This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
chaptersinaction Local Lobbyists


Councils and chapters play a leading role in MOAA’s advocacy efforts, promoting the association’s legislative agenda to congressional legislators in their home states.


L


t. Col. Raymond B. Russell, USAF (Ret), who has been the legislative chair for the New


Jersey Lakes and Pines Chapter for more than 20 years, knows legislators are most interested in the opinions of their own constituents, which is why he regularly visits, calls, and emails the elected officials who represent his state in Congress. “Education is key,” he says. “There are many who just don’t know about the issues affecting the military.” That’s why, when new legislators from his state take office, Russell prepares for them a detailed briefing about military-related issues. In addition, the chapter’s monthly newsletter highlights legislative- agenda items and urges members to actively support these efforts. “I read [Military Officer] magazine cover-to- cover each month and take the words from [Washington Scene] and from the Legislative Update [e-newsletter] for our monthly newsletters,” Rus- sell says. “Before I got a computer [in 1997], I used to call in and listen to the Legislative Update reading on the phone and take notes.” He also always responds to take-action calls from MOAA and emails his elected officials MOAA’s prewritten messages, but “I always add how something affects New Jersey veterans.” Russell then encourages fellow chapter members to send the email as well.


40 MILITARY OFFICER AUGUST 2016 To inform other New Jersey vet-


erans about legislation affecting the military, the chapter staffs tables at events such as retiree days and has handouts with bill numbers and names and contact information for the state’s legislators. Overall, the hard work pays off.


“Most [legislators] listen,” he says. “And some sign on [to bills] right away. Others are more of a challenge. They don’t return phone calls, or they say they can’t support all [the] legislation MOAA’s advocating for. You need to keep following up and pushing. You can’t eat the elephant in one bite.”


At the state level Like the New Jersey Lakes and Pines Chapter, the Southeastern New England (R.I.) Chapter also has found persistence and education are key when advocating for military


issues. “You have to be persistent enough” to get a legislator to meet with you, says Lt. Cmdr. Michael Rosenberg, USN (Ret), second vice president of the chapter. “You just need to keep calling and calling. They’ll eventually respond.” On the local level, it’s easier to


reach a representative, “but you have to continually educate and inform and engage them and be nonpartisan and provide facts and information.” That’s exactly what the chapter has been doing in its fight to end the taxation of veter- ans’ pensions in Rhode Island, one of only five states that fully taxes military pensions. The chapter hands out letters at meetings, so chapter members can sign and mail them easily, and sends emails ask- ing members to contact their state representatives.


GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY


As lawmakers advocate for more cuts to servicemembers’ Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and COLA benefits, consider engaging with your legislators about these topics during the summer recess in August; this way, these issues will be fresh in their minds when they return to Washington. Help MOAA in our effort to preserve the all-volunteer force by curtailing


the continued erosion of benefits, preventing large BAH cuts, and preventing efforts to further cap active duty pay by contacting your legislators — and encouraging your friends to do the same. For more information, see Washington Scene, go to www.moaa.org/rejec tBAHcut, or watch a MOAA video at www.moaa.org/BAHcut.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92