Patricia Bergquist, chair, and Kathy Prout, vice chair, Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee.
What a busy year 2013 has been for the Auxiliary Member Advisory Committee (AMAC)! We welcomed two new members to the committee in April: Sharon DeVaney, Pikes Peak (Colo.) Chapter, and Gray Warmunde, Calusa (Fla.) Chapter. While we reluctantly accepted Warmunde’s resignation due to personal obligations over the summer, we appreciate her contributions to the AMAC.
In April 2013, the AMAC participated in the national Storming the Hill event, which focused on TRICARE increases, military pay raises, concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability, and the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (SBP/DIC) offset.
The AMAC focused on educating members of the 113th Congress on the impact of the SBP/DIC offset. With the help of auxiliary liaisons; MOAA President Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret); organizations in The Military Coalition; and an SBP/DIC offset Facebook page, we gathered more than 100 surviving spouses from 20 states to come to Washington, D.C., to lobby on this issue. These individuals represented Gold Star Wives, the Society of Military Widows, and other military organizations, as well as family and friends.
On July 17, the AMAC successfully led its first Hill-storming event focused only on the SBP/DIC offset. We began the day with a breakfast with congressional legislative assistants and military legislative assistants. Sen. Joe Wilson (S.C.) and Ryan spoke about the injustice of the offset. Two surviving spouses, Traci Voelke and Suzanne Gerstner, delivered personal, compelling testimonials on the offset’s impact on their families. Following breakfast, 38 teams stormed the House, while four teams, including Ryan and MOAA’s Government Relations Director Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), tackled the Senate to gain cosponsors and support for H.R. 32 and S. 734 — bills that would repeal the SBP/DIC offset. Teams left the Vow of Honor brochure, an SBP/DIC fact sheet, and a page of five surviving spouse testimonials in each office.
When the “stormers” returned home, AMAC members encouraged them to visit local congressional offices, send emails and letters, and make phone calls to garner support for H.R. 32 and S. 734. Currently, H.R. 32 has 186 cosponsors, and S. 734 has 31 cosponsors.
2013 Auxiliary Liaison of the Year Ginny Canady, from the Riverside March Field (Calif.) Chapter, with Edie Rieken, the 2012 recipient from the Portland (Ore.) Chapter, were recognized at MOAA’s 2013 annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo. Rieken had to cancel her trip to the 2012 annual meeting because effects of Superstorm Sandy.