- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I will be converting to Medicare/TRICARE For Life next year at age 65. (TRICARE is the health care program serving uniformed service members, retirees and their families worldwide.) My wife is 10 years younger. Will she be able to remain on TRICARE Prime until she also reaches age 65?

Billy W.
Jacksonville, Fla.

Dear Billy:

The answer to your question is yes, when a member turns age 65 and switches to TRICARE For Life, the younger spouse will stay on TRICARE Prime or Standard until age 65.

Shaft notes

• Throughout the United States and around the world, honor can be found as the military guards our nation’s heroes at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. It can be found at museums, cemeteries and memorial sites dedicated to the great wars, in monuments recognizing any local community’s wartime sacrifices and in the obituaries of veterans.

These are just some of the ways in which our U.S. military personnel and veterans are remembered. The American Legion now provides a way for anyone to visit these sacred sites and keep the memories of military sacrifice alive. A new American Legion Web page packed with stories, photos and videos — along with the ability for visitors to add their own words and images — is now available at www.legion.org/honor.

“Legionnaires are encouraged to share stories of their time in uniform, their family’s military legacy and what their posts are doing to recognize the servicemen and women, past and present, who keep America safe,” said James Hall of New Jersey, chairman of the American Legion Magazine Commission, which oversees the organization’s website.

Already, dozens of stories have been submitted for publication and many of those have already been posted. Those wanting to share their stories can go to www.legiontown.org to submit text and photos online. Once approved by an administrator, those stories will appear on the honor and remembrance Web page.

Other features of the Web page include:

* A collection of articles and photos about honor and remembrance that have appeared in The American Legion Magazine and other media.

* A special “In Memoriam” module for those who want to honor veterans who have passed on by providing their own tributes. Families are encouraged to submit obituaries of veterans by going to www.legion.org/honor and clicking on “In Memoriam.” Once you fill in the deceased’s name, the obituary and upload a photo (optional), just hit the save button. There is no charge.

* A database of more than 1,200 museums, memorials or cemeteries that can help you plan a visit or an opportunity to explore online. These sacred places are compiled in a database, searchable by state and category. To suggest an addition to the database, send an email to honor@legion.org or call 317/630-1298.

* Photo galleries of prominent places of remembrance, including Arlington National Cemetery and U.S. memorials, monuments and cemeteries in Europe.

• The Combined Federal Campaign National Capital Area (CFCNCA) has recognized Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center with two awards: the Summit Award, which is presented to government organizations with a 3 percent increase in charitable donations over the previous year, and a Participation Achievement Award, which recognizes organizations with at least a 2 percent increase in donor participation.

In spite of the nation’s recent economy woes, employees of the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center demonstrated their community spirit and dedication, caring for and sharing with those in need by pledging $97,000 to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).

Thirty-five employees volunteered to serve as CFC key workers who oversaw the campaign and organized a number of CFC fund-raising events such as “Jean and Jersey Day” and free mini concerts in the Atrium for veterans and staff. The key workers efforts helped increase employee participation from 9.1 percent in 2011 to 13.5 percent.

The CFC is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity program and is the only authorized charitable-giving drive for employees in the Federal workplace.

For additional information about Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center, visit http://www.washingtondc.va.gov or call the Public Affairs Office at 202/745-4037.

• The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs recently held an oversight hearing on the strategic and policy implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on veterans eligible for and engaged with health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Committee members examined the potential impact of the law and VA’s efforts to understand, implement and meet the ACA’s requirements.

“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be an historic accomplishment. It’s important that VA is prepared and communicates with veterans,” said Rep. Mike Michaud, a Maine Democrat and the ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

There are approximately 13 million non-elderly veterans living in the United States, according to a report by the Urban Institute. Of that population, 1.3 million, or one in 10, are uninsured and will need to select some type of medical coverage to comply with the law.

“With the substantial number of uninsured veterans, I expect the VA to have an aggressive communications plan in place to inform veterans about the options available to them,” Mr. Michaud said. “In light of the fast-approaching deadlines contained within the law, our committee will continue to engage with VA on the implementation process.”

Currently-enrolled veterans and beneficiaries will experience no change in their VA-administered health care programs, services or benefits. VA health care programs meet the ACA health insurance coverage requirement and will not change as a result. Veterans or other beneficiaries currently enrolled in VA health care programs do not have to take any additional steps to comply with the health insurance requirement outlined in ACA.

The Veterans Health Administration, with the assistance of a contractor, conducted several analyses to assess the potential impact of ACA provisions on veterans and VA. VA expects to see a modest net increase in enrollment of approximately 66,000 veterans.

 

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.