ROA is the nation’s leading advocate for members of the Reserve Components, their families, and veterans of the Reserve force. Reserve service members face the unique burdens of balancing civilian and military commitments. Too often, the Reserve force is treated as an afterthought in law and policy, in modernization, training, use, and funding, and in benefits. America’s citizen-warriors deserve a dedicated voice in creating government policy. ROA provides that voice.
Annually, MOROA produces a list of "Issues and Concerns"...topics that are considered to be critical to the success of the reserve componts and the individual Reservist/Guard member. That list is used in our regular communication to and visits with key policy makers and elected officials.
The current list of "Issues and Concerns" is printed below and is also included in the MOROA 2019 Biennial Report To Congress for the 116th Congress session.
ISSUES AND CONCERNS OF MISSOURI RESERVE/GUARD MEMBERS
As the 116th Congress begins, the members of the Reserve Organization of America, Department of Missouri, call to the attention of the members of Congress several issues and concerns to ensure our nation continues to have a strong defense force. Nearly 50% of the total United States defense force is composed of members of the Guard and Reserve and it is essential we keep these individuals motivated to serve. Over the next year we recommend support of these items to enhance recruiting and retention:
1. MILITARY PERSONNEL ACCOUNT- BIENNIAL FUNDING
Until this fiscal year the military personnel account was funded on an annual basis, resulting in several problems for the service and service member. The prob-lems are complicated when Continuing Appropriations are passed instead of Budget Appropriations. It is not un-common for a budget to be delayed 3-6 months or longer. Accordingly, the military services are often required to cancel or reschedule unit training, annual training, etc. This could impact a member's retirement eligibility, family and employer relations and cause an increase in resignations. By continuing to fund military appropriations to a biennial account, the personnel and funding problems associated with a continuing resolution and government shut-down could be eliminated.
ROA urges Congress to continue the Military Personnel Account (MILPERS) as a biennial fund so service mem-bers will not experience disruption in service.
2. CONTINUE TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT APPROPRIATIONS FOR PLANNED INCREASES IN NAVY SHIPBUILDING
During the last few years congressional and naval leaders have indicated support to increase the number of Navy ships. Over the last two decades the number of Navy ships has decreased from 335 to 275. The current long-term naval strategy indicates a need to build to a level of 335-350 ships. The operational tempo creat-ed by today's foreign policy directives continues to accelerate, thereby mandating increased time at sea, mainte-nance costs, etc. In addition to needing the ships for defense purposes, the cost and availability of consumer goods in our nation depends on international marine shipping to get products into the hands of consumers.
We urge Congress to provide timely appropriations along with the authorizations to increase our Navy fleet size to 335-350 ships, as recommended by our military leaders.
3. NGREA ACCOUNT
The Reserve and National Guard face challenges with the replacement of worn out equip-ment, expended in combat operations and legacy equipment now obsolete. The National Guard Reserve and Equipment Account (NGREA) provides funds to procure and modernize equipment that is critical to readiness. Continued receipt of NGREA and funds added by Congress allows the Reserve Components, etc. to keep the services modern and compatible. RECOMMENDATION
We recommend Congress continue to fund the NGREA account which will reduce shortfalls and ensure units have equipment necessary for training and mission execution.
4. END STRENGTH
In the past the Reserve Components (RC) experienced end strength reductions to below the FY 2000 levels. There have been some incremental increases for the RC for which we thank the members of Con-gress. However, the components are still below the last peacetime period prior to September 11, 2001. This is a good start in increasing the end strength levels back toward the levels we had in FY 2000. A stronger Reserve Component provides increased access to trained members in the Selected Reserve.
We recommend Congress continue to support an appropriate increase in the end strength level of our Reserve Compo-nents in future years to meet strategic and operational requirements.
5. MODERNIZATION FOR RIVER TRANSPORTATION-VESSELS SUPPORTING COMMERCE-INLAND RIVERS
The total Marine Transportation System (MTS) in our nation accounts for over $4.6 trillion dollars in economic activity, sustains more than 13 million jobs and contributes $212 billion dollars in annual port, sector, federal, state and local taxes. The U.S. Coast Guard Upper Mississippi River (SUMR) based in St. Louis along with its reserve and auxiliary components plays a critical role in maintaining the region's economic health, by insuring the cost-efficient movement of commerce on the nation's inland river system. The movement of goods on our inland waterways is contingent on the timely placement/maintenance of navigation aids and the U.S. Coast Guard River Tenders (WLR's) that serve them. The nation's inland river infrastructure is aging. The average age of the WLR fleet is 53 years, well past its service life.
RECOMMENDATION The Missouri Congressional Delegation is strongly urged to keep a watchful eye on the budgeting, equipment re-placement and maintenance for the fleet of WLR's whose job it is to keep the inland waterways safe and secure for the transit of commercial goods, thus contributing to a very vital economy. We also recommend consideration of infrastructure investments to ensure the waterways can handle the significant increase expected in waterborne com-merce in the SUMR district in the next ten years.
6. CONFER VETERAN'S STATUS-FOR PURPOSES OF FEDERAL HIRING PREFERENCES
We ask Congress to confer veteran's status for purposes of federal hiring preferences on Reserve Component members after 180 "cumulative days" on active duty vs. "consecutive days" on active duty. Reserve/Guard members meet oper-ational requirements by performing frequent and short periods of duty. DOD limits many mobilizations to 179 days or less because duty over 180 days triggers eligibility for a Permanent Change of Duty Status (PCS) move. The services obviously want to avoid the cost of a PCS, but this cost avoidance in turn prevents many reservists from completing an entire career without serving the 180 consecutive days needed for veteran's status per Title 5 USC 2108.
Confer "veteran's status" for purposes of federal hiring preferences on Reserve Component members who complete at least 180 cumulative days of active duty.
7. RECEIPT OF FORM DD-214
Currently not all Reserve Component members receive a DD Form 214 or Na-tional Guard Bureau (NGB) Form 22 when they leave military service. This is an issue for RC members because the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal and state government agencies normally require veterans to have one of these forms to direct veteran’s eligibility determinations. For example, a DD 214 is needed to get credit for the 9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits.
ROA urges Congress to direct all members separating, retiring from the reserve component or reenlisting to receive a Form DD 214 or, if already retired, upon request by the service member, family or legally recognized entity. Al-so, we urge Congress to direct DOD to establish a e-Form DD214 that is automatically populated from the military personnel system for service members to access when needed; eliminating the need for an "issued" DD Form 214.