color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Summary of FY09 Defense Authorization Act

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summary of FY09 Defense Authorization Act

Summary of FY09 Defense Authorization Act

Active Duty Issues

- Pay Raise: 3.9% pay raise effective Jan 1, 2009

- End Strength: Army +7K USMC +5K Navy -2.8K USAF -12.5K (did not restore previously proposed cut for USAF, even though SecDef has stated that the planned USAF cut will not be imposed)

- Paternity leave: 10 days authorized for new military fathers, in addition to normal leave

- Maximum reenlistment period: Raised to 8 years vs. 6

- Warrant Officer mandatory retirement: Change to 30 years as WO vs 30 yrs (applies to Army WOs only)

- Sabbatical Program: Authorizes 20 officers and 20 enlisted members per service per year to take up to 3 years off from active duty to pursue personal/professional goals (participants to be paid 2 days’ basic pay per month and keep TRICARE eligibility, but will receive no retirement credit for sabbatical time and will owe 2 months’ active duty upon return for every month of sabbatical)

- Increase in Service Academy Enrollment: Authorizes up to 4,400/yr per academy starting 2008/09 academic year

- Meal Charges in Hospitals: Permanently bans charging hospitalized troops

- Temporary Lodging Expense Allowance: Raises maximum daily amt per family on CONUS PCS from $180 to $290

- Family Separation Allowance: Authorizes payment to both member spouses with dependents if both are assigned remotely

Military Family Issues

- Spouse PCS Weight Allowance: Authorizes 500 lbs for professional items

- Spouse Education: Authorizes programs to help spouses with degrees/credentials/licenses to pursue portable careers

- Impact Aid: Authorizes $35M to assist schools with high proportion of military children, with additional $15M for schools in BRAC/unit movement areas and $5M for schools attended by severely disabled military children

Guard/Reserve Issues

- Education: Requires honorable discharge for Guard/Reserve members to use education benefits resulting from active duty (effective 1/28/08 for members who haven't used any of their entitlement)

- TRICARE Reserve Select Premiums: DoD must recalculate (and presumably reduce) premiums for 2009 and beyond and base them on actual costs for previous year (2009 costs to be based on costs for 2006 + 2007) (GAO previously estimated that Guard/Reserve participants were overcharged by 45%-72%)

- G/R Medical/Dental Readiness: Services may provide free health/dental care to any SelRes/IRR (if subject to involuntary recall) they deem appropriate and may waive dental copays for Guard/Reserve personnel to facilitate/ensure readiness

- Transition TRICARE: DoD may temporarily continue active duty TRICARE coverage for separatees who enter SelRes (continue for 60 days if less than 6YOS; 120 days if 6+YOS)

Health Care Issues

- TRICARE Fees: Bar increases in pharmacy copays or retiree fees for FY09

- Preventive Care:
(1) Waive TRICARE copays/deductibles for beneficiaries under 65 for colorectal/prostate/breast/cervical screening, annual physical, vaccinations and other services authorized by SecDef (those over age 65 to be reimbursed for copays rather than waived due to budget technicality);
(2) establish TRICARE Prime pilot project in three geographic areas to test monetary and nonmonetary incentives to encourage healthy behaviors;
(3) Establish smoking cessation program for all under-65s (refund copays for over-65s);
(4) Test a “preventive health services allowance” payable to up to 1500 active duty members in each service ($500/yr single, $1000 family to purchase preventive services); (5) Authorize SecDef discretion to pursue other innovative programs (e.g., G/R medical/dental readiness and/or stipend for G/R families to continue employer care for families when activated)

- ECHO Payments: Raise TRICARE payment cap for active duty children with special needs from $2500/mo to $36K per year, allowing carryover month-to-month

- ECHO for Retiree Children: Require Sec Def report on providing limited temporary transition coverage upon retirement

Retiree/Survivor Issues

- Concurrent receipt: No provisions

- SBP: Authorize inclusion survivors of members who died on active duty among eligibles for modest new special survivor allowance

Wounded Warrior Issues

- DoD/VA Senior Oversight Committee (SOC): Extend SOC authority for 1 yr, with SecDef report by Aug 31 with recommendation on continuation

- Disability Determinations: Disqualifying condition is to be deemed service-connected unless there is "clear and unmistakable" evidence it existed before service entry and wasn't aggravated by service

- Centers of Excellence: Establish centers for hearing loss/auditory injuries and for traumatic extremity injuries/amputations

- Bonus Treatment: Bars recoupment of any paid amount and requires full repayment of unpaid balance within 90 days for member who dies or is separated/retired for combat-related injury/illness

Other Issues

- Decorations: Requires SecDef to replace decorations on one-time basis upon request by recipient or next of kin

- Salute: Authorizes military/vets not in uniform to salute flag during national anthem

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At 9/28/2008 7:36 PM , Anonymous Katterine said...

Hello, I know a lot of military spouses who are not fully covered by the VA or other gov't support are using Paperwork Hassle Free Dental Service for their dental needs. Statistics show only 5-7% of the military population, however, even knows about this possibility.


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