AFSA HQ Newsletter – September 26th

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

Having passed the most pressing matter before them, a stopgap funding measure that keeps the federal government running through March, most lawmakers have left town and that is where they will remain for the next 7 weeks.    Congress won’t resume legislative activity until November 13, 2012.  That’s the Monday after the General Election and the beginning of what is referred to as the “Lame Duck” session. 

Both chambers will conduct pro forma sessions over the extended break.  These are usually very brief meetings with a handful of congressional members, where no voting takes place and no legislation is discussed or passed.  Tuesday’s House session was actually quite long by congressional standards; it lasted 14 minutes!  As of now, there are no planned activities for lawmakers other than to work on their personal campaigns or that of a fellow member.    And since lawmakers will be working out of their state and local offices during this period, that is the best place for you to contact them. 

“Ball is in Your Court”

Recess periods provide an excellent chance to meet with elected representatives on your “home turf” and give them a more personal explanation of why your issue is important.  Although your AFSA lobbyists meet face-to-face with congressional members on a regular basis, nothing has a better probability of swaying a congressional member one way or another on an issue than a personal appeal from one of their constituents.  Over the next month and a half we encourage readers to physically meet with their elected officials and inquire where they stand on important issues.  This holds true for prospective candidates at all levels (local, state, federal) so when the November General Election comes, readers can make educated decisions at the poll booth. 

Hot, This Just In!  LOC Outgrowing Thomas

The Library of Congress unveiled a new Web search tool for bills and other congressional records Wednesday that eventually will replace the 17-year-old Thomas.gov website.   Congress.gov, which was launched in a beta form, will automatically adapt to fit computer, smartphone and tablet screens and will include live video streams from the House and Senate floors, according to tweets from the Library of Congress.   The new site will make it easier to search across different categories of congressional information and to narrow a search, according to the agency.   It will also link to floor debates and other video related to a particular bill.

AFSA Briefs at the Air Force Warfare Center

This past week, the AFSA CEO visited units and briefed enlisted members at Nellis AFB,Nevada.  He also met and discussed important issues with the three Command Chiefs, Wing Commanders and the Deputy Warfare Center Commander. Dwindling budgets are already having an effect on Nellis and they have already closed the Bowling Alley, Auto Hobby Shop, part of the golf course, et al.  With additional cuts through sequestration and other means looming in the near future, expect to see similar closures and downsizing at other bases. 

TOTAL FORCE WHIP AROUND 

USAF Active Duty

Wounded Warriors to Keep CCAF Access – As a result of some provisions of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Airmen who separate (or retire) from service with the 9W-series identifier may still be able to complete their Associate Degree with the Community College of the Air Force.  Under normal circumstances, once an Airman separates from service they are no longer eligible to complete CCAF course work.  In addition to the 9W the member must have been enrolled in the CCAF prior to their separation or retirement.  Those eligible must have 10 years from their separation date to complete their course work.  Additionally, Wounded Warriors who separated between September 2001 and December 30, 2011, may also capitalize on this program, using the December 30, 2011, date as the start of their 10 year clock. 

Air National Guard

CMSgt Muncy Retires After 35 years of Service –In October of 1977 Christopher E. Muncy joined the USAF. In 1979, the Dayton native became a Guardsman in Ohio where he worked hard climbing up through the ranks to become the Command Chief for the State in 2004.   In May of 2009 he took the reigns as Command Chief to the Director of the Air National Guard, the service component’s highest enlisted position.   “God bless you all for being here, God bless your families and those that you protect and defend,” said Muncy at his September 20th retirement ceremony.   “I thank you for everything. Most importantly, I thank this nation; I really do … today and every day, around the world and here in the 50 states, territories and the District. Thanks again gang.” 

Air Force Reserve

In and Out of Southwest Asia – More than 100 members of the 94th Airlift Wing returned toGeorgia’s Dobbins AFB recently.  Over the course of a 4 month deployment, the unit’s aircrews flew 832 sorties and 2,700 flying hours—1,850 of which were combat hours in support of OEF.  Meanwhile,Kansas reservists from McConnell AFB’s 931st Air Refueling Group have entered the region.  While there, they will be assigned to the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, a Total Force team also consisting of Active Duty and Air National Guard members. 

Veterans

Good News – State’s Receive VA Funding

In separate news releases, the Department of Veteran Affairs has awarded the following financial assistances:  $300,000 to Massachusetts to install a new fire pump in the Holyoke Veterans Home; $1.3 million to Minnesota to construct a new generator building in the Minneapolis Veterans Home; and   $300,000 to Ohio to renovate the fire alarm system at the Sandusky Veterans Home. 

Bad News – Backlog: How bad is it?

Roger Baker, the Veterans Affairs Department chief information officer, promises that the department will have a paperless claims processing system installed in all its regional offices next year, none too soon for the Veterans Benefits Administration employees inNorth Carolinawhose safety is threatened by mountains of paper files.   The VA Inspector General reported Thursday that the VBA office inWinston-Salemhas so many backlogged claims that employees have stacked 37,000 paper files on top of file cabinets in mounds two feet high.   Files also were stored on the floor and stacked in boxes along the walls, the IG said.   These foothills of files have “the potential to compromise the structural integrity of the sixth floor of the facility.   We noticed floors bowing under the excess weight to the extent that the tops of file cabinets were noticeably unlevel throughout the storage area,” the IG said.   What’s more, onsite safety managers reported “concerns with boxes of files blocking exits, files stacked too close to overhead sprinklers, and files falling from the tops of file cabinets onto employees.   In 2011, one employee experienced a minor shoulder injury when claims folders fell on him from the top of a filing cabinet.”   That’s a serious records management problem! 

WORTH REPEATING 

“If you’re heading towards a brick wall at 60 mph, it’s more important to avoid the wall than to plan on picking up the pieces after hitting it.” 

— Deputy SECDEF Robert Hale, the DoD Comptroller. 

Mr. Hale mentioned this twice in the past week: once at a hearing with the House Armed Services Committee and once at a press conference regarding defense strategies in lean times.  In both instances your AFSA M&G staff was there as Mr. Hale referred to the threat sequestration and how he prefers for Congress to focus on preventing it from occurring.  DoD has repeatedly stated that it is not making plans for the massive cuts that would come January 2, 2013, if sequestration were to take effect.  While they hope it doesn’t happen, they seem to think they will be ready in time if it does.  AFSA hopes the same on both counts. 

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 

AFSA USAA Rewards World Master Card

Help support AFSA’s mission to advocate improved quality of life and economic fairness for Air Force enlisted members and their families by getting this card.   USAA Bank will make a contribution to AFSA when you open an account, make eligible purchases and keep an active account.   It’s a great way to support all Air Force enlisted ranks.   For more information, click here

Insurance: Property & Casualty

Protect what’s important to you with affordable insurance from USAA.  USAA offers top-rated coverage at low rates.  Combine that with award-winning service — in fact, USAA was ranked one of Business Week’s top two “Customer Service Champs” the last four years in a row.  To make it easy for you, you can do it all online — quote, buy, print ID cards, and much more.  Call USAA at (800) 531-8722 or go online here

Apple Systems

Thinking about buying a Mac, iPod, or IPhone? Shop through the AFSA partnered website here, or call (800) MY-APPLE (be sure to request your AFSA member discount when calling Apple). 

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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