National Guard November_2016 : Page 40

LAST WORD Keep Serving By Brig. Gen. David Brubaker (Ret.) OME ATTENDEES at the retiree luncheon during the 138th General Conference & Exhi-bition in Baltimore got a bit of a surprise. The annual luncheon had become a caucus. There was still plenty of socializing, but good, sub-stantive discussion of serious topics was also on the menu. The caucus originated from a conversation I had with retired Brig. Gen. Daryl McCall, my partner as retired/separated representatives on the NGAUS board of directors. Why a caucus? Because retirees make up about 33 percent of the association’s membership and we expect that percentage to grow. Those of us with gray hair (or none at all anymore) aren’t more intelligent than our younger colleagues, but we’ve been around the block a time or two and have gained some insight along the way. And we still want to be of service. S Anything that seems to take away from promises made to retirees while they were wearing the uniform is certain to get our attention. So the first-ever NGAUS retiree caucus brought together plenty of potential in one room and provid-ed an official forum to express unfiltered concerns and thoughts directly to association board members. Con-sider it a fixture at future conferences. It proved to be good timing, too. A proposed change to the association bylaws would have prevented retired members from serving as area representatives on the board. U.S. presidents would have been impressed by the emotional and galvanizing oratory on the issue. The idea failed when it was considered later by con-ference delegates. I believe that was due, in part, to the caucus. Speaking only for myself, I’ll oppose any initiative that reduces the potential contributions of any segment of our association. And if a proposal to the board has a specific impact on retirees, as this one did, I would appreciate that it be brought to our caucus. This might 40    NATIONAL GUARD   NOVEMBER 2016   WWW . NGAUS . ORG save time, embarrassment and lingering hostilities, if you get my point. The caucus proved a wonderful forum for the free flow of ideas. It won’t surprise you to learn that proposed changes to TRICARE were discussed. Attendees want immediate updates on military health care. I can assure you, anything that appears to take away from promises made to retirees while they were wearing the uniform is certain to get our attention. We shared a slide briefing on TRICARE, and it proved valuable. We may think we know how the system works, but a detailed presentation fills in gaps. I suggest you take a look at it at www.ngaus.org/sites/default/files/ NGR_TriCare_Briefing.pdf. Another heavily discussed item was the federal defi-nition of a veteran. It requires a minimum of 179 days of federal active duty for other than training. In other words, you have to have mobilized and deployed at least once. Why? How can wearing your country’s uniform for 20 years not make you a veteran? Changing this law remains a priority of the capable NGAUS legislative staff. And retirees at the caucus are ready to join their effort on Capitol Hill. The caucus was created as a way to improve commu-nication between the association and the retiree com-munity. Daryl and I also view it as a place to gather the thoughts and concerns of our fellow retirees. The session in Baltimore did that. What we hope we’ve done is jumpstarted a conver-sation among Guard retirees that will take place year-round. The association website—www.ngaus.org—now has a Retired/Separated Focus tab where we’ll put infor-mation pertinent to retirees, with updates as warranted. The key to all of this is communication—communi-cation between retirees and NGAUS, communication within the retiree community, and communication be-tween retirees and our currently serving Guardsmen who someday will be old-timers like us (although don’t tell them that!). I am pleased with the outcome of the first retiree cau-cus. We’ll meet again next year in Louisville, Kentucky. Until then, keep the discussion flowing. The author is the retired/separated-Air representative on the NGAUS board. He and the retired/separated-Army representative, retired Brig Gen. Daryl McCall, can be reached at retirees@ngaus.org. |

Last Word

Brig. Gen. David Brubaker

Keep Serving

SOME ATTENDEES at the retiree luncheon during the 138th General Conference & Exhibition in Baltimore got a bit of a surprise. The annual luncheon had become a caucus.

There was still plenty of socializing, but good, substantive discussion of serious topics was also on the menu.

The caucus originated from a conversation I had with retired Brig. Gen. Daryl McCall, my partner as retired/separated representatives on the NGAUS board of directors.

Why a caucus? Because retirees make up about 33 percent of the association’s membership and we expect that percentage to grow. Those of us with gray hair (or none at all anymore) aren’t more intelligent than our younger colleagues, but we’ve been around the block a time or two and have gained some insight along the way. And we still want to be of service.

So the first-ever NGAUS retiree caucus brought together plenty of potential in one room and provided an official forum to express unfiltered concerns and thoughts directly to association board members. Consider it a fixture at future conferences.

It proved to be good timing, too. A proposed change to the association bylaws would have prevented retired members from serving as area representatives on the board. U.S. presidents would have been impressed by the emotional and galvanizing oratory on the issue.

The idea failed when it was considered later by conference delegates. I believe that was due, in part, to the caucus.

Speaking only for myself, I’ll oppose any initiative that reduces the potential contributions of any segment of our association. And if a proposal to the board has a specific impact on retirees, as this one did, I would appreciate that it be brought to our caucus. This might save time, embarrassment and lingering hostilities, if you get my point.

The caucus proved a wonderful forum for the free flow of ideas. It won’t surprise you to learn that proposed changes to TRICARE were discussed. Attendees want immediate updates on military health care.

I can assure you, anything that appears to take away from promises made to retirees while they were wearing the uniform is certain to get our attention.

We shared a slide briefing on TRICARE, and it proved valuable. We may think we know how the system works, but a detailed presentation fills in gaps. I suggest you take a look at it at www.ngaus.org/sites/default/files/ NGR_TriCare_Briefing.pdf.

Another heavily discussed item was the federal definition of a veteran. It requires a minimum of 179 days of federal active duty for other than training. In other words, you have to have mobilized and deployed at least once. Why? How can wearing your country’s uniform for 20 years not make you a veteran?

Changing this law remains a priority of the capable NGAUS legislative staff. And retirees at the caucus are ready to join their effort on Capitol Hill.

The caucus was created as a way to improve communication between the association and the retiree community. Daryl and I also view it as a place to gather the thoughts and concerns of our fellow retirees. The session in Baltimore did that.

What we hope we’ve done is jumpstarted a conversation among Guard retirees that will take place year-round. The association website—www.ngaus.org—now has a Retired/Separated Focus tab where we’ll put information pertinent to retirees, with updates as warranted.

The key to all of this is communication—communication between retirees and NGAUS, communication within the retiree community, and communication between retirees and our currently serving Guardsmen who someday will be old-timers like us (although don’t tell them that!).

I am pleased with the outcome of the first retiree caucus. We’ll meet again next year in Louisville, Kentucky. Until then, keep the discussion flowing.

The author is the retired/separated-Air representative on the NGAUS board. He and the retired/separated-Army representative, retired Brig Gen. Daryl McCall, can be reached at retirees@ngaus.org.

Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/Last+Word/2639297/358150/article.html.

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