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Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm Issue 2008-04 — April, 2008
Korea Retirees' Schedule of Events
Apr 1 – For USAG-Yongsan, your Retirement Services Officer will be at Yongsan in the Soldier Support Center,
Bldg 4034, Room 140, from 0900-1300.
Apr 7 – For USAG-Humphreys, an Information Luncheon will be held at the Alaska Mining Company 1100-1300 with
a presentation by Mr. Bob Aldridge, the USAG-Humphreys Vehicle Registration Officer. Contact Tarita Harris at
753-3872.
Apr 8 – The USFK Retiree Council will hold its bi-monthly meeting at Yongsan's Main Street Cafeteria starting at
0730. Attendance by non-members by invitation. Contact Bill Horvath at 723-3791 or by e-mail.
Apr 8 – For USAG-Red Cloud, your Retirement Services Officer will be at the Camp Casey Soldier Support Center
(Maude Hall), Room 139, from 0900-1300
Apr 15 – For USAG-Yongsan, your Retirement Services Officer will be at Yongsan in the Soldier Support Center,
Bldg 4034, Room 140, from 0900-1300.
Apr 22 – For USAG-Daegu, your Retirement Services Officer will be at Camp Henry's Education Center, Bldg 1820,
from 1000-1300
May 17 – For USAG-Humphreys, your Retiree Appreciation Day will be held at the Community Activities Center
0800-1300. Contact Tarita Harris at 753-3872 and see immediately below for more information.
USAG-Humphreys/Area III RAD
The USAG-Humphreys/Area III Retiree Appreciation Day will be held at the Community Activities Center (CAC) on May 17. It start with a breakfast at 0800 with entertainment provided by a group from the Eighth Army Band. Check-in will follow thebreakfast and RAD events will include a presentation by guest Speaker, COL Greg Jolissaint, Commander, 18th MedicalCommand. Following the CAC activities, retirees are invited to Transformation Park where BOSS/USO and other organizationswill be preparing a barbeque lunch, and with entertainment provided by a local band.
All USAG-Humphreys and Area III retirees and their families are invited to participate. COL Jolissaint's talk is expected to be very informative and of particular interest to retirees as the medical care situation for space-available beneficiaries continues to
change. Look for more RAD information and a detailed schedule in an upcoming newsletter to be sent by the Retirement Services
Office.
Korea Retirement Services Office
In This Issue
Medical Care Matters
Shingles Vaccine Coverage Explained
Retiree Hearing Aid Purchase Program
Five Years of VA Health Care for Combat Veterans
TRICARE Uniform Formulary Update Announced
Diet and Exercise Myths
TRICARE in the Philippines
Pay Matters
Disability 'Overhaul' Bill Introduced
Some Vets Must File 2007 Tax Return to Receive Rebate
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm QRMC: Count Retirement, Health Care in Compensation Standard
Key Panel: No Health Fee Increases
Reducing Copays Saves Everyone Money
Survivor Matters
Community Matters
Groundbreaking for New Gulfport AFRH
Contract Awarded for New Walter Reed
DeCA Implements New Lockout Procedure
Why Don't Commissaries 'Double' Coupon?
Top Five [MOAA] Member Questions
Laughing Matters
Firemen's Dog
Nine Months Later
Forgetful Samaritan
Cake Diet
Traffic Camera
Director's Corner
Military Medical Care Tightens for Retirees at Osan AB
E-Mail Newsletter Update
Female Soldier Earns Silver Star
Shingles Vaccine Coverage Explained
Apparently there has been some confusion regarding the recent decision to cover the newly approved shingles vaccine under some of the various TRICARE programs. The TRICARE Management Activity provided a clarification earlier this week: TRICARE covers vaccines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Forbeneficiaries 60 and older, TRICARE now covers Zostavax, the vaccine designed to prevent shingles. TRICAREofficials caution that "covered" doesn't necessarily mean "free" for TRICARE Standard or TRICARE for Lifebeneficiaries.
Zostavax is covered under the TRICARE medical benefit and is not reimbursable under the pharmacy benefit.
Vaccines are not a part of the TRICARE pharmacy benefit because they cannot be self-administered. Beneficiariesmust have vaccinations administered in a doctor's office.
According to TRICARE officials, the physician should supply the Zostavax and include its price on the itemized bill forthe office visit and the injection. TRICARE will reimburse a provider for administering the vaccine in its office as apart of the TRICARE medical benefit. Just as with any TRICARE medical benefit, beneficiaries are responsible fortheir deductibles and cost shares.
For more information on shingles and the vaccine, you may visit the CDC Web site. For more information on TRICARE's
coverage of the shingles vaccine, contact your local military treatment facility Immunization Clinic.
NAUS Weekly Update, Mar 7
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm Retiree Hearing Aid Purchase Program
TRICARE does not cover hearing aids for retirees or their family members. However, some military treatment facilities support the Retiree At Cost Hearing Aid Purchase Program (RACHAPP) for servicemembers in need of hearing aids. This program allows
retired service members to purchase hearing aids at government cost. To learn more about the RACHAPP program and view a list
of participating facilities, go to http://www.militaryaudiology.org/rachap/state.html.
[In Korea, call DSN 736-4099, commercial 02-7916-4099 (both numbers shown on the web site are incorrect) to contact the Yongsan Audiology Clinic.]
NAUS Weekly Update, Mar 7
Five Years of VA Health Care for Combat Veterans
Military veterans, including activated Guard and Reserve members, who served in combat since Nov. 11, 1998, now are eligible for five years of free medical care for most conditions from the VA.
As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, VA medical care has increased from three to five years. This new provision includes combat veterans who were discharged between Nov. 11, 1998, and Jan. 16, 2003, and never took advantage ofthe VA's health care system. They have until Jan. 27, 2011, to qualify for free VA health care.
Visit the VA's Web site for more information.
TRICARE Uniform Formulary Update Announced
The placement of five additional, non-formulary (or third tier), medications on the TRICARE Uniform Formulary has been announced by Army Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, deputy director, TRICARE Management Activity. Three of the medications changeto non-formulary status on April 16, 2008, and two on June 18, 2008. A sixth medication, Flomax, will remain non-formulary(third tier) under the Uniform Formulary, although additional step therapy/prior authorization requirements will begin on April16, 2008.
No non-formulary (third tier) medications were identified in another reviewed class, the adrenergic beta-blocking agents. The following chart shows the medications and their status as formulary (first-tier generic or second-tier brand name medications) ornon-formulary (third tier), along with the date the decision will be implemented.
Implementation
Medication
of Nonformulary
Adrenergic Beta-Blocking Agents
Inderal LA (propranolol extended release) Inderide (propranolol / hydrochlorothiazide) Lopressor HCT (metoprolol / hydrochlorothiazide) Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm Alpha Blockers for Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
Targeted Immunomodulatory Biologics
Drug Classes Previously Reviewed
Renin Angiotensin Antihypertensive Agent
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity / Narcolepsy Agent
Contraceptive
* Remains non-formulary; step therapy / prior authorization requirements will apply to patientsnewly starting on Flomax, effective April 16, 2008 Beneficiaries taking third-tier medications may consult their health care providers about changing to a first-or second-tier alternative. When providers prescribe medications, beneficiaries should ask if a generic alternative is in that drug class availablethat would provide the same clinical results.
Beneficiaries can also ask providers if establishing medical necessity for the third-tier medication is appropriate. If medical necessity is established for a third-tier medication, the co-payment is reduced to $9. Third-tier medications are not available at
military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies unless an MTF provider establishes medical necessity and writes the prescription.
Medical necessity forms and criteria are available at www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/medical-nonformulary.cfm.
For a complete list of medications, their formulary status and where they are available, beneficiaries may visit www.tricareformularysearch.org/dod/medicationcenter/default.aspx.
Beneficiaries may find more information on the TRICARE Retail Pharmacy and locations, and the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy at www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE. They may also call 866-363-8779 for the retail pharmacy or 866-363-8667
for the mail order pharmacy.
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm For more information about the Uniform Formulary Beneficiary Advisory Panel review process, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/BAP.
TREA Washington Update, Mar 14
Diet and Exercise Myths
Many common diet and exercise myths could slow your weight loss. Every year, millions of Americans resolve to lose weight, whether on New Year's Day, their birthdays, or just some morning when their mirror or the bathroom scale seems particularlyunkind. And every year, many get frustrated and give up before they reach their goals. Contributing to this problem is a host of badinformation about diet and exercise that circulates through gyms, workplaces, and over the Internet. To help more people achieveand maintain a healthy weight, Julie Bender, a dietitian with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, and Phil Tyne, director ofthe Baylor Tom Landry Health and Wellness Center agreed to 'weigh in' on ten of the most common diet and exercise myths.
Myth #1: Crunches will get rid of your belly fat. "You can't pick and choose areas where you'd like to burn fat,"Tyne
says. "In order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength training
elements. This will decrease your overall body fat content."
Myth #2. Stretching before exercise is crucial. False. Some studies have suggested that stretching actually makes
muscles more susceptible to injury. They claim that by stretching, muscle fibers are lengthened and destabilized,
making them less prepared for the strain of exercise. "You might want to warm-up and stretch before a run, but if
you are lifting weights wait until after the workout to stretch your muscles," Tyne suggests.
Myth #3. You should never eat before a workout. False. 'Fuel' from food and fluids is required to provide the energy
for your muscles to work efficiently, even if you are doing an early morning workout. "Consider eating a small meal
or snack one to three hours prior to exercise," Bender says. "Load up your tank with premium 'fuel' and choose
some fruit, yogurt, or whole wheat toast."
Myth #4. Lifting weights will make women bulky. False. "Most women's bodies do not produce nearly enough
testosterone to become 'bulky' like those body builders on TV," Tyne says. If you do find yourself getting bigger than
you would like, simply use less weight and more repetitions.
Myth #5. Fat is bad for you, no matter what kind. False. Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of 'good fats'
out there that are essential for good health and aid in disease prevention. "They are the ones that occur naturally in
foods like avocados, nuts, and fish, as opposed to those that are manufactured," Bender says. "Including small
amounts of these foods at meal times can help you to feel full longer and therefore eat less."
Myth #6. Restricting calories is the best way to lose weight. False. Both cutting back on calories and moving more
will help you lose weight and maintain the lean muscle mass needed to boost metabolism. People often think they
must take drastic measures to lose weight, such as eating less than 1200 calories per day, but such diets usually do
not provide adequate fuel for the body and may slow metabolism. "Drastic measures rarely equal lasting results, so
start small and eliminate 100-300 calories consistently from your daily diet, and you will reap the reward," Bender
says.
Myth #7. As long as you eat healthy foods, you can eat as much as you want. False. A calorie is a calorie. Although
oatmeal is healthy, if you eat four cups of oatmeal, the calories add up. "Healthy or otherwise, you still must be
aware of portion sizes," Bender says. "You must limit your caloric intake in order to lose weight, however,
understanding how to 'balance' calorie intake throughout your day can help you avoid feelings of deprivation, hunger
and despair."
Myth #8. Exercise turns fat into muscle. False. Fat and muscle tissue are composed of two entirely different types
of cells. "While you can lose one and replace it with another, the two never 'convert' into different forms," Tyne says.
"So fat will never turn into muscle."
Myth #9. Eating late at night will make you gain weight. False. "There are no 'magic' hours," Bender says. "We
associate late-night eating with weight gain because we usually consume more calories at night. We do this because
we usually deprive our bodies of adequate calories the first half of the day. Start the day out with breakfast and eat
every 3-4 hours. Keep lunch the same size as dinner, and you will be less likely to over-indulge at night, yet you can
enjoy a small late-night snack without the fear of it sticking to your middle."
Myth #10. You have to sweat to have a good workout. False. "Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion –
sweating is your body's way of cooling itself," Tyne says. It is possible to burn a significant number of calories
without breaking a sweat: try taking a walk, or doing some light weight training, or working out in a swimming pool.
[Source: Senior Living, Sharon O'Brian article Jan 08] Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm RAO Baguio Bulletin Update, Mar 15
TRICARE in the Philippines
In an 18 Feb 08 [interview] in Manila the Tricare Area Office (TAO) Pacific Chief of Program Operations, Lt Col Tony Ingram, provided some insight into the magnitude of the Tricare situation in the Philippines. Some facts that were brought out were: There are 10-12,000 retirees in the Philippines. Of which almost 70% are located in the Pampanga, Olongapo,Zambales region. 13% of these retirees' location is unknown.
78% of the TRICARE claims in the Pacific are from the Philippines.
In 2003 $112 Million was billed to TRICARE and they paid out $61 million.
TRICARE had to take drastic measures in order to cut down on the fraudulent billing in recent years. At present theyprocess up to a hundred requests monthly for individuals/facilities to be certified as TRICARE providers in thePhilippines.
Lt Col Ingram also revealed some of the improvements that his office has submitted up the chain inclusive of: Pended time for claims changed from 35 to 90 days Allow faxing of claims to secure fax server Opening of TAO-P branch office in the Philippines [Source: FRA BR 82 Roberto Vicencio input 19 Feb 08] Disability 'Overhaul' Bill Introduced
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced "America's Wounded Warrior Act," S. 2674, last week to overhaul DoD's disability retirement system and modernize the VA's disability compensationprogram. These reforms are an upshot from last year's Dole/Shalala Commission recommendations.
The bill would reform the military disability retirement system and streamline the transition of disabled servicemembers from DoD to the VA. Basically, it would simplify the claims process by eliminating the need for duplicative DoD/VA ratings anddisability examinations. Underlying concerns remain, however.
Under the proposal, DoD would determine a disabled servicemember's fitness for duty, and if found unfit, provide a lifetime annuity based on the member's rank and years of service. VA would then establish compensation for service-connected injuries,disease, or wounds. Under this proposal, the offset between DoD's annuity and future VA compensation would be eliminated.
The revamped VA compensation system would have three elements – replacement value of average loss of earning capacity; a new payment for loss of quality of life; and a new transition payment provided to servicemembers who participate in treatment orvocational rehabilitation programs or who are within three months of their retirement from service.
However, the jury is still out on what the new DoD disability health care benefit and VA compensation levels would eventually look like – MOAA expressed concern with these same issues when the original Dole/Shalala report was released.
Currently, servicemembers who retire due to a 30% or higher military disability are eligible for lifetime family TRICARE coverage (dependent children until majority age). However, the bill directs DoD to study and recommend to Congress newTRICARE lifetime eligibility criteria under the new system. In the absence of a law change, the Secretary of Defense wouldestablish eligibility by regulation effective the date of implementation of the new system.
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm Additionally, the bill directs VA to study and provide a report to Congress within nine months and submit a proposal one year later detailing the new compensation and transition payment rate structure.
Even though there are certain elements that MOAA supports in the bill, the "devil is in the details" and, until the specific rate structure of the new VA compensation system is better understood, we must withhold endorsement of this legislation.
MOAA Legislative Update, Mar 7
Some Vets Must File 2007 Tax Return to Receive Rebate
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says most taxpayers will not have to do anything extra this year to get economic stimulus payments beginning in May – but this may not hold true for veterans who do not normally file an income tax return.
The IRS will use information on the 2007 tax return filed by the taxpayer to determine eligibility and calculate the amount of The law also allows for payments for select taxpayers who have no tax liability, such as those who receive Social Security benefits, veterans' disability compensation, pension, or survivors' benefits from the VA in 2007. These taxpayers will be eligible toreceive a payment of $300 ($600 on a joint return) if they had at least $3,000 of qualifying income.
Qualifying income includes Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits, and certain veterans' benefits and earned income such as income from wages, salaries, tips, and self-employment. While these people may not normally be requiredto file a tax return because they do not meet the filing requirement, the IRS emphasizes they must file a 2007 return in order toreceive a payment.
The IRS is working with the Social Security Administration and VA to ensure recipients are aware of this issue.
"Some people receiving Social Security and veterans' benefits may not realize they will need to file a tax return to get the stimulus payment," says the IRS. "To reach these people, the IRS and Treasury will work closely with the Department of VeteransAffairs, the Social Security Administration, and key beneficiary groups on outreach efforts." Payments to higher income taxpayers will be reduced by 5 percent of the amount of adjusted gross income above $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for those filing jointly.
Tax returns should be filed by the April 15 deadline. Watch for correspondence from the IRS or the VA, which will contain further information.
MOAA News Exchange, Mar 12
QRMC: Count Retirement, Health Care in Compensation Standard
The 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC) issued the first volume of its expected two-volume report this week, asserting that military members are well-paid versus their civilian counterparts and proposing a new measure tocompare military and civilian compensation.
The volume released this week covered military pay, special and incentive pays, "pay for performance," and housing allowances.
The second volume, expected later this year, will cover military retirement, health care, and quality of life issues.
The new report says the traditional version of comparing military vs. civilian pay is outdated. The currently used "Regular Military Compensation" (RMC) standard is an effort to construct a civilian-equivalent "salary" for the military. It includes basicpay, the national average housing and subsistence allowances for the applicable grade, and also includes the "tax advantage"realized because housing and subsistence allowances aren't subject to federal income taxes.
The QRMC report recommends adopting a new "Military Annual Compensation" (MAC) standard that also would include state income tax and Social Security/Medicare tax savings on the tax-free allowances, plus the added value due to military health careand retirement benefits.
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm The MAC concept has been proposed many other times and has never gained any real traction – for good reason. The bottom line is that military health and retirement benefits are provided mainly as an offset to the unique and arduous conditions inherent ina military career. As any servicemember deploying today or in the past can confirm, counting only the value of the benefits withoutsubtracting a value for the sacrifices they're provided to offset is a one-sided exercise. MOAA's view is that such measures amountto little more than efforts to inflate military compensation values. Compensation, after all, is value received divided by service andsacrifice rendered.
Nevertheless, the QRMC report offers some serious food for thought on other topics. First, its analysis indicates that housing allowances for single members living in civilian housing are too low. The report recommends raising single allowancesimmediately to at least 75% of the "with dependents" rate, with additional incremental increases over the course of several yearsuntil the single rate is 95% of the "with dependents" rate.
It also recommends establishing "constructive service credit" for servicemembers who are promoted early or who are brought into the force in an unusual status (e.g., certain doctors who begin service later in their careers). This would be a way of ensuring a
longer-term basic pay and retired pay boost for "fast burners" or late entrants with critically needed experience. Under the current
pay system, early promotees usually realize only a short-term pay advantage over slower-promoted contemporaries.
MOAA Legislative Update, Mar 14
Key Panel: No Health Fee Increases
On Wednesday the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel met to discuss the future of military health care.
Chairwoman Susan Davis (D-CA) expressed concern that TRICARE fee increases would cause beneficiaries to forego necessarytreatment, worsening underlying conditions or making them untreatable.
Davis said, "Now is not the time to exacerbate existing long-term problems or create new ones with programs that provide only short-term relief." She was equally concerned with DoD's actions that have cut funding and staffing at the military treatmentfacilities (MTFs).
Ranking Member John McHugh (R-NY) said he was disappointed with DoD's budget request that included these fee hikes. He voiced his intention to oppose them. McHugh stated, "I must say that I am surprised that the task force not only recommendedsimilar fee increases but added an enrollment fee of $120 for TRICARE For Life beneficiaries." He went on to say that he was particularly concerned, especially during a time of war, that the place to start fixing the cost problems is not on the backs of the beneficiaries.
Dr. S. Ward Casscells, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, agreed that the goal should not be focused on beneficiaries leaving the TRICARE system because of fee hikes. He also felt it was important to maintain a healthy patient volume
in the MTFs to ensure a high level of provider competence. When asked how he would build the military health system if he could
start fresh, Dr. Casscells said that a new DoD healthcare group will focus specifically on that question. MOAA will push to have
beneficiary groups involved in the discussions.
MOAA Legislative Update, Mar 14
Reducing Copays Saves Everyone Money
On March 19, DoD hosted a panel to discuss ways to reduce the overall cost of providing military medical benefits by removing financial and other barriers for preventive care of chronic conditions and by promoting healthy lifestyles. MOAA Deputy Directorfor Government Relations CDR John Class (USN-Ret) sat on the panel along with Congressional, defense, and health industryexperts. All panelists agreed that eliminating unnecessary obstacles for preventive care, such as copays, can reduce long-termhealth care expenditures.
TRICARE Standard still requires copayments for preventive measures like cancer screenings and immunizations, but studies have shown that even modest copays can significantly reduce beneficiaries' use of these services. Reduced use of preventive careraises longer-term costs when preventable diseases turn into serious illnesses. Panelists also discussed "pay for performance"options that would require providers to report data on the outcomes of their care.
Those who use appropriate preventive techniques and thus improved outcomes would receive bonuses or higher Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm reimbursements. A House staff representative on the panel said short-term costs pose one unfortunate potential barrier to progress.
He said that Congress is very interested in pursuing incentives to encourage preventive care, but needs more information fromDoD about potential costs of such measures.
He observed with some irony that DoD proposals to increase health fees for beneficiaries could work against this goal. House and Senate leaders are concerned that, while fee increases and higher pharmacy copays may produce short-term savings, they couldactually increase long-term health costs by deterring patients' use of medications and needed care.
CDR Class urged inclusion of all categories of beneficiaries – active duty, Guard/Reserve, retirees, survivors and family members – in any preventive care pilot programs. He also recommended full implementation (rather than pilot projects) wherever
possible for initiatives that are already well-documented as highly effective.
MOAA Legislative Update, Mar 21
The phase-out of the Social Security Offset (SSO) for Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuitants is almost complete. Currently, beneficiaries receive 50 percent of their deceased spouse's SBP annuity base amount. The fact that the SBP payout is 50% insteadof the full 55% is the SSO. There is no reduction in your Social Security amount. Starting April 2008 all survivors will receive thefull 55 percent of their late military retiree's pay covered by SBP and the SSO will be completely phased out.
If you are approaching military retirement and are puzzling over your SBP decision, you may find it helpful to read MOAA's SBP Made Easy – the Active Duty Guide to the Survivor Benefit Plan. Reserve and National Guard officers should read SecurityOn Call: Survivor Benefits for Guard &Reserve.
If you already are retired and have questions about SBP coverage, consult MOAA's Survivor Benefit Plan – Security for your Survivors. For information about RCSBP, Guard and Reserve officers may wish to check out Military Entitlements – Benefits forGuard &Reserve.
These publications are free to MOAA members. MOAA's Benefits Information Department assists MOAA members who have questions about SBP, RCSBP, and the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP). You can contact the Benefits
Information Department through MOAA's Member Service Center at 1-800-234-6622 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
EST, or by e-mail at BenInfo@moaa.org.
MOAA News Exchange, Mar 26
Groundbreaking for New Gulfport AFRH
On Monday, March 3, 2008 at 10 a.m., the General Services Administration (GSA) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) facility in Gulfport, Mississippi. The new home will replace the former structure
that was built in 1976 and severely damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. As designated by Congress in PL-109-234, GSA is the
lead construction agency on behalf of AFRH and the Department of Defense. Congress appropriated approximately $240 million
dollars for the demolition and rebuild of the new facility. The new campus is scheduled for completion in July 2010.
NAUS Weekly Update, Mar 7
Contract Awarded for New Walter Reed
The Navy reached an agreement with contractors to design and build the new $641.4 million Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., at the site of the current National Naval Medical Center. The new facility would replace theexisting Walter Reed, located nearby in Washington, D.C., which is scheduled to close by 2011. The new facility will offer 345beds, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and a full range of medical services, including care for service members who are seriouslywounded in combat. It will also provide training and education for military physicians and medical professionals, and serve as aresearch center. The Bethesda site will gain roughly 2,200 employees once complete. As part of the project, Fort Belvoir, Va., Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm some 30 miles away, will receive a new 120-bed medical treatment facility as well.
Armed Forces News Issue, Mar 7
DeCA Implements New Lockout Procedure
The recent spate of food recalls has prompted the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to implement a procedure that will prevent shoppers from purchasing unsafe items. Through the use of a procedure called Universal Product Code "lockout," DeCA
can now block an entire UPC at the register. This will ensure that recalled products are not inadvertently sold to customers. For
more information, go to http://www.commissaries.com.
NAUS Weekly Update, Mar 14
Why Don't Commissaries 'Double' Coupon?
Commercial stores operate at a profit by marking up the grocery items they sell. By law, commissaries must sell items at cost – not for profit. If a shopper redeems a manufacturer's coupon for 25 cents and a commercial store doubles it to 50 cents, the
manufacturer pays the store only the value of the coupon, which is 25 cents. The additional 25 cents comes out of the store's
built-in profit margin. Many local stores can double coupons, knowing they may lose money on a few items, but make up the
difference in their overall markups. The Defense Commissary Agency has no such profit margin to make up the difference for a
doubled coupon, so commissaries honor only the amount on the coupon that the manufacturer will rebate. (DeCA Update)
NAUS Weekly Update, Mar 21
Top Five [MOAA] Member Questions
Every so often, we like to take a moment and address some of the more frequent questions we receive through [Military Officers Association of America] MOAA's Member Service Center. We asked MOAA's member service representatives whatquestions are most on the minds of the people who call MOAA headquarters.
1. Am I eligible for the new combat related special compensation (CRSC) provision passed in the recent defensebill? When can I apply? Under the new provision, which became effective on Jan. 1, CRSC eligibility was extended to anyone who wasretired from the military with less than 20 years of service and was awarded VA disability compensation for acombat- or operations- related condition. This includes medical (chapter 61) retirees and members who retiredunder the Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) during the force drawdown of the 1990s.
Eligible members have to apply to their service for CRSC. Applications can be made now, but the application formhasn't yet been updated to reflect the new change in eligibility rules. Service CRSC officials have asked that newlyeligible members hand-write "Chapter 61" or "TERA" on their application form (note the link to this form is an Armysite. All CRSC forms are the same, but the Army site offers the easiest place to access the form online. The formhas directions for filing with all services).
2. I'm on TRICARE For Life. How do the DoD health fee proposals affect me? There are two parts of the plan proposed by the Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care that would affectMedicare-eligibles. The plan calls for significant increases in copays for most medications not obtained at militaryhospitals and clinics. For drugs purchased in retail pharmacies, the plan would raise the generic drug copay to $15(vs the current $3), for brand name formulary drugs, it would be $25 (vs. the current $9) and for non-formularymedications, it would be $45 (vs. the current $22). Generics would be provided at no charge through the mail-ordersystem, but the copay for other drugs would rise. The Defense Department included these proposals in the FY2009defense budget proposal. MOAA is fighting those unfair increases.
The Task Force also proposed an annual $120 enrollment fee for TRICARE-For-Life beneficiaries, but the DefenseDepartment didn't include that in the FY2009 defense budget, so that's not on the legislative table this year. MOAAbelieves it's only a matter of time before Defense leaders push for a TFL enrollment fee at least that big.
3. Has the Shingles vaccination SNAFU been fixed yet? I'm being required to pay for almost the whole thing out ofpocket! TRICARE does cover the vaccine, but TRICARE deductibles and copays will apply for TFL users. That means that Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm retirees who get the vaccine early in the year, before they've met their annual deductible will pay some or all of thecost of the benefit. MOAA believes preventive care such as this vaccine should be exempt from any deductible orcopay, and has recommended that to both the Defense Department and Congress. At the very least, it should becovered as a pharmacy issue rather than a health care service, so that it would only have a $3 or $9 copay and beexempt from the deductible.
4. What else is MOAA doing for those who still aren't eligible for concurrent receipt? MOAA's goal remains full repeal of the disability offset for all retirees with any service-connected injury. We've madesignificant progress for many, but about two-thirds of the disabled retiree population remains to be helped. MOAA ispushing Congress to equalize coverage for all members 50% or more disabled, regardless of years of service, andto expand coverage to those with 40% or lower disability ratings. MOAA considers this a vesting issue. Disabledmembers should be entitled to keep their service-earned retired pay (2.5% of pay times years of service),independent of any service-caused disability.
5. Is MOAA stopping the campaign to get equity for survivors who suffer from the offset between the military's andthe VA's survivor annuity? Definitely not. MOAA's goal is the full elimination of any VA compensation deduction from the military Survivor BenefitPlan (SBP). Last year, we won a step in the right direction when Congress formally acknowledged the inequity of thecurrent offset and authorized a very modest $50 monthly payment to the affected survivors, with some additionalincreases in future years. That's a very small payment indeed, and even that change excluded eligibility for survivorswhose military sponsors died on active duty.
But hard experience indicates that full repeal isn't likely to happen in one year. We're pushing Congress to includeactive duty deaths and plus up the monthly payment to all affected survivors, with the goal of eliminating the offset asquickly as humanly possible.
MOAA Legislative Update, Mar 28
Firemen's Dog
A nursery school teacher was delivering a station wagon full of kids home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties.
They use him to keep crowds back," said one youngster.
"No, said another, "he's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close. "They use the dogs", she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrant." Tim's Inspiration via "Christian Voices"
Nine Months Later
Jack decided to go skiing with his buddy, Bob. So they loaded up Jack's minivan and headed north. After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard. So they pulled into a nearby farm and asked the attractive lady who answered the doorif they could spend the night.
"I realize it's terrible weather out there and I have this huge house all to myself, but I'm recently widowed," she explained. "I'm afraid the neighbors will talk if I let you stay in my house." "Don't worry," Jack said. "We'll be happy to sleep in the barn. And if the weather breaks, we'll be gone at first light." The lady agreed, and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night. Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way. They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing.
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm But about nine months later, Jack got an unexpected letter from an attorney. It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.
He dropped in on his friend Bob and asked, "Bob, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday up north about 9 months ago?" "Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?" "Well, um, yes," Bob said, a little embarrassed about being found out, "I have to admit that I did." "And did you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?" Bob's face turned beet red and he said, "Yeah, look, I'm sorry, buddy. I'm afraid I did." "Why do you ask?" "She just died and left me everything." from the Internet
Forgetful Samaritan
A man was driving down the highway late one night when his minivan broke down. He turned on his flashers and tried to get someone's attention to help him. Eventually a Lamborghini Countach pulls up.
"Any chance I could get a lift into town?" said the minivan driver.
"I can do better than that," the man driving the Countach replied. "I've got a V-12 under this hood, I can tow you to the nearest town, no problem. Just honk your horn and flash your lights if I start going too fast." They head off down the road and eventually come to a stop light and up pulls a Ferrari F40 with a V-10. The F40 began to rev its engine to get the Countach to race. The Countach revs its engine and the light turns green. They fly out of there, and about ahalf a mile down the road they pass a speed trap.
The officer there watches them pass and radios to base saying, "Base, you will not believe what I just saw. A F40 and a Countach were driving down the road doing about 120 with a minivan honking its horn and flashing its lights trying to pass them!"
Mikey's Funnies via Christian Voices
Cake Diet
A woman in our diet club was lamenting that she had gained weight. She'd made her family's favorite cake over the weekend, she reported, and they'd eaten half of it at dinner.
The next day, she said, she kept staring at the other half, until finally she cut a thin slice for herself. One slice led to another, and soon the whole cake was gone. The woman went on to tell us how upset she was with her lack of willpower, and how she knewher husband would be disappointed.
Everyone commiserated, until someone asked what her husband said when he found out. She smiled. "He never found out. I made another cake and ate half!"
Mikey's Funnies via Christian Voices
The philosophy professor teaching a course my friend was taking warned the class he was going to give them a test.
Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm When the day came he entered the classroom, wordlessly placed his chair on the table and, turning to the blackboard, wrote, "Prove to me this chair does not exist." Most of the nervous students began intently scribbling out long dissertations. But one member of the class wrote down just two words, and then handed his paper to the teacher.
The professor had to smile when he read the student's answer: "What chair?" Docs Daily Chuckle via Christian Voices
Traffic Camera
A man was driving down the road. He passed a traffic camera and saw it flash.
Astounded that he had been caught speeding when he was doing the speed limit, he turned around and, going even slower, he Again, he saw it flash. He couldn't believe it! So he turned and, going a snail's pace, he passed the camera.
AGAIN, he saw the camera flash. He guessed it must have a fault, and home he went.
Four weeks later he received 3 traffic fines in the mail, all for not wearing a seatbelt.
from the Internet
Military Medical Care Tightens for Retirees at Osan AB
According to the current Internal Medicine care provider, access to Osan Hospital care will become very difficult for retirees and their families who have chronic health problems such as Diabetes, Hypertension, respiratory illnesses, etc. Because spaceavailable care will be tightened after the departure of the current Internal Medicine provider, the Osan Hospital will no longer beable to guarantee regular appointments necessary to monitor sufferers of chronic illnesses who rely on space available access tothe Osan Hospital. As a result, these persons will be required to seek a Korean doctor to monitor their health.
In addition to the additional cost of obtaining health care from a Korean provider, prescriptions written by the Korean provider cannot be honored at the Osan Hospital pharmacy. The TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy also does not honor prescriptions writtenby foreign providers. However, the cost of the doctor visits and the prescribed medicines can be included in the TRICARE claimfor reimbursement. Just be sure to get receipts.
The USFK Retiree Council has been made aware of this situation and alternative options are being sought. Osan area retirees and their families are asked to not take drastic actions or lodge complaints until we have had a chance to see what corrective or
alternative options are available.
Jack Terwiel
E-Mail Newsletter Update
I feel like I've been making good progress on creating the ability to e-mail Still Serving in Korea from rao-osan.com. I won't know how valid the feeling is until I upload the software to the web site and test it. A fly in the ointment developed with themailing list of current subscribers. I had imported the current list into the data base and linked it to the mailing list software, theninadvertently deleted the link. I am awaiting a response from the experts' forum to see if corrective action is possible. If not, I'llhave to go back and re-import the list from scratch. It should be faster the second time.
In addition to mailing the newsletter to subscribers, the software offers the option to send specialized news to people who may have a specialized interest. This is done by asking subscribers to enter some information about themselves. It doesn't include Korea Military Retiree E-Letter - Still Serving in Korea http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/archive/2008/2008-04.htm information that could be used for identity theft. Some information I have requested in the form I've created (so far) is location,rank and service, to name a few. Korea retirees are also asked to specify the Area in which they live.
Another piece of information I've included is to specify whether the retiree has a Korean spouse. By using the software option to specify criteria using the information you entered, I can then create a Korean language information sheet for Korean spousesand mail the information only to those who have checked the block for "Korean spouse." This is still in the "pipe dream" stage andwill become a future possibility if I can send Korean-language news. That is made easier because the software includes the abilityto send PDF formatted files. If you've looked at the archive of widow newsletters on the web site, the Korean language version isin PDF format readable with Adobe Acrobat.
When I've determined through testing that the mailing list software is functioning properly, I'll do a full-scale test by sending this newsletter to everyone. When that arrives, probably followed by the March newsletter that did not get e-mailed, you'll knowthat the first part of my effort has succeeded.
The challenge is to solve the problems. The reward is to succeed.
Jack Terwiel
Female Soldier Earns Silver Star
Some retirees I've talked to feel that it's inappropriate for females to be in the Army. Here's a story for them. Immediately after patching up comrades who were wounded during a fierce fight in Afghanistan's Paktika province on Apr 25, 2007, Army Spc. Monica Brown could not focus on what she had accomplished. "Looking back, it was just a blur of noise andmovement," said Brown, 19, of Lake Jackson, Texas. "What just happened? Did I do everything right?" Actually, she had donequite a lot. Due to her quick response in the wake of an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation and subsequent enemyattack, two seriously wounded soldiers – Spc. Stanson Smith and Spc. Larry Spray – survived. Because of her actions the combatmedic from the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, became the first womansince World War II to earn the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in combat. Vice President Dick Cheney presented her with the awardin a Mar 20 ceremony at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
Additional detail not made clear in above quoted story: The reason she got the Silver Star is because the IED ambush site was covered by hostile fire, and she raced forward to provide medical care under fire.
Armed Forces News Issue, Mar 28

Source: http://www.rao-osan.com/e-letter/pdf/2008/2008-04.pdf

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