Hundreds of thousands of military families could find support and resources through proposed benefits in the 2019 defense spending bill.
Military families generally move every few years as their servicemember transfers to different duty stations, making it hard to build friendships or for spouses to find permanent employment. The Defense Department estimates there are 641,639 spouses of active-duty servicemembers.
The $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act that was passed by the House of Representatives last week includes several policies that could benefit spouses and families. The Senate is now marking up their version of the bill.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Military-Spouses,-Families-Would-Benefit-From-These-Policies-in-the-NDAA.aspx
[Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva/Marine Corps]
From credit for retirement pay for Reserve troops' maternity leave to tracking burn-pit exposure, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act could bring comprehensive changes to the military.
The $717 billion defense spending bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 351 to 66. It now moves onto the Senate.
The bill authorizes DoD spending and sets personnel strength.
Here are five ways the 2019 defense spending bill will affect active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard troops.
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Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., right, urged the Senate to pass the VA Mission Act this week. [Robert Turtil/Veterans Affairs]
With overwhelming support, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to streamline the VA health care system, which could reduce veterans' wait times and allow more of them to seek out their own physicians.
The VA Mission Act was easily approved by the Senate with a vote of 92-5 on Wednesday. The bill, which previously passed the House by a vote of 347-70, will next go to President Donald Trump to become law just ahead of Memorial Day.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Senate-Approves-Big-Changes-to-VA-Health-Care.aspx
Several Veteran Service Organizations, including Rene Campos, stand behind Sen. Isakson as he pushes for VA Mission Act to pass this week. [AMANDA DOLASINSKI/MOAA]
Veterans are one step closer to a streamlined health care system that could reduce wait times and provide flexibility to seek out their own physicians.
After years of negotiations, Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is urging the full Senate's approval on the VA Mission Act during a vote this week - just ahead of Memorial Day. The bill has garnered support of more than 30 veterans' services organizations, including the Military Officers Association of America.
“This is in the best interest of the veteran,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the committee's ranking member. “Veterans, they like VA healthcare. With few exceptions, [they] like VA healthcare.”
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Senate-Leaders-Support-Big-Changes-to-VA-Health-Care.aspx
Amanda Bainton, executive director of the Military Officers Association of America's Military Family Initiative, address the crowd at the National Association of Secretaries of State during the New Voter Forum in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 21. [Amanda Dolasinski/MOAA]
An inside-look at challenges military voters face will be released this summer, according to a discussion Monday during the New Voter Forum hosted by the National Association of Secretaries of State.
A survey, funded by the Democracy Project and conducted by the Military Officers Association of America and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, will detail challenges service members said they have while casting votes.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Voting-absentee--Study-targets-challenges-troops-face.aspx
Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has been nominated to lead the agency, according to a surprise announcement by President Donald Trump on Friday.
Wilkie, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., has served as the acting director since late March when former director David Shulkin was forced out of the position. Wilkie previously served as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness for the Department of Defense.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Robert-Wilkie-is-President-Trump-s-New-Pick-to-Lead-the-VA.aspx
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks to reporters in the Rayburn House Building about the Burn Pits Accountability Act. [Amanda Dolasinski/MOAA]
Nearly every day during her 2003 deployment to Iraq, Christina Thundathil was tasked with cleaning burn pits - a duty that required her to light a fire in a large metal drum and stir waste for disposal.
She has no doubts the job made her ill, including her recent lung disease diagnosis.
As more veterans have come forward, two Army combat veterans serving in Congress - bolstered by support from MOAA and other members of the Military Coalition - are pushing a bill that would track servicemembers' exposure to burn pits or toxic airborne chemicals and share that information with Veterans Affairs facilities.
“I'm excited something can be done,” Thundathil said. “I want to leave the military in a better place than how I found it.”
On Thursday, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Brian Mast, R-Mich., both Army combat veterans, came together to push Congress to unite to pass the Burn Pits Accountability Act. The burn pits issue has been compared to the Vietnam era's Agent-Orange crisis. Agent Orange, an herbicide chemical sprayed by aerial troops to destroy vegetation used for enemy cover in Vietnam, has caused illness to more than 3 million, according to government data.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Veterans-Affected-by-Burn-Pits-Applaud-New-Bill-to-Track-Exposure.aspx
Military veterans who want to pursue careers in public office can earn a master's degree in a program developed by veterans with campaign-trail experience.
The master's in public leadership program is offered at the University of San Francisco in partnership with Veterans Campaign, a nonprofit organization that trains veteran leaders. The program was developed from the personal experiences of veterans who have campaigned for public office.
“I'm so excited to be part of a program that will help veterans translate their values and skills into successful political public service,” said Patrick Murphy, the country's first Iraq veteran elected to Congress, who also served as acting Army secretary.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/University-Launches-New-Degree-for-Veterans-Who-Want-to-Go-Into-Politics.aspx
A proposed bill would empower Veterans Affairs doctors to track and identify patterns of opioid abuse in hopes of reducing addiction, overdose, and death.
Maryland Republican Rep. Neal Dunn introduced the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act in September, which directs the VA secretary to connect health care providers to a national network of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs that can identify patterns of patient abuse. The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.
"We cannot stand silent and watch prescription opioid abuse destroy the lives of those who fought for our freedoms," said Dunn, a former major and Army surgeon who completed a residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "This bill instructs the VA to do what more and more private doctors are doing - connect to the national drug monitoring databases so no one slips through the cracks."
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Congress-to-Vote-on-New-Bill-to-Help-Fight-Veteran-Opioid-Abuse.aspx