Military Coalition Meeting Issues

Members of the AFSA Military and Government Relations Directorate attended the monthly TMC meeting this morning.  Here are few of the military and veterans-related issues that were discussed. 

It is all but certain that the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act won’t be completed in time for the start of the new fiscal year.  AFSA predicted weeks ago the final bill wouldn’t be ready before October 1.  Several of our partner associations now share that same view.  Based on what we have seen and heard, the yet-unfinished Senate version won’t make it to the floor in September and quite frankly, would be lucky if it sees attention by the upper chamber before Halloween.  Time will tell if we are right. 

Senate legislation that provides VA health care for certain veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune by eliminating federal appropriations for commissaries may not see the light of day much longer.  S. 277, the “Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act” by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) faces insurmountable opposition from AFSA, other military and veterans groups, DoD and VA.  We believe the bill will be returned to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to investigate other funding options or die a natural death.  

DoD is looking at where they will cut $350 billion in defense spending directed by the recent budget deal and faces the prospect of having to find an additional $500 to $600 billion if the debt deal’s “automatic trigger” mechanism is engaged.  If the larger defense cuts take place, DoD will likely be forced to make serious choices that are painful in some cases.  The greatest danger to mission effectiveness/readiness and military benefit programs will arise when DoD is forced to make choices on what programs and benefits to cut without fully vetting the consequences of their decisions.

DoD recently expressed the desire to mobilize up to 60,000 reserve-component members involuntarily for 365 days to support unnamed operations other than war.  This would be a historic change.  Under current law, Guard and Reserve members must use annual training days for these missions.  The Coalition is assessing the consequences of this change in policy, how benefits be addressed, and the impact on promised dwell time and employer-related considerations.  AFSA will participate in the discovery process and invites our Guard and Reserve members to offer their views on this possibility.    

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