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SECNAV Council Releases Recommendations

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

The 2014 Secretary of the Navy’s Retiree Council met Aug. 11-15, 2014 at the Washington Navy Yard. The council meets annually in accordance with Secretary of the Navy instructions and is made up of volunteers from the Navy and Marine Corps retired community. The council debates areas of retiree concerns and makes recommendations to the Secretary. After the council issues their recommendations, the Secretary of the Navy reviews them then issues a response.

The top-three topics the council submitted were: veterans’ health and welfare, TRICARE and retiree volunteer management.

For veterans’ health and welfare, the council addressed two issues. Issue one concerned Agent Orange exposure by “blue water” Sailors. The council recommended the Secretary endorse the presumed exposure and support legislative change. The second issue involved transitional housing for single-parent veterans with children. The council pointed out that existing agreements between the Housing and Urban Development and community housing entities are insufficient to address this growing need problem.

While presented with several TRICARE issues, the council focused on five. The council recommended for issue three (overall) that there be a directed effort to increase acceptance of TRICARE by civilian healthcare providers and clinics. In issue four, the council strongly opposed TRICARE increases to enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life and tiered fees. The council recommended in issue five that chiropractic services be extended to all TRICARE beneficiaries. The council pointed out in issue six that TRICARE eye exams are not consistent with the recommendations of the American Optometric Association and that TRICARE be updated to match those guidelines. In issue seven, the council stated that there exists a shortage of mental health providers who accept TRICARE.

The last main topic, retiree volunteer management, prompted no issues, but the council took the opportunity to address the Navy’s efforts to fund full-time regional program coordinators.

The council then issued recommendations on several supplemental topics.

Under the topic of volunteer service and advocacy, the council addressed five issues. In issue eight, the council recommended that the Navy establish a clearing house mechanism where the demand for volunteer services would be matched with the supply of willing retirees. The council said in issue nine that many retirees are not sufficiently informed about their entitlements and that collaborative agreements should be made between the Navy and veteran service organizations as well as the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Labor Departments. The council proposed in issue 10 that the Navy use less contract and Reserve support and use experienced retirees who volunteer their services in exchange for having their travel and living expenses covered. The council recommended in issue 11 that a retiree-specific tab be placed on the VA website to serve as a central point of information for all retirees. The council then stated in issue 12 that there is inadequate guidance for using Navy retirees for funeral honors details.

The council then tackled compensation where they addressed two issues. In issue 13, the council said that a upon a retiree’s death, their pay is either deposited and removed or there is no deposit for any days. They recommend that this process be changed significantly. The council then made recommendations in issue 14 regarding proposed changes to retiree compensation. They recommended that any future changes eliminate disparities in the current regulations that adversely affect spouses who lose TRICARE when they remarry, fully evaluate the impact on recruiting and retention of delaying retirement pay until age 55, and consider and implement remedies for issues including disability and retirement pay computation issues, surviving widow benefits, and medically retired benefits.

Under the topic of outreach, the council addressed three issues. The council recommended in issue 15 that a DFAS email distribution list be used to distribute both Shift Colors and Semper Fi retiree publications. In issue 16, they recommended that state and local benefits and resources be added back into the Transition Goals, Plans, and Success courses. In issue 17 they recommend that separating Sailors and Marines be required to record an email address on their DD-214.

The council then listed two issues under the topic of medical. In issue 18, they recommend that TRICARE enrollment fees and premiums be changed to pre-tax benefits. In issue 19, they recommend that specific pharmacies be added to TRICARE coverage.

Lastly, the council dealt with four issues under the topic of overseas. In issue 20, the council recommended that payments from retirees living overseas should be made to TRICARE, not Medicare. In issue 21, they discuss the denial of commissary and exchange privileges to retirees living in Rota, Spain. In issue 22, they recommend that retiree mail privileges be increased above the current one-pound limit. Finally, in issue 23, they recommend that Space Available travel for surviving spouses of retirees living overseas be available.

The council is currently soliciting issues of concern for their next meeting which is tentatively scheduled to take place Aug. 3-7.

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