National Guard February 2012 : Page 12

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff Make Them See By Richard M. Green We must convince the president, Congress, the Pentagon and the American people that some defense resources are just better spent on the Guard. E DID IT. We put the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And when I say “we,” I mean more than just NGAUS. The adjutants general, the governors, other associations and, of course, our friends on Capitol Hill also were part of our coalition. And we succeeded, in part, because of grassroots support, luck and all of the dominoes falling into place. Those things are necessary for any historic effort to succeed. Plus, in the end, Guard Empowerment was simply the right thing to do and this was the right time to do it, after a decade unlike any other the Guard has seen. But with this achievement now in the books, we have to move on. This is no time to rest on our laurels and ignore—even for a moment—the significant challenges ahead. In fact, some of the issues facing us now will require the same magnitude of support we just saw for the chief’s new seat. The defense budget is about to take a big hit. Details won’t be clear until the release of the president’s spending request this month, but we already know that some Guard pro-grams are on the chopping block. At the 133rd General Conference in Mil-waukee last August, our members adopted resolutions designed to increase Guard readiness and provide the quality of life our members and their families deserve. The NGAUS legislative staff will work our legislative agenda. But fiscal constraints will require us to be even more aggressive as the battle for diminished resources heats up. Our resolutions are already at risk because of pressure from many quarters to reduce defense spending. And the Pentagon usually looks to the Guard as a “bill payer” when reductions are required. Our challenge—and the challenge that faces the Guard as an institution—is to convince the president, Congress, the De-fense Department and the American people that those resources are better spent on W the Guard, the nation’s most cost-effective force. Our country must make a conscious decision to maintain the Guard as a fully operational, relevant and ready force for the 21st century—equipped, trained and manned to respond to contingency and domestic operations. To do this, it likely will be necessary to shift active-component manpower and mis-sions to the force that can maintain them at a fraction of the cost. Some in Congress are already suggesting it. The Pentagon should embrace this, too. It’s a workable and viable solution to much of the budget problems facing the military. But that’s not likely to happen. At least not easily. For some reason, DoD wears blinders when it comes to the Guard. Instead of tak-ing advantage of this efficient force avail-able to them, Pentagon leaders insist on shipping the bulk of their resources to the most costly force—the active component. They cannot, or will not, see the Guard for what it is. The Guard is not a “bill payer.” It isn’t an extraneous organization or a supply warehouse that can be tinkered with as the resources come and go. The Guard is a ready and able military force, one that has proven its worth to the nation in blood for 375 years, especially the past 10 years. Patriotic Americans have left their fami-lies and their civilian jobs to serve, often in dangerous parts of the world, to defend freedom and to protect lives and property. Why is all this such a hard concept for the Pentagon to grasp? Contact your senators and representative and let them know that by strengthening and growing today’s National Guard, our country will have both a strong and afford-able national defense. You can do this in any manner you choose—phone, fax, letter, personal visit or by using our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org. 12 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

Richard M. Green

WE DID IT. We put the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.<br /> <br /> And when I say “we,” I mean more than just NGAUS. The adjutants general, the governors, other associations and, of course, our friends on Capitol Hill also were part of our coalition.<br /> <br /> And we succeeded, in part, because of grassroots support, luck and all of the dominoes falling into place. Those things are necessary for any historic effort to succeed.<br /> <br /> Plus, in the end, Guard Empowerment was simply the right thing to do and this was the right time to do it, after a decade unlike any other the Guard has seen.<br /> <br /> But with this achievement now in the books, we have to move on. This is no time to rest on our laurels and ignore—even for a moment—the significant challenges ahead.<br /> <br /> In fact, some of the issues facing us now will require the same magnitude of support we just saw for the chief’s new seat.<br /> <br /> The defense budget is about to take a big hit. Details won’t be clear until the release of the president’s spending request this month, but we already know that some Guard programs are on the chopping block.<br /> <br /> At the 133rd General Conference in Milwaukee last August, our members adopted resolutions designed to increase Guard readiness and provide the quality of life our members and their families deserve.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS legislative staff will work our legislative agenda. But fiscal constraints will require us to be even more aggressive as the battle for diminished resources heats up.<br /> <br /> Our resolutions are already at risk because of pressure from many quarters to reduce defense spending. And the Pentagon usually looks to the Guard as a “bill payer” when reductions are required.<br /> <br /> Our challenge—and the challenge that faces the Guard as an institution—is to convince the president, Congress, the Defense Department and the American people that those resources are better spent on The Guard, the nation’s most cost-effective force.<br /> <br /> Our country must make a conscious decision to maintain the Guard as a fully operational, relevant and ready force for the 21st century—equipped, trained and manned to respond to contingency and domestic operations.<br /> <br /> To do this, it likely will be necessary to shift active-component manpower and missions to the force that can maintain them at a fraction of the cost. Some in Congress are already suggesting it.<br /> <br /> The Pentagon should embrace this, too.It’s a workable and viable solution to much of the budget problems facing the military.<br /> <br /> But that’s not likely to happen. At least not easily.<br /> <br /> For some reason, DoD wears blinders when it comes to the Guard. Instead of taking advantage of this efficient force available to them, Pentagon leaders insist on shipping the bulk of their resources to the most costly force—the active component.<br /> <br /> They cannot, or will not, see the Guard for what it is.<br /> <br /> The Guard is not a “bill payer.” It isn’t an extraneous organization or a supply warehouse that can be tinkered with as the resources come and go.<br /> <br /> The Guard is a ready and able military force, one that has proven its worth to the nation in blood for 375 years, especially the past 10 years.<br /> <br /> Patriotic Americans have left their families and their civilian jobs to serve, often in dangerous parts of the world, to defend freedom and to protect lives and property.<br /> <br /> Why is all this such a hard concept for the Pentagon to grasp?<br /> <br /> Contact your senators and representative and let them know that by strengthening and growing today’s National Guard, our country will have both a strong and affordable national defense.<br /> <br /> You can do this in any manner you choose—phone, fax, letter, personal visit or by using our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> Doctors Face Reimbursement Cut For Treating TRICARE Patients<br /> <br /> Doctors who treat Medicare and TRICARE patients face a 27.4 percent reduction in their reimbursement for the care if Congress doesn’t take action by next month.<br /> <br /> When Congress and the president agreed in December to extend for two months the payroll tax decrease, they also delayed for that amount of time the reimbursement cut.<br /> <br /> This is about the 12th time Congress has delayed a cut in TRICARE and Medicare reimbursement for doctors who see those patients. NGAUS has long supported a permanent fix to the problem.<br /> <br /> Pete Duffy, the NGAUS deputy legislative director, said, “The uncertainty arising from the succession of short-term fixes does not serve either the citizenry or the physician population serving them.”<br /> <br /> In 1997, Congress tried to rein in spending on Medicare by creating the sustainable growth-rate formula that tied Medicare— and TRICARE—costs to the nation’s economic growth. But Medicare costs ballooned beyond any predictions and the reimbursement rates under the formula would have caused doctors to forego seeing Medicare and TRICARE patients.<br /> <br /> Congress since then has passed temporary fix after temporary fix to prevent physicians from abandoning Medicare or TRICARE patients.<br /> <br /> According to the American Medical Association, nearly a third of primary-care physicians already limit the number of Medicare patients they treat. Without a permanent fix, the AMA expects that number to rise.<br /> <br /> Review to Assess Impact, Final Cost Of Expansion of Space-A Travel<br /> <br /> Congress wants an assessment of how the space-available travel program would be affected if it is expanded to fully include National Guardsmen and Reservists, “gray area” retirees, widows of retired members and their accompanying family members.<br /> <br /> That’s why the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law Dec. 31 did not include this benefit.<br /> <br /> Lawmakers are in a cost-cutting mood, so anything that will perhaps increase spending even a little bit is getting a good look,Including this legislation, which would have minimal cost impact if any.<br /> <br /> However, Rich Green, the NGAUS legislative director, says the issue “will continue to be a top NGAUS priority.”<br /> <br /> The legislation was introduced by Sen.Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who is expected to continue to push to provide this benefit to the Guard and Reserve.<br /> <br /> Legislation Defining Veteran Status Passed House, Awaits Senate Vote<br /> <br /> The last year ended with many people who served honorably in uniform still officially unable to call themselves veterans.<br /> <br /> Legislation that would change that did not make it out of the Senate after passing in the House in October. It is still pending and we expect it to be addressed.<br /> <br /> The bill would grant legal veteran status to those members of the reserve component who receive retirement pay, but were never on Title 10 active duty. This would include members who flew in Operation Noble Eagle or served on the border with Mexico, but did so in Title 32 status.<br /> <br /> This legislation would cost nothing and NGAUS is fully prepared to push for it to become law.<br /> <br /> NGAUS Backs Senator’s Effort To Honor Bataan March Veterans<br /> <br /> Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has introduced legislation to honor with the Congressional Gold Medal the veterans who defended Bataan in the early days of World War II.<br /> <br /> That includes men of the 20th Coast Artillery Regiment, a Guard unit from his state.Another Guard unit involved was the 194th Tank Battalion made up of Guardsmen from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.<br /> <br /> After Bataan fell to the Japanese, the survivors endured 40 months of brutality at the hands of their captors, including the infamous Bataan Death March in April 1942.<br /> <br /> NGAUS supports the legislation, which also has the backing of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.<br /> <br /> Other recipients from World War II of the Congressional Gold Medal are the Navajo Code talkers, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Women Air Force Service pilots.

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