FRA NewsBytes 10-18-13

FRA Newsbytes 10/18/13

FRA Newsbytes 10/18/13

In this week’s edition:
New FRA Leadership
Bipartisan Agreement Ends Shutdown, Extends Debt Ceiling
Independent Budget (IB) FY 2015 Critical Issues Report
DoD Suicide Study to be Released This Month
New FRA Leadership
Delegates at FRA’s 86th National Convention conducted Association business and elected new officers for the coming year during the annual gathering in Chattanooga, Tenn. NVP Virgil Courneya (Branch 274, Reno, Nev.) was named FRA’s new national president and PRPNW John Ippert (Branch 46, Honolulu, Hawaii) was elected as national vice-president for the 2013-2014 Association year.

Delegates also elected Shipmate Tom Snee (Branch 181, Arlington, Va.) to serve as National Executive Director (NED) for a three-year term. Snee will lead the National Headquarters (NHQ) team and succeeds Joe Barnes as FRA’s chief executive. Delegates also bestowed the title of National Executive Director Emeritus to Barnes as a tribute to his outstanding leadership over the past 11 years.

NHQ congratulates all the newly-elected leaders and wishes them a successful and productive term of office. Further convention news will be highlighted in the December issue of FRA Today.

Bipartisan Agreement Ends Shutdown, Extends Debt Ceiling
A last-minute congressional agreement reopened the government until January 15, 2014, and extended the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. The authorizing legislation (H.R. 2775) quickly passed the Senate and House on Wednesday night and was immediately signed into law by President Obama. The Military Coalition, including FRA and 32 other organizations, called for an end to the government shutdown, sent a letter to elected officials and held a press conference noting the impact of the shutdown on veterans, service members, and their families. The Coalition reminded our elected officials that the nation is still at war and service members serving in harm’s way deserve better from their elected officials.

A conference committee met to start work on a bipartisan plan that addresses the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges and a report is due to Congress on December 13, 2013. The agreement does not provide any additional flexibility for Defense regarding another $52 billion in the second round of sequestration cuts that will occur later in fiscal year 2014.

Independent Budget (IB) FY 2015 Critical Issues Report
The four coauthors of the Independent Budget (Amvets, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars) have released their FY 2015 Critical Issues Report. Each year, as a precursor to the Independent Budget (IB) for the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, the IB coauthors and releases the report highlighting important VA budget issues. FRA is a supporter of the IB, which provides extensive analysis of the Administration’s annual budget request for the VA. The Critical Issues Report is available at: www.independentbudget.org.

DoD Suicide Study to be Released This Month
Last year, the Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) began a review of the more than 900 DoD suicide prevention programs. DPSO indicated that its interim report will be available in October and will include efficiency, effectiveness and cost of each program. The study will identify gaps between and overlaps of the numerous programs. FRA has repeatedly expressed concern about the rising tide of suicides among veterans and active duty service members in testimony and in meetings with legislators and their staff.