- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft

A neighbor of mine knows that my husband is in the National Guard and I’m active-duty Army, so she thinks we know about everything Army. Her husband is being deployed in July. She found out last week that she’s pregnant. They have no family here, but she has a good job and doesn’t really want to go “back home” until he comes home. We live about 50 miles from Fort Hood and Darnall Army Medical Center. But there is a community hospital in our town and several large hospitals within 30 miles. Her questions are: (1) Does she need to start with a Tricare doctor/hospital so as to have one line of continuous care? (2) If he is killed in action (KIA), do her Tricare benefits stop immediately or carry on until the pregnancy comes to term and the baby is born?

I called Military OneSource, and they said to call the Department of Veterans Affairs. I called the VA, and they said to call CHAMPVA, and all I could get was a recording.

Can you help here?

Anne C

Getting the Runaround in Texas

Austin, Texas

Dear Anne:

Your friend and the baby can keep Tricare Prime, which is provided at no cost (except for some drug co-pays). Three years after his death, her status changes to “retiree Tricare,” which means that she has to pay for her Prime. Right now, the annual enrollment fee is $230 per person. Children retain their coverage at no cost until they age out. She may also use Tricare Standard, the fee-for-service plan. There is no annual enrollment fee with Standard, but there is a $150 annual deductible per family and a 25 percent co-payment. I recommend that she look into a Tricare Supplement policy if she elects Standard.

As for her prenatal care, she can use Tricare Prime or Standard. I recommend that she contact the local beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinator for advice about how best to use Tricare in her area.

Newborns are automatically covered in Tricare under their parent’s enrollment, but should be registered under their own record as soon as practical.

If a husband is KIA, the surviving spouse will never lose Tricare unless she remarries. A child will age out of Tricare at 21, or 23 if he is a full-time student, or if he marries before those ages.

Shaft Notes

Veterans visiting the Louisville, Ky., VA Regional Office now receive a free “history lesson” while waiting for their public contact representative. In collaboration with the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS), the Louisville Regional Office has begun to display museum-quality exhibitions in its main lobby area. These exhibits focus on historical events, places and people relating to the military and veteran community of the commonwealth of Kentucky.

This program was initiated as a means to make the Louisville Regional Office lobby more visually inviting for visitors and provide an environment that demonstrates and reflects the regional office’s appreciation for the veterans they serve and their contributions to both the nation and the commonwealth of Kentucky. Since January, the office has featured “Lewis & Clark: Kentuckians and the Corps of Discovery” and “Civil War in Kentucky.” Future exhibitions will include “Praise the Lord & Pass the Ammunition,” “Images of Liberty” and “Kentucky Colors: Flags of the Civil War.”

• The New York Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs will be hosting the second annual Fleet Week Job, Education and Information Fair. The Job Fair will take place 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Emigrant Savings Bank Building, 49-51 Chambers St., between Broadway and Centre Street, Manhattan. To register go to www.nyc.gov/veterans.

This event will give New York City veterans and service members the opportunity to apply for jobs and receive information about benefits and education. The event is free and open to the public.

• A special attaboy (and attagirl) to the students of West Genesee, N.Y., who have again teamed with the Syracuse VA Medical Center to honor veterans. Last year, the students collaborated with renowned stained-glass artist Jerome Durr to create a stained-glass window for the lobby of the Syracuse VA Medical Center.

This year, the students are interviewing hospitalized veterans for the Veterans History Project, a program of the Library of Congress. The West Genesee High School Veterans History Project was spearheaded by teacher Jennifer Schrader. The students will collect firsthand accounts from hospitalized veterans about their experiences serving in the military during various eras.

The completed interviews will be submitted to the Library of Congress for inclusion in a collection of remembrances that includes letters, video, voice recordings and other visual memorabilia such as photos and scrapbooks. Later, these local stories will be presented in a multisensory interactive display at Syracuse University. For more information about the Veterans History Project, visit www.loc.gov/vets.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax to 301/622-3330 fax to 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]

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