ALABAMA COUNCIL OF
MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
LEGISLATIVE & PERSONAL AFFAIRS
APRIL 2014 REPORT
Compiled by LTC Jim Wallace, USA (ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman
March 23, 2014
1. COLONEL OLA LEE MIZE, Passed away on March 12, 2014 at the age of 82. He was every American soldier's hero. Colonel Mize was presented the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for his historic actions of bravery in the Korean War against the enemy, above and beyond the call of duty. He said he didn't want to receive the citation unless his men also were honored. Lee was awarded the medal on September 24, 1954 for his heroic actions of June 10 and 11, 1953. Lee's Company K was committed to the defense of "Outpost Harry", a strategically valuable position, when the enemy launched a heavy attack. Lee learning that a soldier on the friendly listening post had been wounded, moved through enemy fire, accompanied by a medical aide man, and rescued the wounded soldier. When he returned to the main position he established.
an effective defense system and inflicted heavy casualties against the enemy and single handily killed 11 of the enemy saving another soldier. He then regrouped his men for a counterattack which successfully drove the enemy from the outpost. He later joined the Special Forces and served three tours of duty in Vietnam. During one of the three tours in Vietnam his bravery again had him nominated by his superiors for a second Medal of Honor. However, the Secretary of Defense, refused to accept the nomination as he stated he was doing what was expected of him as an Special Forces officer. I first met Lee in 1965 when I was a Lieutenant and he was a Captain and the Committee Chief of Underwater Operations for the United States Army Special Forces Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. He had just come back from Angola with his A-Team and they were instructing Special Forces troops Underwater Operations. He was tough as nails, but had a heart of gold. He truly cared for each and every soldier. Two years later, I was with my two sons fishing in a jetty when a little girl was swept away by the swift tide. I was able to swim to her and bring her back to shore. Then a little while later the same little girl was swept away again, a marine jumped into the water to save her and was also swept away. I again was able to bring the child and the marine back to shore. I used the life saving method Lee taught me in Underwater Operations to save both of them. After I brought them to shore my oldest son, age 7, went and told the parents to take their daughter and go home. So to this day, I have always felt that Lee through his teaching saved both a marine and a child from drowning as I only followed his tough training. He will be missed by everyone that knew him not only as a highly respected soldier for our country but also as a true Christian. I know I will never forget him. My wife Brenda and I attended his funeral along with
LTC Charlie Marvin and his wife Pat. I also saw other Council members, and many Special Forces enlisted and officers at the service. The people of Gadsden showed their American patriotism and military support by waving American flags and saluting the procession as we made our way to the resting place of a real American Hero. God speed Lee....
2. MOAA TO "STORM" CAPITOL HILL-
MOAA Council and Chapter Presidents from all 50 states, together with members of the national Board of
Directors and headquarter staff, plus members of MOAA's active duty, Guard, Reserve, spouse and auxiliary committees will "storm" Capitol Hill on April 9, 2014, and visit nearly all 535 representatives and senators in support of key legislative priorities. You can be assured our Alabama Council President LTC Charlie Marvin will be there representing us. This year, the "Hill-stormers" will meet with their legislators, discuss the issues, provide fact sheets and brochures, and ask them to:
* Sustain military pay and benefits and avoid repeating past mistakes that destabilized the all-volunteer force;
* Reject disproportional TRICARE fee increases which shift costs onto beneficiaries while reducing access;
* Eliminate catastrophic sequestration cuts which threaten national security;
* And address remaining inequities for disabled retirees, survivors, and Guard and Reserve personnel.
3. ACT TODAY ON MEDICARE/TRICARE CUTS-
Congress only has less than one week to avert a 24 percent cut in Medicare/TRICARE payments to physicians. Call your legislators today asking them avoid cuts that would devastate access to healthcare for military beneficiaries.
4. COLA CLIMBS ABOVE ZERO-
The Consumer Price Index continued to climb in February, For the first time in fiscal year 2014 the COLA now stands above the Fiscal year 2013 baseline. With the unseasonable cold weather that has faced our nation and the severe drought on the west coast, we will be seeing large increases in food, fuel, electricity, gas. You can expect all of the above to have a dramatic effect on the cost of living adjustments for the year.
5. NEW BENEFITS FOR DISABLED VETERANS-
Veterans with 100 percent permanent and total (P&T) VA disability rating can now receive expedited processing of Social Security disability benefit applications. A 100 percent P&T VA rating does not guarantee eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. Why haven't we had this in working order during the Vietnam War for our soldiers?
6. A DAY TO REMEMBER-
March 30th is Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans day, a day of remembrance
and acknowledgement for those who served in the Vietnam War. About 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Many who fought in the jungles of Vietnam relive their battles each and every day. Take a moment of your day for a prayer for all that served and their families on MARCH 30th.
7. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH OUR NAVY-
This is the first time since WWll that five nuclear powered aircraft carriers were docked together at our Naval Base in Norfolk, VA. The last time was Pearl Harbor. Knowledgeable Sources stated that this breached a long standing military protocol in the Navy meant to avoid a massive enemy strike on major US forces. Our President ordered the 5 nuclear carriers into harbor for "routine" inspections. Heads of the Navy were flabbergasted by the directive but had to comply as it was a direct order from their Commander-in-Chief.
8. REVIEW OF WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT, INC.
The Wounded Warrior Project is bled dry by a heavy, greedy executive structure and the remaining funds are disbursed to multi-tier distribution organizations with similar management structures. By the time the money actually goes to direct benefits for veterans, there is probably less than 10% that reaches them. The IRS form 990 for registered non-profit organizations indicated this charity to have received donations of over 154 million during their fiscal year 2012 reflects grants of over 5 million to other organizations and actual benefits to veterans of about 3.5%.
9. HUNTSVILLE MAN AT CENTER OF ARMY INVESTIGATION-
The ties between former Army Colonel Bert Vergez in Huntsville and a Russian entrepreneur, Yuri Borisov, are at the heart of a criminal investigation into a program that supplies American Allies with Russian helicopters. Remember the 700 million dollar Russian helicopter purchase for Afghanistan's Army that is being investigated by the Inspector General's Office. Looks like it even goes deeper with a additional investigation on overhaul contracts. It looks like the Russians are selling us worn out helicopters. When auditors from the Pentagon inspector general's office were uncovering signs of illegal activity, it was Colonel Vergez who pitched a plan to install new engines on Mi-17's bound for Afghanistan - an arrangement that promised millions of dollars for Russian Yuri Borisov's companies. Even after this, Borisov's companies are still eligible to receive additional contracts with the Pentagon after the Inspector General recommended that the Pentagon take immediate steps to debar or suspend all contracts with the Russian. This really sounds like another Benghazi. At the same time as we purchase worn out helicopters from the Russians for Afghanistan we are planning to destroy our helicopters that will be left behind upon our departure. Something really stinks***
GOOD NEWS FROM THE ALABAMA STATE BOARD OF VETERAN AFFAIRS-
A. Governor Bentley signed SB 85 into law on March 18, 2014. SB85 (HB 128) bill eliminates the wartime service requirement for eligibility for Alabama G.I. Bill Scholarship Program. Also, the bill retroactively applies to dependants who have been denied the benefit due to no wartime service, since January 2011. The Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs has negotiated a substitute that would provide the following:
* Remove the retroactive provision in the initial bill;
* Remove wartime service requirement, beginning Fall 2014-2015;
* Permit those applicants previously denied for peacetime service to use this
benefit through graduate school (must reapply with ADVA by Fall 2015-
* Permit those applicants just now applying for the benefit in Fall 2014-
2015 to use it for undergraduate level only; and
* Charge the Education Trust Fund (ETF) only in-state tuition for this
benefit for new applicants, beginning Fall 2014-2015.
B. HB 329 Driver's License Bill-
This bill is ready for passage-The bill provides that a veteran who does not have a DD 214 as proof of service may produce a Record and Report of Separation Honorable Discharge Record to obtain a Veterans designated driver's license.
C. SB 54 (HB 164) The Governor signed this bill which redefines the limits of tuition that the Alabama Commission on Higher Education can pay for in-state tuition for qualified members of the Alabama National Guard.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH-
"In America, anybody can be president. That's one of the risks you take."
Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)
We look forward to seeing you at the Council’s quarterly meeting on April 15, 2014 at Montgomery Air Force Base.
LTC Jim Wallace, USA(Ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman,
Alabama Council of Chapters of MOAA
Material compiled for this report is subject to copyright 2011 and 2012, Military Officers Association (MOAA), Military.com, RAO, DAV, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, VFW, and The Office of Senator Sessions, all rights are reserved. Except for MOAA affiliated organizations, it may not be used without written permission.