FRA NewsBytes September 3 2015

FRA Newsbytes 09/03/2015

FRA Newsbytes 09/03/2015

In this issue:
President Cuts Annual Active Duty Pay Increase
VA Patient Access Progress Update
New FRA Website to Come on Line This Weekend
FRA HQ Closed for Holiday

President Cuts Annual Active Duty Pay Increase
President Obama sent a letter to House and Senate leaders to notify them that he will cap military pay raises at 1.3 percent next year as a way to reduce defense spending. In the letter, he called the reduction as “unfortunate but necessary.” The president noted that administration officials do not believe smaller pay increase (1.3 percent vs. 2.3 percent) will hinder recruitment and retention.

If it stands, the 1.3 percent raise will be the third consecutive year of increases that fall short of estimated private-sector wage growth, and will widen the gap between military and civilian salaries. For an E-4 with three years of service, the difference between the two potential pay raises would total about $268 a year. A 1.3 percent raise would follow in the wake of 1 percent raises in both 2014 and 2015; the lowest annual military pay increases in the all-volunteer era that began in 1973.

The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-H.R. 1735) provides a 2.3 percent pay raise for troops—equal to a private-sector pay increase—but the Senate NDAA (S. 1376) accepted the Administration’s request for a lower 1.3 percent hike. FRA has urged legislators who are reconciling differences between the two bills to accept the House increase and to suspend the President’s authority to change the pay increase by regulation for one-year.

As it has for the past 15 years, FRA continues to fight hard to get Congress to reduce the gap between private sector and military pay and keep military pay raises at least in line with civilian pay growth. To give Shipmates an opportunity to urge their legislators to support an adequate pay increase for our military, this issue will be listed on the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) until the NDAA passes.

VA Patient Access Progress Update
In keeping with the commitment to improve transparency in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) processes, the VA recently released current patient access data and is highlighting notable access improvements.

The information includes the following:

1.    The VA completed more than 61.5 million appointments between July 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015. This represents an increase of 2.36 million more appointments than were completed during the same time period in 2013–2014.
2.    VA created over 2.7 million authorizations for veterans to receive care in the private sector between August 16, 2014 and August 15, 2015. This represents a 21 percent increase in authorizations compared to the period ranging from August 2013 to August 2014.
3.    VA completed 97 percent of appointments in July 2015 within 30 days of the clinically indicated or veteran’s preferred date; 92 percent within 14 days; 87 percent within 7 days; and 22 percent actually completed on the same day.
4.    Between June 1, 2014, and August 15, 2015, the electronic wait list went from 56,000 appointments to 40,067, a 28 percent reduction.

For additional information on this report please go to: http://www.va.gov/health/access-audit.asp.

New FRA Website Coming Soon
Over the course of the coming weekend (September 4–7), our NHQ IT staff will be rolling out a long-awaited overhaul of the FRA website. As a result, the site may not be accessible over the holiday weekend.

The redesigned site will retain all of the content and functionality of the existing website, but its design and organization (menus, file structure, etc.) will be simplified, streamlined, and updated to work more efficiently on computers and mobile devices. You will still be able to do everything you can do on our current website, such as use the Action Center, find local branches, get contact information, pay your membership dues, find information about our scholarships and other programs, and support the association; we’re just working to make it all easier for you. Watch our homepage for the upcoming changes: www.fra.org.

FRA HQ Closed for Holiday
The FRA National HQ offices will be closed on Friday, September 4 and Monday, September 7 in observance of Labor Day weekend. We wish all of our shipmates a safe and happy holiday weekend!