FRA NewsBytes – 5-24-13

fra_logo_tr-c6-opt1In this week’s edition:
House Subcommittee Rejects Pay Cap, Higher Health Care Fees
House and Senate Approve Stolen Valor Act
TRICARE Prime West Region Referral Waiver Extended
Memorial Day Observances
House Subcommittee Rejects Pay Cap, Higher Health Care Fees

The House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Military Personnel marked up its portion of the House version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R.1960) this week. The panel rejected the Administration’s request to establish an enrollment fee for TRICARE-for-Life (TFL) and TRICARE Standard beneficiaries and increase TRICARE Prime enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays. The subcommittee approved a 1.8-percent military pay raise for FY 2014 to keep pace with non-military salary increases, despite only a one-percent increase requested in the Pentagon’s budget proposal. These are major legislative victories for FRA, however the battle to halt drastic increases to TRICARE fees, provide an active duty pay raise that’s at least equal to the Employment Cost Index (ECI) and protect other benefits is just beginning. It’s clear that FRA shipmates’ voices are being heard on Capitol Hill.

The subcommittee’s mark also includes provisions that would prohibit command authorities from dismissing all but minor sexual offenses from a court martial and/or reducing a guilty finding in a sexual assault case to a lesser offense. Numerous amendments on sexual assault are expected to be offered when the full House Armed Services Committee marks up the bill in two weeks.

Other provisions include:

  •    Reducing overall military endstrength by more than 40,000, including a 7,100 reduction in Marine Corps manpower. (The Navy’s manpower would increase by 900);
  •    Mandating minimum notification of 120 days for mobilization of Reserve units;
  •    Protecting child-custody arrangements while a military parent is on deployment;
  •    Expanding Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) mortgage protections for service members, surviving spouses, and veterans;
  •    Providing $25 million in Impact Aid for public schools impacted by military population; and
  •    Prohibiting another round of base closures and realignments (BRAC).

    The Senate Armed Services’ Personnel Subcommittee begins markup of the Senate’s version of the bill on June 11, 2013. Once both chambers approve their respective versions of the NDAA, a conference committee will be appointed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills.  Members are urged to use the Action Center at to share their views with lawmakers on these and other pending issues that impact their earned benefits.

    For more details, read Tom Philpott’s syndicated “Military Update” column (5-23-2013) at§ion=news

    House and Senate Approve Stolen Valor Act
    The House and Senate approved the FRA-supported “Stolen Valor Act” this week and the measure now awaits White House approval. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck (Nev.), protects the integrity of military awards by making it a crime to knowingly benefit from fraudulent claims of military decorations. In June of 2012, the Supreme Court (United States v. Alvarez) overturned a previous Stolen Valor law on the grounds that it infringed on constitutionally-protected free speech.

    This bill makes a key change to the previous language that should withstand constitutional scrutiny because the legislation narrowly focuses on those who seek to benefit from their misrepresentations of military awards  not the lie itself. FRA thanks the nearly 1,600 shipmates who contacted their senators on short notice this week, urging them to “fast-track” the bill for rapid approval by the full Senate. Your efforts paid dividends!

    TRICARE Prime West Region Referral Waiver Extended
    TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) recently announced the continuation of referral waivers for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries in the TRICARE West Region. The waiver period, which was originally slated to end on May 18th, has been extended through June 18, 2013.  The waiver suspends the requirement that all referrals be approved by United Healthcare before the beneficiary could obtain specialty care. United is the new administrator for TRICARE’s West Region and has made progress in reducing the backlog of referral requests since the initial waiver was announced. The extension will allow more time to process existing referrals and ensure beneficiaries are seen by specialists in a timely manner.

    The waiver applies to referrals obtained from April 1 through June 18, 2013, for care expected to be received through August 18, 2013. While United Healthcare continues to clear its backlog of referrals, Prime enrollees in the West Region who get a referral from their Primary Care Manager (PCM) will still be able to seek TRICARE-covered services from a network specialist. This authorization waiver is only for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries in the West Region. Additional information is available at

    Memorial Day Observances
    Shipmates across the country will participate in Memorial Day ceremonies to pay tribute to America’s fallen heroes.

    FRA’s East Coast Regional President Donald Hoover will represent National President Mark Kilgore at Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, May 27. He will join other national leaders in honoring the men and women who have died in service to our nation by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
    Branches from the East Coast Region’s Central Liaison Committee are sponsoring a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., at 10:00 AM on Monday, May 27.

    On Saturday and Sunday (May 25 and 26), shipmates from around the D.C. area and members of the FRA National Headquarters (NHQ) team will staff an information booth at Rolling Thunder, an annual motorcycle tribute in the nation’s capital to ensure that Vietnam POWs and MIAs are not forgotten.

    FRA NHQ will be closed on Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.