SEPTEMBER 2003 TO SEPTEMBER 2004
"Different Branches of Service, Different Battles, Different Generations"
"United As One Voice and Still Serving"
The 2003 convention was held in Colorado Springs, CO. This convention celebrated the 40th Anniversary of TREA.
The following were elected, appointed to the Board of Directors:
President - David Washington
1st VP - LeRoy Riddell
2nd VP - Pat Corbett
3rd VP - Floyd Quisenberry
Treasurer - David Standifer
Director - Lonnie Vessell
Director - Mel Payne
Director - Pat Corbett
Director - Ken Adams
Memorial Foundation - Bill DeBoer
TSCL Chair - George Smith
VSO - C. D. Rice
Parliamentarian - Charlie Flowers
Past National President - Vince Niski
Auxiliary President - Linda Bogert
In September, a group calling themselves ULSG (Uniformed Service Former Spouse Protection Act Legal Support Group) filed the suit on behalf of 58 servicemembers and retirees alleging that the former spouse law violates constitutional protections.
At convention, the Board of Directors made a tough decision to make The VOICE, a bi-monthly magazine, with a condensed e-mag posted on the website each month. This was an effort to cut some operating costs. Since 9-11, not profit organizations had taken quite a hit, and TREA was no different. The Board also reorganized some committees, and assignments in order for us to "weather the storm". The membership dues increased to: 1 yr-$20, 3yrs-$45, and Lifetime - $300.
In October, we reported that Veterans had formed their own Party -- the Veterans Party. Florida was the first states to officially recognize the party -- other states were trying to start their own state veterans party.
President Washington was invited to attend a meeting at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Two board members resigned, Director Mel Payne and Director Ken Adams. They were replaced by Ray Belvin and Tony Nathe.
The NDAA FY2004 included another upgrade to "Concurrent Receipt". CRSC was increased to include the 10-50% disabled. Also, Military retirees with 20 years or more, and rated at 50% or higher disabled, will see their retired pay offsets reduced over a 10 year period. The NDAA also included upgraded services for National Guard and Reserve, including enhanced TRICARE coverage, and unlimited commissary use.
Continuing to expand concurrent receipt was one of legislative issues for the year. Other issues that we continued to follow and lobby for on Capitol Hill included: Expanded National Guard and Reserve Benefits, Improvements to the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Repealing the SBC/DIC Offset, Veterans Health Care, Waiver of Part B Penalty for TRICARE eligibles, Burial at Arlington Cemetery, Retention of DIC Benefits if the survivor remarries, The Flag Amendment, Improvements to the USFSPA, Amendment to the Internal Revenue Code, VEAP Conversion, Improve Educational Benefits, COLAs, and Military Death Benefits.
The Medicare Modernization Act, included a provision to allow those eligible for Tricare For Life, but either weren't enrolled in Medicare Part B because of the penalty weren't, or were paying the penalty, to enroll. This was scheduled to go into affect January 1, 2004.
We continued to provide a "Congressional Report Card" -- letting the members who was and who was not supporting the bills that were important to us. We also encouraged them to contact their Congressional Representatives, and letting them know where we stood, and asking for their support.
President Washington again testified before the Joint Veterans Affairs Committee, prior to hosting a Congressional Reception in Washington DC. The Board of Directors also held their Mid-Term meeting.
Deirdre Holleman, Legislative Director, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the Survivor Benefit Plan.
Several members of the Board of Directors attended a Town Hall Meeting in Denver, CO, about military health care. Presenters at the meeting included Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, and Representative Bob Beauprez.
In April, President Washington was invited to the Oval Office to sit down with President George W. Bush, and 3 other veterans organizations to discuss veterans issues and the war in Iraq.
The Legislative Office, President Dave Washington, 1st Vice President LeRoy Riddell, and members from the local chapters manned a booth at the Dedication of the World War II Memorial. The Dedication coincided with the Memorial Day Celebrations in Washington DC. The 4-day event was attended by over 600,000 people.
In June, our Co-Founder Dean Sorell passed away suddenly. He was laid to rest at Ft. Logan Cemetery in Denver, CO.
Publications Coordinator Tammy Clowers was invited to a round table discussion with 7 other veterans organizations aboard Air Force One, with President George W. Bush, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi. As the plane flew to MacDill AFB so the President could address the troops, they discussed health care, concurrent receipt, SBP, USFSPA, Guard and Reserve benefits, and the current war in Iraq.
The Memorial Foundation gave out 42 scholarships for the 2003-2004 school year.
Three new chapters chartered in 2004.