Advocacy in Action Moves Forward: MOAA’s Major Progress on Our 3 Issues

Advocacy in Action Moves Forward: MOAA’s Major Progress on Our 3 Issues
(rarrarorro/Getty Images)

With thousands of messages sent and hundreds of congressional meetings held, MOAA’s signature advocacy effort is showing real results.

 

Our second year of making a virtual grassroots advocacy push has focused on three topics designed to improve the quality of life for members of the military community. In all three instances, your efforts have made a difference: Legislation is taking shape, key lawmakers are taking charge, and the public is taking notice.

 

Here’s an update on each issue; want more details? Visit MOAA.org/AIA for updated issue papers, the latest news, and much more.

 

Comprehensive Toxic Exposure Reform 

  • Where We Started: MOAA pushed for the passage of two bipartisan bills designed to provide presumed exposure to burn pits for some servicemembers, and to require the VA to improve both the benefits offered to those exposed and the process used to determine exposure-connected illnesses. 
  • What’s Happening: The text of these MOAA-supported bills has been included in omnibus legislation in both the House and the Senate. While there are differences between the bills, there are some important similarities: Both make major, necessary changes on behalf of veterans and their survivors when it comes to toxic exposure benefits, and both are championed by the chair of each chamber’s Veterans Affairs Committee. This support is critical going forward in a legislative process facing pressures from budgetary debates and other concerns. 
  • What’s Next: Be sure to reach out to your lawmakers and show your support of the omnibus bills. That outreach is critical to keeping this issue at the top of the legislative agenda. 

TRICARE Young Adult Parity 

  • Where We Started: MOAA has worked to help military families facing significant health care challenges with young adult coverage since before this legislative session. Advocacy in Action efforts have put this issue in the spotlight, with many outside the military community unaware that private-sector provisions improving young adult coverage don’t apply to the TRICARE program. 
  • What’s Happening: A MOAA-supported House bill, The Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act, addressing this concern has 55 bipartisan co-sponsors. A bipartisan Senate bill has been introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, among others. 
  • What’s Next: The Senate’s action restarts momentum on this issue, which had slowed since the House bill’s introduction in early 2021. Take the opportunity to reach out again to your legislators on behalf of fellow members of the military community, some of whom could save nearly $6,000 a year in health care costs (that their private-sector counterparts aren’t paying) if this change takes effect. 
 

Hunger in the Ranks 

  • Where We Started: Food insecurity among servicemembers, like many financial issues, became a more pressing concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions. MOAA has long fought for changes to federal regulation that would allow more servicemembers to qualify for assistance, but Advocacy in Action allowed for expansion of that effort, to include support of the Military Hunger Prevention Act in both houses of Congress. 
  • What’s Happening: MOAA has helped bring this issue to the forefront, with opinion pieces published in The Hill and on Military.com in recent weeks designed to make a wider audience aware of an often-overlooked issue. Other advocacy groups have been critical to the fight, as well, including MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, which has made significant inroads in the media landscape. 
  • What’s Next: This bill and others like it may be ripe for inclusion in the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will take shape later this year. Reach out to your lawmakers and be sure it stays on their radar. 

About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley