NewsBytes September 8, 2023    

In this issue:
Support Concurrent Receipt Reform
Investigation of TRICARE Pharmacy Network Cuts
VA Cemeteries 9/11 National Day of Service Events
22nd Anniversary of September 11 Attack

Support Concurrent Receipt Reform
The FRA wants the House to pass the “Major Richard Star Act” (H.R.1282) this month. Please ask your legislators to support bills that will provide concurrent receipt for service members unable to complete 20 years of service, due to combat-related injuries (H.R.1282, S.344). The House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the House version (H.R.1282). The bill now goes to the House floor for further consideration.  Over two-thirds of the House and Senate are co-sponsoring the “Major Richard Star Act.” Legislators are beginning to understand that reducing a retiree’s retired pay because they are disabled is an injustice! Please ask your legislators to support this legislation today! 

Support Investigation of TRICARE Pharmacy Network Cuts
The FRA is supporting a provision (Section 765) in the House passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R.2670) requiring the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a report on how recent reductions in the number of pharmacies in the TRICARE pharmacy network impacted beneficiary access. Earlier, the FRA and several other organizations dispatched a letter to key members of the House Armed Services Committee requesting that the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) be amended to require the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to provide a report to Congress on the impact of recent TRICARE pharmacy network cuts on beneficiary access to care. Last year, the DHA reduced the minimum number of retail pharmacies required in the TRICARE network. As a result, the number of network pharmacies available to military families dropped by nearly 25 percent from more than 55,000 locations in 2022 to approximately 42,000 today. 

This network reduction creates access challenges for many rural residents, the elderly and those with complex medical conditions. This FRA supported provision in the House NDAA would require a detailed analysis of the network reduction’s impact on beneficiary access to retail pharmacy services. The military health system efficiencies must maintain beneficiary access to care. Our nation has an obligation to both the currently serving and retirees who for decades accepted the risks and sacrifices inherent to a career in uniform. Limiting access to benefits after they have been earned betrays the social contract that underpins the all-volunteer force.  

The House and Senate both finished work on their version of the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R.2670, S.2226). A conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills. This bill will be voted on by both chambers and if approved, sent to the president to be signed into law.  Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask their Senators to accept this House provision in the final NDAA. 

VA Cemeteries Hold National Day of Service Events for 22nd Anniversary of 9/11
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that more than 60 VA national cemeteries will host National Day of Service events on Sept. 11, 2023. These events will honor the veterans, service members, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders who served and sacrificed for the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the 22 years since. 

All are welcome to participate in these events, where volunteers will clean headstones and participate in other beautification activities at VA national cemeteries. To learn more and view a list of participating cemeteries and start times, visit NCA National Day of Service. Volunteers can register here. Cleaning supplies and other materials will be provided, and there is no cost to participate.

The NCA also invites family, friends, and loved ones to visit the Veterans Legacy Memorial to post photos and tributes on a Veteran’s page. This online memorial pays tribute to 4.8 million Veterans interred at VA national cemeteries or in VA grant-funded state, territorial, or Tribal Veteran cemeteries.    

22nd Anniversary of September 11 Attack
The 22nd anniversary of the world’s deadliest terror attack will be remembered in special services and events in New York City, the Pentagon, and throughout the U.S. on Monday, Sept. 11. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York City, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon during terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaida, a Muslim militant group founded by Osama bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2001. Bin Laden was later killed by U.S. military forces in Pakistan during a May 2011 raid.   

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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