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

 

MOAA Legislative Alert; 21 August 2015

ACT NOW TO BLOCK BIG RX FEE HIKES
Congress is considering drastic pharmacy fee increases for service members and retirees. Pharmacy fees will increase 66 to 75 percent. This is not right.
Tell your elected officials to block this provision in the defense bill.

NICKEL AND DIMING REALLY ADDS UP
TRICARE beneficiaries continue to be easy targets in budget balancing schemes.
In his August edition of “The Bottom Line,” MOAA Director of Government Relations Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret) looks at how DoD makes you pay for health care.

COLA FUTURE FIZZLES
July Consumer Price Index remains below baseline.
Follow trends on MOAA’s COLA Watch.

SIX WEEKS TO SHUTDOWN?
Deadline looms without federal budget
With no budget deal in sight, MOAA outlines some of the options Congress has to avoid a shutdown.

PRIORITIZE MILITARY MENTAL WELLNESS
MOAA and WWP co-host the 2015 Warrior-Family Symposium in Washington D.C.
Join the discussion on September 9!

Take Action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-11; 23 June 2015

The Issue: Modernize the Guard’s Black Hawk fleet.

Immediate Action Required: Ask your Senators and Representatives to support the House Armed Services and House Appropriations versions of the FY16 defense bills which authorize and appropriate $138.8M for 8 additional UH-60M helicopters for the Army National Guard.

More Information: The UH-60 Black Hawk remains the Army National Guard’s go-to rotary wing aviation asset to respond to state emergency missions and to support overseas contingency operations. While Black Hawks from the Army National Guard are currently supporting missions overseas, Army National Guard Black Hawks have also been activated for general aviation support to state emergencies including floods, wildfires and other domestic needs.

However, more than a decade of high operational tempo has taken a toll on the Army National Guard Black Hawk fleet. Currently, the Army National Guard operates 849 Black Hawks, with approximately 350 of these aircraft being the older UH-60A models with an average age exceeding 25 years. In order for the Army National Guard Black Hawk fleet to remain viable and mission capable, these older UH-60As need to be modernized or replaced as quickly as possible. It is projected that the Army National Guard will not retire its last UH-60A until 2025, while the active component will retire its last UH-60A in 2018.

Increased congressional funding will accelerate the fielding of new UH-60M helicopters to the Army National Guard to close the gap and ensure the Black Hawk helicopter fleet is capable of meeting the requirements of domestic and overseas missions.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Andrea Peterson
Army Programs Manager
202-408-5884
andrea.peterson@ngaus.org

Take action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-10; 23 June 2015

The Issue: Prevent the reduction in Army National Guard end strength and halt the transfer of AH-64s from the National Guard in FY2016

Immediate Action Required: Ask your representatives to sign onto a letter encouraging the leaders of the House defense committees to prevent potentially damaging and irreversible cuts to the Army National Guard

More Information:
Reps. Kay Granger, R-Texas, Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., are circulating a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee encouraging them to halt the transfer of AH-64 Apaches from the Army National Guard. The letter also encourages the committee leaders to stop reductions in Army National Guard end strength and full-time support until FY2017.

The FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act established the National Commission on the Future of the Army to make recommendations on the balance between the active and reserve components as well as weigh in on the Army’s controversial Aviation Restructure Initiative. The commission is set to report its recommendations in February 2016. It is vital that Congress have time to review the commission’s findings before moving forward with potentially damaging and irreversible personnel reductions and equipment cuts to the Army National Guard.

The House and Senate have passed their respective FY2016 defense authorization bills. Committee leaders in both chambers have expressed hope that conferees can work quickly to resolve the differences between the two legislative packages and produce a final conference report before the August recess.

NGAUS urges you to contact your representatives and ask them to sign this letter that encourages committee leadership to prevent these changes to the National Guard until Congress is able to review the commission’s report.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Andrea Peterson
Army Programs Manager
202-408-5884
andrea.peterson@ngaus.org

Take action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-9; 22 June 2015

The Issue: Support House NDAA FY16 language securing Veterans’ Status for members of the Guard and Reserve

Immediate Action Required: Contact your representatives and senators immediately to support the language in the House National Defense Authorization Act for FY16 that provides veterans’ status to members of the National Guard and Reserve

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports the House language in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that provides veterans’ status to all members of National Guard and Reserve that have served 20 years, regardless of status.

Currently, the Veterans Code, Title 38, excludes from the definition of “veteran” career reservists who have not served on Title 10 active duty for other than training purposes. Title 32 drill training, annual training, vital day-to-day support operations, and emergency response to terrorism and natural disasters under Chapter 502(f) are currently not considered qualifying service for Veteran status.

• Veterans status legislation would be cost neutral by not awarding any other veterans benefit

• Reserve component members who served twenty years standing ready to be sent anywhere in the world, but through no fault of their own were never deployed could refer to themselves as veterans

• Requiring Title 10 active duty for other than training purposes service to acquire veteran status disrespects and ignores often dangerous Title 32 active duty service in support of the homeland

• A double standard should not exist that denies veterans status to the reserve component for 20 years of honorable domestic service, but awards veterans status and full benefits to active duty soldiers who serve shorter term Title 10 active duty tours

• Authorizing veteran status for career RC service would boost the morale of the RC members and their families

Please contact your representatives and Senators and urge them to support the House language in the NDAA conference

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

Take action: Click here.

EANGUS Legislative Alert #2015-06; 8 June 2015

On Monday, June 8, 2015, the United States Senate will begin debate on amendments to the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Over 300 amendments have been filed for consideration to date. The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) National Office, in Washington, D.C. has worked with Senate offices to introduce amendments pertaining to Veteran Status for Guardsmen, increase survivor benefits, and exempt technicians from furlough in the event of a Federal Government shutdown, to name a few.

Please click the button below to view the EANGUS Legislative Alert, and contact your Senate Offices in Washington, D.C., for support of some very important, Guard and Reserve-specific amendments.

Thank you for your support for the National Guard and EANGUS.

Take Action: Click Here

EANGUS Legislative Alert 2015-05; 11 May 2015

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

Please click here to contact your Representative and ask for their support for Amendments #71, #206, and #241 to H.R. 1735.

These amendments prevent force structure and end strength reductions in the Army National Guard before the National Commission on the Future of the Army releases its recommendations.

• Amendment 71, sponsored by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Penn., would extend the authorized period for the transfer of certain AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard to the Army from March 31, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2016

• Amendment 206, sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Penn., would prohibit reductions in the force structure of the Army Guard until Congress receives the report from the National Commission on the Future of the Army

• Amendment 241, sponsored by Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., would maintain Army Guard readiness by keeping troop numbers at fiscal 2015 levels until 180 days after the date Congress receives the report of the National Commission on the Future of the Army

The National Commission of the Future of the Army will report to Congress on February 1, 2016, and Congress will be afforded the opportunity to review the nation’s security needs and the best way to meet those needs in an affordable fashion. The current legislative language in H.R. 1735 needs amending, there is no need to make a rush decision without all the facts. Urge your Member of Congress to support the amendments above.

Copyright © 2015 The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States
3133 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305

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