AFSA HQ Newsletter – September 13th

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 

112th Congress, 2nd Session

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

Update on Stolen Valor Act

A lot of interest has been expressed with regard to Stolen Valor legislation, especially since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) recently ruled that a previous effort was unconstitutional.  As difficult as it may be to accept that telling a lie is a form of speech, that is what the Court determined which subsequently forced Congress to author a better piece of legislation. 

H.R. 1775, known as the Stolen Valor Act of 2011, was introduced by Representative Joseph Heck (R-NV) and 31 other Representatives on May 5, 2011.  Its overall purpose was “to amend Title 18, US Code, to establish a criminal offense relating to fraudulent claims about military service.” 

The difference between this bill and the law that SCOTUS struck down in June might seem like trivial semantics, but it speaks to much bigger constitutional concerns.  Language in the original law focused on making it illegal to say you were a decorated veteran, whereas H.R. 1775 would make it illegal to profit from such claims. 

In marketing, an advertiser can’t push their product without actually backing it up.  They advertise a product or service, you give up something (usually money) to get it, and they deliver the goods.  If they can’t deliver, they get sued for false advertising.  Likewise, if you advertise that you’re a decorated veteran and somebody gives up something (paycheck, veteran preference points, etc) to get you, Heck’s legislation would hold you accountable for similar false advertising. 

Having been approved by the Judiciary Committee, H.R. 1775 was brought to the House floor for debate yesterday.    AFSA anticipates it will easily pass, especially since it is budget neutral and has no partisan agenda.  If Congress doesn’t get a chance to approve it before breaking for the election season, we predict it will likely be finished up quickly in the Lame Duck session.

Huddle Up, Congress

In returning from a lengthy recess this week, and with another election-induced recess on the horizon, your public officials inWashingtonDChave what should be an obvious set of tasks to accomplish.  At the top of the list is passing legislation that will carry theUnited Statesfrom one fiscal year into the next. 

With the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 fast approaching, it would be nothing short of miraculous for Congress to finish off FY 2013’s funding bills.  All totaled, there are twelve such bills, of which none are yet to be resolved.  The FY13 Defense Appropriations Act is but one of them, and is obviously of great concern to all military affiliates, especially when it’s accompanying FY13 Authorizations measure also remains unfinished. 

Why not a 4th quarter miracle, “Hail Mary” pass to win the game by Congress?  Quite simply, there isn’t enough time to huddle up and call the necessary plays.  The normal process has many steps and sub-steps, but a simplified break down follows: 

House introduces Bill.  Bill goes to House committee and must pass there.  Bill goes to full House and must pass there.  Bill goes to Senate.  Bill goes to Senate Committee and must pass there.  Bill goes to full Senate and must pass there. 

That’s the easy part. 

Next the Bill goes into “Conference” where the House and Senate work out their differences; no easy task in any year, let alone an election year.  When it finally leaves Congress with both upper and lower chambers in agreement, it must be agreed upon by the president.  There it’s either vetoed (restart process) or passed into law. 

So with the FY13 Defense Appropriations Bill still awaiting full senatorial approval and only a handful of days left on the clock, we don’t have enough time to call a play to win the game.  The next best option is to take a knee, play for a tie, and hope we can do better in overtime.  That’s where the Continuing Resolution (CR) we mentioned last week comes into play. 

The 6 month CR now being considered and likely to be voted on this week merely stalls the process.  Like a time out in football, the CR will eventually run out and lawmakers will have to re-enter the game to come up with a final solution.  For Congress, the simplified play book now goes like this: 

Pass the 6 month CR and go home.  Concentrate on campaigning and the General Election on November 6th.  See who keeps or loses their job.  Hope that the Lame Duck session produces results to avoid the “automatic loss” of a sequestration.  Move forward on NDAA, the “Doc-Fix” and other key pieces of legislation. 

If you’re a die-hard fan of any football team, it’s utterly nerve wracking to watch them struggle on what would be a regular facet of the game.  It’s painful to watch them let a victory slip away and hope against hope that they can find a way to pull together as a team for 15 minutes of overtime and squeak out a win. 

Everybody got that?

Ready – BREAK! 

Ensure Your Voice is Heard

With Election Day just 54 days away, federal voting officials want to ensure that service members and their families are prepared for their votes to be counted. The Federal Voting Assistance Program has made the voting process easier than ever for Americans serving overseas. 

The Military Postal Service Agency provides free, expedited ballot delivery and ballot tracking to your local election office for overseas-based service members and their families.   Go to your local post office or postal clerk, use the Label 11 DOD form on your absentee ballot envelope and mail it.   Go to www.usps.com to track the status of your ballot, according to the program’s website.   If you haven’t received your ballot by Oct. 6, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, available on the website, as back-up.   For additional help with the absentee voting process, contact FVAP at vote@fvap.gov or call 1-800-438-8683, DSN 425-1584 (CONUS)/312-425-1584 (OCONUS). 

LEST WE EVER FORGET

(Editor’s note: The following is from an email AFSA HQ received from Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.  It is a non-partisan article focused on 9/11’s impact on America and is copied in its entirety below) 

“Yesterday, I read a disturbing article.   It was disturbing not because it recounted the horrific images of 11 years ago, but because it said that Americans have “grown numb” to the wars and the lives lost – almost on a daily basis since the War on Terror began.   I found this report disturbing because just 11 years ago, we were united in our commitment to fight back, united in our support for our first responders and Armed Forces, and we mourned together each life lost in what would become one of the longest battles for the American way of life. 

This morning, 11 years ago, we were blindsided by a cowardly enemy, an enemy who took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people in the worst attack on American soil.   Every day since, our servicemen and women have left home to go fight this enemy so that we may continue to live our lives in freedom. 

September 11, 2001, was a turning point in American history.   Perhaps our enemy thought we would cower in the carnage of their heinous actions.   But we did not. In the grimmest of circumstances,Americarose up to become an even more remarkable version of herself. 

In the moments immediately after the first Tower was struck, first responders stormed the building doing everything in their power to aid those trapped.   Many perished that day, but their selflessness became a symbol of what this nation does in the face of adversity. 

In the weeks and months following September 11, we mourned the loss of the innocent, and honored the heroes who risked their own lives to save countless others.   When it was time to seek retribution on those who carried out these deadly attacks it was our military who stepped forward on our behalf. 

For over a decade now they have been taking that fight to those responsible, and in doing so protecting the principles of our democracy.   The men and women of our all-volunteer military willingly sign up to risk their lives in order to preserve something much bigger than any one individual.

It has been through the strength and determination of our servicemembers that we once again feel the security we thought had been lost that morning.   In our darkest hours, it is our military and first responders who have lifted us up, and reminded us that no matter what challenges we face we will always succeed. 

None of us will ever forget what transpired on that September morning and the feeling of vulnerability that we all felt. In that moment we all wondered if we could ever feel safe again – but as only a great nation could do we eventually returned to our normal lives. 

But what is not normal for this country is to forget those who have fought, and continue to fight, for us.   That is not who are, nor who we want to become. Every servicemember lost on the battlefields ofIraqandAfghanistanhad a name, they had a family, they had a smile that now can only be seen again in the photos their loved ones look at each day with both joy and sadness. 

Today, of all days of the year, I hope each of us takes the time to learn the name and about the life of that person – be it someone lost on September 11, or in the years since.   This is one small way each of us can retainAmerica’s greatness in the very fibers of our own beings. 

“Lest We Ever Forget” should have added significance today.   For if we forget that morning, and forget to cherish each life lost, then our enemies will have won.”

WORTH REPEATING 

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” 

— Ken Blanchard 

FROM THE FIELD 

What’s On Your Mind?

We want to hear your thoughts and opinions.  Is there a particular area of interest you think we should be covering in more detail?  Is there a political situation or definition that we could explain, educate or expound upon that would be beneficial to our membership?  Complete the sentence below.  Go ahead, don’t be bashful, send us something. 

“I THINK AFSA SHOULD __________.”   Send inputs to: afsaoc@hqafsa.org 

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS 

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Over 20 Other Items of Interest

For a complete and detailed listing of the many benefits to AFSA membership, go to the AFSA webpage and click on the left menu listing “Member Benefits” or just click here.


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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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