NewsBytes - 11-15-2013

Senate NDAA Vote Scheduled for Next Week

The Senate version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-S. 1197) is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate next week. The House approved its version of the Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1960) in June. One of the major differences between the two bills is that the House version provides a 1.8 percent active duty/Reserve pay increase and the current Senate bill provides for only a 1 percent increase. FRA strongly supports a pay increase that at least keeps pace with the 1.8-percent civilian pay increase and would support a Senate floor amendment to increase the pay increase to 1.8 percent. FRA will be supporting other key floor amendments that include:

  • Expanding concurrent receipt for immediate payment of full military retired pay and veteran’s disability compensation for all disabled retirees (sponsored by Senator Harry Reid-Nev.);
  • Providing a one-time offer for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries to keep their current coverage even though they live outside the reduced Prime Service Area (PSA) 40 mile radius of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF) or BRAC site (sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar-Minn.); and
  • Eliminating the Survivor Benefit Program (SBP) Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset for military widows (sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson-Fla.).

Once the Senate completes work on the Defense Authorization bill (S. 1197), a conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills. That final bill will then be voted on by the two chambers and then sent to the President to sign into law. Shipmates are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask their Senators to support these important amendments at: http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=63002816

Pentagon Ignores Cutting Retirement Pay

As reported in FRA Newsbytes on 10-25-13, the Pentagon has sent its recommendations to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act established a nine-member commission to review military compensation and retirement programs and make recommendations for their modernization to the president and Congress in the spring of 2014. Unexpectedly, the Pentagon did not recommend any systematic changes to the military retirement system. Its three-page letter to the Commission recommends reduced active duty annual pay increases and additional TRICARE fee increases, but makes no mention of changes to the military retirement system. However, with the upcoming round of $52 billion in Defense sequestration cuts that will take effect January 15, 2014, personnel costs are coming under increasing pressure and scrutiny.

Veterans’ Day, USMC Birthday, MCPOCG Meeting, and the FRA Pinnacle Award

FRA shipmates around the country followed a long-standing tradition by participating in Veterans’ Day ceremonies on Monday, November 11, 2013, which also marks FRA's 89th anniversary. FRA National President Virgil Courneya and Auxiliary Past National President Helen Courneya attended a White House breakfast before ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Courneya and Director of Legislative Programs (DLP) John Davis attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial Saturday morning, November 9, 2013 that provided an opportunity for Courneya to speak with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Sgt.Maj. Michael Barrett after the ceremony. Later that evening Courneya and his spouse Helen attended the Commandant’s Marine Corps Ball.

On Tuesday, November 12, Courneya, Davis, and National Executive Director Tom Snee met with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) Michael Leavitt at the new Department of Homeland Security Headquarters to discuss legislative issues. Later that day Courneya and Snee presented the 2013 Pinnacle Award to Rep. Jeff Miller in his Capitol Hill office. Miller, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was originally scheduled to receive the award at FRA’s 86th Annual Convention in Chattanooga, Tenn., but the Congressional session schedule did not allow him to leave Washington, DC during the convention.

John Davis Selected as Co-Chair of The Military Coalition

FRA DLP John Davis has been elected to co-chair The Military Coalition (TMC), a group of 33 military and veterans organizations that work together to advance legislation beneficial to military personnel, veterans, families and survivors.

FRA is a founding member of TMC, which Davis co-chairs with Mike Hayden of the Military Officers Association of America, and is the leading enlisted organization in the coalition. FRA staff members also chair TMC committees and serve in other leadership positions.

Davis, in his eighth year as DLP, succeeds FRA’s former National Executive Director Joe Barnes, who retired in late October. Before joining FRA, Davis worked for nearly 13 years with the National Federation of Independent Business, and started lobbying Capitol Hill in 1993.

Davis enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 1981, serving in a self-propelled artillery battery. After receiving an Honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard.