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Submitted by Lynn Nash
Advocacy in Action 2022 – The Topics have been set!
Every year MOAA engages with our law makers on behalf of its constituents. It’s an effective way to let our representatives know what we think is important. Teams speak with law makers in their States and help educate them on the issues that are important, then report back to National on what they’ve heard. Teams participate in training in advance, and MOAA provides fact sheets, contact information and more. It’s fun to participate and meet your elected official in person (well….maybe by zoom again) and see the legislative process in action.
This year’s issues are:
Military pay raise 4.6% for all ranks. Inflation is at an all-time high. Recent pay raises don’t match what military families are feeling at the checkout. Because we are an all-voluntary force, the result could be fewer people joining the services. This bill also affects retirement pay.
Richard Starr Act
This bill allows a veteran with a combat-related disability and fewer than 20 years of creditable service to receive retirement pay, without reduction, concurrent with disability compensation. This bill impacts 50,000 combat-injured service members who were not able to complete 20 years for a full retirement because of their injuries.
Both chambers are already working on legislation. Currently the numbers are at:
House H.R. 1282 - 191/435 Co-Sponsors (short 27 votes). It has to clear the Committee on Veterans Affairs and the subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
Senate S. 344 - 55/100. It has to clear both Veterans’ Affairs and the Armed Services Committees.
This has been a previous AiA issue, and despite not being continued last year, it still picked up 35 co-sponsors. This issue is about pay and concurrent receipt and how to describe/translate it to law makers who may not understand the issue.
Reduce TRICARE Mental Health Copayments. There is only a House bill H.R. 4824.
This bill limits DoD to charge the same co-pay amount that you would pay for a primary care visit when receiving outpatient mental health care, whether it is furnished by a specialty care provider or not for a period of ONE year. Then after the completion of the year, the Secretary will report to Congress about the impact of limiting mental health co-pay on the healthcare system; and if needed, any adjustments to the co-pay.
The healthcare issue here is understanding the nuances of seeking outside care/ TRICARE co-pays.
BLUF: Availability of organic mental health services within the MTF have declined.
Most service members don’t want to seek care mental health care using military services- there is a concern about affecting a future career if care is sought.
Generally, there aren’t enough MTF providers for family members.
Most TRICARE beneficiaries don’t “get” how to make the system work for them.
National MOAA will host webinar AiA training last week of March. The Advocacy in Action period is 1 – 29 April, and most legislators will be in their home states during 11 – 22 April.
If you would like to participate in Advocacy in Action, even as just an observer, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll take your name and forward it to your state’s team captain. We’ll provide his/her contact information to you.
As a virtual chapter, we want to include our members in AiA actions. We track your involvement and lessons learned for those who will follow in your footsteps next year.
Below is an article on one of the topics being highlighted in this years Advocacy in Action.
CAPT(R) Lynn Nash
Submitted by Ed Baisden
COL (Ret) Ed Baisden
As I write this (Superbowl Sunday) our membership is still on the rise. We stand at 367 Members in all fifty states (plus DC and Puerto Rico) and 176 congressional districts “covered”. Of all the channels feeding us new members one of the best is for each of our current members to take on the role of “recruiter”. I am willing to bet money that every chapter member has at least ten friends who are eligible to become members but who have not joined. Actively using the "Why Join MOAA?" information is an easy way to make the case for joining the Virtual Chapter.
Looking ahead, I am going to be leaving this job this October. I have done the entire job over six years by myself and I want to have a good transition plan. This is in no way whining or looking for sympathy. I absolutely love the job and want to leave it in good hands. I would never expect any single person to step in and do this job alone, the way I have. None of it is “hard” but some of it does take lots of attention to detail.
I have looked over everything I do and how I do it now. This all falls into three distinct portions, each of which can be done by a different person without a great commitment of time or effort. I would like to have a few members join me in refining this process. There may well be better ways to get this job done and I would welcome some fresh eyes looking it over and helping to brainstorm the way ahead. Would you be interested in helping me out? Taking on this will NOT lock you into a commitment.
I hope to hear from you soon.
SURVIVING SPOUSE LIAISON
Submitted by webmaster
LTC (Ret) Susan McKennon
Remarriage Rules Relaxed For Surviving Spouses Seeking VA Benefits
30 Jun 2021
Military.com | By Jim Absher
A little-noticed provision in Public Law 116-315, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, makes it easier for surviving spouses to continue receiving Department of Veterans Affairs benefits if they remarry.
The law made changes to the remarriage rules for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Effective Jan. 5, 2021, a veteran's surviving spouse who remarries after the veteran's death will remain eligible for the benefit paid by the VA if the spouse is at least 55 years old. The remarriage must have occurred on or after that date.
Prior to this change in the law, surviving spouses who remarried before their 57th birthday lost eligibility for the benefit.
What Is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation?
DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of certain deceased veterans, including survivors of:
Military members who died while on active duty
Veterans whose death was the result of a service-related injury or disease
Veterans whose death wasn't related to their service but who received VA disability compensation
The monthly tax-free benefit is currently more than $1,300.
To be eligible for DIC, the surviving spouse must have been married to a service member who died on active duty or married a veteran whose death was service-connected. There are other rules regarding when the marriage occurred, if there are children or if the marriage was terminated due to divorce.
If the spouse remarries after the veteran dies, they can remain eligible for the benefit if the date of remarriage is on or after Dec. 16, 2003, and they are at least 57 years old. Effective Jan. 5, 2021, that age limit dropped to 55.
The surviving children of a qualifying veteran are also eligible for the DIC benefit if they are unmarried and under 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school. Certain adult children who cannot provide for themselves due to physical or mental disabilities also can be entitled to DIC. Some surviving parents may be eligible for the benefit if they meet income limits.
TRANSITION and PERSONAL AFFAIRS
Submitted by webmaster
COL Tonya Dickerson
MOAA offers a range of resources for servicemembers seeking to take the next step in their professional life. Whether you plan to enter the workforce or maximize your GI Bill benefits, don't skip this must-read guidance.
Get the details from the MOAA 2021 Transition Guide HERE