Shipmate forum 7 On & off capitol hill 9



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FRA Today – March 2012

COMMUNICATIONS: Calling All Branches! 2

FRA Education Foundation 3

shipmate forum 7

On & OFF Capitol HILL 9

Financial News: Innovations for Personal Savings 15

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS: Choosing and Training Branch Leadership 17

Member Benefits 19

Feature: Innovating For Success 21

Reunions 25

Looking for… 30

News from the brancheS 31

History & Heritage 33

taps 35



Auxiliary of the FRA NEWS 39

COMMUNICATIONS: Calling All Branches!


January’s FRA Today contained the plan for the Membership Matters column for 2012 which includes submissions from branches on the specific topics outlined below. Be recognized and help motivate others! Send your submissions to:

Membership Matters

FRA

125 N. West St

Alexandria, VA 22314

Or email penny@fra.org

April: Setting branch goals

If your branch has set and achieved a goal — or if you are just embarking on a new goal — please let us know how you decided on the goal and what your steps are to making that goal a reality.

May: Retention efforts

Has your branch achieved a 100% retention rate or better? What is it that you do to make that happen? Give us the statistics and the stories!

June: Recruiting efforts

We are frequently asked for tips on how to promote membership in FRA. Please share what you do to increase your success in recruiting new FRA shipmates.

July: Outreach events

Whether you attend an outreach event as an individual or as part of a branch activity, we would like you to share how you find the events, what you do to stand out in the crowd and how you judge whether or not it was a success.

August: Community service

Please share what you are doing to help your local community with stories and photos.

September: Communication with shipmates

We know that membership retention rates are directly connected to shipmates feeling involved and connected. What do you do to keep in touch with your shipmates?

October: Improving branch meetings

The success of branch meetings is a key component of the vitality of the branch. What does your branch do to make branch meetings interesting, informative and worth the trip?

November: Starting a new branch

If you were involved with starting a new branch, please share what you did to make it happen. What motivated you? What are the steps you took to get going? What advice would you share with others?

December: Best of the year review and BZs!
Eileen Murphy is the Director of Marketing and Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at eileen@fra.org.
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FRA Education Foundation


Scholarships

These are challenging times. Every day, young men and women risk their lives to protect and defend our Nation. But all too often, they leave the military with skills not needed in the public sector workforce, or have sustained injuries to prevent them from pursuing the career for which they were trained. This is reflected in the troubling high unemployment rate among veterans.

FRA believes that educating our service members and veterans is an important duty. FRA has been an outspoken advocate for enhanced education benefits for many years. For example, FRA was instrumental in ensuring the new Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit was available to military personnel who previously had no education benefits, and allowed transferability of benefits to family members of career service members.

The FRA Education Foundation’s scholarship program has also been helping deserving students reach their educational and professional goals for decades, presenting annual awards of up to $5,000 to individuals pursuing college and graduate degrees. Thanks to the generosity of our members, legacy gifts and corporate sponsors, the scope of the program has grown substantially since 2000, increasing the number of recipients by more than 50 percent and boosting the monetary value of the awards by more than 260 percent. Just since 2000, the FRA scholarship program has provided 274 scholarships totaling $1,860,590.

We recognize more is needed to ensure that our Nation’s military, and their families, are afforded an education that will benefit their future — and that of our country. The FRA Education Foundation makes scholarships available to eligible* full-time students who are U.S. citizens attending accredited colleges and universities in the United States.

Application Process

The applications are posted online at www.fra.org/foundation. FRA Education Foundation makes scholarship applications available from September 1st thru April 15th each year for the following school year. Scholarship applications must be postmarked no later than April 15. All applicants are considered for any scholarship the FRA is able to offer during a specific year, provided the applicant meets the eligibility requirement for the award (based on the desires of the donor). Scholarship recipients are notified in writing and by telephone. FRA only notifies the applicants who have been selected to receive a scholarship.

Have questions about FRA Education Foundation scholarships? E-mail Scholarship Coordinator Marilyn Smith at scholars@fra.org and have your questions answered.
Other Scholarship Programs 

The Walter E. Beall Scholarship

FRA’s Past Regional Presidents administer a scholarship for students who aspire to further their education in aeronautical engineering or pursue aviation-oriented degrees. These scholarships are derived from the estate of Past Regional President Southeast Walter Beall. Applications for the Walter E. Beall Scholarships are available by writing to: Walter E. Beall Scholarship, 4911 Fennell Court, Suffolk, VA 23435, Attn: W. R. Holcombe. Requests can also be submitted via e-mail to prp.inc2@verizon.net. Applications for the Beall Scholarship must be sent to the above address and be postmarked no later than 15 April. Visit www.walterbeallscholarship.org

The FRA Auxiliary Scholarships

The Auxiliary of the Fleet Reserve Association also sponsors an annual scholarship program. Applications for FRA scholarships can be used to apply for Auxiliary scholarships; however, applicants who wish to be considered for both FRA and Auxiliary awards must submit separate application packages. (Applicants should simply check the FRA or Auxiliary scholarship box on Part B of the application and address the package to the appropriate organization. Never check both boxes or your application may be disqualified.) Visit www.la-fra.org for more information.
*Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel and their families are eligible for FRA Education Foundation Scholarships.
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NED PERSPECTIVE
Southern Exposure Counterpoint

We received a number of responses to the recent “Southern Exposure” story (January 2012, FRA Today) about members of VX/VXE-6 who served at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Many are experiencing an unusual incidence of cancer they allege is the result of radiation exposure from the PM-3A nuclear plant that powered the facility.

Though the majority of the responses were positive, we received several from personnel who worked on the PM-3A plant that took strong exception to its portrayal as the potential source of radiation exposure. It is important to note that none of the statements in the story, nor those received in response, were intended to impugn or cast a negative reflection on the reputation of the more than 300 men of the elite Naval Shore Nuclear Power Program. Their contribution to the success of Navy nuclear power in arduous environs is noteworthy and reflects a strong commitment to the highest traditions of service in the U.S. Navy.

Some letters pointed out technical errors and misleading statements in the story. For example, several PM-3A workers challenged the reference to Strontium-90 as the fuel used in the reactor. Shipmate Bob Garland wrote, “Strontium-90 is not a fissile material, but is a byproduct of fission of uranium. The only Strontium-90 on the ice at that time was the heat source for [a generator], which powered a weather station.”

We also received letters clarifying that the leaks described in the article were not from the primary reactor fluid, but rather a leak of shield water surrounding the reactor vessel. Many adamantly opposed the story’s implication that personnel were drinking and bathing with contaminated water. Capt. Charles Fegley III, USN (Ret.), the first officer-in-charge of Crew III at PM-3A, wrote, “From 1961 until 1964, drinking water came from melted snow taken from a snow mine located at the base of what was known as Transmitter Hill, quite a distance from and at a higher elevation than the base of Observation Hill. Subsequent to 1964, all the drinking water for the base was produced by the distillation of seawater.”

Shipmate Billy “Ace” Baker noted that “the belief that the PM-3A caused cancer and numerous other diseases, including PTSD, in Antarctic veterans has been making the rounds via e-mail for about 10 years.”

Shipmate Arthur Tate summed up the concerns of many, saying, “I believe the people interviewed told the author what they believed to be true and that the article probably summarizes those views. On the other hand, I know that many of the statements are not factual and believe that there is almost a complete and total misunderstanding of some of the data they tried to interpret.”

FRA appreciates these responses and welcomes the views of those shipmates who worked at the PM-3A plant, many of whom asserted that plant operators are not experiencing the same incidence of cancer as those who served in VX/VXE-6. According to Shipmate John Harding, “We know from studies (and believe me, we do watch those developments closely) that our rates of development of various types of cancer are not statistically higher than the rate of cancer development in the general population. It seems really strange that those who worked fulltime in the facility suffered no significant, chronic ill effects as a result, while people who primarily served three or four miles away had all the [problems].”

The shipmates who brought the story to our attention felt they were unable to establish a dialogue across Navy communities to help explain their case to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Southern Exposure story has apparently created that dialogue, which will be expanded at the Veterans’ Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (VBDR) in San Antonio on March 22 and 23, 2012. To further the discussion, FRA has established a Southern Exposure Community at www.fra.org/McMurdo. Some of the letters we received will be posted in their entirety and we invite all concerned shipmates to share their perspectives on this issue. (Note that log-in is required and only FRA members have access to this discussion forum.)

It’s unclear what caused the VX/VXE-6 members’ health problems or if the similarity in their illnesses is a mere coincidence. But we owe it to our shipmates to help find answers. Hopefully, the story and the ongoing dialogue will help establish the cause of these shipmates’ medical problems and, more specifically, determine if these are related to their military service.
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shipmate forum

Agent Orange Exposure

One of our recently departed shipmates, Milton Greenfield, Jr., was exposed to Agent Orange while he served aboard an AmPhib Ship. He also drove the Captain’s icar and unloaded equpment for the U.S. Marines. Milton had a lot of trouble trying to get medical [compensation] from the VA and was turned down several times. The VA told him, “You were in the Navy and Navy people were on ships and NOT exposed to Agent Orange.” Finally after other sailors and Milton’s former captain came forward, the VA reversed their decision and allowed medical coverage for Shipmate Greenfield.

You may want to reprint this in FRA Today, because there may be other shipmates from other branches with a similar problem.

Floyd G. Hunt

FRA Response: Proving that a Vietnam veteran served on inland waterways or had “boots on the ground” is key to presuming Agent Orange exposure, and FRA is working to broaden the definition of Vietnam service to include so-called “blue water” veterans. The VA has already expanded its definition to include those who served on vessels that operated primarily or exclusively on Vietnam’s inland waterways; ships that temporarily operated in these inland waterways or docked to the shore; and ships that operated in Vietnam’s close coastal waters for extended periods with evidence that crewmembers went ashore. A list of vessels known to meet these criteria is available at www.fra.org/agentorange. If a veteran’s service aboard one of these ships can be confirmed through his military records during the specified time frames, exposure to herbicides can be presumed and service-related benefits may be available for Agent Orange-related ailments.

Good Disney Deal

If any shipmates are planning a trip to Disney World in Florida, please check out the hotel rates at Shades of Green, an Armed Forces Recreation Center. My family party of nine reserved rooms for a week of fantastic enjoyment at half price of any hotels in the area. The luxury accommodations were beyond belief. I was also provided a mobile riding vehicle for the entire week at a very reasonable cost.

The best part was my entire family was the first in line for every bus trip to the park and all the festivities in the park. To reserve online, visit www.shadesofgreen.org or call 888-593-2242 or call direct to the hotel at 407-824-3400.

James E. Kenney, Jr.
Military Etiquette on TV

I recently saw a CBS television drama called “Hawaii Five O,” in which Alex O’Loughlin and Terry O’Quinn play the role of Navy Seal Officers. Toward the end of one episode both actors are outside in their dress khakis and render a hand salute with no cover (hat). As a retired Chief Petty Officer, I think these television producers need more knowledge of military etiquette. This is not the first time I have seen this.

Jim White
Every television channel repeatedly showed the two female sailors greeting each other [with a kiss] and further explained that it was okay under the new Code of Ethics. I think, out of respect to us old timers, it should be “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t show.”

Jim Sutherland

Shift Colors

FRA Today stated that Shift Colors [the Navy retiree newsletter] has gone digital. I don’t like the digital distribution of pubs once on paper, as they can’t be passed on to others, easily archived for dependents, or easily available for rereading. I miss [the print version] and have no idea how to subscribe digitally.

Please let me know how I may get it again, online if necessary.

Keep up the good work!

Larry Fosgate

FRA Response: If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for e-mail delivery of Shift Colors. Just send an e-mail to Mill_ShiftColors@navy.mil and include the following information: your full name, your e-mail address (please do write it out; it’s much easier to copy it into our database), your rank or preferred salutation (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.), your military affiliation (whether or not you’re retired, active duty, a veteran, a surviving spouse, or just someone who’s interested in receiving the newsletter). Also, please note there is an underscore between “Mill” and “ShiftColors.”
Submissions: Send Shipmate Forum letters to: Editor, FRA Today, 125 N. West St. Alexandria, VA 22314. E-mail submissions may be sent to fratoday@fra.org. Please include “Shipmate Forum” in the subject line. FRA reserves the right to select and edit letters for publication. Letters published in Shipmate Forum reflect the opinions and views of FRA members. They do not necessarily reflect the official position of FRA as a whole. FRA is not responsible for the accuracy of letter content.
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On & OFF Capitol HILL
Sequestration Complicates FY 2013 Budget Process

As you read this edition of FRA Today lawmakers have received the Administration’s FY 2013 federal budget proposal and are trying to determine how the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) will ultimately impact the FY 2013 spending plan. Congress has traditionally had difficulty passing annual defense authorization and appropriation measures on schedule, and the complexities of the BCA are bound to slow the process further.

The BCA calls for automatic budget cuts (sequestration) to take effect on January 15, 2013. Half of these reductions — between $500 and $600 billion — are required to come from the Department of Defense (DoD), which would amount to about 20 percent of the overall DoD budget. These cuts would be in addition to the $480 billion already slated to be trimmed from Defense spending over the next 10 years. Sequestration reductions could further jeopardize essential military pay and benefit programs, which would have a significant negative impact on recruiting, retention and overall military readiness.

Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to temporarily exclude the Defense Department from sequestration. The House measure (H.R. 3662) would exclude DoD from the cuts for the first year, while the Senate bill (S. 2065) would eliminate approximately $110 billion in cuts for 2013 by freezing federal employees’ pay and through employee attrition.

It cannot be stressed enough that if sequestration cuts take effect, such deep DoD reductions pose a threat to national security and will substantially impact member pay and benefits. (See story below.) Now is the time for every shipmate to use the FRA Action Center at www.fra.org to ask their elected officials to support H.R. 3662 and S. 2065. Ask your spouse, neighbors and friends to weigh in, too.

This is an election year and legislators are particularly sensitive to the concerns of constituents. In addition to being a presidential election year, the 2012 elections in November will also determine 33 Senate seats and all House of Representatives posts. New boundaries have been defined by state legislatures for all House districts, except in states that have only one congressional district.

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FY 2013 DoD Budget Details

In anticipation of the Administration’s FY 2013 budget request, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a press conference in late January to outline $480 billion in proposed Defense budget cuts over the next 10 years, beginning in 2013. Panetta indicated that the cost of military personnel has grown at an unsustainable rate and the Department of Defense (DoD) must get healthcare costs under control. The proposed solutions include:

  • TRICARE fee increases for retirees under age 65 using a tiered approach based on retired pay that requires senior-grade retirees to pay more;

  • A new enrollment fee for TRICARE-for-life retirees, with rates also based on retired pay levels;

  • Increases in pharmacy co-pays that provide incentives for use of generic medication and TRICARE’s Home Delivery program; and

  • A BRAC-type commission to review retirement benefits and recommend “cost-effective” changes.

Panetta also cited the need for additional base closures and stated that active duty and Reserve annual pay increases for FY 2013 (1.7 percent) and FY 2014 will be equal to the Employment Cost Index (ECI), but for FY 2015 through FY 2021 proposed pay hikes will be less than the ECI.

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FRA Alerts Congressional Leaders to Budget Threats

In response to the anticipated cuts in healthcare and retirement benefits (see page 8), FRA advised House and Senate leaders of the Association’s strong opposition to proposals aimed at significantly altering promised benefits. In a letter to leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees — Senators Carl Levin (Michigan) and John McCain (Arizona), Representatives Howard McKeon (California) and Adam Smith (Washington) — FRA National President Jeffrey Gilmartin outlined the concerns of past, present and future service members who are worried about pending cuts to the Defense budget. FRA also called on the lawmakers to honor commitments made to those who served in the past as well as safeguard the interests of those serving today and in the future.

“Many of these retirees were promised free healthcare for life in return for careers of service with low pay and often arduous duty and associated sacrifices,” explained Gilmartin in the letter. “The majority of them retired from the enlisted ranks with significantly less retired pay than more recent retirees who’ve benefited from significant (and long overdue) pay and benefit enhancements enacted since 2000. These older retirees are increasingly anxious about plans to impose a TRICARE-for-Life fee and increase TRICARE Prime premiums above and beyond the 13-percent hike and future CPI-indexed adjustments authorized for this year.”

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Be Heard!

FRA offers several vehicles to make it easy for shipmates to communicate their views to their elected officials:

Legislative Priorities Survey: As part of its mission to bring the enlisted voice to Capitol Hill, FRA is conducting an online survey to determine which military and veterans benefits are most important to its members and their families. The brief survey asks participants to rate the benefits and quality-of-life programs they’ve earned through service to our nation. Visit www.fra.org/survey to participate.

Communicate With Your Elected Officials: This useful, free guide includes a directory of the 112th Congress and includes helpful tips on effectively expressing concerns to lawmakers. To request your free copy, send an e-mail to teresa@fra.org with your name, mailing address, rank and branch of service or call 1-800-FRA-1924.

FRA’s Action Center: This free online service allows visitors to send prewritten messages (or visitors can draft their own) to their members of Congress, urging their support or opposition to legislative proposals that impact current and former service personnel.

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Retiree Issues

Doc Fix, Payroll Tax Debate

As FRA Today goes to press, House and Senate members tasked with extending the deadlines for implementing scheduled Medicare/TRICARE reimbursement-rate cuts (a.k.a. “doc fix”) and Social Security payroll tax cuts may be deadlocked. Little progress was made during several meetings of the conference committee for the “Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act” (H.R. 3630), which also includes language related to extending long-term unemployment benefits.

Prior to the holidays, lawmakers extended these programs through February 29, 2012, and the doc fix has been entangled in a partisan struggle over other issues. If legislation is not passed before the deadline, doctors seeing Medicare and TRICARE patients will have their reimbursements cut by more than 27 percent. Many healthcare providers have threatened to stop seeing Medicare and TRICARE patients if the cuts take effect, causing anxiety within the military and retiree communities. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that these programs should be extended for at least a year, but the disagreement is how to pay for them. FRA is tracking this closely and strongly supports a permanent resolution to ensure all beneficiaries have access to quality medical care.



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FRA Letter to Budget Committees

FRA dispatched letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Budget Committees, urging them to oppose any budget resolution that includes requests to drastically increase TRICARE fees for military retirees or reduce military retirement benefits. The letters were sent to Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Senator Kent Conrad (North Dakota), respective committee chairmen, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) and Senator Jeff Sessions (Alabama), the committees’ ranking members, and also included a request that the FY 2013 Budget Resolution include an annual pay increase for active duty and Reserve personnel that is at least equal to the Employment Cost Index (ECI). A copy of the letter is available on FRA’s website (www.fra.org).



To learn more about DoD budget cuts targeted at military retirees, read Tom Philpott’s “Military Update” column (2–2–2012) at www.fra.org.
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Retiree Account Statements

Most military retirees should have received two annual Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Retiree Account Statements (RAS). These two-page documents summarize pay, benefits and deductions, and provide other important retirement pay information.



One statement includes the new payment amount as of December 30, 2011, based on a 3.6-percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2012. Another statement shows the new payment amount as of February 1, 2012, based on federal income tax adjustments caused by changes to the 2012 tax tables.

A monthly electronic Retiree Account Statement (eRAS) is now available to all military retirees currently receiving retirement payments. The eRAS is only available on myPay, the official online account management system for DFAS. The statements are available by the first of each month, and date back to Nov. 1, 2011, when the eRAS was first offered. Retirees only need to register an e-mail address in their myPay account, and DFAS can send an e-mail reminder each month when individual statements are available.

Visit https://www.mypay.gov for more information.

If retirees cannot access myPay or they need a RAS that is no longer in their myPay account, they should fax a detailed written request to 800-469-6559 or mail it to DFAS Retired Pay, P.O. Box 7130, London, KY 40742-7130. Requests should be dated and must include your name, Social Security number and signature. Please specify exactly what information is needed and the dates that should be included in the statement.



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VETERAN ISSUES

Chairman Wants Audit of VA Graves

Rep. Jeff Miller (Florida), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, has called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to complete an audit of its 131 cemeteries to ensure all veterans and their dependents are buried in the correct graves. In a statement released by Miller’s office, he said, “Although I am glad these mistakes have been found, this never should have happened in the first place.” The Committee is continuing to investigate this issue to ensure these problems do not arise ever again at veterans cemeteries.



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More VGLI Available for Some Veterans

Veterans under age 60 that are currently covered under the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program and have less than maximum coverage can now purchase additional coverage up to $400,000. Veterans can increase their coverage by $25,000 and can request the additional coverage during the 120-day period prior to each five-year anniversary date. The VGLI program allows newly discharged veterans to convert the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage they had while in the service. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has indicated that less than 22 percent of eligible veterans take advantage of this program.

For more information go to: http://insurance.va.gov/sglisite/vgli/vgli.htm

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Programs Promote Vet Employment

President Obama is calling for a new conservation program designed to put veterans to work rebuilding roads, trails and other infrastructure on public property. Modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, the program aims to employ Post-9/11 veterans, a group currently experiencing a 9.1-percent unemployment rate.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established a website, vaforvets.va.gov, to assist veterans with employment opportunities. The website offers career-search tools for veterans seeking a career with the VA; career development guidance for veterans; and reintegration support for military service members. The website also has a Career Center to help veterans match their experience, skills and training with actual VA opportunities in real time.

In addition to other veteran-focused employment programs, the VA is also hosting regional career fairs and expos around the country. At a recent event in Washington, D.C., approximately 2,600 veterans participated in onsite interviews with public and private employers and more than 500 tentative job offers were extended. The next scheduled Veterans Career Fair and Expo is slated for June 25th–29th at Detroit’s Cobo Center.



Visit http://vaforvets.va.gov/Pages/default.aspx for more details.

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House Subcommittee Examines VA Disability Rating System

The House Veterans Affairs (VA) Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs recently held a hearing on the VA disability rating system. The panel focused on the progress VA has made in implementing recommendations by the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors in 2007, which is also referred to as the Dole-Shalala Commission.

The claims backlog and confusion about the rating system are the most common complaints made by veterans about the VA, which currently has a backlog of more than 886,000 claims, with 66 percent taking more than 120 days to process. This figure is up from 389,000 in 2009.

The Subcommittee questioned witnesses on the differences between the Department of Defense (DoD) and VA ratings systems, which are often in direct conflict with one another and cause confusion for many veterans. Panel members called for DoD and VA to standardize the ratings system to equalize physical and mental injuries.

FRA believes there is strong bipartisan support to reform the system. Lawmakers have made it clear they want to improve the antiquated paper claims process, eliminate bureaucratic delays and ensure more uniformity between branches of the military and the VA in determining disability ratings. The Association will address these and other Title 38 issues before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Committees during the Second Session of the 112th Congress.

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Bill Introduced to Stop Automatic Budgets Cuts in VA Health Care

FRA thanks Rep. Jeff Miller (Florida), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, for introducing the “Protect the VA Health Care Act” (H.R. 3895), a measure that seeks to exclude Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare programs from automatic sequestration cuts due to take effect on January 1, 2013. The reductions are mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) and there is growing concern the cuts may negatively impact VA health care programs. Miller dispatched a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clarification and, receiving no response, introduced the bill to explicitly exclude VA healthcare from the BCA.



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Active Duty/Reserve Issues

FRA Honors Outstanding USMC, USN Personnel

For the 14th consecutive year FRA recognized top Marine Corps enlisted personnel during awards ceremonies at Quantico MCB, Virginia. FRA National President (NP) Jeffrey Gilmartin recently presented awards to top-performing Marines at the 2011 Combined Awards Program. Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Michael P. Barrett participated in the annual ceremony that recognizes the Corps’ top recruiters, drill instructors (DI), Marine Corps embassy security guards (ESG), career retention specialists and combat instructors (CI). FRA hosted a reception following the ceremony.

At a separate ceremony John Davis, Director of Legislative Programs, represented NP Gilmartin by presenting special achievement awards to the Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s 2011 Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Charge and Prior Service Recruiters Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Charge in recognition of their outstanding service. BGEN Joseph L. Osterman, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, and Sergeant Major Michael A. Logan participated in the event.

FRA also supported the Navy’s Recruiter of the Year (ROY) program this year, honoring the Navy’s top recruiters during their visit to the nation’s capital. In addition to hosting the ROYs for lunch on Capitol Hill and coordinating a U.S. Capitol tour, FRA participated in a special ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial. FRA NP Gilmartin, FRA Auxiliary President Gini Larson, National Executive Director Joe Barnes and other FRA and Auxiliary leaders joined VADM Scott R. Van Buskirk, Chief of Naval Personnel; RADM Earl L. Gay, Commander of Navy Recruiting Command, and Navy Recruiting Force Master Chief Earl S. Gray, Jr. in recognizing the Navy’s top 15 recruiters for 2011.

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Early Retirement Program

Beginning January 1, 2012, the services are authorized to implement Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA). An FRA-supported provision (Section 504) in the Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 1540) reinstates the TERA provision that will allow officers and noncommissioned officers to retire with at least 15 years of service and receive retired pay at a reduced rate. TERA was authorized from 1991 to 1996 in conjunction with force reductions during that period. In addition to retirement pay, the program includes TRICARE coverage and is not available for Coast Guard personnel because that service is not implementing involuntary separations.



As FRA Today goes to press, the DFAS website has not been updated to reflect this new change, but we’ll publish details in future editions of NewsBytes and FRA Today when they become available.

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CFPB to Track Military Scammers

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new Office of Military Affairs (OMA) has initiated a first-of-its-kind database to track fraud aimed at active duty service members at home and overseas. The database known as ROAM (Repeat Offenders Against Military) will function as a central database and include all companies and individuals that repeatedly try to cheat military personnel in financial transactions. ROAM will be accessible by all state attorneys general, U.S. attorneys and judge advocates from all five branches of the armed forces, which will help streamline investigations. 

The creation of the OMA was an FRA-supported provision in the 2010 financial regulation law and is also authorized to educate military personnel about their financial protections and best financial practices.

To contact the CFPB Office of Military Affairs go to www.consumerfinance.gov/servicemembers

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House Panel Examines Military Mortuary

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform notified Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that the committee will review allegations of mishandling remains of service members killed in action (KIA). The Dover Air Force Base Mortuary handles the remains of KIAs returning home and the investigation is in response to an Air Force Inspector General report that found “gross mismanagement” at the mortuary, and a Washington Post article that indicated that the mortuary had inappropriately disposed of KIA cremated remains in a landfill.



The FRA Legislative Team continues to monitor this issue to ensure that the remains of service members are treated with the dignity and honor they deserve.
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The FRA Legislative team is Joe Barnes, National Executive Director; John Davis, Director of Legislative Programs and Branch 181 President; Bob Washington, Health Care Advisor and Outreach Manager; Chris Slawinski, National Veterans Service Officer and Ed Dockery, Assistant Director of Legislative Programs.

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