Help MOAA Advocate for the Military During Our 2018 Storming the Hill Event

About the Author

Col. Mike Barron, USA (Ret), is the Director of Currently Serving and Retired Affairs for MOAA's Government Relations department.

Barron retired from the Army in 2010 after a 30-year career as an airborne-ranger infantry officer and military strategist. During his professional military career, he served in leadership positions at all levels, from tactical through strategic. He is a decorated combat veteran of operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Barron's last active duty assignment was as special assistant to the secretary of the Army.

After retiring from active duty, he was an executive with the Boeing Co., working in its Washington, D.C., government operations office, first as director of Government Affairs and then as director of International Operations and Policy.

He joined MOAA's Government Relations Department in April 2013 and specializes in defense policy, active duty compensation, and retirement issues.

Read full biography here.

(Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

April 4, 2018

The arrival of spring means it's time for MOAA's largest and most visible grassroots advocacy event: Storming the Hill, which will occur this year Wednesday, April 18.

Storming occurs in conjunction with the spring board of directors meeting and the annual Council of Presidents' Seminar, which brings MOAA leaders from each state to the nation's capital. While our storming effort gets attention on the Hill and across our chapters and councils, it is worth noting that MOAA's continuous advocacy efforts get attention all year long.

In addition to our Storming the Hill event, MOAA advocates year-round in support of a variety of demographics including surviving spouses, families, veterans, retirees, the National Guard and reserve, and the currently serving from all seven of the uniformed services.

This year's issues

Shortly after the president's FY 2019 budget proposal was released in February, MOAA's BoD selected two issues from a list of MOAA's current advocacy goals and objectives as the focus of this year's event. The two issues this year are 1) End reduced pay for Chapter 61 retirees and 2) Maintain military pay and benefits, necessary to recruit and retain an all-volunteer force. Here's what you need to know about the history of these two objectives:

  1. Ending reduced pay for Chapter 61 retirees. A Chapter 61 retiree is anyone medically retired from military service with a disability of 30 percent or greater. The majority of these retirees - and our advocacy focus - are those who completed less than 20 years of service. The term “Chapter 61” comes from the corresponding chapter in Title 10 U.S. Code that covers disability retirements. There are approximately 210,000 Chapter 61 retirees, more than 90 percent of whom were enlisted.
Until 2001, a retired servicemember who also received VA disability compensation had the amount equal to VA compensation deducted from their military retired pay. A coalition of associations, led by MOAA, crafted a very limited first-step legislative provision to authorize a modest allowance (initially $50 to $300 monthly) for retirees who received a VA disability rating of 60 percent or more. It became law Dec. 28, 2001.

This authority was expanded gradually until 2004, when MOAA and The Military Coalition, through several grassroots efforts, persuaded Congress to add a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This added provision eliminated the offset for combat-related disabilities, culminating in Combat-Related Specialty Compensation (CRSC), and phased out over 10 years the offset for retirees with 20 or more years of service with noncombat disabilities.

Under current law, combat-related disabilities are not subject to offset, regardless of a retired servicemember's years of service or disability rating. Noncombat-related disabilities also are not subject to offset, provided the retired servicemember completed at least 20 years of service with a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater under the other component of concurrent receipt, Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP). Concurrent receipt refers to the simultaneous receipt of two types of monetary benefits: 1) military retired pay and (2) VA disability compensation.

The FY 2008 NDAA extended CRSC eligibility to Chapter 61 retirees who retired due to combat-related physical disabilities prior to completing 20 years of service. However, Chapter 61 retirees who completed less than 20 years of service due to service-connected disabilities are still not eligible for CRDP - regardless of their disability rating.

This inequity is what compelled us to target this select group (medical retired, disability rating of 30-percent or higher, with less than 20 years of military service) as a must-solve subset of a wider priority. MOAA's position is that all eligible servicemembers should receive both retirement and disability compensation. We support legislation currently introduced in Congress to do that, in particular H.R. 333, introduced by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), which addresses both the Chapter 61 issue and MOAA's wider legislative priority regarding concurrent receipt.

We need your help to achieve this objective. Take action by clicking here to support the effort and legislation to fix the Chapter 61 issue.

Maintaining military pay and benefits necessary to recruit and retain an all-volunteer force (AVF). MOAA supports maintaining the military pay and benefits that are essential to recruiting and retaining the high-quality AVF necessary to meet the nation's security and warfighting requirements now and in the future. The president's proposed 2.6-percent pay raise in his FY 2019 budget proposal, as aligned with the Employment Cost Index (ECI), is the largest in nine years as compared to previous raises, which were below ECI in three of the last nine years.

Take action by clicking on this link to tell your legislator you want them to support the 2.6-percent military pay raise for FY 2019 and to continue supporting pay and benefits that are essential to recruiting and retaining the quality talent necessary for the success of the AVF. Given the shrinking pool of available qualified candidates for military service, we must ensure military pay and benefits stack up if recruiters are to have a chance in this increasingly competitive environment.

How you can help

For our grassroots “ground game,” MOAA's government relations staff has compiled a list of 60-plus teams who will visit their states' legislative delegations on Capitol Hill to press these issues as constituents during the one-day Storming the Hill event. However, we need further help from you.

Although only a relatively small number of MOAA members and leadership will be able to physically join us in Washington from each state to participate in this year's Storming the Hill event, you can still help support our advocacy from home or at work. Follow MOAA on Instagram at @MOAAStorms or on Facebook to stay updated on the day's events. Address your tweets to @Military Officer and @MOAAStorms and use the hashtag #WhyIStorm and #MOAAStorms to share your thoughts and stories on our social media channels.

You can also take action by contacting your representatives directly at the links below.

  1. End Reduced Pay for Chapter 61 Retirees. Chapter 61 retirees are servicemembers who were unable to complete 20 years of service through no fault of their own and should have their retirement and disability pays computed equal to those who retire with 20 or more years of service.
  2. Maintain military pay and benefits necessary to recruit and retain an all-volunteer force. Maintaining military pay and benefits is necessary to recruit and retain an all-volunteer force (AVF).