Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Secretary Gates implements changes to DADT enforcement

Andrew Gonyea
Communications Assistant

Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates moved to implement changes to the military's enforcement of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The changes come after Gates requested a Department of Defense review of DADT enforcement Feb. 2, with the goal of "[enforcing] the law in a fairer and more appropriate manner" in a way which remains "within the confines of the existing law."

The review, which was conducted with input from all the Military Services and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, resulted in revisions to two regulations which form DADT: DoD Instruction 1332.14 ("Enlisted Administrative Separations") and 1332.30 ("Separation of Regular and Reserve Commissioned Officers"). Click here to view the revisions

Moving forward, DADT enforcement will be different in several ways:
  • Only a general or flag officer in the servicemember's chain of command may initiate a fact-finding inquiry or separate the servicemember for homosexual conduct.
  • Only O-5s or above may conduct fact-finding inquiries into homosexual conduct.
  • Information provided by third parties concerning others' homosexual conduct should be given under oath and not based on overheard statements and hearsay.
  • Inquiries may not be initiated based on information given from someone who may be motivated to harm the servicemember in question.
  • Evidence for discharge may not be gathered from lawyers, clergy, psychotherapists, other medical professionals, or from security clearance investigations, in accordance with existing DoD policies.
Said Gates on the changes, “I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice, above all by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency.”

ROA's interest in the current law regarding gays in the military is only in the context of how such service will or won't affect morale, readiness, and national security. We want to hear from the people in the field who best know what the effects or non-effects on morale and readiness might be resulting from any changes to the current law or how it is implemented. Those people are the younger NCOs and Officers in command positions. A rush to judgment today makes no sense until all the possible effects of any change are studied. Once such information is available, ROA may elect to form an official opinion on any changes to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Air Force Budget overview

David Small
Director of Communications and Air Force Affairs

Maj. Gen. Al Flowers, Air Force comptroller, briefed a meeting of Washington DC industry and Air Force advocates March 26 on the fiscal year 2011 budget and its differences from FY2010.

Of note, the FY2011 budget contains $5.2 billion toward strengthening the nuclear enterprise and $999 million in family programs. Of the planned acquisition programs, 69 percent of them are in direct support of the joint team to win today’s fight. These are the top three Air Force priorities.

The Air Force baseline for FY2011 only contains a 3.3 percent growth from the previous year. On top of that, there is over $20 billion for overseas contingency operations, partly in response to the plus up for Afghanistan.

In the O&M account, there was a plus up of $3.6 billion with the key drivers being increased cost of aviation fuel, civilian pay and funding for joint basing (of which the Air Force is responsible for 6 of the 12 joint bases including the largest one in San Antonio).

Another difference in this year’s O&M account is that for the first time, the traditionally over-budgeted flying hour program funded for 1.2 million flying hours next year, reflects historical execution of this program versus funding it at 100 percent.

Despite the increase in budgeting both the O&M and number of aircraft to increase the constant combat air patrols circling over Afghanistan and Iraq to 50 CAPs this year, the plan is to increase that number to 65 thereafter. All but the manpower piece is planned for now as each CAP takes 177 people to operate the around the clock mission, despite its moniker of being an unmanned mission. Click here to read more on this mission in the Reserve.

With the shift of the F-35 from development to procurement, the Research, Test, Development and Evaluation budget shrank while the procurement line increased. In particular, this budget plans for the purchase of 23 F-35s, 48 additional MQ-9 Reapers and 15 light mobility aircraft. The light mobility aircraft primarily will be used for training budding Air Forces like those of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Once again noted in the procurement budget next year is a program that was absent this year: the Aviation Modernization Program (AMP) for C-130s, for which ROA has long advocated.

Back also, after the Secretary of Defense canceled this program over a year ago, is a modest start up to explore the concept for a new long range strike platform. ROA also has a position on a new bomber.

The budget plans for 10 C-5s to be modernized through both the AMP and Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP), however all of those planned for these programs in FY2011 are B models and not assigned to the Reserve Component. Having said that, the budget does not accommodate the excess strategic airlift above that identified by the recent mobility capabilities study.

During House Armed Services Committee testimony, Rep Joe Wilson (R-SC) asked about the provisions of the FY2010 Defense Authorization bill prohibiting DoD from retiring C-5As until conducting an operational assessment of RERPed C-5As and certifications concerning the cost benefit and risk of their retirement.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Scwartz, responded that the Ops Test and Evaluation on the C-5 re-engining program is complete and the report was issued this month. “We intend to offer the appropriate certifications through the Secretary’s office that indicates that [RERP] is a viable, effective program and one that should allow us, as we spoke of earlier, to begin to act on retiring legacy A model aircraft that will not be modified.”

It is ROA’s position that the proper mix between modernized C-5As and C-17s needs to be better addressed before the impending shut down of the C-17 line. Click here to read that position.

The military construction budget remained flat from this year’s to next year’s budget, again relying on the hope that Congress will provide additional funds for pet projects in their districts. The Air Force Reserve benefited greatly last year due to these adds to combat their $1 billion MILCON backlog. Read more about that by clicking here.

In the personnel account, while the Air Guard remained static, the Air Force Reserve will increase by 1,700 people to accommodate the new associate mission at Barksdale and additional manpower for the ISR mission. This increase is part of a planned increase of over 4,000 Reservists over the FYDP. Click here to read more on that.

The regular Air Force, however, is above end strength and announced yesterday another round of force shaping whereby it will incentivize people to leave or involuntarily separate them. The reason that they are over end strength, according to the Air Force, is that they are at an all time high retention rate due to the economy. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

E-blast Question of the Week

With national health care reform being signed, ROA has been asked the question: Will TRICARE provide coverage for the "children up to age 26" as is allowed under the new law?

Currently, TRICARE is not affected by the health care reform provision to cover dependent children in health plans up to age 26. By law, TRICARE covers eligible dependent children up to the age of 21, or up to age 23 if enrolled full time at an accredited institution of higher education and reliant on the sponsor for more than 50 percent of their financial support. Coverage ends on the child's 23rd birthday or at the end of that school year, whichever comes first.

TRICARE leadership is committed to providing the best possible health care plan and is evaluating how contracts might be changed to meet the spirit of the new law. ROA will share information once it is released, but DoD health affairs remind us that it takes time to develop regulatory and policy language and implementation guidance.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ROA submits testimony to House Veterans Affairs committee on Claims Processing

ROA submitted testimony before the House Veterans Affairs committee last Thursday, March 18.

ROA was invited back for a third time to participate in the House Veterans Affair roundtable, this time on the solutions to claims processing. ROA Legislative Director Marshall Hanson talked about the unique challenges of the National Guard and Reserve veterans. ROA commented upon the need to outreach to veterans and that there was a need to develop software that could survey veterans, and proactively guideline to the veteran benefits that they need. This could be the initial step in claims submission.

“According to a benefits analysis report in 2008, Iraq and Afghanistan National Guard and Reserve veterans are more likely to have claims denied,” testified CAPT Hanson. “Additionally, they are also likely to receive lower disability ratings. This problem is in part a matter of communications, where active duty is better informed on the claim process than the Reserve Component. Reservists are half as likely to file claims.

“The solution is outreach, which will not only benefit National Guard and Reserve members, but also remotely located veterans who have been discharged.”

ROA submits testimony to House Armed Services subcommittee

ROA submitted testimony before the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel last Tuesday, March 23.

A number of issues were included in ROA testimony, including improvements to early retirement, Reservist health care, improvements to Selected Reserve Montgomery GI Bill, and reimbursement for travel expenses on monthly training. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) spoke to making corrections to early retirement, and to correcting the offset where surviving spouses have payments reduced when the are paid both Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and Survivor Benefit Plan annuity.

An interesting direction of this hearing was the discussion of offsetting dollars to afford the improved benefits being suggested by the ROA and other associations. As committee member Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) said “you simply can’t cancel an aircraft carrier to pay for these requests.” Appropriated defense dollars pay for discretionary benefits. Mandatory dollars are budgeted for health care, retirement and other personnel benefits. The committee suggested to association panelists that the benefit concerns needed to be included as the budget is being developed by the administration. Steve Strobridge, Military Officers Association of America Legislative Director, who was testifying on behalf of The Military Coalition was asked if he could suggest a program to be cut to make dollars available for additional benefits. Col Strobridge admitted that was the ongoing challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

HASC Republicans' new initiative directly connects Americans to public officials

Following is a March 17 message from Mr. Josh Holly, Republican Spokesman, U.S. House Armed Services Committee, concerning HASC Republicans' new "Question of the Week" Facebook initiative to amplify the voices of Americans to their public officials. We encourage you all to participate and get your voices heard!


"As more Americans use social media to communicate directly with public officials (elected, appointed, military, or businesses), Members of Congress are uniquely positioned to amplify those voices.

"At the urging of Ranking Member Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), we created a “Question of the Week” on the HASCRepublicans’ Facebook page (discussions tab) and plan to make it a regular part of our communications, outreach, and oversight efforts. Each week, we will submit a question on our Facebook page and invite people to provide their input and opinions. The topics will be focused either on an upcoming hearing or a topic of the day that’s generating interest.

"For the March 17th House Armed Services Committee hearing with General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, HASC Republicans solicited questions for the General through Facebook (link) and Twitter (link).

"Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) identified a question that was submitted and asked it of General Petraeus during today’s hearing. The video of this exchange is featured on both our Facebook (linked here) and YouTube (linked here) pages. We also sent the following message through our Twitter account today: @HASCRepublicans: At today's hearing w Gen #Petraeus, @CongJoeWilson asked a question from our Facebook page.

"We hope you will take a moment to view the video. Additionally, we would invite your participation in future questions (posted every Friday) and provide us any feedback that you may have."

ROA attends U.S. Coast Guard hearings

ROA attended three Congressional hearings about the U.S. Coast Guard this past month.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing February 25th about the U.S. Coast Guard budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and Commandant Admiral Thad Allen testified. The Commandant also testified at a March 17th hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security also regarding the U.S. Coast Guard's FY-11 budget request.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing the following day to consider the nomination of Vice Admiral Robert Papp as the next Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Admiral Thad Allen will retire this May. Congressional members from both houses are concerned about the budget and a couple issues that were focused on include the cuts in the number of Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST) and the continuing problems with the Deepwater program.

House votes to exempt TRICARE from health reform bill

Following is a release concerning the protection of TRICARE and Defense non-appropriated fund health care beneficiaries from unintended consequences of national health reform:

House votes to exempt TRICARE from health reform bill
By Katherine McIntire Peters March 21, 2010

House lawmakers over the weekend voted to protect TRICARE and Defense non-appropriated fund health care beneficiaries from unintended consequences of national health reform.

The exemption (H.R. 4887) applies to the health care coverage provided by the Defense Department to military service members, retirees and their families. It clarifies the tax code to stipulate that coverage provided by Defense is treated as minimal essential coverage, ensuring that service members and their families will not need to purchase additional coverage to meet new health insurance requirements.

The legislation was introduced late Friday by Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The full House approved it by a vote of 403-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Skelton opposed the health reform bill and planned to vote against it Sunday. In a floor speech Saturday, he acknowledged that the bill under consideration in Congress was unlikely to have any negative effect on military personnel or their dependents.

"However, to reassure our military service members and their families and make it perfectly clear that they will not be negatively affected by this legislation, my bill, H.R. 4887, explicitly states in law that these health plans meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ROA meets with Department of Defense leaders

Last week, ROA’s legislative director, CAPT Marshall Hanson, met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Nancy E. Boyda. Secretary Boyda extended the invitation to a number of Military Coalition associations with National Guard and Reserve members.

One of the topics was TRICARE Reserve Select and how to improve participation in the program which has been cited at 6 to 7 percent of the overall Reserve Component population. The importance of communicating details of the program down to the drilling Reservist was emphasized. ROA also mentioned the need for continuity of health care, and how there is a need for seamless transition between health programs, such as TRS, and TRICARE while on active duty. Reservists currently have to disenroll and reenroll several times as the shift between duty statuses.

Additionally, ROA brought up the need for access to TRICARE after the Reservist leaves drill status. At a minimum, there is a need for Reservists to be included in the Continued Health Benefit Plan offered to active duty, which is only made available to Guard and Reserve members who have been on active duty within the last 18 months. The Association also emphasized the need to accelerate the implementation of gray area retiree enrollment in TRICARE, which while passed into law last year, but appears delayed until this fall.

The Yellow Ribbon reintegration program was discussed as the second topic. Secretary Boyda asked how the program can be improved. She talked about building a national cadre of instructors, who can build a rapport with attendees. ROA suggested also building a regional cadre from returning veterans of OIF and OEF.

ROA also met with General Carter F. Ham and Mr. Jeh C. Johnson, who chair the Comprehensive Review Working Group that will be doing the Department of Defense (DoD) study on homosexuals in the armed forces. It was emphasized that his study is not a referendum on the issue, but is intended to highlight issues that would impact the armed forces should Congress repeal Title 10, Section 654 of the U.S. Code, which is the current law prohibiting gays and lesbians in the military.

Fourteen associations were invited to this stakeholder meeting, which was the third meeting to be held. They asked the associations about the best ways to reach out to individuals to provide input on the study. This would not only be people currently serving, but also military families, and veterans. DoD may consider providing associations a survey to be distributed to membership online, seeking such input. The timeframe for such a survey would be June to July. ROA will keep its members informed as things develop as we expect to be invited to follow-up meetings.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ROA submits testimony before Senate Armed Services subcommittee

The Reserve Officers Association submitted testimony before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel last Wednesday, March 10. ROA’s written testimony was read into the record and can be found here.

A number of issues were included in ROA testimony, including improvements to early retirement, Reservist health care, Selected Reserve Montgomery GI Bill, and reimbursement for travel expenses to monthly training. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) asked panelists, including assistant secretaries for Manpower and Reserve Affairs from the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, if there were any obstacles to correct the current law aside from funding, and the consensus was there were no additional obstacles. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made a point about earning early retirement for service over 20 years.

Legislation Provides Important Extensions

Legislation was passed by the Senate providing extensions on a number of items about to “sunset.”

The Doc Fix, stopping the reduction in Medicare (and TRICARE fees) by 21.2 percent would be extended to Sept. 30, 2010.

There would also be a tax year extension effective until Jan. 1, 2011 of a modest employer tax break for differential payment to mobilized National Guard and Reserve members.

The legislation was sent to the House, where it needs to be voted on, which will not be likely until next week. Word is that the House is focused on National Health Care Reform for the rest of this week.

Article from The Hill on Senate extensions

Monday, March 15, 2010

Resolution to Protect Student G&R Personnel Rights

Andrew Gonyea
Communications Assistant

At the 2010 National Convention, ROA adopted Resolution No. 10-23, “Protect Students Called to Active Duty.” The resolution urges the Congress “to enact legislation protecting the rights of students who are called to active duty from the Active and Reserve Components.”

As the resolution explains, approximately 74,000 (10%) of the Guard and Reserve personnel activated since 9/11 were enrolled at institutions of higher learning at the time of mobilization.

Eleven states have enacted protections for student Guard members and Reservists. In 2007, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced S.1718, the “Veterans’ Education Tuition Support Act of 2007,” to refund tuition and fees for educational programs, provide opportunities for re-enrollment, and defer repayment of loans due to a call to military service. However, Brown’s bill did not progress in the Congress.

Currently, the only federal “protection” student Guard and Reserve personnel have is a section of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2001 which expresses the “sense of Congress” that institutions of higher learning should “make every effort to minimize deferral of enrollment or reapplication requirements and should provide the greatest flexibility possible with administrative deadlines related to those applications.” But a “sense of Congress” is not judicially enforceable, and administrators are not obliged to display any flexibility to students.

ROA views protecting the educational rights of student Guard and Reserve personnel as necessary for recruitment, retention, and morale. If you or someone you know has had difficulty with educational administrators with regard to refunds, re-enrollment or reapplication requirements, please share your story with CAPT Marshall Hanson, Legislative Director, or CAPT Sam Wright, Servicemembers Law Center Director.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Legislative Update

CAPT Marshall Hanson
Legislative Director

ROA recently had a series of meetings on Capitol Hill.

MG David Bockel, USA, ROA Executive Director met with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). The first topic of discussion was how ROA could support Rep. Wilson's efforts to correct the current law on early retirement back to Sept 11, 2001, which was introduced as H.R. 208 last year. One of the top priorities of ROA, MG Bockel discussed with the Congressman ways of offsetting the $2.1 billion that it would cost over the next 10 years. "Pay Go" continues to dominate the rules on passing legislation in the House.

Several meetings were held on Rep. Tim Walz's (D-Minn.) bill, H.R. 3787, that would authorize veteran status to National Guard and Reserve members who qualify for retirement after 20 years, but never were activated long enough to meet federal statute as a veteran. The meeting, where ROA joined other Guard and Reserve associations, was held with staff members of Rep. Walz's office to discuss strategies to offset the $5 million cost over ten years which has stymied the bill. Several new approaches were suggested in the meeting. A follow-up meeting was held with Rep. Steve Buyer's (R-Ind.) office to discuss the congressman's support the legislation.

On the Senate side, ROA and other associations in The Military Coalition Guard and Reserve subcommittee met with the staff of Senator Blanche Lincoln's (D-Ark.) to discuss their version of the veterans status bill, S. 1780, and also improvements to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Changing U.S. Role in Iraq & The Future of Iraqi Civil Society

Bob Feidler
Director, Defense Education Forum

On March 4, the Defense Education Forum, in partnership with the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), presented a two hour program on the future of Iraqi civil society as the U.S. drawdown of troops continues. The program focused on the ability of Iraq’s civil society to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and stability. Key issues discussed included the political climate, the history of NGOs in Iraq, the ability of NGOs to sustain themselves and face challenges, whether the needs of Iraqi civilians could be met, and what role in the future the U.S. and its international partners might play in supporting civil society entities.

Mr. Michael Corbin, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, keynoted the program. He stated that a functional civil society was critical to our success in Iraq. It was noted that we are in a transition from a military/security dominated environment into one in which political, economic and cultural issues would come to the fore. Two major agreements were concluded in 2009, one being a Security Agreement relating to the drawdown of U.S. forces, but it was noted that the other agreement – the Strategic Framework Agreement – was also of enormous interest to the Iraqi government and this Agreement has a direct effect on the future of civil society. A system of checks and balances is in place with three working branches of government. Nobody got everything they wanted or on a timeline they wanted it, but a working, mostly democratic government is in place and functioning. The judicial branch – although it has elements of corruption – is working. And an NGO law was recently enacted that is relatively liberal in its nature. It does not require all NGOs to register with the government and it has no restrictions on foreign affiliations. It should be a good foundation for the future evolution of a civil society. Today there are 7000 NGOs in Iraq, of which 3000 are registered. The new law is groundbreaking but the proof will be in how it is implemented.

A panel that consisted of Erik Gustafson (on the phone from Iraq), Ellen Laipson of the Stimson Center, Emily Gish of Mercy Corps, Dr. Allan Dyer of the International Medical Corps and Manal Omar of the United States Institute for Peace addressed the progress of their NGOs in Iraq and assessed the future. Erik noted that he was amazed at the critical role Iraqi NGOs were already playing in such areas as the release of prisoners and dealing with honor killings in Northern Iraq. He noted the surveys that NGO were doing and the contributions they were making to the assist the government in doing its job.

It was commented upon that getting NGOs into an area early in a crisis was essential so that the people could observe the good they could do and thus be prepared to work with them and bolster them in the future. But this also raises issues among the people as to who NGOs really are -- do they represent the U.S.? Are they independent? The Iraqis have many “filters” as they try to decide whether they wish to be part of the NGO process. NGOs are a part of governance but must be sensitive as to whether they are perceived as neutral, opposed to or supportive of the government. Sometimes NGOs are an alternative to the government. Funding of NGOs is always an issue and very often the NGOs are personality driven. A culture of intimidation has prevailed for so long in Iraq that cultural adaptation will certainly be needed to create an environment for success and allow for NGOs to work closely with the government and advocate for their causes. It was pointed out that the Iraqis need to develop a philanthropic sense to support their NGOs.

The state of civil society in Iraq is evolving in a positive way. The government is functioning and recently adopted a legal framework for NGOs to exist that is conducive to their growth and survival. Funding will always be an issue and a cultural change to evolve to a philanthropic environment is needed. There has traditionally been a fear of civil society entities approaching the government – this must be overcome these NGO must push back as needed while also assisting the government as they can.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reserve Officers Association Declares New Advocacy Positions

WASHINGTON The members of the Reserve Officers Association reviewed its legislative and policy agenda, renewing positions not yet completed and establishing new positions to further its mission to support and establish an adequate national security policy for America.

Many of the 2010 resolutions focused on serving Guard and Reserve members as resetting and reconstitution of Reserve Component units remains a high ROA priority. Delegates also supported improving the continuity of TRICARE coverage.

Although supported in the past, a new emphasis was placed on the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Allowance (NGREA). Discretionary dollars provided directly to Reserve Chiefs permit the services reserve components to purchase badly needed equipment. ROA stressed a need to make NGREA proportional to the missions being accomplished. ROA also approved an increase in appropriations to military construction to renovation or replace inadequate Reserve Component facilities.

Two of ROA’s primary advocacy and education priorities regard the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The association adopted new official resolutions declaring needed improvements to these acts and highlighted the necessity of an enforcement mechanism for USERRA.

“We need to enhance remedies and enforcement procedures, especially with regard to the federal government as the civilian employer,” said retired Rear Admiral Paul T. Kayye, ROA President. “Our Servicemembers Law Center will continue to aggressively work on improvements to USERRA and SCRA.”

A related issue regards students who are activated in the Reserve and subsequently penalized academically for their absence. ROA feels this is a foul that needs to be corrected and enforced just like USERRA does for employment.

The association approved a number of new resolutions regarding aircraft funding, including the need to properly fund precision engagement equipment and mobility aircraft defensive countermeasure systems for the reserve components; and the necessity to create basing plans for the F-35 for the Air National Guard concurrently with the regular Air Force. The Naval Services got continued support on further procurement of C-40 multi-mission airlift aircraft as well.

Other national security resolutions that were passed included allowing recruiters access to high schools, non-ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, protecting the United States defense industrial base, and divestment from Iran to stop nuclear weapons. ROA also updated a resolution to keep the F-22 Raptor fighter line open by authorizing foreign military sales.

A new resolution was passed supporting full funding for Full Time Staff (FTS) personnel in the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. Such personnel administer and train Reservists, and ready equipment for mobilization. Yet with the increased operational tempo and under-manning, the force is handicapped; degrading the ability to transition from a strategic to an operational reserve. Support for Reservists qualifying for the US Public Health Service Medal was renewed.

The convention delegates considered a total of 48 legislative positions in the form of a resolution during their national convention held here Feb 7-10.

The 2010 and past year’s resolutions can be found at
The Reserve Officers Association is the 63,000-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 national security, with unique expertise on issues that affect the 1.5 million men and women now serving in America’s Reserve Components.

- ROA -

Senate gridlock creates 21.2 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE fees to Doctors

The 21.2 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE fees paid to providers went into effect after the Senate failed to take action. President Obama has directed Medicare billing contractors to hold off processing claims for 10 days, hoping that the Senate will act soon to place a hold on these reductions. If passed the delay would allow billings at the earlier fee level.

Originally intended to hold down the costs of Medicare, Congress has postponed the cuts each year until it has accumulated to the current 21.2 percent level. In 2006, Congress was not quick enough and legislation was delayed so that claims for that year had to be reprocessed to be reimbursed at 2005 rates. In 2006 the cut would have been only 4.4 percent, and has continued to grow ever since. You can write your Senator at

TRICARE fees are included as health care providers are paid off the Medicare fee schedule.

AP Article

Monday, March 1, 2010

Army Times Story on ROA's DADT Stance

The following story, concerning ROA's official stance on the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, appears in Army Times' March 1, 2010 issue. The story is available to subscribers only, and can be accessed here.

Reserve group: Neutrality on gay ban misinterpreted

By Rick Maze

The 88-year-old Reserve Officers Association finds itself an unlikely central player in the debate over gays in the military — all because the group voted Feb. 10 not to have an opinion on the subject.

At its national convention in Washington, D.C., the 63,000-mem­ber group voted not to renew a long­standing resolution that supported a ban on military service by gays that is stricter than current law. But the group also rejected a new resolution that specifically would have expressed support for the cur­rent law and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The end result: “Right now we do not have a position on this issue, and I am not sure when or if we will have one,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. David Bockel, ROA’s executive director. “We don’t have a policy.” The resolution supporting the ban, first enacted in 2004 and renewed in 2007, was not the only one allowed to expire, said Marshall Hanson, ROA’s legislative director. Resolutions supporting NATO, updating the Army’s education and promotion systems, an increase in the size of the Coast Guard and tighter controls on payday loans to service members also expired.

But none of the other expired resolutions — or new ones that call for improving health care benefits for reservists, reimbursing more drill-related expenses and support­ing development of a new heavy bomber — attracted as much attention as the move to drop the resolution that called on Congress to flatly exclude gays from enter­ing or staying in the military.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said ROA’s action “is a breakthrough for propo­nents of repealing” law and policy.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., an Army veteran and former ROA member whose membership has lapsed, said the group took a “prin­cipled stand” in bringing the U.S. “one step closer toward respecting duty and sacrifice of all service members.” Murphy is the chief House sponsor of legislation that would lift the military’s ban on open service by gay troops.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., chief sponsor of Senate legislation that would repeal the prohibition on open service by gays, said she was “pleased and proud to see the Reserve Officers Association take this important step to make our country stronger morally and militarily.” Such statements have Bockel and Marshall chagrined and a lit­ tle miffed. Some of ROA’s more conservative members are not pleased that media reports infer that the association supports the Obama administration’s drive to change current law.

“We are not endorsing a repeal of the gay ban,” Bockel stressed.

The soonest that ROA could approve a position on gays in the military would be in June, when its executive committee meets.