1. Congress Approves 1.5% COLA:
Congress passed a 1.5-percent cost-of-living adjustment this week that is expected to be signed by the president. The increase would first appear in January checks and apply to about 3.7 million recipients of veterans' disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors, and pensions for low-income combat veterans. The COLA increase is automatic for Social Security and military and federal civilian retired pay recipients. New this year is the omission of a requirement that previously forced VA to round down COLA increases to the next lowest dollar, which at most would increase paychecks by 99 cents a month, or $11.88 a year.
4. VA Begins Dental Insurance Pilot Program:
VA is partnering with Delta Dental and MetLife to allow eligible veterans, plus family members receiving care under CHAMPVA, to purchase affordable dental insurance. More than 8 million veterans who are enrolled in VA healthcare can choose to purchase one of the offered dental plans. The three-year pilot program is designed for veterans with no dental coverage, or those eligible for VA dental care who would like to purchase additional coverage. According to the VA, participation will not affect anyone's entitlement to VA dental services and treatment, and there are no eligibility limitations based on service-connected disability ratings or enrollment priority assignments. People interested in participating can complete an online application through either Delta Dental, www.deltadentalvadip.org
, or MetLife, www.metlife.com/vadip
. Enrollment begins today and coverage begins Jan. 1, 2014. The program will be available throughout the United States and its territories. Read more at http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2495
5. Four MIAs Recovered:
The Defense POW/MIA Office recently announced the identifications of remains belonging to four American servicemen lost during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Recovered are:
* Army Air Force 1st Lt. Louis L. Longman, 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, was lost on April 16, 1944, in Papua New Guinea. He was accounted for on Nov. 1, 2013, and will be buried in Clinton, Iowa, next spring.
* Army Air Force Capt. Franklin B. Tostevin, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, was lost on March 20, 1945, when his F-6P aircraft crashed near Eigen, Germany. He was accounted for Oct. 30, 2013, and will be buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver on Dec. 13.
* Army Cpl. George W. Conklin Jr., Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, was lost on Dec. 3, 1950, near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He was accounted for Oct. 30, 2013, and was buried Nov. 9 in Phelps, N.Y.
* Army Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, was lost on Oct. 24, 1964, near the Cambodian border. He was accounted for on Sept. 27, 2013, and will be buried in early 2014.
Individual press releases of the four recovered MIAs should be posted soon on the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/