Town hall held to discuss military compensation, retirement modernization

| March 19, 2015 | 0 Comments
U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, center, hosts a town hall at the Oahu Veterans Center to discuss matters relating to the MCRC, Friday.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, center, hosts a town hall at the Oahu Veterans Center to discuss matters relating to the MCRC, Friday.

Story and photo by Brandon Bosworth
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

HONOLULU — A town hall was held at the Oahu Veterans Center, here, to discuss matters related to the Military Compensation & Retirement Modernization Commission, March 13.

The meeting was organized by the office of U.S. Rep. Mark Takai and was a follow-up to an earlier meeting held Feb. 21.

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) was established in 2013 to conduct a review of military compensation and retirement systems.

This January, the MCRMC submitted a report with 15 recommendations for changing and modernizing these systems to Congress and the president.

President Barack Obama has until April 1 to submit documents to Congress and the MCRMC either approving or disapproving these recommendations.

The meeting was held to solicit comments from the community regarding the MCRMC’s proposals.

“This is an important issue,” said Takai. “It affects active duty service members, veterans, as well as those just now entering the military.”

Among those submitting testimony were representatives from the Society of Military Widows, the Military Intelligence Service Veterans Club of Hawaii, and the Military Officers Association of America. Those wishing to submit written testimony regarding the MCRMC recommendations can do so via Takai’s website,

The Report

The commission’s report and 15 recommendations may be viewed at

The Commission’s recommendations follow:

1. Modernize the retirement system. Help more service members save for retirement earlier in their careers, leverage the retention power of the current retirement system and give the services flexibility to retain quality people in demanding career fields.

2. Survivor benefit plan changes. Provide more options for service members to protect their pay for their survivors.

3. Promote service members’ financial literacy. Increase frequency and strengthen content of financial literacy training.

4. Increase efficiency within Reserve component status system. Reduce the 30 unique statuses under which Reserve component members can be called to duty to just six.

5. Ensure service members receive the best possible combat casualty care. Enhance dedicated oversight of medical readiness through the creation of a joint medical component within a newly established joint readiness command.

6. Increase access, choice and value of health care. Replace the current TRICARE health care program with a new system that offers beneficiaries (families and retirees) a selection of commercial insurance plans.

7.Improve support for service members’ dependents with special needs. Benefits offered through the military’s Extended Care Health Option program should be expanded to include state Medicaid waiver programs.

8.Improve collaboration between DOD and VA. Strengthen and add additional authorities and responsibilities to the current DOD-VA Joint Executive Committee.

9.Protect both access to and savings at DOD commissaries and exchanges. DOD commissaries and exchanges should be consolidated to leverage the mission and process similarities between the two.

10. Improve access to child care on military installations. Congress should re-establish the authority to use operating funds for minor construction projects up to $15 million to expand or modify child development program facilities.

11. Safeguard education benefits for service members. Old GI Bill programs should be sunset in favor of the Post 9/11 GI Bill with changes to transferability and housing stipends for dependents.

12. Better prepare service members for transition to civilian life. DOD should require mandatory participation in the transition GPS education track.

13. Ensure service members receive financial assistance to cover nutritional needs. The Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance should be retained only for those in overseas locations. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should be used for assistance in the U.S.

14. Expand Space-Available travel to more families of service members. Access to unaccompanied travel for dependents on military aircraft should be provided if the service member is deployed for 30 days or more.

15. Measure how the challenges of military life affect children’s schoolwork. A military dependent student identifier should be implemented to identify students who are children of active duty service members.

(Editor’s note: Bosworth is the assistant editor of the “Ho`okele” at JBPHH.)

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