RESOLUTION NO. 61 – EXPANSION OF CRSC TO THOSE WITH LESS THAN 20 YEARS OF SERVICE WITH A COMBAT-RELATED DISABILITY, EVEN IF THEY ARE MEDICALLY RETIRED FROM THE ARMED FORCES
WHEREAS, the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act provided that military retirees with 20 or more years of active duty service and a combat-related disability will receive both their military retirement pay and their VA disability under a program called Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC); WHEREAS, personnel with less than 20 years of service with a combat-related disability are not eligible for CRSC, even if they are medically retired from the Armed Forces; WHEREAS, the CRSC program is a special part of a larger legislative initiative to restore military retirement compensation that is on par with Federal civilian benefits; WHEREAS, most of the combat-related injuries in the current Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts are sustained by junior enlisted personnel who are only in their first or second enlistment, meaning they are far short of 20 years of military service; WHEREAS, a military member who has combined service in the active and reserve components of 20 years or mo re, but less than 20 years in either component, is not eligible for CRSC; THEREFORE, BE IS RESOLVED, The Retired Enlisted Association supports legislation that will extend Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) to military retirees who are entitled to retired pay and have a combat-related disability, but who have not completed at least 20 years of retirement-creditable military service.
RESOLUTION NO. 62 – AMEND THE SGLI AND VGLI PROGRAMS TO ALLOW RETIRED MILITARY PERSONNEL THE OPTION TO INCREASE VGLI COVERAGE FROM INTIAL AMOUNT SELECTED
WHEREAS, when military personnel are retired from active duty they are given the opportunity to convert their military life insurance policy Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to a Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), they are allowed to elect a coverage up to the amount of the SGLI. Due to current law, veterans are not allowed any opportunity, at a later date, to increase the amount of that VGLI coverage, when and if needed. WHEREAS, when military personnel are going through their separation process for active duty, they may not be thinking of their long term future, and therefore, may not be able to predict their need to provide adequate life insurance coverage for their surviving dependents. THEREFORE, BE IS RESOLVED, that The Retired Enlisted Association, work with legislators in Washington to draft and champion legislation that would change this portion of the law, and allow an “open season” if necessary, to allow veterans an opportunity to make changes to their current VGLI coverage.
RESOLUTION NO. 63 – ESTABLISHMENT OF A “BEREAVEMENT LEAVE REGULATION” FOR ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY PERSONNEL
WHEREAS, changing current regulation to include establishment of a type of leave called “Bereavement Leave” to enable service personnel on active duty to attend to the personal affairs of an immediate family due to hostile actions while on active duty. WHEREAS, under current regulations, ordinary leave must be taken to deal with affairs connected with the loss of immediate family due to hostile actions while that person is on active duty. Affairs include the return of remains, processing of the remains at the military mortuary center, transporting the remains, visitations, guards of honor, funeral services, interment, dealing with personal affairs, return of personal property, inventory of personal property, honorariums and tributes, and the prolonged expressions of sympathy that come from all over the world. When this rare occurrence takes place, it is an unrealistic expectation for an active duty surviving service member to use ordinary leave to deal with these circumstances. WHEREAS, the terms of policy that should be included in this new category of leave are:
A. That Bereavement Leave is not charged against a service member’s ordinary leave.
B. That Bereavement Leave is used at the discretion of the service member and that Approval/Recommendation for such leave be placed in the care and custody of a Chaplain of the service member’s faith and/or chain of command.
C. That associated with this leave, unless extenuating circumstances exist, expenses be paid in a temporary duty status.
D. That Bereavement Leave be restricted for use by those uniformed service members who lost an immediate family member as a result of hostile action deemed so by the President, Congress, or the Department of Defense.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) work with legislators in Washington to draft and champion legislation that would establish the new Bereavement Leave Regulation for all active duty personnel in all branches of the United States military services.
RESOLUTION NO. 64 – RESTORATION OF $7 MILLION TO THE 2007 NATIONAL DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR THE DEFENSE AND VETERAN BRAIN INJURY CENTER - COMPLETE
WHEREAS, the United States is at war and more that 12,000 service men and women have been exposed to horrific explosions in Iraq and Afghanistan, that have caused more than half of our casualties; WHEREAS, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center is devoted to treating and understanding war-related brain injuries and received $14 million in federal funding in FY 2006; WHEREAS, both the House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill contained only $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, which is half of what the center received in 2006; WHEREAS, cutting in half the funding of this vital brain injury center is outrageous during a time of war; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, we the delegates of the 2006 annual convention of The Retired Enlisted Association, do hereby condemn this cut in funding, and urge in the strongest possible terms, that the Senate restore the $7 million that has been cut from the 2007 budget of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center during its consideration of the 2007 Defense appropriations bill. FURTHERMORE, we urge the 2007 Defense appropriations bill conferees from the House of Representatives to support full restoration of the $7 million for the 2007 budget of the Brain Injury Center.
RESOLUTION NO. 65 - OPPOSE INCREASES IN TRICARE AND VA HEALTH CARE ENROLLMENT FEES, DEDUCTIBLES AND CO-PAYMENTS
WHEREAS, the military retirement system is a major factor in the retention of adequate and capable men and women in our active and reserve force, and; WHEREAS, there are three retirement plans in affect; Final basic pay for those who entered prior to September 8, 1980; High-3 for those who entered between September 8, 1980 and July 31, 1986; and the Military Retirement Reform Act (MRRA) (also known as REDUX) for those who entered after July 31, 1986, and; WHEREAS, the MRRA/REDUX was later modified in the 2000 NDAA at the request of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because it was hurting recruiting and retention, and; WHEREAS, service members are offered a Career Status Bonus at 15 years of service in order to “opt-in” to the REDUX and accept a REDUX retirement benefit that significantly devalues their retirement over time; and, WHEREAS, several commissions and studies have called for a complete revamping of the uniformed services retirement system to make it more like “civilian” retirement benefits; and, WHEREAS, uniformed service is fundamentally different from civilian employment, and a unique package of powerful incentives is essential to induce top-quality people to serve for 20 to 30 years under conditions the majority of Americans are unwilling to endure even for one term of service; NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Retired Enlisted Association supports legislation to eliminate the Career Status Bonus and oppose initiatives to "civilianize" the military retirement system in ways that reduce the value of the current retirement system and undermine long-term retention.
RESOLUTION NO. 66 - SUPPORT VETERAN STATUS FOR NON-VETERAN GUARD/RESERVE MILITARY RETIREES
WHEREAS, members of the Guard and Reserve components with 20 years or more of service, but who have not been on federal active duty for the consecutive number of days required by law, do not otherwise qualify under current law (Title 38) as veterans; AND WHEREAS, all members of the Guard and Reserve components - those who regularly train in designated military positions - volunteer for service to the nation and are liable for activation in its defense; AND WHEREAS, over time, Congress has authorized a number of veterans benefits for such 'gray area' reserve retirees. In establishing such benefits, it's clear that these former service-members are indeed veterans; AND WHEREAS, this issue is a matter of honor to those who through no fault of their own were never activated, but served their nation faithfully for 20 or more years; AND WHEREAS, to qualify for a reserve retirement at age 60, a Guard or Reserve member will have spent the equivalent of 2.77 years in the performance of drill duty, annual training, and professional military development; AND WHEREAS, twenty or more years of service in the reserve forces and eligibility for reserve retired pay should be sufficient qualifying service for full veteran status under the law; THEREFORE, The Retired Enlisted Association supports legislation that would amend Title 38 to include in the definition(s) of 'veteran' retirees of the Guard/Reserve components who have completed 20 or more years of service, but are not otherwise considered 'veterans' under the current statutory definitions. Career military service in the reserve forces of our nation should constitute qualification for veteran status under the law.
RESOLUTION NO. 67 - ALLOWING GREY AREA RETIREES TO PURCHASE TRICARE RESERVE SELECT (TRS)
WHEREAS, the Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces are an operational force that is essential to every national security mission at home and overseas'; AND WHEREAS, our Nation is asking these service members and their families to make enormous sacrifices under the operational force policy and to be absent from civilian employers one year in every five or six years; AND WHEREAS, many Guard and Reserve members have already served two or more tours, far more than DoD's planning metric; AND WHEREAS, these tours of duty have caused many members of the Guard and Reserve components to suffer a gap in their health care coverage, causing a major financial and emotional crisis to those involved; THEREFORE, The Retired Enlisted Association hereby supports legislation that will permit retired members of the Reserve components to purchase TRICARE health insurance that was available to them both during their time on active service and when they reach 60 years of age.
RESOLUTION NO. 68 - CORRECTION OF MEDICARE DOCTORS' PAYMENT FORMULA
WHEREAS, the level of TRICARE payments to doctors and other health care providers based upon the payment level of Medicare payments to doctors; AND WHEREAS, TRICARE Prime network payments are below Medicare payments; AND WHEREAS, TRICARE for Life is a second payer to Medicare; AND WHEREAS, the willingness of doctors to take new TRICARE patients is based upon the TRICARE payments rates; AND WHEREAS, the willingness of doctors to take new TRICARE for Life patients is based upon their willingness to accept Medicare as first payer; AND WHEREAS, the physician payment formula which was established by Congress in 1997 does not reflect the present increases in the cost of providing medical care as compared to the rest of the economy; AND WHEREAS, cuts in Medicare payments to physicians will take place every 12 to 18 months unless a permanent fix is passed into law; AND WHEREAS, more and more American physicians are stating that that will not be able to accept more TRICARE and Medicare if the 1997 payment formula is not modified; THEREFORE, The Retired Enlisted Association hereby supports new legislation that will permanently fix the Medicare physician payment formula and/or uncouple the TRICARE payment formula from Medicare in order to insure that there will never be a risk of physicians refusing to take new TRICARE patients.
RESOLUTION NO. 69 - OPPOSE TREATING HEALTH CARE BENEFITS AS INCOME
WHEREAS, military health care is an earned benefit given by our government to offset the adverse conditions of military service; WHEREAS, military personnel deserve a package of care consistent with their extraordinary service and sacrifice, WHEREAS, various ideas have surfaced regarding ways to reduce the cost of military healthcare, including the levying of a tax on health care benefits as a component of income;
THEREFORE, be it resolved that The Retired Enlisted Association is opposed to treating health care benefits as income and then levying an income tax on those benefits.
RESOLUTION NO. 70 - OPPOSE FOLDING TRICARE INTO THE NATIONAL HEALTH CARE REFORM PROGRAM
WHEREAS, discussions about how to reform the nation’s health care system arise periodically in public policy debates; AND WHEREAS, the military health care system has been provided to the members of our nation’s armed forces as an earned benefit to offset the adverse conditions of military service; THEREFORE, The Retired Enlisted Association strongly supports the preservation of the unique role of TRICARE and the VA health system and opposes folding into any national health care reform program.
RESOLUTION NO. 71 - UPGRADE RESERVE COMPONENT BENEFITS THAT WILL REFLECT THE REALITY OF THEIR INCREASED ROLE IN PROVIDING FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE
WHEREAS, the Reserve Components have become an integral part of our nation’s operational military force; AND WHEREAS the upgrading of benefits to reflect that reality have lagged behind the upgrade in benefits to the active force; THEREFORE, be it resolved that The Retired Enlisted Association supports legislation to upgrade Reserve Component benefits that will reflect the reality of their increased role in providing for national defense.
RESOLUTION NO 72 - SUPPORT OF THE MEN AND WOMEN SERVING IN THE ALL VOLUNTEER ARMED SERVICES
WHEREAS, “the mission of The Retired Enlisted Association is to enhance the quality of life for uniformed services enlisted personnel, their families and survivors – including active components, reserve and guard components, and all retirees; to stop the erosion of earned benefits through our legislative efforts; to maintain our esprit de corps, dedication and patriotism; and to continue our devotion and allegiance to God and Country;”; THEREORE be it resolved that TREA re-emphasizes its strong support for the men and women serving in the All Volunteer Armed Services; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that TREA recognizes the need to support enhanced benefits for active duty military personnel and their families in order to maintain the viability of our All Volunteer Force, and that these benefits may included improved educational, family support services, compensation benefits.
RESOLUTION NO. 73 -- SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO LOWER THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AMONG RECENTLY RETURNING VETERANS, ESPECIALLY IN THE GUARD AND RESERVE
WHEREAS the unemployment rate among all veterans is currently higher than the national average, and; WHEREAS the members of the National Guard and Reserve have an even higher unemployment rate than former active duty, and; WHEREAS Congress has heard testimony that employers are unwilling to hire veterans because of a perception among the public that all veterans have PTSD/TBI or are “unstable,” and or that members of the Guard and Reserve will be called away again to serve and thus cost the employer money, and; WHEREAS an increasing number of employers refuse to hire members of the Guard and Reserve for fear that they will be called away again to serve and thus cost the employer money, a clear violation of their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Retired Enlisted Association strongly urges that Congress and the Administration act to lower the unemployment rate among veterans in any way possible, including by enforcing veterans’ preference in federal hiring guidelines, by setting and enforcing veteran hiring quotas across the executive branch, and by enforcing existing laws such as USERRA that protect the employment rights of our Guard and Reserve members. Further, we urge that this be an ongoing practice within the federal government.
RESOLUTION NO. 74 -- VETERANS AFFAIRS SHARE OF COSTS FOR VETERANS IN STATE VETERANS HOMES
WHEREAS, State Veterans Homes were founded for Civil War veterans in the late 1800s and have served veterans for over 100 years; and WHEREAS, under the provision of Title 38, United States Code, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to make aid payments to states maintaining State Veterans Homes subject to the provisions of 38 CFR 18.13, Part 3, Section 51.40 (1); and WHEREAS, the VA State Veterans Home Program has proven to be a cost-effective provider of quality care services to the nation’s veterans who require domiciliary, nursing home, and hospital care; and WHEREAS, VA promotes the care and treatment of veterans in State Veterans Homes as one means to attain the goal of developing and maintaining the highest possible quality of patient care for eligible veterans; and WHEREAS, Title 38, United States Code, authorizes State Veterans Homes to care for non-veteran residents, but only to the extent that non-veteran residents constitute no more than twenty-five percent of bed capacity at such State Veterans Homes; and WHEREAS, Title 38, United States Code, currently authorizes VA to make per diem payment up to 50 percent of the national average cost of care in State Veterans Homes, and the State Veterans Home Program is recognized as the lowest cost alternative among all nursing care alternatives available to VA; and WHEREAS, recognizing the growing long term health care needs of older veterans, the State Veterans Home Program will continue to be a vital health care provider and the lowest cost alternative for veterans needing long term nursing care; and NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The Retired Enlisted Association fully supports the objective of the National Association of State Veterans Homes (NASVH) to receive from VA a per diem payment of not more than the amount currently authorized by Title 38, United States Code; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Retired Enlisted Association urges Congress to enact legislation to allow states more flexibility in admitting veterans with service-connected disabilities to State Veterans Homes and more flexibility in the receipt of payments for such services from payment sources related to the Medicaid and Medicare programs; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Retired Enlisted Association urges the Congress to authorize admission to State Veterans Homes of any parent whose child perished in active military service to the United States in accordance with the limitations placed upon non-veteran residents by Title 38, United States Code;
RESOLUTION NO. 75 -- SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO ENSURE ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR RESEARCH INTO THE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) AND POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
WHEREAS improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the most common form of engagement our military encounters in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are likely to be used on the battlefields of the future; WHEREAS brain injuries are becoming more and more common, due to both IEDs and the stresses of multiple warzone deployments, resulting in increased substance abuse, suicide and other force readiness issues; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Retired Enlisted Association strongly urges Congress to provide funding specifically for medical and mental health professionals in Departments of Defense and Veterans’ Affairs, and the private sector when appropriate, to conduct further research into these debilitating injuries so they can be effectively minimized and treated, and our wounded warriors can be rehabilitated.
RESOLUTION NO. 76 -- RESOLUTION ON UNSCRUPULOUS LOAN PRACTICES
WHEREAS, Congress and the Department of Defense have recognized the problem of creditors who prey upon military service members and their dependents. (A "predatory lending practice" is one considered to be "an unfair or abusive loan or credit sale transaction or collection practice"); and
WHEREAS, among those affected are businesses that offer military personnel deferred deposit transactions--small, short-term loans better known as "payday loans--without regard for their ability to repay and with excessive charges packed into the loan and terms requiring, for example, balloon payments and waiver of legal rights, as well as loans from companies that sell expensive products and provide financing for them. Loans such as these have proven to be a source of spiraling debt for many military families; and WHEREAS, according to a DOD report, at least 48 percent of the enlisted military personnel preyed upon by payday lenders are under 25 years of age and generally have little experience in managing finances, no savings cushion, and no family assistance close by. What they do have that makes them attractive to payday lenders is a regular paycheck, whatever its size, and no likelihood of quitting their employment or being downsized or laid off. AND WHEREAS, the likelihood is that these military personnel will need a small loan at some point; and WHEREAS, some estimates are that abusive fees associated with payday lending cost military families over $80 million every year. This figure does not include Internet payday loans, which are estimated to bring in $500 million annually; and
WHEREAS, the effects upon the military family can be dire when they must take out loan after loan, each with equally high APRs and fees, to repay the first and subsequent loans, yet end up owing much more than the initial loan and still not able repay it; and WHEREAS, the effects upon the military branches and the nation can be significant as well, as pointed out by Navy official who said that under Navy rules, sailors with debts of more than 30 percent of their income cannot be sent overseas because their financial problems could distract them from their duties or, worse, make them vulnerable to bribery. And, "'Almost every case of espionage in our military has in some way had ties to financial greed or need on the part of the individual'"; THEREFORE, be it resolved that The Retired Enlisted Association supports legislation that protects service members from unscrupulous sales and financing practices.
RESOLUTION NO. 77 – VETERANS FOURTH AMENDMENT PROTECTION
WHEREAS, the 4th amendment to the U.S Constitution declares that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized;” AND WHEREAS, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are sworn to uphold, defend and protect the Constitution of the United States; AND WHEREAS, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who are sent into any war zone in the world are doing their part to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution; AND WHEREAS, it has come to light that the U.S. Government is capturing, storing and examining the phone calls, emails and web site visits, financial records, travel itineraries, and digital images captured on powerful surveillance cameras of U.S. citizens to check for suspicious patterns and associations; AND WHEREAS, U.S. government programs allow its agencies to collect information about vague and expansively defined 'suspicious activity' from law enforcement and intelligence officials across the country, as well as from the public; AND WHEREAS, a government program appears to give broad discretion to law enforcement officials to monitor and collect information about innocent people engaged in commonplace activities, and to store that data in criminal intelligence files without any evidence of wrongdoing. There are also serious concerns that the system opens the door to racial profiling; AND WHEREAS, it has come to light that members of the United States Armed Forces have come under suspicion and been targeted for government surveillance and investigation simply because they served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, and for no other reason; NOW, THEREFORE, The Retired Enlisted Association opposes government surveillance of U. S. military personnel and veterans who have committed no crime, nor are suspected of having committed a crime, but have simply served their country faithfully in a war zone in defense of the U.S. Constitution.
RESOLUTION NO. 78 - THE RIGHT OF FEDERAL MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL TO PARTICIPATE WITH ASSOCIATIONS
Whereas many veteran and military associations host multiple events each year, including awards receptions, wounded warrior symposia, career fairs for military and veteran personnel, military family symposia, etc., as well as state and local chapter events around the country; And whereas participation by military and civilian leaders and other members is essential to the educational, recognition, patriotic, and other commendable purposes of these events; And whereas there have been attempts to pass laws that would disrupt or negate the effectiveness of many important educational and other programs that focus public attention on the needs of returning veterans, military personnel, and their families and survivors;
Therefore TREA: The Enlisted Association opposes any law or regulation that would in any way restrict participation by military and federal civilian personnel from attendance or participation in events sponsored by military, veterans and other associations. Further, we oppose any attempt to exclude members of veteran and military associations from membership on government commissions simply because of their pervious or current membership in a military or veteran association.
RESOLUTION #79 - ENSURING THAT TUITION ASSISTANCE AND GI BILL FUNDS ARE EFFECTIVELY SPENT
WHEREAS, US service members have several programs open to them to advance their education both in the service and after they separate;
AND WHEREAS, the best way to preserve these benefits is to make sure that the funds are not being spent on credentials that won’t advance the service member’s career or on a school that doesn’t properly support its students; AND WHEREAS, it has been shown that some schools are unfairly targeting the active duty and veterans while not providing a worthwhile product; THEREFORE, TREA: The Enlisted Association strongly supports efforts to ensure accountability in both the for profit and nonprofit education industries through transparency and compliance with widely-accepted educational standards while also ensuring that as many active duty service members and veterans are able to use their benefits.
RESOLUTION NO. 80 - SUPPORT MAKING THE AMERICAN BATTLEFIELD MONUMENTS COMMISSION (ABMC) RESPONSIBLE FOR VETERANS CEMETERIES WORLD-WIDE
WHEREAS, there are veterans cemeteries outside of the continental United States; AND WHEREAS, these cemeteries have fallen into disuse or disrepair as the United States military has shifted its global footprint over the years; AND WHEREAS, it has fallen to private entities to keep up and maintain these repositories of American valor; THEREFORE, TREA: The Enlisted Association strongly supports making the ABMC responsible for ensuring that America’s warriors and their family members rest with honor and dignity.
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