NGAI Alert; 5 December 2015

Dear NGAI Members and Friends,
As we bring 2015 to a close, there is still much legislative action in progress both in Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis.
In Washington, while the two-year budget may not seem like a good thing, the deal does bring some stability to the military by not having to operate under a continuing resolution. That, along with a successful signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2016, give our leadership a plan to execute while the Commission on the Future of the Army completes its study, due Feb 1.

Meanwhile, EANGUS and NGAUS have both been busy monitoring all the proceedings on the Hill and testifying when needed. Changes to the retirement system and health care are just a couple of the critical issues going forward.
One outstanding issue that remains, is honorary veteran status for qualifying guard and reserve members. While it was not included in the NDAA, the house and senate both still have bills that we hope to see resolved in conference before the end of the year.

In Indianapolis, we have a similar issue with the lack of a consistent definition of veteran in the Indiana Code. This will be our number one issue for the 2016 Indiana General Assembly; establishing the definition of “Hoosier Veteran.”
For years, well intended legislators have authored good laws using the term veteran, not understanding that many National Guard and Reserve members are unintentionally excluded. Indeed, it is shocking to most legislators when they learn that they have excluded many of their own Indiana Guardsmen from state laws that were intended to cover all military members, active and reserve.

Please check our website, www.NGAI.net, to review our Policy Objectives for the 2016 Indiana General Assembly.
We will continue to forward alerts when any significant actions may be needed, and ask you to contact your national and state legislators as appropriate.

Need a great Christmas gift idea? Maybe for yourself and a friend??

How about a chance to win one or more weapons for as little as $1.50 per chance? Friends of the NRA have joined with NGAI for a 2016 NGAI/FNRA Calendar raffle. Your calendar is your raffle ticket for $50. We will draw for 36 weapons, and if you win the first weapon, you still have equal opportunity on the next 35. So, for as little as $1.50 per weapon chance, you will have an opportunity to win multiple weapons, plus receive a cool calendar. Calendars are available from any NGAI Board member and many on our CGO and Enlisted Committees. Or you can order on line at https://www.ngai.net/2016-calendar.

2016 Membership for NGAI/EANGUS & NGAUS
We’ve made membership in both your state and national associations easier than ever. Simply use your smart phone and go to the www.NGAI.net homepage and click on Join Now to enter our secure membership system. Read the instructions closely then follow the directions. It just takes two minutes! Our membership is key to our legislative success. Be informed and get involved.

2nd Annual Military and Veterans Day at the Indiana Statehouse, 11 January 2016, 9am – noon.
Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for this second annual event. We had over 250 attendees last year with NGAI members leading the way. Come and meet your state legislators and educate them on why they should be investing to keep all military members as Hoosiers. And how supporting our 2016 Policy Objectives will improve Indiana’s standing as a military and veteran friendly place to live.

Have a safe and happy holiday season. Stay tuned to www.NGAI.net or www.facebook.com/NGAIndiana. Thank you for your continued support.

Mike Sturm
Executive Director
National Guard Association of Indiana

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-23; 24 November 2015

The Issue: Support bill eliminating the age restriction on receipt of retired pay for non-regular service for new recruits

Immediate Action Required: Contact your representatives immediately to co-sponsor H.R. 4124, the Support America’s Armed Forces Reserve Component Retirees Act of 2015 sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz, (D-MN), which eliminates the age restriction on receipt of retired pay for non-regular service for new recruits

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports H.R. 4124, the Support America’s Armed Forces Reserve Component Retirees Act of 2015 sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN). This bill would allow retiring members of the National Guard to receive their retirement pay after 20 years of service applying to service members who begin service in the armed forces on or after January 1, 2018.
Unlike the legislation contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016 which would allow members to elect to take a discounted lump sum of the present value of their defined retirement benefit prior to becoming fully eligible for Social Security, this bill would allow reserve component members to collect retirement immediately after 20 years.

Although the costs of this legislation would be higher starting in 2038, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that over time, savings under this bill would be higher than that achieved under the new lump sum program.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Grace Washbourne
NGAUS Legislative Joint Program Manager
(202)408-5893
grace.washbourne@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

 

EANGUS Call to Action #2015-15; 16 November 2015

H.R. 3970

Please contact you Contact your Member of Congress and request that they cosponser and support H.R. 3970, Housing Our Heroes Act. This legislation will help ensure that our veterans have a place to call home while turning neglected properties into houses. On November 5, 2015, Congressmen Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced this important initiative to not only assist our veterans, but also to improve the quality of life for some struggling neighborhoods. The legislation would create a three year pilot program to provide grants to Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to purchase and renovate blighted properties- providing a pathway to homeownership for homeless veterans and taking unsightly zombie homes off the market.

Rep. Israel’s press release can be found here. Please contact your Member of Congress and urge them to support this bill.

Take action: Click here

EANGUS Call to Action #2015-14; 16 November 2015

S.1203

Please contact your Member of Congress and request support for S. 1203, the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act. Specifically, Sec. 701. of the bill will grant honorary veteran status to certain persons who performed service in the reserve components of the Armed Forces.

Members of the National Guard perform an invaluable role as citizen-soldiers and are an important component of our overall force structure. They support the active duty component by responding in times of national emergency, stand ready to be called to active duty service and to deploy to overseas missions in times of need. They also answer the call to serve when natural disasters and states of emergency happen here at home. However, if a Guardsman never serves a qualifying period of 180 continuous days of active duty service, they are not considered veterans under Title 38 of Federal law.

Providing honorary veteran status to Guardsmen who served twenty years in uniform, without 180 continuous days of active duty service, will have no budgetary impact. Please contact your Member of Congress and urge them to support this bill.

Take action: Click here

EANGUS Call to Action #2015-13; 16 November 2015

H.R. 2874

EANGUS strongly supports H.R. 2874, the Andrew P. Carpenter Act of 2015, a bill that would exempt student loan forgiveness from being categorized as taxable income for families of veterans who lost their lives while serving our country.

Lance Corporal Andrew P. Carpenter of Columbia, Tennessee lost his life on February 19, 2011, while stationed in Afghanistan. Three years prior to his tour of duty, Andrew took out a private student loan. Although this loan was ultimately forgiven by the loan company, the Carpenter family was shocked to receive a $1,000 tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service informing them that the discharged debt would still be factored into taxable income for that year. This legislation will stop this from happening to families who have lost loved ones in service to our country.

H.R. 2874 would amend the Internal Revenue Code by exempting student loan forgiveness from being categorized as gross taxable income for families of veterans who lost their lives while serving on active duty in the United States Armed Forces. The bill would be retroactive to October 7, 2001.

Please click the link below to contact your representatives and urge them to support this bill.

Take Action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-22; 11 November 2015

The Issue: Making it easier for retired military medical doctors to work for the Veterans Administration

Immediate Action Required: Ask your senators and representatives to support the Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act of 2015; S. 2279 sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR.

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports S. 2279, the Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act of 2015, a bill that would increase efficiency in the recruitment and hiring of health care workers that are undergoing separation from the Armed Forces by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This legislation would create the “Docs-to-Docs” program and require uniform credentialing standards for certain health care professionals of the Department to make the transition easier.

Harnessing the experience of military trained and experienced health care professionals to care for veterans and providing jobs to those separating from the military is a win win situation. These military health care professionals can continue their service and veterans will have the benefit of being treated by people who understand their military service and sacrifice first hand.

Please contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Grace Washbourne
NGAUS Legislative Program Manager for Joint Programs
202-408-5893
grace.washbourne@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

 

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-21; 5 November 2015

The Issue: Exempting student loan forgiveness from being categorized as gross taxable income for families of veterans who lost their lives while serving

Immediate Action Required: Ask your representatives to support H.R. 2874, the Andrew P. Carpenter Act of 2015, a bill sponsored by Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-TN.

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports H.R. 2874, the Andrew P. Carpenter Act of 2015, a bill that would exempt student loan forgiveness from being categorized as taxable income for families of veterans who lost their lives while serving our country.
Lance Corporal Andrew P. Carpenter of Columbia, Tennessee lost his life on February 19, 2011, while stationed in Afghanistan. Three years prior to his tour of duty, Andrew took out a private student loan. Although this loan was ultimately forgiven by the loan company, the Carpenter family was shocked to receive a $1,000 tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service informing them that the discharged debt would still be factored into taxable income for that year. This legislation will stop this from happening to families who have lost loved ones in service to our country.

H.R. 2874 would amend the Internal Revenue Code by exempting student loan forgiveness from being categorized as gross taxable income for families of veterans who lost their lives while serving on active duty in the United States Armed Forces. The bill would be retroactive to October 7, 2001.

Please contact your representatives and urge them to support this bill.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Grace Washbourne
NGAUS Legislative Program Manager for Joint Programs
202-408-5893
grace.washbourne@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

 

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-20; 4 November 2015

The Issue: Stop possible cuts to fiscal 2016 National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA) funding

Immediate Action Required: Ask your senators and representative to keep current fiscal 2016 NGREA funding intact

More Information: Please urge your senators and representative to not use NGREA funds as a bill-payer for defense-funding levels in the new budget agreement

The recent budget agreement passed by the House and Senate and signed by president requires a $5 billion reduction in requested fiscal 2016 defense spending. The House and Senate armed services committees have significantly cut NGREA funds as part of this bill-payer.

Lawmakers originally authorized $420 million, but the committees have cut that figure by $170 million. In fiscal 2015, the Army and Air National Guard alone received $830 million in NGREA funds.

Changes to NGREA funding for fiscal 2016 still have to pass the full House and Senate, as well as the House and Senate appropriations committee subcommittees’ on defense as they finalize the defense appropriations act.

NGREA helps cover funding shortfalls for National Guard equipment in the service budgets, which makes it vital to Guard operations both at home and overseas. It is critical to let Congress know how important this funding is to the National Guard.

NGAUS Point of Contact:

Matt Pincus
Air Programs Manager
202-3085897
matt.pincus@ngaus.org

Take action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-19; 29 October 2015

The Issue: Possibility of permanent residence status through military service

Immediate Action Required: Contact your representatives immediately and ask them to support H.R. 3698, the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act of 2015, a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports H.R. 3698, the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act of 2015, legislation that would extend eligibility for military service from citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) to include individuals who meet all other requirements for enlistment, do not have any record of unlawful activities since their arrival in the United States, and have received background checks and work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security.

Keeping recruiting numbers at high levels within the National Guard is more challenging in some states than others. Allowing the children of immigrants to earn citizenship through military service serves a dual purpose: it provides a new group of willing, capable and skilled applicants to serve in the military and at the same time creates an opportunity for individuals who have conditional immigration status the opportunity to become U.S. citizens through military service.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Grace Washbourne
NGAUS Legislative Program Manager
202-408-5893
grace.washbourne@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

 

EANGUS Legislative Update; 20 October 2015

HR 1735, FY2016 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT (NDAA)

Speaker of the House, John Boehner plans to send the FY16 NDAA down Pennsylvania Ave to the President’s desk tomorrow, Wednesday, October 21. All summer and fall, President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA largely because it surpasses the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps and keeps Guantanamo Bay open. If the NDAA is delivered on time, the House of Representatives will have to remain open for business for ten consecutive days – excluding Sundays – to stave off a pocket veto. It is likely that a handful of Congressmen will remain in DC so the House can recess, without having to adjourn, in turn forcing the President to veto the bill. Political insiders believe President will veto the NDAA. While the NDAA has passed for 53 consecutive years, this would not be the first time a President has vetoed an NDAA before a final bill was resolved that same year. This would be the fifth time President Obama has used his veto authority during his time in office. In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter expressed his concerns over the legislation and suggested President Obama veto the bill. After a veto, the EANGUS National Office staff plan to advocate for increased National Guard end strength, for the Apaches already delivered to the Army to be counted toward the total deliverable Apaches, and for honorary veteran status for 20-year Guardsmen.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE RACE

As of October 20, all eyes are on House Ways and Means Committee Chair – and former Vice Presidential nominee – Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). Known as a moderate Republican, Representative Ryan will undoubtedly face many of the same challenges as outgoing Speaker John Boehner. As many as 40 House Freedom Caucus members desire a more conservative Speaker but some of those caucus members also believe that the responsibilities of the Speaker position have less to do with the Speaker’s personal views and more to do with how the Speaker manages the House floor process, including which amendments are considered during bill debate. If Representative Ryan declines consideration, Representatives Chaffetz (R-UT), Issa (R-CA), McCaul (R-TX), and Conaway (R-TX) are seen as serious candidates. However, each have expressed their desire for Representative Ryan to seek the gavel and would not challenge him. The Speaker election is scheduled for Thursday, October 29.

DEBT LIMIT

The U.S. government will default on debts if the borrowing limit is not increased by Thursday, November 5 per the Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are negotiating a deal to increase the debt limit and decrease spending. Defense hawks on Capitol Hill do not want to see decreases to defense spending, non-defense discretionary spending decreases, and entitlement reforms. Most Democrats prefer increased taxes to pay for defense and non-defense spending, and to leave entitlements untouched. Speaker Boehner is working to resolve a deal before his departure at the end of the month so the new Speaker of the House can start with a clean slate.

HEALTHCARE REFORM SURVEY

The Senate and House Armed Services Committees will consider reforms to the military healthcare system. While Congress is still considering the FY16 NDAA, there are no specific details about what could be considered in the FY17 NDAA. EANGUS, in conjunction with the Reserve Officers Association and NGAUS, crafted a survey to ensure the voices of the Reserve Component are heard. Please follow this link to the EANGUS homepage and fill out the TRICARE Reserve: Access and Quality of Healthcare survey.

Take action: Click here