At Issue 1. we see that DoD Outlines Budget Nightmare. In a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee leadership, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlined the draconian defense spending cuts required in FY2014 if Congress doesn’t act to repeal sequestration. See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 2. we see A $28,000 Pay Cut? The Pentagon and the Senate are calling for a 1.0 percent military pay raise in 2014 – 0.8 percent less than the private sector. In his column, “The Bottom Line,” MOAA’s Government Relations Director Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), demonstrates the long term financial impact that this cut would have on servicemembers.(See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 3. we see Health Care Access Survey. Have you had issues seeing your doctor? MOAA is studying the effects of sequestration on health care access. Take our short survey and let us know if you’ve been affected. (See Issue 3 below to take the survey GF)
At Issue 4. we see that MOAA Storms the Hill for Survivors. MOAA will “Storm the Hill” next Wednesday in an effort to repeal the SBP/DIC widows’ tax. You can help our efforts by sending your legislators a MOAA-suggested message in support of both S. 734 and H.R. 32 – two bills to repeal the offset. (See Issue 4 below for the details and to again send messages to our Legislators. GF)
At Issue 5. we see that a Medical Records ‘Samba’ In an unusual joint House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees hearing on Wednesday, senior Pentagon and VA officials pledged their departments soon would be able to transfer military medical records. (See Issue 5 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 6. we see that a Child Education Conference Focused on Cuts. A conference on military child education focused on the problems created by funding cuts, with senior DoD officials acknowledging that significant additional cuts could be on the way. (See Issue 6 below for the details. GF)
Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference
Issue 1. DoD Outlines Budget Nightmare
In a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee leadership, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlined the draconian defense spending cuts required in FY2014 if Congress doesn’t act to repeal sequestration. (Click on outlined the draconian defense spending cuts here or above to see the letter. GF)
Cuts to force levels, health care, modernization efforts, and operations/maintenance accounts headline the laundry list of programs to be slashed. MOAA responded with the following imploring Congress to implement alternative budget reduction options and avoid hollowing out our military and breaking promises to those who have served.
MOAA Warns Sequestration is Hollowing-out or Military
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) warns Washington’s lack of progress to repeal ongoing budget sequestration actions will threaten the fundamental capabilities of our nation’s armed forces amid an ongoing war.
“Threatened sequestration budget cuts under the 2011 Budget Control Act were designed to be so onerous, so senseless, that a budget deal would have to be struck to prevent mindless budget slashing targeting the Department of Defense to take 50-percent of the cuts,” MOAA President Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan, Jr. said. “Yet a budget deal was never reached. Here we are, halfway through the first year of cuts, and there is woefully little discussion or movement toward securing a bipartisan agreement to avoid harmful sequestration effects for not only fiscal year 2014, but for the next nine years.”
Without an agreement, the Pentagon faces yet another $52 billion in across-the-board cuts in fiscal year 2014 alone.
“Unfortunately, media outlets make it appear that sequestration has had little or no impact. The Washington Post recently ran an article, “Budget Cuts, But No Chaos,” stating sequestration was milder than forecasted,” Ryan said. “MOAA completely disagrees with these perceptions. People are going to suffer long-term morale problems across the DOD community; including DOD civilians, as well as uniformed service members and their families.”
Ryan said MOAA members report sequestration is already taking a toll on our military families who have endured over 12 long years of war. Families are genuinely worried and anxiety is building as there is no immediate resolution in sight. Children in defense schools will lose 5 instructional days at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year alone. Commissaries are closing more days per week, which affects all families, but especially those overseas. Summer recreational facilities and programs have been cut back or canceled. Many parents rely on these programs heavily to balance the needs of their families. Families say ignoring the impact on their morale is simply callous.
Additionally, for the past several months, the nation’s military readiness has suffered and will continue to diminish if nothing is done. The Air Force has already slashed flying hours by 30-percent, greatly reducing the opportunity to maintain pilot proficiency. The Navy has canceled the deployment of at least six ships and renegotiated critical procurement contracts. And if sequestration continues, the Army and Marine Corps will likely see additional large personnel force cuts.
The Pentagon has imposed 11-day furloughs affecting more than 600,000 DoD civilian employees and TRICARE is expected to run out of money in August, so health care access for more than 9.6 million beneficiaries will be reduced.
Recently, the Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), asked DoD to outline what future cuts might have to take place. On July 10, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released a statement that outlines the following harmful impacts if sequestration remains in effect for fiscal year 2014:
• Acceleration of force drawdowns
• Reductions in flying hours and training drills
• 10-percent reductions in operations and maintenance accounts
• 15- to 20-percent cuts in modernization accounts
• Involuntary reductions-in-force to cut civilian personnel costs
• Hiring freezes
• Halting all accessions
• Ending all permanent-change-of-station moves
• Stopping discretionary bonuses
• Freezing all promotions
MOAA agrees with Inhofe, as he cautioned, “Sequestration is leading to the hollowing-out of our military.”
“Congress and the administration need to act now so that the Pentagon can plan and execute both long- and short-term programs,” Ryan said. “Military readiness and national security should never be used as political brinkmanship. A bipartisan, balanced solution is needed now.”
Issue 2. The Bottom Line – A $28,000 Pay Cut?
The Pentagon and the Senate are calling for a 1.0 percent military pay raise in 2014 – 0.8 percent less than the private sector. In his column, “The Bottom Line,” MOAA’s Government Relations Director Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), demonstrates the long term financial impact that this cut would have on servicemembers in his memo below:.
By Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret)
Sustaining military pay raises comparable to those of the average American is a fundamental principle of the all-volunteer force, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
However, the administration, in its FY 2014 budget proposal, has proposed capping the currently serving troops’ pay raise for FY 2014 at 1 percent, versus the 1.8-percent raise called for in statute.
In 2003, Congress codified military pay raises in law tying them to private-sector pay growth as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index (ECI).
Over the past 12 years, Congress worked hard to fix the 13.5-percent pay gap (and resulting retention problems) caused by repeatedly capping military raises below private-sector pay growth in the 1980s and ’90s.
But with the budget woes facing the Pentagon under sequestration, it seems like déjà vu all over.
As the Defense Authorization Bill moves forward, the two chambers don’t see eye-to-eye on the scheduled pay raise. The House rejected the administration’s pay cap and would allow a 1.8-percent raise, while the Senate supports the cap of 1 percent.
After all of the pay raises over the past decade that exceeded private-sector growth, some have asked why make a big deal over 0.8 percent. Shouldn’t the military do its fair share?
History has shown that once Congress starts accepting proposals to cap military pay below private-sector growth, pay caps continue until they have weakened retention and readiness.
And it appears that is the plan again. In the FY 2013 budget submission, the administration and the Pentagon rolled out a three-year pay-cap plan below ECI starting in FY 2015. The FY 2014 plan looks to either accelerate or extend this cap plan, even though DoD won’t commit one way or the other.
What’s the impact of losing 0.8 percent over a servicemember’s career?
For example, an O-4 with 10 years of service would lose an additional $52 a month in FY 2014 without the 0.8-percent raise.
That might not sound like much, until the power of compounding comes into play.
For the first year, that $52 a month equates to a loss of $624. Over the remaining years of his or her career, the O-4 loses nearly $8,000 in pay from this one-year cap (assuming a 2.5-percent inflation factor). Over his or her retirement, by age 85, that one-year cap costs the servicemember an additional $20,000 in retired pay.
The grand total loss is roughly $28,000.
Compound that with several years of pay caps, and this shows just the tip of the pay-cap iceberg.
The bottom line: 0.8 percent is a big deal. Troops’ pay needs to keep pace with that of the private sector.
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Issue 3. Health Care Access Survey.
Have you had issues seeing your doctor? MOAA is studying the effects of sequestration on health care access. Take our short survey and let us know if you’ve been affected. (Click on Take our short survey here or above to participate in the survey. Please help MOAA gather some nationwide statistics. GF)
Issue 4. AMAC Storming the Hill Event 2013
Please contact (visits, letters, e-mails, phone calls) your Representatives and Senators to garner their co-sponsorship for the bills. (Click on H.R. 32, and on S.734 here or above or go to “Here are the processes” at the end of this Email to send the messages GF)
Issue 5. Medical Records ‘Samba’
The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), an independent advisory cIn an unusual joint House Armed Services (HASC) and Veterans Affairs (HVAC) Committees hearing on Wednesday, senior Pentagon and VA officials pledged their departments soon would be able to transfer military medical records. The records are used to make service and VA disability determinations.
Last year, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified before the same panels that they were working together to create a lifelong electronic medical record for troops and veterans. But earlier this year, DoD announced it was walking away from the vision of a common medical records platform in favor of a separate software management system that would be able of communicate with the VA.
HASC Chairman Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon (R-Calif.) and HVAC Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), and the Ranking Members of the two Committees, Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mike Michaud (D-Maine), decried the lack of leadership on an issue that they said is critical to resolving the backlog of nearly 800,000 claims in the VA. Miller exclaimed, “Excuses have to end and sustained progress must occur – this has got to get done.”
But, Mr. Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense responsible for Pentagon technology programs testified that the search was on for an entirely new medical software system to replace the current DoD AHLTA system. He insisted, however, that any new system will be able to deliver medical data to the VA seamlessly. He said that military medical records themselves and underlying software management systems are separate and distinct issues; i.e., a common DoD-VA platform was not needed only the capability to transfer medical records data.
Chairman Miller asked how many of the software platforms DoD was considering use the VA’s renowned VISTA system and Kendall acknowledged that three finalists were “VISTA-based solutions.” Later, in response to a question from Rep. Michaud, Kendall said that DoD projected it would be able to transfer integrated medical records data to the VA in 2014, far ahead of the 2017 deadline set earlier.
Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright said that DoD and VA have forged an agreement by which all active duty service medical records are certified complete before being shipped to the VA. 80% of records now shipped from the services are paper-based, but medical data from them is transferred electronically between the departments every day. In a Senate hearing in May, a senior VA official testified that there were “complications” certifying the completeness of medical records of mobilized National Guard member records since they remain under State control except during call-ups.
Efforts to create seamless, bi-directional medical records go back decades. MOAA applauds the leadership of the HASC and HVAC for insisting that the departments must solve this problem in the near term, one central to timely and accurate disability and benefits determinations in both DoD and VA.
A conference on military child education focused on the problems created by funding cuts, with senior DoD officials acknowledging that significant additional cuts could be on the way. (Click on Child Education Conference Focused on Cuts here or above to see the details. GF)
Here are the processes:
If the steps below are new to some, I recommend that you review all of the steps 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.
3. At the next screen enter your Zip code if requested and hit “Go” and/or scroll down to “Take Action” and at “Compose Message” leave ‘Email’ checked or check ‘Printed Letter’ to send Printed Letters instead of sending Emails if desired.
8. Check ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ as to whether you want to have a copy of your letter sent to your Email Address (suggested at least for you initial efforts, and to see how your personal data is included in the message).
9. Hit “Send Message“
That’s it for today- Thanks for your help!