Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg
It is not an organization many people are familiar with. And yet it has been serving millions of veterans of the United States since 1929. Originally named The Retired Officers Association (TROA), in 2003 its named was officially changed to Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).
Regarding its mission, the MOAA website indicates:
MOAA is the nation’s largest and most influential association of military officers. It is an independent, nonprofit, politically nonpartisan organization. We are the leading voice on compensation and benefit matters for all members of the military community.
Members of the military community include active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired, and former commissioned and warrant officers of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, Space Force, Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Association has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and is structured with a board of directors that includes 36 MOAA members. These officers represent the uniformed services and include both retired officers and a surviving spouse. Currently, there are nearly 400 MOAA chapters and councils (a council contains three or more chapters) in the U.S. (Arizona has 10 chapters), comprised of 355,000 members, including more than 40 members who live in SaddleBrooke.
The organization ensures that the following 10 measures are maintained for its members:
1. Protect military health care benefits and address barriers to accessing care.
2. Maintain pay raises for troops, as well as cost-of-living raises for retirees.
3. Protect family support programs and ensure military-provided services (housing, permanent change of station, child care, youth programs, financial counseling).
4. Improve survivors’ benefits.
5. Work for concurrent receipt of service-earned retirement pay and VA disability pay.
6. Achieve equity of benefits, protections, and administrative support for Guard/Reserve members.
7. Protect pharmacy benefits.
8. Sustain Veterans Health Administration missions and services.
9. Reform the process to support veterans claiming service-connected disabilities for toxic exposures.
10. Protect full military honors and burial at Arlington National Cemetery for those who are eligible.
To learn more about the work that MOAA is doing locally, I sat down with Charles “Chuck” Vaughan, CAPT, USN (Retired) and President of the Catalina Mountains Chapter, in his home study.
Captain Vaughan explained that the motto of MOAA is “Never Stop Serving.” An example of this is the local chapter’s support of Esperanza En Escalante (EEE). EEE is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 1989 by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter of Tucson. Its mission is to provide transitional and permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans and veterans’ families, in addition to offering social rehabilitation for nurturing and supporting the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
The EEE home offers four separate units; one each for men, women, families, and the disabled. In addition, EEE offers veterans items needed for transitioning out of the facility (e.g., clothing, household items, etc.).
When asked why he became involved in MOAA, Captain Vaughan did not hesitate to explain, “Nothing in my career got me involved with helping people, but through Esperanza, I can offer hands-on and much-needed support.” Captain Vaughan served 37 years in the Navy as a Naval Officer. And, yes, Captain Vaughan took off and landed on an aircraft carrier many, many times. Think Top Gun.
Thank you for your continuing service, Captain Vaughan!