AFSA HQ Newsletter – April 19th

This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES AND NEWS

Congress in Session

Lawmakers resumed legislative activity on Monday and next week the House Armed Services Subcommittees will begin marking up their respective sections of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Presently, it is unclear how the Personnel Readiness Subcommittee which provides oversight of military personnel programs like pay and health care will respond to the Administration plan to raise TRICARE fees.

Last year the House Personnel Readiness Subcommittee rejected a different plan for higher fees only to see their efforts reversed during the full Committee markup. The HASC Chairman removed the Subcommittee recommendations from the draft bill , replacing it with language of his own which allowed TRICARE Prime fees to rise by 13 percent in FY 2012, and in future years by the same rate of the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). Eventually the House provision went on to become law when Congress approved its final bill late last year. Even if the Subcommittee blocks the Administration plan, it must still past muster before the full Committee then the House as a whole. Of course, we can’t rule out the Senate which will no doubt come up with a few ideas of its own. There we hope the upper chamber follows the advice of Senator Jim Webb’s who recently told DoD, “You cannot renegotiate the moral obligation to provide health care to retired service members” .

HASC Receives Input from Congressional Members

On April 17, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) received defense-related testimony from 18 representatives not currently serving on the Committee. Topics included cyber security defense, mortuary affairs oversight, explosive ordnance disposal, military religious freedom, Wounded Warrior healthcare, suicide, and hazing in the military.

Representative Steve Stivers spoke of his recent proposal to create a program called “TRICARE for Kids” to better shape the policies and practices of TRICARE by accounting for the specific health care needs of children. Stivers’ bill accomplishes this goal through a new working group convened by the Secretary of Defense and comprised of a full spectrum of experts representing children’s health care and military families.

None of the witnesses mentioned how the Administrations proposed TRICARE fee hikes would adversely affect their constituents. Four lawmakers, Representatives Chip Cravaack, Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Tom Latham (R-IA), and Tim Murphy (R-PA) expressed their concerns with Air Force plans to cut 9,900 troops and eliminate hundreds of planes, particularly how this move would adversely affect military units in or near their districts. All three stand to lose aircraft or force structure within their districts. You can view each of the lawmakers written statements or watch a video of the entire hearing on the HASC Website.

Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

On Wednesday, Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced new legislation to ensure that taxpayer dollars used to provide federal assistance for college students is not being wasted on advertising, marketing and recruitment rather than being used to educate and support students.

The “Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act” maximizes federal student aid by prohibiting the use of Pell Grants, federal student loans, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and other federal education funds for such practices. It is similar to a current law that bans the use of federal higher education dollars for lobbying, and would apply to all institutions (public, private, for profit, non-profit, etc).

“Year of the Korean War Veteran”

On Tuesday, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) was joined by colleagues Representatives. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Sam Johnson (R-TX), and Howard Coble (R-NC), as he introduced H.Res. 618, a resolution that urges Congress to designate 2012-2013 as the “Year of the Korean War Veteran,” and recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. Rangel and the three original co-sponsors to the bill are the last four remaining Korean War Veterans in the U.S. Congress.

“Many Korean War Veterans came home from Korea without much of the fanfare that the heroes of World War II received and slowly, the American public is forgetting the sacrifice that our Korean War heroes displayed. Our nation has a responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Rangel.

To ensure that the Korean War is never again called the Forgotten War, The Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration (KW60) Committee, a task force authorized by the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, requested Rangel to spearhead this resolution. The KW60 Committee will implement a national campaign to honorAmerica’s Korean War Veterans. The campaign will remember those still counted among the Missing in Action, educate the American people concerning the ongoing relevance of the Forgotten War, and include commemorative ceremonies in theUnited StatesandKoreain recognition of June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953. It will also launch a media and outreach campaign for Veterans Day 2012. This resolution will enhance those efforts and give the campaign a platform for a nationwide commemoration.

“The Korean War Veterans halted the tide of communism on the Korean Peninsula and it is largely because of their sacrifices that the Republic of Korea was able to develop into a modern and prosperous democracy,” Rangel stated. “My comrades and I are proud to see that in the 60 years since the outbreak of the War, South Korea has emerged from a war-torn country into one of the major players in the world in addition to being the seventh-largest trading partner of the United States.” Added Rangel: “I hope our nation will be able to pay proper tribute the heroes that fought in the Korean War before history forgets them completely. This celebration may be the last one, in which a lot of my comrades, most of whom are over 80 years old, will be able to participate. Not too many of us will be around for the 70th anniversary.”

Vietnam War hero to get Posthumous Medal of Honor

The White House on Monday announced that President Obama will award Army Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Specialist Sabo will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions in combat on May 10, 1970, while serving as a rifleman in Company D, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia. Sabo’s widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown and his brother, George Sabo, will join the President at the White House on May 16 to commemorate his example of selfless service and sacrifice.

64th Anniversary of the Air Force Reserve

The Air Force Reserve turned 64 this week. On April 14, 1948, President Harry Truman, inspired by Reserve programs activated during World War I, officially forged the Air Force Reserve as a field operating agency of the Air Force. The Air Force Reserve Command became the ninth major command of the Air Force on February 17, 1997. On a related matter, AFSA congratulates Maj. Gen. James Jackson who was recently nominated for promotion and to become the next chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command.

VETERANS NEWS

VA’s Volunteer Service Celebrates Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week, and VA is recognizing the invaluable contribution of volunteers across the country. See Learn more

Don’t Call Her “Mister”

The Veteran population is comprised of more women more than ever before. Learn how VA has worked to improve the quality of care for women veterans by clicking here.

DFAS Warning to Retirees

According to DFAS, an email spoofing scam is targeting individuals receiving disability compensation from VA suggesting they may be able to obtain additional funds from the IRS. The emails look like they are from, but are not issued by a DFAS employee. Do not send your personal information, copies of your tax returns or 1099s to the individual listed in the email! For more info, visit the DFAS website

HEALTHCARE

National Take-Back Day

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, to be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to dispose of those medications easily and safely.

Americans who participated in the DEA’s third take-back event last fall turned in more than 188 tons of unwanted or expired medications. Drop-off sites include many military installations so you should easily find one near you. For more information, including a Collection Site Locator and a Partnership Toolbox, visit DEA’s Website.

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS

AFSA Insurance: Life & Health

For information and applications on any of these insurance plans please contact Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541, or online HERE. Coverage may vary or not be issued in all states.

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Plan
  • Cancer Expense Insurance
  • Group Dental Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Short-Term Recovery Insurance Plan
  • Tricare Supplement Insurance
  • Life Line Health Screenings

Vacation and Travel: AFSA Cruises & Tours

If you’re thinking about a cruise or other vacation tour, check out our AFSA Vacations HERE. Administered by Brennco Travel, a leader in the travel industry.

WORTH REPEATING

“We will not waiver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”

–President George W. Bush, October 7, 2001

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This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

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