RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

Archive for June, 2008

Warden Message Typhoon Frank/FengShen

Posted by Service Officer on 21st June 2008

U.S. Embassy Manila

Warden Message

June 21, 2008

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION THROUGH THE EMBASSY WARDEN SYSTEM AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO AMERICAN CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES . PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD. THANK YOU.

The U.S. Embassy in Manila wishes to alert U.S. citizens residing or traveling in the Philippines about Typhoon Frank/FengShen. This storm is expected to bring heavy winds and rain to the Philippines , and potentially to Luzon, including Manila , early Sunday, June 22.

U.S. citizens should monitor the progress of the storm on http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com/ and through local media and make appropriate provisions for food, water and shelter.

For additional information on storms, their effects and steps you should take to prepare, please see the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website for several useful links related to natural disasters and emergencies: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1207.html.

The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard , Manila , Philippines , tel. (63)(2) 301-2000. In case of an emergency outside business hours, American citizens may reach the Embassy duty officer through the Embassy operator at (63)(2) 301-2000.

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TRICARE/CHAMPUS FRAUD UPDATE 19 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 19th June 2008

A former health care executive was sentenced 17 JUN to five years in prison for helping his Philippines-based company swindle nearly $100 million from the U.S. military health insurance program. Thomas Lutz, 41, said in federal court he took responsibility for the six-year scheme in which Health Visions Corp. bilked $99.9 million from the military’s Tricare program through inflated and fraudulent claims. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said the five-year sentence was modest given the extent of the fraud, but it was the longest she could impose under Lutz’s plea deal. Health Visions and Lutz were initially charged in a 75-count indictment in 2005. He pleaded guilty in 2006 to a single count of conspiracy to pay kickbacks and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, a deal Crabb called “a huge break” for Lutz. “It’s just horrifying that you were able to take as much money as you did,” Crabb told Lutz. Prosecutors said the company routinely inflated claims by more than 230%, operated a phony insurance program and billed for medical services never delivered.

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VETERAN LEGISLATION STATUS 16 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 16th June 2008

Congress recessed on 22 MAY for the Memorial Day weekend and will return to Washington 2 JUN. For a listing of Congressional bills of interest to the veteran community that have been introduced in the 110th Congress refer to the Bulletin’s House & Senate attachments. By clicking on the bill number indicated you can access the actual legislative language of the bill and see if your representative has signed on as a cosponsor. Support of these bills through cosponsorship by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law.

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PTSD UPDATE 15 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 15th June 2008

Two veterans’ advocacy groups have asked for copies of all documents relating to the Veterans Affairs Department’s post-traumatic stress disorder policies after an e-mail surfaced asking VA doctors to keep costs down by giving diagnoses of adjustment disorder instead. Veterans diagnosed with PTSD are eligible for health benefits and, in some cases, disability retirement pay. Adjustment disorder, on the other hand, is considered a short-term diagnosis, and does not qualify veterans for benefits, said Brandon Friedman, vice chair of VoteVets.org, one of the advocacy groups. “They can say, ‘Ah, you’ve got something temporary, it’ll go away, so we don’t need to pay you for the rest of your life,’ ” Friedman said. He said several veterans have told him they were diagnosed with adjustment disorder rather than PTSD, and that they felt they had received the wrong diagnosis. “We hear anecdotal evidence all the time that VA is trying to cut costs by not diagnosing PTSD,” said Friedman, a former infantry officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “But we’ve never actually seen proof that it was being done in an organized way.”

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PTSD PURPLE HEART UPDATE 15 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 15th June 2008

Recently, a military psychologist John E. Fortunato at Fort Bliss TX told reporters during a roundtable that making troops with PTSD eligible for the Purple Heart could help destigmatize the disorder. “These guys have paid at least a high as high a price, some of them as anybody with a traumatic brain injury, as anybody with shrapnel wound, and what it does is it says this is the wound that isn’t worthy, and I say it is.” When asked about Fortunato’s suggestion later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called it an interesting idea, adding the matter is clearly something that needs to be looked into.

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VA PTSD CLAIM SUPPORT 14 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 14th June 2008

There has been some confusion concerning what is a decoration for Valor in combat to support PTSD claims filed due to combat. The decorations on the below list are the only decorations recognized for Valor in combat. If the Veteran has one of these decorations, he (or she) does not need a diagnosis of PTSD, as exposure to combat is conceded by the VA. They only need to complete VA form 21-0781 detailing stressful incidences to the best of their ability, and provide a “Stressor Statement” detailing the symptoms they’re experiencing (see attached list). There can be other acceptable evidence in the form of official Unit Records, Diaries and Ship’s Deck Logs on occasion.

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VA PTSD EVALUATION CRITERIA 13 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 13th June 2008

Per 38 CFR DC 9440 the evaluation criteria for chronic adjustment disorder and General Rating Formula for mental disorders is:

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GI BILL UPDATE 12 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 12th June 2008

On 15 MAY, the House approved a war-funding bill H.R.2642 without any funding for the war after the Democratic leadership had stated that they would allow only 3 Amendments to be considered splitting the bill into 3 parts: War funding, policy provisions and domestic spending. The bill included provisions, which Bush announced he would veto, that would require withdrawal of troops to begin 30 days after it was signed into law and a non-binding goal of total removal in 18 months. So without the ability to propose Amendments, the funding issue failed on a 141-to-149 vote with 132 Republicans voting “present,” holding back their support to protest against domestic-spending items Democrats added to the must-pass legislation. While there’s no war funding, the legislation does contain a domestic spending package including:

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NDAA 2009 UPDATE 11 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 11th June 2008

Sometime in June, the full Senate will be considering Defense Authorization Bill (S.2787) amendments on a variety of issues close to the hearts of the military community. These include:

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NDAA 2009 UPDATE 10 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 10th June 2008

On 14 MAY the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) completed action on H.R.5658, the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, and reported the bill to the full House for further consideration. Subsequently, on 22 MAY by a vote of 384-23, the House approved H.R. 5658 the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It may appears, on first look that the bill sent to the House floor by the HASC rejected the Pentagon and Task Force plan to steeply raise Tricare fees and prescription costs. However, unlike the Senate’s rejection of higher fees, there’s a serious wrinkle in the HASC version. Instead of outright rejecting the Pentagon plan, Personnel Subcommittee Chairwoman Susan Davis (D-CA) decided that retirees could help cover the costs of Tricare by absorbing a one month, one percent reduction in their COLAs. In other words, Chairwomen Davis would have retirees pay for their Tricare benefits from their retirement pocket instead of their healthcare pocket. Subcommittee Ranking Member John McHugh (R-NY) objected to the plan and said he would find a more palatable alternative. According Tom Philpott’s Military Update column, Subcommittee Chairwomen Davis “shrugged off McHugh’s criticism, saying difficult choices had to be made.” NAUS Memo to House Members: Here’s a “less difficult” choice for our U.S. Congress: how ’bout getting your priorities straight. End “free health care for illegal immigrants” and keep the promise made to Americans who gave a lifetime to military service defending our country and our way of life.

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