SURVIVING SPOUSE CORNER: A YEAR IN REVIEW

The Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee (SSAC) began 2017 with the exciting opportunity to develop the second MOAA Virtual Chapter — following in the successful footsteps of the Uniformed Services Nurse Advocates Virtual Chapter. We completed the necessary paperwork in August and forwarded it to MOAA to be submitted to the board of directors for their approval at their February meeting.

In April, SSAC members participated in MOAA’s annual Storming the Hill event in Washington, D.C., during which we asked legislators to prevent disproportional TRICARE fee hikes, end harmful sequestration cuts, and eliminate the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset affecting 63,000 surviving military spouses or extend and increase the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) if the offset cannot be eliminated. We received positive feedback, and Congress included a provision in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that provides a permanent extension to the SSIA. We will continue to push Congress to eliminate the offset in its entirety.

We continued efforts to increase our visibility within the MOAA membership, including presentations about the SSAC at the Regional Leaders Workshop in Memphis in September and in Oklahoma City in November and the column “Your Secret Weapon” by Col. Terri Coles, USA (Ret), on page 48 of the November issue of Military Officer about the important roles of spouses and surviving spouses in local chapters.

Finally, in December, the SSAC named Shirley Phillips, of the Tucson (Ariz.) Chapter, its 2017 Surviving Spouse Liaison Excellence Award winner. 

It has been a busy and exciting year with many new and challenging opportunities for the SSAC. We look forward to 2018 with the addition of new committee members, including a new virtual position aimed at younger surviving spouses who might not be able to travel because of jobs, children, etcetera, but who are interested in working on surviving spouse issues. Applications will be on the MOAA website in January 2018, and the two-year term begins April 2018.   

SSAC member applications will be available in March 2018 on the MOAA website.  Deadline for submission is June 30, and the four-year term, with an optional two-years, begins October 2018