Note from MOAA: Sen. James Inhofe is a recipient of MOAA's Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award. Read more about MOAA’s 2021 award winners.
By Kristin Davis
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) had no way to know that a draft notice would shape the course of his life. He was just 22 when he headed to Army boot camp at Fort Chaffee, Ark., in 1957.
“Although I had to take some time off from school to serve, I do not regret it for a moment,” said Inhofe, who worked as a clerk at Fort Lee, Va. “I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today if it had not been for my experiences in the military and the discipline that comes with it.”
As chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Inhofe championed the Senate’s bipartisan FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes pay raises for troops, continues stringent oversight of military privatized housing, and addresses mental health and suicide prevention.
The NDAA also increases Impact Aid by $70 million, including $20 million for children with severe disabilities. “This is important for our military communities because education is an important quality-of-life program for military families. The Impact Aid helps make up the difference in the tax base,” he said.
Inhofe was also an original cosponsor of the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019, which led to repeal of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)-Dependency Compensation (DIC) offset in the FY 2020 NDAA.
[RELATED MOAA RESOURCES: The Widows Tax]
Inhofe worked for nearly two decades on a permanent solution to the offset, which averages about $925 a month. But the tax became personal in 2011. On Sept. 7 of that year, Inhofe visited a group of constituents in Collinsville, Okla., about his upcoming trip to Afghanistan. Jane Horton told Inhofe that her husband was deployed to Afghanistan; she asked the senator to stop in and see Army Spec. Christopher Horton during his visit.
“I got over there to look up Chris only to find out two days after I made that commitment, Chris died in action,” Inhofe shared on the Senate floor in 2019.
“America’s servicemembers sacrifice a great deal for our country, sometimes even making the ultimate sacrifice. The very least we can do for them and their families is to ensure they get the benefits they have so courageously earned,” Inhofe said. “For years, MOAA has worked tirelessly for its 350,000 members to protect their rightfully earned benefits and to offer necessary resources. I am incredibly proud of the work they do for our nation’s military, and I will continue to fight for their priorities in Congress.”