AFSA HQ Newsletter – October 9th

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.  These very brief meetings take place with just a handful of congressional members in attendance and legislation is not normally discussed or passed. 

The “If” Factor

“If” is often the defining word between action and inaction.   Last week, “if” was clearly a “buzz word” on the Hill as it came up often in conversations with congressional staff members.   We heard it used by the hopeful handful who told us, Congress can stave off the disastrous effects of sequestration IF lawmakers reach a deal that postpones the precipitous cuts slated to start on January 2nd.   We also heard it used by the less confident who aren’t even sure that lawmakers would return to the Hill IF a deal hasn’t been reached by then.   And we heard it used in conversations about the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act by staffers who are confident that the two chambers can formulate a deal of this key piece of legislation but unsure IF the bill would reach the floor by year’s end.  A small group of 8 lawmakers are meeting this week to discuss the budget deficit.   Also, your AFSA advocates on the Hill are hearing the House and Senate Armed Services Committee staffs are beginning to conduct preliminary actions necessary to forge a bill both chambers can agree on.  As far as the last “If” goes, stand-by.  Congress is not scheduled to return to work inWashington until November 13. 

Legislative Awareness Week

October 14-20, 2012, marks AFSA’s annual Legislative Awareness Week.  One of the lesser appreciated values of an AFSA membership is the exceptional military service benefits “top cover” your Association provides for you on Capitol Hill.  AFSA’s legislative program is second none but we can’t do it alone—we need your help.   Legislative Awareness Week is our kick-off for next year’s legislative platform formation.  This effort starts with you—the membership.  Have you noticed a law or process that doesn’t pass the common sense test?  Perhaps spotted an injustice or unintended consequence from an entitlement, law or regulation change?  The time is ripe for action; we need you to get involved by drafting a problem/solution paper for your Chapter and Division leadership who will pass it on to AFSA HQ for consideration in next year’s legislative platform.  AFSA’s many legislative success stories over the years started with members taking on issues at the grassroots level.  Get involved; make a difference, by submitting your suggestion today.

AFSA challenges you to “Research Your Ballot”

For example, in the State of Maryland, allowing another casino to be built has garnered enough interest to have commercials both to vote yes and to vote no on what is known as “Question 7.”  Arguments are being levied regarding whether or not there will be increased jobs, increased state revenues and who will get the resultant tax breaks, if school systems benefit, etc.  There’s a lot to discuss on this issue, as indicated by the inundation of advertisements, but people may be missing a much bigger issue.   What are the issues on your state’s ballot? 

Of course voting for President of the United States is important.  So is voting for your Senator or Representative. Keep in mind, 33 of the 100 Senators and all 435 House seats will be decided in this election.  But it could be argued that voting for issues at state level are more important…or at least more relevant.  After all, your elected federal officials may decide policy that will eventually affect you and your family in some capacity.  But, state issues (or county, or local) will have an impact on you directly and often immediately. 

AFSA had a chance to speak with a local Election Judge recently and what he shared was revealing.  At his particular polling place in 2008, there were roughly 5,000 people who cast votes that day; 4,900 cast a vote for president but less than 2,000 cast votes in another category.  So while 98 percent of those who voted had the right to either celebrate or lament the presidential outcome, less than 40 percent had that right regarding the other issue. 

Put another way; if 60 percent of voters don’t vote on a particular issue, then 60 percent of voters don’t care about that issue’s outcome.   Lack of action is, in fact, an action.  By choosing not to act, you choose to accept the acts of others; whether it relates to political positions (e.g., the President) or to political issues (e.g., a casino). 

Issues differ from state to state, however, local newspapers, state/county web-sites, and even in some areas, registered voters will receive a sample ballot in the mail, for review prior to the election.  If you haven’t received yours yet, contact the office of your local election board. 

Ensure your voice is heard by casting votes in all the categories for which you are eligible…but make sure you don’t vote blindly.  Make sure you aren’t caught off-guard or uninformed on the day you go to the polls.  As a US citizen it’s your right to vote, but it’s also your responsibility to vote smartly.  AFSA challenges you to “Research Your Ballot.” 

WORTH REPEATING 

“Government exists to protect us from each other.   Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”

— President Ronald Reagan 

TOTAL FORCE WHIP AROUND 

USAF Active Duty 

Family Deployment – Too often we hear about the trials and tribulations of families separated due to deployments.  Not the case for the Ramsey family.  Air Force Master Sergeant Niihau Ramsey is the father of Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad Ramsey.  On redeployment back to his base in Gulfport Mississippi, PO3 Ramsey transitioned through the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing where MSgt Ramsey is stationed on a 2 year assignment.  They got to watch NFL opening weekend action together and also got to Skype with wife/mom Amy at the same time back inCharleston,South Carolina. 

Guard & Reserve

TRS and TRR Going Electronic – Those who pay monthly premiums by check for TRICARE Reserve Select or TRICARE Retired Reserve are required to set up electronic payment by January 1, 2013.  Current TRS and TRR beneficiaries should already have received notice of the requirement.  New enrollees will be notified as part of their welcome package.  Failure to pay premiums by the due date may result in termination of coverage.  For more information about TRS or TRR, go to TRICARE

Veterans

Retroactive Stop Loss Pay – The recently passed Continuing Resolution for FY13’s budget does not extend the deadline for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP).  The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act established RSLSP for members involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2009.  The average benefit nears $3,600 and officials encourage online applications over regular mail to enable a quicker response.  The RSLSP application deadline remains October 21, 2012. 

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 Vendor Receives Prestigious Award

AFSA insurance vendor, MARSH has just been named Best Trade Insurance Broker in theAmericasby Trade Finance Magazine.   The award was presented as a top global trade insurer by the worldwide magazine company during their annual dinners in Hong Kong andNew York. 

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

On-Line Shopping Mall

Shop on-line with special AFSA member discounts from over 600 of the best in class retailers.  Your purchases will also earn AFSA cash back rebates!  Shop online here

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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