Advocacy in Action Update: It’s Not Too Late to Reach Out to Your Lawmakers

Advocacy in Action Update: It’s Not Too Late to Reach Out to Your Lawmakers

The congressional summer recess is really a state and district work period that runs through August and allows time for legislators to make sure they are tending to their constituents. This is one of the best times to share your concerns with your legislators – in person or virtually, depending on the circumstances related to the pandemic.


[RELATED: Advocacy in a Virtual Environment: How to Make Your Voice Heard]


MOAA’s Advocacy in Action, launched in May, has gone a long way to energize our grassroots efforts to make sure Congress is aware of our concerns in three areas. Here’s where legislation connected to these issues stood as of Aug. 9.


Comprehensive Toxic Exposure Reform – Veterans Burn Pit Exposure Recognition Act

Comprehensive Toxic Exposure Reform – Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act

Basic Needs Allowance – Military Hunger Prevention Act

Parity for TRICARE Young Adults


Each of these topics has a continuing story, and each is in a different stage of the legislative process – some are emerging and gaining traction, and some are already being supported by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees as part of their respective drafts of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


Whether making up ground or getting close to the finish line, we need all of you to continue engaging your members of Congress throughout the summer period to keep these issues at the forefront – remember, your legislators are in the receive mode.


Here is a rundown of each of these topics and where they stand in the legislative process:


Comprehensive Toxic Exposure Reform

There has been resounding support from our members on this issue, with over 10,000 messages sent to legislators. This level of support encouraged congressional leaders to combine the varying efforts into omnibus bills, one each for the House and Senate, in order to more effectively assess and pass this legislation.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmaker to Support Toxic Exposure Reform Omnibus Bills]


Even with this level of support, we must remain engaged with our legislators to make sure they know the importance of toxic exposure reform as one of MOAA’s priorities. With the House and Senate proposing different versions of this reform, we need to keep communicating with the Hill to ensure MOAA’s views are included in a consensus omnibus bill.


Basic Needs Allowance

Provisions of the Military Hunger Prevention Act appear in both the House and Senate draft versions of the NDAA. Grassroots support has delivered over 5,200 messages to legislators so far, but we can use much more to ensure this important legislation makes it through the combined final drafting process known as the conference committee.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmaker to Help Young Military Families]


This is a great opportunity for you to show your support for our junior servicemembers and their families.


Parity for TRICARE Young Adults

Our members have sent over 3,300 messages to their legislators which helped establish a base of support with 80 co-sponsors, but it was not enough to encourage the Armed Services committees to include this legislation in their NDAA draft.


The next possible action would be for a legislator to submit an amendment to the NDAA. For such an amendment to have a chance, it would need a clear sign of support from the Congress. While our Government Relations Team works with staffers to find this support, we need all hands to build awareness and grow co-sponsorship.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Fix the TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Gap]             


This legislation impacts currently serving members and retirees who are still in their working years. Our servicemembers and their families deserve parity with civilian plans – please ask your representative and senators to support our efforts.


The Push Continues

Your support and grassroots engagement, along with our efforts here in the capital region, will give us the best chance at success in this first half of the 117th Congress.


This summer focus was developed as a continuation of our Advocacy in Action to account for, and take advantage of, several delays on the Hill, starting with a late president’s budget and NDAA drafting – usually completed through the spring, but now slated for the fall.


[MORE DETAILS: MOAA’s Advocacy in Action]


And now, the majority of our Congress is home for a month before taking on the heavy lifting ahead, such as the NDAA and appropriations necessary to ensure our government is funded when the current appropriations run out at the end of September.


Please take advantage of this opportunity to remind your legislators of our concerns – even if some of these issues don’t impact you directly, they are part of the core mission MOAA has taken on in support of all ranks from all uniformed services, past and present, to include their families and survivors.  We are MOAA, and we never stop serving.


MOAA Looks Out For You

MOAA is committed to protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Lend your voice and support these efforts today. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.


About the Author

Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret)
Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret)

Merry earned his commission in 1989 through AFROTC and commanded DoD’s Port Mortuary at Dover AFB, Del. He has served in multiple overseas conflicts since the 1990s and has served as the Vice President of Government Relations since August 2016.