*Legislative Update 12 June 2015: DoD Embraces Retirement Reform

We have 1 Action Item today, at Issue 1 below



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see  ACT NOW: SUPPORT KEY SENATE AMENDMENTSDebate on the defense bill is currently underway in the Senate, with a full vote coming as early as next Tuesday. (See Issue 1 below for the details and to send messages to your Senators. GF)


At Issue 2. we see PENTAGON SUPPORTS RETIREMENT CHANGESDefense officials sign off on retirement changes in memo to lawmakers. Retirement reform gains steam as the Pentagon weighs in earlier than expected. (See Issue 2 below for the detailsGF)

At Issue 3. we see “ANTIQUATED” PENTAGON LOOKS TO THE FUTUREPentagon launches Force of the Future initiative. DoD seeks to compete as millennials eschew military service (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 4. we see DEFENSE BILL IMPASSE BREWINGLawmakers defy veto threat and pass defense budget. Politicians threaten shutdown as saber-rattling increases. (See Issue 4 below for the details. 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




Debate on the defense bill is currently underway in the Senate, with a full vote coming as early as next Tuesday

Several senators have introduced amendments for sustaining military pay and benefits, as well as eliminating remaining inequities plaguing military survivors and disabled retirees.

You still have time to act! Send an MOAA-suggested message urging your senators to support these critical amendments when the bill comes to a full vote.

(Click on  ACT NOW: SUPPORT KEY SENATE AMENDMENTS here or above or go to Here is the Process: at the end of this Email to send messages to your Senators. GF)




June 12, 2015

After months of delays, Pentagon officials came out in support of changes to the military retirement system. Their endorsement sets the stage for major reforms later this year.

House and Senate lawmakers already introduced retirement reform proposals earlier this year. Their proposals are currently being negotiated as part of this year’s defense bill.

Pentagon officials are asking Congress to make changes to their retirement proposals. Sharing the same concerns that MOAA has raised with lawmakers over the past year, they are asking Congress to make changes to disability retirement, the length of government contributions to retirement accounts, lump-sum proposals, and COLA reducing measures.

One of MOAA’s earliest concerns with retirement reform proposals was their effect on disabled retirees. Changing the multiplier used to calculate military retirement could diminish a disabled retiree’s pension. Defense officials asked Congress to grandfather disabled retirees under the current system. “This prevents more senior members from receiving less in a disability retirement annuity than the current system,” according to DoD.

Defense planners agreed with MOAA that Congress continue contributions to retirement accounts throughout military service. The Senate’s retirement proposal stops government matching at 20 years. MOAA thinks ending government contributions at 20 years will dis-incentivize continued service.

The Pentagon also agreed with MOAA’s criticisms on potential lump-sum retirement benefits. This option provides a discounted, small lump sum while forgoing significant lifetime annuity payments. In its memo to Congress, Pentagon officials said that a lump-sum payment at retirement is a “smart financial decision in very limited circumstances.” MOAA took a stronger stance, equating the payments to unscrupulous payday lending practices.

In exchange for comprehensive retirement reform, DoD also asked Congress to eliminate an unfair penalty on working age military retirees. Under current law, military entrants who joined after Jan. 1, 2016 will have their future COLAs reduced by one percentage point until age 62. The military said that even by restoring full COLAs, the Defense Department could achieve savings with the new retirement system.

“Thankfully, the Pentagon provided its recommendations in time for House and Senate leaders to consider when they conference later this year,” said MOAA’s Director of Government Relations, Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret).

Though the Pentagon addressed some of our concerns, MOAA still worries that a 20 percent reduction in retired pay will fail to draw members to 20 years of service and beyond.


June 12, 2015

A new generation of troops could mean big changes in how the military operates.

According to Navy officials, in a decade, 98 percent of the force will consist of millennials. In order to preserve the all-volunteer force, senior leaders say the services must adapt to meet their needs.

At a conference with defense officials this week, Undersecretary of Defense Brad Carson called the Pentagon’s personnel program “antiquated,” stating that “oppressive bureaucracy exists” when it comes to force management. Carson emphasized his concern that “great dissatisfaction” of the system could lead to an exodus of talented leaders.

Drawing comparisons with corporate America, Carson said that although DoD can’t pay as much as companies like Google, it must give troops new missions to inspire continued service. In order to recruit and retain troops, Carson wants “the services [to] be beds of experimentation.”

To address this, the Pentagon is in the midst of conducting a six-month study of DoD’s personnel management system. Some things being considered are common private sector practices, like flexibility in choosing assignments, and talent-based, rather than time in service, promotions.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter hopes to implement findings from the study within the next 18 months.

“It’s an ambitious timeline,” said MOAA’s Director of Government Relations, Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret) “that seems based more on how much time folks have  left in office rather than feasibility in implementation.”

Changes to the personnel system could come at an interesting time for the services. DoD is preparing to make some of the biggest changes to military compensation in a generation.

MOAA supports reviewing the current personnel system and learning from the private sector to encourage better talent management. However, it’s imperative that reforms take into account the needs of troops while also meeting service requirements.

“Just because it works in the boardroom does not always mean that it will work on the battlefield. The conditions of service are vastly different, and the need to keep well-trained and experienced personnel is essential to maintaining the all-volunteer force,” said Hayden.

MOAA will continue to track the progress of the study.


June 12, 2015

On June 9, Senate appropriators approved a controversial draft of the FY16 defense budget.

The budget drew criticism from the White House, saying that lawmakers used “budget gimmicks” to exceed budget caps put in place by sequestration. The Senate budget exceeds budget caps by $37 billion.

The budget defies spending caps by funding base operations using special war accounts. War accounts are not subject to sequestration.

House lawmakers used similar budget maneuvers to pass its version of the defense spending bill on June 11.

The White House insists that any increases in defense spending must include increases in domestic programs. The administration has threatened to veto the bill if sent to the White House.

“With a veto threat, we’re looking at another budget impasse this fall,” said Col. Phil Odom, USAF (Ret), MOAA’s deputy director for Government Relations. “Without a bipartisan solution, there’s a very real possibility of another government shutdown.”

Pentagon officials are also cool to the idea of using war accounts to bridge the gap between budget caps and its spending request.

“If this were a one-year, temporary fix you might justify it,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). “But what we’re seeing is a pathway that [Congress is] going to take every year …. That’s the way, unfortunately, it tends to be around here.”

What’s needed is a common sense alternative to sequestration’s arbitrary budget caps. Congress needs to repeal sequestration and give Pentagon leaders a properly allocated budget.


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/ or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and click on Act Now: Support Key Senate Amendments  
  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 that.





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