FRA NewsBytes – 10-04-13

 

Newsbytes 10-04-13

Newsbytes 10-04-13

In this week’s edition:
The Impact of the Government Shutdown
TMC Honors Lawmakers, Congressional Staff
White House Joining Forces/Military Family Summit
DHA Reminds Beneficiaries to get a Flu Shot
The Impact of the Government Shutdown
Despite the government shutdown that began on October 1, President Obama signed into law legislation (H.R. 3210 – P.L. 113-39) that funds pay for the military until January 1, 2015. During past government shutdowns, military personnel have continued to be paid because they were deemed “essential employees.” This legislation clarifies that active duty personnel will continue to be paid.

According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), military retirees and survivors will continue to be paid. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) indicated that TRICARE claims will be paid, but if beneficiaries are using a Military Treatment Facility (MTF) they may find that hours of operation have been reduced. Those TRICARE beneficiaries receiving care from civilian health care providers should not notice any interruption in service due to the shutdown.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits will continue to be paid at least through the end of October. Care for veterans receiving treatment at a VA hospital or clinic will continue because that portion of the budget is funded in advance for two-year periods. The Board of Veterans Appeals has stopped issuing decisions, however, and interments at national cemeteries will be conducted on a reduced schedule.

Stateside commissaries have been closed, and the decision to keep child care centers on military bases open is determined on a case-by-case basis by the base commander. Budgetary uncertainty has created significant anxiety within every facet of the military community.

Members can use the FRA Action Center to ask their elected officials to rise above partisan differences and reopen the government.
http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62956831

For more information on the impact of the shutdown go to:
http://www.dfas.mil/pressroom/govtshutdown/crafaq

For more information regarding the impact of the shutdown on VA services go to:
http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/Field_Guide_20130927.pdf

TMC Honors Lawmakers, Congressional Staff
The Military Coalition (TMC) presented its annual Awards of Merit to Senators Jack Reed (R.I.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) in a Capitol Hill ceremony this week, honoring their respective efforts on behalf of the uniformed services community. The three senators were recognized for their leadership in cosponsoring a bi-partisan alternative amendment to protect military beneficiaries against large increases in healthcare and pharmacy fees proposed by the Department of Defense in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

NED Joe Barnes, TMC co-chair, said “We’re extremely gratified and proud to honor Senators Reed, McCaskill and Rubio for their tremendous leadership in supporting the entire uniformed service community. They went above and beyond to preserve a strong TRICARE benefit for service members, retirees, their family members and survivors.”

The Coalition also presented its 2013 Freedom Award to Bob Simmons, staff director of the House Armed Services Committee and top advisor to Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon (Calif.), who chairs the committee. Simmons has consistently worked with Coalition representatives to brainstorm solutions to contested personnel issues and identify an offset to TRICARE fee increases in 2012, as well as to reject increases proposed by the Pentagon for 2013.

FRA is a leading member of TMC, which is currently comprised of 33 military and veterans groups that work together to advance legislation beneficial to military personnel, veterans, families and survivors. Joe Barnes, FRA’s national executive director, co-chairs the Coalition and FRA staff members serve in other TMC leadership positions.

White House Joining Forces/Military Family Summit
FRA attended the Joining Forces and Military Summit at the White House this week. Joining Forces is a comprehensive national effort to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. The initiative is spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who was on hand to welcome summit participants. Holly Petraeus, assistant director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), addressed the attendees to explain the agency’s efforts to educate the active duty military on the pitfalls of personal finance and enforcement of the Military Lending Act (MLA) and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Also speaking at the summit were Rosemary Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, who is responsible oversight of all community support to service members and their families, and Dr. Jan Kemp, associate director at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), who explained VA mental health efforts to help veterans.

DHA Reminds Beneficiaries to get a Flu Shot
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) reminds TRICARE beneficiaries that the flu affects millions of men, women and children each year. Flu season usually begins in October, so now is a great time to protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot. TRICARE covers both the flu shot and flu mist. Beneficiaries may be able get their flu vaccine, at no cost, from a military treatment facility, hospital, or from a pharmacist at one of the 45,000 network pharmacies that administer vaccines to TRICARE beneficiaries. Find a participating pharmacy at www.express-scripts.com/tricare/pharmacy, or by calling Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303.