Legislative Affairs Co-Chair, LCol Rod Hosler
We are now into a new year, 2018. It is hoped that this year will be a rewarding and effective year for all members of the United States military; active, guard and reserve, and retired. It must be noted that one of MOAA’s primary missions is to be the legislative advocate and voice for those that can’t speak, our military.
MOAA has established ten goals it will advocate for 2018, and they are:
- Ensure any TRICARE reform sustains access to top quality care.
- Prevent disproportional TRICARE fee increases.
- Sustain military pay comparability with the private sector.
- Block erosion of compensation and non-pay and quality of life benefits.
- Protect military retirement and COLAs.
- Sustain wounded warrior programs and expand caregiver support.
- End financial penalties to survivors and the disabled.
MOAA is looking for chapter members that are “Chapter 61” retirement; that is, medical retirement under 10 U.S.C. Chapter 61, for people with less than 20 years of service, who are not eligible for concurrent receipt. If you are in this classification please contact me.–Rod
- Ensure the Guard and Reserve system adequately supports the requirements for an operational reserve.
- Ensure spouse and family support programs are aligned with current and emerging needs of an all-volunteer force.
- Ensure ensure timely access to VA health care and preserve earned veteran’s benefits.
Military pay and earned benefits are always in the Congressional “cross hairs” and this year will be no different. As Congress attempts to balance the budget and fund entitlement programs, they look for ways that enhance those who have not served or sacrificed. It is regrettable that America’s military, current serving and retired must constantly fight for those benefits they have earned over years of honorable service to the country. Furthermore, it is unfortunate, but even DOD officials, military and civilian, in the Pentagon do not aggressively advocate on behalf of their serving personnel (active and reserve), retired and families in seeking better treatment and sustainment of those hard-earned benefits.
MOAA is the only organization that will vigorously advocate for and fight to ensure America’s soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coasties are provide with pay commensurate to their service and receive the benefits they’ve earned. MOAA continues to provide the very best and most up to date information need by our elected officials as they discuss and attempt to enact legislation that supports military personnel and their families.
President Trump has signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Some of the key NDAA measures that will impact troops, their families and retirees are:
A. Pay and Benefit Changes:
- A 2.4 percent pay raise for active duty troops, the biggest pay raise for military members since 2001. [This is a good start.]
- To permanently extend the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) due to end this year. SSIA provides partial relief for military survivors affected by the “widow’s tax,” a financial penalty where the military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is off set dollar-for-dollar by the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). [MOAA continues to fight this battle.]
- Increase to TRICARE prescription costs. [Not an outcome desired by MOAA, but will continue to advocate for lower TRICARE fees. Previously many retirees and dependents paid nothing for many prescriptions.]
- Creates a reimbursement of up to $500 for spouses who get a new professional license or certification after a PCS. [This is also a good start.]
B. Military End-Strength Increase:
- The size of the military will increase by nearly 20,000 troops.
- The Army by at least 7,500; the Navy by nearly 4,000; the Marine Corps by 1,000; and the Air Force by about 4,100. Reserve forces will grow by about 3,400. [The military is at its lowest numbers since before World War II. With real threats out there, a large and strong military means a stronger national defense.]