2019 Pay Raise Is A Victory, But MOAA Mission To Protect Benefits Continues

2019 Pay Raise Is A Victory, But MOAA Mission To Protect Benefits Continues
Marines train at Twentynine Palms, California, March 1, 2018. (Photo by Lance Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg/Marine Corps)

May 1, 2018

In the April 26 formal markup of the of the FY 2019 defense legislation, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel supported several of MOAA's key advocacy positions regarding military pay and benefits.

MOAA's advocacy efforts have focused on maintaining the military pay and benefits essential to recruiting and retaining the high quality all-volunteer force (AVF), necessary to meet the nation's security and warfighting requirements now and in the future.

MOAA is concerned about maintaining top-notch pay and benefits for servicemembers. Top tier pay and benefit packages are key factors in recruiting and retaining the AVF.

First Win

We first successfully pressed DoD throughout the Fall of 2017 as the president's budget request was being prepared to send to Congress in February 2018. The request to Congress, MOAA advised, should match the Employment Cost Index (ECI).

We got that! The president requested a 2.6-percent pay raise in his defense budget proposal.

Second Push

We then highlighted this issue in our April Storming the Hill grassroots advocacy campaign with Congress. Timing proved to be key because the House Armed Services Committee was moving to finalize its version of the FY 2019 defense legislation.

Working with our membership's strong support throughout the year, we were able to get the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Military Personnel to propose FY 2019 defense legislation language that included the pay raise at ECI.

Additionally, we ensured there were no negative changes to benefits such as the basic housing allowance (BAH) or TRICARE fees.

The committee also embraced our push to have the armed services' end-strengths increased, so troops might better meet the worldwide security requirements now and in the future.

Bonus Successes

The subcommittee also addressed several policy provisions of interest to MOAA, its members, and MOAA's government relations team. The committee directed DoD to do the following:

• conduct a study looking into possible eligibility options for Arlington National Cemetery,

• realign the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) into tracks to better meet transitioning servicemembers' needs,

• look at expanding the constructive credit for higher education, training, or other experience to more specialized skills, and

• monitor the transition of each services' military treatment facilities to the Defense Health Agency. Specifically, the measure would prohibit the secretary from closing or limiting services in any military medical treatment facility until DHA completes the transition certification process.

The subcommittee also formalized and made permanent, the current DoD pilot program regarding career intermission. MOAA plans to provide more information on this still developing program in the future.

Keep The Momentum

More work needs to be done as the Senate moves toward the markup of their version of the legislation sometime in June, but we could not have gotten to this point without our members' support and engagement with their representatives in Congress. Great work!

Please continue to follow this story. We will move to the next phase of our advocacy campaign regarding the issues critical to support an AVF. Watch for MOAA's upcoming alerts, and engage your legislators as asked.
Thank you for continuing to Never Stop Serving!