VA homeless vets update: The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Sept. 19 it has approved $28.4 million in grants to fund 38 projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia that will provide transitional housing to homeless veterans. Among these 38 projects, 31 will provide temporary housing to homeless veterans with the goal that they will retain the residence as their own.
Thirty-one of the grants were awarded through VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program’s “Transition in Place” model. This allows veterans the opportunity to take over payment of a lease instead of moving out after using VA services. Other VA programs require veterans living in transitional housing to move out after 24 months.
GPD helps close gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless veterans, including women with children, Native American tribal populations, and veterans with substance use and mental health issues. Those receiving funding have undergone a rigorous review by teams of experts rating each application under objective criteria to ensure that those funded have the ability to provide the services described and a solid plan to get these Veterans into housing with a high probability of obtaining residential stability and independent living.
Community-based programs funded by GPD provide homeless veterans with support services and housing. GPD grants are offered annually as funding is available by VA’s National Homeless Program.
Lisa Pape, national director of homeless programs for the Veterans Health Administration which oversees GPD said, “Our focus is creating a team of community support — pairing a variety of services, such as mental health support, employment assistance and job training with the essential component of housing. Whether it is aid in overcoming substance use or finding a job, a community helping hand is exactly what these veterans need to lead a better quality of life.”
On a single night in 2011, a national count of homeless veterans totaled 67,495, which is 12 percent lower than 76,000 in 2010. As part of the government’s five-year plan to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015, VA has committed almost $1 billion to strengthen programs that prevent and treat the many issues that can lead to veteran homelessness. The SSVF Program in the first 10 months of operation has assisted more than 28,000 veterans and their families to prevent or rapidly end homelessness. [Source: VA Press Release 19 Sep 2012]
Commissary coupon use update: The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) is testing the Commissary Rewards Card that will soon allow customers to access and redeem digital coupons at all of its stores.
Customers should visit DeCA’s official website, www.commissaries.com, for the latest information.
For more information, please visit www.commissaries.com/faq and click “Commissary Rewards Card.” Assistance is also available through the customer service hotline at (855) 829-6219 or through email at mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org . [Source: ArmyEchoes Sep-Dec 2012]
Tricare pharmacy copay update: With members of Congress focused on winning re-election, Tricare pharmacy users will get a temporary reprieve from stiff co-payment increases on prescriptions filled at Tricare retail outlets or mail order. The 112th Congress has reconvened after a five-week recess, primarily to pass a “continuing appropriation resolution” or “CR,” which will allow federal departments, including Defense, to continue to spend at 2012 budget levels until new funding bills are passed after the Nov. 6 election. The CR drafted in the House, which both chambers are expected to approve next week before lawmakers resume campaigning, would expire March 27, 2013. That date, however, does not remove the threat of budget “sequestration” on Jan. 2 when deep, across-the-board cuts in federal programs are scheduled to take effect unless Republicans and Democrats can cut a major deficit-reduction deal. The CR will allow the House and Senate to delay passing a final defense authorization for fiscal 2013, which begins Oct. 1. And that is where the reprieve occurs for users of the Tricare pharmacy benefit.
Language in the House bill (H.R.4310) is more favorable to beneficiaries, allowing only part of co-pay increases sought by the Department of Defense. Out-of-pocket costs for drugs dispensed at retail pharmacies in the Tricare network would increase from $12 to $17 on brand name drugs listed on the military formula. Co-pays for nonformulary brand name drugs would climb from $17 to $44. For mail order, the House plan would increase the co-pay for a 90-day supply of brand name drugs on the formula from $9 to $13, while the $25 co-pay for nonformulary drugs would jump to $43. There would be no cost for generic drugs by mail order, and the charge would be $5 at retail outlets. The House bill also would allow annual increases in these drug co-pays beginning Oct. 1, 2013, but these adjustments would be capped to the percentage rise in cost-of-living adjustments for military retired pay.
The House also would require the Department of Defense to conduct a pilot program for five years on Tricare for Life users – beneficiaries age 65 and older. They would be required to obtain refills of all maintenance drugs through the mail-order pharmacy. They could opt out of this arrangement after a year. Also, the mail order requirement for TFL beneficiaries could be waived, on an individual basis, if personal circumstances warrant. These House-passed changes were to take effect Oct. 1 to save the Department of Defense an estimated $590 million in the new fiscal year. But that is sure to be delayed given stalled progress toward passing a final bill. In the Senate, the armed services committee voted out its version of a defense authorization bill (S.3254) in June. The full Senate won’t vote on the bill until after the election, however. The bill so far places no restriction on the Defense Department’s existing authority to adjust pharmacy co-pays. So, in effect, it green light changes sought by the administration. That plan, unveiled in February, would raise co-pays on brand-name drugs at Tricare retail pharmacies from $12 to $26 and allow increases thereafter of $2 a year until hitting $34 in October 2016. Co-pays for brand drugs through mail order would jump from $9 to $26 for a 90-day supply, and climb annually to reach $34 by 2016. [Source: The News Tribune Tom Philpott article 15 Sep 2012]
Flags: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and S.C. State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags; the cost is $5.
American Legion Post 70: Meeting at 1800 on the third Tuesday of the month. For more information, please contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
American Legion Post 24 of Newberry meeting is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1830.
The American Legion Auxiliary – Unit 24 meet the same day at 3 p.m. at Post 24.