AFSA HQ Newsletter – Februrary 9th

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES AND NEWS 

AFSA CONDOLENCES FOR CMSAF (R) BOB GAYLOR

Yesterday, Mrs. Selma Gaylor wife of CMSAF #5 Bob Gaylor (Ret.) was laid to rest atFortSamHoustonNationalCemeteryinSan Antonio,Texas.    AFSA mourns the loss of Mrs. Gaylor, and shares the grief with CMSAF Gaylor and his family. 

Protecting VA Healthcare

Wanting clear answers if veterans’ healthcare would be spared from cuts required by last year’s Budget Control Act, but receiving none, has prompted one key House lawmaker to action.  Last week, the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) introduced H.R. 3895, the “Protect VA Healthcare Act,” which seeks to exempt VA healthcare programs from any of the Act’s required cuts. 

In January, Chairman Miller wrote President Obama about this issue and according to a February 3 press release, he made repeated requests over the past several months to the President and Secretary of Veterans Affairs for assurances that funding for VA care would not be touched.  That clarification was not received, prompting Miller to introduce the new bill. 

Like many military and veterans associations, AFSA is concerned the nation’s current fiscal woes may eventually lead to lead to a reduction in funding provided for our veterans.  Large numbers of service members will soon be separated at the convenience of the government as result of defense budget cuts and many of these veterans will likely turn to the VA for their care.  AFSA is supports passage of H.R. 3895 which would help ensure care is available for these individuals when that time comes.

CJCS Issues Guidance on New National Defense Strategy

A month ago President Obama  announced a new defense strategy he believes will allow the military to defend the United States and its national interests while cutting military spending in a responsible, balanced manner.  On Monday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, issued his own guidance for implementing the departments’ new strategy.  The document, entitled the “Chairman’s Strategic Direction to the Joint Force,” provides the Chairman’s views on a number of elements contained in the President’s new plan.  These include continued development of the joint force, a renewed commitment to the profession of arms, and keeping faith with the military family. 

Regarding the latter, General Dempsey speaks about the importance of understanding and recognizing the military families’ extraordinary contributions and sacrifices.  “Our men and women in uniform, the family members who stand with them, veterans of every generation, wounded warriors, and loved ones of our fallen are all part of our military family,” said Dempsey.  “Taking care of our military family preserves the strength and readiness of our All-Volunteer Force.  When tested, we came together to care for them—they deserve the future they sacrificed to secure.  He acknowledged rising costs and smaller defense budgets will result in the examination of many areas of DoD—including benefit programs, but that changes must occur in a manner that does not diminish the department’s ability to recruit and retain the nation’s best men and women for military service.  “Going forward, we must honor our commitment while reforming compensation and benefits” the chairman said.  “We must balance our commitment to provide quality, accessible health care with better management of its escalating costs.  We must continually adjust, and improve how we will meet the long-term needs of those who defend the Nation.”   The chairman’s document is available for viewing on line, and you can read it here 

Air Force Strategy Document

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz released their own plan to deal with impending budget cuts.  The document, entitled “Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets”  discusses a number of “difficult decisions” the two leaders feel will be necessary in order for the service to achieve the Air Force potion of $487 billion in defense spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act passed last year.  This includes the elimination of 280 aircraft from all Air Force components over the next five years, and an overall reduction of 9,900 Active, Guard and Reserve personnel.  According to Donley and Schwartz, the most difficult challenge facing the Air Force is the need to modernize the force even as future budgets decline.   Therefore, the pace and scope of many key programs will be slowed to protect future war fighting needs.  Like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, they speak of the need to control rising personnel costs.  “Personnel costs continue to be vexing,” they said.  “Military personnel costs have doubled DoD-wide since FY01 while the number of military personnel, including activated reserves has increased only eight percent.  Any solutions to this problem will be deliberate, will recognize the All-Volunteer Force is the core of our military, and will not break faith with the Airmen and families who serve our Nation.” 

Nomination of New AFMC Commander

The Air Force may soon get its first female four-star general provided the Senate affirms President Obama’s nomination of Lieutenant General Janet C. Wolfenbarger as the next commander of the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC).  Wolfenbarger currently serves as the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.  Her promotion and appointment to AFMC requires Senate confirmation.  A hearing date has not been set yet.

White House Honors for Iraq War Veterans

On February 29, President and Mrs. Obama will host a state dinner at the White House for troops who have served in Iraq.   According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the dinner, “Is an expression of the nation’s gratitude for the achievements and enormous sacrifices of the brave Americans who served in the Iraq war, and of the families who supported them, will include men and women in uniform from all ranks, services, states and backgrounds, representative of the many thousands of Americans who served in Iraq.” 

Pennsylvania Joins the Military Interstate Children’s Compact

On February 2, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed State Senate Bill 159 making that State the 40th one to adopt the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children.  As previously reported, the goal of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children is to ease school transitions for children from military families by providing common guidelines for participating states to follow.  These include handling issues such as enrollment age, records transfer and graduation requirements. 

VETERANS NEWS

Passing of the Last known WWI Veteran  

Florence Green, the world’s last known World War I veteran passed away on February 4.  She was 110.  Green joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in September 1918 when she was 17 years old and was serving as an officers’ mess steward at RAF Marham when the war ended in November that year.  When asked to comment on her military experience in a 2008 interview, Green said, “I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes but I was scared of flying.  I would work every hour God sent.  But I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time. In many ways, I had the time of my life.”  The world’s last known combat soldier who fought in WWI wasBritain’s Harry Patch who died in 2009 at age 111.  The last American veteran of the conflict, Frank Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia, drove ambulances inFrance for the US Army.   He died in February 2011 at the age of 110. 

“Space A”Information

If you are looking for “Space A” information, you may want to try Facebook.  Nine passenger terminals in the space-available travel program recently started posting which flights are available and how many seats there are for flights up to 72 hours in advance on their Facebook pages.  They are the terminals at Joint Base Andrews, MD; Joint Base Charleston, SC; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; MacDill Air Force Base, FL; Osan Air Base,South Korea;Pope Field,NC;RamsteinAB,Germany; and Scott Air Force Base, IL.  Additional terminals are expected to begin listing there information soon.  

VA Online Enrollment Application

On February 3, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced it partnered with the First Army at Camp Shelby, MS, to launch a streamlined version of its online application for VA health benefits (VA Form 1010EZ) for service members returning from deployment.   VA plans to introduce the application at demobilization sites nationwide by early spring.  The application is used to enroll in the VA health care system, which has more than 1,000 sites of care across the country.  Enrollment for VA health care is done as part of a service member’s demobilization.   The online form allows the application to be completed during a regularly scheduled briefing for all service members on VA benefits.  Quick enrollment is important for returning troops because recently discharged combat veterans are eligible for five years of cost-free care and medications for conditions potentially related to combat service.  For more information on VA health benefits, call VA at (877) 222-8387 or visit VA’s health eligibility website

HEALTHCARE 

TRICARE Pharmacy Network

The TRICARE Management Activity reminds beneficiaries that because the contract between Express Scripts, Inc. and the Walgreens pharmacy chain expired on December 31, 2011, Walgreens is no longer a TRICARE retail network pharmacy.  However, with more than 56,000 network pharmacies nationwide, you can access another network pharmacy close to home.  Or, you can use military pharmacies or home delivery.  You can also fill prescriptions at non-network pharmacies, including Walgreens, but the out-of-pocket costs are higher.  If you choose to go this route you will need to pay the full prescription cost upfront and submit your claims for reimbursement.  To find a network or military pharmacy near you or to learn how you can convert your existing prescriptions to Home Delivery, click here

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS 

AFSA NEW MEMBER TERM LIFE INSURANCE BENEFIT

New AFSA members under the age of 40 receive $10,000 of Term Life Insurance provided at no-cost for 12 months. For more information click HERE, or call Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541. 

HERTZ

Call (800) 654-6511 and provide the associate with promotional code 10635. Or shop HERE and click the I have a discount box under reservations, then enter Code 0010635 under the Discount/CDP/Club Code section and select “Quote me the program my company has negotiated.” 

WORTH REPEATING 

“Leadership is being the first one in and the last one out” 

SMSgt Lisa Arnold 

We want to hear your thoughts and opinions.  Complete the sentence below!  What’s your top 10 list for AFSA?  Go ahead.  Don’t be bashful.   Click HERE to send

“I THINK AFSA SHOULD __________.”

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