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Alabama Council of Chapters

Military Officers Association of America

Council Meeting Minutes

April 11, 2017

Opening Activities.

bulletThe meeting was called to order by Council President Jim Wallace, at 1000 at the Maxwell Club, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama.
bulletLew Nyman gave the Invocation.
bulletDave Jensen led the Pledge of Allegiance.
bulletThose in attendance were: Nick Matranga (AL01), Jerry Steele (AL01), Jim Eubanks (AL01), Pat Downing (AL01), Anne Hartline (AL02), Mark Rubino (AL02), Charles Marvin (AL02), Richard West (AL04), Gerald Maxwell (AL04), Nelson Smith (AL05), Lew Nyman (AL05), Peter Brambir (AL05), Charles Wigglesworth (AL07), Charlie Block (AL07), Phillip Green (AL08), David Hartin (AL09), Finis Prendergost (AL09), Danny Odom (AL11), Dave Jensen (AL12), Larry Rathbun (AL13), Charlene Rathbun (AL13), Jim/Brenda Wallace (AL13).

Chapters missing from the Council Meeting: (AL03), (AL06), and (AL10).

bulletIntroduction of new members and guest. An Introduction of members and guests was conducted by Jim Wallace.

New Business.

bulletReport of teleconference with National MOAA. Jim led a discussion on the teleconference held on March 14, 2017 where 25 of the 34 State Council Presidents discussed MOAA’s cost reduction programs. One noted and discussed topic included dropping the 2017 LOE awards trip to Washington DC. and/or combining the winners of the 2017/2018 winners in one trip in 2018. Additionally, Jim reminded all about the USAA and Mercer funds available to help support Councils and Chapters. Also discussed was the recent vehicle accident in Baldwin County. While the incident is still pending, it appears the students are all recovering. It was also added that National MOAA has donated $5000 to help the issue as well as the Baldwin Chapter has donated $500. Lastly, Jim recommended that all Chapters and the Council be incorporated to help protect their members against personal liability law suits when performing MOAA related events.
bulletTreasurer Report. The 1st Quarter 2017 ALCOC Treasurer’s Report was presented by Rick West. It was approved as presented. Notable income included annual chapter dues, a recruiting incentive award from National MOAA, and a website ad for MOAA insurance. Notable expenses included website renewal and meeting fee (Maxwell Club) for 1st quarter.

Additionally, concerning Chapter dues, Rick let us know that several Chapters were very late in reporting membership numbers and paying their annual dues. As this has created a concern for our budget, Jim ask Pat Downing, Mark Rubino and Gerald Maxwell to form a committee and be ready at the July Council Meeting to discuss and formulate an "incentive" plan to encourage chapters to provide the needed numbers by the needed dates to prepare our budget. As a reminder, the number of regular members as of Sept. 30th is to be reported by Oct. 1st. Dues are then required to be given to the Treasurer by Jan 1st (or NLT than the first council meeting in January).

bulletSecretary Report. The proposed minutes of the January 2017 Council Meeting were approved as submitted.
bulletLegislative Affairs Report. Lew let the Council know that our Congress was currently out of session due to the Easter Recess. Further that the current AHC law was still in effect and that Congress is getting little support to President Trump. Lew is still sending legislative updates to us via e-mails and the web and if there are any related issues, Rick offered to bring them to U. S. Congressman Mo Brooks.
bulletState Board of Veterans Affairs Report. Pat reminded us that he sits on the State Board of Veterans Affairs and that this board is responsible for overseeing the management of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs which is responsible for supporting the more than 415,000 veterans in our state. He then gave us an update on our 4 Veterans Homes throughout our state: They are, from north to south: Floyd E. Tut Fann Home in Huntsville (Built in 1994) (Capacity 150) -Col. Robert L. Howard Home in Pell City (Built in 2012) (254) - Bill Nicholl Home in Alexander City (Built in 1989) Capacity 150)-Wm. F. Green Home in Bay Minette (Built in 1994) (Capacity 150). All four homes continue to stay full and have significant waiting lists for veterans. Additionally, Pat stated that the state board has authorized funds for a feasibility study for another home in the state. The study will take place next year. He also stated that all four homes continue to get high marks on the various inspections they have. Such as the VA medical inspection, Alabama Department of Health, Fire Marshall and so forth.

Pat also commented on the Alabama State Veterans Cemetery at Spanish Fort to let us know that it continues to be very busy with a total of 1,122 interments so far. Further he stated that the cemetery has 1,940 veterans pre-registered and the cemetery director, Tony Ross encourages all veterans to pre-register if they want to be buried there and that this may relieve part of the burden on your loved ones during a very sad and stressful time. Further he stated that our veteran’s cemetery received an inspection by the National Cemetery Administration and received an 86 out of a 100 which was a very high score being in the top 10% of cemeteries where most cemeteries receive scores in the 60s. This means when our cemetery needs an expansion they are just about guaranteed they will receive a grant.

Concerning Legislative action, the top bill of concern for the State Board is: Sen. Gerald Dial bill, SB 315, which the Department of Veterans Affairs objects to because it guts the Dependent Scholarship Program. Pat stated that we currently have 16,000 students enrolled in various schools across the state. They would probably not be effected but future students would be effected. Basically, the bill would: -Increase the veteran’s disability from 20% to 40% -Eliminate payment of student fees and books. -Decreases the tuition rate from $300. Per credit hour down to $117 per credit—that is at the community college rate. The student would be required to pay the difference. Essentially, this forces the student to attend a junior college for the first two years or pay the difference. --The bill creates an unnecessary oversight and advisory committee. It is unnecessary because that function is already in the hands of the DVA, and the SBVA. We do not feel that another layer of bureaucracy is needed for a system that is already working well. --The bill would require a student to use all federal, state and third party benefits prior to using this benefit. Therefore, education benefits of monthly stipends could not be used for living expenses or school supplies. --The bill imposes a 2.0 GPA from day one and suspends a student the first time they fail maintain a 2.0. This would mean a student would have to find a way to pay for their schooling while working to bring their GPA back up to a 2.0. This would effectively expel many of the suspended students who didn’t have money to pay for school. Schools already have programs to aid struggling students. This should be left to the schools to assist them. ADVA, has drafted their own amendment that recommends changes to the bill. This draft: -Reduce the tuition rate to $250 per credit hour. -Pays all fees and for books. -Agrees to the 40% disability instead of 20%. (This rate was changed from 40% to 20% in 1985 and we agree to have it changed back to 40 %.) -Do not agree with the creation of a permanent oversight and advisor board. As many of you know some veterans groups have come out totally against the Bill. The bottom line is: The program is very expensive and it grows every year. The state cannot afford to pay for it as is. The SBVA felt that by increasing the disability rate to 40% and lowering the tuition rate by $50 per credit hour, there should be considerable savings. Otherwise, we do not agree that the state should further reduce veteran benefits in order to balance the budget.

Lastly Pat talked about the Budget. He let us know that the total ADVA budget for 2017 is $145,221,245. That was a 10 % reduction from last year and stated that we do not expect to be level funded for 2018 but do not expect a 10 % cut.

As Jeff Brown our other SBVA representative (with Pat) has become ill and can no longer continue with the SBVA, Jim Wallace has asked that a committee be put together to recommend a replacement for Jeff Brown. Former Committee is to be re-established to study issue.

bulletSurviving Spouses Affairs Report. Anne let us know that surviving spouses are encouraged to become advocates for MOAA issues. She stated that they have been very involved with the SBP/DIC offset that subtracts VA awards from the survivor annuity purchased by the spouse at retirement. She said that they were happy that the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) extends the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIC) until May 2018 at the current rate of $310 a month. However, she said the goal is the elimination of the DIC/SBP offset which was one of three issues when (we) "Stormed the Hill" on April 5th. Next, she let us know that Nationally Surviving Spouses are full members as Surviving Spouses whose husbands/wives were national MOAA Life Members inherit that membership. Surviving Spouses whose husbands/wives were Premium members may continue membership until dues are due, then elect to continue membership by paying dues. They may also elect to become a Basic member. Further, Surviving Spouses are encouraged to join and attend chapter meetings. Additionally, she added, like most chapters, membership issues on the national level are aging and attracting younger members. The average age of a MOAA member is 67, and 60% of the membership is over 60 years old. Only about 12% of MOAA national members belong to chapters: 50,000 of 355,000. MOAA is moving toward more digital activity like Face Book, Twitter and expanding the Website which is where younger people go for information. Research indicates that organizations that do not become more digital will not survive. Another emphasis is service projects: Younger people want to belong to organizations that serve. The MOAA Foundation has received funds from USAA that will be awarded for chapter and council service projects. Guidelines and applications will be available soon. Suggestions for chapter engagement include assigning a mentor to each new member.

She added, upon notification of the death of a member MOAA sends a packet of information and CEO Gen. Dana Atkins sends a sympathy card. Chapter presidents might consider sending a letter in addition to a card signed by chapter members. Research shows that the number one reason for joining MOAA is a recommendation from a friend. Outreach events and exhibits can be valuable visibility and recruitment tools. Lastly, she let us know that the Quarterly Leaders’ Training Workshop for Presidents, Legislative and Membership Chairmen is 15-16 Sept 2017, in Memphis.

bulletMembership Program Report. Nelson let us know that the National MOAA list of members without Chapter affiliation (recruitment rosters) is late in coming out. However, he still encouraged members to continue to recruit by using personal contacts, special events/trips to keep all engaged.
bulletTOPS Liaison Report. No report
bulletWebmaster Report. Charlie continues to update all on the benefits of using our web as a source of information and best practices for all Chapters. Further he encouraged all Chapters to send their newsletters for posting to the web.
bulletStorming the Hill. Anne Hartline stated that she and Lt COL Charlie Marvin visited the offices of both Alabama senators and all seven Alabama congressmen and congresswomen. While they saw no principals, as important congressional/cabinet votes and committees were on going, they did meet with the staffs of all and in general had good communications. Further she stated that Senator Luther Strange, Congressmen Bradley Byrne and Mike Rogers are now co-sponsors of bills, S. 339 and H.R.846. Further, that she and Charlie requested that if total elimination of the "Widow’s Tax" is not currently possible, to please extend the SSIC for ten years so that we can work toward gradual elimination. Other "Storming" issues covered were Sequestration and TRICARE. They stated they asked that sequestration be stopped and that Tricare fee hikes stay within the bounds of COLA increases. Additional they passed out a booklet prepared by MOAA which clarified and enforced MOAA’s stand on the issues of Sequestration, SBP-DIC offset and to prevent disproportional TRICARE fee hikes.
bulletSelection of Nominating Committee for Council President and Treasurer for 2018 and 2019. Jim assigned the following (Peter Brambir/Lew Nyman/Gerald Maxwell) to form a committee and to provide nominees for the office of Council President and Council Treasurer.
bulletFederal Constitution. Jim Eubanks gave a presentation on the history, need and procedure for amending our US Constitution. Two areas Jim covered in detail to mandate were "term limits" and to have a "balanced budget". In covering all issues Jim specifically identified the necessary number of states that would be required to advance an amendment to the U. S. Constitution and the number (34) to ratify (38). He also identified the status of all the states as to how many had already passed their favor or were in the process or not. Jim felt this was important to know so that if we had contacts in these "other states" we could encourage them to get active to pursue their state legislations to pass their consent on a Constitution amendment.

Jim’s presentation was well received by the Council and many thanks were given to him.

bulletPresident’s Remarks. During this portion of our meeting, Jim Wallace presented the following Communications Awards from National MOAA to our Council as well as the following Chapters. Council received a 5 Star award for council website, Charlie Block, Webmaster. South Alabama Chapter received a 5 Star award for chapter newsletter, Mike Wright, Editor. Huntsville Chapter received a 5 Star Award for website, Rick West, Webmaster. The Huntsville Chapter also received a 5 star for their newsletter, Bruce Robinson, Editor. Fort Rucker Chapter received 4 Star for chapter website, Charlie Block, Webmaster.
bulletNext Meeting. Our next quarterly meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, 11 July 2017 at 1000 at the Maxwell Club.
bulletAdjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 1430.