Convention Highlights 18 fra elects National Officers 24 Looking For … 27



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FRA Today - November 2010

Convention Highlights 18

FRA Elects National Officers 24

Looking For … 27

COMMUNICATIONS


Convention Recap

This issue is devoted to the news from FRA’s 83rd National Convention, held this year in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The delegates discussed, debated and voted on many issues, as detailed in the feature article, beginning on page 18. It was an honor to have many wonderful speakers this year, each bringing a unique perspective. Starting on page 20, you will read the highlights from each speaker. As there was so much to report from this Convention, the full list of committee awards presented this year will be included in the December issue of FRA Today, and is posted on the Member News page of www.fra.org.

The common theme throughout the convention week was how to help FRA improve retention rates and grow its membership base. As you will read in the NED Perspective, there are some basic points to remember about the importance of retaining our members. Perhaps the most important is simply that improving retention will mean Association growth. There are some outstanding examples of branches making tremendous strides in this area. There are several branches with challenges to double their membership within the year, and an overview of those activities (including a very special effort by Branch 299) will be highlighted in Membership Matters in December.

FRA is a strong, viable force. It is essential that every day we all look for opportunities to help it grow and continue to be relevant to all members. If your branch is doing something outstanding for retention efforts, please e-mail your story to Eileen@fra.org so your efforts can be shared as an inspiration for the rest of the Association.



Happy Birthday USMC!

Join FRA and special guests from the United States Marine Corps for a free teleconference at noon EDST on November 10, which is the USMC birthday! Please call to hear about what is happening in the Marine Corps now, and share experiences from your past.

To participate, dial 1-800-391-1709 and enter bridge number 444143. We also record the calls and post on www.fra.org under Member News (follow the link to the right when you login to the site) for those who are unable to attend at the designated time.

Are you a NewsBytes subscriber?

NewsBytes is a free, weekly legislative e-mail update to let shipmates and families know about important issues. For those who don’t have e-mail, NewsBytes is also available by phone at 1-800-372-1924 ext 112. To subscribe to NewsBytes, please e-mail newsbytes@fra.org and include your name and membership number (if applicable) so we can be sure to annotate your subscription in the proper record. Your FRA staff is working hard on your behalf, and this is a great way to keep up on what is happening!

Eileen Murphy is the Director of Marketing and Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at eileen@fra.org.


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NED perspective


83rd National Convention

FRA’s 83rd National Convention is history and we’re in the process of reviewing a full week of important meetings, social events, workshops, a special forum session and actions by delegates to be implemented in the new Association year and/or fiscal year.

Congratulations to our newly-elected National President Jim Scarbro and National Vice President Jeff Gilmartin and their Auxiliary counterparts: National President Helen Courneya and National Vice President Gini Larson, and all recently-installed regional presidents. And special thanks to PRPSE Roger Mitchell and LA FRA PNP Gail Doloway, respective FRA and LA FRA chairs of the Special Convention Committee, and other members of the committee, along with members of the National Headquarters Team for their great work to support a very successful convention.

The importance of membership retention was referenced during various convention leadership training sessions and I wanted to share some important points on this issue.

Retention = Growth. Meet the retention challenge and FRA membership will grow.


  • The reasons shipmates give for joining FRA has changed over the years. It’s important to make sure the Association stays relevant to all. Ask shipmates in your branch why they joined and what can be done to assure they renew!

  • It takes less effort and is less expensive to keep a current shipmate than recruit a new member.

  • NewsBytes subscribers are 80 percent more likely to renew their memberships. Please encourage all shipmates to subscribe by e-mailing their contact information to newsbytes@fra.org with “subscribe” in the subject line.

  • Welcoming new members is critically important to our retention rates. Give new members a call or send a card to let them know they are welcome and appreciated.

Another key issue discussed during convention was realigning FRA’s regions, which has been a topic of discussion for several years. Our Committee on Future Strategic Planning has analyzed the pros and cons of such a move and made its recommendations to the new National Board of Directors during its post-convention meeting on September 19th. I believe it’s important for all shipmates to understand the rationale for considering such a shift and all branches will be receiving information on the plan with Branch Reports that will be distributed in early November. It’s critical that shipmates be involved in the discussion about restructuring our Association and share their views with their respective regional president by February 1, 2011.

Reports from this and other convention committees will be included in the 2010 FRA Resource CD that will be distributed to leadership and branches in the coming months. Reports from the Budget and Finance, Employee Pension, Constitution and By Laws, and Legislative Service Committees deserve extra attention, particularly by branch and regional leaders. These reports include important information about FRA’s 2011 budget, pending legal issues and court decisions, C&BL changes and the Association’s 2011 Legislative Agenda. A complete transcript of all convention proceedings will also be included on the Resource CD.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the outstanding sponsors who generously supported the convention — Health Net Federal Services, MARSH Global Consumer, GEICO, Express Scripts, Capella University, US Family Health Plan and Navy Mutual — and the excellent speakers and panelists who offered valuable insights and information to all delegates. These include the Honorable Juan Garcia III, Asst. SecNav (Manpower and Reserve Affairs); retired Navy RADM Bonnie Potter, MD; Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris from the Department of Veterans Affairs; Dave Goch; MCPOCG-11 Michael Leavitt; MCPOCG-8 Vince Patton; SgtMaj Daniel Burs, USMC Manpower and Reserve Affairs; Navy Reserve Force Master Chief Ronney Wright; Coast Guard Reserve Force Master Chief Mark Allen; Navy Recruiting Force Master Chief Chris Penton; HMCS (SW) Dana Wallace who represented MCPON Rick West and PRPSC Don Larson.

Your strong and continuing support is appreciated and I’m honored to be reelected to serve as your National Executive Director from 2010–2013.


Joe Barnes is FRA’s National Executive Director and Chairman of the National Committee on Legislative Service and a member of the Special Committee on Future Strategic Planning. A member of Navy Department Branch 181, he is also an advisor to the National Committees on Budget and Finance and Membership and Retention.
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shipmate forum



TRICARE Online for TFL Beneficiaries?

As a retired Navy Commander and member of the FRA, I read the feature article in the September FRA Today with interest and have a question.

Since TriCare for Life isn’t mentioned anywhere in your article, am I to assume that this information applies only to those personnel and dependents that are on active duty or have a medical problem dealing with the VA? I know that I cannot make an appointment with a service facility and need to use civilian healthcare and wondered why you did not mention TFL when you wrote this. The program appears to be very helpful for those who can use it, however, what about those of us who must rely on civilian healthcare providers?

If this does not apply to TFL personnel, I suggest you make note of that in the next issue of FRA Today.



George McKinney

FRA Response: The TRICARE online tools only apply to health care service/data that’s provided through a DoD provider, such as appointments, prescriptions, etc. These tools are not designed to tap into information from civilian providers, in large part due to privacy concerns and HIPPA regulations. That said, the TRICARE online personal health record feature does allow patients to input their own information and save it as a PDF file for their own use.

Medicare and TFL

Anybody living to age 65 earns Medicare and I know we retirees are fortunate to have TRICARE for Life (TFL), thanks to the FRA and other organizations. But I think TFL being married to Medicare is going to bite us. If the new Health Care Plan or any future negative adjustments do anything to reduce Medicare payments or services, it’ll drag TFL along with it.

Administrations, and often the Pentagon, seem to talk out both sides of their mouths when it comes to genuine benefits for those of us who served 20 or more years. I’m convinced that the total real financial costs for veterans’ benefits hardly make a dent in the budget, but when it comes to discretionary spending, the Washington folks quickly forget all their raving rhetoric about the very few who serve or have served. It’s always been too easy to cut corners at the expense of veterans.

I think the only appropriate and equitable solution is to separate TFL completely from Medicare and insure adequate funding be maintained for TFL.



George H. Nickle

FRA Response: Adequately funding TRICARE, TRICARE for Life (TFL) and veterans’ healthcare benefits will be a challenge in the coming years due to higher costs, pressure to reduce the growing deficit and the increasing number of veterans requiring care. There are no laws guaranteeing military or veterans benefits, including TFL, and although there are no current legislative proposals to change TFL, FRA remains vigilant and will advise our membership of proposed changes to this and other important health care programs. Of immediate concern is the pending Medicare (and TRICARE) physician reimbursement rate reduction scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2010, with an additional reduction set to happen on January 1, 2011. FRA urges you to express concerns to your representative and senators and invites all shipmates to use the FRA Action Center (www.fra.org) to send pre-written messages on this and other key legislation. The site also allows you to draft your own personal message.

New ID Cards, No Waiting

My wife renewed her ID card last Thursday. When she arrived at [the ID card office] the place was packed (including military in uniform) and no empty chairs. Yet she left just 15 minutes later with new ID card in hand because she had made an appointment in advance online.

To schedule an appointment on-line, go to http://appointments.cac.navy.mil/default.aspx, and follow the prompts. (This Web site is good for all military installations.) Regardless of what the confirmation page states that you will need to bring to the appointment, you only need two forms of picture ID (one of them can be your current military ID as long as it is not expired), and DD Form 1172 which you can fill out and print online by going to http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd1172.pdf.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the sponsor signs the DD Form 1172 and gets it notarized in advance (free service at many banks and credit unions) then he/she does not have to go with the dependent to the Pass and ID office. If the DD Form 1172 is not notarized, the sponsor must accompany the dependent to complete the process.


Submissions: Send Shipmate Forum letters to: Editor, FRA Today, 125 N. West St. Alexandria, VA 22314. E-mail submissions may be sent to fratoday@fra.org. Please include “Shipmate Forum” in the subject line. FRA reserves the right to select and edit letters for publication. Letters published in Shipmate Forum reflect the opinions and views of FRA members. They do not necessarily reflect the official position of FRA as a whole. FRA is not responsible for the accuracy of letter content.
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On & OFF Capitol HILL



Unfinished Business Awaits Congress after the Election

Congress returns to work the week of November 15 and has a full plate of legislative issues to work on, including the Senate version of the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, S. 3454) (see below), all 12 of the FY2011 appropriations (spending) bills to fund the federal government, the so-called “doc fix” to provide adequate reimbursements for doctors providing care to TRICARE/Medicare beneficiaries that expires November 30, 2010; legislation to extend TRICARE coverage to children up to age 26, and many other unresolved initiatives.

Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center at www.fra.org to contact their elected officials on these important issues. Grassroots advocacy has a direct influence on the Association’s ability to effectively represent your concerns before Congress and appropriate federal agencies. Please take the time to send a message to your elected officials. You are welcome to use one of the prewritten letters available on the Action Center or compose your own.

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Senate Floor Action on Defense Authorization Bill

The Senate version of the FY2011 Defense Authorization Act (S. 3454) will be considered during the November session and FRA is working to gain support for pending/proposed Senate amendments that include expanding eligibility for the concurrent receipt of military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation, a larger-than-requested active duty pay increase (included in the House bill), and early retirement credit for Reservists who have been frequently deployed since September 11, 2001. The other version of the legislation (H.R. 5136) passed the House on May 28, 2010. Shipmates are encouraged to use the FRA Action Center to urge their senators to approve these amendments.

Once the Senate completes its work on the measure, a conference committee will resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. After the conference report is approved by both chambers, it will be forwarded for White House approval.

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FRA Speaks Out on Absentee Voting Delays

FRA sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., asking the Department of Justice to take decisive action against states and territories that are violating voting laws.

Although provisions of the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) require ballots be mailed to absentee voters at least 45 days prior to the general election, media reports indicate that some jurisdictions are not in compliance with the September 18th mailing deadline for this year’s federal election. Detailed information on these states and territories is available at www.fvap.gov.

FRA supports legal action being taken by the Department of Justice to remedy the unacceptable delays in sending absentee ballots to service members and urged Holder to also ensure all cast ballots are processed in a timely manner and counted accurately.



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Congress Passes Continuing Resolution as Appropriations Bills Stall

Before its October recess, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (H.R. 3081) that funds the federal government into the new fiscal year (FY2011) that began on October 1, 2010. The measure funds federal agencies at 2010 levels through December 3, 2010.

Although progress has been made on some FY2011 appropriations measures, none have been sent to the president. At press time, the Defense spending measure awaits consideration by the House Appropriations Committee and floor action in the Senate. The House passed its Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) appropriations bill (H.R. 5822), but the Senate has yet to approve its version. Coast Guard spending, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 2638), is still awaiting committee action.

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Doc Fix Deadline Fast Approaching — Again

FRA urges shipmates to ask their elected officials to address — for the third time this year — the 23-percent cuts to Medicare and TRICARE reimbursement rates that are set to take effect on December 1, 2010, and the 6-percent cut slated for January 1, 2011. This so-called “doc fix” is a serious concern as many healthcare providers may choose not to serve Medicare and TRICARE patients if/when the cuts are enacted. Members are urged to help resolve the recurring threat of cuts to doctor reimbursement rates by expressing their views through the FRA Action Center at www.fra.org.



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TMC Presents Top Awards to Hill Advocates

The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of 32 military and veterans groups, presented its highest awards to two legislators and two congressional staff members who have championed the causes of compensation and benefit improvements for military families. The Coalition’s 2010 Award of Merit was presented to Senator Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) for his leadership in enacting legislation to provide benefits and services to caregivers of wounded warriors and female veterans, and sponsoring legislation to improve post-9/11 GI Bill coverage. TMC’s Award of Merit was also presented to Representative Ike Skelton (Missouri) for his efforts to improve military pay and health care benefits, and eliminate inequities affecting disabled retirees and military survivors.

TMC also presented its annual Freedom Award to Kim Lipsky, deputy staff director for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Jacob Parker, legislative assistant for Rep. Tom Latham (Iowa), for their work in promoting support for military and veterans’ quality-of-life programs behind the scenes.

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No COLA in 2011

For the second consecutive year, there will be no cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Americans who receive Social Security benefits, military and railroad retirement or veterans’ disability benefits. The Department of Labor recently released data indicating that consumer prices for the third quarter of 2010 rose by 1.5 percent over last year, but dropped by 0.6 percent when compared to the same period in 2008. Although there has been a slight increase in prices over the past year, the government formula for COLAs requires that prices must have risen higher than when the last increase was awarded.

This is the first time in 35 years that there has been no adjustment in back-to-back years. Congress approved a one-time payment of $250 for Social Security annuitants last year and the White House proposed a similar payment in its 2011 budget, but Congress has not yet approved such a payment.

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What is a Lame Duck Congress?

When the 111th Congress reconvenes following the November general elections, it will be a “lame duck Congress.” Some lawmakers who return for the remainder of the calendar year will not be returning to Washington when the 112th Congress convenes in January.

The concern about a lame duck Congress is that lawmakers who were defeated in the elections will be casting votes without having to answer to the voters.
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TRICARE Coverage for Older Children

Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) introduced “The Extended TRICARE Coverage for Military Families Now Act” (S. 3846) that would extend healthcare coverage for military children until they reach age 26. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (Florida) and Jeff Miller (Florida) also introduced similar legislation (H.R. 6227) in the House. If enacted, the measures would be retroactive to June 1, 2010, the date most large civilian insurers and the Federal Employees Health Benefits System extended coverage to older children under their parents’ plan at no additional charge. The provision was part of the national healthcare reform measure and is available provided the child has no access to employer coverage.

Military families with TRICARE coverage don’t have similar access for their sons and daughters who leave college or otherwise age out of eligibility. A provision in the House and Senate versions of the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would extend TRICARE to military children, but delays in the legislative process make it uncertain when the measure will be approved. The House NDAA provisions would also require families to pay a premium for each older child covered. Members are urged to use the Action Center (www.fra.org) to ask their representative and senators to pass this legislation.

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VETERANS ISSUES

Gulf War Presumptions Expanded

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced the publication of a final regulation in the Federal Register that establishes new presumptions of service connection for certain diseases associated with service in Southwest Asia (including Iraq) or Afghanistan. Nine specific infectious diseases (Brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella Burnetii (Q fever), Malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral leishmaniasis and West Nile virus) have been associated with military service in Southwest Asia beginning on or after the start of the first Gulf War on August 2, 1990, through the conflict in Iraq and also service on or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan.

With this final rule, a veteran will only have to certify service in the specified region, have one of the nine diseases within a certain time after service and have a current disability as a result of that disease. Most of these diseases would be diagnosed within one year of return from service and there are time limits associated with seven of the diseases. For more information, visit www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-09-29/pdf/2010-24360.pdf.

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Veterans’ Benefits — Hope or Hoax?

An erroneous e-mail is circulating that claims “The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Act of 2010” (H.R. 4667, Public Law No: 111-247) will more than double veteran’s disability compensation on December 1, 2010. The legislation is real; the increased benefits are not. The recently enacted legislation provides the same cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for VA beneficiaries as that paid to Social Security annuitants. These adjustments are expected to be minimal, if not zero, again for this year. The final data used to calculate COLAs will soon be released by the Department of Labor.

Though not as monumental as the increases referenced in the hoax e-mail, President Obama signed a separate bill that provides improved benefits for veterans. “The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010” (H.R. 3219) includes a variety of increased allowances, broader insurance options and stronger protections for vets returning to civilian jobs. For more details, read Tom Philpott’s syndicated Military Update column (10-7-10).

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House Panel Reviews Personality Disorder Discharges

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) conducted a hearing recently to explore Department of Defense (DoD) discharges of service members with pre-existing personality disorders, rather than attributing the mental health condition to the stresses of war such as post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). When categorized by the military as a pre-existing condition, separating service members are unable to prove to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that their condition is a result of military service, potentially barring them from VA health care and other benefits. The hearing specifically reviewed what health care options and benefits are available to these veterans, recent DoD policy changes for personality disorder discharges, and why the military continues to send service members with pre-existing mental conditions into combat.

FRA continues to be an outspoken advocate to ensure that wounded warriors receive the adequate care they deserve and for adequate funding to care for wounded, ill, and injured warriors.

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Delivering Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits

The House Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity recently conducted a hearing on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The hearing specifically focused on the current status of the education benefit for the fall 2010 semester and the VA’s ongoing effort to effectively implement a web-based delivery system.

The VA reported significant progress in the deployment of VA’s new processing and payment system. Last year, the VA processed payments for 8,185 students for the fall 2009 semester. For the current fall term, VA processed payments for more than 135,000 students and reduced processing time from 28 to 10 days. All Post-9/11 G.I. Bill claims are now processed with the new automated system and new portions of the system are scheduled to be operational by December 31, 2010. FRA continues to monitor the execution of this important program to ensure timely implementation.

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House Approves Vet Status for Gray-Area Retirees

The House approved legislation (H.R. 3787) that seeks to provide veteran status for Reserve retirees who are not yet old enough to receive military retired pay and TRICARE benefits they’ll receive at age 60. These so-called “gray area retirees” are not considered “veterans” under the law unless they were activated under federal orders at some time during their careers.

FRA believes that all who served 20 or more years in the Reserve Component should be granted veterans status. The Association strongly supports this bill and its Senate companion (S. 1780) that authorizes this for members of the Reserve Component who served 20 years or more and are considered military retirees, but are not currently eligible for benefits associated with veterans status. The Association Members are encouraged to use the Action Center (www.fra.org) to contact their Senators on this important issue.

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National Resource Directory for Service Members and Veterans

The U.S. Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans’ Affairs have teamed up to create an online National Resource Directory (NRD) that provides service members, veterans and their families with access to thousands of resources to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. The NRD is available at www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov and provides information on benefits and compensation, education and training, employment, caregiver support, homeless assistance and other relevant subjects.

The NRD is also a great resource for those who support service members and veterans, and recently made a “state widget” available that allows individuals and organizations to display resources tailored by state and subject area on their own Web sites, blogs or Facebook fan pages. The NRD state widget, available at www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/stateWidget/index, can display resources by either popularity or by newest additions to the site and is automatically updated when new information is added to the NRD.

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Access to State Veterans’ Homes for Parents of Deceased Service Members

The President signed into law FRA-supported legislation (Public Law No: 111-246, H.R. 4505) that expands state veteran home eligibility to include parents who have lost one or more children serving in the armed forces. Currently, only parents who have lost all their children to military service are eligible for residency in a state veterans’ home.



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ACTIVE DUTY ISSUES

DoD Absentee Voting Week Promoted Military Overseas Voting

The Department of Defense (DoD) sponsored Absentee Voting Week from September 27 to October 4 in an effort to emphasize the importance of filling out and returning absentee ballots and encourage absentee voters to use a new electronic voting wizard available at www.FVAP.gov. All citizens voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act who have not received their absentee ballots are invited to visit the Web site, which also encourages the use of e-mailing and faxing as alternatives to mailing the voted ballot to local election officials where allowed.

FRA is a member of the Alliance for Military and Overseas Voting Rights and works to improve the process by which military overseas ballots are processed. FRA consistently references the need for voting reform in its congressional testimony and other interactions with lawmakers and successfully supported provisions in the 2010 Defense Authorization Act that streamlined military overseas voting. The Association continues to monitor implementation of these new provisions to ensure military personnel and family members stationed overseas have ample opportunity to vote and ensure that all ballots are counted.

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Coast Guard Authorization Act Passes

The House and Senate approved the FY2011 Coast Guard Authorization Act (H.R. 3619) that addresses several important personnel-related issues, including the retention of emergency leave for personnel who would otherwise be required to forfeit leave to provide support for major disasters; legal assistance for qualified Coast Guard Reservists on a par with all similarly situated DoD Reservists; and reimbursement for certain medical-related travel expenses when a service member is stationed on an INCONUS island and his/her family member is referred to a specialty care provider off-island. The bill also authorizes a USCG end strength of 47,000 and makes Coast Guard retirees eligible for the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH). The bill also changes the vice commandant position from a 3-star to a 4-star billet, which will align the Coast Guard’s structure more closely with the other armed forces. As FRA Today goes to press the bill is on the President’s desk awaiting his signature.



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Supreme Court Reviews Protests at Military Funerals

The U.S. Supreme Court heard opposing arguments in early October to determine whether protests at military funerals should be protected by First Amendment rights. The case originated when members of the Westboro Baptist Church carried inflammatory signs at the funeral of Matthew Snyder, a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006. The church believes the deaths of American service members are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. The Snyder family claims their privacy was invaded and their ability to bury their son with honor was compromised by the protests. The church’s pastor, Fred Phelps, Sr., claims the protests are lawful demonstrations of free speech.

FRA supports existing laws that prohibit such demonstrations and protect a family’s right to mourn in peace. FRA signed on to a Friend of the Court (amicus) brief for the case, joining 48 states and the District of Columbia in support of the Snyder family. The brief also asks the court to uphold the constitutionality of the “The Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act,” which prohibits protests within 300 feet from the entrance of any cemetery under control by the National Cemetery Administration and at Arlington National Cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after the funeral.

FRA members are asked to use FRA Action Center to urge their representatives to pass legislation (H. Con. Res 261) that expresses the sense of Congress that the Supreme Court should uphold laws that allow the families and friends of fallen service members to mourn their loved ones in peace and privacy. The ruling by the Supreme Court is expected early next year.



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Senate Military Family Caucus Created

Senators Richard Burr (North Carolina) and Barbara Boxer (California) are co-chairs of the new Senate Military Family Caucus. Similar to a House caucus created last year, the group will work on legislative issues related to the stress of multiple deployments, military spouse employment, child care, and family benefits. Pentagon officials have emphasized family support programs in recent years, noting that concern for family members is among troops’ top distractions when they deploy. These issues have also been addressed by FRA in conjunction with continuing support for the men and women who continue to answer our nation’s call and the family members who support them and also sacrifice for our country.



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Aviator Becomes 35th USMC Commandant

Before leaving town for the October recess, the U.S. Senate confirmed General James Amos as the new Commandant of the Marine Corps. He is the first Marine Corps aviator to be selected to serve as commandant. Amos commanded the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing from 2002 to 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and subsequently led II MEF. He also commanded the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and served as the deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration. He has been assistant commandant since July 2008.


The FRA Legislative team is Joe Barnes, National Executive Director; John Davis, Director of Legislative Programs and Branch 181 President; Bob Washington, Health Care Advisor and Outreach Manager; Chris Slawinski, National Veterans Service Officer and Ed Dockery, Assistant Director of Legislative Programs.

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