NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-12; 24 June 2015

The Issue: Improve pain management services provided veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers

Immediate Action Required: Ask your senators to support S. 1641, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI.

More Information: NGAUS strongly supports the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, a bill that would strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs opioid prescribing guidelines and improve pain management services.

NGAUS is committed to improving the care of our nation’s veterans. On August 30, 2014, U.S. Marine veteran Jason Simcakoski died in the Tomah Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center as a result of mixed drug toxicity. Unfortunately, his tragic story is shared by veterans of all our nation’s wars. Ensuring that the use of pain medication in treating our veterans is closely monitored and correctly administered is an important step in making sure that what happened to veteran Jason Simcakoski will never happen again to any veteran.

This comprehensive bill strengthens guidelines, improves safety measures, promotes research and education, creates working groups and boards, and gives the VA the tools it needs to create opioid therapy guidelines and standards. The establishment of a patient advocacy office and other oversight measures puts reforms in place to help address the pain challenges facing our veterans who need help and care.

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

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

Take action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-4; 9 April 2015

The Issue: Modernize the Army National Guard’s Black Hawk fleet

Immediate Action Required: Ask your senators and representative to support the National Guard request to authorize and appropriate $247.5 million for 15 additional UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Army National Guard in the fiscal 2016 defense bills

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
Legislative Affairs Manager, Army Programs
202-408-5884
andrea.peterson@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-3; 30 March 2015

The Issue: Reauthorizing and Strengthening the National Guard State Partnership Program

Immediate Action Required: Contact your representatives immediately and ask them to support H.R. 1614, the State Partnership Program Enhancement Act of 2015, a bill sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam

NGAUS strongly supports H.R. 1614, a bill that would strengthen the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) and build a strong permanent legal foundation for this critical “soft power” global partnership program.  The current authorization for the program expires at the end of FY16.

The National Guard SPP supports U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations via military, socio-political and economic conduits at the local, state and national levels.  SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up an outreach program in the Baltic Region with reserve-component members.  It has grown into a global endeavor, becoming a key U.S. security cooperation tool across all aspects of international civilian-military affairs providing international security solutions in support of national and defense strategy. SPP provides unique capacity building capabilities to Combatant Commanders and U.S. Chiefs of Mission supporting 68 partnerships with 74 partner nations. 

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-OK; Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-CO; and Rep. Timothy Walz, D-MN, fortifies the FY14 codification of this important program.  The bill:

  • Expands the operational definition of the program to align with national security global strategies
  • Creates one DoD-wide account for funding to ensure oversight and accountability
  • Requires CNGB to define core capabilities, design performance metrics and designate SPP state coordinators
  • Requires annual reporting to Congress on activities, performance and funding

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

TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION:  

By using the Write to Congress feature on the NGAUS website at www.ngaus.org, you can IMMEDIATELY email your elected representatives. A sample letter is included in Write to Congress. You can email the prewritten message or edit the sample letter as you desire. This is the quickest and most effective method of expressing your views to Congress. Also, contact your friends and family members and urge them to use Write to Congress as well. For further information and background visit our website at www.ngaus.org. Please direct any questions concerning this issue to Grace Washbourne, NGAUS legislative program manager for joint programs, at 202-408-5893 or via email at grace.washbourne@ngaus.org.

Take Action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-2; 26 March 2015

The Issue: Co-sponsoring H.R. 1384 and S. 743 to recognize the service of the Reserve Components of the Armed Forces by honoring them with veteran status 

Immediate Action Required: Contact your representative and Senators and ask them to co-sponsor H.R.1384 and S. 743, bills to provide veteran status to members of the Reserve Component.

Please contact your representatives and Senators to urge them to co-sponsor bills H.R. 1384 and S.743, companion bills that recognize service in the Reserve Components with veteran status.  Rep. Timothy Walz, D-Minn., is the original sponsor in the House and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is the original sponsor in the Senate. 

Many members of Congress may not know that a reservist can complete a full Guard or Reserve career but not earn the title of “Veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States” unless the member has served on Title 10 active duty for other than training purposes.

Currently, the U.S.C. 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, and all vital operations and emergency response to terrorism and natural disasters under Chapter 502(f) are currently not considered qualifying service for veteran status.

Yet, active duty members whose enlistment tours, which can be short and spent in less rigorous assignments to bases and wings on Title 10 status, will fully qualify not just for veteran status, but for all veterans’ benefits. This disparity is unfair.

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

•    Reserve component members who served 20 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

•    A double standard should not exist that denies veteran 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 this resolution.

TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION:  
By using the Write to Congress feature on the NGAUS website at www.ngaus.org, you can IMMEDIATELY email your elected representatives. A sample letter is included in Write to Congress. You can email the prewritten message or edit the sample letter as you desire. This is the quickest and most effective method of expressing your views to Congress. Also, contact your friends and family members and urge them to use Write to Congress as well. For further information and background visit our website at www.ngaus.org. Please direct any questions concerning this issue to Pete Duffy, NGAUS legislative director, at 202-454-5307 or via email at pete.duffy@ngaus.org.

Take Action: Click here

NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-1; 25 March 2015

The Issue: Time spent receiving medical care would qualify as active-duty time for Post-9/11 GI Bill education assistance

Immediate Action Required: Ask your representative and senators to support the GI Bill Fairness Act of 2015 (H.R. 1141 and S. 602)

More Information: Urge your representative and senators to support National Guard members by signing on to the G.I. Bill Fairness Act of 2015 (S. 602 and H.R. 1141).

The bills introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., in the Senate and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., in the House would count time National Guard and Reserve members spend receiving medical care for service-connected injuries as time on active duty for the purpose of education assistance.

This is important because the amount of time reserve-component members spend on active duty determines their level of eligibility for Post-9/11 G.I Bill education assistance.

Active-duty members receive full credit for education assistance for time spent receiving medical care for service-connected injuries. In fairness, National Guard and Reserve members should receive the same credit.

NGAUS Point of Contact
Pete Duffy
Legislative Director
202-454-5307
pete.duffy@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

EANGUS Call to Action; Retired Pay Restoration Act; 17 March 2015

Recently, Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and winner of the 2015 EANGUS G.V. Sonny Montgomery Eagle Award, introduced H.R. 303 the Retired Pay Restoration Act in the House of Representatives and Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced S. 271 the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2015 in the Senate. If signed into law, these legislative initiatives would allow Veterans to receive both military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation with respect to any service-connected disability.
Please click here to contact your delegation and tell your elected officials to support this important initiative.

You do not have to be an EANGUS member to participate, please pass this link to your friends.

Text EANGUS to 52-886 for membership information

MOAA Legislative Update; 30 January 2015

COMMISSION SUGGESTS RADICAL REFORMS

Eliminating TRICARE, reducing retirement are among the proposals.

The blue ribbon panel issued 15 recommendations for reforming military pay and benefits. What’s MOAA’s take?

On January 29, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) released its widely anticipated report on proposals to change military pay and benefits.

The MCRMC suggests 15 total reforms to modernize military pay and benefits and generate budget savings for DoD and the VA.

Click here to read more.

EANGUS Call to Action Alert; 27 January 2015

Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

This is a legislative Call-To-Action from EANGUS. Please follow this link to contact your Senators to tell them to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act when it comes to the floor. The bill would ensure VA’s mental health and suicide prevention efforts receive crucial independent, third party oversight while creating a greater accounting of available services and fostering an enhanced community approach to delivering veterans suicide prevention and mental health care treatment.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act seeks to quell this epidemic by:

Increasing Access to Mental Health Care and Capacity at VA to Meet Demand
• Requires the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all VA mental health services for veterans.
• Addresses the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing the VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists.

Improving the Quality of Care and Boosting Accountability at VA
• Requires evaluations of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care.

Developing a Community Support System for Veterans
• Establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning Service members with accessing VA mental health care services.

The link above will take you to the EANGUS National Office’s new advocacy software platform and is compatible with smartphones (though a cell phone is not required). If you are reading this message on your mobile device, you can utilize the above link to take action now. EANGUS staff encourage you to take advantage of the social media tools embedded in the software to promote our Legislative Calls-To-Action and involve your friends in our campaigns.
Text EANGUS to 528-86 for membership information