Air Force Pauses, Resumes PCS Moves Over Budget Issues

Air Force permanent change of station moves and bonus pay are being restored by emergency funding after those programs were suspended due to budget problems.

In July 2023, the DoD announced a pause in PCS moves for Air Force troops as lawmakers from Colorado and Alabama were reported to have held up supplemental military funding in a budget dispute over the location of the proposed home of U.S. Space Command.

Around the same time, and for the same reasons, the Air Force announced it would suspend special duty bonuses for many critically-staffed Air Force career fields.

But the Air Force was authorized for partial emergency funding, which was earmarked for what some military officials call “strategically vital” programs. Some of those funds have made it possible to “unfreeze” some PCS moves and restore some bonuses to short-staffed Air Force jobs.

Air Force Specialties Affected By Budget Cuts

When the Air Force initially announced its list of career fields that would no longer qualify for special duty assignment pay, it provided a list of the affected fields, which include but is not limited to the following:

  • President’s Emergency Ops Center
  • Cryptologic Language Analyst
  • Electronic Security Systems
  • Aircraft Battle Damage Repair Exp Depot Mx
  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Army Support Weather Ops
  • 52nd Munitions Maintenance Group NC3
  • Airborne Mission System Operators
  • Flight Engineers
  • Loadmasters
  • Sensor Operators
  • Special Mission Aviators
  • Contracting
  • RPA Cyber Technicians
  • International Enlisted Engagements Managers
  • Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System
  • Super High-Frequency Operators
  • Honor Guard
  • Radar, Airfield, & Weather Systems
  • Casualty Cell
  • Military Working Dog Handlers

Near the end of July 2023, unofficial sources leaked details of the Air Force’s plan to reinstate the bonuses. According to an unofficial Facebook page, the leak included mention of the Air Force’s Selective Retention Bonus, which, according to the unofficial information, “will restart and previously eligible Airmen will be able to re-enlist and sign a SRB contract.”

Those who qualified for Foreign Language Proficiency Pay and Assignment Pay will have the chance to be considered for those pays again., the Air Force official site, published an official version of this information, which includes the following;

“The SRB program will be reinstated this month for all eligible career fields. Eligible Airmen reenlisting or extending for a bonus can immediately take action to contract for a bonus. Airmen previously eligible for a bonus who extended until October 1, 2023, may now work with their Military Personnel Flights for exceptions to policy to now take action to contract for a bonus.”

PCS Moves Resume

Now that lawmakers have provided emergency funds to the Air Force, some will resume the PCS process. Those who were meant to get underway with a PCS move in September may be allowed to proceed, but those who were scheduled to PCS in fiscal year 2024 may be delayed.

Air Force members moving in the next 60 days “should receive their permanent change of station, or PCS, orders by the end of July, or at least 30 days before their departure date, the Air Force said. Service members typically receive orders 60-120 days ahead of moving day” as reported in Air Force Times.

Those overseas who were meant to return to CONUS between October 2023 and December 2023 may still have to wait until March 2024, but exceptions to policy may be possible, according to, the official page of the U.S. Air Force.

Those who wish an exception to policy (ETP for short) must do so through the chain of command, with Wing Commanders and the Air Force Personnel Center having the authority to approve or deny such requests.

2023 National Defense Budget: More Money For Troops

The National Defense Authorization Act is the legal basis for funding the Department of Defense. It specifies a budget for the entire DoD, authorizes pay raises and acquisition programs, and much more.

Everyone in uniform is affected by the NDAA, as well as their immediate families. Each year, the NDAA must be passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by the President.

The 2023 National Defense Budget, also known as the 2023 NDAA, cleared the House of Representatives in July 2022 and at press time awaits approval by the Senate and a signature from the President. What follows is based on the version of the NDAA which was approved by the House.

The Senate version may remove or modify some or all of the following options discussed below.

2023 National Defense Authorization Act: More Money For Troops And Families

A key part of the NDAA for any fiscal year? Military pay raises. The 2023 pay raise in the current NDAA calls for a 4.6% increase in military pay.

Compare that proposed increase to last year’s approved pay raise of 2.7%. For an E-5 with six years time-in-service, the 2023 pay raise could be worth an extra $150 every month.

  • Some sources point out that while this pay increase looks impressive, it may not be enough to catch up with which is at nearly 8% for 2022. That’s where DoD officials hope an inflation bonus added to the 2023 NDAA might help.
  • There is a proposed short-term pay bonus in the 2023 NDAA that would be applied to those earning less than $45 thousand per year in base pay.
  • It works out to be a minimum of 2.4% of that base pay, but the catch is that this increase is (under the current version of the NDAA) only for the year 2023.

Higher Bonuses Proposed

The military’s secret weapon when it comes to recruiting and retention? The enlistment bonus and the reenlistment bonus.

High-demand career fields such as intel, nuclear operations, and military medicine all potentially offer these bonuses. The 2023 NDAA features higher amounts:

  • Enlistment bonuses which previously featured maximums of $50k, for example, would be increased to $75k in the new year.
  • Re-enlistment bonuses may also go up to $50k (from the previous $30k).
  • Those who qualify for proficiency pay bonuses or other incentive pay may find their maximums go up from $1000 to $1750.

Extensions to Temporary Authorization to Increase BAH

A temporary authorization to increase rates for Basic Allowance for Housing in 2022 (associated with inflation and rising housing cost) has been inserted into the 2023 NDAA as an extension of the original.

This could, if approved, mean more BAH money for troops living in areas where housing costs rise above a certain percentage.

Extensions To Guard/Reserve Incentive Pay

Some Guard and Reserve incentive pay options originally set to expire at the end of 2022 are being extended into 2023.

This affects skilled duty such as medicine or nuclear operations, but also affects incentive pay offered to “reserve component members experiencing extended and frequent mobilization for active duty service”.

Cold Weather Operations Pay or Arctic Pay

Troops assigned to cold weather bases, or who must train in frequent cold weather may be eligible to draw so-called Arctic Pay or cold weather operations pay. The 2023 NDAA authorizes a special pay that could be worth $300 extra per month. However, under the current version of the NDAA, this option is only permitted for the year 2023.

WhistleBlower Incentives

Some NDAA initiatives don’t survive revisions in the Senate. Each year many options are named with some making the cut and some being left “on the cutting room floor”. A proposed whistleblower incentive is one of those “iffy” measures that may or may not survive the next version of the act.

  • The 2023 NDAA features a provision to pay up to $10 thousand or one percent of the savings realized as the result of servicemembers lodging whistleblower-type complaints about fraud, waste, and abuse in DoD operations.
  • A similar program is already in effect, known as the DoD Suggestion Program, which is not specifically targeted at whistleblowing but does offer cash incentives for suggestions that are actually put into use and realize savings.

Pet Relocation

Another provision that may or may not make the cut is the allowance for pet relocation associated with a permanent change of station move. The DoD may reimburse you for up to $2,000 in charges associated with relocating a pet as part of a PCS move.

What to Know About the 2023 NDAA

The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act is some 3853 pages long and contains literally hundreds of provisions. At press time this has been placed on the Senate calendar but the NDAA has not made its way through the Senate approval process nor has it been sent to the President’s desk for signature. The previous version was approved by the Senate in late December 2021.





Thousands of Rural Pharmacies to Depart TRICARE Network

In October of 2022, some 400 thousand TRICARE beneficiaries could be forced to search for a new retail pharmacy as thousands of rural pharmacies depart the network. In 2021, Walmart left the TRICARE pharmacy network. It was a move widely reported at the time as being associated with a dispute with the TRICARE pharmacy management company, Express Scripts, over how much of a military discount to offer.

According to some sources, Walmart was unwilling to offer “more competitive” prices to veterans. At the same time this move was announced, a separate announcement welcomed retail giant CVS to the TRICARE pharmacy network.

These moves leave the impression among some that pharmacy options coming and going from the network is fairly common. At least up to now.

The Exodus Begins October 24, 2022

Between 14 thousand and 15 thousand rural pharmacies are departing the TRICARE retail pharmacy network by the last week in October. This change affects some four percent of the TRICARE population, which may not sound like much until you read the actual number of people that may be burdened by the move.

Approximately 400 thousand people in the TRICARE system could be required to find a new TRICARE network retail pharmacy to use. TRICARE has a “pharmacy standard” that requires one TRICARE pharmacy within a 15-minute drive for 90% of all TRICARE users. But if you fall into the 10% that does have a longer commute to a network option, it may be wise to consider switching to the home delivery option.

TRICARE retail pharmacy partners can be found in more than 40 thousand retail outlets.

What to Expect from TRICARE

If you are affected by this change, you will receive an official communication from Express Scripts notifying you of the change and your options under TRICARE in your area. Both CVS and Walgreens are still in-network TRICARE pharmacy options, and when the time comes you may transfer prescriptions to a participating pharmacy.

How do you do this?

It may be as easy in some cases as taking your prescription bottles to the new participating pharmacy and having your new pharmacist do the transfer. You can also request that your doctor send prescription information to the new provider, or contact Express Scripts to switch your prescriptions to home delivery.

Switching to TRICARE Home Prescription Delivery

There are multiple options for changing to TRICARE home prescription delivery service. You will need to create an account with Express Scripts if you do not have one already. Once your account is active you can opt into home delivery as well as choose to order refills online and track prescription shipments.

You may also have an option to have your physician submit electronic prescriptions using the Express Scripts “e-Prescribe” feature. In such cases the doctor submits the order, Express Scripts processes it, and mails you the medications.

If you are required to make a co-pay the invoice is included in the shipment. Your doctor can send prescriptions directly to Express Scripts, no third party is needed.

Those who need to transfer their prescriptions using a mobile device can do so using the Express Scripts Mobile App. Search for it by name in Google Play or the Apple App Store. Another option is to call Express Scripts at (877)363-1303. Have your prescription bottle ready as the representative will need that information to make a transfer.

You can also apply by mail via the Home Delivery Order Form. Complete and mail this form to the address listed on it, along with your prescription.

Why Set Up Home Delivery Through Express Scripts?

Convenience and the lack of a commute to get to a participating pharmacy aside, the biggest benefit for some is that you can receive up to 90 days of your prescription by mail via Express Scripts. You can also set up an auto-refill option to eliminate the need for reminders as the refill date gets close.

Those two things are a major advantage for some and it’s likely one of the biggest reasons some choose the home delivery option. Add to that free standard shipping, and this could be one of the more cost-effective and time-saving pharmacy options open to you.


Is a Major Cost-Of-Living Adjustment Coming for Disabled Veterans and Retirees?

Is a major cost of living adjustment or COLA on the way for military retirees and veterans who collect VA compensation for service-connected medical issues?

Many believe so due to the fact that VA COLA is tied to the Social Security Administration’s annual cost of living adjustment update. That update is determined by increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners And Clerical Workers, also known as CPI-W. That data is gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and calculated on a monthly basis.

CPI-W measures any increases that may apply to the cost of goods and services in the United States; it notes those increases where they occur in certain sectors in its formula for determining the next cost of living adjustment.

Those adjustments are applied to Social Security payouts and they are also applied to VA compensation rates and military retirement pay. Typically, this means retirees and veterans with VA disability pay will get more money each year as COLA changes.

In 2022, there was a COLA increase of 5.9%, and that is paid until the new COLA rates for 2023 are released, typically in December. Because of inflation and other economic factors in 2022, it’s entirely possible that veterans could see a major increase in their disability payments compared to the last adjustment.

Is a Major VA Disability Cost-of-Living Adjustment Coming in 2023?

One group called the Senior Citizens League predicts the 2023 adjustment could be more than 9.5%. Other sources project the increase could run as high as 10.5%. Why don’t we know how much the increase could be?

Because part of the methodology for the adjustment involves measuring the cost of goods and services from between the third quarter of the previous fiscal year and pulling the data from then all the way to the third quarter of the current fiscal year. The Senate has to approve the increase to veteran benefits, the law is passed, and typically the new adjusted veteran disability benefits pay is increased in December of the current year.

That effectively means that at press time the data is still being pulled and reviewed, and answers simply aren’t possible until all the math is done. If the numbers match expectations the 2023 increase could be the largest since 1981 when COLA went up by some 11%.

What Happens If There Is No Cost Of Living Adjustment?

In years where the cost of living goes up, an increase in veteran disability pay is expected. But what happens in years when there is either no increase or the cost of goods and services has actually gone down? The way the system is designed currently, there is no “negative adjustment” to COLA–you won’t have money taken away or get a lower compensation payment.

COLA increases don’t just affect those drawing VA disability pay; military retirees will also see pay increases in their military retirement paychecks. That increase could come in at more than two hundred dollars per month if projected COLA adjustments actually do take place.

What To Know About The COLA Increase

At press time, the cost-of-living adjustment for 2023 has not been announced, so while the potential increase is significant, it’s not yet official. But for financial planning purposes, it’s good to know what’s possible.

You do not have to apply in order to receive a COLA increase, and if you apply for VA compensation for service-connected injuries or medical issues in one year and are approved for that compensation in the new year, your payment rate will reflect the current amount per month with the cost of living adjustment applied.

If you are approved for VA compensation with pay that is retroactive to a certain date, be sure to ask what the current policy is for the cost of living adjustments paid in such circumstances. An error in those calculations could mean the difference of hundreds of even thousands of dollars paid to you retroactively.

Remember, you can always consider appealing a VA decision that does not work in your favor, talk to a VA rep to learn what your rights and responsibilities are to make a VA claim, follow up on a claim, or contest one if you think it’s necessary to do so.


Military News For July 15, 2022

Military news is more than just the latest developments at the “tip of the spear” so to speak. This column discusses news that affects the military community including things that affect the military family, veteran rights, benefits, and more. Our news coverage here does include some news on current operations, but we focus more on military-related issues that affect the community at large.

Military News For July 15, 2022

July 14, 2022, was the day the House passed the National Defense Authorization act with an $840 billion price tag.

This bill amounts to a 7% increase in defense spending compared to last year, and features some potentially controversial measures including an amendment banning arms deals or weapons transfer to any government that has violated international humanitarian law. A different amendment could frustrate an F-16 fighter jet sale to Turkey.

But none of the above is set in stone, the Senate won’t vote on its own version of the National Defense Authorization Act until September according to a report published by Defense News.

RELATED: Proposed 2023 Military Pay Charts

Navy Improves Sexual Assault Reporting Procedures

Stars and Stripes reports the U.S. Navy has enhanced certain sexual assault reporting procedures.

These new guidelines are meant to “align with Defense Department policy” according to a Navy statement. Sexual assault victims in the Navy now have the option to seek a restricted, confidential report even if the victim has already made statements about the incident.

Such restricted or confidential reports allow a victim to notify a health care provider or sexual assault response coordinator about an incident without notifying the victim’s chain of command. The Navy’s administrative order also directs commanding officers to consider a sexual assault victim’s request for a transfer to another unit or base within five days. These policy changes became effective the day they were announced.

U.S. Army Experiments With Remote Work Options

The U.S. Army did an experiment with remote work sometime in 2020, allowing a Pentagon employee to live in Florida and commute to in-person meetings and other work on an as-needed basis. Now, that experiment is being expanded according to Army Times.

Military doctrine includes the notion of “centralized control, decentralized execution” for battlefield operations, in-theater troop organization, and more.

That notion could inform the basic work routine for some Army staffers thanks to what is known as an “innovation cell” for Army Human Resources Command. A select number of Army troops are joining the cell, staying at their current physical duty stations but clocking in, so to speak, into a remote work environment at another base.

It’s expected that such a program could work well for Army coders and other IT professionals as well as “staff workers” but Army officials do acknowledge that not all military career fields are appropriate for remote duty.

Is The U.S. Navy Failing On The Mental Health Issue?

Navy Times reports the United States Navy is “struggling” to fill mental health care provider positions according to information from the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

Sailors are, at press time, still facing long delays in mental health care opportunities; the Navy can’t seem to fill licensed civilian and contractor care provider jobs. The Navy needs 455 jobs filled in this area alone, at press time some 132 of those jobs remained vacant.

Navy Times reports some sailors complaining about six-week wait times for mental healthcare appointments; the report also notes that the overall availability of mental healthcare professionals in the United States is very low–the nation could be short nearly eight thousand psychiatrists alone by 2025.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Era Still Haunts Veterans

The Washington Post covered the ten-year anniversary of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Clinton-era policy that forced LGBTQ military members to hide their identities and effectively serve as second-class citizens in uniform.

The Post article notes that some 100 thousand troops were kicked out of the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and many received Other Than Honorable or other punitive discharges as a result.

Those punitive discharges have prevented many LGBTQ veterans from qualifying for VA benefits. In September 2021, a blog published on the VA official site announced new guidelines for allowing VA representatives to approve benefits for those discharged for “homosexual conduct”, HIV status, gender identity, and more.

But following that announcement, what has changed? According to the Post there has been no official word from the Department of Veterans Affairs on how this might be implemented or whether it has even been implemented in a formal manner.

The Washington Post reports there was an attempt to get more information via a public records request to review any new VA policy on this issue; the VA “acknowledged receipt of the request, but they have not fulfilled it” and the VA declined to comment. As of press time, LGBTQ service members denied veteran benefits because of a so-called gay discharge are still subject to the same denial for benefits.

Stolen Valor Con Artist Pleads Guilty

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, a Rhode Island resident who pretended to be a Marine veteran with cancer, has pleaded guilty to a number of charges including wire fraud, forgery, theft, and “fraudulent use of medals” according to a Marine Corps Times report. Cavanaugh collected a quarter of a million dollars in veteran benefits and donations according to federal prosecutors who add that the con artist agreed to pay back some $80K.

There is no evidence at press time that Cavanaugh ever served in uniform, though she did work at a VA Medical Center. During the trial, prosecutors alleged Cavanaugh illegally accessed VA medical records to help her create forged records that indicated she had received an Honorable Discharge and was suffering from cancer.

Cavanaugh wore a Marine uniform and unearned medals including a Purple Heart when attending public events. She received more than $200 thousand in assistance from the Wounded Warrior program and another $18K in assistance from a Virginia-based group called Code of Support”. She faces up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutors have not asked for the maximum.


3 Reasons Military Pay Increases in 2022

Overall Military Pay and Compensation Set to Increase in 2022.  Here’s Why.

The New Year has arrived, and with it comes the usual focus on improving certain areas of our lives. We set goals for healthier lifestyles, productive use of our time, and improving our financial situations. For service members, there are three things that will have an impact on your 2022 military pay.

BAH Increase

The Department of Defense released the 2022 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates in mid-December, 2021. According to the DoD press release, BAH rates are set to increase by 5.1% on average.

For most military families, the BAH portion of their compensation is used to the fullest extent possible, which is covering rent/mortgage and applicable utilities. The increase is based on information collected by the DoD in partnership with military commanders and local installation housing offices. Data from hundreds of housing areas is compiled and analyzed to determine when and if increases are necessary for military personnel.

For more information, the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) published the 2022 BAH Rates.

To calculate your BAH rate, use the CollegeRecon BAH Calculator.

COLA Increase

In another DoD press release, the 2022 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) rates took effect on 1 January, 2022, with a 2.7% increase. This allowance offsets the higher prices faced by military members at duty locations whose cost of living is higher than the national average.

When it comes to income, more money is good. But it’s not all good news for some locations. The DoD reported that six Military Housing Areas (MHA) will see their COLA rates decrease, and 25 MHAs will no longer receive COLA. The two largest decreases were both in Massachusetts, with the Boston and Worcester MHA rates dropping from 4 to 0 percent.

New York City still has the highest COLA rate in the US at 6 percent.

To calculate the COLA rate for your current location, check out DTMO’s CONUS COLA Calculator.

Deferral on Payroll Tax Ends

For most military members, 2021 saw a reduction in pay to recoup the payroll taxes that were not collected as part of a 2020 Presidential Memorandum. The amount active service members paid each month was upwards of 2% of their base pay. The situation was beyond their control, but the service members went a whole year with less pay.

Now that 2022 has arrived, the payroll tax deferral has ended for most service members. This naturally means that paychecks will “increase”. While it’s not an actual increase in pay, it is letting America’s Defenders have what they deserve, again.

Good Timing?

With the rate of inflation rising to the highest it’s been in decades, it would seem that these increases in pay may help ease the financial strain many are facing today. Because of this, it is ever more prevalent to spend and save our money wisely.

For low-income service members, the Basic Needs Allowance has been approved and will start sometime in 2022.

For residents of some states, retired military pay is now tax-free, which leaves more money in the bank.

I suggest further reading The 10 Best Financial Benefits for Members of the Military. This will help you keep your eyes on your benefits.





Basic Needs Allowance for Low-Income Service Members

New Basic Needs Allowance for Low-Income Military Members

The Basic Needs Allowance is a military benefit authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022. It is offered to service members with household incomes below a certain percentage of federal poverty guidelines.

This is described by the Department of Defense as a “taxable supplemental allowance” for service members who are “the most financially challenged”. It is designed for active-duty military families with dependents. The service member must have completed basic training.

The DoD says service members must apply to receive the Basic Needs Allowance, also known as BNA.

However, in the same DoD guidelines, there is mention that the military services are expected to “proactively screen service members for eligibility (based on service member pay) and notify them of their potential eligibility”, so there is likely to be a level of confusion over the implementation of this new program in the earliest stages.

Applications Encouraged

According to the DoD, any service member who believes they need BNA should apply for it. Application procedures are not standardized across all branches of military service so it will be up to each individual branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.) to establish their own processes.

Regardless of the specific process used, all applicants must submit income documentation such as pay stubs or a W2.

How Much Is the Basic Needs Allowance?

According to the text of the 2022 NDAA, the amount of the allowance is calculated as follows:

The amount of the monthly allowance payable to a member…shall be the amount equal to 130% of the Federal poverty guidelines of the Department of Health and Human Services for the calendar year during which the allowance is paid based on the location of the member and the number of individuals in the household of the member during the month for which the allowance is paid; minus the gross household income of the member during the preceding year; divided by 12.

That number changed to 150% of federal poverty guidelines after it was determined the original amount wasn’t enough.

What About Families with More than One Eligible Military Member?

If a household has two or more members who are eligible to receive the Basic Needs Allowance, only one of them can receive the allowance at any given time.

Who Is Not Eligible for the Basic Needs Allowance?

A service member who does not have dependents is not eligible for the allowance at press time.

If a service member is eligible and then gets promoted, prompting for a permanent increase in pay, and that pay increase raises the service member above the policy’s financial guidelines, then that member becomes ineligible.

Any eligible service member may voluntarily elect not to receive the benefit, and they must do so in writing.

Food Insecurity in the Military?

Why is the BNA even necessary? In 2021, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) conducted a survey of over 11,000 service members and their families. They asked one question:

“In the past 12 months, have you, or someone in your household, had to visit a charitable food distribution site to make ends meet?”

The results of that survey may surprise you. The  NMFA Survey found that 14% of those surveyed, or 1,632 military families, reported that they visited a food bank within the past year.

In another study, Blue Star Families conducted a Pulse Check between March 1-16, 2021. Over 4,000 respondents participated in the poll, which included active military, veterans, National Guard, Reserve, and Gold Star spouses or family members.

The  Blue Star Family Pulse Check found that 18% of active duty families and 23% of National Guard families reported having difficulties in purchasing food and other essentials within the past year.

Furthermore, within the active duty ranks, food security ranked as a most immediate need for Junior Enlisted (22%), Mid/Senior Enlisted (20%), and Commissioned Officers (23%). In other words, nearly a fifth of the service members polled indicated that food security is an immediate need for them.



New Legislation Impacting the Veteran Community

On November 30, 2021, President Biden signed a series of new bills into laws, and ones that have a direct impact on the military community.

Protecting Moms Who Served Act (SB 796)

This new law requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to begin a program on Maternity Care Coordination. The new program is expected to cost $15 million for FY 2022 beyond what is already appropriated for maternity health care in the VA.

Another less advertised portion of the new bill is a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) related to maternal morbidity among pregnant and post-partum veterans.

Within two years, the GAO will submit a report on severe maternal morbidity among pregnant/postpartum veterans, focusing almost exclusively on whether or not there are racial or ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes for veterans.

The report will also serve a fundamental role in future legislative and administrative actions that aim to increase access to mental and behavioral health care for at-risk veterans. The report will provide recommendations to address issues like:

  • Homelessness
  • Food insecurity
  • Poverty

The overall aim of the legislation and its subsequent reporting requirements is to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, and to address any racial or ethnic disparities in health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum veterans.

RELATED: Dogs & Vets: Helping Veterans with PTSD


>> Have questions about you or your spouse’s military benefits? We’ve partnered with the Veterans Education Project to help find the answers you need. Find the answers to your benefits questions today!


Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act (SB 894)

This legislation requires the VA to engage with the Department of Defense (DoD) to identify members of the Armed Forces within health care occupations that could be employed by the VA once they’ve separated from the service.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs will establish a program in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense to identify service members that may be willing to seek employment with the VA after separation from the service.

If a member of the Armed Forces…expresses an interest in working in a health care occupation within the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall refer the member to a recruiter of the Department for consideration of open positions in the specialty and geography of interest to the member.

However, any such referral should not be seen as a guarantee of future employment with the VA, as the interview and hiring processes are still in place to fill vacant positions. The goal of this legislation is to expedite the hiring process within the VA to address staffing shortages that plague the organization.


>> Find opportunities with companies looking to assist veterans and military spouses.  Get started today!


Senate Bill 1031 – A Study in Disparities

This legislation requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study regarding racial or ethnic disparities and their impact on benefits issues by the VA.

The Government Accountability Office will conduct a study to assess whether there are disparities associated with race and ethnicity when it comes to:

  • Compensation benefits administered by the VA
  • Disability ratings, “with specific consideration of disability evaluations based on pain”
  • The rejection of fully developed claims for benefits.

Within one year of the passing of this law, the Comptroller General will brief Congress on the initial results of the study.

The text of the bill does not indicate the reason for such a study, but it seems to imply that there is cause for concern of racial prejudice at the VA when it comes to evaluating claims and administering benefits.

One report from Maria Aguilera of KCEN TV in Temple, Texas, claims that Biden “has heard from veterans of color that when they return home from serving they’re treated differently from white veterans.” If these claims are true, then action should be taken immediately to ensure the fair treatment of all veterans, regardless of race or ethnicity.

However, conducting a study for over a year doesn’t seem like the most direct approach to addressing racial disparities within the VA.

Will the study release the names and incidents of those who have directly contacted the President?

Will these veterans who have allegedly been profiled by the VA have their cases reviewed in light of the findings of this massive study?

That remains to be seen since the text of the bill does not make that clear. It states only that the Comptroller will provide “recommendations”, if it has any.

A Legislative Watch for Veterans

There is always legislation on the docket for both houses of Congress. The ones of most interest to us are those that directly impact you, the veteran and military members. 

We spend hours combing through tedious and sometimes monstrous bills to find any information that you can use to your benefit. Stay tuned for more legislative updates as they develop.

(Image courtesy of WeTakethePictures via Shutterstock)


>> Have questions about you or your spouse’s military benefits? We’ve partnered with the Veterans Education Project to help find the answers you need. Find the answers to your benefits questions today!





Military Benefit Changes for 2022

Military Benefit Changes for 2022

These are the changes that have been announced so far. Please keep checking back, as we will continue updating new changes to your military benefits for 2022.


>> Looking for the latest info on military benefits?  Go here for Military Benefits Changes and Updates for 2023


TRICARE Updates 2022

TRICARE Pharmacy Network

TRICARE Pharmacy Network will have updates going into 2022. As of December 15th, 2021, Walmart and Sam’s Club will no longer take TRICARE. CVS will be added after being away from the network for the last five years.


>> Have questions about you or your spouse’s military benefits? We’ve partnered with the Veterans Education Project to help find the answers you need. Find the answers to your benefits questions today!


TRICARE Premiums

TRICARE premiums will change for reservists, retired reserves, and some military family members. 

Monthly premiums for TRICARE Reserve Select will be going down. For individuals, they will drop 1% from $47.20 to $46.70. For families, it will go down 3.8% from $238.99 to $229.99. 

Monthly premiums for Retired Reserve will be going up. For Individuals, they will be changing from $484.83 to $502.32. For families, they will be changing from $1,165 to $1,206.59. 

TRICARE Young Adult monthly premiums will also be going up. TRICARE Young Adult Select Premiums will increase from $257 to $265, and TRICARE Young Adult Prime Premiums will increase from $459 to $512. 

Continued Health Care Benefit Program quarterly premiums are also going up. For the member, the amount is changing from $1,599 to $1,654, and for member and family, it is changing from $3,605 to $4,079. 

You should also check on the TRICARE fees that may have changed for 2022 on their website.

COLA Increases

COLA will have an increase of 5.9% in 2022. This is a big jump from the 2021 increase of 1.3%. The last time COLA was close to this percentage was in 2008 with an increase of 5.8%. 

COLA increases are based on the increase in the CPI-W, from the 3rd quarter of 2020 through the third quarter of 2021. Increases can change year to year. The last few years have seen 0.3% in 2017, 2.0% in 2018, 2.8% in 2019, and 1.6% in 2020. Military retirees, those who receive disability payments, or other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal retirees, as well as Social Security recipients, will all see a 5.9% increase in their monthly payments.

Retirement Pay

When it comes to retirement pay, it is important to keep in mind that since the increase for the year is calculated differently than active duty pay, the raises can seem a little different based on the year. Based on the 5.9% increase, in 2022 you would receive $59 for every $1,000 in government benefits you receive. If a veteran is receiving around $2,000 a month as retirement pay, they would see an increase of $118 a month.

A veteran who entered military service after July 31, 1986, has had the option of going with the “Career Status Bonus” or (CSB)/REDUX instead of the “High 3-year average” option with regards to retirement pay. This means that they would have received $30,000 during their 15th year of service and will see a reduced retirement rate until they are 62 years old. This also means that their COLA increase is reduced by 1%, which would change the amount of the increase they would see in 2022.

VA Disability

VA Disability payments would also increase in 2022. A veteran with a 60% rating would see about a $51 a month increase, while a veteran with a 100% rating would see about an $85 a month increase. The amount they would receive depends on their rating as well as their veteran-dependent status. The rate for 2022 would be 5.9% and is based on COLA rates.

Social Security Payments

According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly Social Security benefit in June 2021 was $1,555 for the retired worker. Based on this, the average beneficiary would see an increase of $87 in 2022.

3.0% Military Pay Increase

A 2.7% pay raise has been proposed for 2022. This is a little less than last year which was 3.0%. For junior enlisted, this would be an increase of around $768 a year.

The main guideline for determining military pay raises comes from the quarterly report of the US Employment Cost Index (ECI) which is put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The fiscal 2022 NDAA will need to be passed and then the 2.7% raise will take effect as of Jan 1, 2022.

BAH 2022 Rates

BAH is the Basic Allowance for Housing. The 2022 BAH rates have not been posted yet and the DOD’s BAH calculator still needs to be updated. You can use this to find out how much you will be bringing home for BAH in 2022 once updated. Remember, if your rate goes down you are grandfathered into the old rate unless you move or change rank.

BAH is based on your rank, dependent status, and geographic location. BAH is intended to cover 95% of your housing costs. This % can change each year and was 99% just a few years ago. Your rates are based on your duty station zip code.

Your new BAH rate will go into effect on January 1st and you will see it in your January 15, 2022 paycheck.

The proposed BAH increase will need to be approved by Congress and the President. That being said, individual rates are based on the cost of living in your exact location. 2.7% is being proposed for 2022. In 2021, BAH was 2.9%.

BAS 2022 Rates

BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) 2022 rates have not been updated yet but 2.3% is proposed. BAS had a 3.7% increase in 2021. Rates have not changed all that much in the last few years since they are based on the cost of food.

BAS is meant to be used to pay for food for enlisted and officers. It is only intended to help pay for food, not to cover all the costs. The rate also does not change based on dependents because the money is not meant to cover food for family members.

The increase will take place on January 1st and you will see it on your January 15th, 2022 paychecks.

We will update as more 2022 military benefits changes are announced!


>> Have questions about you or your spouse’s military benefits? We’ve partnered with the Veterans Education Project to help find the answers you need. Find the answers to your benefits questions today!





VA Extends Deadline for Gulf War Veterans’ Disability Claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently extended a deadline for Gulf War Veterans to claim disability related to their service.

Originally planned to end December 31, 2021, the VA extended the date to service more Gulf War Veterans claiming disability diagnoses. They’ve extended the deadline to December 31, 2026.

Gulf War Syndrome

The extension revolves around conditions related to something called “Gulf War Syndrome”. These illnesses have been reported by Gulf War Veterans, and they are usually unexplained chronic symptoms. The VA prefers the terms “chronic multisymptom illness” or “undiagnosed illness”. 

Regardless of the name, the symptoms commonly include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Memory problems

Gulf War Veterans do not need to prove a connection between their military service and illnesses to receive VA disability compensation. 

Connection to Military Service

According to the VA’s Public Health website, “[the] VA presumes certain chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause.”

Presumptive conditions mentioned by the VA can include:

  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) – a condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest. It is not directly caused by other conditions.
  • Fibromyalgia – a condition associated with widespread muscle pain. Insomnia, muscle stiffness, headaches, and memory problems are also associated with this condition.
  • Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders – This condition refers to recurring symptoms in any part of the gastrointestinal tract. This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, or abdominal pain.
  • Undiagnosed Illnesses – This could include a number of conditions like abnormal weight loss, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain, headaches, menstrual disorders, neurological / psychological problems, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances.

To be eligible for compensation, a Gulf War Veteran must have been diagnosed by the VA of at least 10% disabled after their service.

RELATED: Disabled Veterans May Get Expanded Retirement Benefits

Who is a Gulf War Veteran?

According to the VA’s definition, Gulf War Service “is active military duty in any … areas in the Southwest Asia theater of operations at any time [between] August 2, 1990 to present.” 

Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010-2011) are also considered Gulf War Veterans.

The Southwest Asia Theater of Operations includes the following areas:

  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • Bahrain
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
  • Oman
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea
  • The airspace above these locations

If you’ve served in any of these areas, and at the eligible times, then you should take advantage of the VA’s free Gulf War Registry Health Exam. This exam will help find potential long-term problems related to your service in the Gulf. 

Additionally, Veterans eligible for the Gulf War Registry may also be eligible for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

Benefits For Gulf War Veterans

For our Gulf War Veterans suffering from illnesses related to their service, there are a multitude of benefits available.

In addition to the health exam and registries listed above, Gulf War Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation for their conditions. These can be the “medically unexplained illnesses” identified by the VA, and can also include certain Infectious Diseases associated with military service in the Gulf.

To file a new claim, or expand a current disability rating, learn more about VA disability compensation to see what you may be entitled to.

RELATED: How to File VA Disability Claims

Finally, if you served in the Gulf and you’re suffering from any of the conditions listed above, then get your free Gulf War Health Exam. You have just over five years to get this done!




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