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Compiled by LTC Jim Wallace, USA (ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman

December 28, 2014

1. COLA UPDATE - The consumer price Index (CPI) fell 0.7 % in November 2014 for Fiscal Year 2015. Inflation was down 1.1 percent from the FY 2014 COLA baseline. The welcomed reduction in gasoline prices at the pump has helped to slow inflation. This makes the seventh consecutive year (and ten of the past 12) that consumer prices fell the first quarter.

2. IN THE PENTAGON - Defense Secretary Nominee Ashton Carter has assembled a team of advisors to see him through the confirmation process, which is expected to run through much of January 2015. The advisors are Michael Bayer, a former Defense Business Board chairman who is currently on the Defense Science Board; former Time Magazine reporter Sally Donnelly: and 20-year Navy veteran Dave Copp. In addition, the Defense Department has put together a transition team for Carter, including Rexon Ryu, outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's chief of staff; and Michael Lumpkin, an assistant secretary of defense. I find this very interesting. A magazine reporter, plus the same team that Hagel used to become Secretary of Defense.

3. ARMY DESERTERS RARELY PROSECUTED - Army Data indicates that more than 20,000 soldiers have deserted the Army since 2006, but only about 1,900 have been prosecuted since 2001. Many of the cases are settled without going to court-martial, with soldiers instead being punished administratively or given medical discharges. Many desertions are due to family issues such as divorce or sick children. With our country having been in continuous war now for over 13 years it has become more and more difficult for our military personnel to withstand the problems that can develop at home.

4. SPENDING BILL SIGNED BY OBAMA - President Barack Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion spending measure that includes $554 billion for the Department of Defense and $160 billion for the Veterans Affairs Department. The bill authorizes a 1% pay raise for the troops and civilian employees of the Pentagon, as well as a 1% reduction in troop housing as requested by the Defense Department. MOAA lobbied for a 1.7% pay increase and no reduction for housing.

5. LEADERSHIP SHAKEUP - With the Republicans taking control of Congress and key legislators retiring from office, the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees will have several new leaders in the 114th Congress. In the House, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon, (R-CA.) is retiring. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) will replace him, and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) remains ranking member. With the Republicans in control of the Senate, John McCain (R-AZ) will become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. MOAA President Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, USN (Ret) is already making rounds on Capitol Hill to welcome the new leaders. With so many changes ahead in 2015 it will be crucial for MOAA to foster a productive relationship with these new leaders in order to build support for the all-volunteer force and our nation's veterans.

6. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA VETERANS ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM - The University of Florida's VETERANS ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM is just around the corner and they need our help to make it even better than last year. They have increased the number of disabled veterans they can support to 40 this year and still have a few spots left. These veterans will learn from the leaders in the field of entrepreneurship education, the skills necessary to start ventures or grow their existing small businesses, completely free of charge. VEP is a One Year long intensive program culminating in an Eight Day Boot Camp at the University of Florida, which gives those men and women who have given so much for their country, the tools and skills to create their own path of success. If you have a disabled veteran in your community that is motivated please contact Mr. Danny Makowsky, VEP Program Assistant at http://warrington.ufl.edu/centers/cei/outreach/vep/.
What a wonderful way to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE by getting a disabled veteran enrolled in this school.

7. AGENT ORANGE/ U.S Navy and Coast Guard Ships in Vietnam -VA maintains a list of U. S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service inVietnam and possible exposure to Agent Orange based on military records. This evolving list helps Veterans who served aboard ships, including "Blue Water Veterans" find out if they may qualify for presumption of herbicide exposure. Veterans must meet VA's criteria for service in Vietnam, which includes aboard boats on the inland waterways or brief visits ashore, to be presumed to have been exposed to herbicides. Veterans who qualify for presumption of herbicide exposure are not required to show they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides when seeking VA compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure. To find out which boats and ships qualify call 1-800-749-8387 ( then press 3 ).

8. CHAPTER RECRUITING 2015 EVOLVES - MOAA made minor enhancements and adjustments to Chapter Recruiting 2015, which launches on January 1, 2015. However, the program's core mission of recruiting and retaining members remains unchanged. To participate in Chapter Recruiting 2015, leaders must submit an updated chapter membership roster before FEBRUARY 1, 2015. MOAA also is offering incentives to chapters that submit their updated chapter membership rosters before the deadline. Chapter leaders who submit their membership rosters between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15 will receive a $50. incentive, while those who submit rosters between Jan 16-Jan. 31 will receive a $25. incentive. To receive this incentive , your chapter must be enrolled in MOAA's electronic funds transfer (EFT) program. (Visit "Sign Up for Electronic Funds Transfer" on the MOAA Web Base to enroll.)

The program's monetary incentives and goals will focus more on chapter recruiting and retention, with chapters receiving $10 for every new chapter member they recruit. However, to receive the $10 incentive, each new chapter member also must be a member of national MOAA. Chapter leaders are encouraged to have new chapter members join national MOAA when recruiting.

Leaders who recruit paid national MOAA members (Premium or Life Members) at special events also will receive monetary incentives. Chapters that recruit a minimum of five new premium members will receive $100, while those that recruit a minimum of five new life members will receive $200 incentive. Personnel in the Council and Chapter Affairs Department will post the Chapter Recruiting 2015 materials to MOAA's website after January 1, 2015 . Chapter presidents will receive a hard copy of the recruiting materials, including new national MOAA membership applications, around the first of year 2015.

9. NEW/OLD CHAPTER AND COUNCIL LEADERS - During this time of year , many of you will transition out of your elected offices you hold in the Council or Chapter. A requirement of leaving office is to transfer all of the documents you have to the new elected leader. Please help your successor by ensuring he has signed up to receive important electronic newsletters, such as the Legislative Updates, The Affiliate, and the Council and Chapter Updates. To sign up, click on the eNewsletters link in the upper-right-hand corner of MOAA's home page, or call the Member Service Center at (800) 234-6622. In addition, chapter presidents are required to attend quarterly council meetings and submit a chapter report of the previous 3 months activities along with an active member count, and new member count for the previous quarter. Annual Council dues of $1.00 per chapter member are due each year and should be paid at the Council's January Quarterly Meeting based upon the chapter's active membership as of October of the preceding year.

10. ALABAMA COUNCIL OF CHAPTERS OF MOAA-CONVENTION 2015. Our convention is scheduled for April 24-26, 2015, with the chapter/council
leaders arriving on April 23, 2015 to solve any last minute details. Each chapter president voted and approved the convention at the October 2014 quarterly council meeting. Each chapter is to submit a half page advertisement for their chapter and a check from their chapter for the special chapter rate of $200.00 for the convention brochure. In addition, the convention committee requested that each chapter secure additional advertising sponsors while coordinating their success with the convention
committee. For this Convention 2015 to be successful we must have sufficient sponsors' to help pay for the convention.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!!! Bring your chapter advertisement and your sponsor's advertisements to our next quarterly meeting on January 13, 2015 at Maxwell Air Force base and we will be able to complete our Council's President and Chapter Leader's mission.

"DON'T MISS THE BOAT" Let's make this a fun, successful and productive CONVENTION 2015....

QUOTE OF THE MONTH - Comes from a relative of mine many years ago and it fits the current time for our Council and Chapters.

" You've got to go out on a limb sometimes because that's where the fruit is."
Will Rogers, American Performer and humorist.

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.