Saturday, November 26, 2011

FRA: URGENT! Take Action on Amendments on Senate Defense Bill

John R. Davis of the Fleet Reserve Association sent out this alert:

Take Action on Amendments to Senate NDAA

Senate consideration of the Senate version of the FY 2012 Defense Authorization bill (S. 1867) has begun and consideration of floor amendments are scheduled to occur next week. Please use the Action Center to ask your Senators to oppose Senator John McCain’s (Ariz.) amendment that would eliminate the percentage cap on future TRICARE Prime increases to the percentage increase in a retiree’s annual COLA increase. The McCain amendment would allow future TRICARE Prime increases to be based on a DoD index that would measure health care inflation.

Also ask your Senators to support several key FRA-supported amendments that include:

Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid’s (NV) two amendments to expand concurrent receipt for disabled retirees;

Senator Bill Nelson’s (Fla.) amendment to stop the deduction of VA death benefits (DIC) from SBP survivor benefits;

Senator Frank Lautenberg’s (N.J.) amendment that codifies into law that military retirees have at least in-part earned their TRICARE coverage with twenty or more years of arduous military service;

Senator Mark Pryor’s (Ark.) amendment that would authorize “veteran’s status” for service members who served twenty or more years in the Reserve Component;

Senator Carl Levin’s (Mich.) amendment to allow early retirement to reduce inequities during the expected reduction in end strength; and

Barbara Boxer’s amendment that urges DoD to provide service members with flexible spending accounts to pay out-of-pocket health and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.

Please use this Action Center to contact your Senators on these important amendments.

Many thanks to the ever vigilant and action oriented Fleet Reserve Association.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2012: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alert: Benefits threatened after Supercommittee fails

This is just in from the VFW:

M E M O R A N D U M

To: National Officers, National Council of Administration,
Department Commanders, Department Adjutants, Past Commander-in-Chiefs, National Legislative Committee, Action Corps, VFW Ladies Auxiliary and VFW Management Team

From: Bob Wallace, Executive Director VFW Washington Office

Date: November 22, 2011

Re: What does Super Committee’s Failure mean to VFW?

The congressional Super Committee has thrown in the towel and admitted they cannot reach a bipartisan agreement to cut a minimum of $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade. Under the law passed this summer, mandatory cuts will now take place across all federal departments and agencies beginning January 2013.

Where and how much, however, is still to be determined.

Each cabinet secretary will decide where the cuts will be made after the White House Office of Management and Budget identifies which, if any, programs are exempt. Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare have been mentioned as being exempt, as have veterans programs, but no one has yet identified which veterans programs.

The VFW believes that veterans’ healthcare programs and benefits will be exempt from any cuts. Questions remain, however, about increased co-payments for visits and prescriptions, as well as charging VA category 7 and 8 veterans an annual enrollment fee. We will continue to monitor and report any new developments as they occur.

Over at the Defense Department are recommendations to change the pay and benefits of those currently serving and military retirees. The threats include changing the military retirement system for future enlistees, limiting retiree healthcare program enrollment, and imposing or increasing healthcare fees on all TRICARE programs, regardless of age. These proposals are in addition to possible reductions in force and cuts to other quality of life programs. The budget crisis has also forced defense hawks to choose between supporting people programs and new weapon systems development. Sadly, some have forgotten that it still takes people to occupy territory and to operate their shiny new aircraft, ships and tanks.

Our nation hollowed out its force after Vietnam and again after the first Gulf War. If the past 10 years have proven anything, it is that the All Volunteer Force works, but it comes with a price and a promise to maintain the quality of life programs for those few who serve. Since 9/11, many of the less than 1 percent of the population who volunteered to serve their nation have been deployed into the fight numerous times. The service-connected disabilities thousands have already received will require a strong and viable military healthcare system to return them to duty, and a strong and viable VA healthcare system to meet their lifetime care needs.

Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress, amputations, and the risk of suicide are predominate issues of a military force at war. The preservation of military and veteran benefits, improved quality and accessible healthcare, and continued medical research into alternative treatments is how our nation can properly repay those who go into harm's way.

Over the next year, many in Congress as well as thousands of registered lobbyists will be working hard to protect their special interests and programs. We must all work hard to protect the Department of Veterans Affairs health, benefits and cemetery administrations, as well as all military quality of life programs for the troops, their families and military retirees.

I ask each of you to contact your respective members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to demand that these programs be protected. State Commanders and members of the National Legislative Committee must arrange individual face-to-face meetings with every member of their Congressional Delegation to alert them to our concerns. These meetings should be in addition to your visits to your Congressional delegations during the March 2012 Legislative Conference. I also ask that you report the responses you receive back to the VFW Action Corps at vfwac@vfw.org.

These meetings will be in addition to a massive outreach campaign to the entire U.S. Congress that I ask National Legislative Committee members to spearhead in each state and department. We need Congress to be flooded with letters and phone calls to protect veterans' programs and military quality of life programs from any cuts. This is an obligation of every member of the VFW and their families to keep the faith with our comrades who need us to be their collective voice in Washington. Please refer to the VFW website for constant updates and the "10 for 10" issues we have raised, along with sample letters for your use.

The VFW needs you to make your voice heard now, because the most powerful message Congress can receive is from the folks who employ them — their voting constituents.

Thank you for your continued support of America’s heroes.

ROBERT E. WALLACE
Executive Director
VFW Washington Office

Contact your Senators and your Representative immediately and get on them to prevent Veterans and Social Security Benefits from being cut.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2012: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Compensation COLA Signed!

Senator Patty Murray’s Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011 [S.894] was signed into law yesterday by President Obama. Veterans receiving Compensation or Pension from the DVA will receive a 3.6% increase starting in January [benefits paid on December 30 for January 2012].

This is in line with the COLA passed earlier for Social Security Retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance.

Many thanks to one of the best friends the American Veteran has in Congress, Senator Patty Murray from Washington State.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Congress passes Veterans COLA

Congress passed the COLA for Veterans Compensation and Pension today, sending the bill to the White House where the President is expected to sign it.

The Veterans COLA for 2012 is the same as that for Social Security Benefits, 3.6%, and is the first increase in three years.

That said, Veterans and Social Security recipients should be aware that the Congressional Debt Reduction Committee is considering reductions in Veterans COLAs in the future by using a different method to compute them. This would mean lower increases if the economy indicates an increase is due.

There are members of Congress who are gearing up for a fight to protect some entitlement programs.

God forbid that Congress would start cutting by doing so to itself!

The committee must come up with a plan by November 23rd, and then Congress must approve it. Should any plan they come up with not be approved by Congress by December 23rd of this year, then $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will go into effect, including Veterans Benefits and Social Security benefits.

We strongly urge you to contact your Congressman and BOTH your Senators and put them on notice that benefits to Veterans and Social Security Benefits must not be cut…must be protected.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2011: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Seventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.