PIEDMONT CHAPTER                   Chartered 21 November 1963

         Military Officers Association of America                               56 Years

                                 March 2020                                                  A Fine Tradition

_____________________________________________________________________________

         Stay current on News of Interest to you….Chapter WEBSITE:   http://www.moaapiedmontsc.org    

     or on our FACEBOOK page posted weekly at:   ttps://www.facebook.com/moaapiedmontsouthcarolina     
_____________________________________________________________________________

PIEDMONT  MOAA  DINNER  MEETING
    Thursday, 19 March 2020  canceled because of Coronavirus Pandemic.  May 21 is next scheduled dinner

Please note because of the Coronavirus Pandemic our scheduled events may change over the next few months, and often without advance notice.
           At our March meeting, we planned to have the privilege of a presentation by Dr. Kim Sanders, Veterinarian and Director of  PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving).  Dr. Sanders took over the Anderson County Animal Shelter in 2016 and her immediate mission was to save as many animals brought to the shelter as possible…..moving from 49% saved to over 90% saved today. She is an enthusiastic friend of all animals.
     _______________________________________________________________________         
National Vietnam War Veterans Day.  Will be observed Sunday, March 29th.  Two years ago, President Trump signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, establishing this special day that will be observed every March 29 in perpetuity

Chapter Membership Status.     An e-mail notice was sent to you recently titled  ‘Chapter Membership Status’ and listed all members with their membership year  ‘paid-up status’.  There are 16 regular members and 1 auxiliary member we still need to hear from.  Lets  ‘Get Ur Dun!!’   For all others this is an opportunity to verify your paid-up status.

The Information Corner:

1.  More Than 3 Dozen Military Hospitals to Stop Treating Retirees and Families.  Military families and retirees receiving care through 38 military hospitals nationwide will soon be forced to go off-base instead, and some pharmacies at those hospitals will stop providing drugs to those not on active duty.  A 12 page memo was sent to the commanders of 50 military treatment facilities targeted for changes.  It details for commanders the impacts of a planned restructuring, the subject of an upcoming report to Congress.

            The changes are a part of a review of military hospital operations and a system consolidation under the Defense Health Agency ordered by Congress in 2016.  Aimed at increasing a focus on military readiness, the consolidation includes a plan to cut about 18,000 uniformed medical personnel and increase focus on active-duty support.  But to do so, the hospitals must cull the number of family members and retirees.  Officials were unable to provide a timeline for rollout of the plan or a list of the 50 impacted locations, citing a need to delay comment until the report is delivered to Congress. Its also unclear how feedback from lawmakers might impact the transition plan. 

            Here is the latest!!  The report has been delivered and includes a review of the impacted medical facilities.  The only South Carolina facility affected is Naval Hospital Beaufort which is to become an ambulatory surgery center and out-patient clinic with medical holding bed capability.

2.  VA Releases Reasons For Delay.  The VA just released its reasons for delaying action on four illnesses connected to Agent Orange.  They are bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like symptoms, and hypertension and effect at least an estimated 83,000 veterans.  The VA plans to delay coverage to await the results of additional research. This decision is puzzling since the level of scrutiny has already been met for the VA to add these conditions.  MOAA signed onto a letter with 20 other military and veteran organizations calling for the VA to cover these conditions.

3.  Military Pay Raise.  The proposed military pay raise for fiscal 2021 in the Defense Department’s budget request, released recently, is 3%, the second-highest pay raise for troops since 2010.  The raise is aimed at giving the military a “competitive compensation package” to offset the drain of highly-trained personnel to the civilian sector. 

4.  South Carolina’s First Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  In our previous newsletter it was announced that army veteran Bobby Cox, a freshman Republican legislator from Greer, was nominated to lead the new department of Veterans Affairs.  Depending on how you look at it, it is not a NEW department. The Dept of Veterans Affairs was elevated to a cabinet position directly under the Governor. Only in that sense is it new.  Well, an obscure law was invoked that prevents a standing legislator from serving in a newly established position. So Mr Cox turned down the position and retained his legislative seat. Now, Governor McMaster has announced that Major General (Ret) William Grimsley is nominated for the position.  A highly decorated combat veteran with more than three decades of service in the U.S Army, Grimsley served on numerous deployments and in multiple leadership positions, among others as the Commander at Fort Hood and Chief of Staff of U.S. Strategic Command.  The Governor’s appointment is subject to Senate approval.

Legislation to Watch For
    Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).  Bills in both the House and Senate would increase the base amount of DIC, the benefit paid to survivors who lose their servicmember spouse to a service-connected illness or injury. The base amount of DIC, currently $1340 a month, tax-free, is fixed for all surviors.

The bills would increase the DIC amount to 55% of the compensation paid to veterans rated 100% disabled by the VA.  These 100% disabled veterans now receive $3,106 a month.  A change to 55% of that amount would result in $1708 a month for the survivor.  This increase addresses a parity issue insuring that these members of our military are treated the same as other federal employees.

Guardsmen and Reservists Pay.  Guardsmen and reservists could see big boosts in their pay and benefits under a set of legislative proposals.  These bills have bipartisan support.

One proposal would mandate that Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay for guardsmen and reservists be equal to that of active-duty troops. The money is given to highly-skilled individuals certified in specialties such as parachute jumping, demolitions, and flight deck operations. 

The other proposal has to do with parity in GI Bill Benefits.  Supporters noted that even though troops from active and reserve components often train and serve alongside each other on a variety of deployments, that time in service is not counted equally for veterans education benefits. The new measure would mandate that every day a Guardsan or Reservist is “paid and in uniform” will count towards the education benefits calculation.      
          **  I noticed this article in an American Legion magazine and don’t understand why it has not received wider publicity. So I am sending it on.

New Aircraft Carrier to Honor Pearl Harbor Hero. The Navy has announced that the next aircraft carrier, CVN81, will be named Doris Miller, in honor of  World War hero Doris “Dorie” Miller. It will be the first aircraft carrier named for an African American and an enlisted sailor. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller, a Mess Attendent 2nd Class, was on duty on board USS West Virginia. He was below decks when the torpedoes hit the ship. He was ordered to the bridge where he helped carry the ship’s mortally wounded captain to safety. Miller then loaded and fired an anti-aircraft machine gun, a weapon that, as an African American in a segregated military, he had not been trained to operate. After abandon ship was announced, Miller stayed behind to help evacuate shipmates and save the lives of sailors in the burning water. Miller became the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. The decoration was pinned on by Adm. Chester Nimitz in May 1942. Tragically, Miller was killed nearly two years after Pearl Harbor, when his ship was sunk in battle off the Gilbert Islands.  CNV81 will be a Ford-class supercarrier, manned by a crew of 4,359 sailors and armed with more than 75 warplanes.              

Your Piedmont Chapter Newsletter has the following distribution:

            Members:   via email…..60     via US Postal Service….2     

            Honorary members via Email…6                  ROTC/JROTC Units….7

            Potential members via Email….30

BIO of our Chapter President, Wayne Watson.  Born in Bakersfield, CA in 1943, he spent his early years on cotton and potato farms in the Central Valley of California. He was definitely a country boy. Early on he joined the Cub Scouts…then the Boy Scouts.  Lasting memories were knots, bridge building, and sleeping on the beach in old surplus shelters. It was great!  Wayne then moved to northern California where his father had a cattle ranch. Every day was the great outdoors.

In 1962, at age 18, he joined the USAF. After tech school he was assigned to Bitburg AirBase, Germany and served as a Munitions Maintenance Specialist. Six months of this assignment was spent at Wheelus AB, Libya. In 1966, Sergeant Watson was assigned to Osan AB, Korea, and then to Utapao AB, Thailand. In 1968 he returned to the States for his first stateside assignment at Myrtle Beach AFB, SC.  He then served tours at Ubon AB, Thailand, and Torrejon AB, Spain. 

In June 1970 SSgt Watson left active duty, married the young lady he had met in Myrtle Beach, started college, and remained with the AF Reserves. After graduating from Erskine College he worked in the insurance profession several years. In 1978, he joined the SC Air National Guard and was selected for commissioning as an Explosive Safety Officer and Munitions Maintenance OIC.  In 1979 he completed Clemson University’s MEd program. He began teaching. In 1984, Captain Watson returned to active duty as Senior Training Officer with the Air National Guard Officer Commissioning Program at McGhee Tyson AB, Tennessee. Returning from Air Command and Staff College in 1988, Major Watson took charge of the ANG Continuing Education Program. LtCol Watson remained in that position until his military retirement in 1995.

He returned to the teaching profession at the Anderson County Alternative School, the facility for “troubled” youths. He reflected, surely not all youngsters are this way and what might I do to reduce this waste of our youth.  So in the late 1990s, he decided to get back into scouting. He was immediately signed up as a Unit Commissioner, and five years later to District Commissioner. He has attended and then taught at Commissioner College and is very supportive and active with many scouting activities. He is married to Jean and they reside on Broadway Lake, Anderson, South Carolina.
       

   

Piedmont South Carolina Chapter

CHAPTER NEWSLETTER

March 2020