April 19, 2013
MOAA 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 community.
Watch a video recap of the week's events
Council President Seminar Gives Leaders Tools to Succeed
Col. Barry Wright, USA (Ret), director of MOAA’s Council and Chapter Affairs Department, discusses chapter issues with leaders. (Photo by Steve Barrett.)
On Thursday, April 18, council leaders from across the country gathered to learn about new initiatives at national MOAA and exchange ideas and share best practices at MOAA’s 2013 Council Presidents’ Seminar, held at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria, Va.
MOAA president Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), opened the daylong event with a working breakfast, where he discussed with leaders the importance of recruiting new chapter members to continue to the chapter system’s success and to make a difference on the Hill and in local communities.
Following the working breakfast, leaders convened for the first of the day’s general sessions, during which members of MOAA staff outlined the association’s goals.
Col. Gary Fredricks, USAF (Ret), chair of MOAA’s Council and Chapter Affairs Committee, opened the first general session by introducing Gen. John Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret), who welcomed attendees and thanked them for going above and beyond to support the military community.
“I’ve never seen a group that’s worked so hard for the right thing,” Tilelli said. “And we’re doing the right thing.”
Capt. John Plehal, USN (Ret), director of Membership and Marketing, took the podium to highlight MOAA’s ongoing and upcoming initiatives. Plehal highlighted membership trends in the national association, recruiting and marketing challenges, the importance of recruiting a new set of younger members into chapters and the association, and outreach initiatives nationwide.
To close out the session, Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret), director of MOAA’s Transition Center, updated seminar participants about veteran unemployment trends. He noted helping to fix veteran unemployment is a top priority for the Transition Center. According to Carman, hiring of veterans shows a steady improvement, but the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans is at 10.1 percent. The average length of unemployment is 40 weeks, and 21 million unemployed people in the country are competing for only 3.9 million available jobs.
The second general session of the morning featured a brief by Patricia Bergquist of the Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee, who stressed the importance of having an auxiliary liaison appointed in each chapter and cited ways these members can provide added value to the chapter system.
The session ended with the presentation of the 2012 Col. Marvin J. Harris Communications Award to contest winners. Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), MOAA president, was on hand to present the awards to MOAA chapter members who proved to be great communicators in at least one of the following categories — print newsletter, e-newsletter, website, best legislative coverage — print, best legislative coverage — website, best recruiting brochure, and unique communication.
In the afternoon’s general sessions, Col. Barry Wright, USA (Ret), director of MOAA’s Council and Chapter Affairs Department, told participants about national MOAA initiatives to help keep the chapter system a success. Wright updated attendees about Chapter Recruiting 2013, a program intended to focus solely on helping chapters recruit new chapter members. He also noted MOAA created advertisements chapters can use in the local news outlets to teach members of their communities about MOAA and let potential chapter members know there’s a MOAA affiliate in their area.
Attendees finished the seminar with a discussion of chapter-management and recruiting techniques. As a result of the discussions, attendees gained many ideas to help keep their councils and chapters going in the right direction.
Lt. Gen. William Troy, USA, Speaks to MOAA Council Leaders
Lt. Gen. William Troy, USA, addresses MOAA Council Leaders and answers their questions. (Photo by Steve Barrett.)
MOAA Council Presidents’ Seminar participants and their spouses were treated to a special keynote speaker during a seminar luncheon, held April 18 in the Presidential Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria, Va.
Gen. John Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret), chair of MOAA’s board of directors, introduced speaker Lt. Gen. William Troy, USA, director of the Army staff, who highlighted the good, the bad, and the ugly affecting the military.
The good, Troy said, was a high-quality Army and a fully capable joint land power among the military services. The bad included sequestration, the high cost of war — in both financial and personal aspects, and the need to downsize the Army with U.S. involvement in Iraq over and in Afghanistan winding down. The ugly, he said, was a growing trend in suicides by servicemembers, mostly ages 21-26, and sexual harassment within the chain of command of the services.
“We are a nation at war, and we are an Army at war,” Troy said. “We are not going to let our men and women who serve in harm’s way go without something they need.
“The readiness of our forces is our No. 1 job,” he continued. “At the end of the day, what we’re responsible for is having forces that are ready to fight.”
Troy thanked MOAA for its advocacy and lobbying efforts on the Hill on behalf of the military community before answering questions from MOAA leaders in attendance.
Troy, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., previously served as commander, U.S. Army Alaska; vice director for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment (J-8), Washington, D.C.; and deputy commanding general of I Corps and Fort Lewis at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Sen. Tim Kaine Addresses MOAA Council Leaders
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) addressed MOAA council leaders, their spouses, and MOAA staff at the 2013 Council Presidents' Dinner on Wednesday. (Photo by Kris Ann Hegle.)
Watch a recording of the event.
On Wednesday, April 17, MOAA council presidents and their spouses gathered with national association staff and board members in the Presidential Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria, Va., for the Council Presidents’ Dinner, featuring keynote speaker Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D).
Before dinner was served, Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret), chair of MOAA’s board of directors, thanked the 100-plus attendees who had taken to Capitol Hill earlier that day to lobby their congressional representatives on issues important to the military community.
Tilelli welcomed Kaine to the podium.
Kaine, whose oldest son recently was commissioned in the Marine Corps, began by expressing his appreciation of MOAA for its advocacy efforts and for its hard work on behalf of the military community, acknowledging MOAA representatives “made yourselves known” on the Hill earlier that day.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he knows how important it is to support servicemembers and national defense in times of a budget crisis.
“We’re wrestling with tough budget decisions,” Kaine said. “But we’re also needing to not … make a series of cuts and find we’re not recruiting or retaining as we should [and] we’re not providing readiness as we need to for our active duty [servicemembers]. We don’t want to come up with a budget that looks nice but weakens our national security. … At the end of the day, it’s about people.”
Kaine vowed to work hard for the military community by collaborating with organizations like MOAA and through his position with the Senate Armed Services Committee. On April 10, he introduced with Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) the Troop Talent Act of 2013, his first bill as a senator, which will help ease the transition of servicemembers from active duty to the civilian workforce by improving the alignment of specialty skills acquired in the military with civilian credentials or licenses required for post-service employment.
Before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Kaine, as Virginia’s 70th governor, cut the state’s budget by more than $5 billion. He also worked to expand early childhood and technical education, pass the largest bond package for higher education construction in Virginia history, reform the state’s mental health and foster care programs, and secure major rail and public transit improvements in the state.
MOAA Storms the Hill
Col. Rich Kearsley, USAF (Ret), meets with Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) to discuss MOAA's legislative priorities. MOAA board members and chapter and council presidents from all over the country came to Washington, D.C. to participate in MOAA's annual Storming the Hill day. (Photo by Steve Barrett.)
MOAA council and chapter leaders from 50 states and Puerto Rico, accompanied by members of the national board of directors and headquarters staff, plus members of MOAA’s Currently Serving Advisory Council, Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council, and Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee swarmed Capitol Hill Wednesday, April 17 to visit nearly all 535 representatives and senators in support of key legislative priorities. This year, Hill-stormers met with their legislators to focus on two key issues: sustaining the 1.8-percent military pay raise and preventing unfair TRICARE fee increases.
On Tuesday, participants prepared for Storming the Hill at a briefing by MOAA Government Relations Director Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF (Ret). Hill-stormers learned about the issues and had the opportunity to ask questions and meet with their storming team members during the briefing.
2013 Marix Awards
Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret), chair of MOAA’s board of directors, presented the association's highest awards to a distinguished group of legislators, corporate leaders, and public servants at an awards ceremony in the Russell Senate building April 16. Pictured above, Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) receives the Marix Congressional Leadership Award from Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret). (Photo by Steve Barrett.)
Marix Congressional Leadership Award
This year, five legislators who championed MOAA-supported initiatives and legislation were recognized with the Col. Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award. Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) led a range of efforts to improve employment opportunities for transitioning servicemembers. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) championed important TRICARE pharmacy legislation.
In her acceptance speech, Davis thanked MOAA leadership for its continued dedication and mentorship to the current generation of servicemembers.
Murray shared that after reading her World War II veteran father's diary and working as intern on the psychiatric ward of the Seattle VA hospital, she vowed always would help servicemembers. "I'm very proud to be honoring our men and women, not just with words but with the money behind that," she said. Murray dedicated the award to her late father.
McCaskill echoed Murray's sentiments, also speaking about her World War II father who never told his family about his military decorations but did ensure his children always thanked those in uniform. She said it's the people, not the technology or phenomenal weapons systems, that make the military successful.
Reed and Rubio were awarded in absentia.
Col. Arthur T. Marix, namesake of the award, founded the Military Officers Association of America and served as its first president.
Distinguished Service Award
Paul J. Clark, general manager of Caterpillar Defense & Federal Products, and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. McHale, USA (Ret), president and director of Homes for Our Troops accepted the MOAA Distinguished Service Award for their service to veterans.
Currently Caterpillar employs more than 2,500 people with military experience who represent 5 percent of their workforce. The corporation also provides programs and enrichment for veterans, Guardmembers, Reservists, and their families.
McHale shared some of his experiences working to build and outfit accessible homes at no cost to severely wounded veterans and their families, "the ones who have protected our freedom," he said. Last year the organization built 20 homes; this year it plans to build 40. The organization also helps provide homes to medically retired veterans and Gold Star Wives and families and provides financial planning services to these new homeowners.
Arcari Meritorious Service Award
John Chapla, professional staff member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Kate Mevis, legislative assistant to Reed, received the Col. Paul W. Arcari Meritorious Service Award for congressional staff. Both thanked their staffs and expressed surprise to be recognized.
"You are in many ways our eyes and ears from a staff perspective," Chapla said of MOAA. "We can write a law. We can hope it works, but your experience out there in how it actually works is a valuable piece of intelligence to help us understand what needs to be fixed and how to correct the mistakes we made when we make mistakes."
The Meritorious Service Award is named for Col. Paul W. Arcari, USAF-Ret., who served at MOAA from 1985 to 2001.