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ReserveVoice: May 29, 2015

ROA Goes to White House, Again

The White House is finalizing the President’s position on the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission findings and ROA was asked to brief their National Defense team and several veteran and military service organizations. We spoke about how the military is changing and that this is something that tends to occur as each military era passes. Each call for change shows how the different generations have different needs. In this case the President’s team is considering big changes in the retirement annuity and health care delivery and each group represented was able to add their point of view. We closed asking the Executive Branch to work with the veteran and military service organizations as the MCRMC recommendations go forward into the legislative process. Specifically we asked support for the following tax provisions to encourage 401K contributions:
  • Provide a tax shelter for the 3 percent 401K contribution from E-1s - E-4s so they have no change in their net pay; this encourages contributions.
  • Provide an increase to the tax contribution levels for 401K above the $18,000 cap currently in place or completely exclude military 401K contributions from limits; either change should encourage contributions

Forced Arbitration

Recently the Senate Armed Services Committee invited ROA to a meeting on forced arbitration on Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).  It may not spring immediately to mind that this would be germane for ROA, but the unemployment numbers for Guard and Reserve run higher than their civilian counterparts. Bottom line: if a Guard or Reserve member wants a job they may be asked to waive their legal rights by signing an agreement to use arbitration for employment issues and not take USERRA cases to the court. This becomes a problem for our servicemembers, especially with multiple deployments. ROA supports proposed legislation that will give Guard and Reserve members more rights to stay employed if they lose their jobs as a result of military service.
 

ROA 2015 Legislative Agenda:

Army Update

ROA Among Featured Witnesses at First Hearing of the National
Commission on the Future of the Army

 
On May 20,  ROA Executive Director Jeff Phillips presented testimony to the National Commission on the Future of the Army. This was the first public session of this Commission formed last year by Congress to undertake a comprehensive study of the structure of the Army, and policy assumptions related to the size and force mixture of the Army. They will specifically examine the size and force mixture of the active component and the reserve components and make recommendations related to current and future mission requirements. Cost efficiency and the optempo of rotations for both the AC and RC will be reviewed. The commission has eight members and is chaired by retired Gen. Carter Ham. Retired Chief of the Army Reserve, LTG Jack Stultz, is a member of the commission, and was ROA’s nominee to the President for commission membership. 
 
ROA testimony highlighted:  the need for an operational reserve; the need for the Army to embrace the Army Total Force Policy; and the need to preserve the separate identities, roles, and missions of the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.  A number of specific recommendations were also made to include:  urging the greater use by the Army of the authority to use the RC under new mobilization authorities that require the use be planned and budgeted for;  this will create more opportunities for the RC to be trained and ready and to serve on combatant command staffs and in exercises. It was also stressed that the Army should place more Reserve and Guard leaders in senior roles – three and four star positions such as a  primary staff member on the Army staff (e.g. G1) or in a suitable command position such as NORTHCOM.
 
Further points that were made: suggesting that senior Army leaders have some Reserve experience and/or exposure; a challenge to the commission to attempt to identify the true costs of AC vs RC units (we believe and other reports suggest that the RC units cost less than a third of AC units); the need to modify the requirements to attain Joint Qualification Level III status so that more RC officers could reasonably – and without lowering any standards – achieve this level;  and expand educational opportunities generally for RC officers and NCOs.
 
The testimony was well received; the commission asked that we amplify on one suggestion regarding the possibility of the RC being the location to access and manage certain skills that are not normally found in the AC but that the Army of the future may require. The commission will hold a series of hearings around the country over the next four months and make its final report to Congress no later than 1 February 2016.
 

Navy Update

Littoral Combat Ship Upgrade in Jeopardy

The Senate is not happy with how DoD is moving forward with the upgrade for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-33).  The Senate Armed Services Committee just released a bill limiting funds for upgrading the LCS-33 until the Navy submits a capabilities assessment, risk review and updated capabilities document. The reason they took this position is because they don’t believe the Navy has explained why the current LCS are not adequate and whether or not alternative proposals should be considered. This is important to the Navy Reserve because they provide mission support today and the Navy expects this to be an area of growth. According to the Navy:
 
“In a time when the Navy's budget is under scrutiny, the use of Navy Reservists to augment both the LCS mission and maintenance programs helps reduce the cost of contract maintenance while also providing increased operational capabilities.

 More than 400 Navy Reservists across the country are currently assigned to LCS support units and are divided between sea frame support and mission module support units. Sea frame units concentrate on augmenting the ship's maintenance program while the mission module units support surface warfare and mine warfare in addition to anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP) and mission module maintenance. 

As the Navy's fleet of littoral combat ships increases, there will also be a need for more Navy Reserve units and more Navy Reservists to support both the maintenance and mission module programs.”  http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=81704
 

Air Force Update

 

Senate Armed Services Committee Completes Markup of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 – Prohibits A-10 Retirement


Highlights from the SASC markup include:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced details of the committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016.
Concerned by dwindling Air Force fighter aircraft capacity, the subcommittee prohibited the retirement of the A-10 and established a fighter force structure inventory floor of 1950 fighter aircraft. The bill further limits fighter retirements unless the Secretary provides a specified certification.
  • Prohibits the use of any funds during fiscal year 2016 to retire, prepare to retire, or place in storage any A-10 aircraft. As a result, the bill restores a total of $355 million in funding. The bill further requires the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain a minimum of 171 A-10 aircraft in primary mission aircraft inventory (combat-coded) status.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the close air support mission, including the feasibility of transferring the A-10 fleet to the Army and/or Marine Corps.
  • Authorizes $123.0 million in procurement for the C-130H Avionics Modernization Program Increments 1 & 2, and C-130H propulsion system enhancements.
  • Prohibits the retirement of B-1, B-2, and B-52 bomber aircraft during a fiscal year prior to initial operational capability of the Long Range Strike Bomber, unless the Secretary of Defense provides a specified certification.
  • Cuts $78.0 million in O&M, Air Force for the training funds to transition from A-10 to F-15E.
  • Increases from 90 to 180 the number of days of active duty required to be performed by reserve component members for duty to be considered Federal Service for purposes of unemployment compensation for ex-servicemembers.
  • Authorizes fiscal year 2016 active-duty end strengths for the Army of 475,000; the Navy, 329,200; the Marine Corps, 184,000; and the Air Force, 317,000. 
  • Authorizes reserve component end strengths consistent with the budget request.
  • Authorizes a covered TRICARE beneficiary up to four urgent care visits per year without the need to obtain pre-authorization for those visits.
  • Expands continued health benefits coverage to include discharged and released Selected Reserve members.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report on remotely piloted aircraft career field planning policies and actions to address personnel shortfalls in order to receive full O&M funding.
  • Authorizes a 1.3 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services in the grade of O-6 and below.
  • Requires a report from the Secretary of Defense to either revalidate the current requirement for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program of record quantity, or identify a new requirement for the total number of F-35 aircraft the Department of Defense would ultimately procure.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain a minimum total active inventory of 1,950 fighter aircraft, within which the Secretary must also maintain a minimum of 1,116 fighter aircraft as primary mission aircraft inventory (combat-coded). The bill further limits fighter retirements unless the Secretary provides a specified certification.

ROA in the news

West Lincoln (Lincolnton, NC) JROTC receives distinguished unit award; ROA among sponsors.
McDowell High (Marion, NC) NJROTC earns honors, promotes cadets; ROA among sponsors.
Tricare reform for Guard, reserves being pushed. MilitaryTimes.com story
For RC-related commentary, discussion and items of interest, please see ROA’s UnReserved blog and our Face Book page!

Your Generosity is Key to ROA Future

We have some wonderfully generous members of ROA! Let us begin by thanking the over 1400 members who responded to our initial Sustaining Member annual campaign mailing sent out in March. ROA can only say thank you, thank you, thank you. Over the course of the year you will receive five direct mail solicitations as part of our annual campaign. This is in line with – or even less than – what other charitable institutions do each year. But it is also the lifeblood of the organization. Each of our solicitation letters includes helpful information on pressing issues related to the national defense and activities at ROA. Even if you have responded to our first letter, I urge you to continue to have ROA in your giving strategies for the year. Your gifts are deeply appreciated and make a huge difference in our ability to stand up in policy circles, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill to represent the interests of Reservists and fight for a strong national defense.
 
In addition to our annual giving campaign, we have numerous other giving opportunities. I urge you to go to our website and go to Support and then to Donate Now. You will find a variety of ways to support ROA that might also fit with your ideas and intentions. Various options include donations to have your name included on the Wall of Gold; first retirement checks – sending ROA your first retirement check in recognition of the efforts of ROA to both obtain and sustain these benefits; and planned giving. Planned giving can take several forms but perhaps the most usual expression of this philanthropic act is to include ROA in your will or other testamentary documents. Nearly every month we receive a most pleasant surprise when we are notified by the administrator of an estate that one of our members has remembered ROA in some degree.

 

CDR Hallye Schwier

The most recent planned gift that I would like to recognize was given by CDR Hallye Evelyn Schwier, USCG (Ret) of Texas. She died earlier this year at 101!  She had been a lifelong active member of ROA and attended many national meetings. Her active duty and reserve careers extended for nearly thirty years. She was a lifelong teacher and administrator and beloved by all who had the pleasure to know her. Commander Schwier left ROA $50,000. We will earn her trust by putting the funds to work supporting Reservists!
 
Jeff Phillips
Executive Director

Reunions:

Outfit:                        USS Elokomin
Reunion Date:           September 24-27, 2015
Location:                    Cleveland OH
Contacts:
Robert O’Sullivan, Theeloman@verizon.net, 617-288-3755
Ron Finet, Finet@hotmail.com, 262-742-4269

Outfit:                        USS Bon Homme Richard (CV/CVA-31)
Reunion Date:           September 15-19, 2015
Location:                    San Antonio, TX
Contacts:                   Frank Pulliam  417-684-1358
 

Law Reviews:

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


  • No. 15042 USERRA Applies all over the World to U.S. Government, U.S. Companies, and Foreign Subsidiaries of U.S. Companies
  • No. 15043 Yes, You Have the Right to Vote under UOCAVA
  • No. 15045 Reemployment Rights with the Successor in Interest
  • No. 15046 You Must Apply for Reemployment—Part 5
Visit the Service Members Law Center

Events

2015 ROA National Convention

July 26-29, 2015
Location: Marriott Wardman Park

2660 Woodley Road, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Room Rate is $199 plus 14.5% applicable tax
Registration & hotel booking information coming soon!

Partners


Medical emergency assistance that goes beyond health and travel insurance

“Any time you have an accident or sudden illness while traveling away from home, ROA Emergency Assistance Plus provides a crucial safety net that helps pay for emergency medical transportation expenses your health or travel insurance generally will NOT cover. With more than 20 assistance benefits, EA+ steps in to provide Medical Evacuation, Medical Assistance, Travel Assistance, and Assistance for Companions. Coming this summer, you will be able to enroll in the newly enhanced EA+ Program, which will now provide members with a nurse escort, if deemed medically necessary, to help ensure you get proper medical care during your trip home. This new enhancement is a valuable benefit that can save members anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. For more information, visit www.roaeaplus.com or call toll free 1-866-846-4752.”
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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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