The national president and CEO of the Military Officers Association of America addressed the local Central Texas chapter of the organization during its monthly meeting on Thursday at the Shilo Inn in Killeen.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, the ninth president of MOAA, discussed key issues the organization has been addressing with Congress on behalf of the armed forces. Issues like retiree healthcare, annual compensation for service members and survivor benefits.

“The number one issue is pay compensation, the ability to compensate our service members equitably for what they’re doing,” Atkins said.

Atkins said it comes down to recruitment and retention and being able to maintain troop levels in an all-volunteer force.

“Obviously, if you don’t pay them well then you don’t retain them, and you don’t recruit them,” Atkins said.

Another priority addressed service members who are medically discharged, but not retirement eligible. Atkins said his organization wants to have the law changed so that a person who served 19 years in the military and was medically discharged would receive retirement pay and disability compensation.

Another law Atkins said he was working to change deals with the Survivor Benefits Plan annuity and Dependency Indemnity Compensation offset, commonly referred to as the “widows tax.”

Atkins said the current law does not allow eligible survivors to receive both claims if their service member paid into the benefits plan and their loss of life was service connected, a loss of approximately $15,000 a year.

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