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ReserveVoice: February 29, 2016

Legislative Update

President’s 2017 Budget


The Department of Defense released the above slide when they delivered the budget to Congress on 9 February 2016.  It conveys a positive approach to the budget, but once you start looking into the details things are not quite so rosy.  Since the advent of annual pay military raises in the Kennedy administration, the raises from 2011 to the present are historically low.

DoD has proposed changes to the Blended Retirement System that include delaying the start of matching contributions to the fifth year of service instead of the second year of service.  That shortens the period available to build up funds and achieve the full magic of compounded interest.  In other words if you retire after 20 years of service, rather than have matching contributions for 18 years you would only have matching contributions for 15 years.

DoD says this would fund the matching contributions they are extending from year 27 to year 30 or more.  Sounds good, right?  Wrong!  It means you will have 40 or so fewer years of (compounded) earnings on the matching contributions that would have occurred from years 3, 4, and 5.  If they put the matching contribution at the end of your career you have significantly reduced your TSP earning years and only the 17 percent of the force that retires gets those matching contributions which begin from the 27th year until you retire. 

It’s bad enough that DoD isn’t telling us the truth about the changes it wants in blended retirement – the administration’s proposed walk-back of its commitments on the “blended retirement” agreement are a breach of faith.  (It is an eternal risk that federal bureaucrats at all levels will rig the game, which is no reason to oppose fundamentally good reforms – the price is vigilance.)  It’s insulting the administration is trying to pull this bait-and-switch just months after the president signed it into law. 

In developing their position on blended retirement, DoD staff has had plenty of time, expertise, and access to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.  They have no excuse; there is no justification for a “Well, on second thought” moment by this outfit.  Congress should squash this double-dealing like a bug.

Here are some examples that explain the impact on your earnings between the current Blended Retirement and the DoD proposed changes.

Example Current Blended Retirement:  Contributions would begin at the 3rd year of service but would stop at the 26th year for those individuals staying in for retirement.
 

100 PERCENT OF THE FORCE – Everyone who joins the service

  Enlistment Age Ages for Matching Contributions Years of Service for Matching Contributions Age for Drawing TSP Period of Time for
TSP Earnings
Enlisted 18 21, 22, 23 3-5 YOS 70 49-47 years
Officer 22 25, 26, 27 3-5 YOS 70 45-48 years
 
Example DoD Proposed Changes to Blended Retirement: Contributions would be delayed until the 27h year of service and only those individuals staying in for retirement would see contributions extended after serving 26 years or more of service.
 

17 PERCENT OF THE FORCE – Everyone who stays to retirement

  Enlistment Age Ages for Matching Contributions Years of Service for Matching Contributions Age for Drawing TSP Period of Time for
TSP Earnings
Enlisted 18 45-48 27-30 YOS 70 25-22 years
Officer 22 49-52 27-30 YOS 70 21-18 years
 
BOTTOM LINE:  83 percent of the force loses the opportunity to receive matching contributions and let their money increase over a 45-49 year time span. 

The stock market is not guaranteed to go up every year; in fact it never has. Investing always carries risks (and we aren’t attempting to give investing advice).  Years or periods of years will occur when the market is down, and a given investment portfolio loses value.  However, with regular investments “buying the market” whether it’s up or down, during a down market your contributions will buy more stocks -- which increases your portfolio.  When the stock market goes up you have more stocks in that movement. That’s why investing over the long term has been shown to work.

In the next ReserveVoice we will discuss DoD’s proposed reform to TRICARE for fiscal year 2017.  In the meantime, here are some changes they are making in fiscal year 2016.
 

TRICARE Dental

Last Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, the Defense Department announced the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) contract award was presented to United Concordia Companies, Inc. (UCCI), of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, http://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/646622
 
Some highlights of what DHA required in the new contract include:
  • Increase the Annual Maximum from $1,300 to $1,500;
  • Removal of cost-shares for Dental Sealants – Elimination of the current 20 percent cost-share for dental sealants will allow more beneficiaries to receive this effective preventive procedure that significantly reduces dental cavities and will improve their oral health;
  • Revision of nonparticipating provider reimbursement rate –  Elimination of the 50th percentile of the prevailing charges requirement affords the Government and enrollees significant cost savings through lower provider reimbursement costs by the contractor.  These cost savings are passed on in the form of lower premiums for all enrolled beneficiaries.  The Department also anticipates the proposed change will increase the number of participating network providers; and
  • Lower auto-enrollment to age one.  Current auto-enrollment is at age four.
 DoD will provide more information which ROA will share on any changes to TRICARE Dental after they transition from the current contract to the new contract.
 

TRICARE revisions to mental health and substance use disorder coverage

This week, the Federal Register published proposed revisions to TRICARE coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatment.  You can view the proposed rule here:
 https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-01703.pdf
 
The 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule began yesterday. Your feedback can change the level of coverage for our beneficiaries.  Please take advantage of this opportunity to weigh in.

ROA fighting for “Veterans who aren’t”

Last week in The Hill newspaper's Congress Blog, ROA’s executive director, Jeff Phillips, in “The veterans who aren’t,” addressed the association’s proposed legislation to provide equity to retirees of the Guard and Reserve – our “Reserve Components” -- for federal hiring preference once they accumulate 180 cumulative days of active duty service. Currently the law requires 180 or more consecutive days, which is difficult for many members of the Guard and Reserve to obtain.

The ROA proposal differs substantively from proposed legislation that initially failed in the National Defense Authorization Act, which would only award "honorary" (the word used by its originators) veteran status without benefits. (ROA appreciated and supported the efforts of those involved in this bill, the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, HR 1384, and the Senate’s language in S 1203; our proposal is not in competition with these initiatives.) These bills would have only affected members of the Guard and Reserve who retire with at least 20 years of service. They would have done nothing for the 80-plus percent of reservists who serve honorably but don’t retire, most of them enlisted men and women.

Members of the Guard and Reserve deserve better. So does the nation that needs them in public service. ROA thinks Congress would agree.

Guard and Reserve members perform duty side-by-side with their active component counterparts; they customarily do so, however, for periods shorter than 180 days. Thus it’s tough for them to cross the threshold necessary to gain veteran status for hiring preference. The ROA op-ed’s story of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Bonnie Carroll, a retired member of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve with more than three decades in uniform, tells the story. Bonnie never got 180 days of consecutive active duty. She is not a veteran under that statute.

The associated post on ROA’s Facebook page has so far reached more than 11,000 viewers.
ROA’s proposal would:
-- Confer veteran status on 100 percent of RC members who qualify, and not just the 17 percent who retire.

-- Make it easier for young, high-quality men and women who have served their nation in uniform to serve it in government.

-- Tackle homelessness among the Guard and Reserve, which typically have higher unemployment rates, by increasing opportunities for employment.

-- Not create an expensive benefit.

Providing employment opportunities – and basic equity -- for those who serve our nation as “twice-the citizen” in the Guard and Reserve is an ROA priority. Join with us as we ensure that young Americans who volunteer for the call to duty in harm’s way, are in turn called . . . American veterans.

Army Update

2016 Defense Education Forum inaugural seminar:
Impact of the National Commission on the Future of the Army on the Army's Reserve Components


ROA in partnership with NGAUS and Reserve Forces Policy Board will host a Defense Education Forum seminar March 8 at ROA’s Minuteman Memorial headquarters building, 1 Constitution Avenue NE, entitled “The Impact of the National Commission on the Future of the Army on the Army's Reserve Components.” The DEF will run from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and feature two NCFA commissioners and two senior commission staff members, the Director of the Army Guard, and the Deputy Commander of the US Army Reserve.  Distinguished national security commentator Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution will kick off the program with a video presentation of his analysis of the report.  Light refreshments; admission free of charge.

The U.S. Army Field Band 2016 Spring Concert Tour

 
Our Mission
"Army Bands provide music throughout the spectrum of military operations to instill in our soldiers the will to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote our national interests at home and abroad."
 

CONCERT BAND & SOLDIERS' CHORUS

The Concert Band is the oldest and largest of the Field Band's four performing components. This elite 65-member instrumental ensemble, founded in 1946, has performed in all 50 states and 25 foreign countries for audiences totaling more than 100 million.
 
The group appears in a wide variety of settings, from world-famous concert halls, such as the Berlin Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, to state fairgrounds and high school gymnasiums. The organization has also performed joint concerts with many of the nation's leading orchestras, including the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
 

JAZZ AMBASSADORS

The Jazz Ambassadors-America's Big Band is the official touring big band of the United States Army. This 19-member ensemble, formed in 1969, has received great acclaim both at home and abroad performing America's original art form, jazz.
 
Custom compositions and arrangements highlight the group's creative talent and gifted soloists. Their diverse repertoire includes big band swing, bebop, Latin, contemporary jazz, standards, popular tunes, Dixieland, vocals, and patriotic selections. The band has appeared in all fifty states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and throughout Europe. The band has also been featured in unique joint concerts with major orchestras, including the Detroit and Baltimore symphonies.
 
The 2016 tour schedule is available here as a pdf and on their website at http://www.music.army.mil/performances/
 
The U.S. Army Field Band's concerts are free and open to the public; however, tickets are required. Your staff may contact Sergeant Major David Bullman to make arrangements for your participation, or for tickets. Sergeant Major Bullman can be reached at (301) 677-5237, or via email at david.l.bullman.mil@mail.mil.

Navy Update

EOD Marines Teach CLB-2 Marines About IEDs in Preparation for a Deployment:  When we hear about IEDs we think about Iraq or Afghanistan but there are other parts of the world the Guard and Reserve support that also require this special training.  Recently Marine Reservists had IED training in preparation for their deployment to Africa.  According to an article by Frank G. Rando, “The death toll consisting of well over 118 individuals in the aftermath of a dual terrorist bombing in the central Nigeria city of Jos is just a prime example of widespread use of IEDs in the West African region. Suicide bombings, vehicle-borne-improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), and stationary IEDs have become commonplace in Africa.”
 

Air Force Update


Reserve Airmen assist, rescue helicopter crash victimsA recent helicopter crash in Hawaii was the startling scene that unfolded in front of tourists touring Pearl Harbor.  That group included Reserve Airmen who sprang into action to assist the crash victims.

Coast Guard Update

The Coast Guard Reserve recently celebrated their 75th Anniversary and RADM Hinrichs, recognition of that event is presented in its entirety rather than diminish the message with a summary:

SUBJ: SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE COAST GUARD RESERVE
1. Today, 19 February 2016, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Coast Guard Reserve.  Since its establishment during World War II when ninety percent of the 214,000 Coast Guard personnel serving on active duty were reservists, the Coast Guard Reserve has been vital to our ability to meet surge and contingency operations while simultaneously excelling in steady state missions.  The nation is well served by the reliable and proficient capability the Reserve component provides.
2. In recent times, our Reserve members' commitment to train, augment, and attain competencies, coupled with frequent mobilizations at home and abroad, has afforded our Coast Guard a highly skilled and adaptable workforce.  As we move forward to meet demands in the Arctic region and energy sector, and tackle emerging threats in cyber and the Western Hemisphere, this trained force will continue to be integral to the Coast Guard's successful mission execution and effective maritime governance.
3. In recognition of the outstanding contributions and commitment of our Reserve family, I encourage you to join me and Coast Guard Reserve Force Master Chief Eric Johnson in expressing a well-deserved "Bravo Zulu" for the important and valuable role members of the Coast Guard Reserve provide each and every day.
4. Join the 75th Reserve Anniversary celebration by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #USCGR75 and visit our anniversary website at HTTP://RESERVE.USCG.MIL/THANKYOU.
5. Semper Paratus.
6. RADM Kurt B. Hinrichs, Director of Reserve and Military Personnel, sends.

NOAA

NOAA satellites helped save 250 lives in 2015:  Who knew that weather satellites were used to save lives!  That is exactly what happened to an Air Force pilot last November and others who were fortunate enough to be tracked up by NOAA’s satellites.

When you watch your local newscaster present the weather forecast, and they show an image of weather over the whole United States, you are seeing imagery from NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, or GOES.  GOES orbit 35,800 km (22,300 miles) above Earth's equator at speeds equal to Earth's rotation, which means they maintain their positions. GOES provide constant monitoring of various areas of the planet and provide the same geographic images over time. To fully cover Alaska, Hawaii, the entire continental United States and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (for tropical storms), NOAA operates two GOES satellites simultaneously: GOES-East and GOES-West.

Department News

The North Carolina Department held its monthly luncheon meeting on February 23, 2016 at historic McKellar's Lodge on Fort Bragg / Pope Army Airfield.  We welcomed new NCO members SFC (ret) Karl Whitby (USAR) & Master Sergeant Jeff Brown (USAFR/440th Air Wing).  Our guest speaker, Mrs. Rachel Smith, discussed legal services which are available to reservists and veterans by North Carolina Legal Aid volunteers.

(left to right): SFC (Ret.) Karl Whitby with Mrs. Elaine Whitby;  Admiral (Ret.) Paul Kayye with Mrs. Gay Kayye. Photo courtesy of Admiral Paul Kayye

Reunions:

Outfit:


Reunion Date:
Location:
Contacts:
12th TFW (MacDill AFB and Vietnam),
12th FEW/SFW (Bergstrom AFB and Korea)
and all their supporting units

April 20-24, 2016
Charleston, SC
E.J. Sherwood  ej12tfw@cox.net or 480-396-4681
The USS Ticonderoga (CV/CVA/CVS-14, CG-47) reunion will be in Las Vegas, NV, May 19-23, 2016, at the Gold Coast Hotel.

Contact: Floyd Frank: (702) 361-6660 or papacva14@aol.com
U.S.S. Wilhoite (DE/DER-397)
September 12-15, 2016
Crowne Plaza at the Airport
2829 Williams Boulevard, New Orleans, LA
Website: www.usswilhoite.org
Contact: Elisabeth Kimball
236 Linker Mountain Road, Dover, AR 72837
479-968-1236/479-280-2776
canerday@centurytel.net
The biannual reunion of the USS Turner Joy, DD-951, will take place 21-25 September 2016 at the Holiday Inn Virginia Beach-Norfolk Hotel & Convention Center.  The hotel is located at 5655 Greenwich Road, Virginia Beach, Va. 23462
Details and registration information can be obtained at the USS Turner Joy website: http://www.ussturnerjoy.com
 

 
Richard D. Haight
USS Turner Joy DD-951
Reunion Coordinator
12359 Cold Stream Guard Ct.
Bristow, Va. 20136
Rickh20136@verizon.net
U.S.S. John R. Craig (DD-885)
September 20-25, 2016
Holiday Inn, Nashville Airport
Nashville, Tenn.
Website: www.ussjohnrcraig.com
Contact: Jerry Chwalek
9307 Louisiana Street, Livonia, MI 48185 jermail@ameritech.net
Outfit:

Reunion Date:
Location:
Contacts:
UPT Class 67C

October 28-30, 2017
Mesa, AZ   
Contact Jerry Engles for further information: 
jengles386@gmail.com

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.
  • 16010 Agent Orange VA Claims—Don’t Forget the “Blue Water” Sailors
  • 16011 Why Do Asbestos Attorneys Advertise in Veterans’ Organization Magazines?
Visit the Service Members Law Center
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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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