Congressman Hurt receives the 2016 Legislative Award from VCOC President COL Steve Truner
Alexandria, Va. - Ten members of the Virginia congressional delegation joined more than 100 attendees at the 31st annual Virginia Congressional Appreciation Luncheon, hosted by the Virginia Council of Chapters (VCOC) of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington.
The Virginia congressional delegation discussed key state and national defense-related legislative issues with leaders representing 16 MOAA chapters from the Commonwealth. The MOAA members took the opportunity to express their gratitude for all Congress accomplished this past year to support currently serving and retired uniformed servicemembers, veterans, and military families and surviving spouses.
The legislators in attendance included Reps. Rob Wittman, R-1st District; Scott Rigell, R-2nd District; Randy Forbes, R-4th District; Robert Hurt, R-5th District; Bob Goodlatte, R-6th District; David Brat, R-7th District; Don Beyer, D-8th District; Morgan Griffith, R-9th District; Barbara Comstock, R-10th District; and Gerry Connolly, D-11th District.
The VCOC recognized Congressman Hurt with its annual legislative award for his faithful support and loyal service regarding veterans and military compensation and benefits legislation. In 2015, Hurt introduced the Veterans Administration Legislative and Objective Review (VALOR) Act, which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to undergo a biannual, independent audit by a non-governmental entity.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, president and CEO of MOAA, took the opportunity to thank Congress for championing veterans issues saying, “They do their very best to find the middle ground that our nation can support.” He went on to summarize some of the challenges Congress faces, which put personnel accounts at risk. Citing a recent Congressional Budget Office report, Atkins described almost $270 billion worth of pressure mounting on the defense budget caused by the Budget Control Act and cost overruns associated with military operations and maintenance accounts and procurement and acquisition.
Atkins highlighted MOAA's efforts to bring transparency for servicemember compensation. He said the National Defense Authorization Act's recommended 1.6% pay raise lags behind the private sector by at least one-half percentage point using the employment cost index. The general went on to caution that when aggregated, “if an E-5 comes to the Washington area, over the course of four years, they would have lost $4,500 in compensation, and an 0-3 who comes to the Washington area over the course of four years would lose $7,500 in compensation. This is a national issue that our congressional leaders are facing, and I applaud them for their hard work.”
Atkins applauded the VCOC members for their ability to work with their congressional leaders “in sharing the issues in an unemotional and unbiased way so the lawmakers can champion on their behalf.”
Col. Steven Turner, USAF (Ret), VCOC president, presented the Minuteman Award to Col. Brian Anderson, USAF (Ret), deputy director, Council and Chapter Affairs, for outstanding support and loyal service to VCOC members in the past year. The award, established in 1988, recognizes annually a MOAA national member or group. Anderson was presented with the replica of the Minuteman and will retain the statue for one year.