The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, December 5, 2002, at 2:00 PM, in . Representative Mike Weaver, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Dan Seum, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Richard Roeding, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Danny Ford, Gippy Graham, Steve Riggs, Tom Riner, Dottie Sims, and Jim Thompson.
Guests: Kathleen Welker, Mike Nelson, Kevin Kelley, and Sargent Tessie Winslow.
LRC Staff: Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Mike Bennett, Todd Stephens, and Wanda Gay.
The first item on the agenda was the approval of the minutes from the November 20th and 21st meeting. A quorum not being present, due to weather conditions, the committee deferred approval of the minutes until the next meeting.
Co-Chair Weaver introduced Brigadier General Leslie L. Fuller and asked that the briefing he had prepared to give be delayed until a later date when more members of the committee could be present. He suggested that an informal question and answer session be held instead of the full briefing.
General Fuller agreed to postpone the full briefing until more members could be present and asked if members had any questions for him.
Senator Roeding asked General Fuller if the issue of recruiters having access to high school students was moving forward. General Fuller responded by saying that those efforts were moving forward. He said very few schools were obstructing the dissemination of student lists.
Representative Graham asked General Fuller about the initial length of enlistment for a new recruit. General Fuller responded that a person could join for a minimum of two years for certain jobs. He said initial enlistment for special forces is five years.
Co-Chair Weaver said he was briefed on a new enlistment tool where a soldier enlists for under two years. He said a soldier goes through basic training, and AIT then serves for fifteen months with an eight year obligation in the reserves.
Mike Nelson, Chief, Analysis Branch, Recruiting Operations Directorate, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, responded that this new enlistment tool was created through the National Call to Service Act. The Act requires an eight year service commitment which includes a fifteen month military service obligation after training followed by twenty-four months of selective reserves or additional active duty.
Co-Chair Weaver said another option was Peace Corps or Ameri Corps. Mr. Nelson responded that after twenty-four months of service Peace Corps or Ameri Corps were options.
Co-Chair Seum asked Mr. Nelson if there would be a total of six years of reserve service. Mr. Nelson responded by saying that was correct.
Mr. Nelson said sizable incentives were being offered including a $5,000 bonus on certain enlistments and $18,000 loan repayment for college loans.
Co-Chair Seum asked General Fuller if recruiting was keeping up with the need. General Fuller responded that recruiting was keeping up with the need for new recruits.
Representative Graham asked General Fuller what the cut off age for the Army is. General Fuller responded that the cut off age is thirty-five.
Representative Graham asked General Fuller what the pay for a recruit is. General Fuller asked Sargent Tessie Winslow what the pay for a private is. She responded that the starting pay for a private is $1,022.70 per month for the first four months and $1,150.83 thereafter.
Senator Buford asked General Fuller if the other branches of service sometimes used the sign-in bonus depending on whether or not they had the number of people needed. General Fuller responded that he could not speak about the other branches of service, but that the Army met its recruiting needs in August and that the re-enlistment bonuses were not being offered at this time.
Senator Buford asked General Fuller if he had any opinion on the Iraq situation. He said that he personally believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
General Fuller responded that he supports the President and the United Nations one hundred percent.
Co-Chair Seum asked General Fuller if there were any exceptions to the Army's minimal educational requirement, a high school diploma. General Fuller responded that the Army does accept a General Education Diploma (GED) for a very small percentage in certain programs in the Army.
General Fuller asked Kevin Kelley, AUSA CORE Committee, to more fully explain educational requirements and programs.
Mr. Kelley said that the Army has a GED program for those who hold something other than a traditional high school diploma. He said that the Army is limited to 10 % of non prior service enlistments in that category. Several additional programs have been added during the last few years, such as home school. He said home school is now recognized as a diploma graduate. Mr. Kelley said those who do not have a high school diploma at all can join the Army's GED Plus Program. Those that do not have a GED Certificate are allowed to come into the Army on a deferred enlistment program where they are enrolled in a GED program. Once they obtain their GED they qualify to enter active duty.
Co-Chair Seum asked if the Army had a minimal test that must be passed before someone could join the service. Mr. Kelley responded that the regular Army did have a minimal test that must be passed, but the reserve components will bring in those who do not have a high school diploma. He said the percentage of those enlistments is small.
Co-Chair Weaver told General Fuller that as a way of assisting recruiting efforts the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 110 in 2002. House Bill 110 states that if an educational institution provides civilian recruiters with access to its campus or its students directory, then that institution must provide the same to military recruiters.
Co-Chair Weaver asked General Fuller what other steps the Kentucky General Assembly needed to take to help recruiting efforts in Kentucky.
Representative Riggs said that the Navy compiled a list every year of the schools within the state that refuse to provide recruiters access to students and student information. That list of problematic schools is then passed along to the Kentucky General Assembly, and those schools are contacted in an effort to resolve the problem. He asked General Fuller if such information was given to the Army. General Fuller responded that he had great success using the Civilian Aids to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) in such matters.
General Fuller said that if the requirement that soldiers and their families who are stationed in Kentucky have to pay out-of-state tuition at local educational institutions could be waived it would help many families. He said many soldiers and their family members wanted to attend local educational institutions in the states where they are stationed, but cannot because they are not residents of the state. Therefore they must pay out-of-state tuition.
Senator Roeding said northern Kentucky and Ohio have reciprocity which allows residents of one state to attend educational institutions in the other without paying out-of-state tuition. He said he would like to see this implemented on a national level so there would be reciprocity in every state.
Co-Chair Weaver suggested to General Fuller that he advise Army representatives to contact state Senators and Representatives to assist in solving recruiting problems. Representative Weaver stated legislation can be passed very quickly in the state legislatures. The Kentucky General Assembly can pass legislation during a 60 day Session that would take the United States Congress five years to pass.
Representative Ford said that he was concerned about the effect waiving of out-of-state tuition would have on the state's educational institutions that are located near bases. He asked how those institutions would deal with the loss of revenue. General Fuller commented that many solders and their families do not enroll in educational institutions because they have to pay out-of-state tuition. The additional students gained by waiving out-of-state tuition would offset any loss that the institutions might incur.
Kathleen Welker, US Army Recruiting Command, Command Planning Group, asked if the subject of waiving out-of-state tuition would apply to active duty regular Army personnel, Reservists, or both. Co-Chair Weaver responded that if a soldier is on active duty, he or she would qualify. Those soldiers who are in the state for short periods of time receiving training would not qualify for in-state tuition.
Kevin Kelley spoke of the difficulties recruiters have in obtaining access to schools and difficulties in obtaining lists from schools. He said recruiters gaining physical access to schools has not been much of a problem. However, obtaining a student list has been a problem. School administrators often hide behind privacy issues to justify not releasing student information lists to recruiters. Mr. Kelley said House Bill 110 clarified that student information lists shall be given to recruiters if that information is given to others. He said that those in the education community need to be made aware of their responsibility to give student information list to recruiters.
Representative Riggs said that he had assisted recruiters in the past and found that being given the student information list is more important than schools allowing physical access to students. He said school personnel can tell the recruiter that he or she would be contacted if any students were interested when in fact the student never receives any information about the serving in the military.
Senator Roeding suggested to Co-Chair Weaver that House Bill 110 be distributed to all high schools in the state of Kentucky. He also suggested adding a note informing schools that it is against the law to refuse recruiters student information lists. Senator Buford suggested that the same information be distributed by the Department of Education.
Senator Buford told General Fuller that he could contact committee staff to relay the names of schools that refuse to give recruiters student information lists so that those schools could be contacted and made aware of the law.
Senator Roeding told General Fuller that it was important for him to contact legislators and educate them on problematic issues as they arise.
Co-Chair Weaver said that he had attended a conference sponsored by the Governor's Office of Technology dealing with wireless communication between first responders. If Kentucky were to have a disaster, it is likely that more than one county would respond to that disaster. Emergency Management Personnel, fire departments, and police departments of the different counties may or may not be able to communicate with each other. Co-Chair Weaver said that interoperability among first responders was a very important issue for Kentucky. He said that this issue was being addressed on the national level as well by the Task Force on Protecting Democracy.
Representative Riner said that he was troubled by the fact that the University of Louisville School of Law allowed groups to set up information tables on campus but would not allow ROTC to have a table. Kathleen Welker responded by saying that the University of Louisville School of Law did not accept federal research funding dollars and therefore enforcement efforts to make the school comply with the law would not be successful.
Representative Graham said that this was his last meeting with the committee. He had enjoyed working with committee members. Co-Chair Seum invited Representative Graham to attend future meetings and share his knowledge and wisdom with the committee.
There being no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned.