June 23, 2022 Share this on: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
  Breaking News  

VA Delays Electronic Records System Rollout Due To Reliability Issues Following Crashes 




The rollout of the Department of Veterans Affairs' new $16 billion electronic medical records system will be delayed up to seven months at some sites because it is not considered reliable, a VA official confirmed Tuesday.

To read more, please click here.


More Child Care Spaces Opening To Working Military Families After COVID-19 Pause In Priority System 



Now that child development centers are returning to normal operations coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, most have restarted a prior policy that "supplants" lower-priority children when a higher-priority family - such as an active duty working family - requests care. There's long been a shortage of military child care, and of child care nationwide.

To read more, please click here.


Bigger Military Housing Stipends, Lower Commissary Costs Pushed To Fight Inflation  




House lawmakers want to bump up military housing stipends and drop costs of some commissary items to combat the impact of inflation on family finances. The proposals are part of the chairman's mark of the House Armed Services Committee's draft of the annual defense authorization bill. Committee members are expected to spend all day Wednesday marking up that proposal, with an eye towards a full House vote on the measure next month.

To read more, please click here.

  AFSA on the Hill  

President Joe Biden And Veterans Service Organizations Release A Statement Recognizing The PACT Act's Bipartisan Senate Passage

By: Vanessa Lee, AFSA Legislative Communications & Administrative Assistant 

President Joe Biden and the leading veterans' service organizations in the nation give remarkable statements about the bipartisan measure after the Senate passed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 last week. This law will give all generations of veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances the benefits and health care they are due from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To pass the historic legislation, the senators collaborated for months with members of the other chamber, VA Secretary Denis McDonough, the Biden administration, and veterans service organizations. Before being forwarded to the President's desk to be signed into law, the bill must now pass the U.S. House of Representatives.

President Joe Biden stated in a press release, "As part of the Unity Agenda that I laid out in my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to make sure that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve," said President Joe Biden. "...The United States Senate answered that call by overwhelmingly passing the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022-the largest single bill in American history to address our service members' exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances...this legislation makes good on our sacred obligation to care for veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. I want to thank Chair Tester and Ranking Member Moran for their remarkable work to pass the PACT Act, and I urge the House to swiftly pass this bill so I can sign it into law right away."

"The bipartisan Senate vote this week to enact the Honoring Our PACT Act has AFSA delighted", said Keith A. Reed, Chief Executive of Air Force Sergeants Association  "The Honoring Our PACT Act is getting closer to becoming law, which will allow millions of veterans from all eras who were exposed to radiation, burn pits, Agent Orange, and other hazardous poisons to finally get the health treatment and benefits they have earned for their service. The care and benefits that our veterans and their families have earned will be made available to them."

"IAVA applauds the leadership of Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester and Ranking Member Jerry Moran in forging this landmark bipartisan legislation, and Senators for delivering long-overdue benefits to millions of veterans and service members suffering from military toxic exposures," said Jeremy Butler, CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "IAVA has been fighting for years to get comprehensive legislation to the finish line, and it has been an honor to work beside countless advocates, survivors, and family members who helped make this possible so that toxic exposed veterans never have to bear the burden of battling for the benefits they deserve."

"Our country makes a promise to Service members that if they get wounded in the line of duty, they will receive the support of a grateful nation when they return home," said Mike Linnington, CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project. "For far too long, that promise has been broken for veterans suffering from toxic wounds. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act will finally keep that promise by guaranteeing access to VA care and benefits for exposed veterans of all eras. Wounded Warrior Project commends Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran for their bipartisan work and thanks to every one of the 84 Senators who voted yes on this critical legislation. We look forward to this bill being swiftly passed by the House and signed into law by the President."

"This was a total team effort, from the legislative staffs in both chambers to the dozens of advocacy groups on board to the grassroots work put in by thousands of MOAA members," said Lieutenant General Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), President and CEO of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). "Everyone played a role in this success, but we're not done yet-MOAA and our partners will see this through not just the president's signature but through the implementation process so critical to ensure the earned benefits of millions of veterans."

"DAV applauds the overwhelming bipartisan Senate passage this week of the Honoring Our PACT Act, the most comprehensive toxic exposure legislation ever considered by Congress," said Andy Marshall, National Commander of Disabled American Veterans (DAV). "Once signed into law, this historic legislation will make it easier for millions of veterans from all eras who were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, radiation, and other toxic substances, to access the health care and benefits they have earned from their service. On behalf of our more than one million members, we thank Senators Tester and Moran for their steadfast leadership and commitment to keeping our promises to the men and women who served, particularly those injured, ill and disabled from their service."

"This is an enormous victory for veterans, service members, and their families," said Matthew "Fritz" Mihelcic, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and it is Auxiliary. "I commend every senator who voted in favor for those who have borne the burden of toxic exposure, for the military families struggling to care for them, and for the military men and women who will face toxic exposure in the future."

"The U.S. Senate has saved lives and truly delivered for veterans," said Paul E. Dillard, National Commander of The American Legion. "By passing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, the 117th Congress has put substance behind the phrase, 'Thank you for your service.' The American Legion is grateful for the service of millions of veterans who were exposed to burn pits, atomic radiation, Agent Orange, and other environmental poisons. Thanks to the U.S. Congress, these men and women will be able to receive the care and benefits they have earned. The PACT Act is a historic bipartisan achievement. The American Legion thanks not only those who voted for this legislation but the thousands of Legionnaires and advocates who worked to make this happen. Thanks to the unwavering leadership of Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran, the American Legion looks forward to President Biden signing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act into law."

"The Reserve Organization of America applauds the U.S. Senate for decisively passing the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our Pact Act and looks forward to its passage in the House and signing by President Biden," said Jeffrey E. Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the Reserve Organization of America. "Forty percent of America's military is in the Reserve and National Guard; the PACT Act will provide essential care to the men and women who are America's 'twice-the citizen,' serving shoulder-to-shoulder alongside their active-duty comrades, sharing every risk and performing every duty in the defense of liberty. Passing the PACT Act is a national security issue. Young Americans considering the military must know that their government will take care of them-and not abandon them when they come home sick or disabled."

To read President Joe Biden's statement, please click here.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out at milgov3@hqafsa.org.

  Legislative Action Center  

Support the Care for the Veteran Caregiver Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92824/respond

Legislation Summary

  • Updates the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by requiring the VA to continue providing assistance to a family caregiver for at least six months after the death of a veteran participating in the program.
  • Requires the VA to establish a process by which veterans who are determined to have the most significant need for caregiver assistance are permanently eligible for such assistance.
  • Requires the VA to standardize the criteria used across all facilities in its required evaluations of the needs of the veterans and the skills of the family caregiver.
  • Standardizes criteria used in accepting and evaluating applications for participation in the program across all facilities.

Support the CHAMPVA Children's Care Protection Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92822/respond

Legislation Summary

This bill provides that a child shall be eligible for medical care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) until the child's 26th birthday, regardless of marital status.

Support the AUTO for Veterans Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92795/respond

Legislation Summary

The Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities for Veterans "AUTO" Act would reduce the financial burden incurred by virtue of military service by ensuring severely disabled veterans receive a grant from the VA's Automobile Assistance Grant program to purchase a specially equipped vehicle once every ten years - as opposed to only once.

Support the Aid and Attendance Support Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92792/respond

Legislation Summary

The Aid and Attendance Support Act temporarily increases eligible disabled veterans' and surviving spouses' Aid and Attendance (A&A) allowance by 25%.

Support the Ensuring Survivor Benefits during COVID-19 Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92790/respond

Legislation Summary

The Ensuring Survivor Benefits During COVID-19 Act requires the VA to solicit a medical opinion to determine if a service-connected disability was the principal or contributory cause of death in situations where a veteran's death certificate identifies COVID-19 as the principal or contributory cause of death, the certificate does not clearly identify any of the veteran's service-connected disabilities as the principal or contributory cause of death, and a claim for dependence and indemnity compensation is filed with respect to the veteran.

Support the TRICARE Select Restoration Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92820/respond

Legislation Summary

The TRICARE Select Restoration Act would eliminate TRICARE Select enrollment fees for veterans who retired prior to 2018.

Support the Healthcare for Our Troops Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92819/respond

Legislation Summary

  • Ensures Reservists and National Guard members have no-fee healthcare through TRICARE Reserve Select that covers medical and dental coverage.
  • Fixes the parity gap for Reserve Component retirees receiving early retirement pay due to deployment credits making them eligible for TRICARE upon receipt of retirement pay.
  • Provides an incentive for small businesses to hire Reserve and National Guard members by ensuring their healthcare costs are covered.
  • Ensures service members can access physicals needed to be ready for no-notice deployments (which have increased over the past year).
  • Eliminates the statutory language that excludes Federal Employees Health Benefits Program eligible service members from TRICARE Reserve Select eligibility.

Support the Advancing Toward Impact Aid Full Funding Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92818/respond

Legislation Summary 

The Advancing Toward Impact Aid Full Funding Act would:

  • Split Impact Aid's $1.1 billion request evenly over five years, across three main categories for funding: Basic Support, Federal Property, and Children with Disabilities.
  • Increase Basic Support funding by $190 million annually, meeting Impact Aid's 2019 funding requests.
  • Increase Federal Property funding proportionally to Basic Support (BSP) by allocating an additional $11 million annually.
  • Increase funding for Children with Disabilities by $9 million annually, funding $2,000 per eligible student.
  • Advance national K-12 school systems to become more equitable and meet educational needs.
  • Support military families that are especially impacted by federally tax-exempt land.

Support the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92815/respond

Legislation Summary 

  • Modifies the extension of dependent coverage under TRICARE by allowing a dependent at the age of 26 to be covered without an additional premium.  
  • Authorizes such coverage of dependents without a premium regardless of whether they are eligible to enroll in an employer-sponsored plan.

Support Expanding TRICARE Cranial Remolding Helmet Coverage!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92802/respond

AFSA urges our nation's elected officials to support legislation that would expand the scope of TRICARE's coverage of the DOC Band Post-Op device if your baby:

  1. Is three to 18 months old; and
  2. Is diagnosed with craniosynostosis or nonsynostotic positional plagiocephaly (to include torticollis)

Support the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92799/respond

Legislation Summary 

  • Allow an employer a work opportunity tax credit for hiring the spouse or domestic partner of a member of the Armed Forces.
  • Specifically, an employer may receive a tax credit equal to 40% of a new employee's first-year wages if the employer hires a service member's spouse or domestic partner (as recognized under state law or by the Armed Forces). 
  • Create programs for service members to pay for childcare on a pretax basis.
  • Specifically, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security (with respect to the Coast Guard) must implement flexible spending arrangements that permit members of the Armed Forces to use basic pay and compensation to pay on a pretax basis for dependent childcare.

Support the Retired Pay Restoration Act!

Link to Advocacy Campaign: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/92798/respond

Legislation Summary

  • Allows the receipt of both military retired pay and veterans' disability compensation with respect to any service-connected disability.
  • Extends full concurrent receipt eligibility to individuals who were retired or separated after at least 20 years of military service due to a service-connected disability.

Call To Action: Share How TRICARE's coverage of the Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty (DOC) Band Post-Op device negatively impact your family's quality of life!

Share your Story Here: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/Surveys/7294/Respond


For the past year, our Military and Government Relations Team has been working with AFSA military families on getting legislation introduced that would expand the scope of TRICAR's coverage of the DOC Band Post-Op device if a baby:

  1. Is three to 18 months old; and
  2. Is diagnosed with craniosynostosis or nonsynostotic positional plagiocephaly (to include torticollis)

Despite unsuccessful efforts (via FOIA request) to obtain important data for the purpose of quantifying the need of this issue in the aggregate, our Team is looking to hear from the field to share your story and help have your voice heard by members of Congress.

Issue Background

  • Helmet therapy is used to gently correct the shape of babies' skulls over time.
  • Newborn babies' skulls are soft plates with spaces between them. As the baby grows, these plates grow, gradually harden, and knit together.
  • Unfortunately, there are circumstances under which the soft plates may develop a flat spot or uneven appearance. This condition is called plagiocephaly. 
  • Today, almost one in two babies (47%) is affected by some form of plagiocephaly.
  • When the baby's skull joins together too early, or in an abnormal way, this is called craniosynostosis. There are several types of craniosynostosis, depending on when the baby's skull joins together. 
  • Today, it is estimated that 1 in every 2,500 babies has craniosynostosis.
  • Positional skull deformities and/or abnormalities - whether diagnosed as a form of plagiocephaly or craniosynostosis - can have short and long term health effects on a child.
  • However, despite this, TRICARE only covers the Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty (DOC) Band Post-Op device, synonymously referred to as a "molding helmet," if your baby:
  1. Is three to 18 months old; and
  2. Has had craniosynostoris surgery;
  3. But still has a misshaped skull.
  • In other words, cranial molding helmet(s) are not covered for the treatment of nonsynostotic positional plagiocephaly or for the treatment of craniosynostosis before surgery; despite medical evidence that suggests the presence or absence of congenital or acquired plagiocephaly (to include torticollis) can, at the very least, increase the risk of gross motor development.
  • In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics school-aged children with moderate to severe plagiocephaly scored lower than controls on cognitive and academic measures. 
  • As a result, military families - who face unique challenges given the sacrifices that come along with serving our country - have been put in the tragic position to either front the hefty cost of the helmet (approximately $2,000), seek alternative forms of treatment that may not be preferred, or forego treatment altogether.

  AFSA Membership Information  

AFSA International Convention Website LIVE; Registration Now Open!

AFSA is proud to announce that the official website for the 2022 International Convention is now LIVE! 

Website link: https://www.hqafsa.org/convention22.html

AFSA will be celebrating 75 years of air power by recognizing yesterday's sacrifice, today's service, and tomorrow's opportunity.

The 2022 International Convention & Family Reunion will convene in Las Vegas, Nevada at:

Convention Center Tropicana, Las Vegas, Nevada

3801 S Las Vegas Blvd, 

Las Vegas, NV 89109

Register to attend the AFSA Convention here now!

Early Registration: April 1 - May 31 at $250.00

Regular Registration: June 1 - July 31 at $275.00

Late Registration: August 1 - August 4 at $300.00

AFSA Int'l Convention ONLY (Arrive Saturday, August 7) This Registration Fee includes the following: Access to discounted hotel room rates, seminar/briefings, refreshments, Info Expo, Convention Theme Party, Welcoming Ceremony, and the AFSA International President's Dinner. However, if you are NOT an AFSA member, this registration fee does NOT grant you access to the AFSA's Member Appreciation Hospitality Room(s). This Convention Registration DOES NOT include hotel reservations. 

Greetings AFSA Division and Chapter Leadership,

We are pleased to share the AFSA Set-It-Forever/Auto Pay procedures and marketing materials to help share the process with our members, your membership and potential new recruits.

The Set-It-Forever/Auto Pay program creates an opportunity to JOIN AFSA or RENEW a membership by making a $36 once-a-year/every-year auto payment, or a $4-each-month/every- month auto payment. The $36 once-a-year option is set at $36, and the $4-a-month option includes a bank processing fee of $1 each month.

Review the two ways to enroll, the benefits to using the auto-pay option, and the marketing materials to help share the details of this program and ensure its success.

For more information, please click here.

For questions, please contact AFSAHQ Member & Field team at 800-638-0594 x 288.

Please Update Your Contact Information Today!

Dear Air Force Sergeants Association Member,

In order for the AFSA to effectively communicate with our members, it is essential to ensure we have your current and / or valid e-mail address. 
We are in the process of updating our records and need your help! Please take a moment to ensure that we have your most current mail and email address (no .mil's); and accurate membership listing information.

We've made it easy, as you can update your information in either one of three ways: 

  1. Call Member & Field Relations team directly at 800-638-0594 x 288 (Mon. - Fri. 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST)
  2. Email to: msvcs@hqafsa.org
  3. Visit www.hqafsa.org and select the UPDATE button on the right

We thank you in advance for your support and prompt updates.

  And that's the way it is...  

In sum, An official from the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed Tuesday that the rollout of the $16 billion electronic medical records system at some locations may be delayed by up to seven months due to reliability issues. The delays follow a number of recent system failures that put patient records in jeopardy and raised concerns about possible harm to veterans receiving care through the VA health care system. The VA Portland Health Care system's anticipated November deployment in Oregon will be postponed until at least April 2023, while plans to launch the system in the Puget Sound region of Washington state in August will be postponed until March 2023.

According to VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes, the changes were made as a result of an assessment that the system isn't ready for widespread deployment because it is having issues with its research workflow component and needs changes to ensure system stability. Military Times first reported the changes on Saturday.

In addition, working military families, including families from the Coast Guard, were given higher priority for spots in child development centers and school-age child care programs under a Defense Department policy that was adopted just before the epidemic and put into effect in September 2020.

But if the military family was anticipated to be on a waitlist for more than 45 days after the time they need child care, it also permitted officials to replace, or displace, youngsters who already were in a child development program and whose parents were in a lower priority category.

And lastly, to offset the effects of inflation on family finances, House lawmakers seek to increase military housing stipends and reduce the cost of some commissary items. The suggestions are a part of the yearly defense authorization bill's chairman's markup in the House Armed Services Committee. In preparation for a full House vote on the issue next month, committee members are anticipated to spend the entire day on Wednesday marking up that proposal.
The plan specifies defense spending of $802.4 billion for the following fiscal year, including a 4.6 percent pay boost for personnel to begin in January. Both of those numbers are consistent with ideas presented by the White House earlier this year.

And that's the way it is for Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Stay tuned for our next M&G-B, where we will continue to keep you in the loop on all things pertinent to the coronavirus, veterans, active-duty members, guards and reservists, and military family members. Stay happy, and stay healthy!