105 The Coast Guard and USERRA’s Five-Year Limit-The Title 14 Section Numbers Have Changed





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Reunions



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








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Taps





(Photo: Arlington National Cemetery)

During October 2019, 100 of our ROA comrades passed 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>




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