From – naus.org
Senate Continuing Work on NDAA
After approving several amendments, the Senate ended work for this week on its version of the NDAA (S. 1376) on Thursday. With potentially hundreds of amendments to be offered, work will continue on the NDAA next week.
Actions taken include the defeat of an amendment from Sen. Shaheen (D-NH) that would have changed the definition of “spouse” to provide veterans’ benefits for same-sex couples in all States. Additionally an amendment from SASC Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), that prohibits the military from paying NFL teams and other organizations to honor service members at sporting events, was approved. Senate leaders believe they can finish work on the bill by the end of next week.
The House completed its version (HR 1735) May 15.
House Advances Fiscal 2016 Defense Spending Bill
On a voice vote Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill to fund military operations, readiness, and health and quality-of-life programs for the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families. The bill will now head to the House floor for consideration.
In total, the bill provides $578.6 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $24.4 billion above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $800 million above the President’s request.
One of the highlights of the personnel and pay section is the NAUS endorsed decision to fully fund the authorized 2.3 percent pay raise for the military, instead of 1.3 percent as requested by the President and proposed in the Senate. Also unlike the Senate, the House bill would provide full funding for the commissary program and full funding to maintain 100 percent of troop housing costs through the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
“Threats to our country and on our people continue to grow,” said Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). “This bill ensures that our military remains the best in the world, and that they are ready and able to protect all of us from those that wish to do harm.”
Senate Introduces Annual COLA Bill
Senators Johnny Isakson, (R-GA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CO), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced bipartisan legislation to increase veterans disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Act (S.1493) would increase the rates of VA disability compensation, dependency compensation for surviving children and spouses, and the clothing allowance for veterans based on rising costs of living.
This cost-of-living adjustment, which is equal to the amount of the adjustment given to Social Security recipients, is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index on a yearly basis. The amount, if an increase, is determined by mid-October and would go into effect for veterans on December 1, 2015.
The companion bill in the House is H.R. 675, introduced by Reps. Ralph Lee Abraham (R-LA) and Dina Titus (D-NV).
DoD to Investigate Causes of Recent Live Anthrax Shipments
The DoD announced that Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics acquisitions, will lead a comprehensive review of DoD laboratory procedures, processes and protocols associated with inactivating spore-forming anthrax.
On June 3, DoD ordered a comprehensive review of DoD laboratory procedures, processes, and protocols associated with inactivating spore-forming anthrax. The focus of the DoD investigation is on the root cause for the incomplete inactivation of anthrax samples at DoD laboratories, and why post-inactivation sterility testing did not detect the presence of live anthrax, as well as reviewing existing biohazard safety protocols and procedures prior to inadvertent shipments.
As part of the DoD review of these processes, more than 400 batches are being tested to determine how many lots were not completely inactivated.
OPM to Notify Federal Employees
The Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday that next week it would begin sending 4 million current and former federal employees notifications that their personal information has been breached in a massive hacking incident that investigators discovered in April.
In an announcement posted on its website, OPM said that beginning June 8 and continuing through June 19, the agency will send notifications to the millions of people whose personal data was compromised in the breach.
“The email will come from email@example.com and it will contain information regarding credit monitoring and identity theft protection services being provided to those federal employees impacted by the data breach,” OPM said in the announcement.
Former and current federal employees from all parts of the government and even the military may be affected.
HEALTH CARE NEWS
TRICARE Reminder: Always Obtain Preauthorization
A prior authorization (or preauthorization) is an approval for a prescribed procedure, health care service or medication before you receive the care. If you’re enrolled in a TRICARE Prime plan, your primary care manager (PCM) will work with your regional contractor for the prior authorization. For all other plans, you need to contact your regional contractor for prior authorization.
Each TRICARE region contractor has their own process on how prior authorizations are managed. You can see a list of services that require prior authorization on the TRICARE website. The site also has links to the regional contractor websites to see region-specific requirements. Prior authorization applies to more than 80 drugs under the pharmacy benefit. You work with your doctor to get the prior authorization, which is typically good for one year. You can check the status of your request for prior authorization on your regional contractor’s website, which can be found on TRICARE’S View My Referrals/Authorizations webpage.
Aspen Dental Offers Free Care For Veterans on June 27
Aspen Dental is offering free dental care to veterans at 300 Aspen practices in 31 States on June 27 as part of the Aspen Dental’s Healthy Mouth Movement. The June 27 day of free service is expected to be the largest single day oral health initiative targeted at veterans.
For more information, visit this website. Interested veterans should call 1-844-ASPENHMM (1-844-277-3646) to find a participating office and schedule an appointment in advance.
Veterans are urged to make appointments since walk-ins are not guaranteed to get treatment.
ACTIVE DUTY NEWS
Sailors Reminded to Return Health Records
Sailors are being reminded to personally ensure their medical and dental records are available to the VA by returning them to their medical treatment facility at retirement or separation.
Before a sailor separates or retires, commanding officers and officers in charge are responsible for ensuring that the medical department or medical treatment facility knows the sailor is separating or retiring, and that their Service Treatment Records (STR), medical and dental records, are at the appropriate medical and dental facilities. This guarantees that the records will be available to the VA and could speed any claims you may have with the VA.
Medical departments or medical treatment facilities annotate on command/organization check-out sheets the disposition of the STR. For more information, contact the NPC Customer Service Center at 1-866-827-5672/DSN: 882-5672.
Navy Implementing New Initiatives for Promotion
The Navy is making progress with the implementation of a series of new personnel initiatives allowing Navy officers and enlisted sailors more opportunities for promotion and offering a wider range of long-term career options for those who stay in the service.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus addressed the initiatives, referred to as the Meritorious Advancement Program and Career Intermission Program, in a recent speech.
“We are moving out to make those tenets a reality in the fleet,” said Navy Cmdr. Chris Servello, spokesman for the Chief of Naval Personnel.
The Meritorious Advancement Program, or MAP, is designed to give commanding officers in the Navy a greater ability to decide who gets picked for promotion instead of relying on traditional advancement tests.
The new MAP program, to go into effect by July 1 of this year, gives commanders greater authority to promote the best and brightest within their command ahead of the test.
“We think that commanding officers ought to be able to recognize and promote their best and brightest ahead of the twice a year test – should they deem it appropriate,” Servello explained.
In addition, the new MAP program will add new promotion quota numbers to some shore-based commands and also allow commands to give back unused promotion quotas so that other commands can make use of them.
“Last year anywhere from one-third to 50-percent of the quotas went unused. Commands will now be able to give back quotes they have not used and commands will be able to petition for additional quotas,” Servello said.
Women Veterans Events
The VA announced it will conduct a series of one-day events to raise awareness and celebrate the stories of women veterans.
The events, to be held in five locations across the country, will provide an overview of services and benefits available to women veterans. Experts will be available to answer veterans’ questions, and exhibitors will share information on their many resources.
VA staff, as well as local community supporters and agencies that assist women veterans, will be available for face-to-face interaction. All VA facilities are being encouraged to participate in activities to celebrate and honor the women who answered the nation’s call.
The scheduled events and local activities are part of a new national VA campaign, Women Veterans: Celebrating Our Stories of Service, which launched in late March 2015. The vision for the national VA campaign was born out of the realization that when our women veterans from all eras and generations surrender the uniform, they retain the intangible—that combination of resolute resilience and the unbeatable skills they will incorporate into their reintegration and readjustment process. Through this campaign, CWV will be engaged in going to these women veterans to raise the awareness of VA’s commitment to them, and to facilitate the conversation around what more needs to be done in serving the unique needs of women veterans.
The sessions for women Veterans will be held between June and September at the following locations:
St. Petersburg, FL – June 12, 2015
San Diego (Oceanside), CA – July 10, 2015
Houston, TX – August 7, 2015
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – September 14, 2015
Washington, DC – September 22, 2015
Women veterans represent one of the fastest growing segments of the veterans population—about 9.2 percent of the total veterans population. Today there are an estimated 2 million women veterans nationwide.
For more information about VA’s Women Veterans Campaign and VA’s commitment to women veterans, visit this website.
House Passes Bill to Assist in Veterans Employment
The House of Representatives recently approved the Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act or “BRAVE Act.” The BRAVE Act (HR 1382) authorizes the VA to give preferences to companies that employ veterans on a full-time basis in awarding contracts for the procurement of goods and services.
The bi-partisan legislation would also allow the VA to bar employers who willfully misrepresent the veteran status of employees from contracting with the VA for five or more years. The BRAVE ACT has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for further action. A copy of the BRAVE Act is available on the Congress website.
Photos of Wisconsin Veterans on Vietnam Memorial Wall Sought
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation project “Faces Never Forgotten” needs help obtaining missing photos of Vietnam veterans from Wisconsin. More than 1,000 photos of Wisconsin natives have been found. But, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association is seeking help to find four last photos of fallen Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans.
The names are Willie Bedford, Milwaukee; Rudolph Valenta, Milwaukee; Carl L. Crowley, Milwaukee; and Terrence Jay Freund, Kenosha. Contact Andrew Johnson, publisher of The Dodgeville Pioneer, at 920-387-2211 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have photographs of any of these four Wisconsin veterans.
Veterans Benefit Assistance in Wyoming
A State of Wyoming Veterans Service Officer from the Wyoming Veterans Commission will conduct community outreach services in Wyoming cities throughout June.
Vicki Richards is available to meet with veterans and their families to discuss State and federal veterans benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs claims, or VA healthcare. Richards can also help veterans and their families apply for benefits, file claims or request health care.
A list of dates and locations where Richards will be available is on the KGWN-TV website. Contact Vicki Richards at 307-214-2112 to schedule an appointment.
Gift Contributions to NAUS are Tax-Deductible
If you made any Gift Contributions to NAUS since Jan. 1, 2014, we want to remind you that they are Tax-Deductible!
In order to maintain our tax-free status on gifts we need to maintain our membership level of 90 percent war service veterans. If you have not yet informed NAUS HQ of your dates of service please call or email your dates as soon as possible.
SMW LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE CALL
DATE: Wednesday, June 24
TIME: 8:00 p.m. (2000) ET (adjust according to your zone)
CALL: 1-712-432-1212 Access code: 227-271-456#