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TREA Legislative Update for September 28, 2006

This is the last week Congress is scheduled to be in town before going home to campaign for the 110th Congress. So everything is going to be going at a break neck speed. It looks like there will be only 2 Appropriation Bills Defense and Homeland Security) finished before the October 1 beginning of the new fiscal year. And while this Update is being written it seems very unlikely that the National Defense Authorization will be passed before the looming Congressional recess.
1) Veterans Affairs Bills


2) National Defense Appropriations Act and Federal Continuing Resolution


3) TRICARE Reserve (TRS) Select rolls out Expanded Health Care Benefit


4) National Guard and Reserve on active duty numbers


5) Washington Events and Meetings


6) Memo from the White House Commission on Remembrance


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1) Veterans Affairs Bills-
This week the both the House and the Senate acted on several important VA bills. The House passed HR 5835 a bill by voice vote Tuesday night. The bipartisan bill would reorganize information technology operations at the Veterans Affairs Department, would create an Office of the Undersecretary for Information Services at the Veterans Affairs Department (VA), and offer credit monitoring in the event of a data breach. The bill was sponsored by Steve Buyer, (R-Indiana.), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to respond to the needs to improve security demonstrated by the May theft of a VA laptop computer containing the personal information of 26.5 million veterans and their family members.

On the Senate side S 3421 was passed. It authorizes funding of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities for fiscal years 2006 and 2007, and included a provision to expand the MGIB benefits for the spouses of severely injured veterans (discussed in last week’s update.) The passed bill included a substitute amendment introduced by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Larry E. Craig, (R-Idaho.) funding construction projects for VA facilities in American Lake, Wash.; Columbia, Miss.; Milwaukee; Fayetteville, Ark.; and St. Louis.

2) National Defense Appropriations Act and Federal Continuing Resolution- On Tuesday night the House voted overwhelmingly, 394-22, approve the final version of the fiscal 2007 National Defense Appropriations Act. The Senate is expected to pass the $447.6 billion measure before the end of the week. The bill also includes a continuing resolution that will allow most federal government agencies and Departments to continue running at 2006 fiscal levels until November 17th.

3) TRICARE Reserve (TRS) Select rolls out Expanded Health Care Benefit- On October 1 (the beginning of the federal government’s new fiscal year TRS will roll out Tiers 2 and 3 coverage. The 3 tiers will cover all members of the National Guard and reserves at different levels of premiums depending on the member’s status .     To find out the particulars go to the TRICARE Web site at www.tricare.osd.mil/reserve/reserveselect/index.cfm .

4) National Guard and Reserve on active duty numbers- The total number of Guard and Reserve currently on active duty has decreased by 1,834 from the last report to 108,286. The totals for each service are Army National Guard and Army Reserve, 87,291; Navy Reserve, 6,155; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 7,175; Marine Corps Reserve, 7,348; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 317.

5) Washington Events and Meetings- In the past week there were several events around town that TREA’s Washington staff attended. The National Military Family Association held its Congressional Reception honoring Senator Mike DeWine , Senator Carl Levin,  Senate Armed Services Committee staffer, Gary Leeling, Dr. Jean Silvernail, DOD State Liaison Office and DOD’s “America Supports You. It was attended by both National Legislative Director Larry Madison and Executive Director Deirdre Parke Holleman. Ms. Holleman also attended TRI-WEST’S, one of the Nation’s civilian TRICARE contractor  10th Anniversary celebration; a meeting of The New York State Society and the New York State Congressional Delegation; a briefing held by GSK Pharmaceutical House on the drug situation in the country today and a meeting with DOD budget personnel about funding TRICARE..

6) Memo from the White House Commission on Remembrance- The Commission would like us to spread the word on to our members.

Subject: Commission on Remembrance


1750 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20006


It is the intention of the White House Commission on Remembrance to have all Veterans Service Organizations promote the National Moment of Remembrance. We would like to establish reciprocal web site links with these sites to not only inform their members but to reach as many Americans as possible to unite in Remembrance on Memorial Day.


The White House Commission on Remembrance is an independent government agency whose missions include:


*  The Commission encourages Americans to honor the sacrifices of America's fallen and the families they left behind.


*  Promote acts of remembrance throughout the year.


*  Asks Americans to pay our debt of gratitude in memory of our fallen by giving something back to the Nation.


*  Recognizes those who served and those who continue to serve our great nation and reminding all Americans of their common heritage.


The following is an excerpt from our website that would be an appropriate addition to publications and messages from these organizations, particularly, close to the Memorial Day Holiday:


The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity (duration: one minute).The time 3 p.m.
was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.  

          
The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be.
In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans.


Wherever you are, observe the Moment at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day. Ask others to remember-relatives, friends, church, neighborhood, or co-workers to observe the Moment at places such as your neighborhood, local pool, picnic grounds, etc., for one minute of Remembrance.
Participation can be informal as ringing a bell three times to signify the Moment.


Our contact info: website: www.remember.gov   email:
commission@remember.gov  ph:(202)783-4665. fax:(202)783-1168. Please contact us for information on our webmaster: (202)783-4665.


Sincerely


Carmella LaSpada
Director
White House Commission on Remembrance