Military health spending to be slowed

Tom Philpott: Military Update Congress will worsen a near crisis of runaway military health care costs if it enacts a Senate-backed provision to open the new TRICARE Reserve Select program to all drilling Reserve and National Guard members, the Defense Department’s top health official has warned. In testimony before a House subcommittee, Dr. William Winkenwerder […]

Enormous health care costs needs revisiting

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate armed services subcommittee on military personnel, says he will be “adamant’’ during negotiations with House conferees on a final defense authorization bill that it include his Senate-approved amendment to open a premium-based military health insurance plan to any drilling reservist or National […]

County projects surplus

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer Curry County Commission-ers approved an $8 million budget Monday during a special meeting at the courthouse. More than 50 percent of budget revenues are raised through property taxes, 40 percent through gross receipts taxes, and the remaining 10 percent through motor vehicle taxes and miscellaneous fees, according to County […]

Committee votes to open ‘tricare select’

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The House Armed Services Committee has voted 32-30 to open the new TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) program to any drilling reservist or National Guard member willing to pay the premiums, now set at $75 a month for member-only coverage or $233 for family coverage. An unprecedented fulltime health plan for […]

Base closure list

The Associated Press A list obtained by The Associated Press of military facilities the Defense Department recommended for closure Friday: Alabama Abbott U.S. Army Reserve Center, Tuskegee Anderson U.S. Army Reserve Center, Troy Armed Forces Reserve Center, Mobile BG William P. Screws U.S. Army Reserve Center, Montgomery Fort Ganey Army National Guard Reserve Center, Mobile […]

Better benefits could be on way

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Three weeks before the TRICARE Reserve Select program begins, a key senator predicts Congress this year will embrace his plan to offer even better healthcare benefits to drilling Reserve and National Guard members. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., new chairman of the Senate armed services’ subcommittee on military personnel, described as […]

Health insurance will cost reservists

Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Thirty years ago, Congress decided the nation could no longer afford to offer military volunteers a robust draft-era GI Bill, so it concocted VEAP, the most unpopular veterans’ education benefit of the last century. Last year Congress decided the nation couldn’t afford to open active duty TRICARE benefits to all drilling […]

Retirees will benefit from new laws

By Tom Philpott When legislative language misfires, Congress can intend to do one and instead does another. That seems to have occurred twice last October with passage of the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It likely reshaped benefits, in unintended ways, for two groups of disabled retirees. One provision, which executive-branch lawyers continue to […]

Army Guard, Reserves offering bonuses

by Tom Philpott To reverse a sharp drop in recruiting since citizen soldiers became 40 percent of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, the Army National Guard and Army Reserve this month announced increases in enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses. But Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said the Army “probably is […]

New military pay system being readied

by Tom Philpott Starting in, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will phase in a new, more reliable and effective pay system for the military. Called the Forward Compatible Payroll (FCP), it promises far fewer errors, an easy-to-understand Leave and Earnings Statement for service members, and instantaneous adjustments to pay records FCP “should have a […]

Recent benefits update was needed

by Tom Philpott Military survivor benefits for 270,000 elderly recipients, and the future value of the Survivor Benefit Plan for all beneficiaries, will begin to rise next October when the first of four special pay hikes takes effect. When the last one occurs, in April 2008, SBP annuities for older beneficiaries will have returned to […]

Lower reserve retirement age not likely

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Advocates for lowering the age-60 threshold for when reserve retirement benefits begin will find little to cheer in a new report from the Government Accountability Office. With numerous bills before Congress to drop the reserve retirement age to 55 or younger, lawmakers in 2002 directed GAO to review reserve retirement, […]

Pay problems are prevalent for troops

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Systemic pay problems that added to the hassle of mobilization for tens of thousand of Army Reserve and National Guard members since 9/11 have largely been corrected and should not hit the next rotation of reserve forces into Iraq and Afghanistan, says a senior defense pay official. Patrick T. Shine, […]

House votes to protect military income

Tom Philpott: Military update A House panel shaping its version of the 2005 defense authorization bill approved new income protection for mobilized Reserve and National Guard members, and a provision to phase out, starting in 2009, the sharp drop in military survivor benefits that occurs at age 62. The bill also would support a 3.5 […]

Military Digest 4/26

City awarded reserve, guard support award Clovis City Manager Ray Mondragon accepted the “Above and Beyond” award on behalf of the City of Clovis from the Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at a recent state meeting of the organization. ESGR is a committee of the Department of Defense that works to […]

Pay period at hand in committee meeting

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Uniformed leaders of America’s Reserve and Guard components have urged Congress to eliminate a host of “inequities” that mobilized troops face while serving alongside active-duty forces in the war on terror. Compared to active duty brethren, deployed Reserve and Guard members see smaller and fewer re-enlistment bonuses, are ineligible for […]

Take advantage of new health benefits

By Tom Phillpott: Military Update activated reservists, have left thousands of reserve families unable to take full advantage yet of some new pre- and post-mobilization healthcare benefits. The unusual circumstances have TRICARE officials advising reservists to save medical receipts, explanations of benefits and other documents that could be useful weeks or months from now in […]

Congress making extra effort

Tom Philpott The more difficult U.S. operations become in Iraq, the more conscientious Congress becomes in addressing weaknesses and inequities in military pay and benefits programs — or so it seems. Three days after insurgents downed an Army helicopter, killing 15 U.S. soldiers and injuring 21, Congress passed tax relief legislation for military families. Two […]

Future reserves among county budget concerns

By Jack King Curry County commissoners will meet at 9 a.m. this morning in commissioners’ chambers in the Curry County Courthouse to consider a draft budget for fiscal year 2003-2004. Commissioners are dealing with an estimated shortfall of $318,745. County Manager Geneva Cooper said, under the proposed budget, the county will end next year with […]

County proposes raising gross receipts tax

By Jack King Curry County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to ask voters to approve an increase in gross receipts taxes to cover a county budget shortfall estimated at between $200,000 and $400,000. A majority of the commissioners approved creating an ordinance authorizing a one-eighth percent increase in county gross receipts taxes that would be placed […]