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September News From MOAA National

Dateline: 9/6/2018

Senate to Consider Defense Spending Appropriations  (By: Mike Barron)

President Donald Trump signed the FY 2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law Monday, Aug. 13, in a ceremony at Fort Drum, N.Y. Attention regarding defense policy and spending now turns to the completion of the defense appropriations legislation, which will fund the policy directives and authorizations included in the FY 2019 NDAA.

The two defense bills directly complement each other in the congressional budget and spending process, as the FY 2019 NDAA must be funded through the appropriations process under a separate appropriations bill. That part of the process is still ongoing.

As we saw this year with the earliest signing of the NDAA in decades, the defense appropriations process also is moving forward at a much more rapid pace than normal.  Congressional leadership has stated they aim to have the final legislation approved and signed into law by the president before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.

State of play

Members of the House, having finished their defense legislative work, are on August recess until Labor Day. The House defense appropriations legislation H.R. 6157, sponsored by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chair of the House Appropriations Committee-Defense (HAC-D), was debated and then passed by the full House Thursday, June 28, by a vote of 359-49. The House bill approved $674.6 billion in total discretionary defense spending.

The Senate, after a short recess, returned to session this past week to continue work on their version of the defense appropriations legislation, sponsored by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Shelby also serves as the chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee.

The legislation, similar to other Senate appropriations bills this year, has been packaged into a combined “minibus” $856.9 billion spending package (H.R. 6157), which now includes labor, health and human services, and education and related agencies (S. 3158) as well as defense (S. 3159) - the two largest annual appropriations bills. The defense portion of Senate bill accounts for $674.9 billion.  

Introducing the legislation on the Senate floor this past week, Shelby stated, “The package before the Senate makes essential investments to accelerate the rebuilding of America's military and provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay increase they have seen in nearly a decade.”

He also said, “The fiscal year 2018 defense appropriations bill enacted earlier this year contained the largest increase in military spending in 15 years. … The bill now before the Senate provides an additional $16 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level. … This funding sustains U.S. force structure and improves military readiness.”

What's next

This week, the Senate will continue to consider amendments to the appropriations legislation introduced by other members of the Senate. Once this is complete, Senate leadership will bring the bill up for a final vote.

Once passed, the Senate bill will be reconciled with the House version of the appropriations legislation in conference, before heading to the president for his signature.

Look out for future updates as Congress moves to close out final action on the FY 2019 defense appropriations legislation before the start of the new fiscal year.

The August recess is an excellent opportunity for you to engage with your elected representatives, who are back in their home states holding town hall meetings and campaigning for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. Please thank them for their support of the FY 2019 NDAA and ask them for their continued support for the full funding of the FY 2019 NDAA in the final FY 2019 defense appropriations bill.

Please visit MOAA's August recess page, which contains information on the FY 2019 NDAA and other important issues. 


Six Considerations Before Making a Donation  (By:  MOAA Staff)

When you decide to support a charity purportedly benefitting active duty military, veterans and their families, you want to ensure your gift will actually support that cause. “Just because a charity has a legitimate-sounding name or uses pictures of people in uniform, it actually may or may not support the cause it advertises,” says  Col. Mike Turner, USAF (Ret.), MOAA's vice president of development. “Doing research ahead of time will ensure your donation goes where you intend it to.”

Turner offers these six tips to consider before making a donation to a charity:

1. Check GuideStar, a nonprofit organization that lists financial information reported by charities, and specifically check its rating, a measure of how transparent the organization is with its governance.
“They provide all the information you need to assess the legitimacy of a nonprofit,” Turner says. “Make sure you type in the exact name of the organization or you may have to scroll through several similar entries. Also, be careful. Many organizations, like MOAA, have hundreds of independent chapters, so make sure you get the parent organization.” 

The MOAA Scholarship Fund has a Platinum Guidestar rating, and the MOAA foundation has a Gold rating. Help military and veteran families by donating to your favorite MOAA Charity today at

2. Check Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofit organizations. Unlike GuideStar, Charity Navigator rates only nonprofits with annual revenues greater than $1 million.

3. Scan IRS Form 990. Turner checks for the length of the company's existence; how the nonprofit has performed year-over-year; program expenses, management expenses and fundraising expenses; and number of board members.

4. Check the charity's website. Turner says he looks for clearly defined programs and specific activities the nonprofit is engaged in. “I've been to nonprofit websites with a very professional look, but which actually reveal a nonprofit with very few programs,” he says. “This isn't necessarily a show-stopper, but again, it's a warning flag causing me to look deeper.”

5. Search complaints. One of the easiest ways to do that, Turner says, is to type the name of the charity and the word “complaints” into Google. He also suggested going to for information about the charity's track record. “Once again, complaints are not necessarily a problem,” Turner says. “An organization with four complaints over the past 10 years is probably fine; an organization with four complaints over the past year may not be.”

6. Network through LinkedIn. Turner suggests typing the name of the nonprofit in LinkedIn and finding connections with people who are familiar with the nonprofit's work. Then contact them about the organization. “You'd be amazed what you can learn from an insider's perspective,” Turner says.


Get a Glimpse Inside VA’s Major Overhaul  (By:  Rene Campos)

Do you remember the VA MISSION Act- the massive, most comprehensive health care reform bill passed out of Congress in over 25 years and signed into law by President Donald Trump on June 6? 

VA has quietly begun working on implementing these major changes but recognizes it can't do so without veterans' help.  

VA wants to know what questions veterans have about the VA MISSION Act as VA moves forward in rolling out these huge health system changes.

While MOAA and other veteran service organizations (VSO) have started working with VA to implement the legislation, veterans are central to making the transformation smooth and in helping the department meet the very tight deadline mandated by Congress. 

Passage of the VA MISSION Act signaled Congress' readiness to implement major changes in VA's health care system - seen by some congressional leaders as long overdue reform. 

One of the most significant changes veterans will see in the next few months is the elimination of the Veterans Choice Program, established in 2014, to provide temporary relief and help VA rebuild internal capacity to reduce long wait times for veterans seeking health care. A new, streamlined community care program will replace Choice and consolidate multiple community care programs currently managed by VA into a single program.  

A few other major changes veterans can expect to see are:

What would normally take three to five years to implement such massive system changes, Congress gave VA one year from the enactment of the MISSION Act to replace the Choice Program and two years to implement the caregiver program expansion.

Last week, VA provided MOAA and other VSOs a little peek under the tent as to the rough timelines the department is working under to combine and implement the new community care program and walk-in care services over the next year. Here's generally what we know:  

So here's what MOAA needs from you:  We need you to send us your questions about the VA MISSION Act that you want VA to answer and communicate to veterans now and throughout the implementation of the system reforms.  

To help get you started, here are a couple questions MOAA has already provided to VA we think veterans will want to know:

Now, what questions are on your mind?  Please send your questions to and we will share your questions with VA as well any communication and marketing materials as they become available.

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