HEARING AIDS UPDATE: The DoD sponsored Retiree-At-Cost Hearing Aid Program is designed to help retirees purchase hearing aids through an Audiology Clinic at a special government negotiated cost. The hearing aids available through this program are the same state-of-the art technologies available to active duty service members. The program is open to all military retirees who have hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Dependents of military retirees are not eligible for this program. Retirees can buy hearing aids at a significant savings by using the program.
For example, a set of hearing aids (one of the best available) that retails for about $5,000 costs a retiree as little as $755 or about 15 percent of the retail costs. Services for the hearing evaluation, hearing aid fitting and follow up hearing aid checks are part of retiree benefits and are available at no cost. Not every DoD medical facility is able to provide the RACHAP program. If traveling from out of town, compare travel costs of purchasing hearing aids privately in the local community. Generally, at least two visits are required to get hearing aids, one for the hearing evaluation and one for the hearing aid fitting. Also, retirees may be eligible for hearing aids from the Department of Veterans Affairs and receiving hearing aids from the VA free of charge, in most cases there is no costs to the patient. The Audiology Department can provide with more information about VA services or contact the VA directly a 1-877-222-8387 or 1-800-827-1000.
Dependents of retirees are not eligible for hearing aid services from military treatment facilities (including RACHAP) or from TRICARE. The family member is eligible for TRICARE hearing evaluations and the audiologist can provide them with more information about hearing aids or local providers. [Source: Semper Fidelis Apr-Jun 2012 article Aug 2012]
VETERAN DRIVER LICENSES UPDATE: It can be difficult for military veterans to prove they served in the military. The only federally issued military ID cards are military retiree ID cards, and veterans ID cards issued by the VA for veterans with a service-connected disability. Veterans who served less than the required 20 years to reach retirement or who don’t have a service-connected disability are often left without an official ID card that proves they served in the military.
Some veterans get around this by carrying around a copy of their DD form 214, but this presents a several issues: it is not a photo ID, so many places won’t accept it, it is bulky and difficult to carry in one’s wallet, and it has the veteran’s social security number on it, which presents an identity theft risk if it is stolen. Thankfully, many states are taking notice of this and are including a veterans designation on drivers licenses and state issued ID cards. Some states, such as Virginia, are issuing a separate photo ID that identifies veterans.
Below is a list of states that now offer a military service or veterans designation on drivers licenses and their state issued ID cards. These cards can often be used for military and veterans discounts, www.themilitarywallet.com/military-discounts, or to prove you served in the military. However, it’s important to note that these ID cards are not official military ID cards in the sense that they will allow you to enter a military post or receive military benefits. You will need to show your DD Form 214 or other official military documents to receive military benefits.
Status of Veteran Designations on Drivers Licenses:
• Alaska – Pending Legislation (HB 180)
• Arizona – Pending Legislation
• Arkansas – Drivers License Designation
• California – Pending Legislation (SB 1355)
• Connecticut – Drivers License Designation
• Delaware – Drivers License Designation
• Florida – Drivers License Designation
• Georgia – Drivers License Designation
• Illinois – Pending Legislation (Senate Bill 2837)
• Indiana – Drivers License Designation
• Louisiana – Drivers License Designation
• Maine – Drivers License Designation
• Maryland – Drivers License Designation
• Massachusetts – Drivers License Designation
• Michigan – Pending Legislation (House Bill 4127)
• Minnesota – Drivers License Designation
• Mississippi – Drivers License Designation
• Missouri – Drivers License Designation
• Nevada – Pending Proposal in 2013
• New Hampshire – Pending Legislation (SB 313)
• New Jersey – Veterans ID Cards Available at County Level
• New York – Pending Legislation (S6453-2011)
• North Carolina – Drivers License Designation
• North Dakota – Drivers License Designation
• Ohio – Drivers License Designation
• Oklahoma – Drivers License Designation
• Oregon – Drivers License Designation
• Pennsylvania – Pending Legislation (HB 2153)
• Rhode Island – Pending Legislation
• South Carolina – Drivers License Designation
• South Dakota – Drivers License Designation
• Tennessee – Drivers License Designation
• Texas – Drivers License Designation
• Utah – Drivers License Designation
• Virginia – Separate Veterans ID Card
• Washington – Pending Legislation (House Bill 2378)
• West Virgina – Pending Legislation (HB 4082)
• Wisconsin – Pending Legislation
[Source: http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-designation-on-drivers-licenses Aug 2012]
VA BURIAL BENEFIT UPDATE: Many veterans are under the impression that their status as a veteran means that the government will pay for their burial. This is not true and it can cause great financial hardship for families who don’t understand it at a time when they are least prepared to deal with it.
It is very important that veterans have their discharge papers located in a secure place known to their next of kin. Eligibility for potential burial benefits depends on these documents, and they cannot always be obtained quickly from government sources. To be eligible for burial benefits, a veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Certain other factors including time period and length of service may apply, so the family should contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 for final determination of eligibility. Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of VA’s 131 national cemeteries, as well as in state- owned- and- operated veterans’ cemeteries.
For veterans interred at a national or state veterans’ cemetery, the opening and closing of the grave and perpetual care are provided at no cost. If buried at a private cemetery, the family must pay these costs, as well as the cost of the plot and any related expenses. The VA will provide a burial flag, a government marker, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, regardless of where the veteran is buried. If burial is to take place in a national or state veterans’ cemetery, the cemetery will make the arrangements for the interment only. Neither the cemetery nor the VA makes funeral arrangements or performs cremations. It is the responsibility of the veteran’s family to make arrangements for funeral services with a funeral home, including memorial services, viewings, preparing and transporting the remains, the casket, etc. Any items or services obtained from a funeral home will be at the families’ expense, including the plot and grave provisions if the veteran is not buried in a national or state cemetery. The VA does not pay for any expenses related to a veteran’s burial or funeral.
Certain survivors may apply for a monetary burial allowance paid after-the-fact by the VA, but generally only if the veteran was in receipt of VA disability compensation or pension at the time of death, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA facility.
The amount payable depends on whether the veteran’s death was related to a military service-connected disability, with the payments ranging from $300 to $2,000. There are other factors that can affect potential eligibility for this benefit, so veterans or their families should contact the VA at the 800 number above or your county veterans service officer for more information prior to actually needing the information. [Source: TREA News for the Enlisted article 17 Aug 2012]
TRICARE ADDICTION CARE: To cope with a growing population of drug- and alcohol-addicted personnel, the Defense Department has outsourced substance abuse treatment to a network of 1,053 civilian rehabilitation facilities through the TRICARE insurance plan. Concerned about the quality of substance abuse care, Congress in 2009 required the department to bring treatment back in-house by Oct. 2012. The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Obama in Oct. 2009, required TRICARE to stop outsourcing substance abuse treatment and instead establish regional long-term inpatient substance abuse treatment programs. Nonetheless, Pentagon officials have declined to follow this directive. Defense currently has 200 beds for inpatient substance abuse treatment at its hospitals. Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the services determined they had enough in-house capacity and did not need to build new treatment facilities.
The Defense Department faces a spiraling number of addicted personnel, with 316,248 active-duty troops diagnosed with either alcohol or drug dependence from 2000 through 2011. That’s 22 percent of the today’s 1,422,000 total active-duty force, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center reported in July. This is more than triple the number of active-duty troops diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder - 102,549 - in the same time period, AFHSC detailed in its report on mental health problems of active-duty troops during the past decade. The number of troops diagnosed with alcohol abuse and dependence conditions alone - 232,625 - was more than double the number of PTSD diagnoses, according to the AFHSC report.
Only the catchall categories of “adjustment disorders” and “other mental health” problems eclipsed substance abuse diagnoses during this period, AFHSC reported. An active-duty Army doctor, who declined to be identified, said, “substance abuse has reached epidemic levels within the military. DoD failed to anticipate the magnitude of the crisis and is now caught playing catch-up.”
The center based its report on medical record diagnostic codes and said the figures probably underestimate mental health conditions in the active-duty force due to miscoding and poor documentation of care provided by private clinicians or at deployment health clinics.
Smith told Nextgov that Defense provides substance abuse treatment through 215 outpatient programs; two Army inpatient programs with a total of 40 beds; and three Navy programs with a total of 160 beds. Smith said Defense also uses more than 390 inpatient and 663 long- and short-term residential treatment facilities across the United States and Puerto Rico that accept TRICARE reimbursement. She did not explain why Defense felt it could ignore the 2010 law that mandates a switch from outsourced treatment to in-house treatment.
“The role of long-term inpatient treatment programs is less prominent than it was in the past,” Smith said. “The most restrictive environment for care, inpatient substance use hospitalization, is reserved for the sickest of patients.”
Senate and House Armed Services Committee spokesmen have not responded to queries about the Pentagon’s decision to continue outsourcing substance abuse treatment.
When asked how Defense evaluates the private treatment facilities, Smith said TRICARE outsourced certification of the centers to Keystone Peer Review of Harrisburg, Pa.
The quality monitoring company says on its website that it helps manage “the utilization of health care resources and optimize quality of care for public and commercial clients,” including the Department of Health and Human Services, the General Services Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and state Medicaid agencies.
Substance abuse treatment facilities seeking initial certification from Keystone Peer Review must fill out a 10-page form that includes questions on staffing, state licenses and accreditation by bodies such as the Joint Commission (formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Once a treatment center receives certification from Keystone Peer Review, the only subsequent requirement is to submit an annual one-page self-assessment form. In addition to providing the facility name, type and tax identification number, facility operators are asked to provide notice of any areas in which the center is not in compliance with TRICARE standards. In essence, Keystone Peer Review outsources the evaluation to the accreditation bodies.
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities also uses a self-assessment process, raising questions about the rigor such bodies bring to evaluations. While the commission sends a team for an on-site visit following the self-assessment, the team “comprises industry peers who follow a consultative (rather than an inspective) approach in conducting the on-site survey.”
When asked about this approach, spokesman Al Whitehurst said, “we’re not the sheriff.”
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported in June that there are no clearly delineated, consistent and regulated national standards that govern addiction treatment. The center, in its 586-page report, “Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice,” said most treatment providers are addiction counselors who are not required to have any medical training.
An analysis of state standards found that 14 states do not require addiction counselors to be licensed or certified; six states do not mandate any educational degree to become credentialed; 14 states require only a high school diploma or GED; six states require a bachelor’s degree and only one requires a master’s degree, the center said. One retired flag officer who battled his own alcoholism 17 years ago and has since been sober told Nextgov that the quality of care for substance abuse treatment should have the attention of top Pentagon leadership. But, he added, despite the staggering substance abuse statistics reported by AFHSC, “trouble is, there aren’t many very senior folks who understand — or care — about treatment for alcoholism. [Source: NextGov.com Bob Brewin article 14 Aug 2012]
FLAGS: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and SC State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags; the cost is $5.
AMERICAN LEGION POST 70: Meeting at 1800 on the third Tuesday of the month. For more informaiton, please contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
AMERICAN LEGION POST 24, Newberry, meeting is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1830.
The AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY – UNIT 24 meet the same day at 3 p.m. at Post 24.