- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I just learned that is it planned to remove TRICARE prime for retirees that live more than 40 miles from a military base and put us on TRICARE standard. Since this a 80/20 type payment, will there be any supplement plans offered to cover the 20 percent that isn’t covered by TRICARE standard.

Bob N.
Via the Internet

Dear Bob:

TRICARE is the health-care program for service members, retirees and their families. My Military Officers of America (MOOA) group tells me that many organizations affiliated with the military offer TRICARE supplements to defray the cost of the co-payments. MOAA’s plans are marketed under the MEDIPLUS brand and can be seen here: https://www.moaainsurance.com/.

Shaft notes

• A dad’s love for his son is most evident when caring foe a disabled child. Mark is a father. He’s also a caregiver for his son. “Each day is a blessing to have my son with me.” His love for his veteran son is evident every day, and his message to other family caregivers out there is: “Stay strong.”

VA recognizes the crucial role that family caregivers play in helping veterans recover from injury and illness in the daily care of veterans in the community. VA values the sacrifices family caregivers make to help veterans remain at home. VA has long provided services to support family caregivers. The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 has allowed VA to provide additional unprecedented benefits and services to family caregivers, including enhanced benefits for family caregivers of seriously injured post 9/11 veterans.

VA has Caregiver Support Coordinators at each VA medical center who serve as the clinical experts on caregiver issues. They know all about VA and non-VA support services and benefits available for veterans of all eras and their family caregivers.

Caregiver Support Coordinators can also assist eligible Post 9/11 veterans and their caregivers in applying for additional services.

VA’s National Caregiver Support Line — 855/260-3274 — is available to respond to inquiries about caregiver services and is a resource and referral center for caregivers, veterans and others seeking caregiver information. The Caregiver Support Line has received more than 55,000 calls and responds to an average of 150 calls per day.

• The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. returned last week from a trip to Europe to meet with Russian officials regarding their renewed support of America’s POW/MIA mission and to meet with U.S. troops stationed in Italy to discuss how VFW can better serve them and their families.

In Moscow, John E. Hamilton met with the leadership of the Committees for Veterans Affairs and Defense in their State Duma, and the Russian Federation Council Committee for Security and Defense. He also met with two of Russia’s largest veterans’ organizations, the War Veterans Committee and the Combat Brotherhood, and the Russian co-chair of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs, Dr. Yekaterina Priyezzheva, who in July attended the VFW’s 113th National Convention in Nevada.

“Our veteran-to-veteran initiative in Russia is vital to gaining further access to eyewitnesses and documents inside their central military archives,” said Mr. Hamilton, a triple Purple Heart recipient for wounds received as a Marine rifleman in Vietnam.

“This is because the VFW can open doors no politician or bureaucrat can access because our sole agenda is purely humanitarian with no strings attached,” he said. “The Russians understand this, having still about 265 of their own missing in Afghanistan. We want to help determine the fate of possibly thousands of missing Americans dating back to World War II and return them home to their families. On POW/MIA and other high-interest issues, I am proud to say that no one does more for veterans than the VFW.”

Accompanied by VFW Washington Officer Executive Director Robert E. Wallace, Mr. Hamilton also met with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, was briefed on political-military issues by U.S. Defense Attaché Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack and was able to meet with the Marine Security Guard Detachment and other embassy staff.

In Italy, he received update briefings by U.S. Army Garrison-Vicenza, U.S. Army Africa and the 173rd Airborne Brigade, as well as installation tours of the medical clinic and warrior transition unit, along with lunch with the troops and dinner with local VFW Post 8862. He would also have validated the military’s top personnel concerns: threats to their pay and benefits, retirement system and other Quality of Life programs. Mr. Hamilton promised to continue to champion their issues in the White House and in Congress.

The VFW national commander also attended the VFW Eastern Conference meeting in Germany and placed a VFW wreath at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the D-Day landing.

This trip followed one he made to the People’s Republic of China in May to help U.S. researchers gain further access into China’s military archives. He also met and thanked American military and civilians assigned to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Thailand and Vietnam who do the onsite investigations and recoveries in Southeast Asia.

The VFW and its auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs nationwide. For more information or to join, visit www.vfw.org.

“Overseas trips are vitally necessary because of VFW’s international work on the POW/MIA issue, which is unmatched by any other veterans’ organization,” Mr. Hamilton said. “It’s also a great opportunity to personally express our entire organization’s appreciation to our military and civilian personnel serving around the world and to thank our overseas VFW comrades for what they do daily to support the troops and their families.”

For more on U.S. full accounting efforts, go to the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office website or the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command website.

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 [email protected].

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