FRA NewsBytes March 6 2015

FRA Newsbytes 03/06/2015

FRA Newsbytes 03/06/2015

In this issue:
Move to Take Defense out of Sequestration
The FRA Member Album
Stop Reductions to Commissary Budget
House Panel Reviews CG Budget
Navy Reserve Celebrates 100th Birthday

Move to Take Defense out of Sequestration
House and Senate Armed Services Chairmen Mac Thornberry (Texas) and John McCain (Ariz.) are pressing their respective Budget Committees to approve defense spending for the next fiscal year (FY 2016) of more than $50 billion above the mandated sequestration budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 111-25). Also, 70 Republican Representatives signed a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) to express their support for a defense budget that’s at a minimum equal to the president’s proposed FY 2016 budget request, which is $38 billion above sequestration levels. Although the caps would need to be altered by law to actually increase defense funding, the first test will be how each chamber (House and Senate) treats defense spending in its upcoming budget resolution.

FRA wants Defense excluded from sequestration, as stated by NED Tom Snee at a Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing on March 4, 2015. Budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA), known as sequestration, pose a threat to national security. Further, these cuts will substantially impact military pay and benefits, which will in turn negatively affect retention and recruitment. Sequestration requires that 50 percent of the automatic budget cuts come from Defense, even though Defense only makes up 17 percent of the federal budget. Now is the time for members to use the Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask their legislators to exclude the Defense budget fro m sequestration budget caps.

The FRA Member Album
As we first announced in the January 2015 issue of FRA Today, FRA is creating a yearbook-type album to celebrate our shipmates’ Loyalty, Protection and Service over the past 90 years. This beautiful full-color volume will showcase the Association’s history and accomplishments and will include full-color photos and details from every shipmate who participates. It is an album you’ll be proud to display on your coffee table or in your branch library and will be a resource and directory shipmates will refer to again and again.

Delegates at the 87th FRA National Convention approved the Fleet Reserve Association Member Album and authorized Harris Connect, our partner company in producing the book, to contact our members about this exciting endeavor. Shipmates have begun receiving postcards announcing the project and offering a toll-free number they can use to provide information about themselves for publication in the album. Shipmates who choose to participate can share details of their military career, such as branch of service, years served, medals and awards, education, work and home contact information. The publication will also include a photo gallery, and members can submit one photograph for inclusion in the album.

Participation is strictly voluntary and there is no obligation for shipmates to purchase the album, even if they elect to be included in it. If you have ever participated in a yearbook project like this before, you know how much you will enjoy reading about the backgrounds of your fellow shipmates. Please be assured that our contract with Harris Connect strictly forbids the sharing of your contact information with any other organization or entity. If you have questions, please contact Penny Collins, director of Membership Development, at 1-800-FRA-1924, ext. 123 or penny@fra.org.

Stop Reductions to the Commissary Budget
FRA wants to ensure adequate funding for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) in order to preserve the value of the current benefit for active duty members and retirees.

The Association opposes the Department of Defense (DoD) FY 2016 budget provision that slashes funding for stateside commissaries by $1 billion over three years as a cost saving measure. DoD currently provides $1.3 billion annually for the commissary benefit.

Commissary funding was already cut by $100 million last year. Further cuts to funding would be reflected in higher prices paid by active duty personnel who simultaneously see annual pay increases capped. Thousands of junior enlisted personnel with families, who already have to use food stamps, would be forced to pay higher prices as well. Currently, profits generated from stateside commissaries are used to offset the operating costs at overseas locations where they are needed most.

Members are urged to use the Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) on the FRA website to ask their legislators to oppose further cuts to the Commissary budget.

House Panel Reviews CG Budget
FRA DLP John Davis attended the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing on the U.S. Coast Guard budget. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) Steven Cantrell testified regarding the Administration’s proposed FY 2016 budget for the Coast Guard, $9.96 billion, which is $402 million less than the current budget (part of the Continuing Resolution).

The FY 2016 budget reduces Coast Guard end strength by 268 service members, and reduces professional service contracts by $45 million. These contracts include technology support, strategic planning and engineering design work that will be brought in-house. The FY 2016 request also reduces Coast Guard reserve end strength by 600, putting the reserve end strength at approximately 7,000; the smallest reserve component since 1957. The proposed budget (part of the Department of Homeland Security budget) also reduces Coast Guard reserve training by $9.4 million (7.8 percent) below the current budget. The budget request provides no funding to rehabilitate housing for Coast Guard personnel and their dependents. FRA has dispatched a letter to Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee to seek additional funding for the Coast Guard. FRA seeks to ensure Coast Guard funding parity on pay, quality o f life programs, and other personnel benefits with the Defense Department.

In related news, the House approved a nine-month funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), breaking a lengthy stalemate over president’s immigration policies. The bill already approved by the Senate now goes to the president to be signed into law.

Navy Reserve Celebrates 100th Birthday
The Navy Reserve celebrated its 100th birthday this week. Since the Reserve Force’s establishment on March 3, 1915, Reserve sailors have contributed significantly to our national defense in every major conflict. Over the last decade, nearly 70,000 sailors have been mobilized, providing both ready units and individual augmentees to support Navy and joint force efforts in combat operations, humanitarian missions and disaster relief missions around the world. Navy Reservists, serving in all regions of the country, offer unique skill sets and insights from their civilian careers that enhance the effectiveness of our Navy.