Monthly Archives: March 2012

WE OWE PEOPLE WHO SERVE IN THE MILITARY A LIFETIME OF STEWARDSHIP

SEN. WEBB: “WE OWE PEOPLE WHO SERVE IN THE MILITARY A LIFETIME OF STEWARDSHIP IN EXCHANGE FOR THEIR DECADES OF SERVICE”

An AUSA salute to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., for remarks he made regarding the Pentagon�s plan to impose fee increases on military retirees. 

During an Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Webb said that the American people need to understand what the proposed TRICARE changes look like �from the experiences of someone who has spent a career in the military.�

All of this boils down to what a soldier or Marine or sailor or someone in the Air Force can see about what happened to the people who went before them � how they were treated after they left the uniform,� said Sen. Webb.  �I grew up in the Marine Corps tradition and no Marine is ever left behind, and I feel just as strongly about the commitment that we have made to lifetime medical care for the people who have served.

We know we have a problem with medical care.  It is a national problem…. It is not simply a DoD problem,� Webb said.  �I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to characterize the commitment that we have made as a throw-away matter as we try to balance out other issues.  How we take care of these people is one of the great litmus tests that people who are serving right now are going to be looking at.�

SENATE VETERAN’S JOBS CAUCUS FORMED

AUSA�s Director of Government Affairs Bill Loper met last week with key staff from the offices of Senators Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who are the co-chairs of a newly created Senate Veteran’s Jobs Caucus, a bipartisan group that will help find work for the nation�s 857,000 unemployed veterans.  The Caucus will officially launch at the end of March.

In order to directly address employment-related issues, the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus has four objectives:

* Develop a robust Senate �I Hire Veterans� program, which will invite Senators to display the �I Hire Veterans� logo if they have a veteran or a current serving member of the National Guard and Reserves on their personal, state or committee staff.  The logo can be displayed in a Senate office, on business cards, or anywhere that Senators choose;

* Hold monthly member or staff-level events to share information on veteran�s employment initiatives;

* Monitor veteran�s employment issues by working with constituents, government and service organizations to help provide solutions; and,

* Work with local, state and national employers on a comparable �I Hire Veterans� program.

AUSA is an original endorser of this effort and fully supports the Caucus in their quest to help veterans find employment.  The jobless rate among post-9/11 veterans continues to be higher than the national average.

 

MORE HELP FOR MILITARY HOMEOWNERS

Last week, the Obama Administration announced steps it is taking to help servicemembers and veterans who are facing foreclosure or who have been foreclosed upon.

 

The Nation�s largest lenders (Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally, Citi or Wells Fargo) will conduct a review � overseen by the Department of Justice�s Civil Rights Division � of the files of every servicemember foreclosed upon since 2006 to determine whether any were foreclosed on in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). 

 

The lenders will conduct a review � also overseen by DOJ�s Civil Rights Division � of the files of their servicemember clients dating back to 2008 to determine whether they charged any an interest rate in excess of 6% on their mortgage after a valid request to lower the rate, in violation of the SCRA.  Lenders will be required to provide any servicemember who was wrongfully charged interest in excess of 6% with a payment equal to at least four times the amount wrongfully charged.

 

Under the Department of Defense�s Homeowners� Assistance Program (HAP), some service members who are forced to sell their home at a loss due to a Permanent Change in Station (PCS) may be compensated for the loss in their home�s value.  Under this settlement, lenders will provide short sale agreements and deficiency waivers to those service members who were forced to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage due to a PCS, but who are not eligible for HAP.  This means that the benefits of that program will finally be extended to servicemembers who bought their homes between July 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008, or who received a PCS after October 1, 2010.

 

Under the settlement, lenders will pay $10 million into the Veteran’s Housing Benefit Program Fund, through which the Department of Veteran’s Affairs guarantees loans provided on favorable terms to eligible veterans.

 

The SCRA prohibits lenders from foreclosing on active duty service members without first securing a court order, but only if their loan was secured when they were not on active duty.  The settlement extends this protection to all service members, regardless of when their mortgage was secured, who within nine months of the foreclosure received Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay and were stationed away from their home.

 

Any service member who believes his or her rights were violated by Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally, Citi, or Wells Fargo can contact the Justice Department directly at 1-800-896-7743.  The Department will have access to information to determine whether or not service members are victims.