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ReserveVoice: January 15, 2017

Legislative Update

115th Congress

On January 3, 2017, Congressional members were sworn in for the 115th Congressional session.  In honor of that event, ROA hosted a 115th Congress Military Veteran Welcome Reception.  Among attendees were Rep. Don Bacon, R-NE-2 (Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret.); Rep. Jim Banks, R-IN-03 (Lieutenant, USNR); Rep. Jack Bergman, R-MI-01 (Lt. Gen., USMC, Ret.); Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-WI-08 (Capt., USMC); Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-KY-02 (Capt., USA/USAR); and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-MT-At Large, (Comdr., USN, nominee for Interior Secretary). We thank our co-host, Bramer Group, and sponsors John Paul Jones Consulting, Kongsberg Protech Systems, Lockheed Martin, Nobles Worldwide, Orbital ATK, Battlefield to Boardroom, Capitol Media Partners, DB Capitol Strategies, Defend our Nation PAC, Four Roses Bourbon, National Defense PAC, Travis Manion Foundation, and Corro Nobil Associates.

Congressional Committee Chair and Ranking Members

Thornberry Releases HASC Subcommittee Chairs
for 115TH Congress

WASHINGTON, Jan 11, 2017 - Rep. Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced the Members who will lead the committee’s subcommittees in the 115th Congress.  
In making this announcement, Thornberry commented, “Our country faces an increasingly dangerous and complex world.  We have a lot to do to strengthen our military, support the men and women who serve, and help all Americans be safer and more secure.  This Committee has a special responsibility to lead those efforts, and I am confident our team has the expertise and commitment to be successful.”
  • Readiness: Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina
  • Tactical Air & Land Forces: Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio
  • Strategic Forces: Rep. Mike Rogers, Alabama
  • Seapower & Projection Forces: Rep. Rob Wittman, Virginia
  • Military Personnel: Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado
  • Oversight & Investigations: Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri
  • Emerging Threats & Capabilities: Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York

President-Elect Trump’s Cabinet

Congress is wasting no time holding nomination hearings for President-Elect Trump’s cabinet.  Nominations fall under the purview of the Senate Armed Services Committee and they state, The Armed Services Committee considers approximately 50,000 nominations each year for civilian and military officials in the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.”  Nomination hearings can be viewed on the U.S. Senate floor website.  Authority for nominations to be completed by the Senate and not the House is based on the Constitution, Article II, section 2, clause 2.
As this Reserve Voice was “going to press,” the announcement was made of Dr. David Shulkin as President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin is now VA’s Under Secretary of Health; he has forged a good reputation and is seen favorably by many in the veterans’ community on a bipartisan basis.  ROA will quickly move to establish positive and constructive relations with the secretary – presuming his confirmation -- and his team.

Potential USERRA Changes Discussed

In December, ROA and outgoing Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Veterans’ Employment & Training Service Michael Michaud met at ROA to discuss potential changes to USERRA that would benefit reservists.  Assistant Secretary Michaud has already gotten back to us and indicated they will move forward with some of our suggestions.  Assistant Secretary Michaud, former ranking member in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, felt that ROA’s suggestions had such merit, he wanted to get movement going before his departure. More to follow!

In Newest Victory, Vets Can Shop the PX Online

ROA has been actively involved with opening the Exchange system to veterans, speaking on several occasions with senior DoD officials, including Peter K. Levine, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, urging him to open the PX to vets online. Looks like we have another victory! > READ MORE

Army Update

Pentagon Concludes Most California National Guardsmen Will Not Have to Pay Bonuses

The Pentagon declared 15,000 California National Guardsmen who were improperly given bonuses and other financial incentives between 2004 and 2010 would not have to repay them. The Pentagon had been reviewing 17,500 Guardsmen out of which 1,400 were ordered to begin repaying the bonuses they had received. The other 16,000 soldiers were notified of their debt, but were not forced to begin repaying it.
Although 1,400 Guardsmen have begun repaying their bonuses, the Pentagon indicated that nearly half of them will probably have their payment requirements reimbursed and their credit will also be restored. The remaining 1,000 Guardsmen will likely have to present their cases before an Army Corrections Board to prove there was no fraud and the Guardsmen completed the terms of service as part of receiving their bonus.

Army Reserve Partnership to Help Poor Near Mexican Border

The Army Reserve is using civil-military partnerships to strengthen medical and civil engineering readiness skills.  Mexico is not the only location they will partner with in the future, “The Army Reserve also is looking to duplicate the colonias agreement with schools in Arizona, New Mexico and other border states.”

Naval Services

Naval Reserve Update:

Navy Reserve Supports International Conference

Navy reservists from Buffalo, Chicago, Houston, New York, Norfolk and Washington, DC among other cities across the nation planned every aspect of an international conference for eight foreign navies.  Fleet Command explained, “Accordingly, this year’s conference focused on the sharing of knowledge, the exchange of ideas, and the development of insights among each country’s navy towards greater hemispheric solidarity.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (August 5, 2016) Navy officers representing eight countries review and sign the closing agreement to close the Specialized Inter-American Naval Conference on Naval Control of Shipping (SIANC-NCS) hosted by U.S. Fleet Forces this week. The weeklong conference is held biannually and offers an opportunity for navies of the Americas to work toward hemispheric solidarity through the exchange of ideas. This year's SIANC-NCS is themed "Exchanging Information to Strengthen Partnerships" and marks the first time the U.S. has hosted the conference in more than 12 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary A. Prill / Released)

Marine Corps Reserve Update:

Marine Meets Marine

As the 115th Congress begins, President-elect Trump’s nominations are making the rounds to Senate offices before confirmation hearings. In this photo, Senator Dan Sullivan, who is currently in the Marine Corps Reserve, meets with General Mattis.  The Senator posted on his Facebook, “It’s not every day that I get to have another Marine Corps infantry officer in my office discussing national security issues.”

Air Force Update


Dover Air Force Base recently proved that leadership can help Air Force Reservist complete degrees that will help service members in both their military and civilian careers.  After identifying individuals with 19 or fewer credits required for a Community College of the Air Force degree, Dover closed out the year with a record 109 graduates.
Master Sgt. Kuentin Smart, 46th Aerial Port Squadron, shakes hands with Col. Scott D. Durham, 512th AW commander, during the wing's Community College of the Air Force graduation ceremony, Dec. 3, 2016,

Airman Meets Airman

Recently Chief Master Sgt. Shane Smith’s brother was faced with a life-threatening condition that was unexpected because he was a young athlete in top physical shape.  In the early morning hours before dawn Shane was by his brother’s side when he went into a critical care situation that needed immediate attention to avert possible death.  CMSgt Smith explained his brother’s critical care nurse, Julimar Fuentes, “. . . quickly assessed the situation, took control and solved the problem while continuing to calm and assure me, for which I was humbly grateful.”  The next day Shane found out she was a reservist at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.  He ensured Staff Sgt. Fuentes was recognized by her chain of command.

Military Families

Former Students Sue ITT, Claim to Be Creditors in ITT Bankruptcy

Five former ITT students have sued ITT Educational Services, the parent company of ITT Technical Services and Daniel Webster College. The five students claim they and other former ITT students are creditors in ITT Educational Service’s bankruptcy. If the students win their suit, they will be entitled to portions of ITT’s assets. The ultimate aim is to have ITT repay their student loans.
The ITT students are bringing their lawsuit since ITT engaged in dubious advertising practices. For instance, they claimed their graduates were highly employed in their degree field. Later on, this was found out to be fudged and they often marked people who were employed in lower-skilled areas like fast-food service as gainfully employed in their degree career field.
Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School filed on behalf of the ITT students and the Veterans Education Success organization has been helping veterans who were ITT students fill out and file their "proof of claim" forms.
If an ITT veteran wants help with their proof of claim form, they can fill out this link at VES and they will help them free of charge. Or they can email Help@VeteransEducationSuccess.Org

Employment Resources for Veterans and their Families

The veteran unemployment has decreased in recent years dropping from 4.7% to 4.1% between 2014 to 2016. However, veteran labor participation rates have dropped slightly, which might mean the unemployment is not fully capturing veterans looking for work. For veterans and their families seeking work, there are several resources available for them.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has several employment resources available for veterans and their families. DOL has the Veteran Employment Training Service (VETS), which helps locate jobs and train veterans and their families. This is an easy to use state-by-state breakdown to locate resources available in one’s home state.
The Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense program aimed at helping resolve any conflicts that may arise between employers and their Guard and Reserve employees. Volunteers support the ESGR’s mission. There are over 4,500 volunteers spread out across the country providing consultation and support services for Reserve Component members.
Here are several linked resources for Guard and Reserve members and their families:
ESGR volunteer contact info state by state
National Governor’s Association report on Guard and Reserve resources by state
DOL’s service locator including American Job Centers

Did you know that TRICARE offers free publications that explain your TRICARE benefit? Check out the new publications at


USS Waldron DD-699

April 27-May 1, 2017,
Doubletree by Hilton at the Houston Hobby Airport
8181 Airport Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77061
Contact: Ron Wells,  Phone: 512-282-4507

U.S.S. Lawrence Association (DDG-4 & DD-250)

May 2-7, 2017 Website:
Doubletree by Hilton, Jacksonville Riverfront
1201 Riverplace Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32207
Hotel: 904-398-8800
Contact Craig Bernat, Phone: 814-322-4150

U.S.S. Carpenter DD 825 Reunion

May 18-22, 2017
891 So. Walnut, #205, Nashville, Tenn.
Contact: Jimmie Kennedy

U.S.S. Yellowstone (AD-27) Association Reunion

August 23-27, 2017
Hilton Gardens, Columbus , Ga.
Contact: Paul W. Bowen, Secretary/Treasurer & Reunion Planner
Cell: 352-208-5400  Email:

U.S.S. Randolph/CV-CVA-CVS 15

September 17-24, 2017
2008 Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront
668 West Fifth St., Covington, KY 41011
Contact Sal Rizza,  321-454-2344

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society Biennial Convention

September 24-28, 2017,
Dallas, Texas,
Contact: Bruce Huffman, Phone: 518-578-7089,

Law Reviews:

Legal analysis on the issues impacting your life in and out of uniform

Former Service Member’s Law Center director, retired USNR Capt. Sam Wright, provides periodic law review updates.  Please see ROA’s Law Center webpage for more information on service members’ law.
  • No. 17001 Use of Rental Vehicle while on Federal Travel—Who Is Liable
  • No. 17002 USERRA and the Military Personnel Officer
Visit the Service Members Law Center
Reserve Voice is published on the 15th and 30th of each month by the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, the nation’s leading advocate for Reserve Component policy and resourcing, and support of RC service members and their families.

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