AFSA HQ Newsletter – August 12th

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES AND NEWS

Special Operations Forces Killed in Afghanistan

Our sincere condolences go out to the families of the 30USservice members who died this past week when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down inWardak Province,Afghanistan. Two members of the Air Force family were among those identified thus far; Technical Sergeant John W. Brown, and Staff Sergeant Dan Zerbe. Please keep the families of all of the fallen in your thoughts and prayers.

Congress in Recess

The House and Senate met in pro forma sessions this week as Congress continues with its summer recess. Using this format, each chamber is called to order for a brief period, but no business is conducted. Congress is scheduled to resume normal legislative activity in early September and most lawmakers are working out of their local district offices. AFSA members are encouraged to contact their elected representatives at their local offices to discuss individual concerns, like possible cuts in pay and benefits and increases in TRICARE premiums and fees.

Post 9/11 GI Bill Changes

Last week, President Obama signed into law, H.R. 1383, the “Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011. The bill establishes a “hold-harmless” provision for veterans whose Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition-and-fee benefits would have been reduced under legislation signed into law this past January.

Public Law No: 111-377 (S. 3447, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010) established a $17,500 annual cap on the tuition-and-fee benefits provided to veterans attending private postsecondary institutions, replacing the existing state-by-state calculations. For many veterans, this resulted in higher benefits. But veterans enrolled inArizona,Michigan, New Hampshire,New York,Pennsylvania,South Carolina, andTexaswould have seen sharp reductions. H.R. 1383 raises the cap for currently enrolled students in these states to $27,000 for a three year period.

Several other changes generated by PL 111-377 went into effect August 1. Education benefits are now available to Guard members that accumulated active duty time under Title 32, and the housing allowance will be prorated by the student’s rate of pursuit (rounded to the nearest tenth). Students no longer receive “break pay” for the period of time between terms, such as semesters or quarters, and can be reimbursed for fees paid to take national exams used for admission to an institution of higher learning (i.e.,, SAT, ACT, GMAT, LSAT).

Beginning October 1, 2011, eligible individuals will be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for programs such as non-college degrees, on-the-job training, and correspondence courses, and they will be eligible to receive a portion of the national monthly housing allowance rate when enrolled only in distance learning courses.

VA’s blog, VAntage Point, provides a good review of the recent changes with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You can read it HERE.

Administration to Tackle Veterans Unemployment

The unemployment rate for younger Veterans continues to be much higher than that of the general public. As of June, one million veterans were unemployed and the jobless rate for Post-9/11 veterans was 13.3 percent. To combat this, the President recently unveiled a new White House initiative aimed at alleviating the problem. The new program includes collaboration between DoD and the private sector, tax breaks for businesses that hire Vets, and renewed efforts to help transitioning service members. Details of the President’s plan were laid out in this recent White House press release HERE.

AFSA Congratulates ANG Annual Award Winners

On Tuesday, the Air National Guard recognized its outstanding Airmen of the Year in a formal ceremony at Joint Base Andrews,Maryland. They are as follows:

  • Senior NCO: MSgt Michael M. Quitugua, Jr., 254th SFS,GuamANG
  • NCO: SSgt John C. Norris, 148th ASOS,PennsylvaniaANG
  • Airman: SrA Kathryn A. Morill, 133rd AW,MinnesotaANG
  • First Sergeant: MSgt Christopher R. Taggart, 177th FW,New JerseyANG
  • Honor Guard Member: SSgt Erin H. Ryan, 101ST ARW,MaineANG
  • Honor Guard Program Manager: TSgt Angela M. Jenkins, 149th FW,TexasANG

AFSA congratulates each of the awardees for a job well done!

VETERANS NEWS

VA Reaches Out to Rural Veterans

VA is committed to delivering quality care to Veterans, including those in rural and remote areas. Secretary Shinseki recently traveled to rural areas across Americato hear from Veterans about what works, and what can be improved. Read more about his travels and what he found HERE on the White House Blog.

HEALTH CARE

Deadline to Purchase Retroactive TYA Coverage Fast Approaching

In a press release this week, the TRICARE Management Activity is reminding beneficiaries that the opportunity to purchase retroactive TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) coverage expires on September 30. Retroactive TYA provides coverage for young adults back to January 1, or the day they became eligible if that was after January 1.

TYA allows eligible adult children to purchase TRICARE coverage after their eligibility for “regular” TRICARE coverage ends at age 21 (or 23 if enrolled in a full course of study at an approved institution of higher learning).

TYA-eligible beneficiaries may choose to purchase retroactive coverage if they’ve had significant health care expenses that weren’t covered by other insurance. Once enrolled in TYA, beneficiaries may file a claim for reimbursement of costs for covered care. Additionally, young adults in the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) may elect to purchase retroactive TYA coverage and receive a refund for their CHCPB fees.

Those interested in purchasing retroactive TYA coverage must ensure their application form is received by the regional or overseas health care contractor by September 30, 2011. All premiums – both retroactive and the initial three-month payment – must be submitted with the application. The application and payment can be dropped off at aTRICAREServiceCenter, or mailed or faxed to the regional or overseas health care contractor. To be reimbursed for covered services, receipts for care must be included when a claim is filed.

TYA launched in May 2011, and has shown a steady increase in enrollment numbers. As of July 31, almost 7,700 young adults have purchased TYA, which currently offers TRICARE Standard coverage for $186 a month. To qualify for TYA, uniformed services dependents must be under 26, unmarried and not eligible for their own employer-sponsored health care coverage. A premium-based TRICARE Prime benefit is scheduled to be available later in 2011.

Before choosing to purchase TYA, beneficiaries should carefully consider all of their health care coverage options and balance all the costs. Complete information and application forms are available HERE.

WANT INSTANT UPDATES? – AFSA IS NOW ON TWITTER

Be the first in getting the latest updates and follow AFSA ON CALL. We are now posting daily and weekly updates on Twitter. As you may already know, Twitter allows for instant updates and happenings around the world, either on computers or your portable devices.

Sign up for your AFSA Twitter updates at – http://twitter.com/#!/afsahq

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS

AFSA USAA Rewards World Master Card

You can support the Air Force Sergeants Mission (AFSA) mission to advocate improved quality of life and economic fairness for Air Force enlisted members and their families by getting this card. USAA Bank will make a contribution to AFSA when you open an account, make eligible purchases and keep an active account. For more information, click HERE.

DELL COMPUTERS

Dell offers exclusive discounts and promotions for AFSA Members on notebook computers, mini laptops, work stations and much more. Check them out by logging on HERE.

COLUMBIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY (CSU) LEARNING PARTNERSHIP

The AFSA/CSU partnership provides AFSA members a 10% discount on all of CSU’s tuition rates, along with the waived $25 application fee. This discount is available for all AFSA members, employees, and their immediate family members (spouse and children). Go to CSU’s website HERE and select “Air Force Sergeants Association” as the Partner Benefit provider.

AFSA INSURANCE: LIFE AND HEALTH

For information and applications on any of these insurance plans please contact Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541, or online HERE. Coverage may vary or not be issued in all states.

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Plan
  • Cancer Expense Insurance
  • Group Dental Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Short-Term Recovery Insurance Plan
  • Tricare Supplement Insurance
  • Life Line Health Screenings
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance

“A nation reveals itself not only by the citizens it produces, but also by the citizens it honors, the citizens it remembers.”

John F. Kennedy

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