Author Archives: Bill Frobe

Legislative Update 15 July 2016: COLA Popping, TRICARE Fees, Pay Changes and More

Beginning this week I am simplifying these Legislative Updates as follows: 

The unnumbered Issues as shown below are copied and pasted directly from the MOAA Veteran Legislative Updates as I receive them, usually on Friday each week, with the brief (usually) two line summaries as appear below. There will usually be 2 to 5 or more Issues each week.  Clicking on the respective brief underlined titles of the Issues will get you to an expanded text and maybe a video covering the Issue in more detail. Some of those texts mayl include additional links usually underlined and/or merely shown in color and may appear underlined when clicking on it. You can click on those links for additional detail at your discretion. And if there is an action item for an Issue, it will usually appear near the end of the text as, for example: “Send your legislators a MOAA-suggested message “.

 

Clicking on MOAA-suggested message will get you to the usual LEGISLATIVE ACTION CENTER where you will be able to scroll down as usual past Delivery Method: (leave Emailchecked  or check Printed Message if desired), and scrolling further you will see the Subject: and Editable text: of the draft message that can be edited on line if desired. Then after viewing the text fill in the Your Contact Information: if it does not appear automatically from your past participation. And at the end you can hit Send Message. After getting confirmation that the message was sent, seen at the net screen, you can come back to this Email and process the next Issue until you have done them all.

 

In some cases clicking on a brief underlined title will take you directly to a LEGISLATIVE ACTION CENTER message for forwarding to our Legislators.

 

The Issues shown below are from this week’s update.

 

If you have found it helpful to use the Here is the Process at the end of my past Emails that had action items (shown at the end of this message as a sample), I suggest that you copy and save that Here is the Process section as basic guidance for future use, as I do not plan to include this in future updates, unless I hear from enough of you who strongly want me to keep it.

 

And you might consider copying and saving the first page of this Email with these instructions for use until you get used to the process as I will probably not be including this text in future Updates.

 

And in closing, be advised that I will continue to process State Veterans Updates as I have done in the past.

 

Respectfully,

 

Gene Fenstermacher

 

We have No Action Items today 

 

Issues

 

VISIT YOUR LEGISLATORS IN AUGUST

Congress has to make big decisions on military pay and benefits proposals

From today through Labor Day, most elected officials will return to their home states and districts to meet with constituents. Let MOAA prepare you to visit your legislators’ local offices and highlight your concerns.

 
 

COLA POPPING

June’s Consumer Price Index released

Follow the trends on MOAA’s COLA Watch page.

 
 

NEW MOAA SURVEY

We need your feedback

MOAA is combining all of our e-newsletters into one and, as a valued member, we would appreciate your input.

 
 

YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY

We asked, and you answered

See what active duty and retired members reported as their #1 legislative priority.

 

 

Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference

 

FOR ALL, Please feel free to pass these Weekly Legislative Updates on to your group of Veteran Friends –

don’t be concerned with possible duplications – if your friends are as concerned as we are with Veteran issues, they probably won’t mind getting this from two or more friendly sources

 

J

 

Here is the Process I recommend that you review all of the steps below and then you might want to copy this process by high lighting all of the steps below.  Then click on “File” at the top of your screen, select “Print“, then click on “Selection” at the next display and then hit “Print“; or print the selected portion as you usually do this kind of task.

 

  1. Click here on http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and below Congress click on Stop Defense Bill Personnel/Compensation Cuts
  3. 3.If applicable, at the next screen scroll down to the TAKE ACTION NOW! lineand enter or confirm your Zip code and /or hit “Go!”
  4. 4. Orat that next screen under“COMPOSE MESSAGE” leave the “Message Recipients Delivery Method” as “Email” at your discretion, and then scroll down to “Issue Area” and select an appropriate issue; e.g. ‘Veteran affairs’
  5. Scroll down to the  “Editable text” areaand edit/modify the text of the message if desired,
  6. Insert “Your Closing” (I show ‘Respectfully), and “Your Name” and fill in the rest of the mandatory {asterisked} SENDER INFORMATION.
  7. Fill in the “Guest Type“, “Service“, “Rank“, “Component“, and “Status” if you want that information to show in your message (recommended).  You may be prompted to include a phone numberif you try to send the message without entering your phone number. Don’t be concerned about entering a phone number. I haven’t  received return calls except on rare occasions to thank me for my interest in a particular piece of Legislation, at which time you can comment (pro or con) to the staff member on how the Senator stands on the issue.
  8. Check “Remember Me” (recommended) if you don’t want to have to re-enter all of your Sender Information the next time you send a message. You can always change your information or uncheck ‘Remember Me’ anytime in the future.
  9. Hit “Send Message”
  10. If Printed Letter was selected at Step 4 above, at the screen after hitting “Send Message” leave “Plain Paper Style” and “Word Processor (RTF)” checked unless you have another preference. Then left click on “Print Letter(s)” at the end of the “PRINT LETTER” screen. At the File Download” alert that appears next, click on “Open”. You can then edit and print or save the letter for editing, printing, signing and mailing.

 

   

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That’s it for today- Thanks for your continuing help!

 

 

 

 

 

*Legislative Update 24 June 2016:Reject Military Pay and Benefits Cuts

We have 2 Action Items today at Issue 2 & 3 below

 

 

Summary of Issues

 

At Issue 1. we see REJECT MILITARY PAY AND BENEFITS CUTSYou have a lot to lose as House and Senate leaders begin to reconcile the two versions of the defense bill.. See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)

 

At Issue 2. we see CONGRESS DIVIDED ON TRICARE, PAY, HOUSINGHouse and Senate at odds on key personnel and compensation provisions. Negotiations to resolve the differences are starting now. (See Issue 2 below for the details and send messages to our Legislators. GF)

At Issue 3. we see CONGRESS OFFERS LIMITED RELIEF FOR MILITARY SURVIVORSHouse and Senate defense bills only avoid another benefit cut. Join MOAA’s campaign to take positive steps for survivors.(See Issue 3 below for the details and send messages to our Legislators. GF)

Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference

 

FOR ALL, Please feel free to pass these Weekly Legislative Updates on to your group of Veteran Friends –

don’t be concerned with possible duplications – if your friends are as concerned as we are with Veteran issues, they probably won’t mind getting this from two or more friendly sources

 

ISSUES

Issue 1.   REJECT MILITARY PAY AND BENEFITS CUTS

You have a lot to lose as House and Senate leaders begin to reconcile the two versions of the defense bill.

What’s at stake:

  • dramatic retiree health care fee increases;
  • huge erosions to housing allowances (up to $10,000-$20,000 or more per year);
  • a fourth consecutive pay raise cutback; and
  • more cuts to already-overstressed forces.

Please send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message today. Do it at the end of Issue 2. Below. GF)

Issue 2. CONGRESS DIVIDED ON TRICARE, PAY, HOUSING

The House and Senate have both passed their versions of the FY17 Defense Authorization Bill, and they disagree on many important issues, including TRICARE fee hikes, housing allowance cuts, the military pay raise, and force levels.

Health Care

In the wake of last year’s retirement reform, Armed Services Committee leaders are now focused on overhauling the military health care system.

The Senate would apply new and higher fees to current beneficiaries.

The House would grandfather currently serving and retired members and families against the large fee hikes.

Housing Allowances

The Senate bill would cap housing allowances at current BAH rates or the servicemember’s actual housing cost, whichever is less, beginning with the first PCS after Jan. 1, 2018. That could have a big effect on many military homeowners. The Senate bill also would dramatically cut housing allowances for dual-military couples and other military sharers of housing by many thousands of dollars a year.

The House bill does not make any changes to housing allowances.

Pay Raise

The House bill provides servicemembers the full pay raise allowed by law – the same 2.1 percent pay raise experienced by the average American (as measured by the Employment Cost Index).

The Senate bill accepted the administration’s proposal to cap the 2017 pay raise at 1.6 percent – which would be the fourth consecutive pay raise cutback.

Force Levels

The House bill increases force levels above the DoD budget request by 20,000 for the Army; 15,000 for Army National Guard; 10,000 for Army Reserve; 4,000 for the Air Force; and 3,000 for the Marine Corps, but reduces Navy forces by 4,500.

The Senate bill accepted all of the administration’s proposals to cut force levels, including reducing the Army to 450,000, down from a wartime peak of 570,000.

See MOAA’s side-by-side comparison of key House and Senate differences on these issues and more.

(Click on MOAA’s side-by-side comparison here or above to see the comparison. GF

 

What’s Next

Lawmakers and their staffs already have had initial meetings to start resolving differences between the two bills.

Senate Armed Services Committee chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he wants to complete action on the defense bill as quickly as possible.

Your grassroots input is needed to help influence the process.

Please send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message urging them to protect the military community against disproportional cuts to “people programs.”

Act Now!

 

(Click on MOAA-suggested message or on Act Now! here or above, or go to the “Here is the Process” section at the end of this Email to send messages to our Legislators. GF

Issue 3. CONGRESS OFFERS LIMITED RELIEF FOR MILITARY SURVIVORS

 

June 24, 2016

 

The unfair deduction of VA Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities affects around 63,000 survivors.

 

Congress recognized the unfairness of the SBP-DIC offset and created the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) in 2007 to begin phasing out the offset. The law authorizing SSIA (currently $270 monthly, rising to $310 for FY17) is set to expire in October 2017.

 

Both the Senate and House versions of the FY 2017 defense bill contain provisions extending SSIA, however, they come up short in addressing the repeal of the offset in a comprehensive way.

 

The House defense bill would extend SSIA for one year at $310 per month. The Senate bill would make SSIA permanent at $310 per month.

 

MOAA is grateful to both chambers for not letting SSIA expire. But we’re very disappointed neither bill would continue the incremental increases intended to phase out the SBP-DIC offset over time.

 

MOAA is not giving up on making more progress this year.

 

We’re working with Military Coalition partners to lobby top congressional leaders to identify additional mandatory spending offsets to help the Armed Services Committees make the SSIA upgrades we know they would like to do.

 

Please send your legislators a MOAA-suggested message to push senior Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers to find the necessary funding for a multi-year schedule of SSIA increases for long-suffering SBP-DIC widows.

 

(Click on CONGRESS OFFERS LIMITED RELIEF FOR MILITARY SURVIVORS here  or above and then at the last sentence click on MOAA-suggested message or go to the “Here is the Process” section at the end of this Email to send messages to our Legislators. GF

Here is the Process I recommend that you review all of the steps below and then you might want to copy this process by high lighting all of the steps below.  Then click on “File” at the top of your screen, select “Print“, then click on “Selection” at the next display and then hit “Print“; or print the selected portion as you usually do this kind of task.

 

  1. Click here on http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and below Congress click onStop Defense Bill Personnel/Compensation Cuts the first time through this process, and click on Raise SSIA for Military Widows the second time through the process
  3. 3.If applicable, at the next screen scroll down to the TAKE ACTION NOW! lineand enter or confirm your Zip code and /or hit “Go!”
  4. 4. Orat that next screen under“COMPOSE MESSAGE” leave the “Message Recipients Delivery Method” as “Email” at your discretion, and then scroll down to “Issue Area” and select an appropriate issue; e.g. ‘Veteran affairs’
  5. Scroll down to the  “Editable text” areaand edit/modify the text of the message if desired,
  6. Insert “Your Closing” (I show ‘Respectfully), and “Your Name” and fill in the rest of the mandatory {asterisked} SENDER INFORMATION.
  7. Fill in the “Guest Type“, “Service“, “Rank“, “Component“, and “Status” if you want that information to show in your message (recommended).  You may be prompted to include a phone numberif you try to send the message without entering your phone number. Don’t be concerned about entering a phone number. I haven’t  received return calls except on rare occasions to thank me for my interest in a particular piece of Legislation, at which time you can comment (pro or con) to the staff member on how the Senator stands on the issue.
  8. Check “Remember Me” (recommended) if you don’t want to have to re-enter all of your Sender Information the next time you send a message. You can always change your information or uncheck ‘Remember Me’ anytime in the future.
  9. Hit “Send Message”
  10. If Printed Letter was selected at Step 4 above, at the screen after hitting “Send Message” leave “Plain Paper Style” and “Word Processor (RTF)” checked unless you have another preference. Then left click on “Print Letter(s)” at the end of the “PRINT LETTER” screen. At the File Download” alert that appears next, click on “Open”. You can then edit and print or save the letter for editing, printing, signing and mailing.
  11. After hitting “Send Message”above the first time through this process, return to Step 2 above and click on Raise SSIA for Military Widows the second time through the process.

 

   

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That’s it for today- Thanks for your continuing help!