Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Veteran status bill fails in the Senate

CAPT Marshall Hanson
ROA Legislative Director

The Veteran Status bill (H.R.3787) appears to have died with a wimper in the Senate. This was the bill that would have extended veteran status to Guard and Reserve members who have qualified for retirement after 20 years of service, but who have never been activated long enough to satisfy VA requirements to be recognized as a veterans. Hotlined for passage in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid, one senator, Jim Webb (D-Va.) blocked its passage in 2010, as the Senate rules require unanimous consent.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), passed the House on Sept. 28, 2010 and was then sent to the Senate. ROA and other associations worked to get the bill up for consideration. Contacts were made with Veterans Affairs Chairman Daniel Akaka, who permitted it to pass through his committee without consideration, which enabled Reid to put in on a fast track. Webb’s office was hesitant to release the hold, fearing that there was a cost behind the bill, even though the Congressional Budget Office said that any cost would be negligible. Further concerns were that the Veteran Service Organizations might object, but this proved to be a non-issue as well. Webb still insists that this issue can’t come to a vote without there first being hearings. Unfortunately, hearings can’t be scheduled until 2011. Webb is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, and a committee member on Veterans Affairs.

ROA Current Issues: Veterans Affairs


Walz has reassured ROA that he will be reintroducing the bill in January. Rep. Joe Miller (R-Fla.) will be the new chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee in the 112th Congress, and was a cosponsor of Walz’s bill this past year. Passage in the Senate remains an important priority for ROA next year, but a new champion will be need to work the bill in that chamber.

ROA and members of The Military Coalition worked with Senator Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) office on this bill throughout the year. In support of the issue the senator introduced S.1780 and S.3875 which were cosponsored by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) , Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Lincoln was ROA’s Minute Man of the Year in 2010, but was not reelected in last November’s election.

22 comments:

tom said...

This is an absolutely amazing omission by both the VA and the DoD to bypass giving legitimate status to these patriots. We all know now that the branches of the DoD are VERY CAREFUL to write orders for 179 days mobilization to avoid paying benefits. Yet, as a VA employee I see recipients daily who have had far less than that requirement, but since they were not categorized as Guard or Reserve, and they know loopholes, they somehow get full benefits from the VA. The service of the Reserve Components over the last 40 years has been critical to our continued existence as the leader of the free world. This bill should be near the top of the list of priorities. (if not AT the top) Tom Turlington, M.D.

Anonymous said...

Is there any recourse at this time for Senator Webb to change his mind and get the bill passed in this congress?
George T. Dooley
Major USA Ret.

Anonymous said...

Time to vote Senator Webb out of office. He is embarrassing Virginia.

Anonymous said...

There seems to always be a sleeper cell in Congress ready to derail a military or veteran bill at the last minute despite the hard work of the many. As was with the bill to lower the reserve retirement age to 55 years, both parties when in the minority for political reasons supported it only to derail it when in the majority!They always use the cost as an excuse to oppose the bills even when the cost is insignificant. Clearly, the bias is exposed this time and the politics. I am glad ROA will try again and I hope you won't settle for crums as happened with the early retirement bill!

Anonymous said...

A pox on Webb. Some patriot he is. These Retired Reservists have earned far more than Webb. What has he done for our country but suck up our tax dollars?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Senator Webb needs to be voted out of office at the earliest opportunity. All military members of any status need to be very vigilant of all legislators becaue they will soon be trying to cut federal spending by cutting veterans' benefits. So much for the concept of a grateful nation. The only thing most citizens care about is their tax rate today. They don't give a damn about the future of the nation.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am ashamed of any Congressional representative or senator, who would derail LONG PAST DUE recognition and rights of serving soldiers, marines, airmen or sailors of our Reserve & National Guard.

There is "No Excuse" this injustice is tolerated. You can be sure my vote will NEVER go to any such Congressional representative or senator.

DOD has long sought to deny reservists & guardsmen of benefits.
SHAME on any flag officer or ses who is not working to correct this practice.

ReserveOfficer said...

ROA asked if this was final in the Senate for this year. Unfortunately, the issue appears to be done for 2010, despite contacts the member associations of The Military Coalition (including ROA) have made, answering all the Senator’s concerns. Guard and Reserve Retirees, and ROA members can contact the Senator’s office using www.roa.org/write2congress. ROA’s business office zip code is 22209 for those out of state members, which will provide access to write to Sen Webb.

tom said...

I am a flag officer, retired, and unfortunately very few of my cohorts understand the nature of this problem. It is not fully realized by our troops until they have reached the 20 yr mark and realize that they have been "used".

Tom T.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but it seems to me these reservists that never served on active duty now want the benefits (like the GI Bill) for those of us that volunteered for Iraq, Afghan, et al. I know too many O-6's that have never served a day on active duty other than their two weeks. They could have sought orders to Iraq. Why didn't they? I did. I know many that did. These officers are going to get their retirement at 60. If they wanted the GI Bill and other recalled war zone benefits, then they should have volunteered. Is their goal to serve, or to cash in. I am getting sick and tired of seeing so many reserve officers whose true goal is only to get the money, not serve their country. Sorry, but if this bill was to get them these benees they don't deserve, I have no sympathy for them. Next time guys, try joining the fight.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that I provided a response that recognized the lack of motivation of the ROA on this topic and it was removed by the ROA blog administrator - it appears that the ROA is censoring to prevent any criticism of their support of members.

ReserveOfficer said...

Sir, you have made many anonymous posts on this blog and none have been topic-relevant. No matter what the topic of the blog, your anonymous posts have only decried a perceived lack of effort by ROA on the issue. We urged you before to identify yourself and your specific positions but you continue to use the anonymous post function to bash ROA. Such posts will continue to be removed. If you want to express your displeasure, I encourage you to contact us directly or provide constructive criticism and recommendations for action. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What an insult. Over 20 years service with the right to be buried in a Veteran's cemetery, but unable to salute in civilan clothes or stand at a public function on Veteran's day and be recognized as a veteran? One blogger says reservists could have voluntered for active duty. Last I checked reservists were already volunteers. This volunterring to volunter was Congress's way of not making the tough call to activate units to keep support for the wars at a higher level

Col Leo H. Fox said...

I was shocked to read that Senator Webb held up the Veteran status bill and especially his using a lame duck excuse of wanting to be assured that it didn't include any financial benefits to long serving reservists. He, above all people, knows better or maybe he is getting senile which, considering his age, may be possible.

The senator is a Naval Academy graduate, a highly decorated vietnam veteran, former Secretary of the Navy, was the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and has been in volved in military affairs at the national and congressional levelfor much of his adult life. There is no reason that he could give for not being fully informed about the bill short of senility or intentional obstructionalism.

Perhaps the ROA should request that Senator Webb be the replacement sponsor of the bill in the US Senate for the 2011 session. In that way, we will at least know his reasons for slighting us long serving reservists.

Anonymous said...

LTC(R)Ron Harper said: The effected Reservists knew the rules. If this recognition was important to them, they could have easily volunteered to share the load.

Anonymous said...

I believe it may have failed to pass because it failed to properly identufy and quantify the increase cost of implementation resulting from the increased number now eligible for tricare upon reaching age 60

CW3R said...

You get Military Retiree Pay, Tricare and all the rest at Age 60. Keep VA Benifets, just show the same right for serving our country. I've spent @ 5 years on active duty just not under title 10 only under title 32. And was even in 2 OCONUS countries. But can't be called a Veteran.

Anonymous said...

I think anybody that served Honorably regardless of retiring or not should be considered a veteran. It's a shame that reservist are treated in the same like as someone that never served at all. SHAME! Ok, maybe they don't deserve the EXACT same benefits as an active duty counterpart, however, what's wrong with say 50 percent or 25 percent of some benefits? Their asses in time in service belonged to UNCLE SAM for 6 years obligation. That doesn't count for anything? SHAME!!! And its shameful to pit veterans against other veterans.

Anonymous said...

Another point I wish to make. Like the Cold War Veterans Association, they suddenly excluded in their bill reservist that didn't serve 2 years of continuous active duty. The Cold War Certificate included ALL RESERVIST and Federal employees. They sold reservist down the river. I hope that ROA isn't doing the same to NON-RETIRED reserve component veterans. Excluding them as veterans while only getting it for retirees. SHAME SHAME SHAME on that.

Anonymous said...

And here is my last point. How are RESERVIST not veterans? That is what the VA considers considers reservist. NON VETERANS. The state of Texas considers reserves and National Guard veterans. Most states do. My driver's license has VETERAN designator. So does my CHL in red letters and only paid 25 dollars to get it versus 140 dollars for non-veterans. So it depends which entity you are dealing with that describes what a veteran is. I have veteran license plates too and I served in the reserves. My honorable discharge is from the U.S. Marine Corps. Not the Marine Corps Reserves. There is no such thing. Shame on not considering reservist VETERANS. If all anyone is looking for is to be called a legal binding "VETERAN" for that status, just look at your dd-214 and honorable certificate. If "VETERAN STATUS" gains me benefits, than I'm all for it. Keep that title. I know what I am.

Anonymous said...

Here is one that ticked me off. I am a former Marine Honorably Discharged. I was in the Persian Gulf War 1990-91 on a military contract. I see they have license plates that say "PERSIAN GULF" in Texas and other states. I was in the Gulf as a civilian contractor. I can't use those plates because it is only for those that were in the Persian Gulf OR....OR.....I say again OR.....served during that time. So anyone in the military stationed in Mississippi in 1990 can use PERSIAN GULF license plates weather there or not. I was there and I can't use them because its for MILITARY ONLY. That is BOOOOOOOl.

Anonymous said...

The VA Healthcare System is a SCAM and unfair. Lousy system, should do away with it. Why do they exclude reserves and National Guard? Those guys that are working now could benefit the government if allowed access to the system. THEY HAVE JOBS AND CAN MAKE THE COPAYS. Duh.....I know this makes way too much sense. Wouldn't it make sense to allow anyone with an honorable discharge access to the VA ESPECIALLY when they can make co-payments? No wonder its brokedick.