National Guard May 2011 : Page 16

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff By Richard M. Green The Retiree’s Voice should be lowered by one year for every two years you served beyond 20. But early retirement credit isn’t the only issue NGAUS has championed for retirees over the years. NGAUS has led the charge to keep TRI-CARE enrollment and co-pays in check. And, recently, NGAUS was successful in obtaining the availability of TRICARE cover-age for our “gray area” retirees. We also are working actively with our friends on the Hill to increase space-A travel for Guardsmen, retirees and their families. And if you think you are a veteran be-cause you served 20 or more years in the Guard, so does NGAUS. We’re pushing hard to change the definition of veteran used by the federal government so many of you can legally call yourselves veterans. From a legislative perspective, our retired force represents untapped potential that could make a significant difference in our leverage on Capitol Hill. If you doubt this, look at the influence AARP wields. Approximately 11,000 retirees are dues-paying members of NGAUS. Quite frankly, the association needs the perspective of more of our experienced veterans. Plus, you may have the time to make those important contacts with your elected officials promoting the issues that we all would like to see cross the finish line. As I’ve pointed out, NGAUS is doing a lot for our retirees. But with a larger voice, we could do more. Remember what they say about the squeaky wheel? That’s especially true in this town. We think $125 for a lifetime membership is a pretty good deal. If we can be successful here in the nation’s capital, that money will come back to you many times. Contact your senators and representatives by phone, fax, letter or visit. Or use our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org, and let them know how a strong and ready National Guard is right for America. We never forget those who have completed 20 or more years in our ranks. F YOU HAVE retired from the National Guard or are getting close to leaving uniformed service, NGAUS is your good friend, ally and supporter. While our efforts on Capitol Hill are focused on what’s best for the Guard’s serv-ing members, as well as policies, equipment and facilities essential for their readiness, we never forget those who have completed 20 or more years in our ranks. Our track record proves my point. In 2008, NGAUS made headway toward reducing the age for our retirees to collect retirement pay, which had not changed since the association helped create the Guard and Reserve retirement program in 1948. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but our foot is definitely in the door. That effort resulted in an early retirement credit of three months for every 90 days served in combat or performing presidential emergency response duty. But this partial victory is not yet com-plete. NGAUS wanted the benefit extended to all who had performed qualifying duty following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, during the negotiations that precede any bill becoming law, the decision was made to make the implementation date Jan. 28, 2008, the day the president signed the legislation. It certainly wasn’t fair to those whose service inspired the program, but that’s how the legislative process often works. You take what you can get when you can get it, and then you come back later to get the rest. In this case, it’s retroactivity to Sept. 11, 2001. We also want to eliminate the Pentagon requirement that the 90 days of qualifying service take place in one fiscal year. This is an interpretation that we don’t believe Congress intended and we’re supporting legislation that would accept for purposes of the retirement credit any 90-day period that qualifies. But we won’t stop here. We think the age at which you can receive retirement benefits I 16 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

Richard M. Green

The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff<br /> <br /> The Retiree's Voice<br /> <br /> IF YOU HAVE retired from the National Guard or are getting close to leaving uniformed service, NGAUS is your good friend, ally and supporter.<br /> <br /> While our efforts on Capitol Hill are focused on what's best for the Guard's serving members, as well as policies, equipment and facilities essential for their readiness, we never forget those who have completed 20 or more years in our ranks.<br /> <br /> Our track record proves my point. In 2008, NGAUS made headway toward reducing the age for our retirees to collect retirement pay, which had not changed since the association helped create the Guard and Reserve retirement program in 1948. It wasn't exactly what we wanted, but our foot is definitely in the door.<br /> <br /> That effort resulted in an early retirement credit of three months for every 90 days served in combat or performing presidential emergency response duty.<br /> <br /> But this partial victory is not yet complete.<br /> <br /> NGAUS wanted the benefit extended to all who had performed qualifying duty following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, during the negotiations that precede any bill becoming law, the decision was made to make the implementation date Jan. 28, 2008, the day the president signed the legislation.<br /> <br /> It certainly wasn't fair to those whose service inspired the program, but that's how the legislative process often works. You take what you can get when you can get it, and then you come back later to get the rest. In this case, it's retroactivity to Sept. 11, 2001.<br /> <br /> We also want to eliminate the Pentagon requirement that the 90 days of qualifying service take place in one fiscal year. This is an interpretation that we don't believe Congress intended and we're supporting legislation that would accept for purposes of the retirement credit any 90-day period that qualifies.<br /> <br /> But we won't stop here. We think the age at which you can receive retirement benefits should be lowered by one year for every two years you served beyond 20.<br /> <br /> But early retirement credit isn't the only issue NGAUS has championed for retirees over the years.<br /> <br /> NGAUS has led the charge to keep TRICARE enrollment and co-pays in check.<br /> <br /> And, recently, NGAUS was successful in obtaining the availability of TRICARE coverage for our "gray area" retirees.<br /> <br /> We also are working actively with our friends on the Hill to increase space-A travel for Guardsmen, retirees and their families. And if you think you are a veteran because you served 20 or more years in the Guard, so does NGAUS.<br /> <br /> We're pushing hard to change the definition of veteran used by the federal government so many of you can legally call yourselves veterans.<br /> <br /> From a legislative perspective, our retired force represents untapped potential that could make a significant difference in our leverage on Capitol Hill. If you doubt this, look at the influence AARP wields.<br /> <br /> Approximately 11,000 retirees are duespaying members of NGAUS. Quite frankly, the association needs the perspective of more of our experienced veterans.<br /> <br /> Plus, you may have the time to make those important contacts with your elected officials promoting the issues that we all would like to see cross the finish line. As I've pointed out, NGAUS is doing a lot for our retirees. But with a larger voice, we could do more.<br /> <br /> Remember what they say about the squeaky wheel? That's especially true in this town.<br /> <br /> We think $125 for a lifetime membership is a pretty good deal. If we can be successful here in the nation's capital, that money will come back to you many times.<br /> <br /> Contact your senators and representatives by phone, fax, letter or visit. Or use our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org, and let them know how a strong and ready National Guard is right for America.<br /> <br /> GATOR™ VS. Deployments<br /> <br /> For every Operation: A full line-up of mission capable vehicles. With features like flatbed convertible cargo boxes. JP8, diesel and gas engines. Up to 44 mph top speeds. Payloads up to 1,650 lb.* Custom-engineered suspensions. Even a fully autonomous model. All built John Deere strong for when it's wheels up.Visit JohnDeere.com/ Military or email MilitarySales@JohnDeere.com for more information.<br /> <br /> *Passengers and cargo.<br /> <br /> Congress Finally Passes 2011 Budget; National Guard Dodges Spending Knife<br /> <br /> Congress made good on its agreement regarding a bill to fund the final six months of the current fiscal year. The plan includes about $40 billion in cuts for the final six months, although some of those cuts are not hard dollars, but exist simply on paper and may or may not happen.<br /> <br /> Still, the National Guard should have no complaints. Most accounts are above the fiscal 2010 levels.<br /> <br /> The plan includes $250 million each for the Army and Air Guard in National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account funds.<br /> <br /> It also increases by $40 million the sustainment, restoration and modernization accounts for both the Army and Air Guard. That brings the Army Guard account funding to $661.8 million and puts the Air Guard level at $355.3 million.<br /> <br /> It provides a record $874 million for Army Guard military construction and $195 million for Air Guard military construction.<br /> <br /> Additional budget details can be found in the Legislative Action Center at www.ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> Standardized Education Payments: Bill Would Correct New GI Bill Inequity<br /> <br /> Veterans attending expensive private colleges on the Post-9/11 GI Bill may not lose out if the tuition and fees they pay are higher than the new version of the program allows.<br /> <br /> Two Republican lawmakers in the House have introduced H.R. 1383 to temporarily authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to make payments for eligible students of up to $17,500 or the maximum in-state rate for undergraduate tuition and fees, whichever is greater.<br /> <br /> The bill would correct a problem with an amended version of the bill passed last year. Under it, a student attending a private school could have ended up paying significant out-of-pocket expenses due to the differences in in-state tuition and fees from state to state.<br /> <br /> As enacted, the law provided the student only with the highest tuition and fees at a public school in his or her state.<br /> <br /> The law is unfair to students who come from states where tuition and fees are low, but want to attend an out-of-state school or private school with higher tuition and fees. If they are already enrolled, they will see a reduction in financial support from the current law.<br /> <br /> Early Retirement Plan Sticking Point Target of Rep. Latham's Legislation<br /> <br /> Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, doesn't agree with the Pentagon's interpretation of a plan that would allow reserve-component members to receive retirement benefits early because of their deployment history.<br /> <br /> The National Defense Authorization Act, which took effect in January 2008, allows reserve-component retirees to receive retirement pay three months prior to age 60 for every 90-day period they were on active duty.<br /> <br /> However, the Defense Department is interpreting the law to require all 90 days fall within one fiscal year, which is Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.<br /> <br /> Latham introduced a bill last month to counter that interpretation. The Reserve Retirement Deployment Credit Correction Act, which has the support of NGAUS, would honor any 90 days of deployment without regard to a fiscal year's limits.<br /> <br /> The law honors only deployments that have taken place since the bill was enacted in January 2008.<br /> <br /> One Mile is One Mile: Legislation Aims To Pay Mileage for Vet Center Trips<br /> <br /> Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., thinks trips to a Vet Center are as important as trips to a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic. But the latter earns the patient mileage reimbursement, while a visit to the former does not.<br /> <br /> "I've got a bill to remedy that because I don't think that's right," he said at a Senate hearing recently.<br /> <br /> Tester introduced S. 696 that would treat Vet Centers the same as other VA facilities for the purpose of reimbursements for travel.<br /> <br /> He said his visits with veterans in Montana brought the issue to his attention.<br /> <br /> "Vets are a pretty straightforward bunch," he told the Billings Gazette. "They tell you what they think, and they don't sugarcoat it."<br /> <br /> Tester is a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Previously, he successfully pushed to boost mileage reimbursement from 11 cents to 41.5 cents per mile for veterans.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here