*Legislative Update 22 May 2015: COLA Continues to Climb

We have 6 Action Items today, at Issue 2 and 3 below 



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see COLA CONTINUES SLOW CLIMB The Consumer Price Index continues its climb in April, to 1.2% below the 2014 baseline. (See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)


At Issue 2. we see MOAA TESTIFIES ON VETERANS ISSUES  MOAA outlines veterans’ health care and benefits priorities. MOAA testified before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs committees. (See Issue 2 below for the details and send messages to your Legislators GF)

At Issue 3. we see KEY VET BILLSSend your legislators letters of support. Congress is working on a number of bills that are important to veterans. (See Issue 3 below for the details. and send messages to your Legislators GF)

At Issue 4. we see VIRGINIA COUNCIL HOSTS LAWMAKERSElected officials joined more than 125 MOAA members. MOAA’s Virginia Council of Chapters hosted its congressional delegation luncheon. (See Issue 4 below for the detailsGF)

At Issue 5. we see ANNUAL LETTER SURVEY REMINDER <(Click on ANNUAL LETTER SURVEY REMINDER to participate in the survey. 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




May 22, 2015


The Consumer Price Index continues its climb in April

(To follow the trends on MOAA’s COLA Watch, click on COLA CONTINUES SLOW CLIMB here or above to see the details. GF)





May 22, 2015

On May 20, Col. Bob Norton, USA (Ret.), deputy director of MOAA’s Government Relations Department, testified at a joint hearing before the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees.

Norton outlined MOAA’s key concerns and recommendations to improve veterans’ access to VA health services, upgrade existing benefits, and extend special services to disabled servicemembers’ full-time caregivers.

Norton also presented MOAA’s recommendations on assuring aggressive implementation of the Choice Card for veterans stuck on waiting lists for VA care, and those who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic.

MOAA was joined by the national commanders or representatives from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans Association, and partners from The Military Coalition: AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and the Non-Commissioned Officers Association of America.

Norton described outsourced care as “a wobbly, three-layered cake: the first layer is local purchased care contracts, the second layer is the VA national patient-centered care contracts (PC-3), which got some primary care icing added on to the specialty care contract, and the third layer is the Choice Card program for rural veterans and veterans stuck on long waiting lists.”

Because purchased care complements VA’s direct care system, MOAA recommends Congress engage the Commission on VA Care to map out a long-term strategy to integrate all aspects of VA managed care. Given the importance and scope of designing VA care for the 21st century, the Commission on Care should be given a year to develop a plan.

MOAA also urged Congress to support other changes to the way VA does business, including:

  • – Building up the capacity to deliver VA care more efficiently in its facilities by hiring and training more providers, fixing the scheduling system, and reengineering clinical space along the lines of leading civilian health care entities;
  • – Recruiting more mental health providers and training them on the unique needs of veterans;
  • – Extending the time surviving spouses have to use new GI Bill “Fry Scholarships”;
  • – Authorizing VA benefits to Vietnam War “blue water” Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange;
  • – Providing veterans status to career National Guard and Reserve members eligible for non-regular retired pay who are entitled to certain veterans’ benefits, but do not have active duty service under Title 10 orders; and
  • – Extending special services and support to the full-time caregivers of severely disabled veterans who served before Sept. 11, 2001.

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), chair of the House panel that oversees veterans’ disability assistance, questioned what could be done to make further progress on the claims backlog. Norton said that new legislation, S. 1203 , offers “practical, low-cost measures” aimed at further improving the claims system. Norton added that MOAA is working with the DAV and other groups to streamline procedures governing appealed claims, which currently take about three-years on average to resolve.

Norton described the plight of Coast Guard veteran Alexis Courneen who suffered a severe brain injury in service in 1999. Her husband Jason is her full-time caregiver, but the couple is ineligible for respite care, CHAMPVA, training, and a stipend under the Caregivers Act. Under current law, those benefits are only available to catastrophically disabled veterans who served after Sept. 10, 2001.

In response to Norton’s testimony that, “there’s no policy reason to exclude Alexis and Jason from Caregivers Act benefits,” Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said that the committees were taking up the issue soon.

Send your senators a  MOAA-suggested message  to support S. 1203, the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery

(Click on MOAA-suggested message here or above or go to Here is the Process: at the end of this Email to send messages to your Legislators. GF)


May 22, 2015

Several important veterans’ bills have been introduced in the 114th Congress. Click on the bill numbers below to send your legislators a MOAA-suggested message in support.

(Click on the respective underlined bill numbers below or go to Here is the Process: at the end of this Email to send messages to your Legislators – don’t miss S. 602. GF)

S.1085 : Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act. This bill allows veterans of all eras eligible for the full range of caregiver support services through the VA.

H.R. 1141 and S. 602 : GI Bill Fairness Act. This bill allows members of the National Guard and Reserves to count time spent receiving care in a DoD facility for a line-of-duty illness, injury, or wound incurred during a call-up to count as active duty for purposes of eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

H.R. 1607 : Ruth Moore Act. This bill upgrades disability compensation procedures for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma.

H.R. 456 : Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act. This bill allows veterans to apply a small portion of one-month’s Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for college applications.

Disregard S.1203 below  if you sent the message at Issue 2 above

  1. 120321st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act.This bill helps simplify and expedite the VA claims system.


May 22, 2015

MOAA’s Virginia Council of Chapters (VCOC) hosted its congressional delegation for a lunch discussion on Capitol Hill on May 21.

Seven legislators spoke to more than 125 MOAA members at the event, where the Council thanked them for their support to date and urged them to do more for the military and veterans’ community.

VCOC’s annual congressional luncheon – now in its 30th year – is a great way for MOAA members to meet face-to-face with their legislators and push both state and national level issues.

A common theme among the legislators’ remarks was concern over the balancing the budget in a responsible way that doesn’t put a disproportionate share of the burden on servicemembers and retirees.

Col. Barry Wright, USA (Ret), MOAA’s Director of Chapter and Council Affairs, received the Minuteman award for his leadership. The Minuteman award is given to a MOAA member providing outstanding support and loyal service to the VCOC. Wright expressed his appreciation for the support of the legislators in attendance and thanked members for staying active with MOAA’s grassroots advocacy.

The VCOC recognized Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) with its annual legislative award for his support of many of MOAA’s top priorities and nearly fifteen years of service in Congress. Because of his dedication to the military community, Forbes received the award for the second time in three years.

The VCOC’s luncheon is a great example of how you can become involved legislatively through MOAA’s state chapters. Click here to find a chapter in your area.




Here is the Process:  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.


  1. Click here onhttp://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/   or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll down under “Current Legislation” to “Veterans and Other Issues”and click on 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act next to S. 1203 the first time through this process. Repeat this process for S.1085, S.602, H.R. 1607, H.R.1141 and H.R. 456 the next five times through this process.
  3. At the next screen enter your Zip code if requested and/orhit “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.
  4. If an  “Issue Area:”line appears just before the Editable Text: and doesn’t have an issue shown, click on the down arrow and select an issue; e. g., Military, Veterans Affairs, etc. (usually required on messages to our Senators)
  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. The “Phone”number is now required by some Legislators (it’s required if your Senator is from Arizona) .  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 number if 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.
  7. 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.
  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”
  10. If Printed Letter was selected at Step 3 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. For Arizona residentsbecause of some current problems with contacting Sen Flake by Email,you will, see after hitting “Send Message” at Step 9 above, that “Printed Letter” is the only option  for getting your message to him. Step 10 above tells you how to do that for the Senate Bills.
  12. After going through this process the first time, repeat the process 5 more times for the following Bills all under “Veterans and Other Issues”:S.1085, S.602, H.R. 1607, H.R.1141 and H.R. 456 





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