April 7, 2014
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.
Brig. Gen. Ivan Denton, ARNG, Addresses
to MOAA Council Leaders
|Brig. Gen. Ivan E.
Denton, ARNG, director of Manpower and Personnel, National Guard Bureau
addressed MOAA leaders at the annual Council Presidents' Seminar luncheon.
Photo by Steve Barrett. |
MOAA treated Council Presidents’ Seminar participants
and their spouses to a special keynote speaker during a seminar luncheon, held
April 10 in the Presidential Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in
Gen. John Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret), chair of
MOAA’s board of directors, introduced speaker Brig. Gen. Ivan E. Denton, ARNG,
director of Manpower and Personnel, National Guard Bureau.
highlighted the long-term mission of the Guard, focusing on its roles in
warfighting, protecting in the homeland, and cultivating global partnerships.
In the near-term, Denton said the Guard is working to eliminate sexual assault
and harassment, prevent servicemember suicides, and ensure leadership is
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, the Guard has
become an active reserve. Looking to the future as the conflict in Afghanistan
winds down, Denton sees no reason for the Guard to regress to its pre-9/11
status as a truly reserve component.
“I don’t know what percent
immobile the Guard will get,” said Denton, “but it can’t be zero.”
Closing his speech with a question-and-answer period, Denton, a MOAA
member, touched on why he finds value in his membership. For him, the most
important benefit was the MOAA Scholarship Fund.
“I wanted my kids to
have skin in the game for college,” Denton said.
The MOAA Scholarship
Fund, which he called a “powerful outreach program,” allowed his oldest two
children to attend schools they otherwise might not have been able to.
Denton served four years on active duty as an infantry officer from 1986 to
1990, including two demilitarized zone tours between North Korea and South
Korea. He also served in Operation Just Cause with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
His Ranger Rifle Platoon conducted a combat parachute assault onto the
international airport in Panama.
Denton left active duty in 1990 and
rejoined the Indiana Army National Guard. He has served in major Army National
Guard operational events, including the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La., in 2000; the 38th
Division Warfighter exercise at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 2001; and Operation
Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He commanded 1-293rd Infantry, which was the first
reserve component infantry battalion to be forwardly deployed into a combat
theater since the Korean War. He also commanded the 219th
Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, which was the last major Indiana Army
National Guard rotation in support of Operation New Dawn in Iraq.
Council Presidents’ Seminar Allows MOAA Leaders to Build on
|Col. Barry Wright, USA (Ret), director, MOAA Council
and Chapter Affairs led the exchange of ideas and resources at the 2014 Council
Presidents' Seminar. Photo by Steve Barrett. |
On April 10, council leaders from
across the country gathered to learn about new initiatives at national MOAA and
exchange ideas and share best practices at the association’s 2013 Council
Presidents’ Seminar, held at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria,
Col. Barry Wright, USA (Ret), director, MOAA Council and
Chapter Affairs, and Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), MOAA president,
opened the daylong event with a working breakfast, where they discussed with
leaders the importance of recruiting new chapter members to keep the chapter
system strong and to make a difference on the Hill and in local
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), chair of
MOAA's board of directors, who welcomed attendees and thanked them for going
above and beyond to support the military community.
director, MOAA Membership and Marketing, took the podium to note MOAA’s
ongoing and upcoming initiatives. She 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. MOAA Transition Center, updated seminar
participants about veteran unemployment trends. He also covered the three main
areas -- career-management, benefits information, and veterans’ claims
assistance -- in which the Transition Center can assist servicemembers and
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
The session ended with the presentation of the 2013 Col. Marvin
J. Harris Communications Award to contest winners. Ryan 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.
afternoon’s general sessions, Wright told participants about national MOAA
initiatives to help keep the chapter system a success. He updated attendees
about refinements that have been made to the Chapter Recruiting 2014, a
program intended to focus solely on helping chapters recruit new chapter
members, after listening to feedback from council and chapter leaders. 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.
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.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Addresses MOAA Council Leaders
|Sen. Kelly Ayotte
(R-N.H.) addressed a crowd of MOAA leaders from across the country on the
importance of their work protecting military pay and benefits. Photo by Steve
April 9, 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 New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R).
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 like sustaining pay and benefits and rejecting disproportional TRICARE
fees, which are important to the military community.
Ayotte to the podium. Ayotte, he said, led the recent fight to restore the
1-percent COLA cut for working-age military retirees. But, according to
Ayotte, she had help.
“I believe the restoring of these benefits was
MOAA at its best.” Ayotte said. “The data MOAA put together was critical to
this debate … to show Congress why this was not a minor cut. MOAA had a huge
voice, and Congress listened to you.”
Ayotte is no stranger to the
military lifestyle; her husband is a retired Air National Guard lieutenant
colonel who flew combat missions in an A-10 Warthog in Iraq. She understands
how important it is for military families to receive the care and support they
have earned through service.
Acknowledging her personal experience when
her husband was deployed, Ayotte understands firsthand the struggles military
families endure, and she works hard to make sure these military families will
continue to receive the benefits and pay they earned from their service.
“Men and women in uniform can’t be focused on their job to defend our
nation when their families aren’t taken care of back home,” Ayotte said.
To ensure these families are taken care of, according to Ayotte, it is
imperative groups like MOAA continue their campaigns to educate the 99-percent
of U.S. citizens, including those in Congress, about the sacrifices made by
the 1-percent that chooses to serve.
Looking to the future, Ayotte
hoped members of Congress and the administration would pay closer attention to
data before making decisions so they would see defense spending is not
spiraling out of control, as many think.
“Defense spending as the
problem is a myth,” Ayotte said. “If we keep heading down this fiscal path, by
2020, the U.S. will spend more on interest in the national debt than on
A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and
the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management
Support, Ayotte is focused on supporting servicemembers and their families by
highlighting the value of military facilities and military readiness.
Recently, she backed Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) Hire More Heroes Act (S. 2190),
legislation aimed at incentivizing companies to hire more veterans by
providing small businesses some relief from the employer mandate in the
Affordable Care Act. Ayotte also has been a vocal opponent of the Obama
administration’s call for another round of base realignments and closures.
MOAA Leaders Storm the Hill
|Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)
meets with MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret) and Col. Dale
Ellenburg, USA (Ret) to discuss MOAA's legislative priorities. Photo by Steve
MOAA council and
chapter presidents from all 50 states, 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 stormed Capitol Hill April 9 and visited
nearly all 535 representatives and senators in support of key legislative
The stormers met with their legislators to discuss
key military personnel issues that affect the stability of the all-volunteer
force and well-being of military families.
Specifically, MOAA stormers
asked for legislative support to:
- sustain military pay and
- reject disproportional TRICARE fee increases
that shift costs onto beneficiaries while reducing access;
- eliminate harmful sequestration cuts, which threaten national
- address remaining inequities for disabled
retirees, survivors, and recalled Guard and Reserve personnel.
The Hill-stormers’ personal efforts were buttressed by MOAA-sponsored
ads in The Hill and Politico newspapers on Wednesday.
gratified at members’ response to the alert we sent last Friday asking you to
support this effort by emailing your legislators. You sent nearly 15,000
messages to Capitol Hill, and many legislators and staffers referenced the
messages during their meetings with the MOAA stormers.
day, MOAA Director of Government Relations Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret),
representing The Military Coalition, testified before the House Armed Services
Military Personnel Subcommittee against the personnel and health care cuts in
the FY 2015 budget request.
“While debt reduction is a national
priority, we believe that such a disproportional share of this burden must not
be imposed on the Pentagon and especially on the backs of military members and
families,” Hayden said.
Between the FY 2014 and FY 2015 pay caps, the
proposed Basic Allowance for Housing reductions, the planned reductions in
commissary savings, and new health care fees, an E-5’s family of four would
experience a loss of nearly $5,000 in purchasing power annually; an O-3’s
family of four would experience a loss of nearly $6,000, according to
“These budget proposals would be major steps backward toward
repeating the insidious measures that led to retention and readiness problems
in the past and would undo the needed compensation improvements since 2000
Congress put in place,” he said.
To learn more about this year’s
Storming the Hill issues, check out the fact sheets stormers left behind for their legislators.
2014 Col. Arthur T. Marix Awards
|Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) receives the
Marix Congressional Leadership Award from Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret).
(Photo by Steve Barrett.) |
MOAA President Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), and chair of
MOAA's board of directors Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret), presented five
supporters of the defense community with the association's highest awards
Tuesday night, kicking off the Storming the Hill legislative
Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) accepted the Col. Arthur T. Marix
Congressional Leadership Award for their leadership on a wide range of issues
across the uniformed services community.
reflected on bipartisan legislative successes in the past year and the
ever-persistent need to support the nation's veterans.
“You can disagree about war – that's called American democracy
– but you never blame the men and women who put their lives on the line,” he
said. “As a nation I think we should be proud of the many ways we have learned
that lesson. We were divided in Vietnam, and the men and women who served in
that war who came home did not get the respect that they were entitled to.
“We were divided about war in Iraq, yet we came together as
a nation to stand behind the men and women who served, and we should be proud
of that transformation of our political culture.”
forward, Sanders added, the nation must continue to support veterans. “It is
not about the deployments and send-offs, it what happens to that man or woman
50 years later,” he said.
Walz, the highest ranking
enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress, has made improving the care for
veterans a top priority. He accepted his award, saying he recognized it was not
“an attaboy pat on the back” but a marching order to continue.
galvanized the crowd, reminding MOAA members their voices as real constituents
matter, and he backs them. “The only politics is 'get it right,'” he said.
“Things don't happen out of this deep intrigue, this House of Cards.
It's out of ignorance.”
MOAA's Distinguished Service
Award, presented 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 Safeway Inc. and APi Group Inc.,
represented by Brian Baer and Lee R. Anderson Sr., respectively.
recognized the quality talent of returning veterans and guardmembers and
Reservists, Safeway not only hires veterans and servicemembers but also offers
them a 41-week intensive course (but not military-intense, notes Baer) to
develop their leadership and management skills. The supermarket chain also has
hired 1,300 veterans in the past year.
Baer said he
didn't share the honor of having served the country, as the other awardees and
most of the audience had, but he was deeply honored to be present. “In 60 to 90
minutes my appreciation went up three notches,” he said. “I will accept this
tonight, but this is a call to redouble our efforts.”
Lee R. Anderson Sr., chair of the board of APi Group Inc., a
Minnesota-based $2 billion parent country of subcontracting companies, has
helped push APi beyond veterans hiring initiatives, fairs, and mentoring to
hiring veterans exclusively.
“I'm tired of talking
about hiring veterans and not seeing the kinds of results I want to see,” he
Among the nation's veterans he's found
“HR people, put the job
descriptions away,” he said. “You're not going to find the next Douglas
MacArthur. You need to hire people who come up to you and say, 'I need a job.
I'll do anything. I'll train. I'll relocate.'”
Robertson, staff director of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
delivered compelling personal testimony about his unwavering support of the
military community in his acceptance of the Col. Paul W. Arcari Meritorious
Service Award. He outlined his family military history, from his World War
I-blinded grandfather to his grateful business-owning veteran father, himself,
and his son. He said he was both humbled and honored to receive an award named
for a personal friend and tireless champion of military issues.
know when MOAA comes knocking at my door, they've identified a problem but
they're there with a realistic solution,” he said.
Col. Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award and Col. Paul W. Arcari
Meritorious Achievement Award both are named for significant former MOAA
staffers. Marix founded MOAA and served as its first president.