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SGT. SHAFT: Proposal to exempt medically retired vets from TRICARE fee increases still in flux

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Do the TRICARE fee increases affect medically retired personnel? I have seen articles saying yes, and some saying no. It is as confusing as the phone call I got about making the premium payments.

Thank you for helping out.

Chris W.
Via the Internet

Dear Chris:

There is a proposal that medically retired personnel would be exempt from TRICARE fee increases, but just like the proposed fee increases themselves, it's all just at the talking stage right now. It's hard to predict what might come out of the discussions before the National Defense Authorization Act comes out this fall or early winter. We have a big national election taking place that might influence some of those outcomes. You'll need to be patient to learn what the sausage-making process coughs out.

Shaft notes

• Congratulations to Dolores A. Dunn, staff director of the Subcommittee on Health, House Committee on Veterans Affairs, who was recently honored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). For her exemplary leadership and service to veterans and their families, Ms. Dunn earned the MOPH's 2012 Exemplary Service Award.

Each year, MOPH pays special tribute to a professional staff member of the U.S. Congress who best demonstrates exemplary service to our nation's veterans. This year's award was presented by National Commander, Legislative Director Hershel Gober.

A dedicated and selfless U.S. government employee for more than 31 years, Ms. Dunn joined the staff of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in 2003. Her professionalism and remarkable service to the committee and its members were rewarded in 2007, when Ms. Dunn was promoted to staff director of the Subcommittee on Health, with legislative, oversight and investigative jurisdiction over the entire Veterans Health Administration, including medical services, medical support and compliance, medical facilities, medical and prosthetic research, and major and minor construction.

During her tenure as staff director, the Subcommittee on Health has achieved many commendable legislative accomplishments, including oversight of the creation of the VA Polytrauma System of Care. Under Ms. Dunn's leadership and personal participation, the subcommittee created the Caregiver Assistance Program, the Veterans' Mental Health Improvement Act of 2008, and the Veterans' Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act, as well other legislation that continues to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Ms. Dunn has long been a tireless and strong advocate for all veterans and has served the members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs with honor and integrity. Ms. Dunn's dedicated service to veterans and to her committee's members reflects all that is good and honorable about government service and reflects favorably upon the Veterans' Affairs' Committee, the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States of America. For her exemplary leadership and service to veterans and their families, the MOPH is pleased to honor Dolores A. Dunn with the 2012 Exemplary Service Award.

"I would like to thank the Military Order of the Purple Heart for bestowing this honor on a very deserving advocate for America's veterans and their families," said Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Dolores Dunn has been with the committee for nearly a decade and her dedication, passion, and service are unmatched. Dolores is an integral of part of our team, and I could not think of a more worthy recipient of this year's Exemplary Service Award."

• The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Education Foundation is proud to offer a special scholarship for children of enlisted Navy medical personnel. The Colonel Hazel Elizabeth Benn Scholarship Fund provides a $2,000 scholarship to an unmarried, dependent child of those who have served or are now serving in the U.S. Navy as enlisted medical personnel with the U.S. Marine Corps. The Benn Scholarship is available to qualified applicants entering their freshman or sophomore year of college. The deadline to apply for this and other scholarships administered by the foundation is April 15, 2012.

The Benn Scholarship is one of several administered by the FRA Education Foundation and was established by Benn's estate to honor the memory of one of the first active-duty female Marines selected for the permanent rank of colonel. She led the Educational Services Branch of the Marine Corps and worked tirelessly to increase the potential for Marine Corps personnel to pursue college degrees.

"Colonel Benn was very specific in her wishes for the establishment of this scholarship, and the FRA Education Foundation is proud to honor those wishes," said Joe Barnes, national executive director of the Fleet Reserve Association and a member of the FRA Education Foundation's Board of Directors. "Thanks to the generosity of Colonel Benn and others, the foundation's scholarship program continues to recognize excellence in the classroom as well as students' active involvement in their school and community,"

The Benn scholarship is open to children of all Navy enlisted medical personnel who've served or are serving with the Marine Corps, regardless of their affiliation with the FRA. Other foundation scholarships are available to anyone affiliated with the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, either through their own service or that of a spouse, parent or grandparent. FRA Education Foundation scholarships are funded through private donations, established trusts and corporate sponsorships. Recipients are selected based on financial need, academic standing, character and leadership qualities.

Applications for the Benn and other foundation scholarships are available at www.fra.org/foundation. Contributions in support of foundation scholarships are always welcome.

• The VA Western New York Healthcare System recently held its "Hire a Hero" job fair at the VA hospital in Buffalo. About 32 employers were present, representing the public and private sectors, colleges, not-for-profit groups and federal agencies.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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