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Saturday, October 28, 2006

NGAUS Notes: 10/27/2006

Raise Puts Basic Pay Closer to Civilian Equivalents.

With the 2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise that is part of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department will reach its goal to bring military basic pay to the 70th percentile when compared to civilians with comparable education and training.

In announcing the news last week, Virginia Penrod, DoD's director of military compensation, said the raise - which kicks in Jan. 1 - matches the employment cost index (ECI) for the year.

ECI measures private sector wage growth. Current law ties any military pay raise to the index.

Also helping DoD reach its goal, she said, is targeted pay raises for service members in grades E-5 to E-7 and warrant officers, which go into effect April 1.

DoD has more than 20 different types of bonuses, and the act enables the department to pay these bonuses through the fiscal year.

The act also raises the ceiling of debt DoD is allowed to cancel.

"Soldiers serving in Iraq, for example, receive hostile fire pay, family separation pay and hardship pay," Ms. Penrod said. "If the service member is injured and [medically evacuated] to Germany, sometimes mistakes happen and the pays are not cancelled. The soldier now has a debt."

If later, as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service is processing the service member for medical separation or retirement, that debt shows up, she explained, officials can now waive up to $10,000 of debt incurred through no fault of the service member.

Troop Christmas Stocking Deadline Next Week.

The deadline for ensuring troops get a Christmas stocking with goodies for the holidays is Wednesday, Nov. 1.

For the second year, Operation Give and Stars for Stripes - both members of the Defense Department's America Supports You program - have teamed up to spread holiday cheer to those stationed far from home.

FedEx is helping the effort this year to get supplies shipped free of charge to the Salt Lake City warehouse and then on to locations overseas.

In 2005, service members received more than six tons of stockings in Afghanistan. This year, organizers have set a lofty goal of getting 20 tons - more than 10,000 stockings - to those stationed in Iraq.

"If we take care of every boot on the ground, then we would start giving them to the kids," said Judy Seale, president and chief executive officer of Stars for Stripes. "[We] cannot send too many."

Paul Holton, an Army Guardsman and founder of Operation Give, said these efforts are important to the troops because they're a tangible show of support from home.

Participants in the program can make their own stockings, gift bags or decorative boxes or they can simply send items to the warehouse, where they will be stuffed before mailing to the troops.

Suggested donation items: Christmas cards and decorations, compact discs, DVDs, hand sanitizers, personal hygiene items, personal fans, socks, games, calling cards, non-perishable food items, disposable cameras and toys for service members to give to Iraqi children.

Please visit Operation Give for more information.

Congressman and Fmr. Guardsman Receives NGB Honor on Capitol Hill.

The National Guard Bureau awarded Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., its G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Award Wednesday for his work in Congress on the National Guard's behalf.

Presented to those who demonstrate exemplary service to the Guard, Mr. Davis received the award for addressing incorrect pay problems, work on behalf of wounded veterans and his backing of legislation that would elevate the Guard's profile within the Defense Department.

At a Capitol Hill ceremony, Mr. Davis, who served in the Virginia National Guard in the 1970s, noted the Guard's participation in everything from the war on terror to homeland emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina, but that it only receives 10 percent of DoD funding.

"This gaping imbalance is an injustice and a grave threat to future efforts to protect the American people from a foe we know will strike us here at home," he said.

As chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, he also has looked into deployment difficulties, particularly administrative and training problems as well as Guard equipment problems.

Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, National Guard Bureau chief, presented Mr. Davis with the award. Past recipients include the award's namesake, who served in the Mississippi Guard from 1946 to 1980 and in Congress for 30 years, Sens. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Wendell Ford, D-Ky., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, as well as Reps. James Gibbons, R-Nev., David Hobson, R-Ohio, and Gene Taylor, D-Miss.

Communications Dept. Seeks Seasoned Staff Writer.

The National Guard Association has an immediate opening for an experienced staff writer. Selected candidate will contribute to National Guard, the association's monthly magazine, NGAUS Notes and the NGAUS Web site.

Duties include writing short news stories and covering a variety of hearings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. For the magazine, the successful candidate will contribute at least one substantial feature story each month and assist in editing and producing the final product. Some travel is required.

Candidates must have five years of reporting experience. Familiarity with the military and the National Guard is preferred.

Interest in writing about military/legislative topics a must. Car required.

Salary: low- to mid-40s. Excellent benefits include health and dental coverage and a 401k plan. Convenient Capitol Hill location.

Please send cover letter, resume and three writing samples to:
    Communications Department
    National Guard Association
    One Massachusetts Ave. NW
    Washington, D.C. 20001.
    Fax: 202-682-9358.
    E-mail: Chris Prawdzik.
Please enter "Application" in the subject line if sending e-mail.

NGAUS History.

After World War I, NGAUS and the Adjutants Generals Association of the United States (AGAUS), worked tirelessly to keep the active-component Army small.

"We are all absolutely united to build up the Guard and smash the regular Army," said Col. Bennett C. Clark, NGAUS president at the time.

This was too strong a stance for most NGAUS members. So instead, the association settled on four specific objectives:

First, Guardsmen, rather than active-component personnel, should be chiefs of the Militia Bureau. In addition, NGAUS wanted the bureau shifted from the control of the Army general staff, it wanted the War Department to bring units rather than individuals into federal service, and leadership insisted that whatever law came from Congress must designate the Guard as an integral part of the military force in peacetime and in war.

This Week in Guard History.

October 28, 1918: Bois Belleu, north of Verdun, France - As World War I reaches its climax, Allied forces along the Western Front continue launching attacks against the Hindenburg Line. Although the attacks keep pressure on the Germans and gain some ground, not all succeed. The 26th Division, with Guardsmen from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, launch a failed attack in a sector known as Death Valley.

The assault fails, primarily because the weak division has seen action daily for about a month. The 51st Brigade, composed of Massachusetts' 101st Infantry and Connecticut's 102nd Infantry, has just 15 officers and about 800 men while their combined strength should be 6,100 men.

After the attack, survivors withdraw after losing 150 additional men. On Nov. 1, the 26th Division pulls out of Death Valley. It would see no more combat as the war ended on November 11.
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