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A lively, informative bi-monthly newsletter, filled with up-to-the-minute developments regarding military matters and legislative issues which may affect you and your peers in the military community.

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The overriding goal of AFTEA is to support a national defense that will protect the security of the United States.

AFTEA represents the interests of members of the Uniformed Services in Congress, at the White House, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense. We educate the public and members of Congress about the Uniformed Services and their most important asset, its people.

We monitor proposed legislation and we lobby and educate members of Congress and Pentagon officials on behalf of our members. We give voice to our members’ concerns about military pay, health care, pension and disability, survivor benefits, education, housing, child care, and other quality-of-life programs.

Force Management
AFTEA supports a defense budget that will provide modern and sufficient equipment so that our military personnel can safely and effectively accomplish their mission. Further, we support increasing active duty, Guard and Reserve force sizes (end strength) to match mission.

Active Duty Issues
AFTEA supports military pay and compensation policies to attain and maintain the personnel skills that will allow the United States to meet its strategic goals. This includes compensation, benefits, quality of life, and other instruments to recruit, retain, and support high-quality people. It also includes providing service members and their dependents high-quality, affordable health care. We support initiatives to:

Restore full pay comparability with the private sector. Military members' basic pay must be reasonably comparable with private sector pay scales and adjusted annually to maintain comparability with private sector pay increases.
Index annual increases in the basic allowance for subsistence (BAS) to increases in the consumer price index.
Raise relocation reimbursements to cover members' costs for government-directed moves.
Protect members against travel credit card interest/credit risks for late government payments.
Provide first $100,000 SGLI coverage without charge.
Authorize special additional death gratuity for operations-related deaths.
Provide service members a tax exemption for premiums or enrollment fees paid for TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Standard supplements, the active duty dental plan, TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan, FEHBP, and Long Term Care.
Make the pay of combat-wounded service members exempt from taxation during the periods of hospitalization and doctor-ordered recovery.
Authorize pre-tax payment of childcare expenses.

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PCS Moves & Housing
AFTEA will continue to work toward upgrading the quality of housing and dormitories, and to monitor privatization efforts to preclude any adverse impact on military members. We support initiatives to:

Increase the maximum PCS household goods weight allowance for enlisted members.
Allow military members to ship two POVs during all PCS moves.
Provide military spouses with a professional goods PCS weight allowance.
Provide all military members being assigned to CONUS locations the option of government-funded POV shipment or storage.
If advantageous to the government, reimburse transportation expenses for members to take their POVs to a location other than a commercial storage facility when PCSing (e.g., to leave the vehicle with a relative).

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Education Benefits
AFTEA will continue to work to improve educational benefits for members of the Uniformed Services and their families. AFTEA supports initiatives to:

Allow all service members, including those who initially declined participation in the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) or the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB), an opportunity to enroll in the MGIB, to include National Guard and Reserve members who have accumulated title 10 service.
Allow the accelerated expenditure of the MGIB benefit to cover the cost of compressed and higher-cost academic programs, and to pay for books and other academic-related fees.
Increase the MGIB benefit value to cover the full cost of tuition, books, and fees at an average 4-year college or university. Tie the MGIB benefit rates to growth in 4-year public college costs.
Standardize the MGIB so that all enrollees are entitled to all aspects of the program, including the “buy-up” option and transferability to family members. Allow MGIB transferability to family for members who serve a full career.
Eliminate the $1,200 MGIB enrollment fee, and allow members to withdraw enrollment declinations later in their careers.
Provide military members and their families in-state tuition rates at federally supported state universities immediately upon arrival at a gaining station.
Seek appropriated support to ensure continued provision of 100 percent Tuition Assistance (TA). Increase the Tuition Assistance cap from $4,500 to $9,000.
Remove or extend the MGIB 10-year benefit-loss provision that begins upon separation from service.

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Commissaries and Exchanges
It is a goal of AFTEA to protect the military exchange and commissary benefits as essential components of military compensation. We oppose any DoD or Commissary Agency (DeCA) policy or changes that would reduce the benefit, negatively alter current pricing policies, transfer program costs to beneficiaries, privatize the stores, or provide the benefit to non-military beneficiaries.

We will work to ensure adequate funding for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to preserve the value of the current benefit for all patrons, protect the exchange benefit, and ensure adequate funding for MWR programs.

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National Guard and Reserve Issues
AFTEA will continue to seek compensation and benefit equity for National Guard and Reserve members. We support initiatives to:

Upgrade National Guard and Reserve personnel pay and retirement programs to reflect today's missions. Move to a common pay and benefits system for all types of duty performed by members of the National Guard to reflect the new and changing duties, risks, and obligations.
Provide full-rate incentive and hazardous duty pay for qualified members of the National Guard.
Provide monthly flight pay for National Guard aviators equal to their active duty counterparts.
Authorize payment of BAH-II for Guard and Reserve members activated for 30 days or more.
Provide access to TRICARE for all members of the National Guard, regardless of mobilization status.
Provide access and funding for all members of the National Guard into the TRICARE Dental Plan.
Provide the same benefits through the Veterans Administration to members of the National Guard called to serve in combat or hostile environments as their active duty counterparts.
Provide Title 32 retirees the same access to Veterans’ Affairs medical facilities as Title 10 retirees.
Amend Title 10, USC to reduce the age for receipt of retired reserve military pay from 60 to age 55.
Change the Civil Service Retirement System to allow military technicians to retire after attaining 20 years of service and reaching age 50; or 27 years of federal technician service at any age without suffering the penalty of a 2 percent reduction per year for each year under age 55.
Eliminate the annual cap on inactive duty training points creditable for retirement.
Award full veteran status to Guard and Reserve members who successfully complete 20 qualifying years of Reserve service, but do not otherwise qualify as veterans under title 38.
Provide tax credits for employers of National Guard members, and self-employed and professional members.
Provide full tax-deductibility of non-reimbursed expenses related to military training and service.
Provide all title 10 benefits, compensation, and tort liability protection to National Guard members ordered to duty under title 32 for homeland defense.

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Health Care
It is our goal to ensure comprehensive, lifelong medical and dental care for all Uniformed Services beneficiaries regardless of age, status or location. We support initiatives to:

Fully fund the Defense Health Program to meet readiness needs and to provide access to the military health care system for all uniformed services beneficiaries.
Upgrade TRICARE to attract more providers (increase payments, expedite claims, reduce administrative problems for providers and beneficiaries) and improve TRICARE Standard.
Promote improvements to the TRICARE benefit to include chiropractic care and annual physicals for military retirees and their dependents.
Provide full funding for Medicare, including an increase in provider reimbursement levels to ensure sufficient participating providers to support TRICARE programs.
Reinstate TRICARE benefits for remarried widows when a second marriage ends.
Stop any future increases in co-payments for prescription drugs and further deletions in DoD formularies.
Expand health care options for retirees under age 65. Provide health care alternatives, including TRICARE Standard, TRICARE Prime Remote and the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) as options for active duty and military retirees under age 65 who do not have access to military treatment facilities.
Support adequate funding for Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) health care resource sharing in delivering seamless, cost effective, quality services to personnel wounded, other veterans, service members, reservists, military retirees and their families.
Expand military retiree access to the VA Health Care System. Support legislation expanding access to VA Hospitals and Clinics and to adopt VA Medicare Subvention. Support and expand DOD/VA joint facilities demonstration projects. Ensure that military retirees are not forced to pay for VA care or choose between DOD and VA for care.
Exempt military retirees who entered service prior to December 7, 1956, from the obligation of Medicare Part B payments.
Mandate that future contracts for the active duty and retiree dental plans include coordination with TRICARE to ensure TRICARE coverage of physician recommended oral surgery procedures. Provide a government subsidy for the TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan.

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Retirement and Survivor Issues
Preserve full-inflation Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs).
Immediately restore full military retirement pay for all military retirees receiving VA service-connected disability compensation. Authorize full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability compensation for all disabled retirees.
Accelerate 10-year concurrent receipt phase-in schedule for 50%-90% disabled retirees.
Make medically retired (Chapter 61) retirees with less than 20 years of service eligible for concurrent receipt and Combat-Related Special Compensation.
Eliminate the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset to SBP.
Accelerate the effective date (currently Oct. 1, 2008) for 30-year paid-up SBP coverage.
Authorize Combat-Related Special Compensation for medical retirees with less than 20 years.
Resume DIC payments for qualifying widows who remarry after age 55.
Repeal the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA).
AFTEA supports adequate funding for the operation of the Armed Forces Retirement Home’s two facilities and continue to provide adequate care for its residents.

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Veterans programs
AFTEA will continue to focus on improvement of veterans’ claims processing, health care facilities and programs, education programs, and veterans’ preference legislation. We support initiatives to:

Provide mandatory annual funding for VA health care.
Prevent annual user fees at VA medical facilities.
Require the VA to accept prescriptions issued by licensed civilian medical and dental providers.
Stop increases in the costs of medical prescriptions at VA facilities.
Support VA-Medicare subvention.
Improve the veterans’ disability evaluation, benefits claim, and appeals process.
Closely monitor the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission as they evaluate the basis for awarding future VA service-connected disability payments.
Ensure full treatment of medical conditions resulting from the military service environment.
Ensure sufficient capacity and full funding at national cemeteries.
Award full veteran status to Guard and Reserve members who successfully complete 20 qualifying years of Reserve service, but do not otherwise qualify as veterans under title 38.

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