Welcome to another informative edition of my Defense E-Newsletter!
I have decided to release an updated newsletter four times a year to keep you involved and better informed about the trending defense topics and issues driving the day. I hope that you will find this edition of my Defense E-Newsletter helpful, and I look forward to your feedback and suggestions for future issues.
Thank you for reading!
Susan A. Davis
Member of Congress
My Defense Team
I am pleased to have staff in my office who understands defense issues from extensive personal and professional service. I hope you will not hesitate to contact them!
||Dwrena Allen (MSgt/USMC) is our Department of Defense Fellow in my Washington office. Dwrena is an active duty Marine of more than 22 years of honorable and faithful service. She joined Team Davis in January 2016 and serves as Legislative Assistant covering defense and veteran related affairs. Dwrena has firsthand knowledge and experience in the areas of organizational development, training & education and operational logistics. She considers it an honor and a privilege to serve with Team Davis!
|Ian Staples our Military Legislative Assistant in my Washington office. He is also a Captain in the United States Army Reserve. Ian grew up in Kansas and received his BA degree in Political Science from the University of Kansas in 2007. He has worked on several state and national political campaigns, including the 2008 Presidential primaries and a campaign for Senate in his home state of Kansas. Ian began working in Washington D.C in 2011 as the Special Assistant to Chairman Steve Israel at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He also served as a Legislative Assistant for two other members of the House Armed Services Committee. Ian has family in the San Diego area and is grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of the 53rd district!
||Norah Wimer began work with our San Diego community after a brief hiatus from Congressional work in Washington D.C. Her portfolio includes Armed Services, Budget and International Relations as it pertains to the Department of Defense. Norah’s prior experience includes a combined 4½ years on Capitol Hill with Reps. Peter DeFazio and Steve Kagen. She specializes in Active Duty Military issues both professionally and personally as a Marine Corps spouse of almost 6 years (and counting!).
|Mark Zambon is a decorated war-time service member, avid writer, and outdoorsman. Mark considers it a privilege to help our community constituents and is excited about working with fellow veterans and assisting them in navigating their interactions with federal agencies. He enjoys the challenges of the job and seeing the concerns of constituents addressed and satisfied.
Inside The House Armed Services Committee
Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act
It’s been a busy start to the New Year with the highly anticipated 2017 Budget release from the President. As you know the FY16 NDAA was signed by the President late last year after fierce debates concerning the Oversees Operations Contingency Funding (OCO). As the most senior Democrat on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I am working hard to include a number of provisions to this year’s NDAA in support of our military personnel and their families. As we near the mark up phase of the NDAA process, I am meeting with many senior military officials, national business leaders and professionals representing the very best organizations in our San Diego area. It is my best goal to provide substantive proposals that will support our dense, provide greater quality of life to our veterans and military families as well as our community that supports them.
Some of the provisions I am considering are: providing greater opportunity for shipbuilding expansion and research in the San Diego area; supporting increases in health benefits for wounded veterans and their spouses; securing funding grants for homeless and rehabilitation shelters that support veterans; as well as improving quality life matters for active duty service members.
- Expanded maternity and paternity leave under the Secretary of Defense’s Force of the Future initiatives
- Health care reform for active duty retirees and veterans
- Commissary reform
For your convenience and for more information about this year’s budget and previous budget years you may visit the links below.
I am proud to support the President and I appreciate his continued commitment to upholding our nation’s highest principles when it comes to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. With about 2,000 personnel watching over 91 detainees, Guantanamo is an increasingly fiscally irresponsible approach to this issue. Over the long term, it will cost significantly more to keep detainees at Guantanamo than to transfer them to a U.S. facility. Furthermore, our judicial system has a proven record of trying and incarcerating terrorists, with over 500 terrorists currently being held in U.S. prisons. I look forward to urging my colleagues to do what is in the best interests of our tax payers as well as the economic stability of the country.
The Defense Community in San Diego
|USS Murtha Homeport in San Diego
|I was proud to learn that the USS Murtha was going to call San Diego its home. Rep. John Murtha was a friend, a colleague, and valuable member of the House Armed Services Committee. His commitment to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces and to the nation he served was undeniable. I know the sailors who serve aboard the USS Murtha will will enjoy being home ported in San Diego, and will be proud to embark a vessel bearing his name.
|Green Fleet Initiative
||The Department of the Navy has taken technology and energy modernization to the next level; thus creating next generation capabilities and providing greater global presence. I was honored to speak in San Diego at the opening announcement of the Great Green Fleet in January. I believe energy is one of our most valuable resources when it comes to enabling our forces, and providing them with the right options to do what our nation asks of them. By optimizing energy efficiency our Navy and Marine Corps team is able to be diversified in their use of energy resources, while maintaining the highest degree of operational flexibility.
Women Air Force Service Pilots
I am proud to Co-lead a bill (H.R. 4336) that supports the inurnment of the women who gallantly served their country during WWII. These women, known as WASP, were a group of less than 1,100 women who flew non-combat missions during one the bloodiest wars of our time. Their missions included ferrying aircraft across the country, training combat pilots, and towing airborne targets for other aircraft. Thirty-eight WASP women died during their service to this great nation and we owe them nothing less than the honor of being buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. This terrible injustice and lack of fidelity in the final hours is not in keeping with the gratitude of a nation that recognizes the sacrifices these women made. The time has come to honor them with the full dignity that they so rightfully deserve. In March the House passed H.R 4336 to allow the WASP full honors at Arlington.
I was proud to award a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to two very deserving active duty service members. Captain Maggie Seymour and Lieutenant Michelle Gosselin completed a 161 mile run from Los Angeles to San Diego in honor of the 161 service women who lost their lives during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their tenacity and dedication in completing such a selfless endeavor speaks to the integral role that women play in the military. At a time when our nation needs all of its talent, women are answering the call of duty on and off the battle field.
Helping Military Kids in School
I applaud the bipartisan achievement of my colleagues in our joint effort to end the broken No Child Left Behind system (NCLB). As a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and a longtime supporter of education, the success of the Every Student Succeeds Act is very important to me personally. This bill finds the balance between accountability standards that protect low-income students and the autonomy teachers need to find creative solutions in the classroom. It renews the importance of local control and ensures communities take care of our kids.
The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to set up their own accountability standards and goals. It also requires states to develop plans to help the lowest performing five percent of all public schools and high schools that don’t graduate one-third of its students.
Included in this Act is language from my Helping Military Children Succeed in School Act, which creates a military student identifier to provide the data needed to address the diverse challenges military children face. Specifically, a report-only subgroup for military-connected students would allow schools and districts to effectively track these students’ performance. This data would then help educators identify areas of concern, develop best practices, and deploy targeted solutions to help military-connected students succeed.
|Local Veteran’s Assistance Foundation
|Local veteran’s assistance foundation representatives gave a presentation and Q&A to the audience at Mother Rosalie Hill Hall at USD. The military transition and the unique challenges posed to women in the service were discussed. Audience members shared their individual experiences while transitioning out of the service and ideas were shared on how to enhance service members' exits from the military with quality post-service employment.
House Passes Bill to Make COLA Increases to Disability Benefits Automatic
While Social Security recipients receive an automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) based on a Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase, disabled veterans only receive a COLA increase through an act of Congress. This can mean a delay in a rise in benefits that are critical to our disabled veterans. In February, the House passed the American Heroes COLA Act to make the COLA increase for disabled veterans automatic. This will provide our veterans with some certainty and not have to rely on Congress to act every year.
DoD, VA Kick Off Interagency Effort for Coordination of Complex Care
On February 24, 2016 the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments announced an ongoing effort to ease the transition for service members who require complex care management as they transition from the DoD system of health care to the VA, or within each system.
The effort is designed to ease the burden for service members and veterans, who have suffered illnesses or injuries so severe as to require the expertise provided by multiple care specialties throughout both departments.
The lead coordinator will offer personal guidance and assist service members and their families in understanding the benefits and services to which they are entitled. Service members, veterans and their families, working with their lead coordinator, will have someone to whom they can turn when they have a question or issue as they actively participate in their care, officials explained, adding that the first phase of lead coordinator training was completed in November. Officials expect that 1,500 DoD and 1,200 VA people will serve as lead coordinators.
During This Month in Military History
On March 11, 1942, after struggling against great odds to save the Philippines from Japanese conquest, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur abandons the island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt.
Question of the Quarter
Since the Armed Forces recently opened all combat arms military occupational specialties to women, how do you feel about the subsequent debate regarding the requirement for women to register for selective service? Should women be required to register for selective service at age 18 as is the current requirement for men under the current system? Register your answers here.