AFSA HQ Newsletter – October 3rd

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

The Senate and House are in a “legislative lull” until the General Election is over. Both chambers will conduct pro forma sessions throughout the extended break. 

Voter Registration Deadline

There are variations from state to state, but the deadline to register for the 2012 General Election is coming quickly in any case.  Certain states require voters to register a set number of days prior to an election. Ohiofor example is 30 days prior, which means voters must be registered no later than October 7th.  Other states have a set date. Virginiafor example is October 15th.  Check with your local Board of Elections to find out about your state’s specific rules as well as for locations to register. 

USA Funded Through March

“Happy New Year!” isn’t exactly shouted through the halls, but October 1st marked the beginning of Fiscal Year 2013.  FY12 ended last week with President Obama signing House Joint Resolution 117 into law on September 28th.  H.J.Res 117, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2013, has made headlines recently and has been commonly referred to as the Continuing Resolution, or the CR. 

First introduced to the House on September 10th, on September 13th the CR passed by a vote of 329-91.  The Senate passed it by a vote of 62-30 on September 22nd and it was on the president’s desk by September 25th where he signed it into law 3 days later.  On the surface it looks as though a significant piece of budgetary legislation was passed in rapid fashion (18 days from introduction to signature), but in reality this had been talked about in great detail behind the scenes for months. 

Aside from the politics that went into its eventual passage, the CR does a number of things.  It prevents a government shutdown.  All federal offices will continue to run on current budgets until the CR’s expiration date of March 27, 2013.  On the flip side, there are a number of things that the CR restricts; one example is that pay increases are frozen

After Congress returns from their General Election recess, they will have to get busy quickly.  While the CR provides hope via its bipartisan passage, it is not immune to the pending sequester scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013.  Upon return to work November 13th, Congress will have 48 calendar days to resolve sequestration.  They are currently scheduled to be in session for 4 weeks between now and the end of the year, but with two major holidays in the mix, how it will play out is still unknown. 

If they somehow find a way to avert the sequester actions, Congress will then have 3 months to figure out FY13’s budget or they may have to pass another CR.  Most would consider that unlikely since we would already be half way through the fiscal year and work on FY14’s budget would normally begin in February, a month before FY13’s CR expires March 27th. 

While the mainstream media is hyper-focused on the General Election, make no mistake about it; the budgetary road ahead is far from smooth.  It’s barely paved and it’s riddled with many potentially damaging potholes. 

TOTAL FORCE WHIP AROUND 

USAF Active Duty

AFSOC Heroes Honored – Three Air Force Special Operations Command combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron were recognized in a single ceremony for their separate actions in deployed locations during a medals ceremony atPope Field,North Carolina.  Captain Blake Luttrell earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action in Mazar-eSharif,Afghanistan.  Staff Sergeant Daniel Resendez earned the Bronze Star with Valor for heroism in Nuristan provinceAfghanistan.  Staff Sergeant Jordan Killam received the Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds sustained from an enemy grenade. 

Air National Guard

New Order of the Sword Inductee – The Director of the Air National Guard, Lieutenant General Harry M. Wyatt III, was inducted to the Order of the Sword.  The ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency of Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 28, 2012.  The Order of the Sword recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the enlisted force and is the highest honor NCO’s can bestow upon one of their leaders.  Since it’s inception in 1967 and including Lt Gen Wyatt, there are now 235 members of the Order, with Wyatt being the 12th Guardsman to have received the honor.  AFSA would like to pass on our most sincere congratulations to Lt Gen Wyatt.  Well done, sir! 

Air Force Reserve

“Total 1” Right on Target – The 931st Air Refueling Group out of McConnell AFB Kansas was programmed to fly 3,688 hours for Fiscal Year 2012.  When the KC-135 Stratotanker with the call sign “Total 1” touched down after it’s mission on September 26th, the unit had hit their mark at exactly 3,688 hours flown.  Members of the Total Force crew were Colonel Rupp, Commander 22 ARW; Colonel Larson, Commander 931 ARG; Major Lauderdale, 22 ARW; Major McClain 18 ARS; and Senior Master Sergeant Lewis, 18 ARS. 

Veterans

More Bad News; Backlogs Getting Worse – Congress’ investigation arm, the Government Accountability Office or GAO, released a report on the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.  Launched in 2008, IDES is the system that was supposed to streamline the Departments of Defense and of Veterans Affairs with regard to claims and inter-departmental transitions.  It now takes an average of 394 days to close a case on an active duty member’s claim; 420 for Guard/Reserve.  The GAO report highlighted that staffing was the primary cause.  Instead of handling the normal 20 cases, some VA case managers are working on more than triple that number.  Lack of enough doctors or technicians and increasingly lengthy service-run MEB’s (Medical Evaluation Boards) are also contributing factors.  With the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan already begun, there’s likely to be an increase in processing time due to the increase of separating veterans…unless of course, VA hires large numbers of case workers, more doctors, and MEB’s can be shortened. 

OTHER NEWS 

AFSA CEO Visits Scott AFB

This past weekend, our AFSA CEO was hosted in superb fashion by Chapter 872 at Scott AFB.  Aside from other speaking engagements there, he was the guest speaker at the Annual Retiree Day event.  Hundreds of interested military retirees and their spouses were curious about the subjects surrounding TRICARE and ancillary medical benefits, Thrift Savings Plan, the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and Tuition Assistance.  Of primary concern however was military retirement compensation and benefits.  Specific to the discussion were the various proposals put forth in the Debt Commission recommendations (the 11th QRMC, QDR, etc).   Of course, sequestration and its effects were the “buzz” throughout every discussion. 

Roth TSP Available

Beginning October 1st, active-duty members will be able to contribute to a Roth styled Thrift Savings Plan as part of their investment planning. Identical to a Roth IRA where your money is taxed prior to deposit, member’s contributions will be electronically deducted from their pay accounts. Active-duty service members also can start their Roth TSP contributions now through their online MyPay accounts. Guardsmen, Reservists and civilians paid by DFAS were able to begin making contributions to the program in June. Additionally, the other branches of the National Guard and reserves will be able to make Roth TSP contributions by mid- to-late 2013.  According to DFAS, the timeline difference between active-duty and other service members resulted from an interim solution for reserve component members who didn’t meet Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board requirements. 

WORTH REPEATING 

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 

— Margaret Mead 

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 Insurance – Life & Health

For information and applications on any of these insurance plans please contact Marsh Affinity Group Servicestoll-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 

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. 

AFSA Gift Membership For Christmas?

Why not at 6 cents a day for E-5 and above or 3 cents a day for E-4 and below? 

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


Click HERE to receive this newsletter            Click HERE to access AFSA CAPWIZ

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.

Ready to join?

AFSA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Action Center
Follow the issues and write letters to your Congressman!

Take Action!

Find and contact your Senator and Representatives!

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this website and receive notifications of new posts by email.