Newsbytes March 8, 2024

In this issue:
FRA Advocates for Concurrent Receipts
FRA NP to Testify before Congress
Tricare Home Delivery Changes
Shutdown Averted


FRA advocates for Major Richard Star Act on Capitol Hill 
FRA's Assistant, Legislative Director Theo Lawson, was among a coalition of veteran and military organizations on Capitol Hill to advocate for the Major Richard Star Act on March 5th as reported in last week's NewsBytes. This crucial legislation, boasting 326 sponsors in the House and 72 in the Senate, seeks to end the offsetting of retirement pay by disability compensation for combat-injured retirees, while also addressing the pressing recruitment crisis within the armed forces. 

Amid bipartisan support and robust backing, the coalition emphasized the immediate need to alleviate financial burdens faced by combat-injured retirees. By rectifying this long-standing injustice, the bill not only honors the sacrifices of these veterans but also serves as a beacon of hope for those considering military service. 

During the advocacy day, lawmakers from all political affiliations expressed their commitment to advancing to the finish line. Recognizing its potential to enhance recruitment and retention, especially amidst the ongoing crisis, legislators emphasized the critical importance of supporting those who have served. 

The event culminated in a press conference, where the coalition reiterated its steadfast dedication to the bill. Public engagement is encouraged through viewing the press conference at and members can help by contacting their legislators using the action center


FRA NP to Testify before Congress

The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) National President John Handzuk will join representatives from other Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) on March 13th to testify before a joint House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on key legislative priorities.

The hearing, scheduled for 10:00 AM EST, will see the FRA and other VSOs advocate for veterans on a wide range of issues, including:

  • The PACT Act: Ensuring veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins receive the healthcare and benefits they deserve.
  • Concurrent Receipts with emphasis on the Major Richard Star Act: Simplifying the way the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) calculates disability compensation, ensuring veterans don't face financial penalties for receiving both military retirement and VA benefits.
  • Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM): Advocating for a robust and secure EHRM system to streamline veterans' access to quality healthcare. Particularly fixing challenges currently facing the implementation and roll out. 
  • Veteran Homelessness: Pushing for effective solutions to end veteran homelessness in the United States.
  • Suicide Prevention: Highlighting the importance of mental health resources and suicide prevention programs for veterans.
  • Arlington National Cemetery Expansion: Supporting efforts to expand Arlington National Cemetery to ensure veterans have a final resting place with dignity.

The FRA remains committed to fighting for the rights and benefits of all veterans. The public can view the hearing live on March 13th at link to hearing: Watch


Tricare Home Delivery Changes
Attention to retirees using Tricare Home Delivery specialty pharmacy services: Starting March 1, Accredo will be assuming these duties. Notices via email and/or USPS should have been received regarding this transition. For more information about this change and if you have any questions, please visit: Accredo

Express Scripts, part of the Cigna Group, which provides home delivery services to active-duty individuals, dependents, and military retirees, offers a crisis call line tailored for first responders and veterans. During a presentation attended by the FRA NED Phillip Reid, Express Scripts representatives highlighted this resource, emphasizing its availability for a wide range of concerns. 

When asked about what issues veterans should refrain from calling about, the Express Scripts representative reassured that veterans can call about anything. Trained personnel are on standby to assist, redirecting inquiries if necessary. 

The exchange between the NED and the representative underscored the versatility of the hotline. The NED's inquiry about which issues veterans shouldn't call about prompted a resounding response from the representative: "Call about anything! We have great people answering the phones and if they don’t know the answer, they will direct you to someone who does." 

It's worth noting that while most calls received are from first responders, veterans significantly outnumber them. Don't hesitate to utilize this service if you need assistance of any kind. Call 855-244-6211. Help a fellow veteran by sharing this number: 855-244-6211. 


Government Funding Secured, Shutdown Averted 
Lawmakers passed a comprehensive spending package securing funding for most government agencies through September 30th, 2024. This agreement avoids a potential partial government shutdown that had been a concern in recent weeks. 

The legislation ensures continued funding for essential services, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Military retirement pay and Tricare benefits will continue as scheduled. The VA will remain fully operational, processing benefit applications and providing healthcare services to veterans. 

The passage of this spending package eliminates the immediate threat of a shutdown but does not address long-term funding concerns. Negotiations leading up to the agreement were reportedly tense, highlighting potential challenges for future appropriations bills.


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.


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