MOAA Presses Congress to
Pass Veterans Health Care Reform
urged lawmakers to strike a bipartisan deal to replace VA Choice and
consolidate existing community-care programs during a Wednesday joint
House-Senate hearing on Capitol Hill.
A year has passed without an agreement in Congress to
replace the VA Choice program, which allows some veterans to seek care closer to
home. Competing bills addressing reform have languished on the Hill - one in
the House and one in the Senate - and veterans are ready to see resolution,
said Cmdr. René Campos, USN (Ret), MOAA's senior director of Government
Relations for veterans and wounded warrior care.
“Veterans and their families sacrificed so much during their
service,” Campos told lawmakers. “To ask them to continue giving after service
by funding their earned benefits or cannibalizing benefits to pay for another …
program is asking them to go above and beyond what we expect.”
Rep. Tim Walz, Minnesota Democrat and retired Army sergeant major,
and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., stressed the importance of hearing from VSOs as
lawmakers consider new VA legislation. Congress takes direction from VSOs
“every step of the way,” Tester said.
MOAA was one of nine military and veterans service organizations
to provide remarks during the hearing. In addition to community-care reform,
MOAA also advocated for caregiver support, attention on women's health issues,
and continued toxic-exposure research. Here's how Campos defined some of MOAA's
top legislative priorities.
Reforming health care. Congress has never been closer to reconciling the
differences in the community care bills: the Caring for our Veterans Act of 2017 in
the Senate and the VA Care in the Community Act in the
MOAA and most other VSOs support the Senate version of the bill,
which includes provisions to expand VA support and services for full-time
caregivers and builds on VA Secretary David Shulkin's Community Access for Rewarding Experiences (CARE)
“We urge the committees to strike a bipartisan, bicameral
agreement on legislation to enact community-care reform and ensure full funding
for Veterans Health Administration resources,” Campos said.
Expanding caregiver support. MOAA would like to see caregiver benefits extended to veterans
who served prior to 9/11. The need for caregiver support is great among all
generations, Campos said. She shared the story about one MOAA member named
Peter, an 81-year-old blind veteran who's 100 percent disabled.
“Peter recognizes the toll caregiving is taking on his wife,”
Campos said. “He says, 'She's been my caregiver for over 20 years, and the
burden is wearing on her but VA told me they don't have support services to
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said VSOs like MOAA help Congress
“make decisions critical to VA.”
“On blue-water Navy and caregiver [benefits], we got the message
loud and clear and we are working on it,” the committee chairman said.
Blue-water Navy refers to the 90,000 servicemembers exposed to Agent Orange while operating
off the coast of Vietnam.
Women's health needs. Roles for women in uniform continue to evolve, and Campos
said the VA and Defense Department must prepare to serve their health
needs. MOAA recently teamed with United Health Foundation to study some of the health challenges
facing female veterans. They found that women who served in the military
were more likely to suffer from mental
illness, cardiovascular disease, and other problems compared to female
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican physician representing Louisiana,
said he agrees. “Women have the privilege as men do to serve in some of these
roles that were once just for men,” he said. “Our VA should respond to that.”
As part of this effort, Campos said MOAA recommends Congress pass
the Deborah Sampson Act, which calls on the VA to
carry out a three-year pilot program to assess peer-to-peer assistance for
women leaving the military - especially for those who suffered sexual trauma or
are at risk of becoming homeless.
Researching toxic exposures. Campos said Pentagon and VA officials must continue working
together to study servicemembers' exposure to toxic materials in order to
determine whether it's responsible for illnesses.
“It's unreasonable to require veterans to provide the scientific
and medical evidence for their claim when that expertise resides within the
government itself,” Campos said.
MOAA would like to see investment in federal resource on
servicemembers' exposure to hazardous toxins so health care benefits can be
provided when appropriate.
6 Military Deals You Might Be Missing Out On
Are you looking for the perfect way to welcome home your loved
one? Build A Sign offers free, 100-percent-customizable
banners for families celebrating the homecoming of their deployed
servicemember. This is the perfect way to show your loved one how much you have
Many amusement parks across the country offer discounts for military
families. Places like Busch Gardens, Sea
World, and Sesame Place provide
military members one free admission a year. Learn more at wavesofhonor.com.
Find additional attractions and vacation ideas for your family — all with
military discounts — in “Kid-Friendly Vacations.”
Most major cellphone providers — including AT&T, Boost Mobile,
Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon — offer military discounts on wireless plans
to current and former servicemembers. To find the best deal for your family, do
some shopping and focus on the plan that is right for you.
Athletic Apparel and Shoes
Nike offers a 10-percent discount to servicemembers. Registration
is quick and easy. All you need is a valid military ID card. To find how you
can get your discount, visit nike.com.
Brides Across America is a nonprofit that
is committed to gifting weddings and wedding gowns to military and
first-responder brides. Founded in 2008, the organization has gifted over
20,000 dresses. Their “Operation Wedding Gown Event” is held twice a year: in
July (around Independence Day) and in November (around Veterans Day). Check out
more deals for your big day in “Discounts on Wedding Packages.”
The Veteran Tickets Foundation offers free
tickets to currently serving military members of all branches of service and
veterans. The foundation’s goal is to support troops by providing positive
family and life experiences. Tickets are provided for events, concerts,
performing arts, and educational and family activities across the nation. To
receive your free tickets, sign up at vettix.org.
Visit the websites listed above to
ensure eligibility. Plenty of other organizations and companies offer discounts
for members of the military, so be sure to always inquire about deals at the
time of purchase.
Monument Honors Female Veterans
A new monument at Veterans Memorial Park in Las
Cruces, N.M., places a much-deserved spotlight on the nation's
Architect Patricia Grumet Decker designed the monument, which was
dedicated March 10 and features six life-size bronze statues representing Army,
Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Army National Guard female
recruits in detailed uniforms from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam,
the Cold War, and current eras. The statues were created from detailed
maquettes sculpted by artist Matt Glenn.
The nonprofit United Military Women of the
SouthWest (UMWSW) initiated the project and received funding
from the state for its construction. The original estimated cost was $306,200,
but the legislature ended up providing $406,200, notes former Marine Corps
Capt. Carol Gaines, past president of the UMWSW.
Gaines pushed for the monument because she felt all women who have
served deserve to be recognized, whether they served in uniform or helped the
war effort by assuming jobs traditionally held by men. “Women took office jobs,
they took welding jobs - they did whatever needed to be done,” Gaines says.
Christine Sautter, USAR (Ret), a member of MOAA and of the Women
Veterans of New Mexico, says the monument is important because it gives a voice
to the women who went unrecognized for their military service upon returning
“I know many nurses who served in Vietnam, came home, and quietly
went about their lives,” Sautter says. “No one really recognized them. It was
the same for women who served in World War I and World War II. This monument
speaks to our dedication to our nation and to our service. It's important that
women are now being heard, and that they receive recognition for a job well
How to Take Control of Your
As you would expect, the
overwhelming majority of people who join the uniformed services do not retire
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importance in the future. (Download MOAA's Retirement Guide to
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Most employees in the corporate sector also rely on 401(k)s for
their future retirement income. This means most people have to trust their
investment skills to retire comfortably. Social Security benefits were not
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To start down the road to investment success, you must assume
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In addition to adopting a future focus, you must recognize the
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As I see it, the financial service industry and the media do not properly
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To succeed in investing requires a little knowledge and a lot of
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Read about strategies, products, services, your benefits, and more
financial blog to build your knowledge base further as you
invest wisely in 2018 and beyond.