MOAA’s annual Advocacy in Action (AiA) event is taking shape, and while there’s more than a month until the official launch, there are several ways MOAA members can begin showing their support as the campaign draws closer.
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First, the basics: The 2022 AiA event will be held virtually from April 1-29. Based on Capitol Hill security measures and nationwide health challenges, we will again exercise appropriate measures of caution to bring our messages to legislators via virtual engagements. However, there may be opportunities for you to engage your legislators in person (safely) when they are home during Congress’ spring break (April 11-22).
This year’s advocacy topics:
- Support the Major Richard Star Act (concurrent receipt for combat-injured servicemembers)
- Reduce TRICARE Mental Health Copayments
- Enact a 4.6% Military Pay Raise in the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
Learn more about each topic, and how MOAA chooses the topics, below. But first:
What You Can Do Now
Contact a MOAA Chapter. Most engagements during the April campaign will originate from MOAA’s councils and chapters. Their legislative leaders and volunteers make most of the appointments and arrangements with legislative offices. One of the advantages of the virtual environment is the use of online meeting platforms (Zoom, Teams, etc.) which can facilitate engagement from home; please contact your local chapter to see if they can add you to their efforts – it could be as easy as sending you a link to a meeting.
Save the Date. If you are not near a chapter, please mark your calendar for April 1 as the kickoff for AiA engagements. We will share another article like this one with more up-to-date information, talking points, and fact sheets on our three topics, as well as links to the latest information and MOAA’s web-based letters, along with the phone number for MOAA’s Capitol Switchboard if you would rather call your legislators.
Stay Informed. Be sure to subscribe to the weekly MOAA Newsletter for the latest AiA news and updates (MOAA members can click here to update their newsletter preferences). Keep up with all the latest advocacy news at MOAA’s Advocacy News page.
How MOAA Picks the Topics
People often ask how we come up with the topics each year, and some wonder if their priorities are being considered in that process. I can assure our members we consider all the priorities, which are usually found within groupings of these priorities on our website. The decisions are driven by guidelines established by our board of directors. We want to ensure we are taking care of the currently serving troops and their families – as members of an officer association, we should be proud MOAA maintains this important perspective.
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We also want to address an issue within our health care portfolio, as our members continue to see this as one of their priorities. When conditions permit, we also seek to leverage momentum on important issues – often the case in the second session of a Congress as they wrap up work from the previous year.
This year’s topics:
- The Major Richard Star Act (concurrent receipt for combat-injured servicemembers). Target legislation is H.R. 1282 with 186 co-sponsors as of Feb. 14 – picking up 35 new co-sponsors this session. The Senate’s bill, S. 344, has 55 co-sponsors as of Feb. 14. We will build on this momentum from last year to get these bills to a floor vote, or have the bill’s language made part of the FY 2023 NDAA with support from House and Senate leaders. This legislation impacts over 50,000 combat-injured service members who were not able to serve their full 20 years due to those injuries. Passage of this bill will also impact current and future members who may face the same fate of early retirements due to combat injuries.
- TRICARE Mental Health Copayments. MOAA supports the Stop Copay Overpay Act (H.R. 4824) – mental health is increasingly important, and the issue is getting attention on the Hill due to pandemic impacts and the effects of social media on children’s well-being. This topic acknowledges the national shortfall of access to quality mental health care and addresses TRICARE’s financial barrier to care when it is available – a problem MOAA can help fix. This legislation will benefit our currently serving families on TRICARE Select and our working-age retirees and their families.
- Military Pay Raise at 4.6%. This will be worked in the FY 2023 NDAA with insights in the president’s budget and input from the Armed Services Committees in both chambers. Some legislators are interested in adjusting pay tables for the junior enlisted. We have yet to see details of any such plans, but in the meantime, we remain focused on the 4.6% raise for all ranks. This topic addresses the currently serving and their families (pay and benefits) and is significantly important to those who are about to retire.
We will follow up with several actions over the coming weeks:
- The MOAA AIA website will be live in mid-March for those who want to get a head start on lobbying for these three important topics. Watch for updates at MOAA.org/AiA.
- As noted above, around the same time our website goes live, a follow-up article at MOAA.org will share links to everything you would need to go it alone with your legislators. However, we ask that you consider reaching out to your local chapter to possibly join their efforts.
- Your April issue of Military Officer (available to Life and Premium members) will include a message from MOAA’s president highlighting the AiA efforts, as well as more details on the topics and what we are trying to achieve with your help. Very important: The publication also will include tear-out letters for you to fold, seal, stamp, and mail to House and Senate leaders, making them even more aware of our efforts and seeking their support. These letters will highlight the Major Richard Star Act.
- Throughout April, we will provide articles and links to Calls to Action via our new Legislative Action Center, which allows you to send messages to your legislators via our web-based letter service.
- April 11-22 is the congressional working period in the states and districts: Your legislators will be home and hard at work campaigning. This is a golden opportunity to seek an appointment in person or virtually, depending on the comfort level of those involved.
Thank you for reviewing this timeline and putting some of these dates on your calendar. MOAA’s reputation for advocacy is largely the result of our grassroots network across the nation; certainly, one of the main reasons The Hill news outlet has recognized MOAA as a top lobbyist for 15 years in a row. Our members have always been a part of this continued success.
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