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Introducing our new Director of Legislation

April / May 2012 - Navy

Editor's Note: AUSN is pleased to announce that our new Director of Legislation is Mr. Anthony Wallis. His personal information is on the accompanying page. We interviewed a number of highly qualified candidates for this position, some to represent us part time and some for full time and decided that Tony was our man. He knows that he has big shoes to fill and he reported aboard on 17 February ready to go. As you will read, he has been working within The Military Coalition (TMC) for some time now for a sister organization. For two-and-a-half months, Jerry Featherstone and I have attended TMC committee meetings while our search for the Director of Legislation was ongoing. This has been beneficial to us and the Association as it has educated both Jerry and me. We will continue to work as a team with Tony on your behalf.

The President’s 2013 budget is now on the Hill and the work begins in earnest. It is the season for testimony and we look forward to our opportunities to voice your concerns and to support the Navy.

When it comes to medical care fees for retirees, “advantage DoD.” The Defense Department can raise fees for medical care if it so chooses. The only way to control or prevent such fee increases is for Congress to enact legislation which directs or prevents that DoD action. The burden then is on the retiree population to convince Congress to act. It is always an uphill struggle for the retiree. That is why you have us and that is why we need your help to influence Congress.

A well worn attorney’s line is “it all depends on whose ox is being gored.” That is certainly true when it comes to DoD decisions on active service members versus retirees. When asked about future changes to the military pay and benefits system, Secretary Panetta and others usually mention the likelihood that today’s in-uniform personnel would be grandfathered into the current system or at least have a choice between two systems. When discussing changes to retiree health care costs, however, no such consideration for those who were promised free health care for life if they completed a twenty-year career. The President’s budget calls for an enrollment fee for TRICARE For Life and some in Congress have signaled their willingness to go along. With your help, we will take a position against such fees. The budget also calls for increasing TRICARE Prime annual fees above what Congress authorized in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We need to hold the line here as well.

Those of you for whom we do not have a good e-mail address are missing out on important legislative communications. Here is a part of what we said in a recent legislative e-newsletter:

President’s 2013 budget to go to Congress on 13 February: Navy to do reasonably well but expected cuts include:

  • Retire seven cruisers early.
  • Delay SSBNX by two years.
  • Retire two LSDs early and delay replacements n LCS build two fewer over the next five years, one from each builder.
  • Build only one Virginia Class boat in 2014. n Slip LHA class one year.

As usual, the fix to budget numbers in the shipbuilding program is, retire them early and fix things in the out years. This allows new technology to be built and infused into the fleet while meeting budget restrictions. Probably a good decision on Navy’s part but early retirements and delayed replacements mean that 313 ship floor is unattainable.

AUSN active on other fronts: Aside from specific legislation that we are always working on your behalf, there are other actions that AUSN is involved in on a routine basis. Here are three such actions:

  • AUSN is a signatory to an Amicus brief filed recently with the Supreme Court in the case of the United States v. Xavier Alvarez. At issue is whether it is a crime when anyone falsely represents himself or herself to have been awarded a military decoration by Congress. AUSN believes that it is unlawful to do so.
  • AUSN is signatory to a letter from Senators Manchin, Kirk, and Testor announcing the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus. This is a Senate effort to promote the hiring of our veterans.
  • AUSN is a signatory to a letter to the U.S. Senate encouraging the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

About Anthony A. Wallis

Anthony Wallis hails from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, a small suburb north of Milwaukee. From 2001 to 2005, he attended the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities in Minneapolis, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, United States History and a minor in Spanish Studies. During that time, he started a series of internships which would later play an important part in his future career path. In 2003, Anthony began to work as one of the first groups of interns for the newly elected U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Norm Coleman, working as a Regional Affairs intern and learning about the needs of local cities and municipalities in Minnesota. His last semester at the University of Minnesota, Anthony had the opportunity to receive course credit and make strides towards his future career by interning for U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad of Minnesota’s third Congressional district from January to May of 2005. Upon his graduation in May 2005, Anthony immediately received a Staff Assistant position with his hometown Congressman, U.S. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. In August of 2005, Anthony was hired by the Historian of the U.S. House of Representative, Dr. Robert V. Remini, as a Research Assistant. Anthony served, and was promoted to Research Analyst, in the Office of the House Historian until December 2010.

While there, Anthony had the opportunity to greatly enhance his knowledge of Congressional history, procedures and protocols as well as meet influential lawmakers and heads of state by providing historical background and information. In addition, Anthony worked with the press and provided information to researchers, including military officers and associations. This peaked Anthony’s interest in national security and defense, where Anthony decided to pursue, through night courses, a degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. In the summer of 2010, Anthony received his Master’s degree from U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI. His independent research paper, Master’s paper, was called Shades of Colombia: Comparing FARC to Afghanistan, which was a concept briefly discussed in his elective courses at the National Defense University and peaked his interest. His paper was so well received that the Director of the Naval War College program in D.C. recommended it for consideration for the LT Michael P. Murphy Counterterrorism Award. Despite not receiving the award, Anthony’s interest in national security and defense grew and he actively sought opportunities to serve the national security and defense community. In December 2010, Anthony accepted a position as Air National Guard Legislative Assistant at the National Guard Association of the United States. There, Anthony served by helping to lobby for the incredible milestone in Guard history of adding the Chief of the National Guard Bureau onto the Joint Chiefs of Staff which was a provision in the FY 12 National Defense Authorization Act.

On 3 February 2012, Anthony officially accepted the position of Legislative Director for the Association of the United States Navy. Combining two of his passions, Congress and the Navy, Anthony is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in advocating on behalf of our nation’s Sailors!

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