President's Letter

This January your El Paso Chapter of MOAA celebrated its 63rdAnniversary.  This year, for the 11thyear in a row, MOAA remains among the Top 50 of all Washington Lobbyist organizations, and the only Veteran Service Organization on that list, committed to lobbying Congress specifically for your benefits and services.   Your El Paso Chapter has continued to be recognized nationally as a Five Star Chapter for each of the past 17 consecutive years.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank you for your continued support.  
Recently, MOAA National published its legislative agenda for 2019.  Key goals include:
  • Ensure any TRICARE reform sustains access to top-quality care.
  • Prevent disproportional TRICARE fee increases.
  • Sustain military pay comparability with the private sector
  • Stop erosion of compensation and non-pay quality-of life benefits.
  • End financial penalties for military survivors.
  • End concurrent receipt penalties for military retirees.
  • Achieve equity of benefits for Guard and Reserve members with their active duty counterparts.
  • Strengthen DOD-VA collaboration and services to support wounded warriors and expanding population of women veterans.
  • Ensure timely access to service-earned VA benefits.
  • Protect military and veteran family support programs and policies.
At the local level this year, 2019 brings with it as many opportunities as it does challenges, especially in the area of supporting Veterans benefits and services. With a new Congress-woman entering office, it is essential to identify consensus priority veteran issues, and for the collective veteran’s organizations in El Paso to collectively agree on those priorities.  Currently there are numerous veteran “coalition” initiatives in the El Paso area. We continue to attempt to discern the range of independent VSO efforts locally, but a couple of the more well-known, local, “coalition”/collaboration efforts include the following:
  • Paso Del Norte Borderplex Veteran Coalition - begun in March 2018, and led by LTC (Retired) George Whitmire, provides excellent outreach to VSOs.  
  • Comrades in Action Summit (19 Jan 2019) 
  • State Senator Jose Rodriguez’s monthly Veteran’s Advisory Committee.
  • “El Paso Veteran’s Coalition”.  Not sure who the current leader is, its agenda, or meeting frequency. 
  • El Paso City Veteran’s Advisory Committee.  Chaired by Bill Sparks, who also happens to be vice-chair for the County Veteran’s Advisory Committee.
  • The Veteran’s Experience Office, as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran’s Family and Community engagement effort.
  • El Paso Chamber Veteran’s Advisory Committee.
  • Ft Bliss Retiree Council – host for the Retiree Appreciation Day (RAD) event on Ft Bliss.
There is opportunity in 2019 to pursue a clearer understanding of the numerous “coalition” efforts, to unify efforts, and to more effectively organize city, county, and state efforts to achieve consensus on priority veterans’ issues in order to more effectively inform congressional support at the local level.   There is also opportunity to expand the current RAD format to consist of a week-long series of veteran focused events, that might include veteran service organization engagements with the purpose to validate consensus priorities, and to then communicate those priorities to elected officials at the city, county, state and national levels via a series of forums.  This year we will seek to better understand the numerous local “coalition” initiatives, and actively support efforts to unify those initiatives.  We owe it the veterans themselves and to our elected leaders charged with supporting veteran’s, to speak with one voice representing consensus priority veteran’s issues.  

What more can you do?
A.  Stay Informed.  Track MOAA’s Top Ten Goals and track MOAA’s continuous efforts to support all veterans of all grades, across all services, and their family members.
B.  Get involved:  (1) Communicate directly with your political representatives; (2) use MOAA Legislative Updates to "TAKE Action"; and (3) Become a MOAA Member and speak with one voice.  Join now by visiting  
 “Professional Leaders belong to Professional Organizations.”  Become part of the solution.  Join MOAA. 
Stay connected  to MOAA: 

“Never Stop Serving"

Forrest Smith
Colonel, United States Army, Retired
President - 2019

2017 Communications Award