"America is best described by one word, freedom."
---President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Congress - 9 January 1959
Happy Birthday to the United States Navy, which was established on 13 October 1775
In a meeting in the morning of 16 October at the Office of the House Majority Whip, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), representatives from NAUS and other military associations received a briefing on the concurrent receipt provisions in the conference report on the FY04 NDAA. Also attending the meeting were Rep. Duncan Hunter, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Chairman, House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL). Rep, Bilirakis, the House Champion of CCR for the past 18-years, commented that they would continue to build on these provisions to which both the White House and the Senate have agreed. Rep. Blunt said the $22.13 billion cost would be paid by mandatory (entitlement) spending and not by DOD funds. Also, he said that in addition to extending the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) program to cover all retirees with combat-related disabilities regardless of their rating level, the 7,200-point requirement that DOD imposed for reserve component to qualify is now specified as having credit for completion of 20-years of service.
A verbatim summary of the concurrent receipt legislation presented at the meeting follows. We realize that parts of it are unclear and my cause confusion and questions. However, please withhold questions until more details are available, which we will pass on.
Section 651 - Phase-In of Full Concurrent Receipt of Military Retired Pay and Veterans Disability Compensation for Certain Military Retirees.
Overview - This section would authorize retirement-qualified members of the uniformed services who are eligible for VA disability compensation based on a service-connected disability rated 50 percent or higher to receive full VA disability compensation without a reduction in retired pay during the eleventh year after a ten-year transition program. In the case of a member who receives a disability retirement, the section would allow the retired pay to be reduced, but only to the extent that the member's retired pay exceeds the amount of retired pay to which the member would have been entitled based solely on the member's years of service.
Benefits During Calendar Year 2004 - The provision would provide the following amounts to disabled retirees effective January 1, 2004:
(1) Members with a disability rated as total would receive $750 per month.
(2) Members rated 90 percent disabled would receive $500 per month.
(3) Members rated 80 percent disabled would receive $350 per month.
(4) Members rated 70 percent disabled would receive $250 per month.
(5) Members rated 60 percent disabled would receive $125 per month.
(6) Members rated 50 percent disabled would receive $100 per month.
Transition During Calendar Years 2005-2013 - The provision would reduce for each retiree the difference between the amount of retired pay received the previous year and full concurrent receipt by 10 percent during 2005, 20 percent during fiscal year 2006, 30 percent during 2007, 40 percent during 2008, 50 percent during fiscal year 2009, 60 percent during 2010, 70 percent during 2011, 80 percent during 2012, and 90 percent during 20013, respectively. During calendar year 2014, all retirees with a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or higher would receive their entire retired pay and VA disability compensation.
Coordination of Benefits - Uniformed services retirees may not be paid both Combat-Related Special Compensation authorized in section 1413a of title 10, United States Code and benefits under this provision. Retirees who qualify for both programs would be given the option to choose the program that provides the greatest benefits.
Section 652, Revisions to Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Program:
Overview - The provision would: (1) extend coverage under CRSC to all retirees with combat related disabilities, regardless of the level of disability rating and (2) extend coverage under CRSC to include service-members who are retired from a reserve component with 20-years of service.
Effective Date - The provision would be effective January 1, 2004.
Title XV, Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission:
Overview - The provision would establish a commission of 13 members to study the disability and death compensation and assistance provided to veterans and their survivors to evaluate the appropriateness of the type of benefits, the level of benefits, and the standards under which they are awarded. The members of the commission would be appointed as follows: two members by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, two members by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, two members by the majority leader of the Senate, two members of the minority leader of the Senate, and five members by the President of the United States of which one of whom will be appointed chairman of the commission. Of those members appointed by the Speaker, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, at least one of the two appointments in each case shall be a veteran who was awarded the Silver Star or a higher combat decoration for gallantry. Of those members appointed by the President, at least three of the five appointments shall be a veteran who was awarded the Silver Star or a higher combat decoration for gallantry.
Reporting - The commission shall report its findings, conclusions, and recommendations to the President and Congress not later than 15 months after the date on which the commission first meets. The first meeting of the commission will occur not later than 30 days after the appointment of the majority of the board members.
Termination - The commission will terminate 60 days after submitting its final report.
NAUS NOTE: At the time this Update was dispatched, the FY04 NDAA joint Senate/House Conference Report had not been released. We will report the details of it as soon as it available. The follow-on action required for the FY04 NDAA to be enacted into law is passage of the Conference Report by the full House and Senate, and signature by the President.
2). COLA FOR 2004
The cost of living adjustment (COLA) is 2.1 percent for Social Security benefits and SSI payments, military retired pay and survivors' benefits, and veterans' compensation and pension payments. The increase is effective 1 December 2003 and will appear in the affected checks arriving in January 2004.
The Social Security Act specifies a formula for determining the COLA. In general, the COLA is equal to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of one year to the third quarter of the next. For the December 2003 COLA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the increase in the average CPI-W from the third calendar quarter of 2002 to the third quarter of 2003. These averages are 176.6 and 180.3 for the third calendar quarters of 2002 and 2003, respectively, and are derived from monthly CPI-Ws developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information visit: http://stats.bls.gov/
Health officials across the country, concerned that the public has become complacent about the potentially serious complications of influenza, have mounted an aggressive campaign to persuade as many people as possible to be vaccinated this fall. They are concerned because this is the first post-SARS flu season. Health authorities have been debating how people's fears about the new disease will affect the vaccination push. They also worry that a simultaneous outbreak of influenza and SARS, should it return this winter, could overwhelm the health care system. TRICARE For Life (TFL) beneficiaries, who find it difficult to arrange receiving their flu shot at a local MTF, can receive it from private sector providers who take the Medicare assignment with TRICARE paying the remaining balance of the allowable amount.
The U.S. Military Postal Service has assigned new geographic zip codes for units and personnel serving in Iraq. The intent of the new zip codes is to decrease the time it takes for service members and civilian employees to receive their mail, officials said, as well as to improve postal service throughout Iraq.
Family members and friends of service members and civilians assigned to V Corps and 3rd COSCOM units that currently use zip code 09302 and 09372 for their letters and packages are now required to use a new zip code that reflects the unit and individual's actual geographic location within Iraq.
The new geographic zip codes are as follows:
Al Asad - 09333
Babylon (MND CS) - 09332
Balad (LSA Anaconda) - 09391
BIAP - 09335
Mosul (LSA Diamondback) 09334
Tallil (LSA Adder) - 09331
Tikrit (FLB Sycamore) - 09393
Umm Qasr (Camp Bucca) 09375
Rasheed - 09390
Victory Base - 09342
Camp Dogwood - 09344
Mail with the zip code of 09302 and 09372 will continue to be delivered to the intended recipient even after the change is in effect, officials said, however they warned there may be a slight delay in delivery. For service members assigned to the below listed units, the zip code numbers will not change, and they remain as follows:
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) - 09325
1st Armor Division - 09324
4th Infantry Division - 09323
3rd ACR - 09320
2nd LCR - 09322
82nd Airborne Division - 09394, 09384, 09368
173rd Airborne Brigade - 09347
"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it."
~Daniel Webster
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