By MOAA Staff
MOAA is taking the COVID-19 virus and advisories regarding its impact seriously. Through an abundance of caution to protect the health of our membership and in review of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of Personnel Management, and careful consideration of global responses, MOAA is canceling several upcoming events.
We will be moving our board meeting and annual Storming the Hill events to virtual platforms in lieu of on-site meetings in the Washington, D.C., region that had been scheduled for March 21-26. The associated annual Marix Awards event is canceled, with honors to be shared in venues to be determined.
“The health of our members comes first, and we can honor this while still lobbying on behalf of servicemembers past and present, and their families. In our adjustments, we will be creative and impactful.” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO. “We have plans in place to move forward, to keep our members and Congress informed, and to continue outreach on behalf of not just our 350,000-strong membership, but all members of the uniformed services community.”
Typically with gatherings of board members, local Council and Chapter leaders, and annual award honorees, nearly 200 members from all over the country come together this time of year to do business and meet with every member of Congress regarding issues critical to maintaining readiness and preserving the benefits earned through uniformed service. And while this year’s Storming the Hill has been canceled, the needs of our service members and their families have not.
This year, MOAA remains dedicated to visiting with members of Congress regarding specific issues and providing reference materials to each office, using staff and other tactics to accomplish personal outreach. Leaders of our Councils and Chapters are being contacted directly with instructions that include preparations for a virtual or hometown Summer Storm. Board members will meet virtually, which they’ve done in the past.
MOAA also will double down on member engagement, providing links via our Legislative Action Center and guidance for engaging with House and Senate members when they return to their districts. More webinars, videos, and teleconferences are planned for members who seek greater understanding of these issues and to help advocate for the protection of all earned benefits.
“Phone calls still matter,” Atkins said. “Emails matter. Online petitions matter. In-person meetings, when practical, matter. These tools remain at our members’ disposal, and we want to ensure they can use them locally for maximum national impact.”
The current health crisis may result in an increased need for your advocacy. This year’s legislative priorities include protecting TRICARE and minimizing anticipated increases in health care costs through copays and shifts to civilian health care services for veterans. Copay hikes have far outpaced annual retiree cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), whittling away the value of the overall retirement package. Copay increases aren’t even being used to maintain or improve the TRICARE benefit. Learn more about the issue here (PDF download).
We urge Congress to demonstrate good faith with military families by addressing two particularly egregious copay issues that have emerged incrementally since January 2018.
“MOAA remains in a proactive and positive posture, coming off a momentous year in legislative accomplishments for our military and all uniformed services, veterans and their families,” Atkins said. “To continue this progress, we need every member to stay engaged and informed; together we can ensure MOAA continues to make a measurable difference.”
MOAA's Storming the Hill 2020 website will be updated regularly to provide further guidance regarding the cancellation, as well as new advocacy resources and details regarding online advocacy efforts.