Newsbytes May 3, 2024

In this issue:
Military Retirees to Join DoD Civilian Jobs Without Delay
VA Expands Benefits for Veterans with OTH
VA to Expand CHAMPVA 
SCOTUS Rules Veterans GI Bill

Military Retirees to Join DoD Civilian Jobs Without Delay
Pending legislation in both the House and the Senate (H.R. 939/S. 344) seeks to repeal the requirement that military retirees wait 180 days before entering civilian service in General Schedule (GS) positions within the Department of Defense (DoD) for GS-13 and below. The Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Authorization bill included a temporary 3-year pilot program for depots and industrial activities. The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) welcomed this improvement but noted that more needs to be done.

The 180-day waiting period has resulted in hiring delays for DoD officials, who are already dealing with outdated hiring processes. Members of the public can express their support or concerns about this issue by visiting the following link:

VA Expands Benefits for Veterans with Other-than-Honorable Discharges
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has introduced new rules allowing veterans with Other-than-Honorable discharges to receive benefits. The rules are intended to ensure that troops discharged for homosexuality, undiagnosed mental health issues, or other questionable reasons can access needed care and be recognized for their service. This change coincides with the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough stated that department officials have the authority to award full VA benefits to these individuals if their cases merit it, regardless of discharge status. However, individuals with dishonorable discharges or those with a clear criminal history documented in their service records are not eligible for benefits under this new plan. The "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy was in effect from 1993 to 2011, prohibiting LGBT service members from publicly discussing or acknowledging their sexual orientation, with a penalty of dismissal from service. Prior to 1993, all LGBT individuals were entirely barred from military service.

VA to Expand CHAMPVA Coverage for Veteran Families and Caregivers
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will soon expand coverage for medical services, including mental health care, for family members and primary family caregivers participating in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA). Starting at the end of May, CHAMPVA beneficiaries will have expanded coverage, including:

1. Audio-Only Telehealth: Beneficiaries will have expanded access to care through audio-only telehealth, which is especially important for rural residents. This coverage will also be retroactive, with providers and beneficiaries having until November 26, 2024, to file claims for services received on or after May 12, 2020.

2. Elimination of Visit Caps: CHAMPVA beneficiaries will no longer face limits on visits for mental health and substance use treatment. Additionally, pre-authorizations will no longer be required for outpatient mental health visits exceeding 23 visits per year or more than two sessions per week.

3. No Cost Sharing for Certain Contraceptive Services: VA is eliminating deductibles and cost sharing for contraceptive services and products approved, cleared, or granted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Currently, more than 737,500 people are CHAMPVA beneficiaries. CHAMPVA provides healthcare services and supplies to certain spouses, surviving spouses, children, and primary family caregivers of eligible veterans. It covers a wide range of medical services, including mental health care, prescription medications, inpatient and outpatient services, and more.

To learn more about CHAMPVA and apply for benefits, visit the

SCOTUS Rules Veterans Can Use Both Post-9/11 GI Bill and MGIB Benefits
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an Army veteran, James Rudisill, who sued the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over his eligibility for education benefits under both the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In a 7-2 decision, the court sided with Rudisill, who argued that he was entitled to benefits under both programs, as he had enrolled in them during two separate stints in the Army.

Rudisill, who was wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2005, had exhausted his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits but later wished to use his unused Montgomery GI Bill benefits to attend Yale Divinity School as part of his training to become an Army chaplain. When VA officials denied his claim, Rudisill sued, arguing that the VA was unfairly limiting his options. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, writing for the majority, called the VA's denial "nonsensical" and reversed lower court rulings in favor of the VA.

The ruling could affect approximately 1.7 million veterans, leading to increased benefits payments by the VA, which currently pays more than $8 billion annually for education benefits. The ruling allows veterans greater flexibility in accessing education benefits under the two programs.

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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