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* Bruce Specher, Director of Public Affairs (VISN6) provides this copy of the Voices of VISN6, Volume 9, Issue 4 via their distribution list ... [more]
4th Branch Lobby Day March 19, 2019

4th Branch Lobby Day

March 19, 2019

* Enjoy pictures from the 4th Branch Lobby Day...shown at right (L to R) are Joann Harrington, Darryl Mills, Joan Long, Jeri Graham and Barry Coyles.

* Also attending from MOAA were David Lee and Ed Baisden.

* NOTE: When viewing thumbnails, use your mouse to left click on the (F)ast, (M)edium or (S)low controller found in the upper right corner of any image displayed...doing so will run a slide show of all the images at the rate of speed selected. Enjoy!

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Recruiting at the NC National Guard Annual Convention March 17, 2019

Recruiting at the NC National Guard Annual Convention

March 17, 2019

* Great opportunity to meet so many of our citizen soldiers. Not only did we talk about MOAA, NC Chapters, Voices for America's Troops but also chatted about House Bill 213. A grand experience and we're grateful to National MOAA for providing materials. We're delighted with the great support from the NCNGA.

* Pictured right (L to R): COL Ed Baisden, USA (Ret), COL Jeri Graham, USA (Ret), LTC Joann Harrington, USA (Ret) and CAPT David Lee, USN (Ret), President NCCOC.

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Osborne Piedmont Chapter MOAA Military Officer Magazine Post March 2019

Osborne Piedmont Chapter MOAA Military Officer Magazine Post

March 2019

* In the March edition of Military Officer magazine, on page 96, Osborne Piedmont Chapter member Claudia Hollis is featured; the wonderful lady who makes sleeping mats from plastic grocery bags is featured for her work!! Way to go Claudia!

* Are there other who want to contribute plastic grocery bags that are building up in your cabinet or closet? Contact the Osborne Piedmont Chapter on ways to donate...Claudia will put them to good use!

Click on the photograph to the right to enlarge and read the article or use the downloadable link below.

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4th Branch - NC Legislative Day

March 19, 2019

NCCOC Council Officers, Chapter Presidents, Chapter Legislative Liaisons, Chapter Website Managers and Chapter E-mail Coordinators:

In order to plan for the room at the Legislative Office Building (behind the Legislative Building), for transportation from SEANC (those wishing to ride in the van) and for lunch boxes back at SEANC, we need a good head count of all participants for the March 19, 2019 Lobby Day.

Please RSVP using the instructions in the message below and use CC to include

Recommended attire:Gents: jacket, shirt &tie, slacks. We'll have 4th Branch name tags but feel free to also bring your MOAA name tag.

Please feel free to contact Jeri if you have any questions or concerns.

Jeri I. Graham, Colonel, USA (Ret)

Member - MOAA Board of Directors

Pres. - MOAA Uniformed Services Nurse

Advocates Virtual Chapter


15001 Searstone Drive, Apt #305

Cary, NC 27513-8393

E-Mail :

Mobile: 910.616.3487

Dear 4th Branch board members and advocates:

The 4th Branch will be hosting a Lobby Day in Raleigh on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 – Save the date now and follow the instructions and checklist below to make this important advocacy day a success! As Board members and The 4th Branch’s top advocates and ambassadors, your involvement and support is crucial!


· Share information about our 4th Branch Lobby Day among your leadership and peers in your respective organizations and encourage them to participate – make sure you tell them that you HAVE to know if they are coming, though.

· Tally a count of how many you expect to join you for our Lobby Day and let us know by March 12th (one week before our Lobby Day). You can’t just promote our Lobby Day – we have to know how many people to expect! As you are encouraging and recruiting interested advocates to participate, please be sure to keep count of how many are planning to come and turn that into 4th Branch Secretary Dave Phillips Remember, the deadline to tell us how many will be coming with you or from your organization is March 12 (one week before the Lobby Day).

· Be there yourself! We hope you will participate – be sure to let us know whether you will be there or not.

WHO – The 4th Branch Lobby Day is for all 4th Branch Board members and members or representatives from the numerous organizations that represent active and retired local, state and federal government employees in North Carolina, along with active and retired members of the military.

WHAT – Lobby Day to organize in Raleigh and visit our elected state representatives and senators in the NC House and Senate to deliver materials and ask them to stop the unfair state income tax on the hard-earned retirement benefits of ALL government retirees in North Carolina.

WHEN – Tuesday, March 19, from 10 a.m. (when we will convene in the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh) until 1 p.m. (when we will reconvene to debrief about the day and disband to go home). More details are included below in the message. Keep reading!

WHERE: -- Legislative Office Building, 300 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27603 (For those who want to hitch a ride to the Legislative Office Building in downtown Raleigh rather than drive themselves, we will offer free parking at SEANC at 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, NC 27609, but you have to arrive at SEANC before 8:30 a.m. to catch a ride to the Legislative Office Building and back.)

The Transportation Plan (How do I get to Lobby Day?) – We are inviting 4th Branch Board members and others who they recruit or identify to participate to meet at the headquarters of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. if they want to catch a ride to the Legislative Office Building downtown and back after our Lobby Day is over, rather than drive themselves, pay for downtown parking and walk to the Legislative Office Building where we’ll start. We will have a van available to shuttle participants who choose to come early and park at SEANC to and from downtown to lobby their legislators; however, we will likely have to make several trips back and forth so there will be some waiting involved. First come, first served!

The Communications Plan (How will I know what to say or do on Lobby Day?) – We will give a brief pep talk both at SEANC headquarters and at the Legislative Office Building to prepare our participants before they split up into groups to visit their legislators to ask them to stop taxing the hard-earned retirement benefits of state, local, federal and military retirees in NC. We will provide ALL the materials you will need, including Talking Points, a postcard to leave with your legislators, instructions and contact information in case you get lost or have a question. We’ll make it easy for you!

The Schedule for the Day – After we all get to the Legislative Office Building (some driving themselves and some being shuttled from SEANC headquarters), at 10 a.m. we will hear a brief pep talk, hand out materials, hear from our bill sponsors and supporters in the state legislature, and then disband in small groups to visit our elected legislators and key legislative leaders. You will want to be sure to visit YOUR individual representative in the NC House and senator in the NC Senate (we will provide their office numbers and a map of the Legislative Office Building and Legislative Building). We will also supply a list of influential legislators to visit after you’ve seen your representatives, including the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore. We will allow until 1 p.m. to finish making all of your legislative visits. At 1 p.m. we will gather at a meeting spot and those who need a ride back to SEANC headquarters will get a ride back. Those who drove themselves are free to go whenever they are finished with their visits with legislators – even if it’s before 1 p.m.

What about Lunch? – We will provide boxed lunches back at SEANC headquarters for those who park there and ride back and forth to our Lobby Day in the van, along with others who participate in the Lobby Day and want to go back to SEANC for a “debriefing” and lunch. Those who drive themselves to the Lobby Day (Legislative Office Building) may prefer to leave as soon as they are done with their legislative visits and have lunch on their own as they travel back home. However, we can ONLY provide a boxed lunch for individuals who let us know they are coming and need one! We have to have an accurate headcount to provide food.

Again, as Board members and The 4th Branch’s top advocates and ambassadors, your involvement and support in our Lobby Day on March 19th is crucial! Let us hear from you soon. We need to know if you plan to participate and how many folks will be coming with you by March 12, which is one week before our big event! You can tell us by replying to this email message or by sharing that information with 4th Branch Secretary Dave Phillips at

Thank you for your ongoing support of The 4th Branch!

Sherry B. Melton

Senior Consultant

Ken Melton & Associates, LLC

(919) 215-8184

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NC Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing March 1, 2019

NC Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

March 1, 2019

* The NC Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing along with the Mecklenburg County Veterans Services are hosting a Listen, Lunch and Learn event at the Mecklenburg County Veterans Service Office in Charlotte, NC.

* Open and print the attached flyer for information and as a reminder to attend.

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LtGen Atkins presents NCCOC President Lee with LOE January 25, 2019

LtGen Atkins presents NCCOC President Lee with LOE

January 25, 2019

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MOAA's Advocacy Mission: Legislative Goals


* Information from MOAA via their Legislative Action Center is provided in this post...For more about MOAA's legislative advocacy mission, including how you can make your voice heard, click here.

* “In 2019, MOAA Government Relations will engage the 116th Congress early and often on issues of greatest importance to our members, the men and women in our uniformed services, their families, and their survivors,” says Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret), vice president of Government Relations. “As military experience among members of Congress has declined over the years, with just over 17 percent having experience in uniform at the onset of 2019, these goals are instrumental to our efforts to inform and influence members of Congress and their staffs.”

* The split political power between the two houses promises to bring new challenges and opportunities. Those cannot be addressed until the new Congress is sworn in and committee assignments have been finalized.

* However, a first step in any new congressional session is to reintroduce legislation that was not passed in the previous legislative cycle. MOAA's national and grassroots supporters will work directly with members of Congress to ensure our interests are properly represented by proposed and reintroduced legislation.


The Goal: Ensure any TRICARE reform sustains access to top-quality care.

* Background: Access to quality care is paramount for all beneficiaries in TRICARE programs and VA Community Networks - regardless of location. Access has been enhanced by technology, such as the DoD-VA Electronic Health Record and the expansion of telehealth capabilities.

* MOAA's Stance: Savings gained from reforms should benefit the health care system and beneficiaries. Military treatment facilities (MTFs) remain instrumental to an operational medical force, which is necessary to support a military ready force, and should continue to support beneficiary care to sustain medical training platforms.

* Actions: Strengthen our partnership with Defense Health Agency (DHA) working groups and executive sessions. Engage The Military Coalition's Healthcare Committee. Continue to administer and drive results of MOAA's health care surveys. Closely monitor the new role DHA has for oversight of MTFs.

The Goal: Prevent disproportional TRICARE fee increases.

* Background: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently introduced, as a potential option, TRICARE for Life enrollment fees and minimum out-of-pocket requirements as ways the federal budget could escape red ink. Independent of the CBO report (PDF), DoD and Congress have stated retiree health care costs are spiraling out of control, and beneficiaries do not pay enough for their health care. Based on DoD's own data, MOAA knows this is not true - the difference is attributable to rising institutional and readiness costs. Despite that, the report and the ongoing budget pressure have turned TRICARE For Life into a potential target for fee increases to offset readiness or other programs.

* MOAA's Stance: Military retirees, through their service and sacrifice, have paid in full for their TRICARE For Life benefits. Congress - not DoD - should determine appropriate TRICARE fees.

Actions: Reverse or significantly decrease the 2018 TRICARE Prime copayment increases for grandfathered/Group-A beneficiaries. Modify fee structure to reduce out-of-pocket costs for successive specialty appointments, such as physical therapy or mental health care. Protect TRICARE For Life as a second payer to Medicare Part B.

The Goal: Sustain military pay comparability with the private sector.

* Background: A residual 2.6-percent pay-raise gap still exists between servicemembers and private-sector civilians, attributable to three years of pay-raise caps. Political pressure to reduce costs might lead Congress to again cap military pay raises, widening the pay-raise gap between military and civilians.

* MOAA's Stance: As the cost of labor increases across the nation, so too should the paychecks of our uniformed servicemembers. Adequate pay and allowances - including competitive raises - are key to recruiting and retaining an effective all-volunteer force. This issue affects all currently serving uniformed personnel and their families, and succeeding on this issue has a positive, far-reaching impact. Any pay raise set by the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must match the Employment Cost Index (ECI) increase of 3.1 percent -- anything lower will make the pay gap wider.

* Actions: Maintain continuous, unified messaging to legislators and service leadership, advising annual military pay raises approved by Congress correlate with ECI to help overcome damage done by the three recent pay caps (2014-2016). Coordinate with The Military Coalition to address this wide-reaching imperative of support to those in uniform, and seek closure of the 2.6-percent gap as soon as feasible.

The Goal: Stop erosion of compensation and non-pay quality-of-life benefits.

* Background: Other components of compensation are equally essential to recruiting and retaining the all-volunteer force. Political pressure to reduce costs could encourage Congress to reconsider the calculations for the basic allowance for housing (BAH), as it has done in recent years. First was an attempt to do away with BAH for dual-military families. The following year, Congress attempted to do away with the with-dependent rate BAH for those dual-military couples with children.

* MOAA's Stance: Other pays and allowances are essential to shaping the force with the proper skill sets and experience. As the Blended Retirement System matures, these pays will become even more important to recruiting and retention.

* Actions: Continue to oppose proposals to reduce compensation or undermine long-term retention. Assess progress of the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation's review of Regular Military Compensation and potential changes to a salary system.

The Goal: End financial penalties for military survivors.

* Background: Nearly 67,000 military survivors lose between $900 and $1,500 per month due to the widows tax. The widows tax is the amount of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payment offset by Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

* MOAA's Stance: SBP and DIC are two different payments for two different reasons. The offset should be eliminated, and DIC should be improved to align with other federal survivor benefits. Additionally, survivors' and dependents' educational assistance benefits should be increased.

* Actions: Ensure legislation is introduced in the 116th Congress to address survivor benefits. Educate legislators, staffers, and other stakeholders about the inequities. Mobilize MOAA members and The Military Coalition to engage and press for legislation to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Goal: End concurrent receipt penalties for military retirees.

* Background: Retirees with a 40-percent or lower disability rating and those with a 30-percent or higher disability rating who are forced to retire before completing a full 20-year military career, are prohibited from receiving military retired pay concurrent with VA disability compensation. Political pressure to keep budget costs down has remained the main threat to getting legislation passed to end these financial penalties.

* MOAA's Stance: All eligible retirees should receive both retirement and disability compensation.

* Actions: Ensure legislation is introduced in the 116th Congress to address Chapter 61 inequities. Educate legislators and congressional staff about the impact these financial penalties have on some of our most vulnerable retirees. Mobilize our membership and The Military Coalition to engage Capitol Hill.

The Goal: Achieve equity of benefits for Guard and Reserve members with their active duty counterparts.

* Background: An operational Guard and Reserve is an essential component to the national defense strategy because they make up approximately 38 percent of U.S. uniformed manpower.

* MOAA's Stance: Achieving pay and benefits parity with active duty forces is vital to recruiting, retaining, and sustaining forces for the Guard and Reserve supporting our nation's defense strategy.

* Actions: Encourage Congress to advance equal pay and benefits for similar service by the Guard and Reserve relative to active duty troops. Build partnerships with federal agencies, such as the Department of Labor, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and state governors to expand and strengthen employer support for Guard and Reserve members. Appeal to The Military Coalition and its Guard and Reserve Committee to expand influence and reach in all areas affecting pay and benefits issues.

The Goal: Strengthen DoD-VA collaboration and services to support wounded warriors and an expanding population of women veterans.

* Background: Programs developed to support wounded warriors and their families and caregivers since Sept. 11, 2001, continue to be essential to readiness and the war-fighting mission of the future. Veterans who served in past and current wars still struggle to obtain needed benefits due to the lack of congressional action on key issues, particularly toxic exposures and their long-term impacts. The Pentagon has worked to forge collaborative relationships with other government and nongovernment agencies - most significantly the VA. Also evolving is a greater appreciation for the specific differences in health care and support for women veterans.

* MOAA's Stance: Improving upon this collaboration will require investments in leadership, resources, and funding - to include oversight and reporting.

As we progress, DoD's and the VA's evolving systems must continue in sync and remain fully aligned to delivering seamless care and benefits.

* Actions: Monitor the FY 2019 NDAA requirement for a review and assessment of DoD and service wounded warrior programs. Seek legislation forcing the VA to address known gaps in benefits to veterans. Involve The Military Coalition's Veterans Committee to expand influence and reach in all areas affecting veterans' issues. Engage and advocate on behalf of the VA - when needed - to ensure the agency is adequately resourced and equipped to deliver benefits to veterans without backlogs or delays. Preserve the integrity of and access to DoD and VA health systems for dually eligible beneficiaries.

The Goal: Ensure timely access to service-earned VA benefits.

* Background: The veteran population of nearly 22 million is projected to decline in coming years. Demand for VA health care and benefits, however, steadily grows because of the aging and unique demographics of this population.

* MOAA's Stance: Major health care and benefit system reforms have been implemented in recent years but require an ongoing commitment and investments to meet demand and ensure timely access. Continuing implementation will pose challenges to fund evolving technologies, infrastructure, electronic health records, full staffing at every echelon, and the various support systems that tie these efforts together. Further, political forces continue to threaten or erode the core VA health and benefit missions and foundational services.

* Actions: Oppose efforts to use veterans' disability benefits compensation or other benefits to pay for VA system improvements and diminish or restrict access to service-earned benefits. Press DoD and the VA to achieve true interoperability of electronic medical, personnel, and benefits records to improve medical outcomes and delivery of benefits. Mandate DoD and the VA to develop protocols and establish a mechanism to address service-connected illnesses and environmental exposures and institute a framework for managing toxic exposures that might happen in the future.

The Goal: Protect military and veteran family support programs and policies.

* Background: Congress and DoD recognize military and veteran family quality of life is critical to recruiting and retaining the all-volunteer force. Often, support programs for military and veteran families are the first to be cut when government funds become tight.

* MOAA's Stance: It is necessary to update family support programs and policies to reflect the needs of today's military families. Spouse employment, children's education, special needs, commissaries and exchanges, and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) programs are essential today. Adequate, affordable, and safe housing remains a concern for all military families, especially those in high-cost areas where options are limited.

* Actions: Educate members of Congress and their staffers on the importance of military family readiness and issues affecting military and veteran families. Protect programming and subsidies essential to MWR and family readiness. Eliminate health and safety hazards in military base housing. Decrease military spouse unemployment and underemployment. Ensure quality of life and health of military and veteran families.

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