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ReserveVoice: November 15, 2016

Legislative Update

California Bonus Repayments

ROA recently engaged with Peter Levin, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in a DoD conference call about the California National Guard bonus overpayments resulting in debt collections. ROA asked about the inevitable tax repercussions if the debt is forgiven.
For example, if a servicemember is paid a $10,000 bonus they could pay $2,500 for taxes.  When Uncle Sam comes to collect this erroneous bonus payment they collect the entire $10,000 from the individual.  That means the servicemember has now paid $12,500 out-of-pocket.  Chances are the individual will never get reimbursed the $2,500 they paid in taxes.
DoD had no answer on how they will help service members regain the taxes paid. The ROA pressed the DoD to create a partnership with the IRS to help recover taxes.  DoD said they do not know if they have the ability to do such a partnership, nor do they know the laws of the IRS.  After further discussion with ROA, Mr. Levine said they would look further into this situation and ROA will continue to advocate for all those affected.

After Elections

Congress returned from recess on November 15 before they immediately leave town on November 18 for their Thanksgiving Recess.  When they return to Washington DC after Thanksgiving they will only have 2 weeks to pass the budget before the Continuing Resolution expires on December 9, 2016.

Congressional leadership will also be making changes based on election results.  Representative Ryan was re-elected Speaker of the House with Kevin McCarthy as Majority Leader but the Democrats have delayed a vote on Representative Pelosi regaining leadership for the party.  Additionally, Defense News  noted, "House rules require the House Armed Services chairman to formally announce his or her process for filling vacancies, expected after the election."  Because the 114th Congress ends and the 115th Congress begins in January 2017, the committees can really wait until the next Congress to make leadership decisions.

Changing the Narrative and Dispelling Myths about Vets@Work

ROA's president, Jim Sweeney (R), and executive director, Jeff Phillips, give the FB thumbs up. Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters sign at 1 Hacker Way was specially adorned to mark the company's celebration of Veterans Day and its dedication to its veteran employees.

Taking advantage of Veterans Day to focus on its initiative aimed at “Changing the Narrative and Dispelling Myths about Vets@Work,” Facebook held a Veterans Day Panel at its Menlo Park headquarters in Silicon Valley Nov. 11.  On the panel with ROA’s executive director, Jeff Phillips, were Anne Meree Craig from COMMIT and Bill Rausch from Got Your 6.
The Facebook-funded panel, attended by employees -- many of them veterans themselves -- and livestreamed to Facebook’s global team of 13,000, sought to improve understanding of veterans within the company’s workforce.  The panel and the audience explored questions, myths, misperceptions, and themes ROA has found common throughout organizations, among them:
·        The current narrative around veterans in the workplace, and why does this narrative matter?
o   Great leaders, but not in line with “our approach” to leadership
o   Hard to keep busy which can lead to disengagement
o   Too reliant on and deferential to hierarchy
o   Accustomed to structure and schedules
o   Easily disappointed and frustrated
o   Emotional, overly passionate
o   Forceful leadership style; take charge attitude
o   Older than peers
·        Which of these narratives actually become strengths for veterans in the corporate world? How about the tech community in particular?
·        In what way do veterans make the most positive impact on corporate organizational climate?
·        How do we empower transitioning veterans while still providing enough physical and emotional support for their health and well-being due to service-created ailments?

Phillips had the day before addressed the workforce of the Department of Health and Human Service's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on the same topic: helping veterans succeed as they transition into the civilian workplace.  He said at its heart, it's a matter of cultures understanding each other: "Veterans, who have much to offer, must seek to be understood," he said. Correspondingly, the organization must seek to understand.  Phillips also stressed that vets must learn their new culture so they can best employ their innate strengths in teamwork, flexibility, confidence and leadership. Phillips also emphasized the importance of mentoring in the facilitation of success among vets in a new environment.
ROA is committed to helping companies transition veterans from the military to successful civilian jobs for them and their families. ROA thanks Got Your 6 for its helpful info on myths:

A Simple Tool for Understanding the Trump Presidency

We hear all the time about how the world "should" work. Self-proclaimed liberals and conservatives, Keynesians and Reaganites, humanists and hawks, globalists and nationalists have crammed the airwaves and filled our Twitter feeds with policy prescriptions, promoting their worldview while scorning others'. But after the emotionally charged year this has been, I suspect many people are growing weary of big theories and cursory character assassinations. Instead, it may be time to replace the pedantry with something more fundamental — and less divisive — in which to ground our thoughts and make sense of the world.

Rather than focusing on what should happen, perhaps we would do better to turn our attention to what will happen. And in this, geopolitics can come in handy. It is a deceptively simple tool, one that won't bury you in academic pretension or require a fancy algorithm to model. But its simplicity doesn't make it any less powerful. When you boil down the frothy mixture of ideas, personalities and emotions that have bubbled up over the past year, what is left are some fairly obvious answers on how we got to this point and, more importantly, where we are heading. Click here to continue reading…

Army Update

Fort Belvoir/Walter Reed Lead in Treatment of PTSD

For years Congress and the military have diligently addressed the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) looking for both standard and creative medical treatments to help servicemembers and their families.  Chicago anesthesiologist Dr. Eugene Lipov pioneered the procedure for PTSD about 10 years ago and tried to get the use of an injection of a local anesthetic into use by the DoD but that did not happen.  Eventually DoD because interested in the treatment when Col. Sean Mulvaney, at Fort Belvoir worked with Walter Reed National Medical Military Center where it began to be used. Studies for the “miracle” treatment are being conducted at Landstuhl, Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, are participating.

Human testing begins on Zika virus vaccine developed by the Army

The Army in the Washington DC area continues to rule in healthcare by developing a vaccine for the Zika virus that has proven to produce antibodies.  There will be four Phase 1 trials to evaluate the vaccine's safety and immune response. > READ MORE

Army National Guard Duo Wins International Sniper Contest

Sgt. Nicholas Mitchell (left) and Sgt. Saykham Keophalychanh of the Michigan Army National Guard took first place in the 2016 International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo: Michigan National Guard)

Naval Services

Navy Reserve:

100-year old LT Anna Rogovin USNR(Ret) passes away.

A former chemist who packed a lot into a century — including recovering from a horrific hit-and-run accident that left her a double amputee at 91 — Rogovin died after a brief illness Oct. 27, which also happened to be Navy Day.  She was an amazing example of the grit and tenacity that built this great nation.

Aligning Forces in 2016: US 7th Fleet Asia-Pacific Symposium

Navy Reserve Commander U.S. 7th Fleet hosted more than 100 Sailors from active, reserve and integrated commands during the 2016 Asia-Pacific Symposium at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. The symposium examined the geo-political landscape in the Asia-Pacific region with the current military environment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Marine Corps Reserve:

UPDATE: Judge Temporarily Blocks Marine’s Discharge Involving Classified Information

“[The USMC has] 10 days to show proof they didn’t retaliate against [Maj Brezler].” In the last ReserveVoice I spotlighted the concerning manner in which a USMCR officer was being kicked out of the Corps – for ‘doing the right thing’, knowingly choosing in the face of his experience with the Afghanistan bureaucracy not to ‘do things right.’  Maj Brezler saw an imminent risk to the lives of Marines and sent a classified document over an unclassified system to support his urgent warning.  The chain of command did nothing and within 2 weeks three Marines were gunned down due to their inaction.  And now, because this Marine chose to take the initiative to protect the lives of fellow Marines, he is getting run out of the Corps while the bureaucracy sidesteps culpability in the deaths of three of America’s finest.

SPMAGTF-SC continues deployment to Southern Command

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) is a deployment of Marines and sailors to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. During their deployment, SPMAGTF-SC Marines and sailors will work and train alongside their counterparts in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize and be on standby to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in case of a major disaster.

Coast Guard Reserve:

Finally – Reserve considerations to be integrated into total Force Strategic Planning Direction

 In our current environment of fiscal constraint, the resources are simply insufficient to meet even the most fundamental training requirements (see RAM Hinrich’s letter of apology for running out of Reserve Training funds).  Not to mention the operational requirements – Deepwater Horizon emptied the entire Reserve bench and the Coast Guard was perilously close to mission failure - coming up short in meeting the operational requirements.  Lasting resolution of our current challenges will require replacement of rice-bowl mindsets. 
The integration of Reserve-specific tasking and utilization guidance into the Deputy Commandant for Operations’ annual Strategic Planning Direction (SPD) is a great first step – but it is far from a cure-all.  Cautious optimism is how I recommend this initiative be approached.  This shift in the SPD (see page 28 article in The Reservist) still leaves unchanged the fundamental problem - paradigms.  Even is the SPD is clear and directive in the manner in which the Reserves should be employed, force structure is still contingent on the budget decisions of those who control the purse strings, not the operators.  I am talking about the same decision makers with the same paradigms that have brought the Reserve Component to barely 7000 members – a force size inadequate to respond to another significant crisis.  So, I am pleased to see the integration trajectory.  However, I am cautious that without a clearly stated Reserve end strength goal,  Reserve considerations will be forced out of the conversation by financial pressures and budgetary constraints.

US Public Health Service:

If our Government leaders knew what they had, they would not have to re-create the wheel
As I have been considering the current legislative season, the recent iterations of appropriation and authorization knife fights, and the seeming impossibility of ever seeing government balance resources and requirements – I got to thinking.
We have been around for two and a half centuries as a country, a brief amount of time compared to the global geo-political frame – but long enough to have been through a few iterations of adversity.  So, could it be possible that the bureaucracy has simply gotten so big that we don’t know what we have in our toolbox anymore so we just keep trying to buy new gear?
Unsparingly, this is exactly what I found in the USPHS Commissioned Corps.  Remember Ronald Klain, person appointed by the President as the Ebola Czar about a year ago?  Well, after he finished his service and the pandemic threat subsided, he reflected in “Confronting the Pandemic Threat” about all the agencies who worked together – and left out the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS. 
He also calls for a FEMA-like “Public Health Emergency Management Agency” – apparently totally ignorant of the fact that the country has that capability in hand already - the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS. 
So, I would think that maybe part of the problem we are facing is that the bureaucracy is simply not equipped for their responsibilities, or that they are uneducated, or ignorant of information they should have.
Col James Currie wrote a great article titled “If It’s Broke, Fund It: We don’t need a new public health bureaucracy. We need to fund the one that already exists. A response to Ronald Klain.” that frames it quite well.

Air Force Update

Physical Fitness

The Air Force is often the brunt of jokes from the other services on how easy their physical fitness standards are but if you have failed three times and only have one chance left to pass there is nothing funny about the threat of being discharged.  Also of note is how the other services encourage workouts as part of a duty day which can be seen on many installations when large groups of servicemembers are jogging; not a typical sight at an Air Force base.  Depending on your body type you could pass all the physical fitness requirements of running, push-ups and sit ups but still fail because you are barrel chested or carry most of you weight in your hips.  These two weight examples would cause your Body Fat Percent to be high which would lower your Composite Score to the 75 or below unsatisfactory range.
Could you meet the Air Force physical fitness requirements in AFI 36-2905, Attachment 10?

Military Families

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. 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:

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. 16113 Reflections on 40 Years as a Lawyer
  • No. 16114 USERRA Rights of Discharged Major Who Has Been Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and Returned to Active Duty Retroactively by the Board for Correction of Military Records
  • No. 16115 DOJ Announces New Effort To Enforce USERRA and SCRA
  • No. 16116 New Federal Employee Should Make Deposit for Previous Active Duty
  • No. 16117 Reservists Called to Active Duty under 10 U.S.C. 12304b Are Not Eligible for Differential Pay as Federal Civilian Employees
  • No. 16118 The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB)—First you Must Apply for a Regular Absentee Ballot before you Can Submit a Completed FWAB
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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