NGAI Update; 25 September 2015

Dear NGAI Members and Friends,

We’re coming off a very successful conclusion of both our national conferences and starting to focus on 2016, but we still have allot to do in 2015. As Fall approaches, we will be kicking off the 2016 NGAI/EANGUS/NGAUS Membership campaign and our 2016 NGAI Legislative Goals. Be sure to check at www.NGAI.net on a regular basis for the latest information.

EANGUS Indy was a huge success and everyone attending fell in love with Indianapolis. The EANGUS Indy host team did a fantastic job, but the weather played a factor as well. Who would have dreamed we’d have highs in the upper 70s in August? We’ll just let all the visitors think that is normal Indy weather!  Check out the EANGUS Indy photo link at https://plus.google.com/115977463308327387509/photos. Pre-registration pricing ($150) has been extended for EANGUS 2016, so take advantage and join us in New Orleans next year. Pre-registration is available at http://eangus2016.org/

NGAUS Nashville was a great time with nearly 100 Hoosier delegates starting off with Charlie Daniels and ending with a show at the Grand Ole Opry. In between there were great briefs from senior army and air officers highlighted by General Mark Milley. If you weren’t there, you can still see General Milley’s brief courtesy of NGAUS at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBFhwVhLnCI . Make sure you watch this great video and hear about MG Corey Carr’s opportunity to enjoy being a LTC again! A great group of CGO/WOs consisting of NGAI Fellows and OPD funded received some great briefs and had a bit of fun at the same time. If you’ve never experienced a NGAUS before, check with someone who has and see what you’ve been missing.

As we close out 2015, we have a couple of great opportunities for you to consider. First, is our next Indiana National Guard alumni event co-hosted by NGAI. This year’s event is 16-17 October and will start at the Johnson county Armory for the MG R. Martin Umbarger Hall dedication and Alumni update briefs. We will transition to the Atterbury Conference Center for dinner and a time of fellowship. BOQ lodging is available for those desiring to stay for Saturday’s activities on the firing line and simulator facilities. Visit our homepage www.ngai.net for all the details. RSVP with Christy Ruzga, 317-247-3300, ext. 79956 or Christy.L.Ruzga.nfg@mail.mil.

The other opportunity is a new fund raising partnership with Friends of the NRA and 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 or our CGO and Enlisted Committees. Or you can order on line at https://www.ngai.net/2016-calendar/ .

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-17; 29 September 2015

The Issue: Allow veterans the opportunity to pursue small business and entrepreneurial aspirations by giving access to Small Business Administration resources using their GI Bill benefit.

Immediate Action Required: Ask your senators and representatives to support the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act of 2015; S. 1870 sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, and H.R. 3248 sponsored by Rep. Lee Fortenberry, R-NE

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act of 2015, Senate and House companion bills that would establish a 3-year pilot program that will enable up to 250 GI Bill benefit-eligible veterans to pursue an educational entrepreneurial training program, be provided business plan development assistance, and receiving their GI Bill benefit in the form of a grant in order to implement their business plan.

Higher education is essential for many veterans, but some have a different calling. Veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans and this bill will allow those veterans looking to start their own businesses access to Small Business Administration resources and the ability use their GI Bill benefits in another way. The grant available to veterans participating in this pilot program may be equivalent to the GI Bill maximum amount of 36 months of educational assistance at the rate in effect for each veteran through the GI Bill benefit program.

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

Take Action: Click here

EANGUS Legislative Update; September 2015

Legislative Report

Overview
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate returned from August Recess on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. Both Chambers have outstanding legislation to accomplish before the end of the fiscal year – September 30 – and the end of the calendar year.

Defense Appropriations
Congress must pass the Defense Appropriations Act to fund the Department of Defense, but Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on a bill. Republicans want to utilize one-year, Oversees Contingency Operations (OCO) accounts to circumvent Budget Control Act (BCA) caps to help fund DOD. House and Senate Democrats want BCA-cap relief for non-defense agencies as well, in order to approve the defense budget. The President has threatened to veto a defense bill which includes OCO funds if other, non-defense appropriations bills do not have additional funding to circumvent BCA caps.

EANGUS Analysis
At the end of September, Congress will pass a 3-month Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the Department of Defense and other agencies. The Federal Government will not be shut down like in 2013. With a Presidential election on the horizon, Democrats and Republicans do not have the appetite for a shut down. Unfortunately, a CR is worse than a bad budget- DOD budget experts would rather have a low budget than a CR. When Congress passes a CR, DOD cannot start developing new weapons programs- Programs that have been in the planning stages for some time. To make matters worse, it appears Congress will turn around and pass a 9-month CR to fund DOD through September 30, 2016 before adjourning at the end of the calendar year. As it stands now, it appears DOD will be funded at fiscal year (FY) 2016 levels throughout FY2017.

What it means to EANGUS
EANGUS continues to advocate for technicians to be exempt from furloughs caused by a Federal Government shutdown. At present, technicians can and would be furloughed. Fortunately, a shutdown is highly unlikely any time before the 2016 Presidential election.

National Defense Authorization Act
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees continue to work out differences between their respective bills. Coupled with the aforementioned appropriations bill, it seems unlikely that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will pass in September – it might pass as late as December. In the case of the NDAA, Congress will likely purposely stall the bill to later in the year when it considers the 9-month Defense Appropriations Bill in December.

EANGUS Analysis
More party politics. Because too few Americans outside Washington, D.C. know the difference between the policy making NDAA and the Appropriations Bill which funds DOD, Democrats and Republicans will try to control the messaging behind the Appropriations Bill (i.e. CR) and the NDAA. In the end, the NDAA will pass before the end of the year, for a fifty-fifth consecutive year.

What it means to EANGUS
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are at a crossroads on an issue which directly affects EANGUS members. The EANGUS National Office has advocated for retirement modernization stemming from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission final report issued in February 2015. Specifically, EANGUS has supported a “lump sum” payment option for members of the National Guard who retire at, or after, 20 years of service. To put it simply, the lump sum option is an amount of compensation that a Guardsman could receive before the age of 60 for his or her Service in the Guard (if he or she serves 20 years or more). EANGUS has actively advocated for retirement compensation, immediately at separation, for Reserve Component members. A lump sum option would be a big win for young Guardsmen who opt into the blended retirement plan and for the future force. EANGUS National Office Staff have been in high level conversations with Committee Staff and the details are still being worked out on Capitol Hill. More to come on lump sum as discussions progress.

EANGUS Website: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-16; 9 September 2015

The Issue: Support the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act and Veterans’ Access to Hearing Health Act of 2015

Immediate Action Required: Contact your senators and representative immediately and ask them to support S. 564 and H.R. 353, bills to include licensed hearing aid specialists as eligible for appointment in the Veterans Health Administration(VHA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports S. 564, sponsored by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), and H.R. 353, sponsored by Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI), bills that would create a new provider class for hearing aid specialists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enabling the VA to hire hearing aid specialists to help deliver hearing aid services to veterans on a more timely basis.

These bills would also require the VA to report annually to Congress on appointment wait times and the utilization of providers for hearing-related services, which would assist the VA’s efforts to address the current backlogs and provide data to inform Congress about the challenges veterans are facing accessing hearing aid services. In February 2014, the VA Inspector General released a report that found the VHA issues 30 percent of its hearing aids to veterans more than 30 days from the estimated date the facility received the hearing aids from its vendors.

The VA continues to see a dramatic rise in the demand for audiology services with tinnitus and hearing loss being the two most prevalent service-connected disabilities for veterans.

Hearing aid specialists are already recognized by several federal agencies to perform hearing healthcare services and they would also help the VA hearing healthcare team by providing hearing aid evaluations, hearing aid fittings and orientation and other customary after care services including repairs. The addition of hearing aid specialists to the VA team should prompt faster service for our nation’s veterans.

Please contact your senators and representatives and urge them to support these bills. NGAUS Point of Contact:

Grace Washbourne
Joint Programs Manager
202-408-5893
grace.washbourne@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here