Military Update

Tom Philpott has been breaking news for and about military people since 1977. After service in the Coast Guard, and 17 years as a reporter and senior editor with Army Times Publishing Company, Tom launched "Military Update," his syndicated weekly news column, in 1994. "Military Update" features timely news and analysis on issues affecting active duty members, reservists, retirees and their families. Tom also edits a reader reaction column, "Military Forum." The online "home" for both features is

Tom's freelance articles have appeared in numerous magazines including The New Yorker, Reader's Digest and Washingtonian. His critically-acclaimed book, Glory Denied, on the extraordinary ordeal and heroism of Col. Floyd "Jim" Thompson, the longest-held prisoner of war in American history, is available in hardcover and paperback.

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DoD Tricare 'Reforms' Call For Higher Retiree Fees, Co-Pays


With congressional leaders vowing this year to overhaul TRICARE, the military's health insurance benefit, the Department of Defense on Tuesday delivered to Capitol Hill revised recommendations to get that job done. The TRICARE reform packet, Defense officials maintain, would simplify insurance options, improve access to managed care, and inc... more

Service Leaders Pledge not to Relax Combat Requirements for Women

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, shakes hands with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 2, 2016. Cliff Owen/AP

Army and Marine Corps leaders swapped pledges with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday not to cave to political pressure and relax ground combat skill requirements so that more women will qualify to serve in infantry, armor, and special forces units. Certainty that such pressure will come, and need to be resisted to protec... more

VA E-Claim System Melts Backlog, But Costs Alarm Congress

Stacks of VA claims.

Over the past five years, since Republicans won back control of the House, the Department of Veteran Affairs has been flogged publicly many times, often for allowing a mountain of backlogged disability compensation claims. As the backlog fell, lawmakers now are learning, they should have paid more attention to how much VA was spending on its pr... more

Congress is Last Hurdle to Women in Every Combat Role

The Air Force is planning on opening the seven positions currently limited only to male airmen. (Air Force photo)

On Jan. 8, six days before he closed out a 45-year Marine Corps career, his last job leading U.S. Southern Command, Gen. John F. Kelly sounded an alarm, which he must have hoped would be heard on Capitol Hill. Kelly was asked at his final Pentagon press conference to comment on Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's Dec. 3 decision that every com... more

Reformers Urged Not to Redefine Commissary 'Savings'

Airmen at the commissary

Advocates for preserving the military commissary benefit warned a House subcommittee Wednesday to avoid reforms that promise to preserve current savings for patrons but instead change how savings are measured, creating a lesser benefit that shoppers over time might reject. Advocates for service families and the military resale industry... more

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