Tanks, Planes and Automobiles
It's been a crazy couple of months here at NGAUS! But if you know us, you know we live for this kind of stuff.
This year, our main focus has been trying to halt the Air National Guard cuts (191 aircraft, 5,100 personnel). Thankfully, our message has been echoed and carried through a groundswell of outspoken opposition to these cuts from Guardsmen, the state Governors, and Members of Congress. Everyone seems to agree that this is a terrible idea, and we've received a lot of great media exposure on this issue. In a perfect world, we would love to see the Air Force go back to the negotiating table with the Council of Governors and come up with something that would be in the best interest of both the Guard and the Air Force. To date, that hasn't happened.
In lieu of another plan, NGAUS came up with our own plan. We've asked Congress to halt all of the cuts and restore funding to the Air National Guard, and they're listening. They understand that cutting the Guard (who by the way provides 35 percent of the U.S. Air Force's capabilities for only 6 percent of its budget) would have lasting detrimental effects to our ability to respond both domestically for homeland defense and natural disasters as well as operations overseas.The House takes the lead on the defense bills, and we can happily report today that both the House Armed Services and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense have included language to halt the cuts and restore funding to the Air National Guard. We have officially cleared our first hurdle! It's a long process getting two bills passed into law, so we have a long way to go, but we'll keep you updated in future posts about what's happening as the bills move forward. Tomorrow, we'll talk about what else is in those bills that's good news for the Guard.
And don't worry! We haven't forgotten about the Army National Guard or Joint issues. The Army legislative team is working on funding for tanks and aircraft upgrades. We wrote a letter this week to the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees asking for funding to upgrade our Abrams tank fleet to the newest version.
In Joint, we're working with the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the veterans status issue, a top priority for our members. The House passed a bill that would grant veteran status sans VA benefits to those who serve 20 years or more in the Guard or Reserve but lack the Title 10 time to fall under the definition of “veteran”. Can you believe that you can serve this country faithfully for 20 years and not be able to call yourself a veteran? Yeah, we can't either! We're asking the Senate to do the same and pass its companion bill, S.491. There's some push back about moving the bill out of committee to a floor vote for fear that one member could oppose it and hold it up, since in 2010, Senator Webb did exactly that to this bill. NGAUS, along with other Veterans Service Organizations, will nonetheless try to convince any holdouts to support the bill.
We made a promise yesterday that posts wouldn't be this long....starting....now! We need to work on my "short and sweet" approach.
And since we've covered tanks and planes, so here's a picture of an automobile. You're welcome.