Monday, November 30, 2009

Retirees still Concerned over Healthcare Debate Effects on Tricare

by Marshall Hanson
Director of Legislation and Naval Services

A number of retired beneficiaries of Medicare and Tricare For Life are concerned about any "deep cuts" in Medicare as one of the methods proposed to fund a national health care program. This group of concerned people unnecessarily believe cuts in Medicare coverage could result in reductions in coverage of Tricare For Life as a supplemental heath insurance.

Currently, there are no fee reductions for Medical providers included in either proposed National health care plan. The Medicare cuts were taken from the Medicare Advantage (HMO) program, and taxing being placed on certain medical devices.

A Senate proposal to tax Cadillac health policies, would exempt TRICARE from being called a Cadillac policy.

The concerns stem from an viral e-mail, which has been circulating since last spring. The email is based on a Congressional Budget Office report published last December which made suggestions incongruous with the direction of Congress. This CBO standard report is issued every two years and many of these suggested ideas have been repeated from earlier reports.

The Congress hasn’t treated this report seriously.

The House National Health Care plan has language that exempts Title Ten Military Health Care, as well as Veterans Health Care. These have been identified as qualified plans and are exempted from and tax penalties. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has assured ROA that similar protections will be included in the Senate Bill.

The one issue is the pending cut to Medicare fees of 21 percent which is based on existing law. The House passed ring HR 3961 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate payment system for physicians. It has been sent to the Senate.

Medicare payments to doctors are scheduled to be cut on Jan. 1, 2010. Congress has been preventing these cuts over the last number of years. Earlier this fall, the Senate rejected a permanent fix to these cuts, leaving it an annual chore. Such legislation puts the Sustainable Growth Rate factor used to calculate the annual update to the Medicare physician fee schedule on hold.

Keep informed of further developments regarding Tricare at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ROA Meets with CBO on Early Retirement

by Marshall Hanson, CAPT USNR (Ret), Director of Legislation

Last week, ROA met with representatives from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to discuss how the correction to early retirement would cost $2.1 billion over ten years. This correction, which is suggest in legislation sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), H.R.208, and by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), S.831. If passed the eligibility date for those deployed is support of contingency operations would change from the current start date of Jan. 28, 2008 to Sept. 11, 2001, whereby 90 days of service reduces the retirement age by 90 days.

In a rare meeting, CBO permitted a glimpse inside the “black box” as to how the numbers were calculated. While the CBO staff were not permitted to share the actual numbers (ROA did ask), they gave examples of certain age group cadre to demonstrate basis assumptions and actual calculations. Feedback was provided to CBO on how they might improve their calculations. ROA was joined by the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Association of the United States Navy.

Returning Injured Vets not Protected by USERRA

by Marshall Hanson, CAPT USNR (Ret), Director of Legislation

ROA was invited to Capitol Hill to try to fix a problem which threats the job security for veterans and Reserve Component members returning to work, but still needing military medical treatment.

Returning veterans are falling through a crack in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Those injured or disabled National Guard and Reserve members who were separated from active duty, as well as individuals discharged who still need medical treatment are finding that they don’t have protection they need under current law.

Many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines want to be sent home rather than kept on medical hold. So, they are promised medical care following discharge. The problem that arises is that they must take time away from employment to go to either a Military Medical Treatment Facility or the Veterans Administration. When civilian sick leave runs out, many employers threaten job security if the veterans continue to take time off for treatment. They aren’t covered by USERRA because they aren’t under military orders.

Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) received some reports about veterans in Texas who were fired and it turned out there is little that can be done for these individuals under current law. The Congressman wrote H.R.466, Wounded Veteran Job Security Act, to try to correct this disparity, with the House even passing the bill. But it has met with resistance in the Senate with how it was written.

ROA, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans, Association, the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and the Military Officers Association of America were invited by the staff of Rep. Doggett to discuss how this bill could be fixed. These organizations agreed to include this in our goals, and will make suggestions on improving the legislation.

One of the challenges faced is finding individuals in this situation who have actually had their jobs threatened. The information that reached Rep. Doggett’s office was from sources that must remain anonymous. If ROA can put a face to the problem, Congress will listen.

See ROA Law Review number 168 that addresses this issue.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ROA Congressional Charter Bill goes to White House for signature

WASHINGTON – The House passed the Reserve Officers Association Modernization Act of 2009 (S.1599) today updating ROA’s congressional charter for the 21st century. The bill will now travel to the White House for the President to sign the bill into law.

The bill, introduced in August by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and cosponsored by co-chairs of the United States Senate Reserve Caucus, Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ar.), makes technical changes to ROA’s charter that bring it in line with the current ROA structure and leadership. An identical bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Howard Coble (R-NC), Chris Carney (D-PA), and Gary Miller (R-CA), but the House elected to vote on the Senate version.

“The Reserve Officers Association has worked diligently on behalf of the National Guard and Reserves for over 85 years,” said Rep. Coble. “ROA’s dedication to its Congressional charter, promoting a sound national security policy for the United States, provides support to and a voice for our men and women in uniform. Voting to renew ROA’s charter reinforces my commitment to support the people serving in the Reserve and National Guard.”

The charter was originally signed by President Harry Truman 60 years ago and was last updated in 1998.

“I’d like to thank the Congress for their recognition of the invaluable role the Reserve and Guard play in today’s global conflicts and for working with ROA to ensure citizen warriors have greater influence in the military and adequate training facilities and supplies,” said retired Rear Adm. Paul Kayye, ROA President.

The Reserve Officers Association is the 68,000-member professional association for all uniformed services of the United States. Chartered by Congress and in existence since 1922, ROA advises and educates the Congress, the President and the American people on issues of national security, with unique expertise on Reserve issues. ROA advocates for adequate funding of equipment and training requirements, recruiting and retention incentives, and employment rights for all members of the Reserve.

Read the bill, S.1599 at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TRICARE Access for Gray Area Retirees Possibly Postponed

WASHINGTON -- A Defense Authorization from Congress regarding health care coverage access for Reserve and Guard retirees may not be made available until next year according to statements made today to the Reserve Officers Association.

Department of Defense Health Affairs officials warned of a delay in providing access to TRICARE Reserve Select to retired Reserve Component members who have not yet reached age 60 and are therefore not eligible for the same TRICARE programs as drilling Reservists or active duty retirees. Their estimate for implementation is between 11 and 18 months before opening enrollment. The new law as written in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act was supposed to start eligibility on Oct 1, 2009, with original estimates by professionals in the medical field suggesting a six to eight month delay.

“The [TRICARE Management Activity] must design complex operational procedures, negotiate significant modifications to existing contracts and introduce changes in the Code of Federal Regulations,” said Thomas E. Broyles, spokesman for the TRICARE Management Activity in an email to a number of veterans service organizations. “Factors beyond TMA's control that are basic to the way the Federal government has to process new benefits make effecting NDAA changes within a year moving at breakneck speed.”

Members of the Reserve Officers Association find this implementation timetable disappointing. “I suspect the Pentagon is slowing implementation to coincide with the next generation of a TRICARE contract to avoid change order costs,” said ROA legislative director Capt. Marshall Hanson (USNR Ret.).

ROA has already met with other associations, and letters will be sent to congressional leadership highlighting that the Pentagon is not meeting Congressional expectations for implementation. ROA leaders will also be talking with TRICARE contractors who would be administering the Gray Area retirees access to Tricare Reserve Select.

The Reserve Officers Association, with 68,000 members, is the professional association for all uniformed services of the United States. Chartered by Congress and in existence since 1922, ROA advises and educates the Congress, the President and the American people on issues of national security, with unique expertise on Reserve issues. ROA advocates for adequate funding of equipment and training requirements, recruiting and retention incentives, and employment rights for all members of the Reserve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

#2 Army Reserve General visits Fort Hood Soldiers

By Maj Gen James R. Sholar
Deputy Chief, Army Reserve for Operations, Readiness, Training, and Mobilization and Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Reserve Command

The following email was sent to ROA leadership from Gen Sholar after his trip to Fort Hood:

“I spent Sunday and Monday at Ft Hood. Five of the 13 who were killed were Army Reserve Soldiers - all medical Soldiers. They were members of two Combat Stress Units getting ready to deploy. We also still have seven seriously wounded in the hospital.

“I visited all of our wounded and their families. All except one have multiple wounds. There are others who have been returned to duty who still have bullets in them (yes, that is correct). All are recovering but of course lives have been changed forever.

“I was also able to visit with the other Soldiers in the units. They are doing okay under the circumstances but are ready to get on with their training and get going. I asked one Soldier how he was doing and he said that he was fine when he was with the other Soldiers and was struggling a bit when he wasn't. I told the others about that conversation (without a name of course) and there was a lot of agreement.

“The Soldiers, both wounded and those not physically injured, wanted to talk. For obvious reasons, I won't begin to write all of that here but I will tell you one thing they did tell me. They absolutely wanted the police to get their credit for their response but they also said, “Sir, we were the first responders.” As you may know, they made their way out of the original site and into an adjacent admin building. There they administered first aid to the injured. They stripped off their uniform tops and used what material they could to treat the wounded. More than one told me, “Every single Soldier was doing something - administering first aid, applying tourniquets, etc, holding hands, offering words of assurance and encouragement.” Their stories were amazing as they talked about what they had done for one another and I was tremendously humbled just to be there and listening.

“Clearly this is life changing for all. I certainly don't want to sound too casual about this but I know that our Soldiers are resilient and they and the Army will get through this.

“I know each of us is dealing with this horrific event in our own way but no one associated with the Army is untouched. I know that all our Soldiers and their families would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.”

President Signs Military Spouse Residency Relief Act

Washington, DC President Obama signed The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act today. The bill allows a military spouse who relocates out of a state with their service member under military orders to have the option to claim the same state of domicile as their active duty spouse, regardless of where they are stationed.

In a release by Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission, they stated: “By signing the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, the President is easing the cumbersome bureaucratic hurdles that military spouses are forced to endure with every relocation. From the mounds of paperwork to determining difference in state tax procedures, each time a military family moves to a different state, the spouse was subject to unnecessary and often expensive changes. Military spouses and their families serve and sacrifice with their troops every day."

Congressman John Carter and Senator Richard Burr were the sponsors of this bill.

Congressional Military Family Caucus Established

By: Elizabeth M. Cochran, Legislative Assistant

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (D-WA) held an event on Capitol Hill Wednesday, November 4th, to celebrate the establishment of the Congressional Military Family Caucus which they co-chair. Attendees included Congressional members, military and veteran service organizations, and military families.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spread the good news at her quarterly roundtable discussion with military and veterans' service organizations later the same day.

The Congressional Military Family Caucus mission statement, available on their Facebook fan page, states the following:

      We recognize that when a service member joins the military, it is not just a job; it is a family commitment to our country. As our country continues to deploy troops overseas, we see the impact it has on family members at home.

      This new caucus will foster the interest of family members of the uniformed service members by educating Members and staff on resources the military provides as well as discuss the barriers that a military family faces. Our goal is to address issues such as education, childcare, healthcare, spouse employment, and the effects of multiple deployments.

      Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife endorsed the caucus as well.

This comes a fitting time when earlier this month President Obama claimed November as the month of the military family in addition to Congress previously dubbing 2009 as the year of the military family.

One of ROA’s top goals is to advocate for readiness and support programs for military families. We look forward to working with the Congressional Military Family Caucus.

Currently there are 79 Congressional members from both sides of the aisle including two delegates. See below to find out if your Representative is a member:

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Co-Chair) Rep. Sanford Bishop (Co-Chair) Rep. Eric Massa Rep. Vic Snyder Rep. Carol Shea-Porter Rep. Robert A. Brady Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo Rep. Henry E. Brown, Jr. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper Rep. Joe Sestak Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan Rep. Travis Childers Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Rep. Dina Titus Rep. Lynn Jenkins Rep. John M. Spratt, Jr. Rep. Robert E. Latta Rep. Frank Wolf Rep. Robert J. Wittman Rep. John Hall Rep. Bobby Scott Rep. Gene Taylor Rep. Bob Etheridge Rep. Ed Whitfield Rep. Todd Platts Rep. Betsy Markey Rep. John Hall Rep. Walt Minnick Rep. Glenn Nye Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez Rep. David Loebsack Rep. Greg Walden Rep. Tom Rooney Rep. James P. McGovern Rep. Elton Gallegly Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Rep. Doug Lamborn Rep. Joe Courtney Rep. Steve Austria Rep. Rush Holt Rep. Tim Walz Rep. John Kline Rep. Kendrick Meek Rep. Heath Shuler Rep. Gerry Connolly Rep. Thaddeus McCotter Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Rep. Adam Smith Rep. Susan Davis Rep. Kay Granger Rep. Jason Altmire Rep. Walter Jones Rep. Ralph M. Hall Rep. Edward J. Markey Rep. Joseph Cao Rep. Bill Foster Rep. Debbie Halverson Rep. André Carson Rep. Brett Guthrie Rep. Norm Dicks Rep. Dan Boren Rep. Rob Bishop Rep. Buck McKeon Rep. Joe Wilson Rep. Jerry Moran Rep. Mary Fallin Rep. Edward Royce Rep. Trent Franks Rep. Duncan Hunter Rep. Al Green Rep Virginia Foxx Rep. Jeff Miller Rep. Harry Teague Rep. Michael Conway Rep. Carolyn C. Kilpatrick Rep. James Moran Rep. Henry Waxman Rep. Ike Skelton

Veterans Day for all 'Veterans'

By David Small, ROA Director of Communications and Air Force Affairs

Yesterday was Veterans Day. A handful of members of the Reserve Officers Association were invited by Vice President and Dr. Biden to their home for lunch along with members of other Veterans Service Organizations. (They served an All American hamburger and hotdog meal).

The event also included Gen Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and his key staff who were recognized for their improvements and plans to ensure Veterans are cared for after their service.

During Vice President Biden’s remarks, he said that among all the things the government does, America has only one solemn promise it must keep – and that is to care for Veterans and their families after they have given so much for this country. The remarks were incredibly touching in the shadow of the previous day’s memorial service at Fort Hood for the people who were shot in a random act of terror, the majority of whom were Army reservists.

On Facebook, a number of my friends thanked me for my service, while Krispy Kreme gave away a free donut to Veterans (among generous gestures from a slew of other businesses).

It is clear Americans value their veterans, but one thing gnawed on me throughout the day. Some people who wore the uniform for 20 years and retired are not considered veterans. Were they honored yesterday? Could they get a free donut?

Who are these people you ask… Citizen Warriors who volunteered to serve, but for whatever reason throughout their career were not called to Active Duty. They have a DD214. They wore the uniform proudly for their two week annual tours every year for 20 years. They were there and ready to be called upon. But in today’s bureaucratic dictionary, they cannot claim the label of Veteran, and they are denied access to some VA benefits.

I don’t think any American, nor would Krispy Kreme reject the idea that this group of people are veterans and should be thanked for their service, but why does our government make a distinction? I can’t answer that.

It is a problem that ROA is advocating to change. Fortunately there is a bill introduced by Sen. Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas that if passed may fix the disparity.

S.1780 is a bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the reserve components as active service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The bill is currently sitting in the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Use the “Write to Congress” function on ROA’s Web site to tell your Senator to cosponsor this bill.

Monday, November 9, 2009

ROA Names New Executive Director

WASHINGTON -- The Reserve Officers Association of the United States announced the selection its new Executive Director, Maj. Gen. David R. Bockel here today.

General Bockel, a graduate of the Army War College, retired from the Army Reserve in 2003. His 37-year military career included tours in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division and the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He held several command positions including Commanding General, 90th Regional Support Command, Deputy Commanding General augmentee of the United States Army Reserve Command, Commander, US Army Reserve Readiness Command, and Deputy Commanding General of the 311th Theater Signal Command. He has numerous decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Meritorious Service Medal, among others.

Prior to this position, General Bockel was ROA’s deputy Executive Director.

General Bockel, a native of Atlanta, holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Alabama and was a distinguished graduate from their ROTC program. In addition to being a life member of ROA, he is a member of the Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Jewish War Veterans.

The Reserve Officers Association, with 68,000 members, is the professional association for all uniformed services of the United States. Chartered by Congress and in existence since 1922, ROA advises and educates the Congress, the President and the American people on issues of national security, with unique expertise on Reserve issues. ROA advocates for adequate funding of equipment and training requirements, recruiting and retention incentives, and employment rights for all members of the Reserve.

For General Bockel’s biography, please visit


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Civil Affairs in Irregular Warfare Conference Wraps Up

By Robert Feidler, Director, Defense Education

The Defense Education Forum, together with George Mason University and the Civil Affairs Association, held a two day conference on Civil Affairs in Irregular Warfare: One Profession, One Victory. The event was held on the campus of George Mason University on Oct 30 and 31 and marked the thirteenth event in this series of programs that began three years ago.

This topic could not have been more relevant as our country and our allies review the demands of peacetime cooperation and civil-military considerations of our complex national security environment. Recent changes in U.S. military doctrine have only heightened the importance of civil affairs in all operations, but especially in irregular warfare (IW) operations.

Irregular warfare has been defined as: A violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s). DoD Directive 3000.07, 2008

Most recently, in response to a Congressional inquiry about the DoD’s perception of critical issues facing Civil Affairs, DoD reported to Congress in April, 2009 that:

“DoD force development guidance for civil affairs will account for global, long-duration irregular warfare operations, including counter-terrorism, counterinsurgency, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, and stability operations within countries vital to U.S. security interests.”

It was with this as background that the two day conference, that was attended by over two hundred people, and which had a faculty of 29 speakers, both heard from distinguished civilian and military leaders, and also conducted five breakout sessions to delve into key issues in more detail. Powerpoint presentations from the event are available at the DEF programs page of ROA's website. Further information and visual presentations will be made available by the middle of November.

The event began with introductory remarks from Professor Dave Davis of GMU, Bob Feidler from ROA (the Director of the DEF programs), and COL Alan King, President of the CA Association. They were followed by keynote addresses from Dr. James Schear, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations, an office with the Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (SOLIC), and Major General David Blackledge, USAR, the Commanding General of the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC). They reviewed broadly the recent report sent by DoD to Congress on Civil Affairs and future plans regarding force structure, training and education.

Although most CA assets reside in the Army Reserves (about 90% at present), because the Navy and Marine Corps also have CA assets, the Secretary of Defense recently designated the Special Operations Command to by the Joint Proponent for Civil Affairs. This becomes very important since CA is expanding rapidly both in the AC (where an new Battalion is being added to the 95th CA Brigade and an entire new Brigade may come on line in the next four years as well) and in the RC where twenty additional CA companies will come on line in the next few years. Ultimately, the AC will represent 26% of the CA capacity in the Army.

Major themes discussed at the conference included the necessity for a “whole of government approach to foreign development and stabilization”; the need – or lack of need – for functional specialists; unique operational and tactical aspects of irregular warfare; the role of the Navy in maritime civil affairs operations; force development issues; and what a vision for civil affairs in 2015 might be.

The conference was highlighted by a dinner attended by the Chief of the Army Reserve, LTG Jack Stultz, at which he was presented a signed copy of the World War II classic A Bell for Adano signed by the author John Hersey, and the real life protagonist of the book, a civil affairs hero who addressed the needs of the people of Adano, Italy. LTG Stultz was asked to find a proper “home” for the book and he indicated that it may well be the future headquarters of the USARC at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

The Conference pointed out the major – seismic – changes that are occurring in the CA community ranging from force structure increases to proponency issues. It is clear that DoD is taking significant strides to address both the short and long-term capabilities and gaps in CA. Both the AC and RC will see significant increases in personnel dedicated to the CA mission. It is clear that as DoD continues its transformation efforts related to irregular warfare and a whole of government approach to stability and reconstruction operations, that Civil Affairs is high on their agenda and that the contribution of RC units of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps are recognized and deeply appreciated.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Selective Service System and the Strategic Reserve

By CAPT Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)

President Obama has nominated Larry Romo, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel from San Antonio, to be the next Director of the Selective Service System. The nomination will require Senate confirmation, and it is expected that he will be confirmed easily.

Congress abolished the draft in 1973, and the Selective Service System then went into a “deep drawdown” mode. In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter reactivated the Selective Service System and reinstated draft registration. Young men are required to register upon turning 18. Compliance rates vary, but in recent years Congress has provided that draft registration is a condition precedent to eligibility for certain government benefits, including student loans and grants. Tying registration to grants has improved the rate of compliance with the registration requirement.

ROA Resolution 08-21 urges Congress to provide full funding for the Selective Service System, and Resolution 08-17 urges Congress to enact legislation tying Selective Service registration to eligibility to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card. ROA fully supports the registration requirement. In the unlikely but certainly not inconceivable event that the draft must be reinstated, because of some dire national emergency, having the young men registered would save very valuable time in getting them inducted, trained, and sent where needed.

During the Cold War, National Guard and Reserve forces provided our nation’s strategic reserve. If a major worldwide conflagration broke out, these Guard and Reserve units would be mobilized, but they were not mobilized for lesser military contingencies, including the Vietnam War.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our National Guard and Reserve forces have been transformed from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve, and more than 740,000 Guard and Reserve personnel have been called to the colors, some more than once. Since the National Guard and Reserve have become the operational reserve, where is the strategic reserve? Our members frequently ask this question.

In my opinion, the registrants in the Selective Service System should be considered part of the Strategic Reserve. If a major, worldwide war were to break out, Congress would reinstate the draft the young men who have registered would be drafted. I don’t want to understate the difficulties involved in this approach. These young men have received no military training, and many are unable to meet the health and fitness standards of our Armed Forces. But in a really dire emergency, this is what it would come to. Fully funding the Selective Service System and requiring registration in advance are a small price to pay for this insurance policy.