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ReserveVoice: November 15, 2015

Honoring Vietnam Veterans

The Chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, will host a Vietnam Commemoration event open to the public on November 18 at 9:30 AM at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.  The event will include a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States; and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.
0930-1015 –  Vietnam Commemoration Ceremony
1015-1030 –  Movement to Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Women’s Memorial
1030-1200 – Visit Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Women’s Memorial
1200-1215 –  Return to Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery
1215-1300 –  Reception

Legislative Update

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

The president vetoed the NDAA on 22 October at which time it was sent back to Congress.  The intent at that time was for Congress to complete a veto override vote but that was put on hold when a Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was passed. 

Congress then reduced the National Defense Authorization Act by $5 billion to meet the new discretionary spending limits.  The revised budget authority for 2016 in the security category of $548,091,000,000 and the nonsecurity category of $518,491,000,000 meant the military services had to identify where they would absorb additional cuts.  For example, Army Readiness was reduced by $250 million and Air National Guard Readiness was reduced by $192 million.

The House and Senate have both passed the new NDAA, S. 1356 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 and it now goes to the president for signature.  The revised budget and subsequently updated NDAA removed two of the three reasons the president vetoed the NDAA last month:  sequestration and budget.  The third issue, closing of Guantanamo Bay, remains in the NDAA and could cause S. 1356 to be vetoed by the president.  Unlike the last NDAA, the White House has not made any statements saying they will veto this version. 

Guantanamo Bay Closure

At the 9 November White House press event, Carol Lee, with The Wall Street Journal, asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, about the closure of Guantanamo Bay. 

Q  I wanted to follow on the Gitmo plan.  Is the plan for the president to send it to the Hill this week?  Is that what you said?

MR. EARNEST:  I wouldn’t put at timeframe on it.  This is something that obviously we’ve been working on for quite some time, and I know we talked about this even over the summer.  So there’s a lot of work that’s gone into this.  And as I mentioned, the Department of Defense personnel have visited locations in Kansas and in South Carolina and Colorado, so there’s been some legwork on this project that’s been visible; there’s also been some other work that’s been done that hasn’t been visible yet.  But when we put a plan forward, which hopefully will be relatively soon, we won’t just make it public to members of Congress, we’ll make it public so that all of you will have an opportunity to take a look at it as well.

Q  Is there any concern that it’s too late because the NDAA has advanced already?

MR. EARNEST:  No, there’s not concern that it’s too late. I think the sense is, is that we’re going to need some cooperation from Congress in order to advance this priority.  And that would be true whether or not the NDAA had passed or not.  So no, it’s not too late.  

Q  But is the goal to influence the NDAA that sets policy for 2016?  Because that’s the one that’s already passed in the House and is going to be taken up to the Senate.

MR. EARNEST:  If it has that effect, then we’ll take it.  But it’s not necessary at this point.

Q  So will the president be open to having the outlines of his plan set for policy in 2017, meaning that -- would he be satisfied with Guantanamo being on the track to close once he leaves office?  Or his goal to have it completely closed?

MR. EARNEST:  His goal is to have it closed on his watch as he promised.  That’s been our goal since I think the president’s second full day in office.  It continues to be our goal today.  The truth is, this is a goal we would have accomplished some time ago had Congress not gotten in the way.  And the president is determined to make as much progress on this as he can, and his goal continues to be to close it before he leaves office.

Note:  The White House is currently seeking the viability of using executive action to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

ROA Speaks at Senate Press Conference

Senator Jeff Merkley, (OR, at podium in photo) held a press conference Tuesday on his “Docs-to-Doctors” Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act that provides real solutions that would reduce healthcare wait times for veterans. The bill would remove bureaucratic obstacles to make it easier to hire clinicians leaving military service as well as members of the RC. The bill would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs with a pool of trained military medical staff who can increase the ability of the VA to recruit veterans.  Veterans and RC members would be treated as applicants from within VA to quicken hiring. There is nothing more powerful than allowing veterans to take care of veterans. ROA was the only military organization invited to speak.  ROA’s executive director, Jeff Phillips (at right in photo), expressed ROA’s appreciation for the bill.  He cited its inclusion of Guard and Reserve members, providing them the opportunity to work for VA. (The inclusion of RC members came from suggestions made by ROA.)  Reservists can in turn take that experience to the field when they perform Reserve duty. This is a win-win situation for Guard and Reserve members and veterans. Senator Tillis (NC, left in photo), Senator Warner (VA, center) and Senator Rounds (SD, right), also spoke in bi-partisan support of the bill, which will soon have a companion bill in the House.

Army Update

Vietnam War Commemoration

The Army Reserve will honor Vietnam War veterans on 18 November 2015 during their annual Vietnam War Commemoration. The annual event will honor service members held as prisoners of war, or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans. This year marks 50 years from 1965 when President Johnson authorized the Army to send 20,000 support troops to establish a supply network that had to be built from the ground up.

Senior Leaders Briefing

The senior leaders of the Army periodically invite representatives of key Military Support Organization/ Veterans Support Organizations (MSO/VSO) to the Pentagon from an in-depth day of briefings on key issues. ROA is among the invitees. On 12 November, the new Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley hosted the group; other speakers included the G1; G 3/5/7; and the Director of the Army budget.  
General Milley emphasized that his three top priorities were: Readiness, the Future of the Force; and the Troops (this also includes the well-being of families).
The budget was key to readiness and he outlined the continuing decrease in personnel in the Total Army with AC dropping from 490,000 currently to 450,000 by the end of FY17. The ARNG decreases from 350,000 to 335,000 and the USAR from 198,000 to 195,000.  Earlier, the G3/5/7 had recounted that we now have over 190,000 soldiers serving in 140 locations around the world and that the optempo was very high forcing a 1 to 1 ratio in mobilization/dwell time for the AC -- an unsustainable tempo that was stressing the force.

 General Milley also presented an extensive discussion explaining his perspective that Russia was our number one threat due to both its nuclear and enhanced conventional capabilities.  General Milley also expressed his interest in receiving direct input to him from the group on issues and solutions in areas of interest to us.
Hanging over all discussions were the DoD and Army budgets.  Final details will emerge with the passage of the either the DoD appropriations bill or an omnibus appropriation bill in December that will track from the Bi Partisan Budget Agreement recently agreed to by the president and Congress and the NDAA16 also recently passed by Congress (technically, due to a a processing glitch, it will be repassed by the House next week)  and awaiting the President's signature.  DoD, and the Army, did get substantial relief from the sequestration threat, but the final discretionary budget for DoD will fall about $5 billion short of the president's request.  It is a combination of base budget increases and OCO spending (not subject to the sequestration) that totals about $580 billion.  The Army share will be about $126 billion including OCO funding.  The Army receives about 25% of the overall DoD budget with the Navy receiving 29% and the Air Force 28%, with the remaining roughly 17% spent DoD-wide.  Workforce cost -- civilian and military -- consume 55% of the budget, a percentage amount that has steadily climbed over recent years.  
Some very good news came relative to new systems (the Integrated Pay and Personnel System or IPPS-A) that the Army has developed to integrate all three components as never before.  Also, initiatives such as the Soldier for Life program and the Not In My Squad initiative are having a positive impact on the Force and changing the Army culture for the better.  It was also reported that veterans unemployment -- something ROA has been actively engaged in for years -- has dropped to a new record low -- 3.9!

Navy Update

C-40A Demonstration

Boeing recently hosted a C-40A demonstration that was attended by Susan Lukas, ROA’s Legislative Director because the aircraft is a priority for the U.S. Naval Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve forces.
  • According to the Navy, “The U.S. Naval Reserve which operates and maintains the aircraft is the first customer for the newest member of the Boeing Next-Generation 737 family. The Clipper was ordered by the Navy to replace its fleet of aging C-9 Skytrains.
  • The C-40A is the first new logistics aircraft in 17 years to join the Naval Reserve. Currently, the Naval Reserve provides 100 percent of the Navy's worldwide in-theater medium and heavy airlift.
  • The Clipper meets or exceeds international noise and environmental requirements. It is also more fuel-efficient and offers increased range and payload capabilities. The 737-700C based aircraft is certified to operate in an all-passenger (121 passengers), all-cargo or combination ("combi") configuration that will accommodate up to three cargo pallets and 70 passengers on the main deck.”
The Navy has purchased C-40A airplanes to Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, NAS Jacksonville Florida and NAS North Island California.  Service specific equipment requirements will be included in ROA’s Fiscal Year 2016 Legislative Agenda currently being established.

Air Force Update

A-10 Support

At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Revisiting the Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces, Senator Joni Ernst (IA) reiterated her support of the A-10 and her opposition to the Air Force divesting this much needed close air support airplane.  A witness, Bryan McGrath, Deputy Director, The Center for American Seapower, The Hudson Institute, suggested the Army should trade air defense from the Army to the Air Force; in return the USAF would give them the A-10s.  A video of the hearing is available on and Senator Ernst’s remarks can be located at the 1:25:55 point on the video timeline.  ROA submitted a statement to this hearing on Guard and Reserve roles and missions.  In an October hearing on the A-10, according to the Air Force Times, “Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said she’s concerned the plane might not live up to the capabilities of dedicated CAS platforms like the [A-10] Warthog.

‘I am concerned that this airplane is replacing all of our legacy fighters — the whole jack of all trades, master of none’, said McSally, a retired colonel [pictured in Air Force photo above with A-10] who served 26 years in the Air Force and was the first female pilot to fly in combat.”

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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

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. 15095 Military Voting in 2016
  • No. 15096 Thou Shalt Not Politick while on Active Duty
  • No. 15097 As an Employer, New York City Mistreats Marine Corps Reserve Officer
  • No. 15098 SSGT Baldo Bello’s USERRA Lawsuit against the Village of Skokie
  • No. 15099 Under USERRA, the Employer Can Be Required To Pay the Prevailing Service Member’s Attorney Fees and Costs, but under no Circumstances Can the Service Member Be Required To Pay the Employer’s Fees and Costs
Visit the Service Members Law Center
Reserve Voice is a monthly bulletin produced 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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