President's Letter

I want to make you aware of several key actions and enlist your involvement and support as the El Paso Chapter is MOAA rolls into the summer here along the southwest border.

First, MOAA is asking you to take action to contact legislative leadership to reverse Congressional initiatives to dismantle military medicine.  The DoD FY2020 budget calls for the elimination of almost 20%, or roughly 18,000 military medical positions, and the action appears to be based more on market or network analysis than on analysis of support requirements for operational readiness.

Some experts suggest that a 20% force reduction constitutes a dramatic qualitative change and will have significant unintended effects on the military health system...and may adversely affect all American medical care.  While changes will definitely affect military service members, military retirees will experience profound effects.  I encourage each of you to follow this discussion further by reading the CAPT Kathryn Beasley USN (Ret) article on the MOAA website.  CAPT Beasley is the Director of Government Relations, and Health Affairs.

Second, MOAA continues to lead the fight to eliminate the “Widows Tax”.  Three more Senators signed on as co-sponsors of S.622, the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act.  The act now has the backing of sixty senators and could move forward to a debate and subsequent vote soon.  As most of you know, survivors of deceased military members must forfeit part or all of their purchased Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity when awarded the VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).  The loss of any portion of the SBO annuity is known as the Widows Tax.  For 66,000 military survivors, this makes the SBP the only insurance product in the country that you pay into but are legally prohibited from collecting.  MOAA asks you to contact your legislators now and encourage the passing of this key legislation.

The MOAA Board is approximately five months away from electing new Board members at the November luncheon.  I want to encourage you to help us search for new members of the MOAA Board that can help continue to push MOAA National priorities and goals at the local level.  Several key positions will open up this year to include, President, Publications, Membership and Post Liaison.  We will solicit suggestions and nominees at the 8 June luncheon.

Finally, we will solicit members at the luncheon to see if anyone wants to sponsor a set of shoulder boards for the UTEP ROTC commissioning.  Our 501c3 Outreach program will lead efforts to support each newly commissioned officer with their first set of epaulets for their commissioning ceremony.  More details will follow during the luncheon.  I look forward to seeing you there.
What more can you do?
A.  Stay Informed.  
(1) Track MOAA’s Top Ten Goals for 2019, and track MOAA’s efforts to support you.
(2) Seek to understand legislative proposals that affect Veteran’s benefits.  Learn about the Survivor Benefit Plan-Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset, better known as “the Widow’s Tax”.   Also learn about current MOAA efforts to stabilize TRICARE fees for currently serving troops. 
(3) Track Senate and House voting records; and consider attending Veteran’s Town Hall events with your Congressional representative.
B.  Get involved:  
(1) Communicate directly with your political representatives. Tell Congress to reject military pay and benefits cuts at every opportunity.   You can send elected officials your own note, or simply go to the MOAA National website Legislative Action Center and choose a MOAA-suggested message telling your elected leaders to stop defense bill personnel and compensation cuts.  Your message will be pushed automatically to your House and Senate leaders.  
(2) Join MOAA in April when MOAA members “Storm the Hill” in Washington to educate and lobby congressional lawmakers.
(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