National Guard October 2012 : Page 12

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff No Joke By Pete Duffy A Both parties are predicting the end of the world as we know it if the defense budget is slashed by sequestration. AS THE NOVEMBER elections ap-proach, sequestration ( cover story, page 22 ) has become the talk of the town, especially in defense circles. Whether the voices of consternation are crying wolf or legitimately presaging an ex-istential crisis for the military is a personal judgment for each of us to make. And time will tell. In a strange way, it’s funny. A few months ago, we had never heard of the term and now it’s all anyone is talking about. Just so you know, sequestration de-scribes a policy procedure that originated in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of 1985. That act set aside the amount that the sum of all appropria-tion bills exceeds the limit set forth in the annual budget resolution. When the government spending pro-vided in the numerous appropriation bills exceeds that limit and Congress is un-able to agree on how to cut the excess, an automatic reduction in spending occurs with the amount of the excess set aside in protective custody, or sequestered, by the U.S. Treasury from congressional spending. It’s just like when juries are sequestered during deliberations for a trial. This time, however, money is being set aside. As anticipated, sequestration is provid-ing a finger-pointing extravaganza for both parties on the election trails. But let me re-mind you that sequestration is a bipartisan default solution to the ongoing debt-ceiling crisis that Congress approved in the Budget Control Act of 2011. And, of course, both parties are now predicting the end of the world if the de-fense budget is slashed by sequestration. Is this another cliffhanger in a game of congressional budget brinksmanship that will go down to the wire before both sides of the aisle come together and defuse this ticking time bomb? Or will the doomsday scenario take place if sequestration occurs on Jan. 2, 2013, be-cause Congress failed to reach an agreement? It might all be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. Training Civilian Clinicians In its study “Invisible Wounds of War” in 2008, the RAND Corporation urged the full engagement of the civilian medi-cal community in providing access and treatment for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and traumatic brain injury. Progress in this area has been sporadic, but there have been a few hopeful efforts. The Citizen-Soldier Support Program in North Carolina has been offering assistance for the past three years to civilian physi-cians across the country so they can better understand the behavioral health issues of National Guardsmen. The New Hampshire National Guard, collaborating with the New Hampshire Military Civilian Traumatic Brain Injury Collaborative and the Northeast Rehabili-tation Health Network, hosted an intense one-day immersive program last month on Military Orientation for Brain Injury Pro-fessionals. Attending were clinicians who work with veterans. Replete with continuing education credit for physicians and nurses and the presenta-tions by combat veterans, the course was designed to introduce clinicians to the unique intensity and scope of the military combat experience. Because the battle environment presents a context not encountered in civilian practice, providing this orientation to civilian clinicians will make the experinces related to them by their patients who are veterans more under-standable and less likely for misinterpretation. We commend the New Hampshire Guard for this much-needed pro-active effort and would relish hearing of other like efforts elsewhere. The author is the NGAUS acting legislative director. Reach him at pete.duffy@ngaus.org. 12 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

Pete Duffy

No Joke<br /> <br /> Both parties are predicting the end of the world as we know it if the defense budget is slashed by sequestration.<br /> <br /> AS THE NOVEMBER elections approach, sequestration (cover story, page 22) has become the talk of the town, especially in defense circles.<br /> <br /> Whether the voices of consternation are crying wolf or legitimately presaging an existential crisis for the military is a personal judgment for each of us to make.<br /> <br /> And time will tell.<br /> <br /> In a strange way, it’s funny. A few months ago, we had never heard of the term and now it’s all anyone is talking about.<br /> <br /> Just so you know, sequestration describes a policy procedure that originated in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of 1985. That act set aside the amount that the sum of all appropriation bills exceeds the limit set forth in the annual budget resolution.<br /> <br /> When the government spending provided in the numerous appropriation bills exceeds that limit and Congress is unable to agree on how to cut the excess, an automatic reduction in spending occurs with the amount of the excess set aside in protective custody, or sequestered, by the U. S. Treasury from congressional spending.<br /> <br /> It’s just like when juries are sequestered during deliberations for a trial. This time, however, money is being set aside.<br /> <br /> As anticipated, sequestration is providing a finger-pointing extravaganza for both parties on the election trails. But let me remind you that sequestration is a bipartisan default solution to the ongoing debt-ceiling crisis that Congress approved in the Budget Control Act of 2011.<br /> <br /> And, of course, both parties are now predicting the end of the world if the defense budget is slashed by sequestration.<br /> <br /> Is this another cliffhanger in a game of congressional budget brinksmanship that will go down to the wire before both sides of the aisle come together and defuse this ticking time bomb?<br /> <br /> Or will the doomsday scenario take place If sequestration occurs on Jan. 2, 2013, because Congress failed to reach an agreement?<br /> <br /> It might all be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high.<br /> <br /> Training Civilian Clinicians<br /> <br /> In its study “Invisible Wounds of War” in 2008, the RAND Corporation urged the full engagement of the civilian medical community in providing access and treatment for veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome, depression and traumatic brain injury.<br /> <br /> Progress in this area has been sporadic, but there have been a few hopeful efforts.<br /> <br /> The Citizen-Soldier Support Program in North Carolina has been offering assistance for the past three years to civilian physicians across the country so they can better understand the behavioral health issues of National Guardsmen.<br /> <br /> The New Hampshire National Guard, collaborating with the New Hampshire Military Civilian Traumatic Brain Injury Collaborative and the Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network, hosted an intense one-day immersive program last month on Military Orientation for Brain Injury Professionals. Attending were clinicians who work with veterans.<br /> <br /> Replete with continuing education credit for physicians and nurses and the presentations by combat veterans, the course was designed to introduce clinicians to the unique intensity and scope of the military combat experience. <br /> <br /> Because the battle environment presents a context not encountered in civilian practice, providing this orientation to civilian clinicians will make the experinces related to them by their patients who are veterans more understandable and less likely for misinterpretation.<br /> <br /> We commend the New Hampshire Guard for this much-needed pro-active effort and would relish hearing of other like efforts elsewhere.<br /> <br /> The author is the NGAUS acting legislative director. Reach him at pete.duffy@ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> WASHINGTON UPDATE<br /> <br /> The resolutions process provides the path by which state requirements and concerns can be elevated to the national stage.<br /> <br /> Reno Conference Passes Resolutions For 2013 NGAUS Legislative Agenda <br /> <br /> The 134th General Conference and Exhibition (coverage, page 28) last month illustrated the strength of NGAUS as a grassroots organization, culminating this year’s resolutions process.<br /> <br /> Delegates considered dozens of resolutions during conference sessions. Most of the resolutions put forth by states and territories were approved by delegates and ultimately adopted by the body as a whole on the final day of the event.<br /> <br /> The resolution process provides the path by which state and territory requirements and concerns are elevated to the national stage in Washington, D.C. But none of this would be possible without state and territory Guard associations and NGAUS members nationwide.<br /> <br /> In the coming weeks, NGAUS will work with the National Guard Bureau and experts in the field to prioritize the resolutions into a workable agenda for the development of the fiscal 2014 defense budget.<br /> <br /> This process has proven itself to be the most efficient way to work with Congress to ensure the Guard maintains the highest readiness possible and Guardsmen and their families can enjoy the quality of life they need and have earned.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS legislative team also will put together and distribute in December a booklet of the resolutions to take to the Hill.<br /> <br /> Resolutions from the conference are posted in the Legislative Action Center at www.ngaus.org. —By Mary Catherine Ott <br /> <br /> Congress Passes Stop-Gap Budget; Halts Air Guard Cuts Through March <br /> <br /> Congress passed and the president was prepared to sign last month a six-month stopgap spending measure that will fund the federal government through March 27, 2013, with most programs and agencies receiving 0.6 percent more than they did in fiscal 2012.<br /> <br /> This was necessary because lawmakers were unable to approve a budget for fiscal 2013, which started this month. It is 162nd continuing resolution since fiscal 1977.<br /> <br /> The continuing resolution includes only a handful of spending anomalies, including higher defense spending on wildfire Suppression, cyber security and disability benefits for returning veterans.<br /> <br /> Funding for the congressionally directed National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account was not included.<br /> <br /> Anomalies not only can increase funding, but may also prohibit funds for activities that might otherwise be allowed. This procedure is more rarely used, but was used here to prevent the drastic cuts to the Air Guard proposed in the Air Force budget request for fiscal 2013.<br /> <br /> The continuing resolution includes language prohibiting any appropriations or funds being used to retire, divest, realign or transfer any aircraft in the Air Force, disestablish or convert any unit of the Air Guard, or retire any C-23 Sherpa aircraft in the Army Guard.<br /> <br /> This prohibitive provision will be the law of the land governing military spending until either March 27, 2013, or when a national defense authorization act is passed into law.<br /> <br /> Passage of the fiscal 2013 NDAA will not happen until the lame-duck session at the earliest, and even then may not be discussed due to showdowns over extending President George W. Bush-era tax cuts, sequestration and possibly an increase in the debt ceiling.<br /> <br /> We will learn in March if lawmakers will put in place another six-month continuing resolution to finish out the year or if they will complete the appropriation bills for 2013. <br /> <br /> —By Emily Sass<br /> <br /> Legislation 101<br /> <br /> “Lame Duck” Session: When Congress (or either chamber) reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business. Some lawmakers who return for this session will not be in the next Congress. Hence, they are informally called “lame duck” members participating in a “lame duck” session.<br /> <br /> Keep closer tabs on legislation by signing up for the weekly Washington Report at www.ngaus.org. For daily reports, click the Blogspot icon at www.ngaus.org.<br /> <br />

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