November 4, 2014

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
I am a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief. I am covered by Medicare Part A/B & Tricare for Life. My wife is not Medicare eligible yet &currently has a retiree medical plan thru her former employer & has Tricare

Standard as a secondary plan. The renewal for 2015 is coming up. The cost of the commercial retiree plan is going up quite a bit. My question is if she drops her commercial retiree plan, which Tricare plan does she fall under?? Tricare Prime or does she remain Tricare Standard, until she turns 65.

Thank you for the assistance in this confusing matter. Sincerely,

Stephen N
Texas

Dear Stephen,
It does get a bit confusing. A spouse under age 65 has either Tricare Prime or Standard as available options. You have to enroll in Tricare Prime by going to your ID Card Office and having your DEERS record updated. Or go by your nearest military clinic or hospital. If she sticks with Tricare Standard, she’s already covered. All Standard coverage requires is an ID Card and be recorded in DEERS. There is no enrollment for Standard coverage.

Make sure your doctors take Tricare Standard if she uses Standard. If you enroll in Prime, you have to go to a Prime facility. Look for Prime facilities at www.Tricare.mil.  Hope this helps.

Shaft Notes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced this month that it has guaranteed 21 million home loans since the Home Loan Guaranty program was established in 1944 as part of the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the “GI Bill.” This achievement comes during the year-long commemoration of 70 years of the “GI Bill,” which established a wide range of benefits for Veterans returning from World War II, including low-cost home loans, education and vocational training.

“This vital program offers Veterans, Servicemembers and their families the keys to homeownership and is truly a testament to our Nation’s commitment to enhancing the lives of those who served our country,” said Allison A. Hickey, VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits. “Twenty-one million home loans guaranteed, with the last one million guaranteed in just two years, is just one example of how VA employees are privileged to continue to serve and give back to our Veterans through the GI Bill.”

VA’s Home Loan Program provides housing-related benefits and services to make home ownership possible and affordable for eligible Veterans, Servicemembers and surviving spouses, who want to buy, build, repair or adapt a home. Nearly 90 percent of all VA loans are made with no down payment. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Home Loan Program guaranteed roughly 35,000 loans per month, resulting in a total of 438,398 VA home loans guaranteed for the year. The total value of all outstanding VA loans exceeds $380 billion. During FY 2014, the program also approved 1,253 grants to seriously disabled Veterans for the purchase, modification, or construction of a home specially adapted to meet their individual housing needs.

Through loan servicing efforts, the Home Loan Program also assisted nearly 80,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure in FY 2014.  These actions saved taxpayers nearly $2.8 billion in avoided claim payments.  Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association show that mortgages guaranteed by VA have had the lowest foreclosure inventory rate for the last 25 quarters when compared to all other types of home loans in the nation, including prime loans.

Veterans may obtain a certificate of eligibility for a VA-guaranteed home loan through the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits, at http://www.ebenefits.va.gov, or by contacting their lender.

For more information about the VA Home Loan Program, visit the program’s home page at www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announces that the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee is hosting more than 100 Veterans from across the country for the 2014 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival; the event began Oct. 27 and will end Nov. 2.

The National Creative Arts Festival event will feature the gold medal-winning entries from 53 categories of art, ranging from oil painting to leatherwork to fiber art in an exhibit at the Grand Rotunda of the Milwaukee Theatre on Sunday, November 2 from noon to 2 p.m.  Tickets are free but must be reserved by contacting 414-389-4099. The performance is also open to media.

The weeklong Festival, presented by VA and the American Legion Auxiliary showcases the artistic achievements of Veterans from across the country that placed first in national art, music, dance, drama and creative writing division competitions. The Veterans are participating in workshops, rehearsals and artistic interaction sessions, culminating in Sunday’s art exhibit and stage show performance, open to the public.

Among many other therapeutic benefits, the Festival encourages artistic expression to help Veterans dealing with PTSD and other psychological issues.  More than 3,500 Veterans participate nationally in regional competitions which culminate in the annual national event.

“The Creative Arts Festival is another example of how VA is committed to utilizing a full spectrum of health care options,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “From traditional medicine to cutting edge treatments, we will continue to use a holistic approach to treat our nation’s Veterans.”

The Festival relies heavily on the outstanding support provided by numerous American Legion Auxiliary volunteers. For more information, visit www.creativeartsfestival.va.gov.

Media interested in covering the event can call Jordan Schupbach at (202) 664-3733.

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