National Guard September 2012 : Page 20

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff Elementary Matter By Pete Duffy M Why hasn’t the Pentagon offered funds from the Defense Health Program to address critical mental health needs in the Guard? Rep. Ken Calvert R-Calif. AYBE IT’S TIME for the Pentagon leadership to go back to elemen-tary school. They seem to have missed a few of its most important lessons. Or perhaps they could read the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergar-ten by Robert Fulgham. After all, it was in those early classrooms that we learned the importance of sharing. Maybe it was best illustrated when a parent baked a batch of cookies and the teacher demonstrated the benefit when one student didn’t grab more than his share of the treat. But Pentagon officials might have been absent that day. That may explain why they persist in refusing to share with the National Guard such cost-free benefits as space-available travel ( “Without Weight,” July, National Guard). Surely, providing empty seats on an Air Force plane for Guardsmen and their families after a decade of shared sacrifice wouldn’t cause the world to crumble. But, more importantly, why hasn’t the Pentagon offered funds from the Defense Health Program to address critical mental health needs in the Guard? We hear a lot of lip service about the scourge of suicide in the armed forces, but this simple sharing of available funds would go far in addressing the issue. Our champions on Capitol Hill were working overtime last December to include language in the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allowed the embed of mental health care providers in armories and Reserve centers. But through its surrogates in Congress, the Pentagon opposed the use of Defense Health Program dollars to fund the program. This ignores the fact that the Army Guard had the highest rate of suicide in the military in 2010 and has only limited access to help. It also came in spite of a reported surplus of $500 million in unused Defense Health Program funds in fiscal 2011. And it more than misses the lessons of sharing. It violates one of the fundamental tenets of military leadership. That is, take care of your troops. The language on embedding mental health workers did make its way into the NDAA, but the program funding has to come from the limited state operations and maintenance accounts that are responsible for a multitude of other expenses. The Pentagon’s opposition to sharing mental health care funding has hamstrung a program that could save lives. Open sharing of Defense Health Program funds would alleviate that. Unfortunately, as the old song goes, the beat goes on. The Pentagon announced in July that the Defense Health Program has a $708 million surplus this year that the Defense Department would like reprogrammed for “higher priorities.” With a continuing surplus in health care funding, there is no justification for the continued opposition to sharing health care funding that could address mental health needs in the Guard. Being left to scramble for funding to support this proven program, NGAUS has sought a plus-up of $5-to-10 million for use by the director of psychological health at the National Guard Bureau to fund the embed program in those 10 or 12 states perceived to be at the highest risk for suicide. The House Defense Appropriation bill has language in support of this request thanks primarily to the efforts of Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and his staff. We also have considered sending a busload of kindergarten teachers to the Pentagon to conduct classes on the value of sharing and the harmful effects of greed on team dynamics. However, those classes would likely be for naught unless the Defense Department truly changes its culture to recognize the reserve components as vital parts of a team worth protecting. The author is the NGAUS acting legislative direc-tor. He can be reached at pete.duffy@ngaus.org. 20 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

Pete Duffy

Elementary Matter<br /> <br /> Why hasn’t the Pentagon offered funds from the Defense Health Program to address critical mental health needs in the Guard?<br /> <br /> MAYBE IT’S TIME for the Pentagon leadership to go back to elementary school. They seem to have missed a few of its most important lessons.<br /> <br /> Or perhaps they could read the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham.<br /> <br /> After all, it was in those early classrooms that we learned the importance of sharing.Maybe it was best illustrated when a parent baked a batch of cookies and the teacher demonstrated the benefit when one student didn’t grab more than his share of the treat.<br /> <br /> But Pentagon officials might have been absent that day. That may explain why they persist in refusing to share with the National Guard such cost-free benefits as space-available travel (“Without Weight,” July, National Guard).<br /> <br /> Surely, providing empty seats on an Air Force plane for Guardsmen and their families after a decade of shared sacrifice wouldn’t cause the world to crumble.<br /> <br /> But, more importantly, why hasn’t the Pentagon offered funds from the Defense Health Program to address critical mental health needs in the Guard?<br /> <br /> We hear a lot of lip service about the scourge of suicide in the armed forces, but this simple sharing of available funds would go far in addressing the issue.<br /> <br /> Our champions on Capitol Hill were working overtime last December to include language in the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allowed the embed of mental health care providers in armories and Reserve centers. But through its surrogates in Congress, the Pentagon opposed the use of Defense Health Program dollars to fund the program.<br /> <br /> This ignores the fact that the Army Guard had the highest rate of suicide in the military in 2010 and has only limited access to help.It also came in spite of a reported surplus of $500 million in unused Defense Health Program funds in fiscal 2011.<br /> <br /> And it more than misses the lessons of Sharing. It violates one of the fundamental tenets of military leadership. That is, take care of your troops.<br /> <br /> The language on embedding mental health workers did make its way into the NDAA, but the program funding has to come from the limited state operations and maintenance accounts that are responsible for a multitude of other expenses.<br /> <br /> The Pentagon’s opposition to sharing mental health care funding has hamstrung a program that could save lives. Open sharing of Defense Health Program funds would alleviate that.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, as the old song goes, the beat goes on.<br /> <br /> The Pentagon announced in July that the Defense Health Program has a $708 million surplus this year that the Defense Department would like reprogrammed for “higher priorities.” <br /> <br /> With a continuing surplus in health care funding, there is no justification for the continued opposition to sharing health care funding that could address mental health needs in the Guard.<br /> <br /> Being left to scramble for funding to support this proven program, NGAUS has sought a plus-up of $5-to-10 million for use by the director of psychological health at the National Guard Bureau to fund the embed program in those 10 or 12 states perceived to be at the highest risk for suicide.<br /> <br /> The House Defense Appropriation bill has language in support of this request thanks primarily to the efforts of Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and his staff.<br /> <br /> We also have considered sending a busload of kindergarten teachers to the Pentagon to conduct classes on the value of sharing and the harmful effects of greed on team dynamics.<br /> <br /> However, those classes would likely be for naught unless the Defense Department truly changes its culture to recognize the reserve components as vital parts of a team worth protecting.<br /> <br /> The author is the NGAUS acting legislative director.He can be reached at pete.duffy@ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> Continuing Resolution Expected Again; Impact on Air Guard Cuts Unknown<br /> <br /> Lawmakers left Washington, D.C., after the first week of August with a plan to return this month to pass a six-month continuing resolution instead of a budget for fiscal 2013.<br /> <br /> This continuing resolution will be much like the ones we have become so familiar with in recent years by providing funding to agencies at current levels and prohibiting new starts.<br /> <br /> The concern at NGAUS and in some offices on Capitol Hill is how this will impact the successful effort to push back the Air Force’s plan to cut aircraft and people from the Air National Guard.<br /> <br /> If the lawmakers get the “clean bill” they say they want, with no earmarks or additions, will that mean the work of four separate defense committees to halt the Air Force plan is out the window?<br /> <br /> NGAUS wants the continuing resolution to reflect the detailed language the committees created to halt the disproportional cuts that were included in the Air Force’s proposed budget. The continuing resolution will be the law of the land for probably six months and we don’t want the Air Force pushing its plan during that time.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS legislative staff is working with Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Committee. He has delivered a list of inclusions for the continuing resolution to Rep.John Boehner, R-Ohio, the speaker of the House, and Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., the House Appropriations Committee chairman.Stopping the Air Guard cuts is among them.<br /> <br /> Not So Fast: Forest Service Legislation Premature In Transfer of Guard C-27Js<br /> <br /> Just days before Congress broke for its August recess, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., introduced the Wildfire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act of 2012.<br /> <br /> This bill, which would allow the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to acquire the C-27J Spartan cargo planes currently in the Air National Guard, comes even after all four defense committees, including the one Mc-Cain co-chairs, have rejected a request in the fiscal 2013 President’s Budget to remove all C-27Js from the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and 16 cosponsors introduced a version in the House.<br /> <br /> Given the broad congressional support to keep the C-27J aircraft where it is until further information is available, NGAUS, the Senate National Guard Caucus and others think this language is premature.<br /> <br /> While NGAUS does oppose both versions of this legislation—S. 3441 and H.R. 6248—we support more discussion on the opportunity to create partnerships between the Air Guard and the USFS.<br /> <br /> Think Tank Talk: Sequestration Would Put Title 32 Funds at Risk<br /> <br /> Paul McHale, who helped create the House Guard and Reserve Caucus while serving on Capitol Hill, said last month that sequestration would create havoc with Title 32 funding, which allows the Guard to operate its state missions with federal dollars.<br /> <br /> He warned of a “hollowing out” of the Guard and a loss of 20,000 Guardsmen.<br /> <br /> McHale, who also served as assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense under President George W. Bush, made his remarks at a conference at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank.<br /> <br /> “That is the ultimate impact of sequestration to our National Guard,” he said.<br /> <br /> Loss of Title 32 funding would put the financial burden on the states.<br /> <br /> “States are also cash poor,” said retired Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, a former chief of the National Guard, who also spoke.<br /> <br /> Sequestration aims to cut $500 billion in the federal budget over the next 10 years. It takes effect in January if Congress does not come up with an alternative funding plan.<br /> <br /> Legislation 101<br /> <br /> Continuing Resolution/Continuing Appropriations: Legislation in the form of a joint resolution enacted by Congress when the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun to provide budget authority for federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until the regular appropriations acts are enacted.

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