Ladies and Gentlemen,
On April 16th I joined MOAA Chapter Presidents and Council Presidents in Washington, DC for our annual pilgrimage to “Storm the Hill.” Every state is represented, and every Senator and Congressman and Congresswoman are visited as we lobby for our active duty, veterans, and retirees of all ranks.
There are many who lobby for hardware but few who lobby for the people. I like to tell each member that I meet with, of all the weapon systems that we have ever deployed in the history of our great nation the men and women of our armed forces are the only weapon system that has never failed.
There is only a short window of opportunity to meet with each member of congress, so by design MOAA limits our issues to two. This year our two issues are to Stop Reducing Pay for Medical Retirees, and to ensure Military Pay and Benefits necessary to recruit and retain an All-Volunteer Force are met.
Who are the medical retirees? They are the service members with 30 percent or greater disability who were unable to complete 20 years of service due to non-combat injury or illness suffered in the line of duty. There are more than 200,000 of these individuals, and they receive little or none of their retirement pay earned through their years of service. It is important to note that 90 percent of those retires are from the enlisted ranks.
Under current law, combat-related disabilities are not subject to off-set while non-combat under 50 percent disabled are. What that means is that the benefit from their disability is paid for by taking away their retired pay (off-set) to pay the VA for the benefit they receive for their disability. The issue is that they earned their retirement pay and should get their retired pay along with their disability pay.
Regarding military pay, the President’s proposed 2.6 percent pay raise, as aligned with the Employment Cost Index (ECI), is the largest in nine years as compared to previous raises, which, in three of the last nine years were below ECI. Additionally, this raise only keeps pace with the private sector wage growth for the upcoming fiscal year and still leaves the military behind civilian wage growth by, coincidentally, the same margin – 2.6 percent, the function of pay-raise caps on the previous three years.
Of note, in an increasingly competitive environment to recruit and retain talent, any reduction of pay and benefits will only serve to make recruiting and retention for the all-volunteer force that much more challenging, and the quality force deemed essential to warfighting success in the National Defense Strategy that much harder to achieve.
Richard H. Tetrev
CDR, USN (Ret.)
Board of Directors News
The Board of Directors are applying for an Outreach Grant from MOAA National to assist Veterans No Boundaries (VNB) in providing adaptive sports programs. These programs benefit veterans with disabilities and consist of a three-day weekend in the summer and in the winter. No government funding is received by the VNB, and this is why this particular organization was chosen. The grant application was completed at the end of February and we will notify you if we are successful. The grants will be decided at the National MOAA Board meeting held in April. Funds will be disbursed in May. There is no guarantee that we will receive the grant, but we wanted you to know what we were doing on your behalf. (Lt(jg) Jack Jay, Vice President)
Health Care Update
It’s pretty quiet right now on the military healthcare front. For those of us who use TRICARE, including Martin’s Point, the most noticeable change from last year has been the higher copayments for medical services and pharmacy. That increase is the result of Congress’s agreeing with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) last year that we were getting too good a deal and needed to shake off that old myth about free healthcare in an obvious and slightly painful way. And now that TRICARE has a enrollment period instead of open enrollment year-round, we will have to watch for the instructions coming from DHA this fall about military health plan choices. Also pay attention to the information that will be going out about dental and vision coverage. Those who use and want to continue the TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan, for example, will have to select one of the new federal plans, again during the fall enrollment period. On the Veterans Affairs (VA) front, the good news from 2017 was the ample healthcare funding approved by Congress. The most visible issue this year centers on availability of appointments outside the VA-owned empire – how much of that is good for veterans’ access to timely care without weakening, through de facto privatization, the VA system overall. (Col Bill Hall, Secretary)
COLA Increase Watch 2019
The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2019 will not be announced until mid-October 2018. Early indication for a COLA increase in 2019 are positive based on the OASDI Trustees Report, which forecasts a 3.1 percent increase next year. The Q1 2018 COLA increased 2.3 percent over the past year. COLA increases are based on the inflation measurement period of the 3rd quarter (July, August, and September). So far, inflation categories like food and medical have seen modest increases while apparel prices have gone down.
ROTC/JROTC Program Update
By the time members receive this edition, the school year for both JROTC and Senior ROTC for Maine schools will have ended. We ran a detailed listing of all the school units, points of contact, and graduation dates with phone numbers in the last newsletter. As a brief recap, we support eight Junior Programs with National MOAA certificates, signed by our Chapter President, and ROTC medals that the cadets may wear on their dress uniforms. The school cadre award the certificates based on school criteria and present the awards at their annual awards dinner, which vary according to individual school schedules. In addition, our Chapter awards a handsome solid brass compass to these deserving cadets.
For the top award winners for the three Senior Programs at the University of Maine (Army and Navy ROTC) and the Maine maritime Academy (Navy ROTC) we also send MOAA certificates, medals, and compasses. In addition, our Chapter provides a $500 scholarship to the top graduates: one for the Army Program and one each for the two Navy Programs (total of $1,500) each year. These awards and scholarships are made possible through the generous donations made by our own Chapter Members each year and from the proceeds of the Annual Military Scholarship Golf Tournament (“Mr. T” Memorial), held in August yearly (see page three for this year’s upcoming tournament). We sincerely thank you all for your support this year and in all the previous years you have been giving. Photos from this year’s winners are included on the following pages. (COL Frank Toderico, ROTC Chair)
June Speaker, Commander Chris Monroe, USN
What Are the Chinese Up To?”
Now that spring has finally arrived and things are greening up, no doubt you will be looking for excuses to get out and enjoy the better weather. We can offer no better excuse to venture afar than to join your fellow Chapter members at the beautiful Woodlands Club for our June brunch buffet on Saturday, June 2nd. The reservation form can be found on page 7 of this edition.
This quarter we have asked retired Navy Commander Chris Monroe to speak to us. He is a corporate and maritime attorney at Verrill Dana LLP in Portland and an expert on China. He will answer the question, “What are the Chinese up to?” Chris spent more than 20 years as a career naval officer in many responsible positions over the globe, including a tour as commander of an AIGIS destroyer in the waters near the Korean Peninsula and strategic maritime operations throughout the East and South China Seas, ultimately serving as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon with an emphasis on military operations in the Middle East.
Chris earned a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College where he participated in a collaborative research project examining China’s evolving military strategy and the changing security environment throughout the Asia-Pacific region. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. He currently lives aboard a boat in Portland Harbor and maintains a permanent residence in the mid-coast region of Maine.
We know you will enjoy meeting Chris and hearing his views on such a timely topic. So, get out those pencils and mark down June 2nd on your calendars and plan to join us. See you there!
Click here for Reservations Form
Mark Your Calendars
The 12th Annual Military Scholarship Golf Tournament (“Mr. T” Memorial) will be held on August 22nd at the Nonesuch River Golf Club. Vaughn “Mr. T” Twaddel, Major, USAFR, was a life-long Professor of Economics and golf team coach at Westbrook College. He served in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves for over 25 years. As a teacher, he was strict and supportive and took great pride in helping students succeed. A “legend” at the college, he was elected Honorary Alumnus and was the graduation speaker at several graduations. An avid golfer, he shot his age at 75 and was a member of the Southern Maine Seniors Golf Association. Vaughn also enjoyed many years of skiing at Sugarloaf, inspiring his family to continue on with a love of the mountains and skiing. Vaughn was also a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Maine Chapter.
Funds raised through the Mr. T Memorial are used to provide scholarship assistance to senior ROTC students at the University of Maine and the Maine Maritime Academy. This year we have changed the venue in hopes of getting more teams to play and possibly more sponsors. The cost will be $110 per player for the scramble format, and this will include breakfast snacks, 18 holes, cart, and a lunch. First Place Team: each player receives a $100 gift certificate at the Golf & Ski Warehouse; Second Place Team: each player gets a round of golf; and the Third Place Team gets a $25 gift certificate. We are also trying to get items to be raffled off during lunch, and there will be awards for: the longest drive (men and women), closest to the pin, and the putting contest.
We are starting to put this together early in the hopes of getting more participation. We will need a volunteer to monitor the hole-in-one contest, someone to help with the putting contest, and someone to help with the raffle tickets and mulligan sales. We have a unique set of military mulligans that no one else offers, and this is usually a big part of our fundraising. So, please mark your calendars, and contact Jack Fay at 207-883-6447 if you can be of assistance or if you have a team to register, or if you know anyone who would like to become a sponsor. Help us support our ROTC Program and thank you!
Membership Update - Auxiliary Members Status
As many members may know, the Chapter provides Auxiliary Membership to surviving spouses. This membership is free to the surviving spouse. The Chapter is happy to do this. However, we sometimes lose track of Auxiliary Members if they do not attend meetings or make voluntary contributions during our annual dues drive. In some cases, it has been a number of years since we last heard from an Auxiliary Member and we have no way to know if they are still in the area or if they are still interested the Chapter Membership. To help keep our records current, we will be reaching out to a number of Auxiliary Members that we have not been hearing from to check on their interest in continuing membership. We have not determined the best way to do this, but will likely use a short letter of explanation along with a pre-addressed and stamped post card. The member will be asked to simply enter their name on the back, check the appropriate block and drop it in the mail. We appreciate your assistance with this effort. (Col Rob McAleer, Membership Chair)
Southern Maine Chapter MOAA Senior Award Nominees
Name: MIDN 2/C John P. D’Annolfo
University: University of Maine
Major: Earth Science
Minors: Political Science, Naval Science
Cumulative GPA: 3.043
Notable Achievements (Detachment Orono):
- NROTC Midshipman Combat Fitness Leader, Color Guard Sergeant, Public Affairs Officer and Operations Officer
- Recognized for demonstrating outstanding competence in the arts and sciences of national defense
- Selected to commission as a Naval Officer in May (2019)
Name: MIDN 2/C Eli Olson
University: Maine Maritime Academy
Major: Marine Transportation Operations 2019
- Dean’s List, Five Awards
- Selected for eight scholarships
- Regimental PT Instructor for 2016-17
- Responsible for Planning and Executing the PT Program for the entire MMA Regiment of Midshipmen
Name: Cadet Delaney Corthell.
She is a nursing major in the Army Program at the University of Maine. We had not received her bio and photo in time for publication. We will attempt to get this information for our next newsletter. (Ed)