IDEAS TO ENHANCE PRIVILEGES FOR RESERVE/GUARD RETIREES
Reading your column on veteran status for retired Reserve and Guard members, I was thinking of the many other privileges that could be passed to these retirees that we have come to accept as "not happening."
I served on active duty six years right after high school. I transferred to the Air Force Reserve where I served another 24-and-a half years. I also worked as an Air Reserve Technician. My job was transferred out-of-state, so I left the 'ART' world and now work for the Air Force as a civilian employee.
There are many 'gripes' I could bring up, including being an ART for over 20 years but not being ‘active duty retired’ because I was a federal employee. Yet my Guard counterpart does get a military retirement. No, I'm not complaining about that.
I could also gripe that my several deployments down range do not qualify me for a reduction in age-60 retirement threshold and receipt of ‘full benefits,’ because they occurred before 2009.
I have over 31-and-a-half years total service and will not see any retired pay for those years for another 10 years. I joined right out of high school and so retired 'too young.'
Though it will never happen, I suggest that the reserve components count any time served beyond 20 years against the age 60 retirement for pay purposes. This would be an incentive to serve long for the younger generation now being are tempted to leave the military because of frequent deployments and conflicts with schooling. So the military now loses that experience as well as the formal education the government paid for.
A second suggestion involves the "Reserve Retired" ID card. Why can't we be issued a blue ID card? I know that now indicates medical benefits and pay, but there could be some annotation saying those benefits will not start until a certain target date. While in drill status we had a CAC [Common Access Card] that was the same as active duty. But as a retiree we are identified as a 'non-vet'.
JESSE M. Master Sergeant, USAFR-Ret. Via email
I fall into that "gap" where I do not qualify as a "veteran," yet because of my 28 years in the reserves, I earned a retiree ID, a pension and will qualify for TRICARE for Life at age 65.
When veterans are asked to stand at town picnics and events, I remain seated. Among those who stand are friends who were drafted in the early ‘60s but never saw combat or even left the United States.
I served 14 of my 28 years in a reserve artillery battalion, and a good one at that. It was inactivated in 1995 when the reserves became fully only combat service and support units. All combat units were inactivated.
Because I did get a DD 214 after completing Officers Basic Artillery Course in 1974, I have used that to get a town beach permit but I do not qualify for any town property tax allowance. It just seems odd that I have less to take pride in after being ready to go to war for 28 years than some friends who served two years in the peacetime Army.
ARTHUR JAMES Lieutenant Colonel, USA-Ret.
P.S. I believe that I am now allowed to just annotate my branch as USA in the signature block due to my 20-plus year retirement status, and not just as USAR when I was still under age 60. Please advise if my service denies me this bit of respect as well.
Respect, yes; "USA," no.
Army Regulation 25–50 on correspondence signature blocks, section 6-6, says, "All personnel on the Army of the United States Retired List, including non-regular Army personnel on the Temporary Disability List, will use ‘AUS Retired.’ – Tom Philpott.
WHY CO-PAYS ON BIRTH CONTROL?
Your most recent column discussed how smoking cessation drugs are now free through the TRICARE Mail Order Program. That is great news. But consider writing about how birth control still requires a co-payment whether the prescription is filled by mail or at our local TRICARE network pharmacy.
There is no co-pay at a military pharmacy, but they do not carry all of the approved birth control available, and some women do not live near a military base. I live near a base, but they do not carry the type of birth control I use, so I have to pay the co-pay for my birth control.
I have written my representatives with no real response other than reiterating the payment structure for prescriptions.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) requires that birth control and preventive services have zero co-pay. Yet the federal government is not requiring its own health programs to follow that guidance.
Women service member in reserve components and women veterans also are not receiving equitable treatment.
JENNIE DAHLBY Via email
I don't understand why any commissaries have to close due to budget sequestration. However, it doesn't make much sense that they would all have to close on the same day of the week.
I don't believe Congress should be paid if lawmakers can't do the jobs they were elected to do. How many years can they be divided over the same things and blaming each other.
Every time they raise taxes, rather than use that money as intended, they find something else to spend it on. And what the heck is with all the recesses they take before they even finish their work?
BRIAN HOFF Via email
I've been reading your column on military affairs for many years, and I wanted to just say, "Thank You" for the great information that you put out for all active duty and retired military members.
Trust me, your efforts are greatly appreciated!
HENRY DITTMAN, JR. Professor & Major, USAF-Ret. Fort Walton Beach, Fla.