As the National Defense Authorization Act is idle until September, when the Senate as a whole will take it up for business, there is still opportunity to help shape legislation. ROA met with other associations to discuss what approaches to take to obtain passage of early retirement. Bills such as H.R. 208 and S.831 have met resistance because of the cost of $2.1 billion over the next ten years.
Being discussed is a phased in approach which has worked for concurrent receipt of disabilities and reducing the offset of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from those survivors who also had the Survivor Benefit Plan. A proposal is being studied to break the 2001 - 2007 time period into smaller blocks which will cost less. ROA continues to advocate that no individual who has served since Sept. 11 be left out, and phase-in be structured in such a way to encourage Congress to continue to pass legislation for the next groups.
ROA is not giving up on finding alternatives to expanding early retirement to an even broader population. The challenge increases as Congress looks ahead to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as this will reduce the visibility of serving National Guard and Reserve members. Traditionally, though, it is the Active Duty component that is brought home, leaving the Guard and Reserve to do the peace keeping role.