By MOAA Staff
Senators headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday before wrapping up their version of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), leaving a weeklong window for MOAA members to register their views on issues of critical importance to the military community.
This might be the last window to make your voice heard on these topics: The Senate will take up the bill Nov. 29, and with competing legislative priorities and the sadly traditional year-end budget crunch, it’s unclear how much time will be left for NDAA deliberation. With so much going on, MOAA needs your help now more than ever to get these issues onto your senator’s to-do list.
Here’s why it matters: The House-passed NDAA (H.R. 4350) includes many MOAA-backed provisions for the military community likely to carry over into the Senate version – a pay raise in line with legislative requirements and a much-needed step toward ending hunger in the ranks, for example. But other items on MOAA’s priority list didn’t make the House NDAA, and the only chance for them to be included in this legislation, which has passed both chambers annually for 60 years, is for the items to be part of the Senate version and be included in the final bill via the joint conference committee.
Below are details on four such provisions. Click the links to send a message to your legislator, but also consider a phone call via MOAA’s dedicated congressional hotline, (866) 272-6622, which can connect you directly to your senators.
- Reversing Planned Eligibility Changes at Arlington National Cemetery. MOAA members have been among the thousands of veterans and others who’ve registered major concerns with the flawed, discriminatory changes proposed to Arlington National Cemetery eligibility that would force many 20-year-retirees to change long-held burial plans. A Senate amendment (SA 4297) would require a joint DoD/VA report on the issue and prohibit any eligibility changes until the report’s filing – a critical first step to a better solution for Arlington’s space issues and for finding the next national cemetery.
- Fixing the TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Gap. MOAA has long advocated for this much-needed improvement – one that would bring TRICARE in line with commercial plans and save military families thousands of dollars in health care costs for dependent children up to age 26. The current TRICARE Young Adult Program saw yet another significant premium hike for 2022 and shouldn’t be viewed as a viable alternative. A Senate NDAA amendment has made significant progress thanks to MOAA-backed support for similar legislation and recent media reports on the issue.
- Helping Military Survivors. MOAA’s work on behalf of surviving spouses has been among its greatest recent legislative successes. The fix included in the Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act – which has been introduced as a Senate NDAA amendment – seems minor compared with ending the so-called “Widows Tax,” but it would make a significant difference in the days and weeks after a loss. Learn more about the act and how it could save some survivors from unexpected financial disaster at this link.
- Addressing Concurrent Receipt. MOAA’s support for the Major Richard Star Act dates to the bill’s inception, but budget concerns prevented the House from including the text of the act in the NDAA via the amendment process. However, Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) plan to submit a Senate amendment with similar language, and while final NDAA inclusion faces several hurdles, all of your representatives need to hear from you about the need to end the unfair offset of military retired pay with disability compensation for so many ill and injured veterans. MOAA’s incremental approach to this issue will continue moving forward in coming years; don’t waste this opportunity to continue our progress.
Congress, not just the Senate, is facing an overwhelming agenda, which includes addressing several time-sensitive crises in the coming weeks: the Dec. 3 continuing resolution deadline, dealing with the debt ceiling prior to Dec. 15, and the president’s Build Back Better Act. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict how legislators will prioritize these other legislative issues relative to the FY 2022 NDAA – hearing from their constituents could make all the difference.
Keep up with these and other NDAA issues at MOAA’s Advocacy News page.
MOAA Fights for You
Get involved and make sure your interests are addressed.