Posted on 7/16/2014
Today is Military Consumer Protection Day. If you’re not familiar with this annual event, this is a great chance to learn about the organizations and resources that can help you protect and grow your hard-earned military pay or veterans benefits. Read more about the day and resources to help you strengthen your defenses for better money management. Read the full blog: https://www.military.ncpw.gov/blog/make-july-16-matter
Posted on 7/16/2014
Confirmation Hearing Scheduled
On July 22, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC) intends to hold a confirmation hearing for Robert McDonald; the President’s choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA has been under intense scrutiny lately in the wake of allegations that delayed care contributed to the deaths of some patients awaiting treatment. Those claims triggered a number of oversight hearings looking at the department, and eventually led to the resignation of former Secretary Eric Shinseki after the magnitude of VA's problems became clear. McDonald is a Veteran; he graduated from West Point in 1975 and served five years in the Army, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division. He is also the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, a position he attained by working from the ground floor up after many years with the company. President Obama nominated McDonald for the VA top post on June 30 and based on our many conversations with SVAC members, he should be confirmed with relative ease.
Posted on 7/14/2014
MCRMC Survey MIA?
The Military Compensation & Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) launched a survey last month that was designed to query participants on how they valued various components of their benefits package. Within the last week the MCRMC released their Interim Report, with their final report not due until February 2015. That final report will include the Commission’s recommendations on what to reform, add or remove…much of which may be derived, or at least influenced, from survey results.
AFSA HQ has not heard of any of our members participating in the survey as of yet. It’s not open to the general public, it’s by invitation. That said, we would hope that at least one enlisted AFSA member would be part of this historic undertaking. We would request anyone who has been contacted by the MCRMC to participate in the survey to please contact AFSA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations via email email@example.com for a few follow up questions.
Posted on 7/9/2014
FY15 Funding Update
The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its portion of the annual defense spending bill on July 15 and the full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to work on the entire bill two days later. It’s highly unlikely that the bill will reach the Senate floor before the start of the August recess or for that matter, the start of the new fiscal year. Election-year politics and personality-driven rivalries are causing amendment problems in the relatively crippled upper chamber.
Posted on 7/9/2014
TRICARE Options for Guard & Reserve Members
As a Guardsman or Reservist, you make a commitment to your country and helping those in need. TRICARE knows that you also need to remain physically and mentally ready, and is here to help you through the various stages of your career. The life of a guardsman or reservist has many cycles. There is pre-activation, active duty, deactivation and inactive status. While you go through each stage your healthcare options change with TRICARE. Read more at: www.tricare.mil/GuardReserve070814
Posted on 7/9/2014
Veteran Voice Fading on the Hill
There was a time where it almost seemed like a pre-requisite to serve in Congress involved some sort of prior military service. Consider that in the 1970’s nearly 70% of elected officials were veterans with the fact that fewer than 20% can now make that claim. Another harbinger of shifting experience is the fact that when the current 113th Congress adjourns and the 114th convenes, there will be for the first time in almost 70 years, not a single WWII veteran in Congress.
Worry not, AFSA members! Your headquarters advocates will never let Congress forget what it means to serve. Vietnam, Grenada, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and wherever the next set of veterans serve our country - AFSA will proudly serve them as their voice on Capitol Hill.
Posted on 7/9/2014
Veterans Healthcare Legislation in Holding Pattern
For the last two weeks, House & Senate conferees have been working behind closed doors on a deal that improves healthcare access and benefits for Veterans.
During the same time frame AFSA has met privately with some of the conferees to relay Association positions with the pair of bills which panel members must meld into a single, agreed upon version for the president to sign into law. We found conferees are committed to reaching a bipartisan solution that makes it easier for Veterans to receive the care they deserve, but many are concerned with its cost. Preliminary estimates released last week by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office say the legislation would cost the VA $35 billion through 2016, and if left in place thereafter would amount to about $50 billion a year.
Lawmakers are working to find savings to offset the costs of the new Veterans measure, while simultaneously challenging the CBO figures, describing them as “unrealistic.” The debate over cost has slowed the legislation’s progress and could push its completion into the fall.
Posted on 7/2/2014
AFSA responds to President Obama's nomination of Bob McDonald for VA Secretary
President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Speaking at a Monday afternoon presser President Obama said, “When it comes to delivering quality, timely health care [to veterans], we have to do better.” He went on to say that improving the agency and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will not be an easy assignment, but he believes McDonald is well-suited for the task.
Speaking on his own behalf afterwards, McDonald said if confirmed, his priority would be to lead the transformation of the department. “We need to put care for the veteran at the center of everything that we do at Veterans Affairs. At Procter & Gamble, we always focus on our customer. At the VA, the veteran is our customer, and we must focus all day, every day on getting them the benefits and care they’ve so earned.”
If the Senate approves, McDonald will become the eighth Secretary of the VA, replacing Eric Shinseki who resigned in May after five years in the position. McDonald is a 1975 graduate of West Point and five year Army Veteran who rose from an entry-level position at Procter & Gamble to become its CEO after more than three decades at the company. He is not a career military officer like many previous VA secretaries, and his success as head of P&G indicates he is capable of leading a large agency like the VA.
AFSA firmly believes the position of Secretary is critical to moving the VHA forward in a positive direction and we are pleased the Administration moved quickly to fill this important post. We encourage the Senate to swiftly confirm Mr. McDonald so he can begin addressing the shortcomings and failures of the VA and restore the trust of our Nation’s Veterans. AFSA looks forward to meeting with the nominee soon to learn more about his vision to ensure that the care of our Veterans remains the VA’s top priority.
Posted on 6/30/2014
Holidays, Discounts & You
Many businesses will do just about anything to get your dollars into their accounts. While some will shamelessly target whatever demographic they are in pursuit of, there is a growing segment of the private sector that recognizes military service. Our friends at Military.com have a listing of discounts and events centered on Independence Day that can be found by clicking here.
"Do you offer a military discount?"
It's a simple sentence with a simple request. Why is it so hard for many people to utter these six words? Perhaps it would help to view military discounts as a pay bonus; consider your ID card (or other proof of service) a coupon you always carry. If properly leveraged it could save you hundreds--maybe thousands--of dollars each year.
Another thought: on the other side of those 6 words is a US citizen who may not have any ties to the military. Every time you ask the question you are planting a thought inside someone's head and putting a face to the term military or veteran. If less than 1% currently serve, and less than 7% have ever served, we need to get the 99% or 93% to be thinking of you. It could make a difference in how voters influence their elected officials.
Don’t forget, you served. A military discount is not a handout. You earned it.