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A Marine fires at the enemy allowing other Marines to maneuver during an assault on an enemy position during the final six days of Mountain Exercise at Bridgeport, Calif., Feb, 4, 2014.
U.S. Navy Petty Officers 3rd Class Erik Clark, right, helps Jeremy Redgrift exit the mud tank aboard the attack submarine USS Key West in Polaris Point, Guam, Feb. 11, 2014. Clark and Redgriff, divers assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, are conducting preventive and corrective maintenance. The Cable, forward deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
A U.S. special forces soldier leaps over a creek while pursuing insurgents with Afghan security forces in Gelan district in Afghanistan Ghazni province, Feb. 8, 2014.
U.S. sailors fight a simulated fire during a general quarters drill in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Gulf of Oman, Feb. 7, 2014. The Truman is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, supporting theater security cooperation efforts and supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
U.S. special forces soldiers provide security while an Afghan special forces soldier directs other Afghan soldiers during a firefight with insurgents in the Gelan district in Afghanistan Ghazni province, Feb. 8, 2014.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ted Casal checks the shot line before launching an F/A-18C Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron 94 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 7, 2014. The Vinson is training off the coast of Southern California. U.S.
Maldivian marine Cpl. Mohamed Shakir takes part in squad push-ups during U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training with U.S. Marines on Maafilaafushi, Maldives, Feb. 3, 2014. This noncommissioned officer development program between U.S. and Maldivian Marines creates a setting for professional military and cultural exchanges. It also provides an opportunity for both forces to train in unfamiliar settings and gain experience with different tactics, techniques and procedures.
Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines attempt to flip a boat during the conduct amphibious operations familiarization drills during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014 at Hat Yao beach, Rayong, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 12, 2014. Cobra Gold, in its 33rd iteration, demonstrates the U.S. and the Kingdom of Thailand commitment to our long-standing alliance and regional partnership, prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region. The drills were completed by the joint efforts of Royal Thai Marines with Reconnaissance Battalion, U.S. Marines with 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force and the Republic of Korea Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.
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Clemson Wide Receiver and Army Veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq Daniel Rodriquez Speaks to Keowee Piedmont and Greenville MOAA Chapters Jan 16 2014 (43:54)

GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act

Summary: H.R.357 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 - (Sec. 3) Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), for purposes of the educational assistance programs administered by the Secretary, to disapprove courses of education provided by a public educational institution that does not charge tuition and fees for veterans at the same rate that is charged for in-state residents, regardless of the veteran's state of residence. Provides for the treatment of veterans enrolled in courses at such institutions before July 1, 2015.
(Sec. 4) Extends through FY2018 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) a monthly assistance allowance to disabled veterans training or competing for the Paralympic Team; and (2) grants to U.S. Paralympics, Inc.
(Sec. 6) Makes eligible under VA homeless veterans reintegration program those homeless veterans who are: (1) participating in the VA supported housing program for which rental assistance is provided under the United States Housing Act of 1937, and (2) veterans who are transitioning from being incarcerated.
(Sec. 7) Extends from 12 to 17 years after discharge or release from active-duty service the authorized period for veterans with service-connected disabilities to enroll in certain VA vocational training and rehabilitation programs.
(Sec. 8) Reauthorizes through June 30, 2018 (under current law, the authorization expires as of June 30, 2013) certain qualifying work-study activities for individuals receiving educational assistance through the VA.
(Sec. 9) Sets forth the responsibilities of each Director and Assistant Director of Veterans' Employment and Training (assigned to each state by the Secretary from among personnel within the Veterans' Employment and Training Service), including: (1) monitoring the performance of veterans' training and employment programs, with special emphasis on services to disabled veterans; (2) addressing program performance deficiencies and establishing higher performance goals; and (3) reviewing program funding and assisting with funding requests.
(Sec. 10) Amends provisions concerning the Transition Assistance Program of the Department of Defense (DOD) (employment and job training assistance and related services for members of the Armed Forces being separated from active duty and their spouses) to require such Program to include: (1) information about disability-related employment and education protections, (2) instruction in the use of educational assistance entitlements, (3) testing to determine academic readiness for post-secondary education and appropriate courses, (4) instruction on the financing of post-secondary education, and (5) information on benefits provided under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and in other subjects determined by the Secretary concerned.
Requires the VA Secretary to submit to the congressional veterans committees the results of a study to determine the feasibility of providing veterans' benefits instruction at all overseas locations where such instruction is provided through a joint contract with the Secretary of Labor.
(Sec. 11) Amends the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 to extend through June 30, 2014, the veterans retraining assistance program. Directs the Secretary to submit to Congress an interim report on the retraining assistance provided under such program.
(Sec. 12) Directs the Secretary to increase, as of December 1, 2013, the rates of veterans' disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. Requires each such increase to be the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act, on the same effective date.
(Sec. 13) Prohibits the Secretary from paying any performance award to a VA Senior Executive Service employee during FY2014-FY2018.

There is a companion bill in the Senate S 257.

We support both of these bills.

Contact your Senators and your Representative and let them know how you feel about this important issue.

Be Careful When You Show Your VA (VIC) ID

Other Military News

US Navy Ready To Deploy Laser For 1st Time

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BATH, Maine (AP) — Some of the Navy's futuristic weapons sound like something out of "Star Wars," with lasers designed to shoot down aerial drones and electric guns that fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds.
That future is now.
The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
For the Navy, it's not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.
"It fundamentally changes the way we fight," said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy's laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.
The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as "asymmetrical threats." Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.
Rail guns, which have been tested on land in Virginia, fire a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound — enough velocity to cause severe damage. The Navy sees them as replacing or supplementing old-school guns, firing lethal projectiles from long distances.
But both systems have shortcomings.
Lasers tend to loser their effectiveness if it's raining, if it's dusty, or if there's turbulence in the atmosphere, and the rail gun requires vast amount of electricity to launch the projectile, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute.
"The Navy says it's found ways to deal with use of lasers in bad weather, but there's little doubt that the range of the weapon would be reduced by clouds, dust or precipitation," he said.
Producing enough energy for a rail gun is another problem. More

News Tip provided by Cindy Clark

Tragic Story of Decorated Marine from Hard Background Who Found a Home in the Military but Died Very Alone - Whole Town Turns Out for His Funeral

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PUBLISHED: 10:45 EST, 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:07 EST, 12 February 2014
When Eloy Timothy Tafoya died alone there was no-one to claim his body.
He had no known relatives, friends and even his neighbours had barely spoken to him. He was a stranger.
The 60-year-old, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, had been a solitary man who never revealed much about himself to the people around him.
But yesterday his comrades and his community turned out in their hundreds to pay their respects to a man who turned out to be a former Marine and all-American war hero.
Mr Tafoya was given a funeral with full military honors that included the presentation of colors, a 21-gun-salute and a police escort - all arranged by people he didn't know.
Concern for him started in January, when neighbours in Casa Solana noticed a foul smell coming from his apartment and called police.
Mr Tafoya, who had not been seen since New Year's Eve, three weeks earlier, was found laying on his having shot himself in the head. What the officers found in his home was heart-breaking.
Mr Tafoya's tidy home was filled with military memorabilia from his 20-year career as a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter mechanic.
Among his assignments was caring for the helicopters used by two U.S. presidents.
A T-shirt folded to reveal the words 'R.I.P. The U.S. Constitution,' as well as Tafoya's passport, military ID, driver's license and Social Security card, were arranged carefully on a small table draped in black cloth.
In the center of the table was a clipping of a 2013 Santa Fe New Mexican story with the headline, 'Program ensures that no veteran dies alone'.
Joe Chavez, an employee of Servpro, a speciality cleaning company that was called in to clean Tafoya's apartment after his body was taken away, said: 'The way it was displayed, you could tell that [his military service] was his pride.
'It hit close to home,' said Mr Chavez, whose own father and stepfather served in the military.
Since then, Mr Chavez and a group of co-workers, a chaplain, a funeral home employee, VFW members and others have organized his funeral. More

News Tip provided by Cindy Clark

Legislative Issues at the State Level

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Visit USA4Military Families to learn about 10 key quality-of-life issues being addressed by the DoD state liaison office, which educates state policymakers, businesses, and nonprofit organizations about the needs of military families. Many MOAA councils already include these issues in their state-level lobbying efforts.
In recent years, MOAA council and chapter members helped pass legislation such as the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which will eliminate many of the administrative obstacles military children face when they transfer schools. Other councils have worked to improve their state’s absentee ballot system and supported legislation to establish more veterans’ treatment courts. More
Priority Issues at the State Level
  1. Facilitate service members receiving licensure and academic credit for military education, training and experience
  2. Facilitate military spouse transition through licensure portability and eligibility for unemployment compensation
  3. Support development of veterans treatment courts open to eligible veterans and service members throughout the state
  4. Increase access to quality, affordable childcare for military families
  5. Promote consumer protections and enforcement of the predatory lending regulation
  6. Allow service members to retain their earned priority for receiving Medicaid home and community care waivers
  7. Improve absentee voting for military members and their families
  8. Waive required waiting time to establish residency for separating service members to obtain in-state tuition rate
  9. Assign an identifier for military children in education data systems
  10. Create state-wide MoUs between the DoD and the state child welfare agency to standardize relationships
To see how South Carolina is doing click here.

The Affordable Care Act and Military Health Benefits

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By Kathy Prout, vice chair, Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee
It is now the law that every American has to have health insurance coverage. How will the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obamacare,” affect servicemembers and military retirees and their families and survivors?
The vast majority of active duty servicemembers and their families will see no change in their coverage as a result of the ACA. The only changes will be fee increases, which occur by law. TRICARE fees may not increase by more than the annual COLA. Military retirees under the age of 65 will see a COLA in their TRICARE fees. Annual TRICARE Prime fees will be $273.84 for individuals and $547.68 for families. TRICARE Young Adult monthly fees will increase from $176 to $180 for the TRICARE Prime option, while the fees for the TRICARE Standard option will increase from $152 to $156 a month.
Those who are on the Civilian Health and Medical Program for the Department of Veterans Affairs, or CHAMPVA, also are covered completely under the ACA.
TRICARE For Life (TFL) meets the minimum standards under the ACA, however, the requirement that all TFL beneficiaries enroll in TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery begins Feb. 14. Part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, this was a compromise to avoid tripling pharmacy copayments. All TFL beneficiaries must enroll in home delivery through Express Scripts for maintenance medications and remain in the program for a year, after which beneficiaries may opt out of the program. Express Scripts might issue individual waivers on a case-by-case basis. Nursing home patients and those who use a military treatment facility are exempt. Enroll online or by calling Express Scripts at (877) 363-1303.
However, Congress and DoD have proposed fee increases for TRICARE and TFL. MOAA is against these proposed fee increases and is fighting the issue by educating Congress that claims that military health care costs are spiraling out of control are untrue. We all must remain vigilant to protect the health care benefits that have been earned through military service. More

In Virginia 92% of Military Voters Did Not Have a Chance to Vote in 2012

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By Wendy Innes
Feb 3 2014
While the entire military voting system is broken, there are some states whose military absentee voting records are particularly shocking, and it seems that the Department of Defense and state voting officials are simply passing the buck — pointing the finger at each other as the problem. In the end, it adds up to the disenfranchisement of military voters.
According to a report from the Military Voter Protection Project (MVPP), the picture during the 2012 election was not pretty, and unless something serious is done, the 2014 election isn’t looking too rosy either.
The report stated that, despite the MOVE Act of 2009, which should have increased the available voting opportunities for service members, the opposite happened. It surveyed 8 states with large military populations and found that not only was there a huge drop in the number of ballots between 2008 and 2012, but all the assistance that the DoD was supposed to provide to aid voters was virtually non-existent.
Virginia is the home of the country’s Navy, in addition to a large number of service members from all other branches as well. But in 2012, of the 126,251 voters, there were just 1,746 ballots requested as of September 2012. Bearing in mind that, by law, ballots are supposed to be supplied no less than 45 days prior to elections, this means that 92 percent of eligible military voters didn’t have the opportunity to vote.
According to Pew Trust, all states, except New York, comply with the 45 day requirement of the MOVE Act. New York sought, but was denied, a waiver for this requirement, and it remains to be seen what will happen to voters in that state in the coming election. More

The Decline of Congressional Military Experience

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Jan 24 2014
Forrest Allen
The military community often complains about the lack of leadership in the US Government. The lack of military experience in Congress is often the subject of conversations concerning disparaging changes to TRICARE, active duty pay, education benefits, etc. The 2013-2014 (113th) Congress holds the lowest percentage of members having donned a uniform since the end of World War II, hovering just around 20%. That is a far cry from the peaks of the 1970s, when almost 3 out of every 4 congressmen served in the military at some point in their careers.
The trends of Congressional military experience were fairly steady, with increasing percentages after WWII up until a 76% crescendo several years after the Vietnam War, and then a constant decline to the current state. The upwards trend of the middle twentieth century is understandable, after two world wars and a draft that compelled every young man to join their brethren and fight put a large portion of the population in uniform. As these people transitioned out of military service, they entered civil service, and often into Congress. Once the draft was revoked and the all volunteer force came into existence in 1973, the percentage of veterans in Congress dropped off precipitously. The most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have kept our men and women in uniform rotating in and out of military service, yet not into civil service in the same numbers as we have seen in the past. Just like we have seen in the case of presidential military experience, conflicts and national trends have had a direct, yet sometimes delayed impact on the makeup of the US government.

Servicemembers Head to Sochi for 2014 Olympics

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We know our U.S. military servicemembers are the best of the best, but they also have the need for speed!This year, the United States is sending six military athletes from the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) to compete in Sochi at the Winter Olympics. All six will be taking part in the high speed bobsled and luge events, as part of a U.S. delegation that has 230 athletes competing.The Army WCAP helps servicemembers make it to the national stage! Via Stars and Stripes:The Army’s WCAP pays active duty soldiers their military salaries while they train to win a spot on the Olympic team. The Air Force also has its own WCAP but is not sending anyone to Sochi.The 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team may include as many as 18 active duty and veteran military servicemembers, according to Team USA, but that roster will not be finalized until Feb. 21.According to Team USA, this will be the largest athlete delegation for any country in the history of the Winter Olympics.Learn more about each of the competitors from the Army World Class Athlete Program in “Military Olympians: Army Sending 6 Athletes to Sochi.”Check out the Team USA homepage, or learn more about the military servicemembers taking part in this years’ games from! More

Suicides in Army Decline Sharply but There is Still More to Do

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USA Today
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Suicides in the Army fell by 19% in 2013, dramatically reversing a rising trend plaguing the Army for nearly 10 years.
There were 150 suicides among soldiers on active-duty status last year, down from a record 185 in 2012, according to Army data. The numbers include both confirmed and suspected suicides.
Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, chief of Army personnel, says he is cautiously optimistic in seeing success in Army programs to avert suicides by giving soldiers coping strategies for keeping a positive or optimistic outlook.
"I'm not declaring any kind of victory here," Bromberg says. "It's looking more promising."
Within the ranks, it has meant that people such as Levertis Jackson, an Afghanistan War veteran whose despair led him several times to try to kill himself, have chosen life.
"It was like before, all my doors were closed, and I'm in a dark room," says Jackson, 41, married and father of four. "(Now) I look for reasons why I need to continue to live."
He left the Army last year after completing an experimental treatment plan at Fort Carson that helps soldiers cope with deadly, self-destructive impulses. Research results slated to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show a promising 60% reduction in suicide attempts by 30 soldiers who participated in the program. More

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                                  For over 80 years, MOAA has been serving those who serve their country. With more than 370,000 members from every branch of service, including active duty, retired, Guard and Reserve officers, and their families, we’re proud to be the country’s largest and most influential military officers association.
                                  Published On - 3/17/14
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