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.

See the Military Update Archives

'Consolidated' TRICARE: Higher Fees, More Freedom

Doctor examines servicemember

TRICARE Prime, the military's managed care option for 5.5 million beneficiaries who enroll for a modest fee to be guaranteed timely access to primary care, would cease to exist within a few years under the "Consolidated TRICARE" plan proposed in the fiscal 2015 defense budget. Networks of care providers, built for Prime, would not go away ... more

Commissaries to Run as Business, Not Benefit

commissary bagger 600x400

Behind the plan to slash taxpayer support of commissaries is a concept Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his senior advisors have embraced that base grocery stores should operate as a business and not a benefit. This shift is candidly revealed in budget documents released Tuesday and in a legislative packet for implementing the funding cut... more

DoD: Squeeze TRICARE, Slash Grocery Savings

Doctor and Patient

One of the two biggest changes to military compensation proposed in the president's 2015 defense budget request would roll back, after 20 years, an offering of multiple health insurance options to millions of beneficiaries. The other would end deep discounts on groceries, a benefit that is decades old and long had been viewed as critical t... more

VA, Congress Shrug as Sleep Apnea Claims 'Surge'

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Last June the VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation privately recommended to Allison A. Hickey, under secretary for benefits, that the Department of Veterans Affairs consider four steps to address a "recent surge" in VA compensation awards for sleep apnea. The proposals, which only now come to light, were drafted the same day th... more

COLA Cap Repealed, Except for New Entrants

Veterans Salute

Bowing to colossal pressure from military associations, younger retirees and angry careerists who served through long and nasty wars, Congress has repealed the retiree COLA cap it enacted only six weeks ago. Cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees under age 62 will not be set a full percentage point below annual inflation, startin... more

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