Wednesday, June 27, 2012

40th Anniversary of Dual Hatting of the Chief, Air Force Reserve.

Sunday, July 1, 2012 marks the 40th Anniversary of the United States Air Force's “dual-hatting” of the Chief, Air Force Reserve, as the principal advisor to the Air Force Chief of Staff (CSAF)  and as the commander of all Air Force Reserve units and personnel (today called Air Force Reserve Command).  Major General Homer “Pete” Lewis, USAF (Ret.), a former ROA National President, was the Chief, Air Force Reserve in 1972, who on 1 July 1972 convinced the CSAF to sign the order dual-hatting the Chief, Air Force Reserve.  Due to the success of the dual-hat program in the Air Force Reserve,  in the late 1980s, the United States Congress directed the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, and Marine Reserve Chiefs, all be dual-hatted as Chief and Commander of their component.  

This program has been key to the shaping and the success of the Reserve Components and their operational readiness to meet the wartime requirements of the last two decades. As a Component, and not a Command, the Reserves are amplified more under Title 10 of the United States Code. These Components report directly to the President and are individually responsible to recruit, train and retain service members. Further, each Component is responsible to properly budget and  equip units to serve along with their active duty counterpart in both times of war or national emergency, and times of peace to ensure adequate national security. Dual-hatting isn't just another title for Reserve Chiefs; it structures the Reserves Components into what they are today.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Home Front Improvement: ROA to Testify on Veteran Home Protections and Small Business Employment

On Thursday, June 21, 2012, the Reserve Officers Association will testify in a hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. The hearing will focus on bills that will improve the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to protect housing as well as amend Title 38 of the United States Code to protect veteran employment.

US Code Title 38 includes provisions on employment of veterans, including the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA).  Thursday’s hearing will include two bills to improve employment protections.  H.R. 3860 – the Help veterans Return to work act would help reemployments, by tightening up USERRA by permitting only small business concerns to claim hardship exemptions if unable to rehire a disabled Reserve Component member.  Currently any size business can make this claim.  H.R.4115 – the Hire at Home Act codifies the need to credit any military training as one of the program functions of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veteran’s Employment and Training.

The SCRA legislation provides a wide range of protections for service members called to duty. It is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty and relieve stress on the family members of those deployed service members. However, the changing nature of contingency operations and the conditions of service today indicate that the SCRA must be continuously reviewed to protect service families. Realizing this, the House of Representatives introduced the Fairness for Military Homeowners Act of 2012 and the Military Family Home Protection Act.

Under the Fairness for Military Homeowners Act of 2012 (H.R. 4740), SCRA would be amended to ensure that certain relocations of a service member for duty away from the service member’s principle residence does not prevent him or her from refinancing the mortgage on that principle residence.  In addition, the Military Family Home Protection Act (H.R. 5747) would amend SCRA to improve expand protections against mortgage foreclosures to serving members who are deployed to contingency operations, military who are retired for a disability at a 100 percent rating.

As discussed at an ROA Defense Education Forum event earlier this month, small business is the engine of our economy, creating hundreds of jobs each year. Last month alone, small businesses added 57,000 jobs, helping to ease the unemployment rate.[1] Today there are thousands of Small Business Administration 8(a) certified, VA certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVSOB) and VA certified Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) companies currently doing business across the country. In the military contracting arena, small business succeeds in creating jobs by providing quality, flexible and cost effective solutions.

For Reservists and Guardsmen, these proposed bills would ensure a better quality of life upon returning home from deployments and transitioning back to their civilian lives. Having to carry the weight of their military obligations, ROA will see to it that Congress works to alleviate the weight of civilian obligations for today’s service members.

ROA’s testimony is embargoed until after Thursday’s morning testimony, but it will be posted at following the hearing.

[1] The unemployment rate among Reservists and Guardsmen today is 150% that of the national average.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Post 9/11 G.I. Bill Eligibility for Title 14 Reservists

It’s no secret: Today’s Reserve force is ever transforming from a strategic force to an operational force. In meeting the challenges of the 21st century (cybersecurity, counterintelligence, terrorism, etc.) today’s smaller, all volunteer force is called to duty more frequently. For Reservists this means pausing their civilian lives, as best as they can. With the uncertainty and need to balance both lives, many Reservists face uphill battles both home and abroad. They are battle hardened, yet there is still a personal toll on the individual service member. Seeing the hardships these men and women face, one must wonder how does the force even recruit and retain Reservists?

Having been there, the members of the Reserve Officers Association recognize the necessary role the Reserve force plays in providing strong national security. ROA believes that more efficient policies need to be established for Reservists in order to create an enduring Reserve force. In amplifying the voice of Reservists in the halls of Congress and the Pentagon, ROA members determine the issues that most affect the Reserve Component today and develop an annual legislative agenda. The annual legislative agenda reflects the current environment of today and sets forth the policies that need to be established for today’s Reservists.

Working throughout the year to implement and achieve goals set forth by the legislative agenda, ROA members always have the Reservist’s concerns in mind. One goal set forth by the 2012 agenda is for Title 14 Reservists to be eligible for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Now, half way through the year, this policy may come to fruition. Last month the House of Representatives passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. Included in the bill is language that would give Coast Guard Reservists credit for active duty performed under USC Title 14 that would be applied towards early retirement or post-9/11 G.I. bill. Under this amendment, orders for Title 14 Coast Guard Reservists would have to be in 90 day increments within a fiscal year for early retirement credit. However, orders could be accumulated for post 9/11 GI bill eligibility, allowing for these Reservists to be able to seek higher education at a college or university.

This amendment would provide for better Reserve Strength, and a better Reserve Life. Retention and recruiting numbers would rise, allowing for a stronger force and military life for Reservists. At the same time, Reservists would be provided a better civilian life as they could seek higher education, which could further aid them in their civilian careers.

However, this is not a victory until it becomes a law. The NDAA FY 2013 is now being reviewed and debated by the Senate. ROA will continue to follow and push for the amendment until it becomes a victory for Reservists.