Newsbytes April 26, 2024

In this issue:
Respect for Grieving Military Families
TRICARE for Dependents over 18
Trust in VA Increases
Navy Struggles with Recruitment


Respect for Grieving Military Families
Senators John Cornyn (Tex.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Representatives John Garamendi (Calif.) and Mark Amodei (NV) introduced the “Respect for Grieving Military Families Act” (H.R. 3232/S.1588), which would stop the Department of Defense from clawing back deceased military retirees benefits while their families are still in mourning.

Surviving spouses who are unaware that the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) should be notified immediately on the death of the military retiree are surprised to learn of this requirement. Those who had joint bank accounts, in which retirement payments were made electronically, gave little if any thought that DFAS could swoop down and recoup any overpayments of retirement pay from such accounts. This action could easily clear the account of any funds remaining, whether they were retirement payments or money from other sources. Instead of withdrawing the payment all at once, the bill would allow a gradual repayment over 12 months and give the Secretary of Defense the option to forgive the over payment.

Members are strongly urged to use this FRA Action Center to weigh in on this issue at:


TRICARE for Dependents over 18
The “Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act” (H.R. 1045/S. 956) has been introduced in the House and Senate. This legislation will eliminate TRICARE Young Adult and allow young adults to stay on TRICARE until age 26. The House and Senate proposals would ensure access to affordable health care for military kids as they transition to adulthood, consistent with federal requirements for commercial health plans. Please ask your legislators to support this bill at:


Trust in VA Increases
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that veteran trust in VA outpatient care has increased to 91.8 percent — up from 85.6 percent in 2018 (the first year since VA began conducting this survey). Veteran trust has increased during each of the past six years. This finding is based on a survey of more than 480,000 veteran patients who received VA health care in the past 90 days. Within one week of using VA services, these veterans were asked whether

they trusted the VA for their health care needs across a variety of categories – including scheduling an appointment, health care visits, in-person pharmacy, mail-order pharmacy, labs/imaging, and veteran safety.

This survey mirrors the findings of recent independent studies. According to Medicare’s latest nationwide survey of patients, VA hospitals outperformed non-VA hospitals on all 10 core patient satisfaction metrics — including overall hospital rating, communication with doctors, communication about medication, willingness to recommend the hospital, and more. VA health care has also consistently outperformed non-VA care in peer-reviewed studies, overall quality ratings, and affordability for veterans. The VA is delivering more care and more benefits to more veterans than ever before in our nation’s history, setting an all-time record for health care provided in 2023. As veteran trust in VA has increased, more veterans have also begun to choose VA care. The VA has enrolled 401,006 veterans in VA health care over the past 365 days – 30 percent more than the 307,831 it enrolled the previous year. This is the highest number of enrollees in a single year in at least the past five years at VA, and nearly a 50 percent increase over pandemic-level enrollment in 2020. “We at VA work to earn the trust of veterans every day, in every part of the country, every time they come to us for their care,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough.

The VA’s historic health care enrollment has been made possible by the bipartisan PACT Act, which has allowed the VA to expand VA health care and benefits to millions of Veterans. VA is also conducting the most aggressive outreach campaign in its history. The VA recently expanded health care eligibility for millions of veterans nationwide, years earlier than called for by the PACT Act. As of March 5th, all veterans who were exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving in the military and met certain requirements became eligible to enroll directly in VA health care. This means that all veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11 can enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Additionally, veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty in the United States are also eligible to enroll. VA also recently expanded health care to all World War II veterans. For more information about VA care, visit


Navy Struggling with Recruitment

The Defense Department (DoD) reported that the Navy recruited only 66.5 percent of the service’s recruitment target for the first half of FY 2024. The Navy is expected to miss its recruiting FY 2024 goal by 6,700. The Army reached more than 94 percent of its recruitment target, while the Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force all either met or exceeded their recruitment targets during the same time period.

NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail us  and include your name and contact information in the body of e-mail. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number.


Follow FRA on Twitter (; Follow FRA on Instagram ( and "like" FRA on Facebook (use the shortcut of




Connect with Us