Author : charlotte-webster
Mark your calendars now. This webinar is only a few days away!
If you are transitioning out of the military – whether because of ETS, retirement, divorce from a servicemember or death of a TRICARE sponsor, TRICARE is offering a one-hour Webinar, or online seminar, on August 15th from 1 to 2PM Eastern time to walk you through your options.
To register, visit this page. Enrollment is limited because of the Go2Meeting software used to conduct the webinar, which imposes a maximum number of participants.
The webinar will be hosted by Mr. Mark Ellis, a senior health program analyst with the TRICARE Management Activity. He manages the Continued Health Care Benefit and TRICARE Young Adult programs, which offer premium based health care coverage to former service members and their family members when they are no longer eligible for TRICARE benefits. He has 35 years of DoD health care experience.
Same-sex military couples stand to be among the biggest winners in this morning’s historic Supreme Court decision. In a close 5-4 ruling, the Justices struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, ruling the Act unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 5th Amendment.
The ruling is important to military families because now that gay and lesbian troops are free to serve openly, and are free to marry others of the same sex, the ruling will most likely have a significant effect on the ability of same-sex military spouses to qualify for important benefits.
The Secretary of Defense – who had just yesterday celebrated the contributions of gay and lesbian servicemen and women at a Pentagon gay pride celebration – issued a statement today promising that gay couples would soon receive all the same benefits that other married couples have.
“That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do,” said Secretary Hagel.
While the military dropped the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy that effectively prohibited gays to serve openly in the military without facing involuntary discharge, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited the Defense Department from spending any money to provide benefits to any dependent spouses in same-sex marriages. For instance, while same-sex spouses could be named as beneficiaries on SGLI life insurance policies as can any other beneficiary, the DoD could not extend TRICARE medical benefits to same-sex spouse, nor were same-sex couples eligible to stay in post housing. Similarly, a same-sex marriage did not qualify the couple for the higher ‘Type II’ variant of Basic Allowance for Housing.
However, since the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, the path is now clear for the Defense Department to extend these benefits to married same-sex couples.
The decision was celebrated by gay rights advocates, and granted more lukewarm applause from some conservatives. However, the decision is certain to place additional strain on an already strained TRICARE system and personnel budget. Just last month, the Defense Department was staunchly advocating the need for a substantial fee increase to keep TRICARE afloat. The eventual costs of extending these benefits to same-sex spouses are not yet clear.
Further, it is not yet clear whether the DoD will impose a uniform standard for eligibility on same-sex spouses. Because only a few states recognize same sex marriages, gay and lesbian couples encounter practical difficulties in obtaining a marriage certificate that traditional couples don’t generally face. Last year, the military got around that by allowing servicemembers and their partners to sign a ‘domestic partnership’ agreement – already in common use among civilian federal employees. Same-sex partners of federal employees have long been eligible for federal benefits, including health insurance, if they signed a declaration. It is not known yet if the DoD will allow same-sex partners to qualify for spousal benefits with a domestic partnership declaration – the general standard for federal civilian employees – or if the DoD will require a marriage certificate to grant these benefits. However, earlier this month, the DoD did get ahead of the Supreme Court decision and announce plans to issue dependent ID cards to same sex partners by September 1st of this year.
The Supreme Court decision to overrule the Defense of Marriage Act will likely have no direct effect on how VA benefits are disbursed. The specific wording of the statutes authorizing VA benefits specify spouses as being a ‘member of the opposite sex,’ which would preclude awarding benefits to same-sex couples on an equal basis with traditional couples. The Supreme Court did not address this aspect of the law. However, a bill making its way through Congress, the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act, seeks to change that. The proposal initiated by Senator Kristen Gillebrand in the Senate and Representative Adam Smith of Washington – both Democrats on their respective chambers’ armed services committees.
There are probably few things worse than being stuck on a tarmac with a delayed flight. You have places to go, but you have no idea when the plane will finally get in the air. Flight connections will be missed. Family members scheduled to pick you up have to put their days on hold to be ready when you finally do make it to your final destination. It gets hot and stuffy. You might get hungry and cranky. And it gets boring. Really boring.
But sometimes passengers are able to make the most of their idle time and actually find ways to entertain themselves (or everyone around them).
This week, we have two videos of passengers trying to pass the time in creative ways. Which flight would you have preferred to be on? And what have you done to pass the time if you’ve been stuck — hopefully not on a tarmac but inside a terminal — waiting for your flight? Tell us in the comments. And have a Fun Friday!
On the night of June 5th, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt took to the radio airwaves to announce that Allied troops had entered Rome. The spectacular news that Rome had been liberated was quickly superceded by news of the gigantic D-Day invasion which began at 6:30 a.m. on June 6th. By midnight, about 57,000 American and 75,000 British and Canadian soldiers had made it ashore, amid losses that included 2,500 killed and 8,500 wounded.
Below, you can listen to the prayer he read to the nation on radio on the evening of D-Day, June 6, 1944, while American, British and Canadian troops were fighting to establish five beach heads on the coast of Normandy in northern France.
“Let Our Hearts Be Stout”
The news was met with relief from many across Europe, including one girl the world had yet to meet:
“This is D-day”, came the announcement over the British radio. The invasion has begun! According to the German news, British parachute troops have landed on the French coast. British landing craft are in battle with the German Navy, says the BBC. Great commotion in the ‘Secret Annexe’! Would the long-awaited liberation that has been talked of so much but which still seems too wonderful, too much like a fairy-tale, ever come true? Could we be granted victory this year, 1944? We don’t know yet, but hope is revived within us; it gives us fresh courage, and makes us strong again.” — Anne Frank, Diary Entry, 6 June 1944
This week, we gave thanks to the thousands of heroes who stormed the beaches that day. May we never forget their bravery and sacrifice.
We hope you have a blessedly peaceful weekend.
In light of the devastating tornadoes that have torn communities in Oklahoma apart in the last two days, we would like to remind everyone that you can send a $10 donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund via text message, by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. As in the case with other donations via mobile, the donation will show up on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your balance if you have a prepaid phone. You need to be 18 or older, or have parental permission, to donate this way. (If you change your mind, text the word STOP to 90999.)
Our prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, and their communities as they continue search and rescue efforts.
Read the statement from the Red Cross here.
National Military Appreciation Month takes place each May, as designated by Congress. It’s a time we stop to reflect on the achievements of our armed services and all of the individuals who make up the ranks.
One group honored is made up of military spouses. Both men and women comprise the ranks of military spouses, and they are the foundation of military families dealing with the stress of everyday life as well as extended deployments of one parent.
One military wife, comedienne and motivational speaker Mollie Gross, has labeled these women as “A Band of Brides” who offer support to each other as only other military spouses can and has created a series of one-hour documentaries chronicling their experiences.
To all military spouses, the unsung heroes who are silently serving our nation, we say “Thank you.”
Happy Friday, everyone.
For many Americans, this week kicked off with a bad day: Tax Day. From there things only got worse as news came of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. This was followed by the fertilzer plant explosion in West, Texas, and now we’re back to the chase of suspects in Boston. And historically it’s a week of infamous events: Lincoln’s assassination, the Great Quake in San Francisco, the Titanic sinking, the US Embassy bombing in Beirut, the end of the standoff with the Branch Davidian’s in Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine and VA Tech shootings, and the BP oil disaster.
With so much negative news this week, it can be easy to feel helpless, like there is no way to fight back against the evil and horrific events that happen all around us. In light of that, today’s Friday Fun is meant to provide some inspiration.
Take a cue from Dragon Baby as he takes on his fluffy nemesis. If you fall down seven times, get up eight. When life kicks you in the stomach, laugh at it and jump back in the fight. Whatever it is you have to battle: sadness from the news, or stress that’s closer to home like that big tax bill or prepping for final exams in a college course, there’s nothing a little yellow jumpsuit and some Kung Fu can’t fix.
Happy Friday. Keep up the good fight and have a good weekend.
“Call me maybe” may be the song of the summer that just won’t end. This time around, some of our guys serving in Afghanistan were inspired by the Miami Dolphin’s Cheerleader’s version and made a video of their own. To show you how talented they are, the videos are circulating as a mashup, so you can decide who has the better moves. My vote? Military all the way!
Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a Fun Friday and enjoy your weekend!
The Pentagon announced yesterday that it is reinstating Tuition Assistance programs which had been cut for the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force as part of the sequestration cuts.
An amendment blocking the tuition cuts was passed as part of the continuing resolution funding bill pushed through Congress last week. President Obama signed the measure into law Tuesday.
The bi-partisan amendment was sponsored by Senators Kay Hagan (D – N.C.) and James Inhofe (R – Ok). The continuing resolution bill did not reduce the $46 billion in overall cuts the Pentagon must make to comply with sequester, but it did give the DoD more flexibility in shifting funds into its operations and maintenance accounts.
So for all of you military students out there, it’s time to hit the books again!
Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it was pulling out of the gun business, shortly before Christmas – refusing even to honor contracts to deliver pre-ordered rifles. This leaves one gun manufacturer who had signed an exclusive dealership with Dick’s scrambling to find another distributor/reseller. It also has thousands of customers fuming – many of whom had ordered rifles well before the holidays. A simple refund for the purchase price doesn’t make customers whole, say observers, because prices for semi-automatic rifles have soared on increased demand following talk of gun control. Dick’s is throwing in an additional gift certificate for $100 on top of the refunds, but prices on some models have more than doubled, which means the $100 card doesn’t even come close to compensating these customers.
As a result, some gun buyers are considering joining together in a class action lawsuit against the sporting goods retail giant.
The manufacturer most affected, Troy Defense, has made its displeasure at the breach of contract known, issuing the following statement:
Troy Defense (Troy), a division a Troy Industries, Inc., was deeply dismayed and shocked to hear through national media outlets that Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) made the decision to stop selling the Troy Carbine along with other modern sporting rifles. DSG did not contact or inform Troy of this decision prior to notifying the public. Nor was Troy informed by DSG that cancellation letters were being sent to customers, set to arrive on Christmas Eve (a day Troy was closed).
Troy has invested millions of dollars in its facility and operations to bring its first ever modern sporting rifle to the market under an exclusive contract with DSG. In selecting DSG as the sole distributor of the Troy Carbine, Troy relied on DSG’s high sales forecasts and sales potential prior to undertaking the significant financial and corporate commitment necessary to design, develop, manufacture and bring a new modern sporting rifle to the marketplace. Based on DSG’s press release, DSG’s anti-gun stance is clear – DSG will not continue modern sporting rifle sales and Troy will sadly not see its Carbine readily available — despite the outlay of millions of dollars by Troy and its commitment to support DSG in its distribution efforts.
Troy is currently researching other channels to ensure continuous and consistent distribution for its rifles. But please note, Troy’s pricing to DSG was based upon volume sales. It is unlikely that pricing to any other outlet in the future will support the pricing granted to DSG. Troy understands the anger of certain DSG customers whose purchases have been cancelled – you got a great price from DSG. However, Troy, itself, cannot come anywhere close to offering the Carbine at the price DSG was offering it. DSG devalued and diluted Troy’s brand when it offered for sale the Carbine at a steeply discounted price during Thanksgiving week. As a result of the sale price set by DSG, DSG oversold and overpromised its inventory. Nonetheless, the current ill-will could have been avoided had DSG not terminated modern sporting rifle sales, promptly canceled overpromised orders, and forthrightly communicated with Troy.
Troy is hopeful that it will soon identify a new distribution channel for its Carbine. We ask for your patience and support during this difficult and transitory time.
Stephen Troy, CEO & Founder The Troy Group
Troy Defense has not yet announced specific plans for a lawsuit, though it is hard to imagine that, after having invested millions in their manufacturing plant on the strength of the distributor agreement with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dick’s representations of their future demand, Troy Defense will not file a lawsuit to recover their damages.
If Troy received bank financing rather than equity financing to build out its manufacturing capacity to meet demand from Dick’s customers, and it cannot make the scheduled loan payments, it is possible that the company will be forced into bankruptcy, if lenders are unwilling to work with the company until it finds an alternate distributor.
There are a number of other major retailers that have similar volume – but if they sell guns, some of them may already have exclusive contracts to sell other manufacturer’s brands, or long-established loyalties to certain vendors. So even though demand for carbine rifles similar to Troy Defense’s products is very high at the moment, finding a new dealer is still problematic – especially on short notice.
Dick’s Sporting Goods has not yet released a formal statement on the matter.
Photo courtesy of Tactical-Life.com