*Legislative Update 4 September 2015: POTUS CAPS PAY

We have 1 Action Item today at Issue 2 below



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see POTUS CAPS PAYCiting fiscal challenges, President Obama continues trend of reduced pay. Servicemembers will see a smaller than expected pay raise next year, as the president told lawmakers he will use his authority to cap military pay. (See Issue 1 below for the details. GF) 

At Issue 2. we see PROCRASTINATION STATIONCongress doesn’t have a lot of time to get through their to-do list. The House and Senate return and only have ten days together until the end of the fiscal year. (See Issue 2 below to see the details and send messages to your Legislators. GF) 

At Issue 3. we see  TRICARE SECRET SHOPPER SCAMNew scam targets TRICARE beneficiaries. A phony organization is targeting beneficiaries with counterfeit TRICARE checks.  (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 4. we see 22 A DAYMOAA joins Wounded Warrior Project to tackle mental health. (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





September 4, 2015

President Obama sent a disappointing letter to Congressional leaders last week stating that he plans to use his executive authority to cap military pay for the third consecutive year.

In 2014 and 2015, pay raises were capped at 1 percent. The president intends to cap 2016 pay raises at 1.3 percent, instead of the 2.3 percent raise called for by law.

The troops’ last four raises averaged less than 1.4 percent, with the FY14 and FY15 pay raises being the lowest in 50 years.

In his letter, Obama said that he is, “strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our Nation over the past decade of war.” However, he insisted that this move is necessary to, “maintain efforts to keep our Nation on a sustainable fiscal course.”

DoD leadership came out in support of the president’s announcement, insisting that the pay cap is needed to support modernization and training.

Several years of capping pay below private sector wage growth took place during the 1980’s and 90’s, until servicemembers faced a 13.5 percent pay gap. Because recruitment and retention ultimately suffered, Congress spent a decade trying to fix the issue by providing pay raises above the Employment Cost Index (ECI). After coming within 2.5 percent of pay parity in 2013, DoD and Congress considered the issue resolved.

Now it looks like all of the hard work Congress did is unwinding. A third year of pay caps expands the difference between pay in the military and private sector to 5 percent. And with four more years of DoD-proposed caps, it will get much worse.

Three years of pay caps really add up. An E-5 with ten years of service will receive about $976 less annually. For an O-3 with 10 years, it will be about $1,870.

“Although Congress and the administration are under pressure from budget restrictions, this is incredibly disappointing,” said MOAA Director of Government Relations, Col Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret). “Past experience with capping military raises below private sector pay growth has shown that once pay raise caps begin, they continue until they undermine retention and readiness of the all-volunteer force.”

Military pay comparability only works when it’s sustained through both good and bad budget times.




September 4, 2015

Despite pledges to return to normal order, it is increasingly unlikely that lawmakers will be able to pass a series of annual appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year.

The series of looming deadlines have led some legislators to call the coming months an ‘awful autumn.’

When Congress returns from the August recess next week, lawmakers must work quickly on several big-ticket items. Unfortunately, House and Senate lawmakers are only both in session for a handful of days in September.

Lawmakers are trying to find ways to untie their hands from sequestration, a self-imposed punishment that set unrealistic budget caps. Defense planners want exemptions from the caps, but opponents say that any increases in defense spending must be met with similar increases to domestic programs.

The current defense budget is $38 billion over sequestration’s limit and the president vowed to veto the bill if it is sent to him. Instead of passing legislation that is doomed to fail, Congress will most likely need to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running, and prevent a shutdown.

A CR will keep the government funded at current levels while Congress tries to come up with a funding solution. Some lawmakers hinted that a CR could last a full year, an unprecedented length for such legislation.

Preventing a government shutdown is a top priority for most Republican leaders, mindful of the political damage that followed previous shutdowns.

After the new fiscal year, Congress will have to shift to other matters: raising the debt ceiling, passing a highway funding bill, and finalizing a defense bill that has some of the biggest personnel changes in a generation.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress earlier this summer that the debt ceiling would have to be raised by the end of October. Technically, the government already hit the debt ceiling, but the treasury department is using “extraordinary measures” to prevent a default.

Shortly before the August recess, Congress passed a short-term federal highway bill.

Despite making sweeping changes to the military retirement system, lawmakers seemed poised to quickly act on the defense bill. However, an eleventh hour dispute over TRICARE pharmacy fees halted negotiations.

Send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message urging them to reject these increases.

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

One issue seemingly off the table is a nuclear deal with Iran, with the Senate announcing it has enough votes to move forward with the president’s plan. For an analysis of the deal, check out the September edition of Military Officer.

Any of these issues alone would be difficult to navigate with an agreeable Congress, but with such divides on these issues, even a slight misstep could lead to another shutdown.

With so much work ahead, awful autumn has the potential to turn into a woeful winter.

(Click on September edition of Military Officer  here or above where above the photo of the cover page of the magazine you can click left and/or right to scan through the pages of the magazine . GF)



The Defense Health Agency, Office of Program Integrity (DHA-PI) has received a significant number of return envelopes from mailings by a bogus organization. In the letter they identify themselves as TRICARE SURVEY INC., to TRICARE beneficiaries across the country and are attempting to solicit beneficiary to be “Secret Shoppers” for TRICARE.  Please know that TRICARE does not employ “Secret Shoppers”.

Enclosed in the mailing is a form letter claiming to be a solicitation for a position as a Trainee Independent Private Evaluator, a counterfeit TRICARE WPS check for $3,775.00, and an instruction/survey form on how the beneficiary gets the check authorized through the company’s agent via phone.  Beneficiaries are directed to cash the check at their local bank, retain a percentage of the money and utilize the remaining amount to purchase six “Vanilla Reload” cards at $500.00 apiece at various stores across the country. The “Secret Shopper” is instructed to provide the company agent with the card numbers once they are bought, complete the survey and mail it, and wait for the next assignment. Once money has been loaded onto the card however, they are immediately available for transfer and the bogus company zeros out the monies on the cards.

DHA PI strongly advises you NOT to participate in this alleged “Secret Shopper” effort. TRICARE will identify the checks as counterfeit through a positive check controls process and return them to the bank in which they were drawn from as non-cashable. Potential exists for the beneficiary to be personally liable for the entire $3,775.00 in restitution to the bank.

Should you receive a letter DHA PI again, strongly advises you not to contact the company or attempt to cash the counterfeit check. Also, please immediately submit a Fraudline report to DHA PI. To access our Fraud Reporting tools, go to the Program Integrity page and click on the “Report Health Care Fraud” button


(Click on Program Integrity page here or above for the details. GF)

Issue 4. 22 A DAY

MOAA joins Wounded Warrior Project to tackle mental health

Did you know 22 veterans commit suicide every day? Make military mental health a priority and come to our Sept. 9 event.

(Click on 22 A DAY here or above for the details and to register for The 2015 Warrior-Family Symposium (WFS)GF)


“We should stop thinking about our people as a cost center but rather as a profit center. They’re not an expense, they’re an investment.” – recent comment by Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson.



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 a MOAA screen where you can then scroll down to the  “Legislative Action Center
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and click on Act Now to Block Big Rx Fee Hikes
  1. 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 .
  2. 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)
  3. Scroll down to the  “Editable text” areaand edit/modify the text of the message if desired.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. Hit “Send Message”
  8. 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.
  9. 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..





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