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TREA: The Enlisted Association's Washington Update

 

 

TREA: The Enlisted Association's Washington Update

 

 

Consider Helping the Families of the Fallen This Memorial Day

 

 

With Memorial Day almost upon us, everyone at TREA: The Enlisted Association would like to take a moment to highlight the activities of our friends over at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). They put on programs year round to help the families of the fallen deal with their grief and move on with their lives after their loved one gave the last full measure of devotion to our great country. 

If you are looking for a way to support them, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1103460633127489/

Please let others know about this very worthy cause. Thank you.

 

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Troops In Line For Biggest Pay Raise Since 2010

 

 

The House of Representatives and the Senate have each moved their version of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act through the Armed Services Committees, meaning that absent any amendments to the contrary, Congress could give troops their biggest pay raise in nine years next January.

The House passed their version of the NDAA today. 

On Tuesday, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee's personnel panel advanced their section of the annual defense authorization bill, which includes a 2.6 percent pay raise and a host of other military specialty pay renewals for 2019.

A 2.6% increase means an almost $700 annual boost in pay all the way down at the E-1 level.

Although the final bill still faces months of negotiations between House and Senate leaders, the identical pay raises signal that troops' paychecks won't be a significant stumbling point in that work. It also matches the White House request for military pay, unveiled back in February.

TREA: The Enlisted Association will keep you updated as the NDAA moves through the Senate.

The Military healthcare system is unlikely to see any large changes this year, after the raft of changes that went into effect this year.

 

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Senate Passes VA MISSION Act

 

 

The US Senate yesterday passed the VA MISSION Act, which consolidates the Choice Program and the other existing outside community care programs that the VA runs into one program.

The vote was 92-5 and it is now on its way to the White House. The $55 billion bill will change how the VA pays for private care, expand the VA Caregiver Program to veterans of all eras (over the next two years) and starts a review of the VA's aging infrastructure.

Passage of the legislation helps to avert a June deadline of money running out for the current VA Choice program.

TREA: The Enlisted Association will keep an eye on the way the law is implemented. If you or anyone you know has problems with it, do not hesitate to reach out to our Washington Office at 703-684-1981 to share your concerns with us.

 

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Over 4,000 Soldiers Just Lost Their BAH

 

 

According to Military.com, about 4,200 soldiers will see a cut in their final paycheck this month after their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payment was revoked when they failed to update their records by March 1.

BAH pays service members an entitlement of up to thousands of dollars monthly based on factors including zip code and paygrade.

But soldiers are required to have documentation proving eligibility, such as a marriage or birth certificate, as well as a DA Form 5960 uploaded to the Army's personnel system, known as iPERMS.

An official Army message released Jan. 2 gave soldiers until March 1 to update their documents or lose the payment, which could be up to several thousand dollars.

Only currently deployed soldiers are exempt from the update mandate, officials said.

The currently deployed will need to comply with the policy 60 days after any post-deployment leave, or risk having their pay reduced.

Dual-military couples are both given a BAH payment at the "without dependents rate," unless they have children. In that case, one of the members receives the "with dependents rate," while the other does not.
The documentation crackdown was first reported late last summer, long before the Army officially released its mandate for updates early this year. At the time, about 60,000 soldiers were missing BAH documentation.

Soldiers can restore their benefit, and receive as back pay any allotments they lost thanks to missing records, by updating iPERMS through their human resources office or unit personnel actions officer, the release said.

 

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VA Updates Disability Rating Schedule to Better Align with Modern Medicine

 

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that effective May 13, it has updated portions of the  VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD, or rating schedule) that evaluate the organs of special sense eye conditions, as well as gynecological conditions and disorders of the breast.

The VASRD is the collection of federal regulations used by Veterans Benefits Administration claims processors to evaluate the severity of disabilities and assign disability ratings.

VA is in the process of updating all 15 body systems of the VASRD to more accurately reflect modern medicine and provide clearer rating decisions.

"VA remains committed to providing Veterans with the benefits they have earned through their service," said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. "And, with modern medicine advancing at a rapid rate, it's important to ensure VA's disability rating schedule reflects these advancements."

Several revisions were made to the general rating formula for diseases of the eye, including a new definition of incapacitating episodes that more clearly measures level of disability. Additionally, three diagnostic codes - diabetic retinopathy, retinal dystrophy and post-chiasmal disorders - were added. No conditions were removed from either portion of the rating schedule.

Several diagnostic codes were added to the schedule for gynecological conditions and disorders of the breast, including malignant neoplasms, benign neoplasms and other injuries of the breast. Several more diagnostic codes were restructured and revised.

Updates to dental and oral conditions and conditions related to the endocrine system were completed in 2017.

By updating these portions of the rating schedule, VA allows claims processors to make more consistent decisions with greater ease and ensure Veterans understand these decisions. VA remains committed to improving its service to Veterans continuously and staying at the forefront of modern medicine.

 

 

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Veterans Identification Card Fact Sheet

 

 

From the VA:

On July 20, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015, Public Law (PL) 114-31 which amended Chapter 57 of title 38, United States Code to require that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issue an identification card to Veterans that request a card and present a DD-214 or other document that validates service in the military, naval or air service in the Armed Forces of the United States.
 
Veterans can use the VIC with participating vendors in lieu of their DD-214.  Implementation of the VIC closes the gap for individuals that do not have an identification card that designates them as a Veteran. Moreover, it allows the VA to ensure Veterans are able to take advantage of the benefits and discounted services available to them without compromising Personal Identifiable Information (PII) that is visible on the DD-214.  The VIC does not replace the or serve as an alternate means of identification in place of the Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) or retirement card issued by the Department of  Defense, or other state or federal identification highlighting their Veteran status.  Veterans who have served honorably will be able to apply for a VIC online using Vets.gov or AccessVA.
 
Key Facts:

  • On November 29, 2017, VA launched the Veterans Identification Card (VIC) Program.
  • Veterans can submit an electronic application for the VIC using Vets.gov or AccessVA. To sign in, they can use their ID.me account or the same log-in that they use for their eBenefits account (DS Logon).
  • Individuals that have a character of discharge type of Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions) are eligible for a VIC.
  •  Individuals with a Dishonorable, Other than Honorable conditions or Bad Conduct discharge are not eligible for a VIC.
  • The VIC can be presented to Vendors for discounted goods and services without compromising Personal Identifiable Information (PII) that is visible on the DD-214.  Vendor's acceptance of the VIC is voluntary and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the VA.
  • The VIC does not reflect entitlement to any benefits administered by the VA, DoD, or any other federal department or agency.
  • The VIC will serve as proof of service for Veterans who do not have a form of identification that designates them as a Veteran.
  • The VIC is not meant to duplicate Veteran identification cards currently issued by the VA, DoD, or state department or agency.

 
How to Apply for a VIC

 
Explanation of Initiative

  • The VIC can be used in lieu a DD-214 and will provide Veterans who served a minimum obligated time in service, but did not meet the retirement or medical discharge threshold with a more portable and secure alternative for proof of service.


VIC FAQ's
 
Q. What is the Veteran Affairs identification card (VIC)?
A. On July 20, 2015, the President signed into law the "Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015".  This Act allows eligible Veterans to be issued an identification card directly from VA.  
 
Q. How can the VIC card be used?
A. The VIC can be presented to Vendors for discounted goods and services without compromising Personal Identifiable Information (PII) that is visible on the DD-214.  Vendor's acceptance of the VIC is voluntary and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the VA.
 
Q. Is there eligibility criteria in order to qualify for the VIC?
A. Yes, any Veteran who served in the Armed Forces (includes: active Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines as well as Reserve Component, National Guard, or Coast Guard) and have a character of discharge type of Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions) may request the VIC.  Veterans Affairs will review eligibility to ensure a Department of Defense form DD-214 or other official document of discharge is present and a character of discharge type is annotated describing the service of the Veteran. 
 
Q. Are individuals that served in the Reserves, National Guard, or Coast Guard eligible for a VIC?
A. Individuals that served in the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air Force Reserve, the Coast Guard Reserve, the Army National Guard of the United States, or the Air National Guard of the United States qualify for a VIC if they received a DD-214 or other approved document of discharge and completed their obligated time in service.
 
Q.  Are individuals that have an Unknown or Uncharacterized discharge status eligible for a VIC?
A.  Individuals with an uncharacterized or unknown discharge status may be eligible.  They will have to submit a copy of their DD-214 so that we can verify the nature of discharge and determine eligibility.  
 
Q.  I served in Army from 5/11/2005 - 5/10/2009 and Navy from 5/11/2009 - 3/18/2011.  However, when I was discharged from the Navy in 2009, I received a dishonorable discharge. Am I still eligible for a VIC?
A.  No, if you have multiple segments of service that are not all honorable or general (under honorable conditions) you are not eligible for a VIC.
 
Q.  Are all individuals that have VA benefits automatically eligible for a VIC?
A.  No, the two are not the same.  VA can render a Character of Discharge Determination on discharges that are not Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions) and can assign limited benefits to an individual.  VA cannot change the discharge of record on the actual DD-214 and that is the discharge field that determines VIC eligibility. 
 
Q. Will the Veteran be required to be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) in order to verify eligibility for VIC?
A. No, not all Veterans retain their DEERS account after they are discharged.  All active duty and retirees are automatically kept enrolled in DEERS.  A VIC applicant does not necessarily need to have a DEERS account or be eligible for a DEERS account.  It is required if they need to use a DS Logon.  However, ID.me does not require that same system verification and individuals can access the application from there.  If the Veteran has a DEERS account, they need to ensure it is updated with current information before they try to use their DS Logon to access Vets.gov or AccessVA.
 
Applicants can update their DEERS information using the information below:

 
Q. Will the VIC give a Veteran access to any other benefits, goods, or services that they don't already get with their Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC); DoD retired identification card or state-issued identification with a Veteran designation?
A. No, the VIC does not reflect entitlement to any benefits administered by the VA, DoD, or any other federal department or agency.  The VIC will serve as proof of service for Veterans who do not have a form of identification that designates them as a Veteran.  The VIC is not meant to duplicate Veteran identification cards currently issued by the VA, DoD, or other federal or state department or agency.  If a Veteran already has a VHIC, retirement card issued by DoD, or state issued identification with a Veteran designation they do not need to apply for a VIC.  The VIC does not qualify individuals for additional benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and does not serve as proof for any benefits to which they may be entitled
 
Q. How can Veterans submit a request for a VIC?
A. Veterans can submit requests for a VIC on Vets.gov or AccessVA
 
Q. How do I sign in to Vets.gov? 
A. You can sign in with your DS Logon account (used to access eBenefits or MilConnect)-and we'll connect your account to Vets.gov through ID.me. ID.me is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe. If you have a basic or advanced (non-premium) account, you'll need to verify your identity through ID.me. We can also help you use ID.me to add an extra layer of security to your account (called 2-factor authentication). If you don't have a DS Logon account, you can create an account for Vets.gov through ID.me.
 
Q. What if the Veteran does not have an ID.me account, can they still apply for the VIC?
A. Yes, the same log-in used for eBenefits or DS Logon, can be used to log into their Vets.gov or AccessVA account.
 
Q. For Veterans without the ability to submit an electronic application, is there another way to submit a VIC request?
A. We encourage all Veterans interested in applying for the Veteran ID card to visit Vets.gov or AccessVA.  At this time those are the only methods available for applying for the card.  
 
Q. Will the VIC allow me to access military post or installations?
A. No, the VIC will not grant you access to military installations.
 
Q. Will the VA charge a fee to issue the VIC?
A. Veterans will not be asked to pay for the Veteran ID card. To ensure security of Veteran information, the application process is managed within the VA and the printing and shipping costs for the card are covered through a public-private partnership agreement.
 
Q. Is the list of vendors that offer discounts to Veterans available online?
A. Promotional discounts and services offered to Veterans may vary by location. Check with your local retailer to verify if they offer discounted goods or services to Veterans.
 
 

 

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Veteran ID Card Application Process

 

 

Before You Start

Make sure you have a valid copy of your state or federal issued ID, a personal photo to appear on your card, and a copy of your last/final DD-214 or other official military discharge document that reflects an Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions) character of discharge.

Part I: Sign In/Set up Your Account

  1. Visit https://www.vets.gov/veteran-id-card  and sign into your Vets.gov account.
  2. Sign in by selecting one of the following options:

"Sign in with DS Logon," "Sign in with My HealtheVet," or "Sign in with IDme." 

  1. After you are logged into your account click "Request a Veteran ID Card" and proceed to Part III.

Part II: Verify Your Identity

  1. If you used your DS Logon account to sign into Vets.gov and you have a basic or advanced (non-premium) account, you'll need to verify your identity through ID.me to finish setting up your account.
  2. If you used ID.me to sign into your Vets.gov account and the "Apply for VA ID Card" link is "grayed out" you must click "Verify your Identity" to finish setting up your account.
  3. After your identity is verified you will be directed to the VIC site.

 
Part III: Complete Your VIC Request

  1. Verify your personal information.
  2. Upload a valid copy of your state or federal issued ID, a personal photo, and a copy of your DD-214 (if needed).
  3. Once you have confirmed that your information is accurate and uploaded all required documents, click "Preview Card" and then click "Request Card."

 
Are You Having Issues Submitting a VIC Request? We Want to Help!
If you experienced issues submitting your VIC request using Vets.gov, you can use AccessVA to submit your application using your DS Logon or ID.me username and password.
 
Send an email to vic@va.gov if you have any additional questions or concerns.  

 

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