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ReserveVoice: December 15, 2015

The undeclared war

 “Although vested with the sole power to declare war by Article I of the Constitution, Congress has refused a meaningful debate or vote on the war against the Islamic State. A Congress quick to criticize any executive action by the President has nevertheless encouraged him to carry out an unauthorized war.
“A debate in Congress by the people's elected representatives and a vote to authorize the most solemn act of war is how we tell our troops that what they're doing, what they're risking their lives for has purpose, has meaning, and has the support of the American people. . . . Otherwise, we're asking them to risk their lives without even bothering to discuss whether the mission is something we support. Can there be anything, anything more immoral than that – to order troops to risk their lives in support of the military mission that we're unwilling even to discuss? One year in, our servicemembers are doing their jobs but they're still waiting on us to do ours.
“ . . . The President maintains that he can conduct this war without authorization from Congress. He waited more than six months after the war started to even send Congress a draft authorization of the mission. Congressional behavior has been even more unusual. Although vested with the sole power to declare war by Article I of the Constitution, Congress has refused a meaningful debate or vote on the war against the Islamic State. A Congress quick to criticize any executive action by the President has nevertheless encouraged him to carry out an unauthorized war.
“As far as our allies, the Islamic State or our troops know -- Congress is indifferent to this war.”
While written in August, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine’s floor speech, excerpted above, expressed his disapproval of what he sees as an abandonment by the Congress and the Administration of the Constitution’s provisions for the waging of war.  It may be worth asking ourselves as a nation: with wars occurring under every presidency since Roosevelt (with the plausible exception of Jimmy Carter), why has no declaration of war occurred since that declaration of December 8, 1941?

Legislative Update

Bills that Passed in 2015

Public Law Number Bill Number and Title Date
PL 114-92 S.1356 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 11/25/2015
PL 114-75 H.R.313 - Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 11/05/2015
PL 114-74 H.R.1314 - Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 11/02/2015
PL 114-58 S.2082 - Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015 09/30/2015
PL 114-53 H.R.719 - Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016 09/30/2015
PL 114-31 H.R.91 - Veterans Identification Card Act 2015 07/20/2015
PL 114-38 H.R.2499 - Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 07/28/2015
PL 114-2 H.R.203 - Clay Hunt SAV Act 02/12/2015
A hyperlink to Public Law PL 114-92 and PL 114-74 is not available because GPO has not yet published the bill on-line.

Budget Bills

The first budget extension passed on 11 December without a bill which required Congress to pass another one until 18 December; of course the better option would have been to pass the budget but that did not happen.  Since Congress is ready to end the session so they can get home for the holidays, Washington, D.C., is collectively holding its breath that the budget will pass later this week.  The text of the bill is supposed to be released today, 15 December, and then Congressional members will get three days to review what is expected to be over 1,000 pages of legislative detail.

Army Update

The Commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, Gen. Robert Abrams, has recommended that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl receive a general court martial for the alleged desertion of his post in Afghanistan in 2009.    Bergdahl could receive punishment ranging from no confinement to life in prison.  Abrams’ decision overrules an earlier recommendation that Bergdahl’s punishment be limited to the scope of a special court martial which would entail a maximum of one year in confinement.  Bergdahl was the subject of a prisoner swap involving five Taliban leaders. 

The Army has a new acting secretary in Eric Fanning who has been nominated to replace John McHugh who retired in November after over six years as Secretary.  Fanning’s previous position was as Undersecretary of the Army.

The Army Reserve homepage is full of information relating to the USAR. I would encourage all Army members to browse it at  Among the documents I suggest you to read are the latest edition of the “U.S. Army Reserve At A Glance: Twice the Citizen” booklet which contains up-to-date and historical information about the USAR and also presents in very readable form a picture of the USAR presence in each state; “Rally Point 32.1” which outlines the Commander’s (Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley) statement of intent for the USAR; a description of the Public Private Partnership initiative of the USAR and an informative set of references, especially for family needs, in “Fort Family” of practical use to all USAR members and their families. The homepage also has newsy stories about current unit activities, the USAR Ambassador program, the leadership of the USAR and a wealth of other interesting material.

Army beat Navy 21-17 in football last weekend. Disclaimer: not all information in this update is true.

New organizational structures and nomenclature arise to meet developing needs.  Among more recent such entities are Army Reserve Engagement Cells and Teams – ARECs and ARETs.  ARECs are technical and tactical experts who provide direct staff planning support to Army Service Component Commands and Field Armies.  

ARETs are smaller elements that help integrate Army Reserve capabilities in Combatant Command and Corps-level plans across warfighting functions. These cells and teams address long term opportunities for the Army Reserve to support combatant commanders, facilitate unit and individual training and provide a reach-back conduit to CONUS based capabilities. The ARECs and ARETs support the Army’s Regionally Aligned Forces with tailored military capabilities for planned and emerging mission across the globe.     

Navy Update

Every day Guard and Reserve members support operational missions as a normal part of their military duty.  Also, military members know how important it is to take part in exercises that combine operational support.  Sometimes we need a reminder that others don’t always view what we do as a day-to-day function.  In a recent article, China did not take the same view of providing Boeing P-8 Poseidons to Singapore to get experience in that region.  A ROA legislative goal for next year will be that the Navy Reserve is funded for P-8 aircraft.  As the U.S. Navy’s air fleet transitions away from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon, it is absolutely critical for Congress to appropriate enough funds for the Reserve fleet squadrons to invest in updating their own fleet squadrons.

Air Force Update

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off Dec. 6 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., to the International Space Station. The rocket was carrying the Cygnus resupply spacecraft with some 7,700 pounds of supplies. 920th Rescue Wing Reservists provided range clearance and safety support. (Courtesy photo/ULA)

The 920th Rescue Wing supported the space launch on 6 December which was taking supplies to the International Space Station.  ROA Legislative Director, Susan Lukas said, “I was disappointed to miss the launch by one day but it was an honor to meet the 920th reservists the night before when I was down there to brief them on legislation.   You could see how excited they were about being part of the launch.”

Member Update

ROA Legislative Director Susan Lukas provided a briefing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, on the new retirement plan, health care reform, duty status consolidation, and other pending legislation issues.  The Department of Florida President, Shane Smith, an Air Force Reserve chief master sergeant, invited ROA to shared legislative information as part of a membership drive.  Over 100 Guard and Reserve unit members attended, as well as several retirees from the area.

ROA Legislative Director Susan Lukas briefs Reservists at Patrick AFB, December 6.

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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:

Richard D. Haight
USS Turner Joy DD-951
Reunion Coordinator
12359 Cold Stream Guard Ct.
Bristow, Va. 20136

Reunion Date:
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 or 480-396-4681

Vets4Warriors Peer Support Program

Senior Leaders:  I would like to share a powerful and proven resource currently available to all of our service members, and their families/caregivers.

This 24/7 personalized peer support program has been around since December 2011.  Calls are answered within 30 seconds by a veteran. No phone trees/menus or voice mail.  This is a confidential program where trained peers are veterans. A licensed clinician is at this call center 24/7 as well.  A key to the program is helping before a crisis. This is a stigma free place where our service members can call and talk to someone who understands military life and work with them to navigate through whatever they are facing.  The peer will engage with callers no matter what they are facing and, when needed, set up follow up calls to continue their work over time.
Vets4Warriors are strong supporters of traditional and alternative healthcare choices. They do not compete or replace other others but often link service members to “just the right program, at just the right time.  I could go on and on but have to say we all know we have many members struggling and this is a well-designed program that fills a gap for us and can be a safety net. Vets4Warriors is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media which appeals to our population. 
Let’s get the word out.  Any unit or individual can request materials by going to the top right of the website and filling out the electronic form and pressing submit.  I strongly recommend you or someone on your team call and check them out for yourself.  You will find this is a resource that can make a difference in the lives of those we lead and their families.

Law Reviews:

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

While ROA regretfully eliminated the full-time position of Service Member’s Law Center director, retired USNR Capt. Sam Wright has generously agreed to provide periodic law review updates and assistance on a voluntary basis while ROA develops an alternative SMLC solution.
  • No. 15109 Amend the SCRA To Preclude Predispute Binding Arbitration Clauses
  • No. 15110 Unconstitutional for State to Tax Federal Pensions while Exempting State and Local Pensions
  • No. 15111 Congress Should Amend USERRA To Provide for Enforcement against Indian Tribes as Employers
  • No. 15112 Which Employers Are Exempt from USERRA Enforcement?
  • No. 15113 The Service Member Has a Constitutional Right to Register and Vote in the Community where He or She Is Stationed
  • No. 15114 Voting by Active Duty Service Members and Severely Disabled Veterans in Presidential Caucuses and Conventions in 2016
  • No. 15115 The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Has Moved
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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