April 19, 2015
is Storming the Hill again — and you can follow along from home with our
event-by-event coverage, and take action on issues affecting the military
2015 Col. Arthur T. Marix
Council Presidents' Dinner
and Ideas Exchanged
Chief of Naval Personnel Addresses Council Leaders
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) receives the Col. Arthur T. Marix
Congressional Leadership Award from Gen. Charles T. Robertson Jr., USAF (Ret).
Photo by Steve Barrett.
MOAA President Vice Adm. Norbert R.
Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), and Chair of MOAA's Board of Directors Gen. Charles T.
Robertson Jr., USAF (Ret), presented six supporters of the defense community
with the association's highest awards Tuesday night, kicking off the Storming
the Hill legislative blitz.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Rep.
John B. Larson (D-Conn.) accepted the Col. Arthur T. Marix Congressional
Leadership Award for their leadership on repealing COLA reductions and
enhancing benefits for special-needs children in military families,
“It was really my honor to work on the COLA cuts,”
Ayotte said. “We need to keep our promises to those who have defended our
Ayotte is married to retired Lt. Col. Joe Daley, who flew
combat missions in the Iraq war with the Air National Guard and is a MOAA
Speaking of the threat posed by sequestration, Ayotte said,
“The last thing we should do is diminish our military and put our men and women
in uniform in a position where they don’t have the training, they don’t have
the equipment that they need to serve and defend our nation. … I look forward
to partnering with MOAA on this issue.”
Larson reminded attendees
that “under 1 percent of the nation does all the work for this nation,” adding,
“We should do everything feasible as elected representatives in Congress to
ensure the men and women who wear the uniform, who serve this nation, get
everything that they need -- not only while they’re serving, but after they
leave the service.”
MOAA's Distinguished Service Award, presented
since 1997 to individuals or organizations that are not members of Congress but
have been consistently strong supporters of the national defense and the
uniformed services community, went to AT&T Inc., represented by Jamie
Rufolo, and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military
Medicine (HJF), represented by John Lowe.
AT&T was recognized
for being a model Guard/Reserve employer and for supporting military personnel
in the field with tablets and mobile phones; AT&T’s Veteran Employee
Resource Group (ERG) has supported call centers in combat zones and conducts
military outreach programs across the nation. Rufolo leads a program management
team within AT&T’s Federal Government Customer Service organization in
support of VA and U.S. Postal Service clients.
“It’s really great to
be able to be in a room with people who understand,” said Rufolo, who has
worked for AT&T for 17 years, during which she moved seven times as the
spouse of an active duty Army major. She notes AT&T has a “very large
network of veterans and military-minded individuals in the company that have a
deep respect [and] camaraderie, supporting each other.”
Bethesda, Md.-based nonprofit, has been dedicated to advancing military medical
research for more than 30 years by providing scientific and research management
services and more. Lowe, president and CEO of HJF, directs the provision of
scientific management services to the Uniformed Services University of the
Health Sciences and more than 70 military research institutes and treatment
facilities across the country. He served with the U.S. Army in Korea and
Germany and commanded the 44th Medical Brigade based at Fort Bragg, N.C.; his
last active duty assignment was chief of staff of the 7th Medical Command, U.S.
Lowe expressed his pride in HJF’s thousands of
employees who “report to work each day … all focused on executing a clear and
inspiring mission that was given to us more than 30 years ago.”
Bowman, national security advisor to Ayotte, and David Sitcovsky, legislative
director to Larson, were recognized with MOAA’s Col. Paul W. Arcari Meritorious
Service Award for their efforts in support of a variety of legislation to help
servicemembers and military spouses and survivors.
and training are essential to military readiness, but they are nothing without
quality people,” said Bowman, a former Army officer, helicopter pilot, and
Afghanistan veteran. “If we forget that and fail to give our servicemembers and
their families and retirees the pay and benefits and health care they deserve,
we will be neglecting our moral duty to them, and we can endanger the viability
of the all-volunteer force. The first would be morally wrong, and the second
would be dangerous.”
Sitcovsky said of his work with Larson, “It’s
been an honor to be able to assist military families … and ensure they’re
getting access to the appropriate services they need.”
Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award and Col. Paul W. Arcari
Meritorious Service Award both are named for significant former MOAA staffers.
Marix founded MOAA in 1929 and served as its first president, while Arcari was
the association’s director of Government Relations for 14 years, retiring in
More than 150 MOAA members — including council
and chapter leaders from every state and members of the association’s board of
directors, staff, Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee, and Currently Serving
and Currently Serving Spouse advisory councils — “stormed” Capitol Hill
Wednesday to urge nearly all 535 legislators to support a bipartisan
debt-reduction package that avoids disproportional penalties on servicemembers
and their families.
Storming the Hill participants specifically
focused on three issues:
- • eliminating harmful sequestration budget
cuts established by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011;
- • sustaining
military pay and benefits; and
- • rejecting disproportional TRICARE
fee hikes and plan changes.
In addition, Hill-stormers provided
to their legislators informational packets regarding MOAA’s position on the
Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission’s 15
recommendations and the inequities affecting guardmembers and Reservists,
disabled retirees, and survivors.
MOAA also asked those at home to
take part in the event by contacting their elected officials and sending a
prepared message saying they oppose cutting pay and benefits and shifting costs
to servicemembers, retirees, and military families.
Watch Rep. Thornberry’s full speech below, from MOAA’s
Council Presidents’ Dinner.
Thornberry (R-Texas), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, outlined for
MOAA council and chapter leaders many of the intricacies of maintaining a
strong defense in a challenging budget environment during the association’s
Council Presidents’ Dinner Wednesday evening.
Thornberry thanked the
currently serving, former, and retired servicemembers and their spouses and
survivors in attendance and addressed many of MOAA’s 2015 Storming the Hill
priorities in his speech.
Underscoring the growing threat of
terrorism and America’s role in fighting evil in the world, he said, “I just
want to reiterate gratitude for everyone’s service to our country but also
gratitude for your continuing service. The country needs you … and it needs
those voices for a strong military, for a strong national defense. You all play
a key role of course when you come to Washington, and you get into all those
offices and let all members of Congress know what’s important … how it affects
the people in the military… but you also play a key role when you go back home
and are leading voices in your communities about what’s happening in the world
and about how essential it is for the U.S. to be strong, to have a strong
Thornberry expressed the likelihood of a
bipartisan end to the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration
that first were triggered by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
he has challenged the stereotype that in the Republican caucus “you’re either a
budget hawk or a defense hawk.” “And I believe that a huge majority of the
Democratic caucus believe that we must end sequestration, especially for the
military,” he continued.
Regarding the recommendations of the
Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, Thornberry
recognized the hard work and good intentions that went into the report and said
the House Armed Services Committee is in the process of reviewing the
recommendations and likely will accept some proposals and reject or require
further study on others. He also acknowledged the possibility of TRICARE
reform, which he said must be done carefully, as health care is the most
complicated issue at any level of government.
Thornberry’s remarks, MOAA Board of Directors Chair Gen. Charles T. Robertson
Jr., USAF (Ret), thanked the congressman by announcing a $6,000 MOAA
Scholarship Fund senior grant in Thornberry’s name.
Council leaders from across the country
gathered April 16 at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria, Va., to learn
more about national MOAA’s initiatives and exchange best practices and ideas
during the 2015 Council Presidents’ Seminar.
Council and Chapter
Affairs Committee Chair Lt. Col. Ed Marvin, USAF (Ret), introduced MOAA
President Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), who opened the daylong
seminar. Ryan spoke about upcoming MOAA events and new initiatives, and thanked
council and chapter leaders for the work they do in their communities.
Marvin then opened the first general session by introducing MOAA Board Chair
Gen. Charles Robertson, USAF (Ret), who thanked leaders for their legislative
advocacy efforts and sharing their thoughts on how MOAA might better meet the
needs of its members and the military community.
Key members of the
national staff provided council leaders with information on MOAA’s ongoing and
upcoming initiatives. Kathy Partain, director of Membership and Marketing,
reviewed MOAA’s new membership model and national membership trends, and
discussed the association’s website redesign and brand refresh, which includes
a new logo with the tagline, “Never Stop Serving.”
Coles, USN (Ret), deputy director of the Transition Center, updated
participants about the services provided by the center, ranging from hosting
live and virtual career fairs to supporting chapter-run personal affairs
committees and transition assistance groups. Sarah Hadacek, deputy director of
Veterans and Survivor Services, then outlined MOAA’s new Veterans Service
Organization pilot program in the Washington, D.C., area.
announced the Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee had been renamed the
Surviving Spouses Advisory Committee (SSAC) in order to better reflect their
mission. Prout then reviewed the committee’s projects and objectives.
Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), director of Government Relations, spoke about
the new Steve Strobridge Award. The award, named in honor of MOAA’s former
Government Relations director, will be given to the top legislative
chair/liaison in a council or chapter each year. Details and nomination forms
will be emailed to council and chapter leaders in May, and nominations are due
June 30, 2015. The session ended with Ryan presenting awards to the winners of
the 2014 Col. Marvin J. Harris Communications Award Contest.
afternoon’s general session, Council and Chapter Affairs Director Col. Barry
Wright, USA (Ret), outlined the department’s strategic and aspirational goals,
reviewed Chapter Recruiting 2015, and provided an operational snapshot of
councils and chapters. The seminar concluded with council and chapter leaders
participating in an open discussion session where they asked questions and
exchanged ideas and best practices.
Vice Adm. William F. Moran, USN, Chief of Naval
Personnel, addressed Council Presidents’ Seminar participants and their spouses
along with members of the national staff and board of directors during an April
16 luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria, Va.
outlined what the Navy is doing to attract, train, and retain the very best
people while dealing with the challenges posed by sequestration and an
improving job market. He indicated recruiting has been at an all-time high the
past five years, and he thanked MOAA’s leaders for their legislative efforts on
Capitol Hill that helped close the pay gap between the civilian and military
He also said the Navy’s retention rate was high the past
five years but predicted that might change as the national unemployment rate
drops and the economy expands. Current proposals to cap military pay also are
“Now we are starting to see [military]
compensation rates come down … quite frankly, at a time when we have to compete
harder,” said Moran. “My job is to figure out how to keep the best people in
Accomplishing this goal, Moran believes, will mean
increasing flexibility in the Navy’s personnel system. Under the current
system, many talented servicemembers leave to start a family, care for an
ailing child, further their education, or meet other life goals.
“Today, you stay on this conveyor belt of promotion opportunities that starts
from the day your enter the service and you stay with that,” said Moran. “There
is no opportunity to come off that conveyor belt and come back on without being
penalized in your career.”
Moran indicated the “conveyor belt”
system needs to change so the Navy can retain high-quality servicemembers. He
also outlined efforts to modernize training to meet the needs of today’s
high-tech Navy while retaining the service’s cultural aspects.
concluded his speech by asking MOAA’s leaders to continue their legislative
advocacy efforts on behalf of military members and their families before
opening the floor to questions.
Moran, a native of New York, received
a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981 and a master's degree
from the National War College in 2006. He assumed duties as the Navy’s 57th
chief of naval personnel, Aug. 2, 2013. Serving concurrently as the deputy
chief of naval operations (Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education) (N1),
he is responsible for the planning and programming of all manpower, personnel,
training and education resources for the U.S. Navy. He manages an annual
operating budget of $29 billion and leads more than 26,000 employees engaged in
the recruiting, personnel management, training, and development of Navy
personnel. His responsibilities include overseeing Navy Recruiting Command,
Navy Personnel Command, and Naval Education and Training Command.