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The latest in legislation affecting active duty, retired, and veteran's from AFSA.

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May 13, 2021 Share this on: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
  Breaking News  
   
 

Bill Would Make "Sweeping" Postpartum Care Changes for Moms in Uniform

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Legislation introduced last week seeks to improve postpartum care for women in uniform and their families through Title 10, the section of the United States Code on the armed forces. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, introduced the Military Moms Matter Act of 2021 May 7. The bill would expand paternity leave to 12 weeks for primary and secondary caregivers; extend the service member's physical fitness grace period to 12 months postpartum; and ensure that new moms who serve will have their medical needs met, including access to pelvic floor physical therapy referrals and increased postpartum depression and anxiety screening.

 

To read more, please click here.


 

Tiny Uptick in 2020 Military Sexual Assault Reports, Officials Say

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Reports of sexual assaults across the U.S. military increased by a very small amount in 2020, a year when troops were largely locked down for months as bases around the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. officials. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's first directive after he took office in January ordered senior leaders to look into their sexual assault prevention programs, and he later created an independent panel to study the matter. Formal reports of sexual assaults have steadily gone up since 2006, including a 13 percent jump in 2018 and a 3 percent increase in 2019 that included a much larger 9 percent increase for the Air Force, according to Pentagon data.
 

To read more, please click here.


 

Memorial Day Veterans Ride Gets New Staging Area After Pentagon Rejection

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Tens of thousands of motorcyclists set to descend on the nation's capital for a Memorial Day veterans event will have a new starting line for their ride, following the Pentagon's decision to deny the group a permit. The Rolling to Remember Ride, scheduled to take place May 30 around the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is expected to draw 50,000 or more participants, many of whom will be veterans and their family members. After hurried negotiations with city officials in recent days, organizers announced Wednesday that riders will be able to use the RFK Stadium parking lots as a staging area instead.

 

To read more, click here.


 
  AFSA on the Hill  
   
 

AFSA Legislative Support Update

To date, members of the 117th Congress have introduced nearly 7,000 pieces of legislation. In a fast moving law-making environment, it can be difficult to keep track of every single piece of legislation AFSA has either supported or opposed. Our Military and Government Relations Team has been tracking bills encompassed within the scope of our legislative platform extensively. To date, whether it be through formal communications with Congressional offices or via testimony submitted to Committee, the AFSA has officially offered support for 28 pieces of legislation. 

On the AFSA H.Q. website, you can keep track of the bills AFSA is supporting LIVE by visiting our 117th Congress Legislative Library - located at the bottom of the "Key Issues" webpage at https://www.hqafsa.org/keyissues.html. 

However, after hearing from our members in our annual Legislative Platform Survey, Every AFSA Airman Has a Story campaign, and via phone and e-mail, our Team finds it prudent to spotlight the following bills our team is currently advocating for:

  • The Retired Pay Restoration Act, the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act, and the Major Richard Star Act

Each of these bills would allow for the receipt of both military retired pay and veterans' disability compensation with respect to any service-connected disability. The Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act remains the AFSA's ultimate objective with regard to concurrent receipt legislation - as it calls for a total offset for all veterans and retirees. In the 117th Congress, concurrent receipt legislation has gained significant momentum. However, that momentum primarily pertains to support for the Major Richard Star Act. This AFSA supported legislation would qualify approximately 42,000 military retirees with combat-related injuries for concurrent receipt. As more updates unfold on efforts pertaining to concurrent receipt legislation, our Team will keep you informed.

  • The TRICARE Select Restoration Act

Our Team has heard fervently from our members about opposition to the TRICARE Select enrollment fees that were codified in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act. If you are unfamiliar: since January 1, 2021, retirees using TRICARE Select have been required to pay an enrollment fee equating to $150 per year for an individual and $300 for a family. 

At that time, Congress worked with the AFSA and other MSO's/VSO's to reject alternative proposals that called for an even higher beneficiary cost share than that currently established; including enrollment fees of up to $900 and a proposed TRICARE for Life enrollment fee that would have charged Medicare-eligible retirees an annual enrollment fee equal to 2% of their gross retired pay.

However, to be clear: The AFSA is steadfast in our commitment to opposing any increases in TRICARE fees or co-pays and is seeking the swift reversal of the TRICARE Select enrollment fee. In March, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester and Senator Lisa Murkowsi took action by introducing S.625, the TRICARE Select Restoration Act.

This bill, if codified in law, would meet the AFSA's objective by eliminating the TRICARE Select enrollment fee for veterans who retired prior to 2018. As more updates unfold on TRICARE pieces of legislation, our Team will keep you informed.

  • The Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act (TEAM) and K2 Veterans Care Act of 2021

Just over two weeks ago, AFSA's Executive Director Keith A. Reed submitted two written statements for the record on toxic exposure legislation being considered by the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees.

The TEAM Act reforms how the VA evaluates and provides care for veterans suffering from conditions that may be associated with toxic exposures. The K2 Veterans Care Act establishes a presumption of service connection for certain diseases becoming manifest in a veteran who served at K-2 and has since been diagnosed with toxic exposure-related illnesses and diseases.

In a previous edition of the Military and Government Brief (M&G-B) our Team reported on preparations being made by the House Veterans Affairs Committee to send a large collection of toxic exposure bills to the floor ahead of Memorial Day weekend. "Our goal is to move many bills through the process now so that we will be ready to move some of the bills to the floor as part of the committee's annual Memorial Day package," said Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., the committee chairman. 

"The bills represent a strong bipartisan effort to help veterans recover from the [coronavirus] pandemic. There's also a concerted effort to build equity and reach out to underserved veterans."

As more updates unfold on the Toxic Exposure omnibus package expected to be released, our Team will keep you informed.

If you have any questions on any of the bills AFSA supports, please feel free to reach out to AFSA's Policy Advisor, Legislative Affairs Matthew Schwartzman at mschwartzman@hqafsa.org.


VA Stands Up Commission to Recommend New Under Secretary for Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs established a commission to identify candidates to lead and manage the Veterans Benefits Administration.

The position is for the Under Secretary for Benefits, who oversees leadership and direction on non-medical Veterans benefits matters - which has an approximate operating budget of $6.2 billion, an average employment level of 24,700 - and a benefits budget of $135 billion for the delivery of services and benefits to Veterans and their beneficiaries.

By law, the appointment is made without regard to political affiliation and solely on demonstrated ability in providing oversight and management of this budget and the ability to develop, defend, and administer a budget of this size and complexity. Those being considered must have substantial experience in connection with the programs of VBA or programs of similar content and scope.

Major responsibilities of the post include oversight of the development of legislative initiatives, implementing policies, and providing direction for the application of innovative management techniques to increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency. 

The USB must possess the critical ability to successfully negotiate with stakeholders and partners at all levels and must also be able to effectively communicate VBA's major initiatives to a wide range of individuals and groups, including members of Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, other government entities and the private sector.

Other duties include formulating and articulating VBA policies to implement the overarching policies and programs of the department and addressing specific challenges to improve VBA's benefits delivery services in all program areas. This entails:

  • Accelerating the economic empowerment and independence of service members, Veterans and their families.
  • Conducting outreach, communications and engagement activities.
  • Ensuring timely delivery of benefits to the increasing numbers of Veterans participating in VA education programs.
  • Providing home loan guaranty program in a changing economy and housing market.
  • Providing vocational rehabilitation and counseling to disabled Veterans seeking employment opportunities.
  • Supporting the seamless transition from military to civilian life.
  • Providing timely and accurate disability claims decisions as the volume of new claims and the complexity of those claims continue to steadily increase.

Learn more information about the position by clicking here.


 
  Legislative Action Center  
   
 

Join the Fight for Quality of Life: Write Your Elected Officials in Support of the TRICARE Select Restoration Act!

Call to Action: Visit our Action Center and write your elected officials asking for their support of S.625, the TRICARE Select Restoration Act!

Link to Action Center: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/84931/respond

Issue Background

In the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress approved a measure opposed by the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) that would force Group A military retirees and their families to pay a monthly TRICARE Select enrollment fee to maintain their TRICARE Select coverage.

Since January 1, 2021, retirees using TRICARE Select have been required to pay an enrollment fee equating to $150 per year for an individual and $300 for a family. Additionally, retirees have been forced to pay a $30 copay for a primary care visit or urgent care visit at a network physician, or 25% of the cost for non-network care, as well as $45 or 25% at a network or non-network specialty care provider.

Where are We Now?

Joining hand in hand with our nation's service members past and present and their families, over the past four years, Congress has worked with the AFSA and other MSO's/VSO's to reject alternative proposals that called for an even higher beneficiary cost share than that currently established; including enrollment fees of up to $900 and a proposed TRICARE for Life enrollment fee that would have charged Medicare-eligible retirees an annual enrollment fee equal to 2% of their gross retired pay.

On March 9, 2021, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester and Senator Lisa Murkowsi introduced S.625, the TRICARE Select Restoration Act.

S.625 was referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

To date, this legislation has 2 cosponsors.

Legislation Summary

The TRICARE Select Restoration Act would eliminate TRICARE Select enrollment fees for veterans who retired prior to 2018.

AFSA's Position

AFSA remains committed to our legislative platform's goal to resist TRICARE fee increases and pharmacy co-pays.

AFSA HQ Sample Letter

Senate

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (Insert Name),

I respectfully request your support for S.625, the TRICARE Select Restoration Act. This legislation is supported by the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), of which I am one of 75,000+ members.

Due to a provision in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, since January 1, 2021, military retirees enrolled in TRICARE Select have been forced to pay substantially higher out-of-pocket costs for their healthcare coverage.

These out-of-pocket costs are inconsistent with private-sector PPO's and have been detrimental to many military families and retirees who rely on TRICARE Select for their health care coverage.

Especially when considering that prescription costs for beneficiaries are on track to rise significantly up until 2027, today's working-age TRICARE retiree's cost shares are now more closely aligned with the average civilian's cost shares since the program's conception in 1994.

The TRICARE Select Restoration Act would maintain the integrity of the TRICARE program by eliminating costly enrollment fees for veterans who retired prior to 2018.

I extend my sincerest gratitude to you for your consideration of this measure. For service members and their families, the viability of the TRICARE program could quite literally make all the difference between life and death - especially during a pandemic.

Please do all you can to move this legislation forward. Additionally, I humbly ask for a response to this request, so I know where you stand on this important issue.

Best regards,

[CONTACT: Name]

//////////////////

 

Important: This same letter is located in our Legislative Action Center, which can be accessed by clicking here. Using our Legislative Action Center is the easiest method to get in contact with your elected officials.

However, if you prefer to write your elected official through an alternative communication outlet, here is a list of helpful suggestions that will improve the effectiveness of the letter:

  1. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter.
  2. Be courteous, to the point, and include key information using examples to support your position.
  3. Personalize your letter with an anecdote to help paint a picture for the reader
  4. Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.

Note: Whenever addressing the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as: Dear Mr. Chairman, Madam Chairwoman, Dear Madam Speaker or Mr. Speaker.

Questions

If you have any additional questions about this AFSA supported legislation, please e-mail our Policy Advisor at mschwartzman@hqafsa.org.


 
  AFSA Membership Information  
   
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Greetings AFSA Division and Chapter Leadership,

We are pleased to share the AFSA Set-It-Forever/Auto Pay procedures and marketing materials to help share the process with our members, your membership and potential new recruits.

The Set-It-Forever/Auto Pay program creates an opportunity to JOIN AFSA or RENEW a membership by making a $36 once-a-year/every-year auto payment, or a $4-each-month/every- month auto payment. The $36 once-a-year option is set at $36, and the $4-a-month option includes a bank processing fee of $1 each month.

Review the two ways to enroll, the benefits to using the auto-pay option, and the marketing materials to help share the details of this program and ensure its success.

For more information, please click here.

For questions, please contact AFSAHQ Member & Field team at 800-638-0594 x 288.


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The Professional Education & Development Symposium convenes in the third quarter of the calendar year at a location somewhere within the 48 contiguous United States. During the PEDS, the AFSA conducts its general membership business. 

The AFSA delegates, general membership, and International Committees share invaluable information, discuss, and ratify, such things as, AFSA's Legislative Platform for the coming year and other goals and objectives.

The 2021 Professional Education & Development Symposium will convene in Orlando, Florida at the:
 
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Orlando
14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando, Florida 32821

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To register, please click here.

Don't forget to make your Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Orlando reservations - CLICK HERE

NOTE: The last date to make hotel reservations at the AFSA contracted room rates is June 17, 2021.


Please Update Your Contact Information Today!

Dear Air Force Sergeants Association Member,

In order for the AFSA to effectively communicate with our members, it is essential to ensure we have your current and / or valid e-mail address. 
 
We are in the process of updating our records and need your help! Please take a moment to ensure that we have your most current mail and email address (no .mil's); and accurate membership listing information.

We've made it easy, as you can update your information in either one of three ways: 

  1. Call Member & Field Relations team directly at 800-638-0594 x 288 (Mon. - Fri. 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST)
  2. Email to: msvcs@hqafsa.org
  3. Visit www.hqafsa.org and select the UPDATE button on the right

We thank you in advance for your support and prompt updates.


 
  And that's the way it is...  
   
 

In sum, the 117th Congress is in full effect and the Team is working to protect and enhance your hard-earned benefits. We continue to meet with the offices of our nation's lawmakers to amplify your voice and execute our quality of life mission. 

And that's the way it is for Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Stay tuned for our next M&G-B, where we will continue to keep you in the loop on all things pertinent to the coronavirus, veterans, active-duty members, guard and reservists, and military family members. Stay happy, and stay healthy!

 
 

 

https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/newsletters/40483

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks RV for the recent veterans benefits news from the AF Sergeant Assoc.

Although I am a former active Army and Guard/Reserve pilot the U.S. Air Force has been very good to me in Vietnam,  during my Guard duties and now as a veteran and also as a young Civil Air Patrol cadet in early 60s.

The AF flew me from Cam Ranh Bay Vietnam to Tokyo in 1970 on an Air Evac C-141 Starlifter transport and I have flown Space A on AF flights within the USA.  As a veteran with the military ID card (DD Form 2765) I sometimes stay at AF Inns and family RV camps on base plus use other Base facilities such as PX, Commissary and MWF recreation activities when on fishing / camp trips. Also entitled to again fly Space A when they resume these flights.

In early 60s as a junior HS student and Civil Air Patrol cadet I received an orientation flight in a AF T-33A Shooting Star jet trainer on a flight from Connolly AFB in Waco roundtrip to San Antonio and return over my home in Temple, TX.   In the B&W photo I am being strapped in to the rear seat for this thrilling flight.   The AF is one fine organization and I would have joined except I then had only two years of college so chose the Army Warrant Officer flight program instead.  Big Cheers to the USAF.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1735703626731815&type=39foPO8Hm.jpg

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Edited by NamMedevac 70
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