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Congress interested in reserve issues

04/08/03 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Congress has increased its focus on helping the reserve components since more than 200,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve have been mobilized for the war on terrorism.

With newly introduced bills to enhance reservists' benefits, along with the existing House Guard and Reserve Caucus plus the newly formed Senate Reserve Caucus, reserve issues have come to the forefront in Congress.

To enhance congressional efforts, Air Force Reserve Command has streamlined its process to provide timely, accurate and consistent information by offering reservists numerous pathways to surface issues and ideas.

Besides submitting initiatives through their chain of command, reservists can propose ideas through the Air Force Reserve Advisory Board and the Office of Air Force Reserve's Policy Integration Directorate in the Pentagon.

The AFRAB accepts any issue or initiative, from addressing existing situations to considering the most creative idea, allowing each reservist to be a catalyst to change.

The policy integration directorate, which goes by the designation REI, deals with all legislative issues for the command at the Air Staff level. The directorate recently expanded AFRC's Congressional Outreach program, which ensures congressional members are aware of the Air Force Reserve and its significant contributions.

REI staffers set up visits for AFRC Commander Lt. Gen. James E. Sherrard III and wing commanders with their congressional members, provide informative briefings to professional and personal staffs of congressional members and their committees, and answer questions posed by U.S. senators and representatives.

"All reservists should be aware that their voice matters because congressional members are interested in what their constituents have to say," said Wayne Gracie, director of REI. "Our goal is to facilitate communication between Air Force reservists and Congress. We have a great story to tell."

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