This updated article was originally published in the July edition of Military Officer magazine. To receive your copy of the magazine, sign up here.
Sometimes I hear, “MOAA only cares about officers - why aren't you interested in the issues facing enlisted servicemembers and veterans?” Perhaps you've heard this as well.
But it's easily countered with a look at what we do. MOAA is an officer-based organization, but we advocate on behalf of all uniformed servicemembers and their families. I often say our advocacy is “agnostic.” The majority of the work we do benefits enlisted personnel as well as commissioned officers. While they do not qualify for membership, we have their backs with our strong focus on military pay and benefits.
For example, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a 2.4-percent pay raise for all uniformed personnel; this was an improvement over the originally proposed 2.1-percent bump. Legislators have said MOAA's work informing Congress about pay disparities and the impact of sequestration was vital to winning this paycheck increase. This is mirrored in the passing of the 2019 NDAA, which included a 2.6-percent pay raise for troops as well as the dismissal of proposed TRICARE fee increases.
Why is this so important? By law, raises should match the Employment Cost Index. Over time, Congress has used budget concerns to justify reduced raises.
We also are one of the few organizations focused on getting fair compensation for a specific group of personnel, known as Chapter 61 retirees, who, through no fault of their own, had to medically retire before completing 20 years of service because of a service-related accident or event. Ninety percent of Chapter 61 retirees were enlisted.
MOAA works tirelessly with the VA and the House and Senate Armed Services committees, advocating for transformative health care legislation for all active duty servicemembers and veterans. We also work closely with the White House, VA leadership, and lawmakers and regularly join forces with other veterans service organizations to reach major legislative milestones.
These advocacy efforts set us apart from other military and veterans service organizations and have culminated in MOAA's recognition as a Top Lobbyist in The Hill for 11 years in a row. I credit much of that success to those in our chapter system, who leverage their energy and access to Congress to get our agenda to the necessary audience.
We can all look at the work we do with great pride, knowing MOAA is making a difference for all servicemembers and veterans and their families who have sacrificed for our country. At MOAA, we never stop serving for the good of everyone in the military community.