October 8, 2004

The Honorable Duncan Hunter, M.C.
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
House of Representatives
2120 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

It has come to the attention of FRA that there may be a move to scuttle the Conference Report on the Ronald Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2005. This is unbelievable at a time when our young men and women in uniform are upholding the freedom of this Nation's citizens by laying their lives and limbs on the line in such wretched places as Iraq.

It's inconceivable that some in Congress may attempt to further delay the Report when our troops are waiting for the authorization to provide additional funding for badly needed force protection gear, ammunition, combat clothing, individual body armor and other items. The legislation also authorizes additional money for key battlefield medicine and combat casualty care research programs to ensure the latest life and limb saving technology is available to our members of the uniformed services. For those in the thick of battle, there are many who look forward to an increase in the strengths of the Army and Marine Corps to hopefully reduce the number of deployments overseas as currently planned by the individual services.

Implementation of the provision to provide 180 days of transitional health benefits for reservists, active duty members and their families, when the member separates from active duty, is also an immediate need.

For our men and women in uniform who are stateside or may have just returned from service overseas or are about ready to deploy, we can't forget they're anxiously waiting to see the Conference Report adopted and signed into law by the President as soon as possible. They're counting on your colleagues to vote for the 3.5 pay increase, modernizing and renovating their housing, lifting the limit of funds that can be used to build privately-constructed housing, and finally, recognizing the value of our reserves and their service to the Nation by providing Tricare coverage, increased educational assistance, and other quality of life enhancements.

FRA salutes you, all Members of the Armed Services Committee, and the outstanding professional staff for advancing this legislation and urges its immediate approval by the House of Representatives.

Joseph L. Barnes
National Executive Secretary