"Latest Update from National Headquarters"

January 17, 2020

The FRA Launched Its 2020 Survey on Military, Veterans Benefits
YOU are an important component of FRA's Legislative Team! As part of our mission to fight for the concerns of enlisted personnel on Capitol Hill, the FRA is conducting an online survey to determine which military and veterans' benefits are most important to active duty and reserve personnel, retirees, veterans and their families. The brief survey is available online.

The survey asks current and former members of the uniformed services and their spouses to rate the importance of various benefits and quality-of-life programs associated with their service to our nation.

The FRA shares the results with elected officials on Capitol Hill, key committee staff and with leaders within the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs-ensuring these crucial decision-makers understand the enlisted sea service perspective.

Visit the FRA webpage and click "take the survey" to let us know which military and veteran benefits are most important to you!

The FRA Weighs in on ANC Burial Restrictions
The FRA recently surveyed its members regarding proposed changes to eligibility criteria for burial at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) that will include military retirees for above-ground inurnment. The survey was done in response to numerous calls from members who are upset about the changes. The FRA will share these survey results with the ANC, and key legislators. The results are as follows:
Should FRA oppose a regulation that prohibits in ground burial for retirees with no combat experience?
YES: 54%     NO: 28%     Undecided/Unsure/Don't care: 18%

Many retirees believe that twenty or more years of arduous military service has earned them the option to be provided an in-ground burial at ANC. Members can use the FRA Action Center to weigh in on this issue.

House Passes Joint Resolution to Start Pilot Program for Veteran Dental Care
The House suspended the rules and passed H.J. Res.80, sponsored by House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Phil Roe (Tenn.), to approve a request from the Department of Veterans Affairs to pursue a pilot program that increases veteran access to dental care. Currently, only eight percent of veterans have dental coverage from the VA for service-connected dental problems. The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration. H.J. Res. 80 would approve the request.
Section 152 of the FRA-supported MISSION Act created a VA Center for Innovation for Care and Payment to test new payment and service delivery models that could increase the quality of care for the veterans while reducing taxpayer spending. The law requires the VA to submit a report to Congress requesting the waiver of any such authorities necessary for carrying out an innovative pilot program and requires that Congress pass a Joint Resolution approving the VA's request. The program will be limited to five years and must obtain appropriations funding.  

On Dec. 6, 2019, the VA submitted a request to Congress asking to pursue the pilot program to increase access to dental care for veterans. They entered into arrangements with community dentists who agreed to provide free or discounted services to veterans who are enrolled in the VA healthcare system but are not eligible for VA-provided dental care. The request would allow administrative staff in VA medical facilities to educate veterans about their options in the community and to coordinate the dental care, as needed. Oral health is an important component of overall health.  Connecting veterans, who cannot get dental care in VA facilities, with free or low-cost dental care would allow veterans to live better, healthier lives. 

IRS Free File Offers Free Tax Prep Options for Military Personnel
The Internal Revenue Service wants active duty military personnel to know that IRS Free File offers them multiple options for free federal tax preparation.

Free File is for individuals or families whose adjusted gross income was $69,000 or less in 2019. Free File is a private-public partnership between the IRS and the Free File Inc.

"The IRS takes special steps to help military members and their families with their taxes, and the Free File program is part of that effort," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Almost 10% of the IRS workforce are veterans. We greatly appreciate the service to the nation of every veteran and their supportive families, and we will do all we can to assist them."

For active duty military and their spouses, Free File has a special offer. Individuals and their families who meet the income limitation may choose from nine companies, without regard to additional eligibility requirements.

The nine special offers are fromP: 1040Now, Inc.; FileYourTaxes.com; Free tax Returns.com; H&R Block; On-Line Taxes, Inc.; Tax ACT; TaxHawk, Inc.; TaxSlayer (English and Spanish) and TurboTax.

Active duty military who are stationed in combat zones, have more time to file their tax returns. However, those with spouses and families may opt to file as soon as they can to claim various tax benefits for which they may be eligible. If only one spouse is present to file a joint return, they must have proper authorization to file a joint tax return on behalf of their spouse.

The IRS will begin processing tax returns on January 27. With Free File, you can use any digital device, personal computer, tablet or smart phone. Free File products are mobile enabled so you can do your taxes on your smart phone or tablet and e-file with your mobile device.

Here is how Free File works:
  1. Go online to see all Free File options.
  2. Military personnel who meet the income requirement can select from any of the nine providers that have "Free for Active Military for Adjusted Gross Income of $69,000 or less" in their offer. Nine of the 10 partners are making the offer. One product is in Spanish.
  3. Select a provider and follow the links to their web page to begin your tax return.
  4. Complete and e-file your tax return only if you have all the income and deduction records you need. The fastest way to get a refund is by filing electronically and selecting direct deposit. If you owe, use direct pay or electronic options.
Generally, each Free File partner sets additional eligibility requirements that civilian taxpayers must meet. Non-military personnel should use the "look up" tool online to find the best match. Military members can get more information on their special tax benefits online. Free File is available now through October to accommodate taxpayers who file for an extension filers

NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail us  and include your name and contact information in the body of e-mail. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number as well. To unsubscribe, please respond to this email with "unsubscribe" in the message line.

Members are encouraged to voice their opinion on pertinent issues by visiting our  FRA Action Center.

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FRA has represented the interests of current, retired, reserve and veteran Sea Services personnel and their families for over 90 years. If you are not a member and are eligible, please click here to head to our website. The larger the membership base, the louder your voice is heard on Capitol Hill.


"National Headquarters Staff Listing"

General FRA E-mail - news-fra@fra.org

1 National Executive Director - Christopher J. Slawinski: nedfra@fra.org, ext. 101

2 Finance Officer - Brian Proctor: finance@fra.org, ext. 102

3 Accounting - Misrak A. Zeleke, Senior Accountant: misrak@fra.org, ext. 114

4 Administration - Teresa Wiener, Director: adminfra@fra.org, ext. 103

5 Call Program Rep- Amanda Boehm: amandab@fra.org,ext 112

6 Communications & Marketing - William D. Stevenson, Director: williams@fra.org, ext. 126

7 Database Manager - Sameer N Mulla: sameer@fra.org, 109

8 IT Operations - Sami A Alsamawi, Manager: IT@fra.org, ext. 119

9 Legislative Programs - John Davis, Director: john@fra.org, ext. 110

10. Communications & Marketing - Victoria Duran, Manager: victoriad@fra.org, ext. 124

11. Member Services - Shirley Moore, Manager: shirley@fra.org, ext. 120

12. Membership-Christina Hitchcock-Director-Christina@fra.org, ext.123

13. Scholarship Administrator: scholars@fra.org

Recruiting Materials:

13. Member Services, fra@fra.org, (800) FRA-1924

To order items for sale (membership pins, etc):

14. Donna Simms: DonnaS@fra.org, ext. 117

15. Mail Services - Jimmy Short: jimmy@fra.org, ext. 116

FRA National Headquarters
125 N. West Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-2754

Send questions and comments to news-fra@fra.org or call (800) FRA-1924.


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**~**Virginia Beach Branch 166 **~**