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LT. COL. DON WOLFINGER
U.S. ARMY, RETIRED
Missouri
LT. COL. DON WOLFINGER LT. COL. DON WOLFINGER

HE LEADS STATE-LEVEL ADVOCACY

By Kristin Davis
Photo by Brea Youngblood

Retired Air Force Col. Tom Robillard and retired Army Lt. Col. Don Wolfinger have never met in person, yet they are connected by MOAA, service to country, and advocacy for legislation that supports retired and active duty servicemembers and their families. Most recently, Robillard and Wolfinger worked together to create the State Legislative Forum, which provides a place for state council and chapter legislative leaders to share their experiences on issues at the state level.

'This is a vehicle we needed to bring the states together.'

“We’re concerned with who’s coming behind us,” said Wolfinger, a Vietnam veteran who taught at the U.S. Military Academy and finished his military career on the Army Staff at the Pentagon.

Robillard is a former enlisted servicemember who went back to school on the GI Bill, and went on to serve as commander of the Keesler Medical Center’s Clinical Research Laboratory.

Led by Robillard and Wolfinger, the State Legislative Forum meets virtually four times a year to share information, leverage resources, and maximize coordination between the states that share common objectives, said Robillard, MOAA South Carolina State Council vice president for legislative affairs.

“This is a vehicle we needed to bring the states together, to share common goals,” said Wolfinger, who belongs to the Greater St. Louis Chapter and Missouri Council.

State tax exemption for military retirement pay serves as a primary example. Thirty states don’t tax military retirement income at all; 13 provide partial exemptions; and seven offer no exemptions or deductions at all. In Robillard’s state of South Carolina, pending legislation would convert a partial exemption of military retirement income to a full exemption in 2021. Robillard shared information about the effort during the forum’s first virtual meeting in November 2019. The forum also tackled reciprocity among the states for licenses and certifications for military spouses and how COVID-19 is shifting state budget priorities.

“We started this thing on zero dollars,” Robillard said, “and we have a balanced budget of zero dollars raised and zero dollars spent.”

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This material originally appeared in Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA PREMIUM and LIFE members.

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