Legislative Affairs August 2018 – by Barry Coyle
In Washington news, Congress has been busy and productive with legislation and activities of interest to MOAA members. As I previously reported, President Trump signed the VA Mission Bill into law on 6 June. This legislation includes: modernization of the VA health care system, including expanded access to community providers; expanding assistance to caregivers of disabled veterans; additional care and services for women veterans; improved support and care related to suicide prevention and traumatic injuries; increased research and compensation regarding deployment-related illnesses and toxic exposures; improved protections for Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients; military spouse residency support and transition programs; and infrastructure modernization. Unfortunately, the initial law only provides full funding of these provisions through May 2019. Long-term funding of the Mission Act is currently under discussion in the Veterans and Appropriations Committees of both Houses, with significant issues needing to be resolved.
On 23 July, the Senate confirmed Robert Wilkie as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, finally providing senior leadership in this position.
The FY 2019 Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills are still working their way through the House and Senate committee hearings and mark-up process without major issues so far. The Authorization Bills from both the Senate and House were consolidated by a Joint Conference Committee and sent first to the House for a vote. The House approved the Conference Committee version on 25 July and sent it to the Senate for final approval. The Senate is also expected to approve it and send it to the President prior to the Summer recess. This is the first time in many years that a DoD Authorization Bill is on track for approval prior to the start of the Fiscal Year. The annual Appropriations Bill generally lags a month or so behind the Authorization, but is also on track for passage before 1 October, with no significant issues surfacing to date. The 2019 Authorization Bill includes a 2.6% pay increase for active duty personnel, increased end strength for all the military branches, expanded maintenance and repair programs to improve readiness, and additional quantities of new weapons systems. The bill also authorizes disabled veterans, care-givers of severely disabled veterans and recipients of the Purple Heart to use military Commissaries and Exchanges beginning in January 2020. Thanks in part to a strong MOAA lobbying campaign (that included 17,000 letters from individual MOAA members), the final version of the Authorization Bill deleted the increased fees for TRICARE Select and Prime users that were included in the Senate version of the bill. If you participated in this lobbying effort, Thank You and Congratulations! Speaking of TRICARE, don’t forget that the Retiree Dental Program ends 31 December 2018. If you are using this program, you will need to find replacement dental insurance. You may be eligible for FEDVIP. Check out this program at tricare.benefeds.com. If you are using TRICARE Select or Prime, and want to make any changes to your coverage, that must be done during the Open Season that runs from 12 November to 10 December. Research your options at tricare.mil/openseason.
The North Carolina news is less encouraging for us. The General Assembly adjourned the 2017-18 Session without passing any of the veteran and retiree tax relief measures we tracked for the last two years. It remains to be seen if any of these measures will be introduced again next year and if any NC veterans groups (including MOAA) will engage with our candidates and legislators on these issues.
Left to Right: Leon Rooks and grandson Will, Bob Doleman, Marcia Morgan, Sandi Adams, Roger and Shirley Perkins, Sue Joens and son Scott, Ken Klassen and Bill Flynn
Check StarNews Photo Link for additional photo coverage from July 2, 2018 event.
Mike's Farm Dinner and Hayride Special Event.
On December 12th, SENCLAND members, spouses and their guests filled a coach bus for a trip from Wilmington to Mike's Farm. Leaving the driving for the coach lines driver, members enjoyed a peaceful ride through the country before arriving at the event. SENCLAND members were treated to a fabulous "All You Can Eat" country style dinner. Our member's favorites were the Southern Fried Chicken and the Cheesy-Gooey Mac and Cheese. At the conclusion of the meal and once all had as much to eat as they desired, we enjoyed a hay ride through the Lighted Christmas Forest. Christmas and Patriotic music filled the cool night air as our SENCLAND party passed by the lighted villages and a live display of the Nativity and Holy Family. To conclude the ride, Mike's Farm had a large American Flag displayed and while the hayride stopped to honor the flag, we recited of the Pledge of Alegiance. All had a wonderful time and many have already requested we plan a visit again in the near future.
If you have any suggestions for future special events, please contact our Special Evenats coordinator, Ed Sullivan at 910-599-1595.
Cape Fear Community College named its campus veterans’ center after longtime student veteran advocate Bob Philpott as part of a series of events to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov 11, 2014.
Before retiring as CFCC’s veterans affairs coordinator earlier this year, Philpott helped establish CFCC’s veterans center on campus three years ago and was well-known for his support of student veterans and their family members.
As a 26-year U.S. Coast Guard veteran, Philpott commanded the US Coast Guard Cutters Gallatin and Vigilant during search and rescue missions as well as drug interdiction operations. Bob was awarded two presidential meritorious service medals.
After his service to the Coast Guard, Philpott joined CFCC’s staff in December of 1993, as an economics instructor. He then served as dean of vocational and technical programs until 2011. Afterwards, he transitioned into his role as CFCC’s veterans affairs coordinator.
CFCC President Dr. Ted Spring credited Philpott’s dedication to the college’s student veteran population.
“Under Mr. Philpot’s leadership, CFCC was recognized nationally for three consecutive years as a Military Friendly School and is considered a model for schools around the country,” Dr. Spring stated.
Philpott’s distinguished service extends beyond his time in the US Coast Guard.
In fact, in 2007, he received the North Carolina Community College System Employee of the Year Award.
The naming ceremony was among several veteran-related activities held at the college today. Other events included a forum entitled “Remembering the First World War”, which featured presentations about the creation of war memorials, World War I writers, and the battle of Verdun. The college also held a ceremony to honor all student veterans and employees on campus.
Military veterans and their family members make up nearly 10 percent of CFCC’s student population in degree-seeking programs. CFCC opened the veterans center three years ago to better accommodate to needs of military personnel and their family members who are taking classes at the college.
NVN POWs - 40 years later
Not many know that Diane Sawyer worked as an assistant to Ron Ziegler, Press Secretary to Richard Nixon. This video is pretty neat.
If this doesn't get to you, CHECK YOUR PULSE. YOU MAY BE DEAD. What is not mentioned about Nixon is that he approved operation Rolling Thunder which instigated the heavy bombing of Hanoi and eventually convinced the Vietnamese that it was time to end the war.
No matter what one may think of Nixon now - watch this!
SENCLAND Chapter of MOAA will host a meeting/luncheon on Tues. 1 May 2018, 11:30 am at the Island Way Restaurant at 1407 E. Beach Drive, Oak Island, NC 28465. Our guest speaker will be Margaret C. "Peggy" Wilmoth MG, USA (R). She is currently a Professor and Executive Dean at the School of Nursing UNC-Chapel Hill, NC. Major General Wilmoth will discuss advances in battlefield medicine and treatment options from Viet Nam to present. She will also address Veteran Educational Services provided through the UNC Institutions of Higher Education in our state. Click link below for more info.
RSVP to JoAnn Doleman by Friday 27 April 2018 via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ph. 910-540-8459. Members are encouraged to bring spouses and guests. Cost is $20/person cash or check.
Click Download Below for UNC Institutions Veterans Services Websites
First click on a state. When it opens, scroll down to the city and the names will appear. Then click on their names. It should show you a picture of the person, or at least their bio and medals.
This really is an amazing web site. Someone spent a lot of time and effort to create it.
I hope that everyone who receives this appreciates what those who served in Vietnam sacrificed for our country.
The link below is a virtual wall of all those lost during the Vietnam war with the names, bio's and other information on our lost heroes. Those who remember that time frame, or perhaps lost friends or family can look them up on this site. Pass the link on to others, as many knew wonderful people whose names are listed.
Leave a lasting LEGACY to MOAA SENCLand.
Please consider a gift to the MOAA's SENCLand Chapter via your will or trust, which will perpetuate the goals and objectives of MOAA. Below is sample codicil that you may attach to your will or use the language in your will or trust: Please send a copy of your signed and witnessed codicil to the treasurer.
“I give, devise and bequeath to the SENCLand Chapter of MOAA, a North Carolina non-profit organization, the sum of $____________________ to be divided $_______________ for the SENCLand scholarship fund, and $______________ for the operating fund for the SENCLand.
In memory of __or in honor of __(please check one)____________________________________
_________________________________ (signature) ___________________________ (witness)
_________________________________ (printed name) _________________ ___(printed name)
We are very proud of our history of having extraordinary speakers and programs. Our members contribute great ideas and we believe that this is a major strength of our chapter.