AFSA HQ Newsletter – September 6th

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


112th Congress, 2nd Session

  • Senate: In recess; contact lawmakers via State offices
  • House:  In recess; contact lawmakers via District offices 

The “Other” Bill

Dominating the headlines all summer has been the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA as it’s commonly referred to.  Its significance is known to many because it covers key personnel issues like military pay and healthcare, but in some eyes it’s actually secondary to FY13’s Defense Appropriations Bill. 

In a normal financial world similar to household budgets, you figure out how much you’re going to get paid and then you determine how you’re going to spend it.  First you get paid, then you pay the mortgage, then you buy the milk and bread.  That’s not always the case when it comes to federal budgets.  Here it is commonplace to forecast fiscal expenditures prior to actual allocations.  So what if you find out you received a smaller paycheck than expected after you’ve already made your grocery list and are ready to shop?  You have to address where you can save money or you have to cut back on the milk and bread. 

That’s what makes the Defense Appropriations Bill so important—arguably more important—in comparison to the NDAA because it allocates funding for nearly all military benefits including those for retirees and survivors. 

First introduced on May 25, 2012, H.R. 5856 was reported to the House Appropriations Committee, debated, amended repeatedly, passed Committee, and finally passed the House by a vote of 326-90 on July 19, 2012.  It was received by the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 23rd, amended, and then reported (meaning it passed Committee, 30-0) to the Senate Legislative Calendar on August 2nd. 

There it sits today! 

With only two weeks “in session” scheduled between now and the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st, it is highly unlikely that H.R. 5856 will be signed into law as a stand-alone bill.  What’s more likely to happen is the bill will be rolled into what’s known in fiscal legislation as a Continuing Resolution, or a “CR.”  The CR would allow the government to continue operating at a measured rate until such time when the FY13 Defense Appropriations Bill, its related NDAA, and other mandatory spending bills get passed. 

In late July, House and Senate leaders announced they reached an “agreement in principle” to extend existing government funding through March 2013.  This 6 month CR must still be approved by the full House and Senate.  So with the new fiscal year just around the corner, expect this issue to take center stage when lawmakers return next week. 


USAF Active Duty

NCORP Deadline Approaching – As the federal government prepares to adjust to budgetary concerns for FY13, the Air Force Personnel Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph is reaching the final stages in preparing a manpower shift.  The NCO Retraining Program takes inventory of overages and underages in the enlisted force and realigns them to better serve Air Force needs.  In Phase I of the program, members have an opportunity to volunteer for the cross-training and there is usually a more robust set of choices for you.  Phase II will have AFPC’sTotalForceServiceCenter making the choices based on various qualifications and vulnerabilities for those remaining.  Voluntary applications for unrestricted career fields will only be accepted until October 5, 2012. 

Air National Guard

Title 10 Time Out – A team of 30 military members returned toFortBelvoir.  With the regularity of National Guard support in operations around the globe, this might seem insignificant.  However, with the return of these soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division, it marked the first time in over a decade that no unit fromVirginia is currently deployed.  Over the years, the Virginia Army and Air National Guard have deployed over 15,000 personnel (spiked with 2,200 in 2003) to a myriad of locations including multiple trips toIraq andAfghanistan.  There are still a few individuals tasked, but no “Complete Units” are currently deployed out of the state.  According to a Guard spokesman, this lull is expected to last about a year. 

Air Force Reserve

Two Million Gallons – Forrest fires inColorado may have left the headlines, but a number of other blazes have popped up in this drought ridden summer.  This is when Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130’s are called into action.  Capable of discharging 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in less than 5 seconds over a quarter mile long and 100 feet wide, “MAFFS-5” assigned to the AFRC’s 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson AFB delivered the milestone payload for the season.  AFSA will feature the enlisted help at the USAFA in a future edition of our magazine. 


Former SSgt Still Mentoring – Mario Rodriguez was a Russian translator for the USAF stationed on theisland ofCrete,Greece.  In 1992 then SSgt Rodriguez found out he had an untreatable tumor in his leg and had no choice but to elect for an amputation.  With his Air Force career literally cut short, he discovered wheelchair fencing and another career began.  Successes (like a gold medal in a Brazilian competition that enabled him to hear the National Anthem as he accepted his awards) inspired him to represent his country more.  In 2004 he took a 4 year break, but has since re-entered competitive fencing.  “Between 2008 and now, I kind of got coached back into the [fencing] circuit,” Rodriguez said. “Basically, what happened was we have a couple of younger athletes that really piqued my interest, and I wanted to see them do well.  I was trying to give them a little extra fodder, and give them the benefit of my experience and knowledge.”  Rodriguez is a member of the U.S. Paralympic fencing team which is currently competing inLondon’s 2012 Paralympic Games. 


Suicide Prevention and Awareness

September is officially designated as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.  First and foremost, AFSA wants our membership to know help is available through the Department of Defense hotline at 1-800-273-8255.  Service members, family members and veterans in need of assistance, either for themselves or for a loved one, can call the number day or night to speak to someone.  Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.   Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. 

The senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, USMC Sergeant Major Bryan B. Battaglia earlier this week said that both service members who seek assistance, and those who are capable of providing that assistance, need to know that it’s OK to not be OK.  “I believe each person has their own threshold of when they may need help or assistance,” he said. “The moment that indicator lights up within yourself that [you] need some help and assistance or things are not right…it’s time to reach out.” 

Last Friday, the President issued an executive order to expand suicide prevention programs and mental health care for service members, veterans, and their families.  Provisions of the order call upon the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire 800 counselors who must also be veterans as well as 1,600 mental health care providers by June of 2013.  Additionally the VA and the Department of Health and Human Services are to establish 15 pilot sites.  There, VA and HHS will pull from the private sector to help reduce the long waits for access to VA care. 


“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.” 

— Robert Orben 


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: 


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.  Please note; 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 

AFSA Vendor Provides Free Financial Advice

USAA Publishers Community: great financial advice when you want it.  As part of our commitment to understanding the unique challenges military families face, USAA publishes articles and videos on a wide range of financial topics and posts them on the Publisher’s Community site. It’s a free and easy way to stay informed. We invite you use this content on your website, blog, or in print — in part or whole — for FREE. Sign Up for the USAA Publishers Community here

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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

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