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TREA Legislative Update for June 23, 2006

Senate Passes its National Defense Authorization Act for 2007-Yesterday after a long debate over proposals to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq the Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, S2766, 96-0. The $517.7 billion bill for fiscal year 2007 includes numerous programs including the end of the SBP/DIC offset and a accelerated date for the paid up provision of SBP and no increases in fees for TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard for retirees under the age of 65 (as proposed by the Pentagon), and money for 2 important weapons systems (anti-missile shield and the procurement of 60 more F-22 Raptor.) The Senate’s bill also increased the power and authority of the National Guard. It directs that the head of the Guard Bureau be a four star General rather than the present three star General and it directs that the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Northern Command be a National Guard Officer. There is much more in this huge bill and we will report more details next week as we get to see them.

Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for a year of credit monitoring veterans who may be affected by data theft-The VA announced that it will provide a year credit monitoring for those who may have being among the 26.4 million records stolen last month. The VA will be soliciting bids next week for the contract. They expect to have the contract in place and an explanatory letter sent to all the effected people by mid August. If you want more information you can call either log onto www.firstgov.gov or call 1-800-333-4636 (1-800-FED INFO)

Improvement in TRICARE Pharmacy for those with Other Health Insurance (OHI)-TMA (TRICARE Management Activity) has announced an immediate improvement in its pharmacy system for those beneficiaries who have OHI. The beneficiary will no longer have to file a paper claim to Express Scripts to have TRICARE pay the claim after the other insurance company has been first payor. The Pharmacy can now make the claim electronically. This will make life much simpler and less annoying for those beneficiaries with OHI.  

HealthNet Meeting-This week TREA’s National Legislative Director, Deirdre Parke Holleman, went to a meeting concerning TRICARE in the northern region. The meeting at Ft Drum covered both the present TRICARE program in the region for all beneficiaries as well as a special focus on Ft. Drum where, after realignment, there are going to be over 30,000 beneficiaries in the deep and isolated north woods. The present coordination between the TRICARE and the civilian medical facilities and practitioners is very impressive. If any of you have questions or problems about TRICARE in the North Region please do not hesitate to call me at 800-554-8732.

Welcome Home Vietnam Vets at Branson MO.-For the second year there was a homecoming reunion at Branson MO. The reunion has held from June 12-17. TREA’s National President LeRoy Riddell, First Vice President Patrick Corbett, VSO Officer C.D. Rice, John Moore of Chapter 123 and Weldon Roberts of Chapter 100, and National Legislative Director Deirdre Parke Holleman had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of Veterans and Retirees about TREA as well as retiree and veterans programs and needs.

Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Program-The Small Business Administration has a new program to set aside some federal contracts for small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled programs. On Thursday TREA’s National Legislative Director, Deirdre Parke Holleman, attended a SBA sponsored roundtable explaining the program. It is a complicated program to get your arms around but if you think you may be interested in qualifying for this business please do not hesitate to call our Washington Office and we will try and find the information you may need.   

Commissaries ask Military Families to stock Up-The Defense Commissary asked that Military Families remember to stock up on necessities to prepare for emergencies. DeCA along with the Red Cross is having a month long campaign to try and help families to be prepared for any type of emergency that may come up. Their article is reprinted below:    


Commissaries Remind Customers to be Prepared With Essentials

By Capt. Audricia McKinney and Bonnie Powell
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT LEE, Va., June 5, 2006 – Military families are being encouraged to "load up their pantries" as the Defense Commissary Agency launches an awareness campaign encouraging military families to keep nonperishable foods, water and other necessities on hand for emergencies.

DeCA is teaming up with the Armed Forces Emergency Services Branch of the American Red Cross to raise awareness of disaster preparedness throughout the military community.

The "What's in Your Closet?" campaign kicks off this month and is intended to get military families thinking about how prepared they are for a disaster. Customers will see posters and handouts in stores, and reminder buttons on employees. With the June 1 start of hurricane season, military families in coastal areas at home and abroad need to be ready, said Patrick Nixon, chief executive officer and acting director of the Defense Commissary Agency. "We want to raise awareness of the need to keep emergency supplies on hand -and that shoppers can realize savings of 30 percent or more by using their commissary benefit to supply their emergency closet," he added.

The media has also heightened awareness of the possibility of a pandemic, an outbreak of infectious disease that has the potential to spread worldwide.

"Disasters can take on many forms," said Joseph Moffat, executive director, Armed Forces Emergency Services. "From blackouts to blizzards, to tornadoes and earthquakes, everyone should be prepared with enough emergency supplies to last seven days." Toward that end, Nixon said, posters in commissaries will list suggestions of supplies to have on hand. "The commissary disaster preparedness posters have a list of basic items people might want to consider," he said. "But there may be many more items such as shelf-stable milk or favorite snacks that people might want to include. This is simply intended to get people thinking and get them to take action -now."

Red Cross representatives will have the opportunity to provide commissary customers with information and answer questions about disaster preparedness. The type of information and events offered will vary according to location, and in some cases customers will also have the opportunity to sign up for volunteer services and classes, such as first aid or disaster preparedness, DeCA officials said.