Coalition Honors Legislative Champions

September 11, 2015

The Military Coalition (TMC) – an influential consortium of military and veterans groups co-chaired by MOAA – presented its highest leadership awards on September 10 to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) for their leadership in protecting the vital interests of servicemembers, retirees, veterans, their families and survivors. 

Senator Inhofe and Senator Mikulski were instrumental in leading the fight against privatization of the commissary benefit. The senators introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Senate’s 2016 defense bill that would prevent the Pentagon from privatizing commissaries at five major installations next year. In addition, as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mikulski fought to protect the commissary against dramatic cuts and restored $322 million in funding for the program.

As Chairman of the Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, Rep. Heck was the first line of defense to fend off cuts to military benefits and compensation. Through his leadership, the House passed a defense bill that stops a third straight year of capping military pay raises, a second year of reducing commissary funding, a second year of slowing housing allowances, and a second straight year of calls to consolidate TRICARE and significantly increase health care fees for beneficiaries.

The Coalition also presented its 2015 Freedom Award to Mr. Anthony Lazarski, a senior advisor for Sen. Inhofe. With little help, he tirelessly rallied support from other congressional offices to pass the Inhofe-Mikulski commissary amendment to the Senate’s version of the defense bill.

Col. Herb Rosenbleeth, USA (Ret), TMC President and National Executive Director of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, said, “this year’s honorees share a common passion and commitment to doing the right thing for our service men and women, retirees, veterans, their families and survivors.”

Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), TMC Co-Chair and MOAA’s Director of Government Relations said, “These legislators and staffers worked closely with all the members of the Coalition to help preserve military benefits and compensation in order to recruit, retain, and sustain the all-volunteer force.”

TMC represents the interests of more than 5.5 million members around the world, including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and retired members and veterans of the seven uniformed services, plus their families and survivors.