AFSA HQ Newsletter – June 21st

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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LEGISLATIVE & OTHER NEWS

  • 113th Congress; 1st Session; Week of June 24-28, 2013
  • Senate: In Session – contact lawmakers via DC offices
  • House: In Session – contact legislators via DC offices
  • Capwiz: open 24/7/365 – communicate with Congress at any time on any subject

SENATE MILCON/VA Bill Clears Key Committee

On Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $158.8 billion finding bill for military construction, VA programs and related agencies. Their MILCON/VA measure for FY 2014 includes $74.4 billion in discretionary funding, much of which is earmarked for VA benefits and programs $10.7 for military construction and family housing.

Senate Spending Plan OK’d

The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved its spending blueprint for fiscal 2014 this week. Their plan provides $516.6 billion for defense programs in the coming year—a figure that exceeds the legal limit for spending on DoD as a result of sequestration. AFSA notes it is also $4.1 billion more than their counterparts in the House have agreed to—a difference that eventually must be resolved by the two chambers..

TARGET: TRICARE

The current Administration has laid out their budgetary plans for Defense, and like their predecessors, raising fees for TRICARE is part of those plans. In 2006 when the FY 2007 budget was in the throws of debate, the following excerpt opened an Associated Press news piece on February 21, 2006:

The Bush administration wants many military retirees to pay more for health care, a proposal that could force the Republican-run Congress to choose between savvy politics and budget discipline. Annual health-care costs for the military have doubled to nearly $38 billion in the past five years, nearly one dollar of every $12 the Pentagon spends. The price tag is projected to soar to $64 billion by 2015. To help contain those costs, President Bush’s proposal includes higher prescription drug co-payments for all beneficiaries of military health care except those on active duty, and increased annual enrollment fees for military retirees under age 65.

Sound familiar? Fast forward to Military.com’s news piece on April 11, 2013:

Trying once more to get military compensation costs “under control,” the Obama administration has asked Congress to cap annual active duty and reserve component pay raises, and to phase in over four years a complex formula for raising TRICARE fees on retirees of all ages and their families.

There are numerous other options to save the American taxpayer from Defense funding woes that won’t violate promises made to those who lace up the combat boots. As we’ve done in the past, your AFSA will continue the fight to protect this important earned benefit.

UPDATE: Overseas Commissaries

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) recently announced plans to keep stores open while navigating DoD’s furlough policy. As reported previously, DeCA will close commissaries on Mondays (or the next business day if already closed that day). In Europe and the Pacific however, there are enough local-nationals employed to keep 37 of the 66 commissaries open for military members OCONUS while accommodating the 11 days of furlough all non-exempt DoD employees must endure. Some might take issue with US citizens furlough while foreign citizens keep working, but AFSA reminds you that this move benefits those the commissary was designed for, albeit in a reduced capacity, those serving.

UPDATE: VA Claims Backlog

— VETERANS – HEADS UP!VA’s new internal Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) electronic claims processing system can now be accessed at each of the department’s 56 regional offices across the countryand theVA is moving claims around their system to shorten processing time; they will no longer be processing them based solely on your geographical location at time of filing but rather, shift the electronic claim to whatever processing center is “next in line” to work it. Hint: if you will use the VA Form 526 EZ and file it on line, you have just expedited the process if is a completed application! VA will continue to upgrade and improve the new system based on user feedback; adding features and tools that make it faster and easier to process claims. For now, the good news is instead of filling out and mailing paper forms to VA, Veterans can use VBMS via the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits to enter their claim information. For the full June 18 press release announcing this milestone click here.

— Defense Community Talks Backlog

Your AFSA team was part of a forum that featured former Secretary of VA Anthony Principi, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee for Veteran Affairs Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Jeff Miller (R-FL), fellow Military Coalition members and others in the Defense industry. Differing opinions aside, the common theme was hoping for progress, wanting accountability, and keeping focus on the Veterans themselves.

PTSD Awareness Month – Free Self-Assessment

During the month of June Military Pathways is offering service members, veterans, and their families an opportunity to take a free, anonymous online self-assessment for PTSD or other related conditions. Although this assessment does not provide a definitive diagnosis, it can provide information on how to seek help. For more information click here.

LEADERSHIP THOUGHTS

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”

– Thomas Jefferson POTUS #3

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

– James Madison, POTUS #4

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

– Gerald Ford, POTUS #38

“The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation.”

– Jimmy Carter, POTUS #39

Have you signed up for PAC 2013?

The AFSA Professional Airmen’s Conference will be 24-28 August at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio, TX. The registration form is in the May/June edition of our magazine and a copy is attached herein for your coping and distribution. Registration this year is packed with AFSA business, fun, professional speakers, Awards ceremonies to include both AFSA and Air Force awards, and some dynamite entertainment. Make your hotel reservations direct to the Grand Hyatt Hotel early and get the AFSA preferred rate (phone 1-888-421-1442).

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS

Free SAT & ACT Test Prep Software

In alliance with the DoD and supported by patriotic NFL and MLB players, eKnowledge is donating $200 SAT and ACT PowerPrep™ Programs to military service members and their extended families.

To order the free software, click here There is a nominal charge of $13.94 for the cost of materials, processing, distribution and customer service.

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).

Dell Computers

Dell offers exclusive discounts and promotions for AFSA Members on notebooks, mini laptops, work stations and much more. Check by logging on 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.

MOVING?

Please keep AFSA informed of your new mailing address to facilitate timely receipt of your magazine. Easy to do, just call us at 1-800-6380594 or email staff@hqafsa.org.


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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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