Supply and Demand: The challenge of
maintaining an all-volunteer force.
Quality recruits come at a cost. Are we willing to pay it? The Senate
defense authorization bill doesn’t look promising.
MOAA’s strategic goal with our advocacy is to “ensure government
enacts and maintains policies to sustain a career force of the size and quality
needed to maintain a strong national defense.”
We have lobbied to ensure adequate troop strength, but we haven’t
devoted as much attention to quality. It is now critical to discuss both. They
are inseparable, and they are both in jeopardy.
Why the alarm? Because our nation has relied on the all-volunteer
force since 1973, and all that time we have taken the volunteer pool for
granted. That’s about to change — because the pool has changed.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commanding general of the Army’s
Recruiting Command, identified the crux of the problem in a November 2016
interview with the Arizona Republic :
“The problem that we are facing is that so few actually can meet the
qualification requirements to join the military. … Only three in 10 of today’s
youth can actually meet the requirements.” That number gets even smaller,
around 20 percent, when you take college-bound young people out of the
This problem stems from a bigger picture:
There are approximately 20 million
17-21 year olds in America.
Of those, 11.3 million meet
Only about 4.4 million of those are
even eligible to join.
Assessing propensity to join, we
are left with about 465,000 truly potential recruits
From that pool, DoD needs 250,000 a
Adding to the challenge: 52 percent of parents would not recommend
military service for their children. This likely cuts the pool of potential
recruits even further.
Our nation is facing a basic — but significant — supply and demand
challenge. While President Donald Trump and several members of Congress support
an increase in our troop strength, they do so in an environment constrained not
only by the budget, but also by the pool of qualified and interested recruits
whose top reasons for joining are centered on pay and education benefits.
In this environment, it defies logic for the Senate’s version of
the FY 2018 defense authorization bill to propose a reduced military pay raise
of 2.1 percent, versus the 2.4 percent raise that would be consistent with the
Employment Cost Index — the legislated benchmark.
Further, the Senate proposes to eliminate a dependent-rate housing
allowance for military couples stationed together with children. This erosion
of military compensation is out of touch with today’s demands of repeated
deployments and a worsening recruiting environment. This is an immediate
problem, warranting contact with your members of Congress.
Meanwhile, a similar problem might loom in the near future: the
13th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC) and
the President’s charge to the Secretary of Defense to assess the
adequacy of military compensation and, essentially, decide if a salary system
would be more effective for recruiting and retention.
This government study of military compensation is required by law
and must take place no less than every four years. The findings of this study
will result in a report to Congress. The focus on the potential for a salary
system is of concern to MOAA if it is used to continue reducing military
compensation in any way.
Our nation’s ability to field the most effective armed forces, of
the size and quality needed, is in jeopardy, and there are two key aspects of
this problem: First, the supply is dwindling. This is a national problem, which
Congress cannot fix. Second, the compensation and benefits that help motivate
people to join and stay are eroding. This is a problem Congress can — and must
To share your concerns with your members of Congress, please visit
6 Easy Steps to Prevent Identity
Dozens of statues, fountains, arches, and other sites honoring
troops who fought in World War I will soon be upgraded or restored thanks to
$2,000 grants from the 100 Cities/100 Memorials project.
Fifty memorials across 28 states will be officially designated WWI
Centennial Memorials on Wednesday. The sites were selected by the World
War One Centennial Commission and Pritzker Military Museum & Library
in effort to draw attention to monuments honoring troops who fought in World
War I. Each memorial will receive a $2,000 grant toward restoration and maintenance
The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars also partnered on
Col. Eugene Scott, USA (Ret), and his wife, Beverly, helped the
Victory Memorial in Chicago secure a grant. The Victory Memorial honors
Illinois' 370th Infantry Regiment, the only all-black unit to be commanded by
The unit was sent to fight alongside the French. They wore French
uniforms, ate French food, and fought with French weapons, Scott said.
“These were sensitive issues on what to do with black combat
soldiers during World War I,” he added. “Fighting with the French was a
challenge, and they did well. We are proud that we have such a beautiful
monument to commemorate the service of our combat black soldiers.”
There's still a lot that Americans can learn from World War I,
Scott said. They plan to add a memorial garden to Victory Memorial, which will
include evergreen trees, as a way to honor the troops with 370th Infantry
Regiment, as well as perennial plants to symbolically hand that history off to
“We have to let young people know what these men did and how they
met all these challenges,” Scott said. “It helps them get a better appreciate
for their country and for the service of these soldiers.”
More than 4 million American families sent their sons and
daughters to serve in uniform during World War I, according to Terry Hamby,
commissioner of the United States World War One Centennial Commission.
“100 Cities/100 Memorials is a critically important initiative
that will have an impact beyond these grants,” Hambry said in a release
announcing the grants. “These memorials represent an important part of
remembering our past and preserving our culture.”
Fifty more memorials will get matching grants in 2018.
The submission period for those awards runs from Sept. 27 through
Jan. 15. Work on the memorials must be complete by Nov. 11, 2018 - the 100th
anniversary of the day the fighting ceased.
For a list of the first 50 sites to receive the WWI Centennial
Memorial designation and $2,000 in funding please visit moaa.org.
Housing Cost Considerations
Housing is a major component of any household budget, so it’s
important to recognize all the expenses associated with the options you’re
considering, including renting a home or moving to a long term care facility or
retirement community. But moving from your home isn’t the only housing option.
Retirees also might want to consider the expenses associated with adapting
their current home situation for changing circumstances.
in place - Staying
in your existing home, or aging in place, is the goal for many retirees. You
know what it takes to keep the place running — mortgage, taxes, insurance,
maintenance, utilities, and homeowners dues — and you think your budget can
handle it. However, aging in place will likely mean some increased costs down
the road when you’re less mobile. To manage getting around your home in the
years to come, you might need costly renovations such as better lighting, a
walk-in bathtub, higher toilets, or outdoor ramps, to name a few.
Don’t forget to budget for the potential costs of hiring help,
such as cleaning and yard services, and maybe even having prepared meals
delivered, if you no longer are willing or able to do these tasks on your own.
Another concern is paying for transportation if driving is no longer a safe
option for you.
As a homeowner, you might have some options for funding these
types of expenses. If you have built up equity in your home, you might be
eligible for a second mortgage, more commonly known as a home equity line of
credit. It’s a fairly straightforward way to get cash, and interest rates are
lower than using your credit card. But, like your first mortgage, the loan must
be paid back on a regular schedule or you risk losing your home. There also are
fees to pay, and, like any outstanding loan, it will affect your credit rating.
If you don’t have much equity in your home, check into refinancing, which might
free up some money to spend on those extra services.
Another option, popularized by TV commercials proclaiming you can
turn your home into cash, is the reverse mortgage. You must be age 62 or older
to qualify, but there are no credit score or income requirements, and the loan
doesn’t have to be paid back as long as you still are living in the home. There
are drawbacks, though, including potentially high fees, and it might negatively
affect your eligibility for some government assistance programs. Also, be wary
of unscrupulous lenders. Working with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development-sponsored counseling agency is suggested to help you fully grasp
all the pros and cons.
term care - Home ownership might prove to be a burden if your personal situation
changes rapidly. For instance, let’s assume your spouse becomes ill and
requires long term care immediately. You decide the best option is for the both
of you to move to a retirement community, where you can live with him while he
receives the assistance he needs. The catch is you need to sell your house in
order to pay for it, but there is no guarantee when you will sell your house or
for how much.
Fortunately, retirement communities and financial services
companies have recognized and addressed this dilemma through programs that
offer deferred interest-free loans and bridge loans or even to buy your home if
it fails to sell. One potential option is the veterans’ Aid and Attendance and
Housebound Pension. An oft-overlooked source of funding, this program can provide
money for long term care and is in addition to your VA pension. Visit www.benefits.va.gov/pensionfor
- Flip the pros and cons of owning a home, and you have renting. Renting means
no big down payment, little commitment, and low maintenance, which translate
into more time on the golf course. If you need to move quickly, you can, but
you might be on the hook for a few months’ rent, though this often can be avoided
if you have a flexible landlord who will let you sublet. Be sure to budget for
rent increases, which currently average about 3 percent a year. However, your
rent can skyrocket unexpectedly, possibly forcing you into an unwanted move.
Adapting your space for aging in place usually is not an option when renting,
though some communities rent to seniors and have some of these desired features
already in place.
As a current homeowner, you might be reluctant to sell your home
and become a tenant because your monthly rent check is doing nothing to build
up your assets or reduce your taxes. But ask yourself whether your house, as an
investment, is still important. You no longer need to build equity in the hopes
of one day buying a bigger and better home. Besides, the recent loud pop of the
housing bubble proved the value of your house doesn’t necessarily always go
From a tax perspective, your income likely will be less in
retirement, making the mortgage interest and property-tax deduction less
attractive. In fact, as you get closer to paying off your mortgage, your
interest costs might become so low, you might not even be able to itemize
deductions on your return. Selling your home and investing the proceeds wisely
might provide the income you need to fund the retirement lifestyle you really
community - Let’s say you’re contemplating
a move to a retirement community. Maybe your health is not great or you’re
living alone and would prefer the company and comforts assisted living
provides. Can you afford it? The assisted-living retirement community fee might
look higher than your home expenses on the surface, but be careful to compare
apples to apples. Their fee likely will include items such as meals,
transportation, entertainment, and cleaning services — where your mortgage does
The renting versus owning decision again becomes a consideration
when moving into a retirement community. In general, all the pros and cons
already mentioned apply, and if you want to buy, consider carefully how you
will fund any down payment and closing costs. If you had equity in your
previous home, that might be your answer, but if not, think twice before
reaching into your retirement savings or brokerage accounts.
As always, consider consulting with a finance professional before
making any complex and life-changing decisions.
How to Avoid Phishing Scams
The online phenomenon of phishing - getting tricked through email
into revealing your personal information to a scammer - has been around since the
mid-1990s. But people still are getting caught, and phishers still are sending
out their bait.
The word "phishing" is a relatively new coinage,
deliberately meant to sound like "fishing" because bait is used to
try to catch victims.
Here's how to avoid getting caught.
Phishing emails try to excite you or scare you into doing stupid
things such as opening an attachment that loads malware onto your computer or
clicking on a link that takes you to a fake website. The malware might spy on
you, capturing your keystrokes to steal your login and password to your bank.
The fake site might look just like your real credit card site, prompting you to
type in your login and password.
If you see a message, "You've won a prize!" and you
never entered that contest, chances are extremely high you're being preyed
upon. If you see a message that your information has been stolen and you should
"click here," chances are extremely high that you're being preyed
upon. If you see a message that Microsoft has remotely detected a virus on your
PC, chances are extremely high that you're being preyed upon.
Instead of clicking on a link or opening an attachment, use your
web browser to go to the company's website, log in as you normally would, and
check if you have any messages there.
If you're using a laptop or desktop PC, you can "mouse
over" a questionable link to see what web address it will take you to.
Phishers often use the correct web address as the name of the link but code the
link to take you to the bogus address. If the two aren't the same, chances are
extremely high you're being directed to a phishing site.
Be especially wary of web addresses that include the @ symbol or
email messages that ask you to click on an image. You also should be careful
when typing web addresses into your browser so a typo doesn't land you at a
phishing site by mistake. Using a bookmark or favorite to navigate to the site
will prevent this.
Alternately, you can call and talk to customer support. Look up
the company's phone number yourself rather than using a number provided in an
Be careful on Facebook and other social networking sites. Scammers
troll these waters looking for innocents to bait, tricking them into revealing
financial information, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, and so
Keep your web browser up-to-date, whether you use Google Chrome,
Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or any other. Modern browsers
include some phishing protection.
Use security software that provides additional phishing safeguards,
such as Norton Security (www.symantec.com). Alternately, you can use a
free browser add-on such as McAfee SiteAdvisor (www.mcafee.com/siteadvisor). Though these
protections aren't foolproof, they can warn you if a site you're about to visit
is suspected of malicious activity.
Some tip-offs are more obvious. If a questionable email includes
incorrect spelling and grammar, chances are it's from a scammer from abroad
whose native language isn't English. If the email's "To" field is
blank or if the salutation reads something like, "Hello, [blank],"
chances are it's part of a mass emailing from someone more malicious than
You might be savvy enough to avoid the above mistakes. Make sure
family members, friends, and coworkers are as well. Nobody wants to spend
tedious hours trying to straighten out the mess after a scammer has stolen