1. Legislative Focus and Goals for FY 2006
2. Commission on Guard and Reserve
3. FCC attempting to raise charges on Calling Cards
4. Congressional Focus on Guard and Reserve Issues
5. Write your Congressional members and staffs – TODAY!
1. Legislative Goals for FY 2006. At the end of the year we sent out the Naval Reserve Association’s proposed legislative goals. The following are the results of what our members felt were the most important and what we’ll focus on this legislative session:
- Reduce Retirement Age. Currently the Reserve Component members are the only federal entity that does not receive their earned retirement annuity at the time they have completed their service. With DoD envisioning a recall of RC members for one year in six, the contract has changed. Recalled RC members often are sacrificing 401K payments and promotions on the civilian side to answer the call. We are urging Congress to address this issue. There are cost neutral options that can implemented.
- Health Care for RC Members and Their Dependents. We are seeking permanent legislation to provide seamless healthcare coverage to service members and their families in the Reserve Components. Full participation in TRICARE for members of the Selected Reserve on a cost-share basis when not on active duty is the goal. Allow the option of an equivalent offset to civilian plan premiums during activation. Further strengthen rights under USERRA to permit RC members to retain employer sponsored insurance if coverage is terminated due to TRICARE benefits provided 9- days prior to mob. Extend TRICARE Dental coverage to RC members for 120 days post mob.
- Family Support Programs. Promote adequate funding for a core set of family support programs and benefits that meet the unique needs of RC families with uniform access for all service members and families. This access would include: Web-based programs and employee assistance programs such as Military One Source and Guard Family.org. Enforcement of command responsibility for ensuring that programs are in place to meet special information and support needs of families or those geographically dispersed. Enhanced education for RC family members about their rights and benefits. Innovative and effective ways to meet the RC community’s needs for child care, preventive respite care, volunteering, family readiness group meetings, and drill time.
- Naval Reserve Force mission transformation and integration. Recent GAO reports indicate that integration efforts have been without documentation. An additional GAO investigation is required to evaluate current integration. We will ensure Congress is engaged on this effort. Transformation and rebalancing changes have been presented piece-meal which has made implementation impact hard to determine. We are supporting better fidelity and rigorous analysis of transformation initiatives and rebalancing planning. With the level of RC contribution to the total force on a continuous and increased pace, we are encouraging Congress to maintain force end-strength, and to properly equip the Reserve Forces. Recent downsizing has been the results of cost avoidance. We are advocating for full support for training requirements and increased support for equipment for Reserve Components.
- NREA. We will fully inform Congress of those equipment shortages that are required for the Naval Reserve Force. Congress is very concerned about this issue, and intends to address equipment shortages during the 109th Congress.
- Retirees and VA goals. Full funding for VA Health Care. Demand still outpaces the capacity to deliver care in a timely manner. We support implementation of a seamless transition system for separating combat and future Veterans. We will continue to seek timely and comprehensive implementation of legislation which authorizes the concurrent receipt of uniformed services retired pay and VA disability compensation for those disable retirees not eligible under the current statue. We will assist the DoD with efforts to reach disabled retirees who are not aware they are eligible for Combat Related Special Compensation (SRSC). Protect retiree entitlements and closely monitor any attempts to degrade benefits.
2. Commission on the Guard and Reserve. We worked tirelessly to get this provision included in the NDAA. It will have widespread implications for our Guard and Reserve Forces in many ways. We are urging Congress to fully support the commission to review a number of issues including briefings on multiple pay and compensation issues, transformation and rebalancing issues, roles and missions for the Reserve Components, equipment reconstitution for the Guard and Reserve components. This commission can make lasting recommendations that can be translated into legislation for 21st Century Guard and Reserve Components. The commission is moving towards reality. At this writing the Senate has the lead on establishing the commission, but has not completed action as of yet. The Senate and the House are awaiting the Department of Defense commissioners before moving ahead. The SASC has the lead and indicated that it will begin its work soon. Once the Commission is formed and underway we will seek an opportunity to present our thoughts and ideas to them.
3. The FCC and Increase on Calling Cards. The FCC is considering a proposal to raise the charges on all calling cards. The Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the right to charge new and expensive fees on calls made with many pre-paid calling cards.
These new in-state charges that the telecom lobbyists are pushing are as much as 20 times higher than the current interstate access charges consumers already pay for these calls. And the proposed fees have absolutely no relationship to the RBOCs actual costs! The RBOCs are already fully compensated through the current system of long distance access fees.
For consumers, there is only one issue: If the telecom lobbyists succeed, prices for many calling-card calls are going to surge. If the FCC allows these price hikes, the impact will hit hardest on groups that either do not have or can’t afford their own telephone service: military servicemen and women, students, and the poor.
We along with several associations have written a letter to encourage the FCC to not raise these charges on these cards due to the amount the military members use them to stay in contact with families. We have now received word that the outgoing FCC chairman, Michael Powell, is leaning toward implementing the policy before he leaves office in early March. In addition to the advertisement that ran in the Washington newspapers; we are calling upon all of to write the FCC about this:
The Honorable Michael Powell
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
You can also send an e-mail to Chairman Powell. Go to and use the link that will automatically send an email.
4. Senate and House focus. The news has shown how Congress and the White House are focused on key issues; Social Security, Taxes, Iraq, and Energy among many. It has been my observation (and others) that Congressional members are very focused at this time on Guard and Reserve issues. Both Houses of Congress and both sides of the aisle are trying to address what they must have heard while not in session. The following are considering or have introduce comprehensive Guard and Reserve legislation that does encompass our legislative goals; Senator Graham (SC) – Health Care/Reduced Retirement, Congressman Lathman (IA) introduced Health Care/Reduced Retirement/MGIB, Senator Landrieu (LA)/Senator Allen (VA) – Employer’s Tax Credits, Senator Bayh (IN)- Health Care/Reduced Retirement, Congressman Blunt (MO) – a comprehensive bill that will address several issues, Congressman Bilirakis (FL) – Employer’s tax credits for those G-R employees, Congressman Lantos (CA)– a bill that addresses pay gap for Guard/Reserve, Congressman McGovern (MA)/Graves (MO) – pay gap/tax credits, Congressman Wilson (SC)/Saxton (NJ) – Reduced Retirement. All of these bills are focused on Retention and Recruiting and assisting the Guard/Reserve in these times of increased utilization, and transformation of the forces. We need to support those that are trying to assist. Please write, call, fax, and send e-mails of support – do it over and over to those members that support our (your) legislative goals, and to your representatives. Congress is focused right now on the budget that will be delivered by the President, but you can keep the focus on Guard and Reserve.
5. We strongly urge you to write or contact your Congressman or Senator on any of the above issues. Under current conditions e-mails or faxing is the best way to get your opinion to your Congressional member.
NOTE: Contact your representative, as a citizen; please remember to not use government time or equipment!
Find your members in the House at – e-mails and fax numbers are listed on home pages
Find your members in the Senate at e-mails and fax numbers are listed on home pages
Example for e-mail or fax letter:
To a Senator: To a Representative
The Honorable (full name) The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 (OR) Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator (last name) Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms (Name)
I request that you support our Naval Reserve goals for Health Care, Reduced Retirement, and Regeneration/Reconstitution of the Naval Reserve Force. I request that you investigate integration plans that decrease efficient, affordable, and effective Naval Reserve units and personnel.
(Your Name), (Your address)
Please feel free to forward this by e-mail. For those of you who receive this, and you are not already a member, please consider joining the Naval Reserve Association. Check us out at: www.ausn.org or call on our toll free number 866-672-4968.