AFSA HQ Newsletter – July 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 USAF RELATED NEWS 

112th Congress, 2nd Session

  • Senate: DC Work Week; contact lawmakers via Washington offices
  • House:  DC Work Week; contact lawmakers via Washington offices 

House Appropriations Committee to Vote Defense Bill

This coming week, the House will debate and vote on H.R. 5856, the FY 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill.  A reminder for you on its purpose; this legislation provides the resources our service members need to perform their jobs here and abroad.  In total, the bill provides $519.2 billion for DoD’s day-to-day operations and another $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations related to the Global War on Terror. 

In addition to a 1.7 percent military pay raise, H.R. 5856 funds a House plan to prevent higher annual premiums for TRICARE Prime and new fees for TRICARE Standard and TRICARE for Life in FY 2013.  It also limits planned increases in pharmaceutical co-pays for military beneficiaries.  The TRICARE provisions were the subject of a White House veto threat in late June.  AFSA hopes that, despite the objections of the Administration and “fiscally-minded” lawmakers, this bill should pass with a final vote that mirrors partisan lines within the chamber on Friday. 

Looking for Answers on Sequestration

On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 5872, the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 which requires the President to submit a report to Congress detailing how the Administration plans to implement cuts required as a result of the Budget Control Act (BCA).    Under the BCA, the spending authority of many federal departments and agencies will be greatly reduced on January 2, 2013.  In particular, DoD who by the BCA’s design, would bear the brunt of the hit and see its spending reduced by as much as $54.7 billion in the nine months remaining of FY 2013.  The sharp drop in spending has damaging potential as far as national defense is concerned, and lawmakers looking for a solution in both chambers of Congress want details.

Same Old Song & Dance

Recently a study was released offering a way to rethink military pay and compensation based on inputs from military survey respondents.  The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) released “Rebalancing Military Compensation: An Evidence-based Approach.” Your AFSA team was at the renowned Press Club for the release as we sent out via Twitter live that day (#AFSAHQ), but here’s a more in depth look. 

The intent was to show a unique methodology for the DoD to gather information where they could better accommodate troop’s desires based on how they value each aspect of their benefits.  This would in turn allow DoD to refocus how to re-allocate or re-appropriate funding to save costs.  Up front it sounds like a win-win proposition.  Unfortunately, there are many flaws in this product that need to be better publicized to ensure flawed deductions aren’t propagated. 

2,655 people responded to the survey and 54 percent of them were active duty, this is where the bulk of information was pulled from.  Of those respondents, 5 percent were junior enlisted and 32 percent were senior officers.  Considering actual service numbers are roughly 45 percent junior enlisted and 6 percent senior officers, this is hardly an accurate representation of the military.  Nonetheless, they had what they had and put together a nice package to show what their “preference based benefits optimization” could do.  The method was valid but the results were definitely not, and they admitted so in their presentation

The problem of larger concern to AFSA is that when you have a shiny booklet that is laden with caveats of inadequacy, people (and the press) focus on the shiny booklet forgetting how inaccurate it is.  They will cull and quote various claims of what the troop preferences are and beg officials to listen to their people and to make the changes.  We truly hope that should CSBA’s report make it to congressional offices, they read the entire report and keep in mind its intent as well as its validity. 

A final thought to add to this issue is motive.  What other news agencies are failing to report is that CSBA receives funding from DoD; the independent think tank is a de facto DoD contractor.  It would make sense for them to keep their customer happy, so DoD saving money could be their ulterior motive. 

In July 2011 it was the Defense Business Board’s “Modernizing the Military Retirement System.”  In May 2012 it was the Center for American Progress’s “Reforming Military Compensation.”   Now in July 2012 we have the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment’s “Rebalancing Military Compensation.”  With FY 2013’s NDAA yet to completed, anyone notice a trend? 

VETERANS NEWS 

AFSA and Vet Homes

Your AFSA CEO addressed the annual National Association of State Veterans Home (NASVH) last week inAlbuquerque,NM.  Following that Conference, he met with members of the 377 ABW, 58 SOW and the 150 ANG with briefings to enlisted personnel in each large wing.  AFSA would like to extend a hearty congratulation to Mrs. Lori Montgomery on her election as the new president of NASVH.   She was elected to head the association at the Albuquerque Conference. 

DFAS Retiree Seminars

This year, Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) will participate in retiree seminars throughout the continental US and at various overseas locations.  DFAS representatives will be in hand to answer questions regarding military retirement pay and annuities.  Some upcoming dates include: 

  • Aug 24, Minneapolis MN
  • Aug 25, Camp Ripley MN
  • Sep 07, Fort McCoy WI
  • Sep 15, Fort Drum NY
  • Sep 22, Selfridge MI
  • Sep 29, Camp Lejeune NC
  • Sep 29, Red Stone Arsenal AL
  • Sep 29, Fort Dix NJ 

Contact the Retirement Services Office or Retiree Activities Office serving your area for more information regarding seminars.  More DFAS Retired and Annuitant Pay information is available here

STOP LOSS Special Pay Stopping

The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act established Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP), providing $500 for each month/partial month served in stop loss status. Service members, veterans, and beneficiaries of service members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009 are eligible for RSLSP.  Not awarded automatically, those who served under stop loss must submit a claim to receive the special pay.  Anyone eligible for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay must submit a claim by October 21, 2012.  Click RSLSP for more details. 

HEALTHCARE 

TRICARE Wallet Card

Before you start your vacation, make sure to download, print and take the TRICARE Contacts Wallet Card with you!   This way you can contact TRICARE if needed, during an emergency. 

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 the first 12 months of membership. For more information click here, or call Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541. 

Free SAT & ACT Test Prep Software

In alliance with the DoD and supported by patriotic NFL and MLB players, eKnowledge is donating $200 SAT and ACT PowerPrep™ Programs to military service members and their extended families. 

To order the free software, click here  There is a nominal charge of $13.94 for the cost of materials, processing, distribution and customer service. 

Vacation & Travel: AFSA Cruises and 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. 

Flowers from FTD.com

AFSA members can automatically save 15 percent on floral and gift purchases by shopping here, or by calling (800) SEND-FTD and giving promo code 4578. 

PROFESSIONAL AIRMAN’S CONFERENCE 

Overflow Hotel Added

AFSA hosted PAC registration is now available on the web for theJacksonville,FLevents, August 11-15.  While there’s still room to register for the PAC, the primary hotel (Hyatt Regency) is at full capacity.    AFSA has contracted overflow hotel accommodations with the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk, 1515 Prudential Drive,JacksonvilleFlorida.    Overflow hotel accommodations can be made with the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk by calling hotel reservations at 904-396-5100 (press “2” to speak with an on-site agent) Wyndham’s 800#: 866.845.8862 

WORTH REPEATING 

Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.”

— James Madison 

THINK AFSA 

AFSA BIKERS

We want to recognize you and your travels regardless of make (Harley, Honda, whatever) Please send us an appropriate photo and identify yourself along with: 

  • Where you’ve travelled to over the years
  • Any significant events
  • How long you’ve been riding  
  • Etc., etc. 

We plan to include photos and a short article about our proud members in an upcoming magazine.  Also, if you bought one of our belt buckles, please wear it in your photo. 

Please share this with other AFSA bikers you know.  Click HERE to send your inputs


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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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