VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
September 23, 2011
In This Issue:
1. White House Plan a "Breach of Faith"
2. TSGLI Eligibility Expands
3. VFW Testifies on Education Fixes
4. Stop Loss Back Pay Deadline
5. TRICARE Pharmacy Rates Go Up/Down
6. Arlington Officials Report on Improvements
7. WWII B-17 Crew Reunited
1. White House Plan a "Breach of Faith":
The White House this week released a summary of the president's deficit reduction plan that would impose an initial $200 annual fee on TRICARE-for-Life recipients, increase pharmacy copayments for military dependents and retirees of all ages, and create a commission to examine overhauling the existingmilitary retirement system. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Navy Academy midshipmen on Wednesday that the full compensation package needs to be examined, including retirement pay,housing allowances, bonuses, health care and other benefits. "There are going to have to be some changes," said Adm. Mike Mullen, who is retiring Oct. 1. VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer disagrees, calling the proposals all about money and not about people. "Our nation's financial situation cannot be solved by breaking faith with those who singlehandedly fight our nations wars --- be it today or tomorrow," he said. http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/VFW-CALLS-WHITE-HOUSE-PROPOSALS-A--BREACH-OF-FAITH-/
2. TSGLI Eligibility Expands:
Effective Oct. 1, the VA will begin making retroactive payments to service members who suffered severe injuries outside a combat theater between Oct. 7, 2001, and Nov. 30, 2005, to include Guardsmen and Reservists. Thebenefit ranges from $25,000 to $100,000 for the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program, or TSGLI, which the VFW along with the (then) newly created WoundedWarrior Project were the only veterans' organizations to support back in 2005 when it went from bill to law in 28 days. The VA is encouraging those who were previously denied coverage---but believe they qualify---to resubmit their claims. Click here: http://www.insurance.va.gov/sglisite/tsgli/retro/q1.htm
3. VFW Testifies on Education Fixes:
VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci testified yesterday before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, discussing predatory schools and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The VFW is concerned that predatory schools -- particularly for-profit colleges -- have sought to reap the financial benefits of government-guaranteed programs, while failing to deliver relevant degreesor career credentials to veterans. During his remarks, Gallucci focused on the effects predatory schools have on veterans who seek to use their educational benefits, shortfalls ingovernment oversight of how the benefits are delivered, and ways in which Congress could provide proper resources and oversight to stave off predatory practices. Highlights from the hearing and a link to VFW's testimony will be available later today on www.vfwonthehill.org, and to view full video from the hearing go here: http://www.senate.gov/fplayers/jw57/urlMP4Player.cfm?fn=govtaff092211&st=1050&dur=9885
4. Stop Loss Back Pay Deadline:
After a half dozen extensions, Oct. 21 may be the last chance to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay. The reimbursement is $500 for each month or partial month served in a Stop Loss status between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. The average benefit has been more than $3,500, but won't get paid unless you apply.
5. TRICARE Pharmacy Rates Go Up/Down:
Copayments for some medications provided through TRICARE PharmacyHome Delivery are being reduced to zero, while others---depending on how you obtain your medications---will increase. Generic formulary drugs purchased through Home Delivery currently cost $3 for a 90-day supply, but as of Oct. 1, the copayment drops to zero. Other copayment changes scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1:
* Generic formulary drugs purchased at retail pharmacies will rise from $3 to $5.
* Brand name formulary drugs from retail pharmacies will rise from $9 to $12.
* Non-formulary medications will rise from $22 to $25 in both retail and Home Delivery.
The TRICARE Management Activity says brand name formulary drugs purchased through Home Delivery will have the same $9 copayment, but it's for a 90-day supply compared to only a 30-day supply when purchased at a retailpharmacy. http://www.tricare.mil/mediacenter/news.aspx?fid=736
6. Arlington Officials Report on Improvements:
This week, Arlington Cemetery officials testified beforea joint hearing of the House Armed Services Military Personnel and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees. The hearing was in response to the now infamous 2010 Army Inspector General report on deficiencies in cemetery administrative practices. U.S. Army Deputy Inspector General, Major William McCoy, Katheryn Condon, Executive Director and Patrick Hallinan, Superintendant reported that all of the issues from the 2010 report had been remedied. They also outlined several enhancements made to the cemetery's IT development programs and improvements made with regard to family response times. VFW attended the hearing and will continue to track progress of the new administrators at Arlington. To watch the recorded webcast of the hearing visit the Armed Services website at:http://armedservices.house.gov/
7. WWII B-17 Crew Reunited: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification and group burial of remains belonging to Army AirForces 1st Lt. William J. Sarsfield of Philadelphia; 2nd Lt. Charles E. Trimingham of Salinas, Calif.; Tech. Sgt. Robert L. Christopherson of Blue Earth, Minn.; and Tech. Sgt. Leonard A. Gionet of Shirley, Mass. The burial at Arlington National Cemetery reunites them with remains of five other recovered crewmembers who were buried in 1985. Their B-17 was shot down by a Japanese fighter while on a bombing mission over Rabaul, Papau New Guinea, on June 26, 1943. A tenth crewman survived the crash, but was held as a prisoner of war until his release in September 1945