FRA NewsBytes - 4-25-2014

In this issue:
Veterans Omnibus Bill May be Voted on Soon
Expanded TRICARE Prime is Almost Back
One-Stop-Shop Connects Vets, Transitioning Troops, and their Spouses to Employers
TRICARE Wants Unused Prescription Drugs

Veterans Omnibus Bill May be Voted on Soon
Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, will again push for a vote next week on his veterans’ omnibus legislation: the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act” (S. 1982). An important provision in the bill expands the VA caregiver program to all who were seriously injured in the line of duty. This provision currently only applies to wounded warriors who were injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. This legislation would provide the caregiver pay, training, and relief from 24/7 care. There are many other important provisions in this legislation that include:

  • Requiring in-state tuition rates at public colleges for all student veterans using the Post 9/11GI Bill and MGIB benefits;
  • Expanding VA health care to include alternative medicine and dental care;
  • Extending access to VA health care from five years to 10 years for recently separated veterans;
  • Repealing the one-percent COLA cut for future military retirees who joined the military after January 1, 2014;
  • Improving delivery of care for veterans who experience sexual trauma while in military service;
  • Improving protections under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA);
  • Allowing two-year funding for the entire VA budget;
  • Renewing veterans retraining assistance; and
  • Allowing "Veterans Status" for reservists who served 20 years but were never mobilized.

Members are urged to use the Action Center (action.fra.org) to ask their senators to support this important legislation.

Expanded TRICARE Prime is Almost Back
More than 170,000 TRICARE Prime beneficiaries were dropped from Prime coverage and automatically enrolled onto TRICARE Standard on October 1, 2013 as required by TRICARE regional service contracts. The contracts condensed Prime Service Areas (PSA) to within 40 miles of a military hospital, clinic, or BRAC base closure site. The FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allows many beneficiaries dropped by the reduced PSA to get their Prime coverage back again. Beneficiaries that reside within 100 miles of a military medical treatment facility or live in a ZIP code that was a Prime Service Area as of Sept. 30, 2013 will have the option to re-enroll in Prime. On April 28, 2014, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) will mail re-enrollment forms to these impacted TRICARE beneficiaries. They have until June 30, 2014 to re-enroll in TRICARE Prime.

One-Stop-Shop Connects Vets, Transitioning Troops, and their Spouses to Employers
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden recently announced the launch of a new integrated employment tool to connect veterans and service members with employers, and to help translate military skills into the civilian workforce. The Veterans Employment Center, an integrated, online tool connecting veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses with both public and private-sector employers, is the result of an interagency effort to improve, simplify and consolidate the current array of employment resources for veterans. Additionally, this will provide one comprehensive database of resumes for employers who are seeking to leverage the skills and talents of veterans, service members, and their spouses.

“Our service members haven’t always had the time or information they needed to prepare their resumes, to plot their career goals, to meet with employers and get the jobs they deserve. And that’s simply not acceptable,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “As my husband has said, when you’ve fought for this country around the world, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you return home.”

“Veterans deserve an authoritative source for connecting with employers,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The online Veterans Employment Center is the single, federal source for veterans looking for new career opportunities, service members transitioning to the civilian workforce, and spouses and beneficiaries looking to connect with job opportunities.”

The Veterans Employment Center will provide employers with access to a targeted pool of resumes from veterans and transitioning service members, allowing them to search resumes to identify veterans with skill sets applicable to civilian employment at their organization, and to track progress towards reaching their veteran hiring goals.

For more information go to: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal.

TRICARE Wants Unused Prescription Drugs
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) has issued notice that TRICARE beneficiaries have a safe and easy way to dispose of expired prescription drugs. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take-back Day is Saturday, April 26, 2014. Sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for people to bring excess prescription drugs that otherwise could be abused or contaminate the environment.

During the last take-back day in October 2013, Americans disposed of more than 647,211 pounds of prescription drugs. The last seven take-back days have collected more than 3.4 million pounds of unused medication.

Prescription and over-the-counter “solid dosage” drugs—tablets and capsules—are accepted, but intravenous solutions, injectable medications and needles are not. Illegal substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are accepted.

To find a collection site click “Locate Collection Sites” at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback. Many military installations will participate in this event, including: Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Norfolk, Va.; Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; the Naval Medical Center in San Diego; and Fort Benning, Ga.

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