Great information about military health care benefits at transition

This is a repost from Jim Carman’s great synopsis of military health care availability for those going through transition (originally posted on the MOAA Linkedin group page):

 Career and Talent Management Team Leader: 703-968-6383

This week’s LinkedIn career building essay comes from Katherine Tracy, MOAA’s Deputy Director for Healthcare Programs. You’ve made the decision to transition from the military and may be wondering how this impacts your healthcare benefits. Let’s take a quick look through two lenses: military retirement eligible or not.
If you’ve not fulfilled the 20 year requirement for a military retirement, your healthcare ends on your last day of regular active duty service or in the case of an activated National Guard or reserve member and serving a period of more than 30 consecutive days of active duty in support of a contingency operation, on the last day of your transition period known as Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) which is 180-days following your separation date. The TAMP benefit also applies to active duty service members serving in support of a contingency operation separating due to:
• stop-loss,
• sole survivorship discharge, or
• agreement to become a member of the Selected Reserve of a Reserve Component the day immediately following release from regular active duty service.
Military retiree’s under age 65 can choose between a managed care option (HMO), known as Tricare Prime, or a fee for service option called Tricare Standard. The main difference between the two is cost verses choice. Tricare Prime is least costly; whereas, Tricare Standard offers the greatest choice in selecting providers. Furthermore, the Tricare Prime option is limited to those who reside within the catchment area of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF).
Tricare also comes with a pharmacy benefit delivered through three points of service listed below in the order of least to greatest out-of-pocket cost to you.
• Military Treatment Facility,
• Tricare Home Delivery Pharmacy, or
• Tricare Retail Pharmacy.
Next, the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) provides a dental option for retiree’s as well as gray-area National Guard or reserve members and their dependents. Timely enrollment, within 120-days of eligibility, ensures the full range of benefits is available immediately. Otherwise, there’s a 12-month wait-period for crowns, bridges, orthodontics and dentures.
Lastly, once retired, your Tricare catastrophic cap rises to $3,000.00/family per fiscal year. The catastrophic cap is your maximum out-of-pocket expense for Tricare covered benefits. Here, the key is Tricare covered benefits. If in doubt – ask!
This has been a whirl-wind through the healthcare benefit structure. If you need further guidance or would like to schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your particular situation in more detail, call a MOAA Benefits Counselor at 1.800.234.6622.
Finally, for those readers in career transition who have served as officers in any branch of the armed forces and are located in the greater Washington, D.C. area, The West Point Society of DC’s annual Military Officer Job Fair will be held on December 6 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm at the Waterford Reception Center in Springfield, Virginia. For the second consecutive year, MOAA is assisting in the promotion of this job fair, which will be open to all military officers regardless of commissioning source or branch of service. There is no charge to attend and no pre-registration is required. For more details, please see and follow the links to career networking night. Thanks for reading and happy holidays, Jim Carman, MOAA Transition Center Director.


Transitionnews 11/29/13

Transitionnews for Friday, November 29 2013:

Good news story of the day

Navy Wounded Warrior Anchor Program Supports a Grateful Family  (  A retired Navy command master chief who serves as a Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor Anchor Program mentor – spent valuable time with a Coast Guard wounded warrior and his family in Carlisle, Pa., during November.


Workshop advises service members in transition  (The Redstone Rocket)  Whether a service member retires after 20 years or gets out after just one tour, the Army’s Transition Assistance Program helps service members and their families transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance, financial readiness planning and related services.

Veterans in Private Sector: Making the Transition  (Federal News Radio) Why should you hire a veteran?  Here are a few reasons: They possess great leadership skills. They take initiative. They assume responsibility. They’re creative.

New IT career training program helps veterans find jobs  (Observer & Eccentric)  A new public-private partnership has been formed to provide information and technology training and certification to Michigan veterans.

‘Warriors 4 Wireless’ Program Helps Vets Find Tech Industry Jobs  (LiveScience)   A new nonprofit program aims to help veterans and returning service members find jobs in wireless telecommunications, as part of a broader goal to have 5,000 vets employed in the expanding industry by the year 2015, according to officials from the Department of Defense.


Wounded Warrior Group suing Indiana veteran it says defamed it  (UPI)  A national veterans assistance group is suing an Indiana veteran it says defamed it, court documents show.

Veterans Pitch In to Help Serve, Overseas and at Home  (ABC News)  To celebrate Thanksgiving, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama – along with daughters Sasha and Malia – went to the Capital Area Food Bank to serve nutritious meals for hungry families alongside post-9/11 veterans who were reporting for duty in their community.

Veterans see glitches in getting new licenses  (Channel 3000)  Some Wisconsin veterans trying to get their hands on special new driver’s licenses have been confused by a state website but unable to get through to a toll-free hotline for assistance.

Orlando gives veterans a boost in competing for contracts  (Orlando Sentinal)   Every year, Orlando issues millions of dollars worth of contracts and purchase orders for everything from staples to giant construction projects.

Veterans form organization to help peers  (Newburyport News)  Two local veterans are extending a helping hand to keep the hands of their struggling peers warm.

Easter Seals groups ramp up help to veterans  (  Like many people, Gary Staten typically thought of the nonprofit group Easter Seals as mainly helping children and adults with disabilities and special needs.

Veterans Affairs

Plans progressing on state vets home  (The Rapid City Journal)  The South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that contractors began mobilizing equipment and resources to the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home campus last week.

Veterans’ homelessness drops by 24 percent  (  The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development announced Nov. 21 that a new national report shows a 24 percent drop in homelessness among veterans since 2010.

Ga. veterans face backlog of claims  (Atlanta Journal Constitution)  Georgia veterans filing disability claims often face longer delays than their counterparts in other states.


DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable: Resources and Benefits for Veterans  (DOD Live) The Real Warriors Campaign is a multimedia public awareness initiative sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Air Force cancels retraining in 35 career fields  (Marine Corps Times)  The Air Force announced Tuesday that it has dropped at least 35 career fields from the list of jobs that airmen can retrain into, affecting as many as 1,000 airmen.

Army begins correcting medical records for some former Madigan patients  (The Bellingham Herald)  The Army has begun correcting medical records for former Madigan Army Medical Center patients who left the military with conflicting diagnoses for behavioral health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.


Stars and Stripes faces closure if it loses the Battle of Budget Cuts (The Washington Times) Stars and Stripes — long may it wave? Maybe not. The venerable newspaper that has reported independent news about the American military since the Civil War finds itself on the budget-cutting front lines.

If you would like to subscribe to Transitionnews and also receive updates from Orders to Nowhere, go to the “email subscription” located on the sidebar.  You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook!

Have a great day!

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Tranisitionnews 11/27/13

Transitionnews for Wednesday, November 27 2013:

Good news story of the day

Dept. of Veterans Affairs: Wins grant to renovate homeless veteran housing ( The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) today announced that it has received a grant of nearly $26,000 to renovate existing transitional housing at 21425 Spring St., Cottage 16, Union Grove to increase the useful life of the facility and address the safety, security and privacy needs of homeless veterans served. The grant, from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is a Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program grant.

Military Transition

Following complaints, Army medical records board honoring latest Madigan PTSD diagnoses (The News Tribune) The Army has begun correcting medical records for former Madigan Army Medical Center patients who left the military with conflicting diagnoses for behavioral health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.


Veterans oppose Wisconsin asbestos bill (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel) It was disappointing to read Christian Schneider’s column regarding Senate Bill 13, which would delay and deny justice for asbestos victims

Military/Veterans: Claims show lacking care, example of Obamacare ( The public needs to be concerned about governmental health care, because as it fails so do the chances to improve the public’s health.

Veterans Administration

Veterans Affairs clarifies why cop killer Lawrence Cambra’s remains removed from military cemetery (The Oregonian) The Department of Veterans Affairs removed Lawrence Cambra’s ashes from Willamette National Cemetery last week after learning a funeral home failed to provide information that would have disqualified his placement there.

My HealthVet provides online access to support veterans health care ( On the 10th anniversary of Department of Veterans Affairs award-winning Personal Health Record, My HealtheVet, the Department is urging all veterans and servicemembers to join the VA health care information and services online.

Veterans Affairs describes benefits (Carroll County Times) The Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System is hosting a VA Health Care Enrollment, Eligibility and Veterans Benefits Seminar at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, 10 N. Greene St., Baltimore from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Dec. 9.

Veterans Affairs woes not just regional concern (TribLive) First, waterborne bacteria in Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospitals led to at least five deaths from Legionnaires’ disease.

Veterans Affairs director under fire (Ottumwa Courier)

In what could have been a closed session to discuss a personnel matter during the Wapello County Board Supervisors meeting was kept open at the request of Marty Cremer, director of Wapello County Veterans Affairs.


Air Force chief wants to curb pay growth (Grand Forks Herald) The Air Force’s top officer says the service must curb growth in pay and benefits.

Have a great day and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Transitionnews 11/26/13

Transitionnews for Tuesday, November 26 2013:

Good news story of the day:

Healing veterans: Saginaw’s VA Medical Center pours nearly $30 million into renovations  (Michigan Live) After six decades of service, the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw was showing its age. But thanks to some timely renovation work, the health care center that serves veterans throughout central and northern Michigan has a bright future.

Military Transition

Transition Readiness Seminar prepares service members (DVIDS) The military transition assistance program, part of Transition Assistance Management Program, underwent changes March 2012, and is now known as the Transition Readiness Seminar.

800 lieutenant colonels and colonels face SERB (Air Force Times) About 90 lieutenant colonels and 150 colonels could be selected for early retirement when the Selective Early Retirement Board meets Dec. 9.


Huntington Beach Bar Fights To Save Sign That Salutes Veterans (CBS Los Angeles) Veterans are rallying around a local bar whose owners say they have been ordered to removed a sign that salutes their service.

Student veterans face challenges when reintegrating into campus life (The Daily Texan) For a small population of UT students, campus life comes with several realizations — being the oldest student in class or that, unlike their peers, they are balancing a family life and their studies.

National veterans’ charity sues local Indiana veterans’ charity (Fox 59) A national nonprofit group that pulls in more than $150 million annually for veterans has sued local group Help Indiana Vets.

Veterans Administration

Scammers target veterans attempting to call the VA  (WVNSTV) A fraud alert was issued recently letting veterans know about a scam that targets people who are attempting to call two Department of Veterans Affairs hotlines.

Veteran advocacy groups want justice for deaths at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center (The Augusta Chronicle) The outrage surrounding the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center’s botched gastrointestinal program reached the national stage Monday, with representatives from two veteran advocacy groups demanding justice for the three cancer patients who died needlessly because of the clinic’s lack of care.

Indy VA office one of worst in country (WISHTV) Some veterans are fighting to their graves, not living to see benefits promised to them as young troops.


Overtime, new computer system put sizable dent in VA benefits backlog (The Denver Post) Far fewer veterans are facing long waits for disability compensation after the Department of Veterans Affairs spent the past six months focusing on the backlog, including mandating case worker overtime and rolling out a new computer system.

 Conn. veteran sues Army over diagnosis, benefits (SFGate) A Connecticut veteran of the Iraq War has sued the Army, saying he was denied full education and retirement benefits after he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder while actually suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Have a great day!


Transitionnews 11/25/13

Transitionnews for Monday, November 25 2013:

Good news story of the day:

Easter Seals Groups Ramp up Help to Veterans  (ABC News) Like many people, Gary Staten typically thought of the nonprofit group Easter Seals as mainly helping children and adults with disabilities and special needs.

Military Transition

‘Mission:Transition’ draws military members to Home Depot’s ranks (Washington Post)  Donald Sullivan strolled contentedly amid the bustle of contractors wheeling carts stacked with lumber at the Home Depot in Hyattsville, Md.

New state law eases transition for military police (KARE 11) A new change in state law makes it easier for military police to transfer their law enforcement skills to the streets of Minnesota.

Ex-UFC fighter Caros Fodor and the cruel transition from soldier to civilian (Fox Sports) It was a routine convoy, a movement of military vehicles through the dark Iraq desert. But what is really routine about combat in a foreign land?

A Military Wife No More (The New York Times) Today I got divorced.


A Pacifist’s Take on Veterans’ Rights (The Huffington Post) I spent my fall break in our nation’s capital, sponsored by Princeton’s Pace Center for Civic Engagement, visiting congressional lobbies, vocational employment centers, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where I saw, firsthand, those who had experienced the casualties of war. Eating in the hospital cafeteria, I sat among masses of amputees, the people who actually comprise the looming, abstract statistics we hear always on the news.

‘Stand down’ event assists area veterans (Gainesville Times) When veterans return home, the transition into civilian life can be difficult for some. Yet there are organizations to help them make it as smooth as possible.

Veterans volunteer to provide military funeral honors at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Pa.  ( Several times a day, a solemn ceremony takes place at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown, Pa.

Report finds more of state’s veterans homeless (Charlston Daily Mail)   Jason Wood is happy he has a part-time job at the Charleston Civic Center.  It means the 40-year-old veteran is a step closer to finding his first permanent housing in a year.  But it’s not enough.

Veterans Administration 

Veterans Dying Waiting On Disability Benefits (CBS DFW)

The Veterans Administration says they’re working hard to fix their backlog of medical claims.  But the CBS 11 I-Team has uncovered a new problem faced by veterans and their families. Disability benefits denied and the appeals process taking years, even decades to be approved.

Veterans Affairs woes not just regional concern  (TribLive) First, waterborne bacteria in Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospitals led to at least five deaths from Legionnaires’ disease.

Dogs ease veterans’ trauma at VA center (Anchorage Daily News) The black Labrador retriever knew something was wrong. He refused to leave the side of Sandro Navarro, repeatedly nuzzling the troubled man, trying to comfort him.

Have a great day!



I have been a reader of the Department of Defense’s Early Bird for a long time.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Early Bird, it is a daily roundup of items in the news that are related to the military.  Although it is a purveyor of news, it has also been in the news lately because it became a victim of the budgetman’s axe. Although the official Early Bird may have gone the way of the Dodo, it has been replaced by versions created by non-military agencies.

Anyhow, the Early Bird was great because it provided a single location to check out the news of the day for those in uniform.  I eagerly read it while still on active duty and I still read it (well, the son of the official Early Bird at any rate) today.  Since I got out, however, my interest in the Early Bird has changed from following the goings on in foreign lands to more pressing issues here at home. It occasionally contains links to stories about transition and veteran’s issues, but not always.  I found the lack of daily coverage is transition and veteran’s issues to be disappointing.

So I decided to start writing my own version of the Early Bird, except that it will focus on veteran/transition stories that are bouncing around the internet and in print.  You are one of the luckiest readers on the planet because you get to read the inaugural post — the post you are reading right now. My goal is to post links to news stories and blogs about vets and transitioning servicemembers as frequently as I can, and today is the first of them all.  If you have any feedback or recommendations, please post a comment!


Good News Story of the day

GOOD NEWS! Salvation Army Thanksgiving eve feast assured after flood of donations (Peninsula Daily News) Two weeks after putting out the word that it didn’t have any turkeys for the annual Thanksgiving feast, the Port Angeles Salvation Army’s soup kitchen now has enough for the 200 expected at the holiday meal.


Workshop advises service members in transition ( Whether a service member retires after 20 years or gets out after just one tour, the Army’s Transition Assistance Program helps service members and their families transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance, financial readiness planning and related services.

Tech sector salutes military in transition to civilian jobs (Seattle Times) Microsoft and other companies are sponsoring intensive programs to help service members learn the skills to help them land high-tech civilian jobs.

Government, Military and Business Leaders Come Together to Help Veterans Transition to Private Sector Careers (Digital Journal) More than 100 employers from Canada’s private sector will gather this week for Canada Company’s inaugural Military Employment Transition (MET) Employer Partner Coalition Conference in Toronto on November 21 and 22. Focused exclusively on veteran employment, the conference is designed to help bridge the gap between the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and corporate Canada by serving as a platform to share successful techniques and best practices that assist transitioning and transitioned CAF members entering the private sector.


Pentagon requests plan to close stateside commissaries  (Stars and Stripes) Tasked by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to find ways to preserve force readiness amid sharply falling budgets, his comptroller and the Joint Staff have asked the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) for a plan to close all stateside base grocery stores, say military resale community sources.

Obama enacts 1.5 percent veterans’ COLA (Army Times) President Obama has signed into law a measure providing a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment to disabled veterans and their survivors.


Military leaders: Drawdown plan aggressive (USA Today) President Obama’s own military commanders said Thursday that his plan for a drawdown of troops went beyond what they had recommended but will still be able to achieve U.S. goals for a stable Afghanistan. Critics however say the drawdown risks reversing hard-won gains against the Taliban.

U.S. military says it may have to cut Europe budget by fifth (Reuters) The United States may be compelled to cut its military spending in Europe next year by as much as a fifth in the latest round of reductions under “sequestration”, America’s top general in the region said on Thursday.

Veterans Administration

Paralyzed Army vet awarded $8.3M in VA hospital lawsuit (Army Times) An Army veteran who lost a leg and suffered severe brain damage when a routine surgical procedure at the John Cochran VA Medical Center went wrong has been awarded $8.3 million in a medical negligence lawsuit.

Hospital delays are killing America’s war veterans (CNN)  Military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at U.S. veterans hospitals, a CNN investigation has found.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ catching up on benefits backlog (The Gazette) Far fewer veterans are facing long waits for disability compensation after the Department of Veterans Affairs spent the past six months focusing on the backlog, including mandating case worker overtime and rolling out a new computer system.

Thanks for reading the first ever edition of Transitionnews!

Low Hanging Fruit

The inevitability of a smaller military is beginning to settle in across the Department of Defense.  With the impending end of the second counterinsurgent war and fiscal cuts that accompany it, the services must live within the means of their dwindling budgets and the quickest way to do so is to reduce the number of people who are drawing pay and benefits.  In the system that is our military industrial complex the variable cost of personnel is the management tool of choice to reduce costs because of the fixed nature of weapon, infrastructure, and systems contracts.  It is far easier to trim the number of people in uniform than it is to break a contract for a weapon system or a construction project.

As I have written previously the reduction of personnel is completely understandable and necessary. When there are no wars to actively fight the necessity for a military big enough to fight one becomes an untenable and costly argument that will always lose to other domestic priorities.  With the end of war comes the need for the DOD to shrink.

The services are all wrestling with how to reduce their respective endstrengths.  Natural attrition through discharges and retirements, coupled with reductions in recruiting are one way to get smaller, but that is not enough.  People who are currently serving need to go.

But who, exactly, gets the boot?  The armed forces obviously want to keep their best people, so those who are not in that category become the low hanging fruit to be plucked from the manpower tree.  The army has announced that it is going to be discharging convicted sex offenders (which is really a pretty good idea) and the services are cutting those who are overweight and cannot get into standards (which has resulted in a spike in liposuction for those who want to stay in but can’t meet standards).

So the word is out.  If you are one of the apples hanging from the bottom branch of the tree you may want to take a hard look at your future in the service.  You may be “picked” before you are ready if you don’t move up a few branches…

Team Rubicon

There are very few organizations or people in the world that do truly wonderful things without any expectation of recognition of personal reward.  Team Rubicon is one of the magnificent few.

Team Rubicon is a Disaster Response Veteran Service Organization.  As in responding to disasters in places like the typhoon wracked islands of the Philippines, Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan, and in the United States.  They are a growing group of dedicated veterans who bring the skills they learned in uniform (things like flexibility, teamwork, leadership, work ethic, dedication, sense of duty and commitment to duty) to a new form of warfare: fighting against the disasters that ravage communities and threaten the lives of innocent men, women, and children.

They are incredibly agile, and are often among the first relief and assistance agencies to hit the ground.  The credit for such agility is the committed deployability of the members of the team; they have all answered the call to arms for their nation and in doing so have become incredibly motivated, proactive, and prepared to grab their gear and catch a flight to wherever in the world disaster strikes.

Today they are conducting Operation SEABIRD in the Philippines at the same time that Operation HONEST ABE is underway to help with the damage wrought by the tornadoes that blew through the region this past weekend. To say that they do amazing work is an understatement of epic proportions.  They are the best our country has to offer, continuing to serve after hanging up the cloth of the nation.

My hat’s off to them.

To learn more, go to their website.  Also, here is a link to a great story in Stars and Stripes.

Good news for Guard and reserve members about retirement

Here is a good news story about Guard and reserve retirement from the Army Times:

Senators take new crack at expanding reserve retirement credit

Good stuff.  Not all the news about military pay and benefits is bad!

Military retirement benefits and budget cuts

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced this past weekend that the service chiefs have agreed to a plan that would reign in the unprecedented expansion in servicemember’s benefits.  Not particularly surprising, really. As the wars come to an end the enticements that have been used to recruit and retain an all volunteer force become less affordable than they were before.  During the Global War on Terror, millions of young men and women entered the armed forces, and a great many of them deployed overseas to fight for the nation.

The goodwill that the nation felt towards the military, coupled with the real need for expansion, resulted in tremendous growth in terms of pay and benefits for those in uniform.  Countless millions of dollars have been spent on education, health, housing, and other benefits that were either not in existence before the wars began or grew exponentially in scope and cost.

That cost has become prohibitive, however.  In the words of General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“What we have asked these young men and women to do over the last 10 years, we can’t pay them enough.  Having said that, we also have an institution to manage.”

The chairman also pointed out the cost in real terms.  The DOD spends approximately half of its annual budget on personnel, and if things continue on as projected the cost will grow another ten percent.  It is untenable for the military to function with 60 cents from every dollar spent on the people who make up the military.

The good news, though, is that the current retirement plan will not be affected.  At least not for people in uniform currently that is.  It may very well change in the future, but it is for the moment safe from the budgetman’s axe.

At any rate, the “peace dividend” of the end of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will come at the expense of the Department of Defense.  It seems like the Joint Chiefs have finally realized the incontrovertable truth that with the end of war comes the lack of desire to pay for the military that fought it.  It is not a bad thing that the military retracts when there are no wars to fight, but the retraction must be thoughtfully done.

I just hope that those who make such decisions ensure that the military is ready for the next war.

And there is always another war.