Topic: RETIREES

(TRICARE) GOOD INFORMATION

There is a wealth of good TRICARE information for military personnel and dependents at DOD MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM [http://www.tricare.osd.mil/ ] and MEDIA READINESS ROOM [http://www.tricare.osd.mil/media/ ].



(TRICARE) FEE RAISE TO RETIREES

A letter from Harry Riley, 14 Jan 2006

Tom Philpot in his syndicated column today is again reporting on Department of Defense intentions to raise TRICARE medical care fees for military retirees to the tune of double and triple current costs. Military Officers Association of America and others are voicing the same alarm.

In the first place there should be no fees placed on military retiree medical care as the care is an earned entitlement - not a give-away “extremely rich” benefit as some suggest, but an earned moral obligation of the United States government resulting from military service, military policy, and congressional promises.

For more years that I care to remember Congress consistently explained low military pay (well below cost of living, inflation, civilian equivalent, etc.) as accounting for the “retirement benefits of commissary privileges, post exchange access and no cost life-time medical care” to justify the low compensation.

Year after year warriors heard the congressional explanation, didn't like it, but sacrificed quality of living, long periods of separation from loved ones, and life threatening conditions in service to our nation - fully expecting the U.S. Government to keep it's word. Congress was clearly stating that military members were purchasing no cost heath care and other retirement benefits from the inadequate pay being held back at the time of service.

Now the leadership of the U.S. government has no qualms of penalizing our warriors even in time of war - in short, betraying past, current and future guardians of our nation. Not only are military retirees forced to pay medical care fees, they are required to do so from the pittance received in military and social security retired compensation, which is directly correlated to low wages while on active duty.

It is clear leadership in Washington, D.C. has a warped sense of what leading means. In the case of our Commander-in-Chief, it means, among other things, taking care of the troops, spouses, and widows. Is that being done? I don't think so.

Often leadership forgets the forces that propelled him/her to the position they occupy. There is always someone beneath that is struggling, pushing, winning the battles that push leaders up the line. Military leaders are not successful because of what “they” do, but because they ride on the shoulders of privates and sergeants.

Has this lesson been lost in the White House, DOD and Joint Chiefs of Staff? Has the Joint Chiefs forgotten they ride the shoulders of the troops? Did Secretary Rumsfeld, Under Secretary Winkenwerder or Chu ever know?

If the President and Secretary of Defense understood leadership they would ensure a budget that takes care of the troops in harm's way and keep commitments to those who previously experienced the smell of war. How can the Joint Chiefs remain true to the principle of “taking care of the troops, spouses, and widows” and remain silent or approve military retiree medical care betrayal?

When greed, political power and deceit take precedence over meeting obligations to our warriors, America is in grave danger - much greater than from any terror threat.

Harry Riley, COL, USA (Ret)
111 Overview Drive
Crestview, FL 32539
E-Mail [mailto:hmriley@cox.net ]



(TRICARE) NEW FORMULARY RULE

Forwarded by BGen R. Clements, USAF (Ret)

In accordance with the requirement established in “Section 701, Pharmacy Benefits Program” of the FY 2000 National Defense Authorization Act, TRICARE has published a final rule, to become effective May 3, 2004.

This is the process for determining the formulary status for prescription drugs into one of three cost-share tiers, based upon their relative clinical and cost effectiveness, while also providing beneficiaries with continued access to the medications they need.

Once the new structure is fully implemented, prescription drugs on the current Military Health System (MHS) formulary will be categorized as generic, formulary (brand name), or non-formulary. Prescription drugs will be evaluated based on their relative clinical and cost effectiveness when compared with other drugs in the same therapeutic class.

The DOD Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, comprised of physicians and pharmacists, will guide this process - receiving input from a Beneficiary Advisory Panel representing the general interests of all DOD beneficiaries

Officials said the Uniform Formulary final rule does not change the TRICARE prescription drug benefit. The benefit includes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved drugs and medicines that by U.S. law require a physician's or other authorized provider's prescription. It does not include prescription drugs that are used in medical treatments or procedures that are expressly excluded from the TRICARE benefit by statute or regulation.

The official source will publish a list of prescription drugs categorized as non-formulary when final determinations are made.

“The military treatment facility (MTF) remains the best value for all users of the TRICARE pharmacy program,” said Col. William Davies, director, DOD Pharmacy Programs. “By having prescriptions filled at the MTF, TRICARE beneficiaries eliminate their out-of-pocket costs.”

Future prescriptions filled by the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy, or a retail network pharmacy will cost $3 for up to a 90-day supply of a generic medication, $9 for up to a 90-day supply of a brand-name formulary medication, and $22 for up to a 90-day supply of a non-formulary medication.

Beneficiaries choosing to fill prescriptions using a non-network pharmacy will pay either $9 or 20% of the total cost of the prescription, whichever amount is greater, for both generic and brand-name formulary medications; and $22 or 20% whichever amount is greater, for up to a 30-day supply of non-formulary medications. Applicable deductibles for non-network pharmacy use must first be met.

Up-to-date information on the TRICARE Pharmacy Program will be available on the TRICARE Web site http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy [http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy]. TMA will announce the implementation schedule as the information becomes available.



(TRICARE) ON CHANGING YOUR PROVIDER

From MOAA [http://www.moaaonline.org/ct/L1qIiB11TzIu/ ]

TRICARE For Life (TFL) beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to find out what type of Medicare provider they have prior to making an appointment with their health care professional. If you don't, you may wind up paying more than you think.

Medicare currently has three types of providers:

  • opt-out providers;
  • participating providers; and
  • nonparticipating providers.

Opt-out providers have chosen to not see Medicare patients and cannot submit claims to the Medicare program. They are considered nonauthorized and nonparticipating. If you use a nonauthorized provider, you will be responsible for the full bill, including the portion TRICARE would have paid.

Participating providers are Medicare-authorized providers who agree to accept the Medicare-allowable charge as payment in full, and who agree to file claims. A nonparticipating provider does not agree to accept the allowable charge as payment in full, and may or may not file claims.

To find out what type of health care provider you have, call Medicare toll-free at 1-800-633-4227.

Beginning June 5, 2006, a small number of TFL beneficiaries who were treated by providers who “opted-out” saw their claims denied by both Medicare and TRICARE.

This was incorrect.

The TFL claims processor will automatically reprocess those claims that were improperly denied. No action by the beneficiary is necessary. TRICARE will continue to pay claims at the TRICARE Standard rate for any Medicare-eligible beneficiary who is treated by a provider who has opted-out of Medicare only until September 30, 2006.

After that date, a TFL or Dual Eligible beneficiary who seeks care from a provider who has opted out of Medicare will be responsible for the entire bill.

Overview: TRICARE For Life (TFL) restores TRICARE coverage for all Medicare-eligible retired uniformed services beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare Part B. It was passed by Congress as part of the FY 2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398) and became Public Law Oct. 30, 2000, and TFL took effect Oct. 1, 2001.

Coverage: Eligible beneficiaries will receive all Medicare-covered benefits under Medicare in addition to all TRICARE covered benefits. For most beneficiaries who use a Medicare provider, Medicare will be first payer for all Medicare-covered services and TRICARE Standard (formerly CHAMPUS) will be second payer.

Cost: TFL has no annual premium and pays all Medicare copayments and deductibles. However, eligible beneficiaries must pay the monthly premium for Medicare Part B ($88.50 a person in 2006) and any applicable TRICARE copayments for services covered by TRICARE but not Medicare, such as pharmacy services. In situations where Medicare coverage does not apply, TRICARE will become first payer, and beneficiaries will be responsible for the standard TRICARE deductible ($150 a person and $300 a family) and 25-percent copayments and not to exceed the annual $3,000 catastrophic cap for a family a year for TRICARE covered services.

Pharmacy Benefit: The DOD “triple option” pharmacy benefit called TRICARE Senior Pharmacy (TSRx) began April 1, 2001. For information about this benefit, see the TSRx information below.

Funding: TFL is set in permanent law, just like Social Security, Medicare, and military retired pay. As such, annual action by Congress to reauthorize TFL is not required. Public Law 106-398 established a DOD Medicare Eligible Health Care Trust Fund, effective Oct. 1, 2002. For those beneficiaries who are currently retired, the fund will be resourced with annual mandatory contributions from DOD and the U.S. Treasury. Active Duty beneficiaries' future TFL benefits will be paid for by funds set aside through an annual accrual fund similar to that of the current retiree system.

Administration: DOD and their TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractors are responsible for the administration of TFL. To contact the regional TRICARE For Life in your area, refer to the contact information table.

TRICARE website [http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tfl/default.cfm ].



(TRICARE) SIMPLIFYING DEFINITIONS

From JBONJO@aol.com [mailto:JBONJO@aol.com]

This all gets so technical - and thus potentially confusing - and it is so easy for our Tricare dependent folks to panic when they get a billing turndown. Perhaps the following definitions may help clarify this:

A Tricare participating provider is either
1. A contracted network provider under Tricare Extra or Tricare Prime; or
2. A non-contracted provider who signs the Participation Agreement on the Tricare claim form DD-2642.

In either case, a participating provider always accepts assignment. Participation under Tricare automatically results in a legally enforceable agreement by the provider to accept the amount Tricare allows on the claim as full payment for all Tricare-covered services on that claim.

On a participating claim, Tricare sends its payment directly to the provider. The patient is responsible for paying the provider what Tricare does not pay, up to, but not more than the amount Tricare allowed on the claim.

The patient may not be charged more, i.e., he is not legally indebted for more, than the amount allowed for covered services on any claim on which the provider has signed the Participation Agreement, or if the provider is a Tricare Extra or Prime network provider.

The patient is responsible for paying the amount billed for any medical service Tricare denies ($0.00 allowed for that service). The patient should immediately file a written appeal with Tricare for any charge that is denied.

If the provider opts not to participate, he will not sign the Participation Agreement on the Tricare claim form. Tricare will send its payment directly to the patient. The patient is responsible for paying the provider up to, but not more than 115% of the amount Tricare allowed on the claim. The patient may not be charged more.

Google is not the place to search for Tricare providers or Tricare information. That's like looking for a brain surgeon in the Yellow Pages. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (OASDHA) maintains an official Tricare Web site on the Internet at http://www.tricare.osd.mil [http://www.tricare.osd.mil].

Go to that site, click on your Tricare region on the Home Page Map, then search for Participating Provider on the page that comes up.



(TRICARE) TFL AND DUAL ELIGIBILITY

TRICARE has uploaded a new “TRICARE For Life and Dual Eligibility” fact sheet on its Web site.

This fact sheet replaces the previous TRICARE For Life fact sheet and the Dual Eligibility fact sheet. You can view it on the TRICARE Web site by clicking on the following link: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/factsheets/viewfactsheet.cfm?id=268 [http://www.tricare.osd.mil/factsheets/viewfactsheet.cfm?id=268]



(TRICARE) TFL CRITERIA

TRICARE FOR LIFE REQUIRES THAT YOU MEET FIVE CRITERIA
By James E. Hamby Jr., Special to Navy Times, 2 May 2005 Issue
Forwarded by YNCS Don Harribine, USN (Ret.)

Q. In June, I will turn 65 and get Tricare for Life. My wife won't be 65 until November. Will she get Tricare for Life when I do, or does she have to wait until she is 65?

A. Your wife will not become entitled to Tricare for Life until she becomes entitled to Medicare at age 65.Tricare for Life entitlement is established by the law that created the program in 2001. To be entitled to Tricare for Life, each person must be all of the following:
(1) Legally eligible otherwise for Tricare;
(2) At least 65 years old;
(3) Entitled to Medicare;
(4) Enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Medicare; and
(5) Properly registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) data base.

If a Tricare beneficiary is properly registered in DEERS and is enrolled in Part B of Medicare, the transition from “ordinary” Tricare eligibility to Tricare for Life entitlement is automatic and seamless one second past midnight on the last day of the month preceding the month of that person's 65th birthday. The beneficiary does not have to do anything to make it happen. This is true regardless of whether the beneficiary becomes entitled to Social Security payments at that time.

A beneficiary does not have to be entitled to Social Security payments to get Medicare at age 65. Medicare entitlement begins on the first day of the month of the person's 65th birthday, even if his Social Security payment entitlement will not start until later. Certain people become entitled to Medicare before they are 65 because of disability or kidney disease. They are called “dual eligible” if they are enrolled in Part B of Medicare. Their claims are processed and paid in exactly the same way as those of Tricare for Life beneficiaries. However, they are not Tricare for Life beneficiaries.

That's because the condition creating Medicare entitlement may not be permanent. If the condition improves enough, Medicare will terminate their entitlement. Then, they will no longer have dual eligibility. They will revert to their previous Tricare eligibility status. Medicare entitlement upon reaching age 65, and the resulting Tricare for Life entitlement, is permanent - lifelong. It requires only that the beneficiary's DEERS record and Part B enrollment be properly maintained.

There is a final caveat, of course: Divorce, or remarriage if widowed, will unfavorably affect the non-military member's entitlement in most cases.

—————————————————

Respond to:
James E. Hamby Jr.
Tricare Help
Times News Service
6883 Commercial Drive
Springfield, VA 22159; or E-Mail him [mailto:mcochamp@aol.com ]. If e-mail, please include the word “Tricare” in the subject line and do NOT attach files to your message. Attachments will not be opened.



ACCOLADE TO A TRUE FRIEND OF MILITARY RETIREES

The following is a letter from tireless worker Floyd Sears who has spent many years coordinating efforts by military retirees to receive promised benefits not given. My response follows his letter.

To: All concerned about mrgrg-ms.org

Since I announced that “Everybody has to quit at some point in time and I guess this is my time.” I've received a flood of e-mails concerning whether or not my http://mrgrg-ms.org/ web site will remain on the Internet.

I have no plans to take it down.

The mrgrg-ms.org web site currently has 557 objects which includes web pages and images. I need to point out that the mrgrg-ms.org web site was not planned… it simply evolved as various military retiree medical care events unfolded. The web page at http://mrgrg-ms.org/history1.html is a history of the way I saw the events unfold.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify what I meant by “quit”. I've always heard that one should lead, follow, or get out of the way. I'm more or less getting out of the way.

Floyd Sears, MSGT, USAF, retired
Retired Military Advocate
6733 Riviera Drive
Biloxi, MS 39532-9348
E-mail - fsears@bellsouth.net
Home Page [http://mrgrg-ms.org/ ]

TO: FLOYD SPENCE

I know I speak for a large majority when I say that you have done an admiral job for retirees and I hope everyone appreciates the incredible amount of time and effort you have given in our behalf… and for the benefits we have received as a consequence of that effort.

If a medal for Distinguished Service to Retirees could be issued, you would certainly deserve to be one of the first in line to receive it!

Thank you so very much for the continuing care and concern you have provided for your fellow retired service personnel and their families over these many years.

Jug Varner



AN IDEAL APPOINTMENT

WHITTINGTON NAMED TO FEDERAL COMMITTEE
By Brian Livingston, community@laurelleadercall.com [mailto:community@laurelleadercall.com] Forwarded by Floyd Sears

Jim Whittington of Laurel, having been a 20-plus year veteran of the United State Air Force, should know better than most that you don't volunteer for anything. But Whittington, a retired master sergeant, feels very strongly about veterans' benefits. It was Whittington who in March of 1999 fired the first salvos in the battle veterans now are fighting over “broken promises.”

In yet another skirmish dating back to that blustery day in Laurel when the first public meetings were held with political figures of the time in order to right a wrong, Whittington was just recently named to the TRICARE Region Four, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) working group that will be looking at health care alternatives for those military beneficiaries who currently rely on military treatment facilities for their care. The group also will assist senior leadership in identifying options if a certain treatment facility is selected for realignment or closure.

“This is a nation wide appointment I'm proud to serve on,” said Whittington. “I, along with several other group members from other regions of America am tasked with making sure our military personnel are properly cared for. It is an honor to serve again.”

The groups are set up under the Department of Defense and the TRICARE Management Activity aligned with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of Health Affairs in Falls Church, Virginia. Richard A. Mayo, RADM, MC, USN, who is the Deputy Director of the health affairs, welcomed Whittington into this new, ground-breaking organization.

“Whittington's prior experience, regional perspective, and genuine concern for our beneficiaries will ensure we maintain a uniform health care benefit as the leaders shape our armed services for the future,” said Mayo in a press release.

Whittington has been in the forefront of the “Keeping the Broken Promises” for retired military personnel and their families since 1999. Since then he, along with others in the Military Retirees Grass Roots group, has testified in front of Congress and met with countless political leaders in trying to get the government to honor their promises to World War II and Korean War veterans and families.

The first BRAC meeting will be held on the morning of Sept. 24, 2004, at the Skyline Complex in Falls Church.

A FOLLOW-UP NOTE FROM JIM WHITTINGTON: 9-12-04

“I normally do not forward any emails that mention my name., but let me clarify a point. I did not fire the first salvos in our fight to regain our medical care under the umbrella of the “Broken Promise” and the MRGRG. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands that were involved before me. I have played a very minor role, compared to others. Just wanted to set the record straight.

“I got directly involved in 1997, if my memory serves me right. That is when I met Floyd Sears over the internet. We have since become steadfast friends. But Floyd is the one who really got me involved. Then Col. Day, Class Act Group, invited Floyd and me to Ft. Walton Beach,FL for a meeting on 16 Dec. of 1998.

“Yes, I was nominated and selected to serve on the BRAC WORKING GROUP. BRAC has affected thousands of people with previous base closings. This one will affect thousands more. It has been reported that 25% of the U.S. Bases may be closed this time around. The Official list has not been published yet. This next round of Base Closings is one more reason to get involved one more time and I ask you to do so.

“Retirees who live near and use the MTF pharmacies at the bases
selected to be closed will suffer. The Widows will suffer. As others in the past rounds of BRAC have suffered and had to change the way they do business with doctors by changing doctors, clinics, and hospitals.

“Just thought you may want to know.”



ANOTHER GOOD LETTER TO CONGRESS

(Mailed to Senators and Representatives by Ron Shaw)

Dear Recipients:

To get my vote, and the vote of thousands of other Military Retirees, action must be taken to bring our issues before the Floor of both Houses of Congress for a Vote this Congressional year.

These issues include: “Broken Promise Legislation (HR602/S407), SBP, and Full Concurrency. The lack of Your Support to bring these issues forward for a Floor Vote will result in our action against you this Fall and the years to follow.

We know, as you know, that your co-sponsorship of a given bill for Military Retirees has been nothing more than a shallow showing of Lip Service during certain “Patriotic Days” of the year, with absolutely no intent of a follow through in our behalf.

Your own trough is so full of personal benefits and “Pork” that you have all forgotten who “We The People” are, and once elected it appears you have no regard for your constituency unless they have powerful enough “Money Lobbyists” to grab your attention with some personal benefit for you and yours.

Please take the appropriate action now to do the job you were elected to do and fully represent Military Retirees, as well as other legitimate needy groups, as a bona fide part of “We The People.”

Thank you,

Captain Ron Shaw, USAF, Retired
1008 West 230 North
Orem, Utah 84057
801-226-8240



BE IT RESOLVED

BE IT RESOLVED
Forwarded by Col. Art Krause USAF (Ret) 2/23/05 via BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret)

WHEREAS, The State of California has one of the largest retired military communities in the United States; and

WHEREAS, California includes among its population over 181,000 retired military personnel in addition to their dependent families; and

WHEREAS, These military retirees receive over $285,000,000 per month in retired military pay which equates to over $3,400,000,000 annually, much of which goes for the daily living expenses of the retired military community and thus helps support the economy of the State of California: and

WHEREAS, It is believed that the contributions of the retired military community to this state and nation are beyond most people's realization; and

WHEREAS, The healthcare of our retired military community was recognized by Congress in the fiscal 2001 National Defense Authorization Act Public Law 106-398 in a program titled “TRICARE for Life;” and

WHEREAS, TRICARE substantially improves health care access for most Medicare eligible military retirees; and

WHEREAS, TRICARE for Life is a “Medigap” type wraparound coverage, that is, it fills the gaps left by Medicare; and

WHEREAS, When a Medicare eligible retiree uses a civilian facility, TRICARE becomes the secondary payer to Medicare; and

WHEREAS, When the retiree uses the Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) Medicare pays nothing; and

WHEREAS, with the authorization of Medicare funds for patients in a Military Treatment Facility, and with the addition of trained medical personnel, could accommodate both retired military personnel and dependants and active duty personnel; and

WHEREAS, Providing Medicare funds to Military Treatment Facilities will provide jobs for qualified military and civilian medical personnel which will assist the economy of this state; and

WHEREAS, Only the United States Congress can make good on the promises recruiters made in good faith to those that served their country for at least twenty years with the understanding that when they retired, they and their dependants would receive full health care for life;

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the Assembly of the State of California jointly

That the Legislature of the State of California respectfully requests the President and Congress of the United States to enact legislation recognizing the medical needs of retired military personnel and families who are of Medicare age to provide Medicare funds directly to the Military Treatment Facility when an individual is in the hospital so that expansion with the hiring of qualified medical personnel will not only create additional jobs but will also reduce over the next decade Medicare payments for private care; and

Be it further resolved, that the Legislature of the State of California supports the enactment of legislation to address these matters; and

Be it further resolved, that the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, to the House Armed Services Committee, and to the chairman of each committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate for consideration of this legislation.

(Comment by BGen Clements: If this can be accomplished in all of the State's Legislatures it will be a big factor in saving the Military Healthcare System. It will also be a win-win for the American taxpayer as the military treatment facilities can provide care to Medicare eligible retirees at a discount. It would give our over 65 retirees the choice to use the military system or the civilian system based on who performs the best job. We are talking about competitive, top quality, healthcare delivery and patient satisfaction. The thing speaks for itself and It Is The Right Thing To Do!)



BECOME ONE OF THE FEW

Fortunately, there are always a FEW good people working on behalf of the MANY to right wrongs perpetrated against ALL of us.

Unfortunately, there are too MANY people willing to let others fight their battles, or are simply not concerned or aware enough about the erosion of their BENEFITS.

If that second paragraph describes you, perhaps you should do yourself (and all of us) a favor by getting acquainted with the FEW in paragraph one… and, join in the effort before your benefits are eroded to the point of no return.

For several years these relatively FEW have been diligently coordinating efforts to inform Congress about military retire problems and urge them to corrective action. In all likelihood, Tricare For Life would not have come about had it not been for this group’s unyielding efforts.

The vast majority of those in Congress have never experienced military duty first hand, nor truly understand what it means to serve this nation in the military service. There are some in Congress, and even in DOD, working against you - despite their public oratory. In politics, it’s the vote that counts!

So, if you want to know more about those FEW… and be heard by Congress, perhaps you should BECOME ONE OF THE FEW [http://personal.lig.bellsouth.net/f/s/fsears/ ].



BROWN BAG UPDATE

My hat is off to Floyd Sears and a few others of his ilk who continue their dedicated service to military retirees by working night and day on their computers to keep Congress aware of its “Broken Promises” - such as the information in the following article.

Brown Bag Project Update for 20 May 2005
From Floyd Sears, MSGT, USAF (Ret)
Home Page [http://www.mrgrg-ms.org/ ].
E-Mail [mailto:fsears@bellsouth.net ]

  • Total Brown Bags letters sent since 24 Nov 2004 = 40,026
  • Increases since last update = 183
  • HR 602 cosponsors = 182
    Democrats = 136
    Republicans = 45
    Independent = 1
  • S 407 cosponsors = 4

Click here to see Comments posted in the Record Book [http://www.efreeguestbooks.com/mg/multi.pl?27625:9:0 ].

Click here to enter comments in the Record Book [http://www.efreeguestbooks.com/mg/guest.pl?27625:9:0 ].

Click here to update the Brown Bag Tracking System [http://www.mrgrg-ms.org/educate-the-congress.html ].

Click here to see the Brown Bag Tracking System data base [http://www.mrgrg-ms.org/cgi-bin/educate-the-congress.cgi ].

See the top of for a Menu of Brown Bag Support Objects [http://mrgrg-ms.org/ ].



BUSY DAY

Forwarded by RoyV

Have you heard about AAADD - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder?

This is how it manifests itself:

I start to water the garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and see that it needs washing, and head for the garage to get towels and cleaner. Along the way I notice mail on the porch table that I brought in earlier from the mail box.

Going quickly through the mail, I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, but notice the can is full. Putting bills back on the table, I start to take out the garbage. Then I realize I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage, so I may as well pay the bills first and get them in the mail.

Taking my check book off the table, I see there is only one check left. My extra checks are in the desk in my study, so I go inside the house to that desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking. Before looking for the checks, I move the Coke aside so I won't accidentally knock it over. The Coke is warm and needs setting in the refrigerator to cool it off for a few minutes.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, I see a vase of flowers on the counter. They need water. I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses I've been searching for all morning.

I thought I should put them back on my desk, but knew I should first water the flowers. I lay my reading glasses on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. Knowing that tonight when we watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote but may not remember it's on the kitchen table, I should put it back in the den where it belongs… but first, I water the flowers.

While pouring water in the vase, quite a bit spills on the floor. I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then, I start down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day the car isn't washed, the bills aren't paid, there is a warm can of Coke still on the counter, the flowers don't have enough water, there is only one check in my check book, I can't find the TV remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

When I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.

If this isn't you. Your day is coming.



CERTIFICATE OF CREDITABLE COVERAGE

Certificates Help Those Losing TRICARE Eligibility
From Air Force News

Effective Feb 1, 2004, the Department of the Department of Defense Military Health System began automatically issuing a Certificate of Creditable Coverage to any former uniformed services sponsor or family member who loses eligibility for health care benefits under TRICARE.

In the military retiree community, this affects those individuals who lose eligibility because of divorce or a dependent child reaching age 21 (23 for full-time students).

For persons no longer TRICARE-eligible, the certificate serves as proof of previous health care coverage and limits the time another health care plan may exclude them from participating in a health care plan due to a preexisting medical condition.

The Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO), custodian of the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), will mail a certificate for the sponsor or family member within 5 to 10 days after eligibility has been lost. As long as a current address is on file in DEERS, members may expect to receive the certificate within 30 days.

Sponsors or family members needing to expedite receipt of a certificate may mail or fax a request to the DSO. The request should include the sponsor's name and Social Security number, name of family member(s) for whom the certificate is needed, reason for the urgent request, name and address of the person or organization where the certificate should be sent, and finally, signature of the requester.

The request may be faxed to the DSO at (831) 655-8317 or mailed to Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO), Attn: Certificate of Creditable Coverage, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside, CA 93955-6771.

Sponsors or family members who have questions regarding the certificate may contact the DSO at (800) 538-9552, or TTY/TDD at (866) 363-2883. Additional information is also available on the TRICARE Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/certificate/index.cfm [http://www.tricare.osd.mil/certificate/index.cfm].



CLASS ACT RECAP, UPDATE

2005 GOALS
By Harry Riley hmriley@cox.net [hmriley@cox.net]

Class Act Group members and others have been working toward restoration of earned military retiree, spouse, and widow medical care since 1996. Col George “Bud” Day, Medal of Honor recipient, former POW in Hanoi, and attorney, filed a lawsuit against the US Government challenging the 1995 government policy of kicking military retirees, spouses, and widows who reached 65 years of age out of military treatment facilities.

The lawsuit ended in 2003 at the US Supreme Court as they would not hear Col Day's case, however, the Federal Appeals Court language clearly indicated the US Government (Congress) has a “moral obligation” to do what it said it would do (“give us 20 or more years of military service and we'll provide government funded lifetime medical care for you and your dependents”) for military retirees. The case was instrumental in bringing pressure on Congress which resulted in TRICARE for Life in the 2000 National Defense Authorization Act Bill, and we believe was the catalyst for raising awareness of general retiree and veteran benefit issues such as disability compensation, pharmacy, Survivor Benefit Plan, widows issues, etc.

After the Supreme Court decision, Class Act Group has focused total attention toward educating the US Congress that denying, ignoring, or delaying earned medical care benefits for military retirees is reflective of a “use and abuse” or “used bag” attitude and sends mixed signals to current and future warriors.

The goal of the Brown Bag Project is to continue our education process of Congress in a unique communication method. The objective is to cause all Congressmen/women to take a fresh look at our new Bill, “Keep Our Promise to America's Military Retirees Act” that will be introduced in the new 109th Congress. Rep Chris Van Hollen, MD and Senator Tim Johnson, SD, will again introduce the Bills which will include the language of our old bills HR3474/S2065 that had 257 House and 11 Senate Co-sponsors.

Of particular concern and focus should be those Representatives and Senators who did not cosponsor HR3474/S2065 and those who are newly elected. You can view who our cosponsors are by clicking on http://www.classact-lawsuit.com [http://www.classact-lawsuit.com] and scrolling down to the links S-2065 Co-Sponsor Status HR3474 Co-Sponsor Status

We can thank those Congressmen/women that have cosponsored our Bills but remind and urge them to sign on to the new Bills that will be initiated in the new 109th Congress. Congressmen/women that have not cosponsored our Bills should be firmly encouraged to “get with it” and cosponsor the new Bills that will be introduced.


For many just entering our net and wondering what the Brown Bag Project is and how it works, below is the idea Tom Gould suggested and has been implemented. In the last four weeks there have been nearly 10,000 Brown Bag letters from across America sent to Congress and the President.

You can view the status of your State and your Representative/Senator with regard to the number of Brown Bags recorded being sent to each Congressional member and the President at http://mrgrg-ms.org or http://mrgrg-ms.org/cgi-bin/educate-the-congress.cgi

Editor’s Note: For background info on the Brown Bag Project, read the reprised article that follows.



COLA: FICKLE FORMULA

By Stephen Barr, October 19,2006, Source: Washington Post
Forwarded by YNCS Don Harribine, USN (Ret)

Federal retirees, many on fixed incomes, look forward to the annual COLA announcement. But whether the cost-of-living adjustments keep pace with health-care costs, property taxes and rising prices is not an easy calculation.

Larry Daks, a retired Foreign Service officer in Northern Virginia, said his pension increase should help him cope with rising consumer prices, assuming his health-care costs remain reasonable. “I like to see a COLA every year,” Daks said, adding that it reinforced “a sense that the government has sort of a contract with us and is trying to do something for us every year.”

But Gerald Cornell of Burtonsville, who worked for the Internal Revenue Service and served in the military, said his health-insurance company has scheduled a sharp jump in premiums for next year that will drain his COLA dry. “The average person is going backward,” he said.

The announcement of a Social Security COLA increase triggered adjustments for government retirees, raising the average annuity in one of the largest pension programs, the Civil Service Retirement System, by $80 a month.

Government employees are covered by a number of retirement systems. To pass along COLAs, the systems use salary-based formulas to determine annuities and rules, which have been modified by Congress in some years. Federal employees covered by older retirement programs typically receive a pension considered generous by private-sector standards, while employees hired after 1984 receive a smaller pension and Social Security income, and may enroll in a 401(k)-type savings program.

For 2007, retirees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System, regular military retirees and many Foreign Service officers will receive a 3.3 percent COLA. People who retired under the newer Federal Employees Retirement System and are 62 or older will receive a 2.3 percent COLA. The smaller COLA also will go to some military retirees and some Foreign Service officers.

The average annuity under the old Civil Service Retirement System will increase to $2,532 from $2,452 per month, the Office of Personnel Management said. The average monthly retirement check for FERS retirees will rise to $916 from $896 next year, the OPM said. There are about 2.4 million federal retirees, with about 330,000 retirees and survivors in the District, Virginia and Maryland.

The average monthly retirement payment for the military will be $1,705 next year, though average monthly retiree military pay next year will be higher in Virginia ($2,277) and Maryland ($1,859), according to Pentagon data. Nationwide, there are about 1.94 million military retirees, with 189,168 in the District, Virginia and Maryland.

State Department officials said computations were not available on COLAs for the Foreign Service but estimated that monthly payments to about 6,100 retired officers and surviving spouses in the Washington area would average $4,384 next year. Nationwide, there are 14,328 retired Foreign Service officers. Many federal retirees continue to work after leaving the government, and some move from the Washington area in a bid to stretch their retirement income.

Virginia A. Broadbent moved to Orange, Va., from Alexandria after retiring from the Agriculture Department in 1994. “Quite clearly I could obtain a better house at a lower price here at the time I bought,” she said. “I would be living in a hovel if I was living in the D.C. area.” But she is worried that property tax rates in Orange will increase this year, cutting into her CSRS pension. “I have become more cautious and concerned about money. I would love to see a COLA that kept pace with the cost of living in a more realistic sense. A COLA of “4 to 5 percent would seem nicer to me,” she said.

Kleeman never stopped working. Her government career included about 20 years at the Government Accountability Office, a congressional agency, and she left federal service in 1994 to join George Washington University as a distinguished executive in residence, teaching and helping students plan their careers. While in government, she was covered by CSRS and FERS, which give her a mixed COLA. Her retirement benefits are “certainly generous,” she said, but noted that many federal employees will need to invest wisely in the Thrift Savings Plan, their 401(k)-type program, to achieve a comfortable retirement.

“I don't think I will get rich on the 3.3,” she quipped, adding, on a more somber note, “very few people now in government service are going to be able to leave a large inheritance.”

Stephen Barr's e-mail address isbarrs@washpost.com.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company


For more information, please visit bcbshealthissues.com



DILEMNA

Forwarded by Floyd Sears
E-Mail [mailto:fsears@bellsouth.net ]

Dear Mr. Sears:

Would it help get coverage on the Retired Military Veterans “Promises Broken” if we bombard the media with e-mails? What do you think ? Has anyone contacted Larry King or Lou Dobbs ?

Thank you,
Retired Veteran

Dear Retired Veteran:

In answer to your question, everything that you have suggested has been tried many, many times. All of the news media personalities have been contacted many times. I know this based on e-mails people send me telling me what they are doing. I have contacted, in person and on the phone, several news reporters along the Mississippi Gulf Coast concerning the “military retiree medical care broken promise issue, and the greatest swindle of all time… a broken contract with America's military retirees” with lots of backup documentation and basically they tell me that it's not news.

In frustration I asked one reporter if I stripped naked at the main gate at Keesler AFB and wrote “broken promise” on my back side would that be news. He said that it would and it would make the front page. So far I've resisted the temptation to do that.

There are many individual efforts going on at this time that very few people know about. People tell me what they are doing, but due to the fact that I would swamp the e-mail networks if I forwarded everything I get… I don't.

There is a good reason for not forwarding everything I get. If one gets involved in the e-mail network to the point where they are sending e-mail to a large number of people, as I do, one would discover that one gets fussed at a lot because of what they “are” or “are not” doing. Those folks that work the Internet e-mail lists develop thick skin, but in spite of that some of the barbs that get thrown hurt.

The fact that the military retiree grass roots is not very well organized is something that has always bothered me. I, and many other military retirees that I'm aware of, have made many attempts to get military retiree grass rooters organized on the Internet with limited success. The Brown Bag Project, addressed at the top of MRGRG [] is one of the many attempts that has been made to organize an effort. It got started with a bang, but is now faltering.

Unlike the active duty military, we can not require people to fall in, stand at attention, and listen to the order of the day. At the very best, we can only make suggestions concerning what people might do. Nobody has to comply or report. Trying to get something organized on the Internet is very difficult.

Retired Veteran, I am forwarding this e-mail to the CAG/MRGRG e-mail network, with your e-mail address hidden, because I've been asked a similar question by many people many times.

Floyd



DUMB AND DUMBER!

A great letter from Air Force retiree Jim Whittington who tells it like it is in our government today. I wonder if “The Honorable Mississippi Congressional Delegation“ will actually see it - but if they do, it would greatly surprise me if they answer, other than via some flunky's form letter! So the beat goes on and the rich get richer! - Jug

The Honorable Mississippi Congressional Delegation
(For Staff: Please pass to the Senators/Congressmen. - Thanks.)

Sirs:

If it weren't so STUPID it would be funny. But it is a REAL SITUATION.

Fox TV News has just reported (Sheppard Smith, from MS, reporting) from Diamond Head, MS) stated and showed photos of the New Orleans Super Dome that is to be repaired. The Federal Government is GIVING, DONATING, GRANTS to the owners of the New Orleans Superdome. $91 Million Dollars to repair the Dome. The Federal government being Congress and the Taxpayer (us) picking up the tab.

This is to be used to repair damages caused by Hurricane Katrina.

This is the most STUPID item I have seen the Government make today. You folks are apparently out of control to allow something like this to happen. I know there is no oversight and no accountability on the part of Congress in any given situation, but this is DUMB AND DUMBER.

You allow $91 Million to a private corporation but you allow DOD to increase Tricare fees for the military retirees? DOD says that the retirees are taking away funds from equipment and other items necessary to fight the war on Terrorism, but you can allow $91 MILLION in free money to the Superdome? Get Real! This is the absolutely height of HYPOCRISY.

There are victims and there are victims and the SUPERDOME ain't one of the victims.

I am asking - no, demanding - an answer, which I will never get from anyone in Congress, as they also hide behind the Don't ask —don't tell policy. In other words, we can't get answers.

Military retirees are facing huge increases in Tricare fee and cuts in service and you people in Congress “fiddle” while Rome burns - or better still, while the U.S. “Implodes” from within all because Congress has fallen prey to huge lobbyist payoffs wanting to get reelected.

Gentlemen, is asking to much to ask you to stand up and be counted and object to such give-aways as $91 MILLION to repair the Superdome. Dumb and Dumber.

How about an answer. My toll free number is 1-888-426-9734. Any calls from any of you?

Jim Whittington
MSGT, USAF (Ret)
622 West 21st Street
Laurel, MS.



E-MAIL STORM COULD HELP END SBP INEQUITIES

PREFACE
By BGen Robert Clements, USAF (Ret.)

VADM Norb Ryan USN Ret and Colonel Steve Strobridge USAF Ret , of the Military Officers Association of America, have made correcting this SBP issue one of the main goals of MOAA this year. It is such an important issue that will help so many folks regardless of whether we personally have SBP ourselves. There are some very sad cases out there that need fixing. So I am sending a personal appeal for your help.

Please read through the message and follow the directions visiting MOAA [http://www.capwiz.com/moaa/home/ ]. By clicking on the “Cosponsor SBP Fixes” link you can send your senators and representative a MOAA-suggested message, so there's a stack of messages waiting when Congress reconvenes this week.

Please let me repeat. This is a number one priority of MOAA. Your action in this matter can change and make the lives of some very deserving military families and widows a lot more endurable in the time they have left. Please, will you spend just a few minutes and take action now? Chk6 - bob.

E-MAIL STORM COULD HELP END SBP INEQUITIES

As MOAA gears up for our annual “Storming the Hill” lobbying event, now is the time to e-mail your representatives to support our SBP inequities initiatives. Next week, MOAA's Board of Directors and State Council Presidents will descend on Washington, visiting every state's Congressional delegation.

They'll be urging fixes on two Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) problems: the unfair deduction of VA survivor benefits from SBP when the service caused the member's death and the delayed (2008) effective date of paid-up SBP coverage.

Currently, survivors receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA when the member's death is due to service-connected causes. But they're forced to pay for their own DIC by giving up $1 of their SBP annuity for every $1 from the VA. In many cases, such survivors are left with an annuity of only $993 per month.

Congress also inadvertently penalized older retirees by delaying the effective date of 30-year, paid-up SBP coverage until October 2008. Under current law, “Greatest Generation” retirees who signed up for SBP in 1972 will end up paying six years longer and 34% more SBP premiums than a member of the same grade and years of service who retired in 1978.

In the Senate, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ) have joined to sponsor S. 185, a bill that would end the SBP/DIC offset effective Oct. 1, 2005.

On the House side, Representative Henry Brown's (R-SC) H.R. 808 would end the SBP-DIC offset while Rep. Jim Saxton's (R-NJ) H.R. 968 would move up implementation of paid-up SBP, both as of Oct. 1, 2005.

We need your help to ensure that these issues are fresh in legislators' minds when MOAA representatives arrive in their offices to ask for their co-sponsorship of these bills. You can help by visiting MOAA [http://www.capwiz.com/moaa/home/ ], so there's a stack of messages waiting when Congress reconvenes next week.

RYAN VISITS PENTAGON OFFICIALS

On Oct. 28, MOAA's President, VADM Norb Ryan, Jr., (USN-Ret.) sent a letter to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) urging the Pentagon to implement premium conversion and flexible spending account (FSA) programs to let military members pay their TRICARE health and dental premiums and their out-of-pocket expenses for dependent care and health care on a pre-tax basis.

Military families are currently denied this important basic benefit-worth thousands of dollars a year in many cases, that virtually all other large employers offer routinely to millions of employees across the country. The government already offers these programs to all other employees who receive federal paychecks - including legislators and their staffers and senior defense civilians.

Admiral Ryan's letter urged Pentagon leaders to implement these programs as soon as possible if within their power, or to seek statutory authority in this year's Defense Authorization Act if there's a legal impediment our researcher couldn't identify.

Our troops and their families are shouldering heavy burdens for the rest of the country. MOAA believes strongly that they shouldn't be the last in line to have their financial interests protected under these programs.



GETTING THINGS WE EARNED

MESSAGE FROM A MILITARY RETIREE

Along with thousands of other military retirees/veterans, I am asking your help in getting the things we earned paid to us as promised by our government.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would look at the Power Point presentation found at http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle.ppt [http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle.ppt] to learn about the Greatest Swindle Of All Time and help us correct this swindle by letting the American public know about it.

Depending on your system, this may be slow to load, but please wait.

Thank you for your help.

Reverend Edward H. Gilstrap (Proud U.S. Navy retiree)
3406 Oklahoma St, Muskogee, OK 74401-2151
(918) 683-4557 mailto:jeg@azalea.net [mailto:jeg@azalea.net]



HELPING OUR BROTHERS AT ARMS

By BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret.)

Many of us are military retirees who have served our country with honor and this includes the widows or widowers of our fallen comrades. Included also are our brothers at arms, the members of the Guard and Reserves. Without them we are a hollow force instead of a total force.

As living members of that force, we need to support the plight of some 200,000 retired SBP enrollees who would benefit from accelerating the paid-up SBP effective date. We also need, as a coalition of brothers at arms, to plug MOAA's alert to support Senate amendments on concurrent receipt for the 100% disabled (“unemployables”), SBP (paid-up SBP and SBP/DIC offset), and health care for the Selected Reserves.

We are dragging our efforts with only 3,000 messages so far, and that's way less than the numbers MOAA has experienced in prior alert efforts.

I suspect the reason is because not that many people are personally affected by most of these issues… but, as stated above, 200,000 retired SBP enrollees would benefit from accelerating the paid-up SBP effective date. That is a large number of deserving people in our family.

We only make progress on most of these things if we all support each other's issues. If everybody said, “I'm only going to ask my legislators to support things that affect me personally,” we'd have a lot fewer people pushing any given initiative. We win big if we all support each other. We lose big when we don't.

Can I urge you folks, members or not of MOAA, to go to their Web site HERE [http://www.capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=7622276&type=CO ], then type in their ZIP code and send the message?

I'd appreciate it and what is more important, those 200,000+ people out there deserving of our support would appreciate it. It takes so little time to make a difference in someone's life.

These people are part of our family. Lets not leave them behind. Just take a couple of minutes out of your life. “It Is the right thing to do.”



HOW OLD IS GRANDMA?

From JayPMarine

One evening, a grandson was talking to his grandmother about current events. He asked her what she thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

Grandma replied, “Well, let me think a minute,” then thoughtfully replied:

“I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill.
There were no credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens.
Man had not invented pantyhose, air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air.
Man had yet to walk on the moon.
Your Grandfather and I got married first and then lived together.
Every family had a father and a mother.
Almost everyone attended church regularly.
Until I was 25, I called every man older than I, ‘Sir’ - - and after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, ‘Sir.’
We were before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, day-care centers, and group therapy.
Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.
We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.
Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.
We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.
Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.
Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.
Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends — not condominiums.
We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.
We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios. And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.
If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan' on it, it was junk.
The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam.
Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of.
We had 5&10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.
Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.
Or, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards.
Long-distance calls were expensive and not every home had a telephone, so we wrote letters to friends and families in other towns. And you could read our handwriting. We had never heard of 0the term ‘E-mail.’
You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one?
Too bad because, gas was 11 cents a gallon.
In my day, grass was mowed, coke was a cold drink, pot was something your mother cooked in, and rock music was your grandmother's lullaby.
Aids were helpers in the Principal's office, chip meant a piece of wood, hardware was found in a hardware store and software wasn't even a word.
We were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby.
No wonder people call us old and confused and say there is a generation gap.”

How old do you think this “grandma” is? Would you believe she is 58… born in 1946?

Isn’t it amazing how much our customs and morals have changed? How could so much go wrong in such a brief period of time?



IF CONGRESS KNOWS, IT SELDOM SHOWS

Letter forwarded by Floyd Sears

If you are a military retiree, READ THIS LETTER from retired Air Force medical officer George A. White, Dothan, AL to his Congressman. Then, either send a copy of this article as an E-mail enclosure to your own Senator and Represenitatives, or send it via snail mail.

Dear Congressman Davis:

In your recent response to Retired Master Sergeant Earl Warmath , you repeated what he and thousands of us already know, but it sounded as though you were just now made aware of it.

It also seemed apparent that you either don't know the difference between a “Veteran” and a “Retired Military Person”, or you thought that Earl was referring to non-career military veterans.

A Veteran is anyone who has served at least 90 days active duty in some military branch during some period of war or conflict. These “veterans” receive care at VA Medical Facilities, and although their entitlement is for “service connected “medical problems only, the VA has been providing them more than just that for many years. Earl was referring to “Military Retirees'.

Military Retirees are members who have served twenty or more years active duty in one of our military branches. Although Military Retirees are also veterans, they were promised that their twenty or more years of active duty military service would entitle them to care in “Military Medical Facilities” for any and all medical needs for themselves and their spouse, for life. “VA Medical Facilities” and “Military Medical Facilities” are two different facilities and serve different people.

This was a promise made all during every military person's military career as a part of “career counseling”. Some years back, Congress started downsizing and closing military bases and the Military Medical Facilities were downsized and closed also. Even though closing these facilities that were necessary in order to provide the care that was “earned” and “promised” represented a malicious intent to ignore these promises, Congress did it anyway, leaving the aging Military Retirees out in the cold. Just in the past few years Congress passed legislation and initiated TFL (Tricare For Life) - a program that would pay for the part that Medicare would not pay, for those individuals who were Medicare eligible (over 65) and were paying into part “B”.

Those under 65 and not eligible for Medicare were left with an even less desirable Tricare program with initiation fees and co-pays. Although these are both lousy programs that Physicians and Medical Facilities across the country are increasingly refusing to accept due to the government's poor reimbursement history, this is the “bone” that was thrown to our country's Military Retirees by our self serving Congress. And now they are planning to increase the fees relating to both of these programs and their attached prescription programs, and this is what Earl was referring to.

I hope you can now see that this is a far cry from the “earned entitlement” of cost free medical care that was promised to Military Retirees. We are treated like second class citizens with never ending complicated, paperwork and never ending increasing fees, while Congress has no difficulty funding totally free medical and dental care for ALL criminals in ALL prisons across the country, and to ALL “illegal” immigrants” and even to “mid-east terrorists” - while the very men and women who have served and sacrificed (some through three wars), in order to insure the freedoms that you and all others enjoy, are given nothing more than lip service and “political spin”.

The fact that the above mentioned people who ARE receiving cost free medical care have not only, not “earned it”, but they have actually ALL broken the law, is a national disgrace. If I was a member of Congress I would be ashamed.

Most of our appeals to countless Congress persons has resulted in either no response or some “canned political spin” or some lip service never meant to go anywhere. Please do not give us more of the same.

I'll tell you what I would do if I were a member of Congress: I would take my very first opportunity to address my Congressional peers and I would demand that this atrocity be stopped immediately and that the earned medical care was to be restored immediately with no conditions and no qualifications other than the “Retired Military ID Card” that, for many decades, assured every retiree of medical care in ANY Military Medical facility where he or she requested that care.

If my Congressional peers did not agree to act immediately, I would state my intention to get before any and every media source with a microphone and make sure that this atrocity was made known to all American citizens, and I would continue this until the “wrong” was made “right”.

You see, the American citizens as a whole, are really not aware of this. Congress has shielded it and “spun” it by misleading the public and continually referring to “Veterans care” and VA facilities when the issue is addressed. I astound many civilians regularly when I tell them that I can no longer get medical care in a Military Medical Facility, because most of them have either served for some time themselves or have known others who have, and they know that Military Retirees were promised care when they retired. In fact the entitlement to medical care was the single most motivating factor that has led members to elect to remain in the military for a career.

If you cannot measure up to this challenge, please do not make us any other empty promises or give any other excuses. Just tell us you don't care.

Sincerely,
George A. White
Capt USAF-Ret. (Medical Officer)
Dothan, AL 36303
gawjaw71@netzero.com



IMPORTANT BRIEFING FOR ALL RETIRED MILITARY

By Floyd Sears, MSGT, USAF (Ret)

If you are a military retiree, this information affects you more than you possibly know, and deserves your close attention, as well as cooperative action.

This briefing is a series of “narrated” web pages designed to educate the U.S. Congress, the American news media, and the American people, concerning what has become known as the greatest swindle of all time… a broken contract with America's military retirees.

TURN ON YOUR SOUND, click here to start, [http://www.mrgrg-ms.org/swindle00.html ] and then click on “Opening remarks”. Use the “Forward” button of each page to advance through the briefing.



LETTER TO CONGRESS

To The Honorable Mississippi Congressional Delegation

(Staff: Please pass this important message to Senators/Congressmen)

Sirs:

Let's start with a question: “Why does it take DOD (agencies within DOD) so long to get the Survivor Benefits (SBP) to widows?” Three widows have called me within the last 24 hours to pose that question. Two of those widows live in the 4th Congressional District, of Mississippi.

These two Ladies are past 75 years of age, and without that first and subsequent SBP check they have a hard time making ends meet - as in “paying your bills”. The Husbands of these two widows paid into SBP for over 30 years, yet when it is needed it is not there in a timely fashion even if it is reduced to 35% at age 62.

The husband of one of these widows died in Feb. 2004. She has called to all agencies and she is being told, “It takes time”… “the computer is down”… “We don't have your paper work”… etc, etc. February to July is totally UNACCEPTABLY waiting on the U.S. Government bureaucrats to do their job.

The other widow's husband died the first part of June, She also has called many numbers and faxed in the necessary documents to no avail. Again this delay is totally unacceptable.

One of the Widows called a Congressional Office. She received a letter from the Congressman stating that they are looking into the problem. That was 60 days ago.

If there are two widows in Laurel, MS who have this problem, then I must suggest that the problem is widespread throughout the military retired community.

Agencies within DOD are responsible for administering the SBP program but there is neither oversight nor accountability within DOD or Congress.

Question such as this beg for an answer and an answer should be forthcoming - but it won't be from DOD or Congress. It appears that Capitol Hill has adopted an attitude toward military retirees - “Just another gripe, don’t worry about it.”

I would ask that you contact DOD and demand some answers about the length of time it takes to get the SBP checks started to widows. Simplify the process. Is that asking too much? I think not. Will I get a reply to this? Will the widows get an answer? I doubt it.

I urge you Gentlemen to take more interest in the well-being of your constituents. Is that asking too much?

This is being sent to my extensive email network for distribution as they see fit. Further, I am faxing this to all Mississippi Congressional Offices.

Please gentlemen don't file 13 this letter. These widows need some help.

You may reach me at 601-426-9734 or email me at mailto:jimw8869@megagate.com [mailto:jimw8869@megagate.com].

Sincerely,
Jim Whittington, MSgt, USAF (Ret.)
622 West 21st Street, Laurel, MS. 39440



LETTER TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

By Harold Riley

WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING TO HELP THE MILITARY?

Editor:

Is there a “hate military” attitude growing within the “hate America” movement and becoming wide-spread in main-stream liberal media and academia? - Not just toward military retirees but military personnel in general? I think so, and wonder where the conservative, pro-America, pro-military supporters are hiding?

An explanation may be: No reporters in the mostly left-wing major media (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, et al) with the courage to challenge the editors with a pro-military piece for publication. I don’t know, but I suspect that is the main reason.

When was the last time any academic institution published a piece of research supporting earned military retiree benefit restoration? I don’t recall reading a single theme that supports the idea that warriors should receive, and our government be required, to honor commitments and obligations made to our military retirees, spouses, and widows. A Federal Appeals Court said Congress has a moral obligation to honor obligations made to warriors, which seems to carry little or no weight.

Would anyone have imagined that our own U.S. Department of Defense would suggest our retired warriors earned benefit funding is a drain and threat to national security? Or, that the Department of Defense would reflect a “use and abuse” attitude toward our warriors?

Warriors’ sacrifices are used as props and generally given positive attention when it benefits an individual or organization. We all know what happens on Memorial Day, July 4th, Veterans Day… most politicians use the occasion as a “photo opportunity” and forget the warrior the next day… and any commitments of support made.

An example occurred during the opening of the recent Super Bowl when the “greatest generation” was recognized as preserving “the destiny of our nation”. Given these patriots accomplished the near miracle they are credited, why has the U.S. government failed to honor commitments and obligations made to these heroes? Are they “used bags” to be discarded – a national security threat? Or will Congress honor the obligations our government made to the “greatest generation”?

Do you know WWII/Korea era military retirees, spouses, and widows are still fighting for the medical care they earned and contracted for? Do you know TITLE 10, Subtitle A, PART II, CHAPTER 55, Section. 1074, (b) of the U.S. Code required medical treatment in military treatment facilities for life for WWII/Korea era military retirees?

But in 1995, those retirees, spouses, and widows over 65 years of age were kicked out of military medical care, forcing them to fend for themselves? Tens of thousands of military retirees, spouses, and widows of WWII/Korea era over 65, were faced with a medical pre-condition history. Finding civilian medical insurance at age 65 or older is outrageously expensive, if one can get it - as is Medicare Part B because of penalties involved for not insuring with Medicare when first eligible?

Do you know that retirement compensation for some of our lower ranking military retirees and widows of the WWII/Korea era generation is only $300 or $400 per month? Our government put these warriors and their families in a food or medicine dilemma.

I submit we are in an age with near total opposition to integrity, truth, and adherence to our nations founding moral standards. What better example than our Congress and Administration’s benefit denial and betrayal of our WWII/Korea warriors who left blood and body parts on the battlefield, not to mention spouse and widow sacrifices.

Political explanation for denial: It costs too much.

Who knows better the cost of freedom than those who paid for it with life and limb?

Harry Riley, COL, USA, Ret.
111 Overview Drive, Crestview, FL 32539
850-689-1818
hmriley@cox.net



MEETINGS OK, BUT CONGRESS BETTER

An e-mail from Jim Whittington stating his reactions to recent TRICARE Town Meetings in Mississippi has prompted this article. Jim says the views he expressed are his own and should not to be construed as being the views of U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows (D-MS), or his legislative assistant Phil Alperson, or anyone else. Rep. Shows coordinated the overall effort.

Why do I think I am qualified to add my 2-cents worth on this issue when I wasn't even there? For one thing, Jim's comments parallel some of my own experiences during many such grass roots meetings over the years, including the annual retiree symposiums hosted by the military. I tend to believe Jim – a victim of the system, who has worked so long and hard at trying to fight through the Washington fog to right the wrongs.

Also, from 1993 to 1999, I visited Washington one or more times each year to interview House and Senate military committee members, VA chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, and various other movers and shakers responsible for laws, regulations, and administration of military retirees and other veterans. Visiting with these people eyeball-to-eyeball provides a different perspective than secondhand newspaper and TV reports, or even their own press releases.

So, you can take my personal comments here for whatever you think they are worth. My use of the word congress generally refers to both houses.

In one respect, the Mississippi events were an exception to most such meetings – a congressional representative and his staff were involved. My experience has been that the folks who can actually DO SOMETHING about the problem seldom attend. The norm is that most featured speakers, regardless of rank or stature, can only explain the rules – sometimes not very well – but have little or no clout in problem solving.

Here are some of Jim's statements (paraphrased by me), with my own thoughts added:

JW: “My thanks to Congressman Ronnie Shows, Phil Alperson and the staff that coordinated this project. They were taking notes and listening. Hopefully, this will be translated into something meaningful and passed to other members of Congress.”
BV: Fortunately, Rep. Shows and his staff understand the retiree's problems (thanks to their serious interest in the matter, and to the efforts of people like Jim, Floyd Sears, Fred Gray, and others in the Mississippi Grass Roots contingent) and have introduced bills and gained support of other members of congress for positive results.

JW: “The TRICARE contractors provide the same bogus we-don't- have-a-problem-with-TRICARE information at these meetings that you find on the Web. So just imagine the erroneous assumptions made by members of congressional committees who receive this misinformation at briefings.”
BV: Congress won't know the real truth unless retirees tell them about their actual experiences of problems being ignored.

JW: “Just because some official says certain clinics and doctors accept TRICARE STANDARD patients (perhaps for the sake of making the numbers look good) does not make it fact. Get real. Check it out yourself to learn the truth. And tell Congress about it if it is not right.”
BV: Who are we to believe: the victims or the falsifiers?

JW: “Some of the uniformed personnel involved with TRICARE told me privately, 'We DO have problems with TRICARE, but we can only carry out policy, not make it. Only Congress can do that. Keep doing what the Grass Roots Group is doing'.”
BV: Translation: People in the lower echelons merely follow orders. If Congress is not aware of the problems, the Contractors aren't going to tell them. Who does that leave? Look in the mirror for the answer.

JW: “Some Civilians also told me off the record, 'Sure we have TRICARE problems, but we try to implement changes as they occur within the scope of the Contract'.”
BV: And who is the only entity that can change the scope of the contract? Congress.

Jim made other points in his letter, but the crux of all this is that meetings seldom solve problems. Only congress can solve the retirees' problems, and only individual effort on the part of retirees can make congress aware of what needs changing.

Meetings are good for renewing old acquaintances and complaining to each other about what “someone” ought to do to solve the problems. Meetings are good for focusing on common problems that affect attendees, and for trying to inspire, cajole, or shame the attendees into group participation that will emphasize need for a solution.

Meetings are better that attract speakers who have the authority to get something done about the problems. Attendees want solutions, at best – or satisfactory answers to their questions, at least.

Meetings are okay, but individual effort is better – i.e., contacting your congressional representatives in person, by telephone, by hand-written letter (never a form letter), by e-mail, or other means. This gives you the satisfaction of knowing for sure that someone in authority is now aware of the problem. It even does something worthwhile for those fellow retirees who will not assist in the fight for their promised benefits.

Each of us has a personal agenda. We military retirees have ours, folks in congress have theirs, and our president has his, ad infinitum. What is important to each of us may differ, depending on how it affects us personally, and what motivates us. So it is easy to get carried away, both in our zeal for our own agenda, and our lack of understanding of the agendas of others.

Therefore, HOW we approach the matter of contacting congress is as important as DOING IT. Certainly it must be without animosity. These are busy folks with a lot of people pinging on them. Don't put the mouth in motion before the brain is engaged. Make sure you know the facts, can verify reliable sources, and are able to discuss issues briefly, calmly, and clearly.

It would also help if you familiarize yourself with the basic steps to get a bill through congress (available at several congressional websites). Knowing what your representatives must go through in this process will give you a more realistic view of what can and can't be done. Therefore, do your home work.

Once he or she is interested in your cause, it takes a lot of time and effort on their part - sometimes successful, sometimes not – and yours is just one of many causes they must consider. Don't alienate them – cultivate them.



MESSAGE FROM FLOYD

BROWN BAG

In reference to regaining the medical care that we were promised I'm attempting to pick up where I stopped on 29 July 05 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast where I live. As often as I can I will keep the Brown Bag and HR602/S407 Cosponsor Status web page at THIS LINK [http://www.mrgrg-ms.org/bb-update.html ] updated.

The total number of Brown Bag letters indicated (55,798) is way short of the actual number of BB letters sent because I do not have all of the data that has been provided to me by the Class Act Group volunteers in Ft. Walton Beach FL, included. Part of that paper work was wash away by Katrina and I simply have not had the time to include the other data I have into the BB letter data base.

Lately, all of my time and energy is being devoted to the process of trying to rebuild after Katrina.

I extend my many thanks to the folks that have continued to work the Brown Bag Project, which is defined at THIS LINK [http://www.mrgrg-ms.org/history14.html ], and all of the other activities associated with trying to regain what we were promised and trying to hold on to what we have.

Floyd Sears
Aka Brown Bag Project Manager



MSGTS SCORE ANOTHER FIRST

By BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret,)

Working with the same bulldog intensity as they did for Tricare For Life, retired Air Force Master Sergeants Jim Whittington and Floyd Sears have succeeded in scoring another first for military retirees.

Haley Barbour, Governor of their home state of Mississippi, has issued a proclamation stating his support “for honoring the promises made to those distinguished citizens by ensuring that quality and access to health care be maintained”. http://mrgrg-ms.com/gov-barbour-proc.html [http://mrgrg-ms.com/gov-barbour-proc.html]

This is the same, high level, intensity of focus, that both of these men utilized when putting together a vast Grass Roots effort to ally with The Military Coalition and military retirees all over the U.S. to forge the spectacular benefits that Medicare-eligible retirees and spouses, and those of the future, under Tricare for Life are entitled by Public Law.

Addendum:

Governor Barbour has direct access to the President of the United States by virtue of being close personal friends and also due to his long tenure of service to the Republican Party. Notably, serving as past Chairman of the Republican National Committee and now as the Governor of the great state of Mississippi.

As Congress moves forward next month, enacting important legislation directly impacting the lives of military retirees and their dependents, we have an opportunity to gain an important spokesman with the President in our efforts to see that past promises made by other administrations are fulfilled.

Would you please write a letter or send an e-mail to Governor Barbour thanking him for his support of military retirees.

The letters may be addressed to:
Governor Haley Reeves Barbour
PO Box 139
Jackson, MS 39205-0139
Or E-mail may be sent directly to the Governor at governor@governor.state.ms.us [mailto:governor@governor.state.ms.us].
and please copy his administrative assistant Mr. Lucien Smith at lsmith@governor.state.ms.us [mILTO:lsmith@governor.state.ms.us]

This dedication to the retiree community earned both Whittington and Sears letters of commendation from now retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan, and former Commander USTRANSCOM, retired Air Force Gen. Tony Robertson.

The two MSgts haven't slowed one bit in their efforts to have Congress fulfill the healthcare promises made to those serving a full career in the military service.

Top most also in their sights is gaining entitled healthcare for those retirees below 65 and correcting the shoddy way military widows are treated through the Survivors Benefit Plan (SBP) - by having their earned retirement pay offset by Social Security attainment just when they are becoming most vulnerable to life's problems in their old age… some almost to the point of poverty.

Seeing this proclamation by Governor Barbour of Mississippi (a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee) as a challenge to military retirees and the other Governors of these United States to produce the same support, Whittington sums it up very well by saying, “Let's get It On! Go ahead, ask your Governor to sign on.”

He and Sears are also adamant in stating that the power to secure these entitlements rests with the Congress: “If you don't energize Congress, it will never get done. Contact your members of Congress now.”

Thanks again Floyd and Jim for all your hard work and dedication. Once again you have set the example with, “Its The Right Thing To Do.”



MY FAVORITE THINGS

Forwarded by Bill Thompson

To commemorate her 69th birthday, actress/vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP.

One of the musical numbers she performed was “My Favorite Things” from the legendary movie “Sound Of Music.” However, the lyrics of the song were deliberately changed for the entertainment of her “blue hair” audience. Here are the lyrics she recited:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache,
when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.



ONE-YEAR SBP OPEN ENROLLMENT

The Department of Defense has announced that military retirees who opted out of some or all their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage will have another opportunity to elect coverage during a one-year open enrollment period from Oct. 1, 2005 through Sept. 30, 2006.

Upon a retiree's death, SBP provides an annuity of up to 55 percent of the military retired pay. Until recently, the annuity for a surviving spouse age 62 or older was reduced to 35 percent to reflect the availability of Social Security benefits. This reduction will phase out by April 2008, and the full 55 percent benefit will be paid regardless of the spouse's age in accordance with the Fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization Act.

Current non-participants will be able to elect any coverage they could have elected previously upon retiring from active service or upon receiving notification of eligibility for reserve retired pay at age 60.

If they have a reduced election, they may increase their coverage. A participant with child only coverage may add a spouse or former spouse to their coverage, and a member may add child coverage to spouse or former spouse coverage.

Those who took SBP coverage and later elected to terminate that coverage arbitrarily under the provisions of Public Law 105-85 (effective 17 May 98) are not eligible to make an open enrollment election.

Open enrollment elections require a lump sum buy-in premium as well as future monthly premiums. The lump sum equates to all back premiums, plus interest, from the date of original eligibility to make an election plus any amount needed to protect the Military Retirement Fund. The latter amount applies almost exclusively to those paying fewer than seven years of back payments.

The lump sum buy-in premium can be paid over a two-year period. Monthly premiums for spouse or former spouse coverage will be 6.5 percent of the coverage elected, the same premium paid by those currently enrolled. Reserve component members under age 60 and not yet eligible for retired pay do not pay back premiums or interest, but must pay a monthly SBP premium “add-on” once their retired pay starts.

Elections are effective the first day of the month after the election is received, but no earlier than Oct. 1, 2005. An election is void if the retiree dies in the two years following an election and all premiums are refunded to the designated survivor.

To make an open enrollment election, a retiree must complete and submit a DD Form 2656-9, “Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) Open Enrollment Election.” The form is available electronically HERE [http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd2656-9.pdf ].



Q&A ABOUT RETIREE PAY

If you are a military retiree, click here [http://www.dod.mil/dfas/retiredpay.html ] to find out about pay and other financial information you will find helpful.



RESPONSE TO EVASIVE REPLY

Californian Bob Clements wrote a letter to his U.S. Senator and got a standard form-type reply that covered everything and said nothing. He fired back with this:

Dear Senator Feinstein:

I am very dissatisfied with your answer (obviously a “just answer the mail” job by your staff) to my inquiry about your position on the Administration's plan to impose large health care fee increases on military retirees and their families.

This is a vital issue for me and hundreds of thousands of other voting military retirees in our state, and we need more than an evasive “standard reply.”

The Administration plans to triple or quadruple TRICARE fees for people who served 20 to 30 years of arduous military service. In thousands of cases, it would mean paying an extra $1,200 a year or more. That's unacceptable treatment for people who spent a career defending every American's freedom.

I would like your explicit assurance that you will strongly oppose those fee increases and work to mobilize Congress to do so.

Last year, Congress rejected an Administration plan to raise fees for VA health care by $250 a year for veterans who served as little as two years in the military. Surely, you can now make a firm commitment to opposing fee hikes of 4 or 5 times that much for people who spent decades sacrificing for all Californians and all Americans?

Your first “standard staff reply” made no such assurance. It said:
“Once again, thank you for writing. I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as the Federal budget process continues. If you have any further questions regarding this issue, please feel free to call my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841.”

That extremely vague answer doesn't reassure me or any of the other 200, 000 military retirees living in the state of California. I would like your personal assurance that you will fight hard to oppose raising fees on military retirees who already paid higher premiums for their hard-earned health care — through decades of arduous service and sacrifice — more than any civilian ever has or ever will.

Robert V. Clements
BG USAF RET

“If It Weren't For The United States Military There Would Be NO United States of America”
Questions Senator?

…………………………………………

Bob added, for our benefit, “I have yet to hear from my Congressman (Lungren). We are planning on attending one of his “town meetings.”

Jug's comment: Great letter, Bob! If every military retiree would hop on the bandwagon and contact their Senators and Representatives with factual letters like this, and vote against those who provided only “lip service,” perhaps we could retain some of these health care programs in their originally intended state.



RETIRED PAY NEWSLETTER

Serving those who made our country proud.

Military retirees not familiar with the website below can do themselves a favor by going there to learn more about what is going on in areas that affect them now and in the future.

To see a recent issue of the RETIRED PAY NEWSLETTER, with links to the DEFENSE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING SERVICE site that provides information of interest to retirees and annuitants, CLICK HERE [http://view.exacttarget.com/?ffcb10-fe9617747565077470-fdfd15777560017e75167976-ff2f1d727666 ].



RETIREE MEDICAL PROMISES RECAP

By Floyd Sears, MSGT, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
“I am a retired American military fighting man. I served in the Armed Forces which guarded our country and our way of life. I was prepared to give my life in my country's defense. I will never forget that I was an American military fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made our country free. I will continue to trust in my God and in the United States of America, and for as long as I live, I will continue the fight to regain the medical care that was promised to the American Military Retirees before their retirement.

The greatest swindle of all time… a broken contract with America's military retirees.

While on active duty in the United States Armed Forces, from 1951 to 1971, personnel in positions of authority acting as agents of the United States Government promised me and millions like me that if we served for 20 years in the military and retired we would receive free medical care for ourselves and eligible dependents at military treatment facilities for as long as we lived. As you should know this medical care promise has been broken.

On 16 July 1996 - Colonel George E. Day filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court in Pensacola, FL, to regain the medical care that had been promised. This lawsuit ran the government gauntlet with wins, losses, and appeals, from both sides until 2 Jun 2003 when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. See http://mrgrg-ms.org/cag-hist.html .

In the process of arguing the promised medical care case Colonel Day proved the military retirees allegations that the Armed Forces did make the medical care promise and we had a contract. On 8 Feb 2001, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made this unanimous decision. “The retirees entered active duty in the armed forces and completed at least twenty years service on the good faith belief that the government would fulfill its promises. The terms of the contract were set when the retirees entered the service and fulfilled their obligation. The government cannot unilaterally amend the contract terms now. “In contracts involving the government, as with all contractual relationships, rights vest and contract terms become binding when, after arms length negotiation, all parties to the contract agree to exchange real obligations for real benefits”.” However, the government could not let this decision stand because it would, cost too much money, embarrass too many government agencies, including the Congress of the United States, and they appealed. See http://mrgrg-ms.org/d99-1402.html#conclusion .

In their 18 Nov 2002 conclusion the full court of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a nine for and four against decision, said this… “We cannot readily imagine more sympathetic plaintiffs than the retired officers of the World War II and Korean War era involved in this case. They served their country for at least 20 years with the understanding that when they retired they and their dependents would receive full free health care for life. The promise of such health care was made in good faith and relied upon. Again, however, because no authority existed to make such promises in the first place, and because Congress has never ratified or acquiesced to this promise, we have no alternative but to uphold the judgment against the retirees' breach-of-contract claim.” See http://mrgrg-ms.org/f99-1402.html#conclusion .

The court went on to say, “Perhaps Congress will consider using its legal power to address the moral claims raised by Schism and Reinlie on their own behalf, and indirectly for other affected retirees.” Military Retirees are still waiting for the Congress to act on the court's recommendation.

The words of the court say that we proved our case, but in the end we lost because on 2 Jun 2003 the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The government had the decision they wanted and there was no need to continue any further.

We fought the fight to regain the medical care we were promised and the court said that the promise was made in good faith and relied upon, but no authority existed to make the medical care promise. As a result we have been swindled out of the medical care we were promised and the Congress of the United States looks the other way. For the full story look at and listen to a series of narrated web pages on the Internet starting at http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle00.html .

I now ask you to support HR 602, the Keep Our Promises to America's Military Retirees Act, because it's the right thing to do. Don't add insult to injury. Don't allow military retirees to be cheated out of the medical care they were promised.

Floyd Sears, MSGT, USAF, 1951 to 1971 (retired) - 6733 Riviera Drive, Biloxi, MS, 39532 - fsears@bellsouth.net

Retired Military Advocate. Working the Military Retiree medical care broken promise issue.

WEB pages:
http://mrgrg-ms.org/ (Home Page)
http://mrgrg-ms.org/history1.html (History)
http://mrgrg-ms.org/talking.html (Talking Points)
http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle00.html (Swindle Briefing)
http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle.ppt (PowerPoint Download)
http://mrgrg-ms.org/letters.html (Letters to Editor)
http://mrgrg-ms.org/billbrd.html (Billboard History)



RETIREES FIND SOME THINGS HARD TO CHU

By Thomas D. Segel, Tomsegel@joimail.com

Harlingen, Texas, February 13, 2004 - Anyone wishing to stir up the anger of veterans and members of the retired military community need only mention the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. David Chu. From that point onward, outrage will take the place of polite conversation.

What causes all this veteran anger? According to Colonel Harry Riley, U S Army (Ret) it is because Mr. Chu, without rational justification, makes broad and sweeping statements identifying military retiree benefits as the enemy of our active force.

Chu has made comments like “Benefits that apply mainly to retirees and their families are making it harder for the Pentagon to afford financial incentives for today's military,” He has continued on that theme saying, “Congress has gone too far in expanding military retiree benefits.” His claim is the benefits are now a heavy burden. “They are starting to crowd out two things: First, our ability to reward the person who is bearing the burden right now in Iraq or Afghanistan. Second, they are undercutting our ability to finance the new gear that is going to make that military person successful five, ten 15 years from now.”

Colonel Riley muses, “I wonder if Mr. Chu ever considered how hard it was at Normandy, in the jungles of the South Pacific, or the freezing battlefields of Korea as he sits in his office and denigrates these old warriors seeking benefits they earned?”

Some readers may not be familiar with the workings of Dr. David S. C. Chu or his role within the Department of Defense (DOD). He is a product of the Ivy League, earning his Doctorate in Economics from Yale in 1972. He was commissioned and served two years in the Army, including a tour of duty with the Office of the Comptroller, Headquarters, and 1st Logistical Command, in Vietnam. From that point on he has been in and out of government, accruing more than 18 years of federal service. He was named to his current position on June 1, 2001.

Since taking his DOD post, David Chu has served as the deignated “attack dog” for the administration. He has testified before Congress, given speeches and written articles for the media on numerous occasions. If the topic relates to veteran’s issues, retired military personnel or military dependents benefits his approach has repeatedly been negative. In fact, some of his public comments have actually displayed disdain for those who, in the past, served their country with honor. He has been particularly vicious in arguing against expenditures for veteran and retiree health care. At the same time it should be noted he will receive a federal pension and medical benefits when he retires from federal service. Some say these are even more generous benefits than are awarded to military retirees.

Major General Earl G. Peck, USAF (Ret) has some serious observations about Dr. Chu¹s conduct. He says, “The point Dr. Chu misses is that honoring the solemn obligations of our nation to veterans makes a direct contribution to national security even if he chooses to ignore the moral strictures that bind us to promises. Having served more than 36 years on active duty and with six sons who have served or are serving in the armed forces, I can testify that every failure to honor those obligations diminishes the value of a military career to those who are serving and those who might serve in the future. If through misguided parsimony we are no longer able to attract the right people, we can¹t provide for the security of the nation.”

Those unfamiliar with the workings of Washington might feel Chu was just a loose cannon running off at the mouth. This is anything but the case. The Under Secretary of Defense has only two bosses. He answers directly to the Secretary of Defense and by extension to the President. This means that anything he places in testimony, writes in press releases or utters by mouth has been completely staffed and awarded official blessing. At the same time, Chu understands by not attributing his remarks to any other individual he gives the senior leadership a degree of deniability, should the heat build up to an unbearable degree.

Another Air Force retiree agrees with that observation. Brigadier General Robert Clements writes from his California home, “Mr. Chu¹s remarks appearing in the Associated Press and in papers all over the country didn¹t happen by accident. Chu, who has been on the Washington scene as a bureaucrat since the Carter administration, knows through years of experience and spouting off the same rhetoric, that traditionally military retirees, up until recent times, were very weak in demanding and protecting those benefits they were promised and given by law. He also knows from previous experience, they are very slow to band together in protecting those benefits. He is the willing lip-syncher for the Secretary of Defense and the President. Both the President and the Secretary of Defense know this and use him as a valuable tool.”

Why attack veterans and military retirees? The answer can be found in knowing how Washington operates. Congress must appropriate all monies and decide who and what are granted funds. Senators and Representatives believe their primary function is getting reelected, and that process starts the day members take their first oath of office. They win reelection by buying votes with tax dollars. Those dollars are dispensed to constituencies, which pledge to help keep the incumbent in office.

Thus, money flows freely to farmers, teacher groups, unions, minority groups, the poor, senior citizens, etc., etc. It should be noted however, that most money flows in the direction of those who yell the loudest. Until very recent times veterans and military retirees have not had a very loud voice in the battle for tax dollars. In fact, they have been reluctant to speak out in their own interest. Many remain quiet, even today, even though their only desire is to receive those things promised to them by their own government.

This brings us back to Dr. David Chu. He has been assigned the task of framing all who served in uniform as whining, greedy individuals who feel the government owes them ever-increasing bounty. He has even hinted at their disloyalty, by demanding tax dollars be spent on their personal needs, while at the same time denying the needs of those on active duty.

Historically the end game of DOD is to delay, deny, or cast doubt on any and all veteran or retiree claims. According to Charles Clark, Director of Communications for the National Association of Atomic Veterans, Chu was party to the work of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and a group titled Nuclear Test Personnel Review. Though charged with determining which veterans had been exposed to radiation and honoring their claims for treatment, the end result has been quite different.

“My claim has been batted around since 1995“, reports Clark. “I still await the truth. Others and I have watched Chu and Dennis Schaeffer of the Nuclear Test Group for a long time, wondering if our government is attempting to cover up this type of problem. Imagine 450,000 exposed veterans and only 50 claims decided. What a waste of tax payer monies.”

As Congress was debating the issue of a 100 plus year rule that denied disabled military retirees disability compensation without a dollar per dollar offset from their military pension, Chu often overstated the estimated cost of changing the legislation. Again he claimed it would drain DOD resources.

When the Class Act Group, led by Medal of Honor recipient Colonel “Bud” Day was fighting for the earned medical care promised military retirees, all the voices of the Department of Defense, including David Chu, first denied there was any such promise made to service personnel and then claimed the cost drained funding from active duty forces.

Cries of funding drain still continue with Chu lamenting the cost of the military retiree Medicare supplement Tricare for Life.

Says Gary Garavaglia, a World War II and Korean War veteran and military retiree, “We find Dr. Chu¹s comments to be unconscionable. After surviving WWWII and Korea my wife and I have been forced to pay for our healthcare until Tricare for Life was finally passed. Now we need the rest of the promises that were made and not kept.²

What he is referring to is a comment made in a pre-inaugural address, January 19, 2001 by President-elect George W. Bush. He said “In order to make sure that morale is high with those who wear the uniform today, we must keep our commitment to those who wore the uniform in the past. We will make sure promises made to our veterans will be promises kept.”

It should be noted that David Chu has also directed his attacks at support for Veterans Administration care. Retired Navy Chief Finis McComas lives in Grayville, Illinois. “Were Dr. Chu to come to this area he would see long lines at the Evansville VA Clinic. I can hardly stand on my feet. The other day I went to the clinic. It was crammed and every chair was taken. There was no place to sit. I had to leave and get my local doctor to take care of the problem.”

Today we have hundreds of new wounded and disabled veterans returning from war. They are going to these same clinics and VA hospitals. They too are standing in long lines, if able to stand. These warriors, who just months ago were championed by Chu and the Administration, have now joined the ranks of those who are among the veterans that “drain DOD funding.”

Retired Army Sergeant First Class Francis Sementilli of Sebring, Florida, along with Master Sergeant David Estrovitz, USMC (Ret) of St George, Utah; Senior Master Sergeant Jim Berrey, USAF (Ret) of Panama city, Florida; Master Sergeant Floyd M. Baird, USAF (Ret) of Flint, Michigan; and Lieutenant Colonel Charles Revie, USA (Ret) of Las Cruces, New Mexico, are among more than 20,000 veterans and retirees who have written to Congress and the President in recent days. Many express their rage at the utterings of Dr. David Chu. All express their pain about the denial of promised benefits. To date they have received few replies from Washington.

Lieutenant Colonel Revie closes most of his correspondence with a quote from the father of our country, General George Washington: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their Nation.”



RETIREMENT VALUE

Careerists Trade Away Valuable Benefits
By Tom Philpott, http://www.militaryupdate.com [http://www.militaryupdate.com]
Forwarded by BGen R. Clements USAF (Ret)

Career counselors advise against it. Financial experts say it's a poor deal. Economists estimate that a typical enlisted member with 20 years of service will cut the lifetime value of his or her retirement by $250,000.

Yet about half of military careerists, as they enter their 15th year of service, have been drawn to a $30,000 cash bonus and voluntarily trade away a far more valuable slice of future retirement benefits. They do so by electing to shift retirement plans, from “High-3” to the less generous “Redux” formula with its side offer of instant cash.

If a business scammed military people this way, Congress would hold hearings and force executives to end their sting operation. But it was Congress that designed this scheme. And considering the goal - to save billions of dollars that otherwise would go to a new generation of retirees - the scheme is brilliant.

Most pay experts can't say enough bad things about Redux and the Career Status Bonus (CSB). Military leaders are more constrained. After all, the honey trap is legal. Also, for many careerists, the typical $22,000 (after taxes) is so timely for buying a home or paying off crushing debt, that it just feels right. There often are better alternatives, however.

Congress devised CSB, ironically, while doing a great favor for the same service members it entices - those who entered after July 31, 1986. These members got stuck under Redux, a cheaper retirement plan passed during the Reagan administration. By 1999, fearing lesser benefits would cause retention and morale problems, Congress moved these members, and future entrants, under High-3, a far more generous plan.

For a 20-year career, High-3 pays an annuity equal to 50 percent of average basic pay over the member's three highest earning years. Redux pays only 40 percent of the three-year average after 20 years' service.

High-3 protects annuities with annual cost-of-living adjustments that match inflation. Redux COLAs are a full percentage point below inflation with a one-time catch up in at age 62, but then COLA caps resume.

Worried about the cost of shifting all future retirees to High-3, Congress borrowed an incentive idea used successfully in the post-Cold War drawdown. It would offer former Redux careerists, in their 15th year of service, a cash bonus payable immediately to shift back to Redux.

The first group eligible to make the choice entered their decision window in 2001 and most began taking the cash. The Defense Department set up a website to explain plan features and show the dramatic differences in lifetime benefits. Calculators there allow comparison of early and lifetime benefits under both plans, by plugging in assumptions about inflation and return on investment (www.dod.mil/militarypay/retirement)

The Center for Naval Analyses that year wrote a report, “The Retirement Choice,” which all but told careerists directly not to accept the Redux/CSB offer. An E-7 who retired at age 38 would see retired pay reduced by $248,000 under Redux, even with the bonus, CAN said. An O-6 who retired at 50 after 26 years would lose $258,000. 'We're hopeful that, by providing information on how much this cash-out will cost in smaller, future retirement income, we can help service members make more informed decisions about which plan to select,” the report said.

CAN suggested that the $30,000 be viewed as a kind of nightmare loan, far more damaging to fiscal health than a mortgage, car loan or even credit card debt.

“The $30,000 has a rather peculiar payback scheme,” the report said. “The service member pays nothing until retirement, pays quite a bit from the beginning of retirement until age 62, and then continues to pay back smaller amounts over the rest of his or her lifetime.”

Despite all the warnings, $30,000 remains a powerful lure. From July 2001 through December 2003, almost 11,000 Air Force members entered their 15th year of service under High-3. Sixty-percent of them came out with cash but stuck under Redux. The “take rate” has been 63 percent for Air Force enlisted, 33 percent for officers.

Forty-five percent of sailors and 12 percent of Navy officers have shifted to Redux. The Marine Corps take rate has been 20 percent for officers, 43 percent enlisted. Army data were not available.

The $30,000 is enticing particularly for grades E-5 and E-6 who feel they need the money now, for a home, education or to pay off debt. “They are more concerned about today than tomorrow,” said a pay official.

Officers electing CSB more often want to invest it, believing they can get returns to make up for lower annuities. That's a significant challenge.

More than 95 percent of bonus takers order a lump sum. Two- to five-year installments also are available to reduce the tax bite or to allow more effective use of tax-deferred options like a Thrift Saving Plan. The TSP for federal civilians has been open to military savers since 2002.

If accepted while the service member is in a combat zone, this and other bonus money is tax exempt. Even so, said an official who advises on the retirement choice, Redux/CSB usually is the option to avoid.

“You can only tell people this is not a good deal,” said a Pentagon pay official. “If they still choose it, well, in their mind they're better off.”



SBP ELIGIBILITY CERTIFICATES

COE MUST BE COMPLETED ANNUALLY
AF Retiree News 8/13/03 From P38Bob
Like clockwork, if you're a Survivor Benefit Plan annuitant, you're going to get two things in your mailbox each year. One is a tax statement and the other is a Certificates of Eligibility (COE).

Both are important documents. One is used to determine how much tax is owed. The other, the COE, determines if you're going to continue receiving an SBP check each month.

The COE is automatically generated and sent to annuitants approximately 90 days prior to their birthday each year. It's important that it be completed by the annuitant and returned via mail or fax before the annuitant's birthday to avoid any interruption in pay. If a legal representative such as a power of attorney has been added to an annuitant's account, that individual should complete and sign the form, marking the legal representative portion as requested.

Officials explain that upon return of the COE, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service processes the document according to the information provided and will either continue, adjust or terminate the annuitant's pay as appropriate.

A marriage certificate is required when the “I married in the past year” box is marked to update the annuitant's account properly. An annuitant should include his or her name and Social Security Number, the name and Social Security Number of his or her deceased sponsor and the signature date.

Forms can be mailed to DFAS, US Military Annuitant Pay, PO Box 7131, London, KY 40742-7131, or can be faxed to 1-800-982-8459.



SEND THIS TO CONGRESS

Air Force Retiree Floyd Spence (along with several others across the nation) has spent thousands of hours on his computer during the past several years trying to bring about a change in congressional broken promises to military retirees. The following is a partial copy of his response to a recent inquiry that I think every retiree should forward to his or her congressional representatives in Washington. Ask them for one single favor: “that they read and understand this difference.”

One of the biggest problems the military retiree community has with the Congress is trying to get them to separate the various “veterans” issues.

The folks in Washington tend to lump “military retiree” and “military veteran” issues together and talk about “veterans” rather than “military retirees”. I've seen hundreds of letters received by military retirees in response to military retiree issues that address the “military veteran” not the “military retiree.”

I have become obsessed with trying to point out the difference between a military retiree and a military veteran. To that extent I have developed a series of web pages, starting on the Internet at http://mrgrg-ms.com/brief00.html [http://mrgrg-ms.com/brief00.html] that explains the difference.

I am a “military retiree” first and a “military veteran” second. There is a difference between a person that spent 20 to 30 years in the military and a person that spent 2 to 3 years in the military in reference to what they were promised as a result of serving the United States of America. I'm not taking anything away from the person that spent 2 to 3 years in the military by making this argument.

As I have pointed out very often, it appears that when the Congress does their quick calculations concerning military retiree issues (there are about 1.8 million military retirees) they have a tendency to use the military veteran 26.5 million “multiplier” and they get a distorted picture.

I hope some of this might help you as you try to understand the military retiree medical care and other broken promise issues.

Thank you for being interested in the military retiree problems.

Floyd Sears
http://mrgrg-ms.com/ [http://mrgrg-ms.com/]
http://mrgrg-ms.com/cgi-bin/mrgrg-lobbying-survey.cgi [http://mrgrg-ms.com/cgi-bin/mrgrg-lobbying-survey.cgi]



SONG TO REMEMBER

How many of you folks remember this song?

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

Goto http://www.rienzihills.com/SING/accentuate.htm [http://www.rienzihills.com/SING/accentuate.htm], read the words, listen to the music, and think about where you were in 1944.

I was just 14 years old but I remember that period and the song like it was yesterday. Folks were going through and had been through some very tough times. We had survived the great depression and were fighting hard to survive the great war.

Nobody had anything, but we sure as hell were not about to give up the little that we had. Times were tough and we were fighting hard. We, the United States of America, needed that song and as I recall everybody was singing it.

I strongly suggest that we adopt this song as our “theme song” as we start the 2005 phase of our fight to regain what military retirees were promised, and earned. Let's accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don't mess with the other guy in-between.

Floyd Sears

In addition, look at and listen to http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle00.html [http://mrgrg-ms.org/swindle00.html]



SOS FOR SBP

SURVIVOR BENEFITS PLAN NEEDS YOUR HELP
By Jim Whittington, MSG, USAF (Ret)
Forwarded by BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret), with appropriate comments

THIS IS URGENT

The Senate has passed it's version of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). That version has “paid up SBP” if you have paid into SBP for 30 years and are over age 70. The Senate version also has an accelerated percentage payment clause, moving the amount paid to survivors to 55% SBP on Oct 2006.

NONE OF THE ABOVE is included in the HOUSE VERSION.

I want to encourage you to call your Congressmen immediately and ask for their help on the SBP issues. The Senate and House bills will have to go to Conference to iron out any differences.

If you subscribed to SBP then your spouse or widow/widower have a vested stake in this issue.

Please call immediately and voice your interest — and pass this on to your nets, friends, and relatives. This is URGENT!!!

Jim Whittington
Laurel, MS.

P-38bob’s Comment: I concur to the Nth degree with my old friend Jim. He is a Tiger and tracks the Congress on a daily basis, never taking no for an answer. He is well known to the Mississippi Congressional delegation. He stands up and is counted. He gets results! We need 100s of thousands more just like him in the retired military
Community.

One Half of One Percent of the population of this country…

  • Makes it possible for The United States of America to exist as a free country.
  • Makes it possible for people to be elected to Congress representing a free society.
  • Makes it possible for young and old alike to pursue the American Dream, if willing to work for it.
  • Makes it possible for the protection of the right of the people to freedom of speech, including Hollywood, Jane Fonda, Cindy Sheehan, and Cindy Williams.
  • Makes it possible, when all else fails at the local and state level, to maintain law and
    order… and on and on and on.

Why is it then that Administrations, Congress and a lot of other foolish people (who would die at the thought of serving in the military) are so reluctant to support special entitlements and benefits for this small percentage of the population who make it possible for them to exist?

Why is it that, lastly, the most astounding group are those from within the military, both active and retired, who are willing to support healthcare fees increases for these same people they have sworn to protect? And to add even more fuel to the “fire of disbelief” to be guilty of engineering further cuts to bolster their own careers and not having the guts to stand up and say “Enough is enough, send me home”?

We need to keep the pressure on our individual members of Congress and we need to remember that a major offensive is in the making and will be absolutely necessary when congress returns after the July 4th recess.

chk6
Bob

Website [http://home.surewest.net/p38bob/ ]



SURVIVING SPOUSES

SOME SURVIVORS FACE DEADLINE FOR DIC BENEFITS

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to ensure that surviving spouses of deceased veterans are aware of an approaching deadline that may affect entitlement to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits.

Last year, President Bush signed Public Law 108-183, the “Veterans Benefits ct of 2003,” which restores entitlement to DIC and related home loan and education benefits for surviving spouses who remarry on or after their 57th birthdays. VA officials are concerned that surviving spouses may not be aware of this change in law, or may overlook this benefit if their subsequent marriages have not ended.

Generally, VA pays DIC to the surviving spouses of military service members who die while on active duty, and to surviving spouses of veterans whose death resulted from service-related causes. The basic monthly rate is $967 and is increased if the surviving spouse has dependents, is housebound, or meets criteria common to those who need a home aide. There are additional payments for dependent children.

Parents who were dependent upon the service member's income also may qualify for DIC. Under previous law, surviving spouses who remarried were not eligible for DIC unless their marriages ended. At that time they could apply for reinstatement of benefits.

Under the new law, surviving spouses who remarried after age 57 and before Dec. 16, 2003, have a limited time to apply for restoration of DIC - one year from the date the new law was enacted (Dec. 16, 2003). If VA receives the application later than Dec. 15, 2004, restoration of DIC must be denied.

The one-year application period does not apply to other surviving spouses whose remarriage on or after attaining age 57 followed enactment of the law.

For more information on restoration of DIC, call VA's toll free number at 1-800-827-1000 or visit the nearest VA regional office. Office locations can be found in the blue pages of local telephone directories. People who are hearing impaired should call VA at 1-800-829-4833 by use of a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD).



TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR ID CARD

From: DHHenso@aol.com [mailto:DHHenso@aol.com]. Forwarded by Floyd Sears

Hello Everyone. I wanted to pass on something that may or may not be well known. I sure didn't know it until recently.

My military retiree ID card had an expiration date on the front of it that read INDEF. Consequently I thought all things relating to it also were indefinite. I was wrong.

Earlier in August 2004 we were at Buckley AFB in Aurora, CO getting my wife's ID card renewed. The young female airman asked to look at my ID card to check the expiration date. I quickly produced the card telling her it didn't expire, that it was indefinite.

She accepted the card and looked at the back. Lo and behold, in the space for Medical Civilian Exp Date, it had expired in 1998. She explained that was the date I turned age 65. and issued me another ID card with the date in that area as INDEF. It is simple government logic to put an expiration date in there and then reissue the ID card to read indefinite, but that's the way it is.

She said that hardly anyone who renews a dependent’s ID card seems to know that area on the card is set to expire at age 65, and that they renew it to INDEF AFTER age 65.

This expiration date is not just on the ID card. It also is in DEERS.

My card showing an expiration date for civilian medical may be one of the problems with one of my civilian prescriptions being denied; however they said I was not in DEERS - not that the civilian medical had expired. Anyway, that area should not be reading a date that has expired because that is what DEERS shows. Of course the airman also changed my date in DEERS to INDEF.

Thought I would pass this along as I had no idea such a situation existed and, having a military ID card since 1953, I wasn't about to start gazing at any part of it, the back included. But I guess I should have.

Dempsey Henson
MRGRG
Broomfield, CO



TRIBUTE TO BUD DAY

From: Harry M. Riley, forwarded by YNCS Don Harribine, USN (Ret)

“The following letter is from Bob Reinlie, one of the plaintiffs in the Class Act medical care lawsuit prosecuted by Col George E. Bud Day. We have an opportunity to show our support and appreciation for the years of work Col Day performed in raising military retiree medical care as a national issue. The details are in the letter below.
“Please do not send questions or comments to me. Send them to the point of contact at Okaloosa-Walton College, Carla Reinlie, 850-729-6468, or E-Mail [mailto:Reinlie@owc.edu ].” - Harry Riley

Dear Friend:

I am writing today to ask your help in paying tribute to a man who has served our country in battle and continues to serve us in retirement. Col. George E. “Bud” Day - what a name!

From the underage marine fighting on Guadalcanal, to the most resistant POW in Hanoi and now the only man with the will and moral strength to challenge the U.S. government to restore health benefits for veterans with 20+ years of service.

Only Bud Day had the guts and tenacity to organize the Grass Roots folks (that’s you and me) to “take on” the government. As a result of his efforts to restore promised benefits more than 2 million retired military veterans and their wives and widows are healthier, happier and better off financially.

We have an opportunity to recognize Col. Day and his accomplishments, as well as inspire young students of military science in the process. Okaloosa-Walton College, located in the community where Col. Day lives with his wife Doris, is seeking funds to name the Department of Military Science. The amount needed for this endeavor is $25,000. Once raised, this amount will be matched dollar for dollar by the state of Florida. The resulting $50,000 will be endowed and the interest earned will be used to provide two annual scholarships in-perpetuity for deserving ROTC students in their first two years of college.

Now I ask each of you to join me and other members of the Class Act group to make a contribution in honor of Col. Day. A gift of $100 will help name the Col. George E. “Bud” Day Department of Military Science and ROTC at Okaloosa-Walton College and provide college scholarships for young men and women who follow in our foot steps. $25,000 is our goal, but we hope this fund will grow and exceed this amount.

All tax-deductible contributions will be managed by the OWC Foundation and matched by the state. Rather than have a few friends make large gifts, we hope all who are the beneficiaries of Bud Day’s dedication and determination will be involved in this tribute with a $100 donation. However, it’s your participation, not the amount of your gift that matters. Any amount you are able to send will honor Col. Day.

Giving is easy. You can make a donation on the OWC Website, http://www.owc.edu/, designated to the Col. George E. “Bud” Day Tribute fund or send a check made payable to the OWC Foundation at the following address:

Col. “Bud” Day Tribute Campaign
Okaloosa-Walton College Foundation
100 College Boulevard
Niceville, Florida 32578

Thank you sincerely,

Lt. Col. Robert L. “Bob” Reinlie
E-Mail [mailto:Reinlie@owc.edu ]



UNHEEDED LETTER OF THE LAW

Comments from BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret)

Apparently, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is still managing to charge the TRICARE for Life (TFL) trust fund deposit against DOD's budget topline, regardless of the letter of the law.

At fault and in defiance of the NDAA 2005, that went into effect on 1 Jan 2005, is the Administration's plan being implemented, because, they don't want to add money to the DOD budget to pay for Tricare For Life trust fund deposits.

When we talk to what the Armed Services Committee wanted, we need to make it clear one more time that these committees are led by Republicans. This isn't a party issue. Period. And if it is, it's certainly not the Democrats who are causing the problem. All of the leaders on the Administration and Congressional side alike are Republicans.

The Democrats couldn't do squat by themselves if they wanted to. It takes both parties acting in a bi partisan way to accomplish the legitimate needs of the people.

The money we're talking about isn't that going to pay care for current retirees. All agree that money really does come from Treasury. The money at issue is the trust fund deposit which is just putting money aside (theoretically) to pay TFL costs 20 to 45 years in the future for today's active duty/Guard/Reserve members and their families.

It is the Administration, rather than Congress, that's requiring DOD to eat the TFL trust fund deposit out of the DOD budget. Yet the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, David S C Chu would like to place the blame on today's current retirees as taking money away from the war fighters.

I do not agree that it's Congress that's forcing the trade but rather Chu speaking for the White House thru the Secretary of Defense.

A letter written on Oct 4 by two Senate Budget Committee leaders to the two Senate Armed Services Committee leaders expressed their disagreement with the provision and asked the Armed Services Committee leaders to drop it from the final FY2005 Defense Authorization Act. But the Armed Services Committee leaders didn't agree to that request. The final Act did, in fact, retain that provision. It was passed by the full House and Senate, and it was signed into the law of the land by President Bush on Oct 28, 2004.

As I understand it, members of the Military Coalition worked closely with the Armed Services Committees on that language, and the clear intent of the law was to remove that line item from counting against the DOD budget topline. Otherwise, why would the Armed Services Committees put the language in there?

At issue here are both the spirit and the letter of the law, and there is legitimate reason for debate on both counts. But we have to make sure we don't ignore the forest for the trees. And that means, going back to examine why the House Armed Services Committee sought to put that provision in the Defense Authorization Act to begin with.

When Congress approved TRICARE For Life in 2000, there was every expectation that the White House would budget additional authority for its cost in future years. In other words, an increase in the DOD topline. As a matter of fact, the then Chairman of the JCS, General Henry Shelton, agreed in principle on statements and questioning by Congressman Steve Buyer, that funding for military retiree healthcare was “The Right Thing To Do” as long as the Congress influenced the President in his budget to raise the topline of the DOD budget to fund that care. If it wasn't done in that matter, the recapitalization and modernization of the armed forces was in peril - and still is.

But OMB chose not to provide the full topline increase… Instead, seeking to make the Defense Department eat part of the cost “out of hide.” As a practical matter, that meant Congress (a Congress controlled by the same party as the President) would have to say the Administration was wrong if it wanted to increase the Defense budget to cover the required trust fund deposit. That's embarrassing to congressional leaders on one hand, because they're under great pressure to support the President's budget request.

But there's another reason they're reluctant to do that, and that's because trust fund deposits aren't real outlays. They're just accounting entries in the government's books. There's a limit to how much of a fuss they want to raise over such technicalities.

The only time this really causes a problem is when the Administration wants to argue that these trust fund deposits are coming at the expense of other items in the DOD budget. In fact, it was the Administration's choice to make that happen. It chose not to ask for the added money to cover the trust fund deposit… which Congress certainly would have provided, since Congress had just approved the law that required it.

Only after seeing this for a couple of years did the Armed Services Committee seek, in the least offensive way it could, to direct the Administration not to carve out this line item from other DOD budget needs. That was the clear intent of the provision; it had no other purpose. The Senate Budget Committee leaders' letter expressed a philosophical difference with that approach. But the Armed Services Committee conferees obviously felt strongly enough about the issue that they left the provision in the final law despite the Budget Committee objection.

In point of fact, neither the Senate Budget Committee nor anyone else in Congress has any authority to direct the Administration to make these kinds of classifications, outside the language of the law. The Executive Branch doesn't work for the Legislative Branch, and it certainly doesn't work for the Budget Committee. The Budget Committee letter states two things on this point. First, that the Congressional Budget Act gives the Budget Committee authority to determine estimate “for purposes of the congressional budget process.” Secondly, It further states that OMB “intends count the accrual payment against the defense appropriations bill.”

There is nothing in these two statements that contravenes the reality that OMB and/or DOD officials choose to budget this way, regardless of the letter of the law, which was clearly passed with the intention of changing the methodology.

In effect, the Administration and the Budget Committee tacitly agreed to continue the current classification, despite the new letter of the law.

For the reasons addressed above, congressional leaders aren't going to try to embarrass the Administration over such things. But the Administration certainly had full authority to budget otherwise if it had chosen to do so, and would have had the new letter of the law to back it up.

The Administration's autonomy on such issues is clear in many other areas — not the least of which is the Administration's refusal to budget for end strength and other increases in its normal budget submission. Instead, contrary to the clear and repeated wishes of the Armed Services Committees, it chooses to do this through the supplemental appropriations process.

But quibbling over whether the entry should be in the DOD or Treasury budgets is missing the point. Had it wished to keep TFL trust fund deposits from impinging on the DOD budget, the Administration could have just submitted a bigger budget request. It simply chose not to.

Aside from the budgeting and bookkeeping authority, there's a more fundamental issue about what the funding we're talking about really goes to pay for.

Contrary to the impression given by many in government and the media, the issue here isn't pitting funding for current retirees vs. funding for current active duty programs. Payments for delivery of current benefits to current retirees do, in fact, come from the Treasury, and that's acknowledged by both the Administration and the Budget Committee.

The only money we're talking about here is the amount required to make trust fund deposits to pay future health benefits for today's active duty force — and for their family once they attain age 65 decades in the future.

The Administration believes (and senior officials have stated these words explicitly) that military people cost too much. The Administration wants to allocate only a specific amount to spend on defense, and they choose not to increase that figure, even if Congress authorizes (and is willing to fund) increased benefits to help offset the extraordinary sacrifices inherent in a military career. So rather than adjust the topline as Congress had expected, OMB has sought to try to force tradeoffs within the current budget.

That's not unique to this Administration.

The Clinton Administration opposed enactment of TRICARE For Life, too.

But there's simply no denying the fact that, if OMB had submitted a budget with the trust fund deposit in the Treasury account instead of the military personnel account, Congress would have funded it without taking it out of the DOD budget. If, on the other hand, OMB had felt some moral “truth in accounting” obligation to keep that entry in the military personnel account, it could have chosen to increase DOD's topline to account for it, and Congress would have funded it. Either way, it was clearly an Administration choice.

Members of the Military Coalition have had this very discussion with key committee staff members. The response to their views? “You make some good points.”



WE HAVE PAID FOR OUR BENEFITS

Retired Army Colonel W.A. Whittle's letter to Congress forwarded by RADM Stephen Barchet USN (Ret.) via BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret.)

The Honorable Bill Nelson
United States Senate
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0903

Subject: Rising Medical Costs Worry Pentagon, Hill; Washington Post

Dear Senator Nelson:

The recent Washington Post article is extremely disturbing because it indicates that neither the Administration nor the Congress understands why military medical benefits were put in place, let alone the fact that those of us who served full careers paid dearly for them in reduced income throughout our working lives. As an example of this misunderstanding, the article indicates that we pay only $500 per year for Tricare.

That's blatantly false, as I will explain below.

At Congressional direction, DOD used to publish an annual statement of Military Compensation that purported to account for the value of benefits above our actual pay. My 1991 statement shows that my military medical coverage equated to a plan that would have cost me about $5200 in the civilian sector. The implication is that my direct compensation was reduced by $5200 and medical care was provided in kind. Other benefits were also assigned dollar values so that we could see what was represented as our real military compensation not just the part that we received by check each month. Of course the numbers changed annually but in 1991, nearly 20% of my real military compensation came from benefits provided in kind.

What this means, of course is that I paid for every one of those benefits by having my paycheck reduced and receiving in kind medical care, retirement contributions, etc.

The “bottom line only” focus of the Administration and the Congress implied in the referenced article is scandalous. Of course we have to find ways to control budget outlays but we should not be balancing the budget on the backs of people who devoted an entire career to the nation under a contract that included specified benefits in lieu of competitive salaries.

I ask that you work your colleagues to educate the Congress and the Administration on the fact that we have paid our full share for the benefits that we receive and that the integrity of nation rests on the government living up to it's side of the bargain.

Sincerely,

W. A. Whittle
Colonel, USA (Retired)
1637 Yorkshire Trail
Lakeland, FL 33809



WE NEED PROTECTION AS ENDANGERED SPECIES

MAIL CALL
From Capt Ron Shaw, USAF (RET)

Dear Jug:

Considering the fact that Medicare eligible Military Retirees are dying off at the rate of 1000-1500 per day we might be better served by our government by insisting that we be given the legal protection of the Federal Endangered Species Laws.

The Endangered Species listing can be found HERE [http://endangered.fws.gov ]. This listing does include mammals, so we could certainly be included in that group, and in view of the rapidly dwindling numbers of Military Retirees, we should have no problem qualifying.

Being added to the Endangered Species list would also qualify us for our fair share of the “Pork” Congress so readily attaches to it's numerous bills.

This action would serve to satisfy us, the United States Congress, and the President.

Cheers,

Captain Ron Shaw, USAF, Retired
1008 West 230 North
Orem, Utah 84057
801-226-8240



WE NEED THE BROWN BAG PROJECT

By Jim Whittington mailto:jimw8869@megagate.com [mailto:jimw8869@megagate.com]
(If you are not familiar with the BROWN BAG PROJECT, an explanatory article follows this one.)

We retired military do not have lobbyists, unions or special Interest in Congress. In fact, it might be said that Congress has NO INTEREST in the retired military at all. Do you agree with that statement? If you do perhaps you will pass this around the internet and the Brown Bags will start flowing and flying into the halls of Congress this coming week - as Congress reconvenes on January 4th.

What follows is some of the reasons that Congress has no interest in the retirees. This was taken from the USA Today, 28 Dec.04. I have condensed it for spacing.

For NEW Congressional Members, there is an ethics book and orientation class that tells them what they can and cannot do LEGALLY. There is only one problem with that book and orientation. It LEGALIZES what would be UNETHICAL OR CORRUPT in other Branches of the Government or in the civilian sector - but is legal for Congress.

RULE # 1

Members of Congress can make more on a single stock trade than a lifetime of public service because they routinely trade in stocks over which they have legislative power. It has been shown that they make 12-15% on their stock trades - outperforming Wall Street professionals - because they write the rules. Isn't that called “insider trading?” Isn't some of that what Martha Stewart went to prison for? What Congress does makes the Oil for Food Program, WorldCom and Enron look like a Sunday School Class taking up donations for the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Rule # 2

“Profit-take before you legislate.” For example, the member gets government contracts or legislative deals for a lobbyist and then the lobbyist delivers WINDFALL PROFITS for the member.

Take Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, for example. He contacted lobbyist about some possible deals. Real Estate Developer Jonathan Rubini arranged for Stevens to get into a deal for $50,000 that turned into $1.5 Million return. Stevens was the only investor not liable for any debts. In the meantime, Stevens muscled through a $450 Million from the Military for the Lobbyist Rubini, despite the fact that the Air Force said Rubini lacked the capacity and adequate funding. (My words to describe this are: “You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.”)

Catherine Stevens is also paid by a law firm representing business interests to “monitor appropriations issues.” Her job was made easy because she is married to the Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee - Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.

RULE # 3

Children of members of Congress are their ticket to reap benefits of public service. They get their spouses and children EMPLOYED by Lobbyist at huge salaries - despite their lack of experience.

For example, Karen Weldon is the 29 year old daughter of Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania. Karen was given a lobbyist contract for a QUARTER OF A $MILLION from Serbian interest allied with - get this - accused war criminal Solbodan, as well as a $20,000 monthly contract with a Russian Space manufacturer. Weldon later pushed to get visas for the Serbians and deals for the Russians.

Mississippi Senator Trent Lott’s wealthy son, Chet Lott, has a chain of Dominions Pizza restaurants in Kentucky (home of Humana) and plays polo. Yet he was given a huge salary representing telecommunications and other interest. Senator Lott was the Majority Leader at the time.

RULE # 4

Congressional Rules prohibit gifts and speaking fees - but they can never get too much education. For example, North Carolina Congressmen Richard Burr and Ohio Congressman John Boehne received an all expense paid EDUCATIONAL tour of the Yucca flats - paid for by the National Broadcasters Association. These two gentlemen were not content with just the luxury of first class airfare and hotels to visit the Nevada desert, so arrangements included a trip to Barcelona and Sevilla, Spain to learn about the storage site at Yucca Flats.

Another educational tour took former Virginia Congressman Tom Bliley (then chairman of the Commerce Committee) and his wife via the Concorde to London ($24,000 cost), a stay at the Savoy Hotel ($1,000 per night cost) and to wrap-up the tour, tickets to the Wimbledon Tennis finals ($3,000 estimated cost) - all thanks to the courtesy of a tobacco company.

All you need is a well-placed Lobbyist, inexperienced or unemployable children and a few educational trips and you are on your way in Congress.

This was on Fox network last week: You have heard all the Congressmen and Senators say in speeches back in their state or district that they sure do miss being at home - and can’t wait to get back. That is pure JUNK. As reported, more than 90 former Congressmen and Senators who either retired or lost the election didn't return to the “old home place.” They stayed in Washington and went to work lobbying their former colleagues. It was reported that Daschle and Gebhardt are now looking for a rich lobbyist job. Daschle’s wife has been a lobbyist for several years - it was reported. This applies equally to Republicans and Democrats.

Do you wonder why we now have to BROWN BAG IT”?

There is no question in my mind. We are the 2nd and 3rd-class citizens that have no union, lobbyists or Special
Interest - in fact, we are of no interest at all. So, hopefully this will make your BLOOD BOIL and make you want to rip up some brown bags this coming week. Maybe after reading this we can top 50,000 or 100,000 bags. What do you say?

Remember this: All the above is perfectly legal because they write their own rules. Everyone else goes to jail.

Think about that for a minute. It is time for us to say “I am madder than HELL and it's time to stop this foolishness”. BROWN BAG IT, FOLKS!
Jim Whittington, Laurel, MS.

BROWN BAG PROJECT EXPLAINED

For years, military retirees have been trying to influence Congress to enact legislation that restores and fulfills the government’s original promise of free medical care to military retirees and their dependents.

One of the largest retiree coalitions, known as the Military Retiree Grass Roots Group (MRGRG), was one of the primary forces that resulted in congressional enactment of Tri-Care For Life. While this program generally has been a definite improvement for retirees’ health care, it is directly tied to Medicare. Any change or depletion of Medicare — which is possible or even probable — could greatly reduce retiree benefits once again. Plus, there are other chinks in the armor.

So this growing group of military retirees continues their long-pursued efforts to “restore the broken promises,” and has taken a new tack for making every U.S. Senator and Representative aware of this need.

Here is their plan that will take the term “brown bagging” to a new level:

THE BROWN BAG PROJECT
Authored by Tom Gould, 22 Nov 2004

Every retiree involved in this broken promise issue should do this… once a week: Rip up a piece of an old brown paper bag - don't cut the section out “nice and clean” just rip it out with your hands (about 8” X10” will do). Now, it is important that everyone uses a brown paper bag. No other paper will do.

On your piece of paper bag write or print your quick message to the Congressman/woman. It doesn't have to be great English or “the correct words”… just plain words to say something like, “You and the government broke your promise to me and my family”… Or, “I want to see you put a bill on the floor that restores my rights to free medical care” - you get the idea. You can write it in grease pencil, ink, paint, or whatever. Don't even try to be neat and tidy.

Put the brown bag message in an envelope and with one 37 cent stamp send it off to Congress.

If all of us do this simple thing once a week, every week, week after week… we will finally get their attention and the reason is this: Every week just about every member of congress is going to be getting these pieces of brown bag with the note on them and the more each of us that do this well, Congress will be getting thousands of these pieces of brown bag week after week. And the cost to us: one piece of brown bag, an envelope, and one 37 cent stamp a week. Sooner or later a news reporter will pick up on it and then we are on TV. There is no cheaper way to do this with as much force.

The idea may sound dumb, but surprise some of your friends and bring it up as an “off the wall” idea. After they stop laughing and really think about the idea, they just might see the power in it for the price. The idea is using your mailing list… send the idea out to your people and pick a starting date. From then on, we all write a note to Congress on a ripped brown paper bag once a week. For only 37 cents a week. After a congressperson gets about 2000 or so of these a week, just seeing the brown paper notes falling out of the envelopes will tell them the message..

Having written to Congress, and having sent them hundreds of e-mails, I will tell you sending e-mail is the worst way to contact them. What we need is brown paper notes, every week, sent week after week.

I believe this simple approach, low cost, direct mail is the way to go.