*Legislative Update 2 July 2015: Act Now to Reject Military Pay and Benefits Cuts

We have 1 Action Item today, at Issue 1 below



Summary of Issues

Make sure your elected officials know where you stand. The time to act is now. When Congress returns from the 4th of July holiday, lawmakers will tackle the FY 2016 defense bill. (See Issue 1 below for the details and to send messages to your Legislators. GF)


At Issue 2. we see AFTER SCOTUS RULING, VA REVISES BENEFITS POLICYVA streamlines benefits for same-sex couples. This week, the VA announced it will implement new policies to eliminate an inconsistent delivery of benefits. (See Issue 2 below for the detailsGF)

At Issue 3. we see MOAA BACKS VETERANS’ BILLSLawmakers consider several vet bills. Find out which bills MOAA supports. (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF)


Join MOAA and Wounded Warrior Project on September 9

MOAA’s Warrior-Family Symposium looks at how organizations align to improve the overall mental wellness of the military community. Registration is free. Learn more about the program and sign up today. (Click on WARRIOR-FAMILY SYMPOSIUM here or above to see the details and to register if desired. 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




Make sure your elected officials know where you stand

The time to act is now. When Congress returns from the 4th of July holiday, lawmakers will tackle the FY 2016 defense bill.

What’s at stake:

  • Pay raises that fail to keep pace with the private sector
  • Dramatic pharmacy fee increases
  • Erosions to housing allowances
  • Continued cuts to commissaries

Fortunately, House lawmakers stopped these provisions dead in their tracks. However, the Senate plans to keep them alive.

MOAA, along with our partners in The Military Coalition, sent a letter to members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees highlighting our concerns as the conferees aim to complete the defense bill before the end of July.

With time running out, we need your help. Contact your legislators and support the House-passed version of the defense bill.


(Click on  REJECT MILITARY PAY AND BENEFITS CUTS here or above or go to Here is the Process: at the end of this Email to send messages to your Legislators. GF)



July 2, 2015

The VA will now provide benefits to same-sex couples, following the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. For the first time, same-sex couples will become eligible to receive survivors’ benefits, home loans, and other benefits from the VA.

DoD began providing benefits to active duty same-sex couples in 2013. The VA’s rule change now provides a continuum of benefits for all military families.

Prior to the Court’s ruling, the VA only provided benefits to same-sex couples who both married and resided in a state where same-sex marriage was legal. This resulted in vast discrepancies in the delivery of benefits to veterans.

In one case, an Iraq war veteran was denied the dependent rate for VA benefits because she traveled to Washington, where her spouse’s parents reside, to be married. However, the VA did not acknowledge the marriage because she resided in Texas, a state that did not recognize same-sex marriages.

Earlier this year, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced legislation to force the VA to provide benefits to same-sex couples living in states that did not recognize same-sex unions. The Senate ultimately rejected her proposal.

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Shaheen wrote, “this clear inequity has not only been an affront to thousands of men and women who have served our nation faithfully in uniform, it has also offended the basic principles of equality and fairness that are the foundation of our legal system.”

“It makes little sense that a couple could be eligible for benefits on active duty, only to be denied earned benefits after taking off the uniform,” said MOAA’s Director of Government Relations, Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret). “The VA’s ruling helps standardize the delivery of benefits for veterans and their families across the country.”


July 2, 2015

Congress is currently working on several important veterans’ bills. Please take a moment to send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message on the following pieces of legislation:

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

  1. 469: Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act.This bill improves reproductive assistance provided by DoD and VA to severely wounded, ill, or injured members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their spouses or partners.
  2. 901: Toxic Exposure Research Act.This bill establishes a national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions for the descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces.

Note: MOAA recommended substituting the term “Uniformed Services” for “Armed Forces” to ensure that research conducted at a designated VA Medical Center is applicable to commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and NOAA Corps.

  1. 1641: Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act.This important bill keeps veterans safe by providing the VA with the necessary tools to provide effective pain management services.

H.R. 303:  Concurrent receipt . This longstanding, top MOAA priority authorizes full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation for retirees with regular or Guard/Reserve retirements, regardless of disability rating.

H.R. 1384: Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act. This bill would grant veteran status to members of the Reserve Components who served a career of 20 years or more and are military retirees, but who are not recognized by the government as “veterans” because of no service under active duty orders.

Note: H.R. 1384 was adopted as a provision in the House version of the FY 2016 defense bill and will be up for debate when House and Senate lawmakers meet later this month.

MOAA thanks the committees and the members who sponsored or co-sponsored the above bills.


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 Reject Military Pay and Benefits Cuts
  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 most readily observable option for getting your message to him. Step 10 above tells you how to do that.



Below is a message that I sent to Senator Flake today to try to resolve that problem:



I have been in contact with your staff and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) staff in an attempt to find out and resolve the issue of your office not accepting messages generated by http://capwiz.com/ for the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the Military Coalition (TMC) for forwarding to our Legislators by Military Retirees and other Veterans. And while the process provides a rather time consuming process for mailing hard copies of the messages or through your Email contact system that I am using for this message, you are the only Arizona Legislator that refuses to accept Email messages through the MOAA capwiz process, and I and other Military Retirees and Veterans would greatly appreciate your help in getting this problem resolved.




Gene Fenstermacher,

Colonel (USAF Retired)


Below is this week’s Legislative Update Action Item:


As the defense bill is being decided in conference, please reject the following proposals that unfairly target the currently serving community:


– A third consecutive year of capping military pay raises below what current law mandates

– Forcing currently serving families to pay 5 percent out-of-pocket for their housing

– Cutting a quarter of the commissary funding

– Another year of disproportionately high pharmacy fee increases


These long-term plans repeat many of the poor cost-cutting decisions that led to the retention problem in the late 1990s when servicemembers suffered a 13.5% pay gap and were forced to cover 20% of their housing costs out-of-pocket.


As your constituent, please reject these disastrous provisions in the FY 2016 defense bill.




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