RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

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VA FRAUD UPDATE May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

A federal grand jury has indicted an Edmond OK man on making false claims about injuries and awards while serving in the Vietnam War. James Hull 66, faces three counts of using false documents and one count of falsely receiving a military medal. Charges arose from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Division. Hull is accused of signing and submitting fraudulent forms in MAR 05 and MAR 06 to the Veterans Administration to support his claims for disabilities that happened as a result of combat in Vietnam. According to court documents, Hull also submitted fraudulent citations for a Silver Star and Meritorious Service Medal he claimed he received as a result of his military service in Vietnam between 1964 and 1965. An investigation revealed that Hull was assigned to military units in the Republic of turkey, Fort Walters, Texas, and San Francisco during the times he claimed to be in Vietnam, according to court documents. [Source: NewsOK.com article 22 Apr 08 ++]

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MOBILIZED RESERVE April 23 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

The Army, Air Force and Marine Corps announced the current number of reservists on active duty as of 23APR 08 in support of the partial mobilization. The net collective result is 4,257 more reservists mobilized than last reported in the Bulletin for 26 MAR 08. At any given time, services may mobilize some units and individuals while demobilizing others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty in support of the partial mobilization of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 79,049; Navy Reserve, 5,211; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 9,554; Marine Corps Reserve, 8,496; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 347. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been mobilized to 102,657, including both units and individual augmentees. A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel, who are currently mobilized, can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2008/d20080423ngr.pdf . [Source: DoD News Release 196-08 12 Mar 08 ++]

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TRICARE/CHAMPUS FRAUD UPDATE 2 – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

The clinic where Dr. Alberto Marzan allegedly played his role in a $100 million swindle of the U.S. military’s health insurance program sits abandoned, along with the adjacent family home. But a legacy remains, with a U.S. Navy retiree saying scams are still rife even after a federal judge ordered a Philippines company to pay back the money it skimmed. Marzan, one of the longest-wanted fugitives in the probe, recruited dozens of military retirees to falsely claim they and their relatives were confined at his clinic and received expensive medical services, U.S. prosecutors say. He made fraudulent claims of $1.5 million to the program and was paid more than $1 million, prosecutors add. In return, he typically paid kickbacks to the retirees. A U.S. federal grand jury returned a 35-count indictment against Marzan in 1999, but he has apparently remained free in the Philippines after vanishing from Moncada RP. Neighbors, village leaders, police and former co-workers in the Moncada town hall, where he used to sit as councilor, say the doctor’s family slipped out of town more than three years ago and remains underground. Claro de Castro, head of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Interpol division, said his office has arrest warrants for a doctor and a beneficiary. But he refused to identify them or say if the wanted doctor was Marzan because agents are still working on the case.

Jerry Minor, a Navy retiree and administrator of Lifeline Medical Center – a Tricare-accredited clinic in western Olongapo city near the former U.S.-run Subic Naval Base – said many accredited doctors and clinics in the city continue to overprice their services. Retirees are usually lured into the scheme because the clinics do not charge them the required 25% share of the cost, instead sending the whole bill to Tricare, Minor said. One clinic blacklisted by Tricare for fraudulent claims simply changed its name and is back in business, he told The Associated Press in an interview 25 APR. Minor said a retiree’s wife who was convinced by a clinic four years ago to sign a stack of blank claim forms – one is filled out every time a beneficiary goes to a clinic – was shocked to find out last December that several women were collecting on claims using her details. "It was like signing a blank check," he added. He said he tried to find out for himself about the overpricing by going to a doctor, who told him he would be charged 850 pesos ($20) for a 15-minute consultation. The price was higher than the 500 peso ($12) fee per consultation under Tricare regulations. Minor said when he brought up his share of the cost, the doctor told him, "Don’t worry about it, you pay nothing. Tricare does." He said he has reported the anomalies to Tricare officials but the scams continue.

Vicky Gross, a retiree’s widow who used to work for Health Visions, said many doctors and clinics don’t charge beneficiaries their share of costs but she did not know what they were charging to Tricare. Austin Camacho, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Tricare Management Activity, said the program has implemented new controls to combat fraud in the Philippines in recent years. Among other things, the program looks for patterns of aberrant practices and reviews claims that appear excessive. In 2001-07, the program refused to pay $288 million in fraudulent or excessive claims from the country, he said. Still, he said it is hard to catch all fraud overseas and Tricare does not exclude providers "without sufficient evidence. This can be difficult in an environment where law enforcement resources are limited, providers are not always cooperative and are not subject to the U.S. government’s subpoena power," he said. Rufino Bayao Jr., a Navy retiree who served a 1.5-year U.S. prison term and three years of probation for taking part in the scam with Marzan, advises retirees not to fall for the bait. "If they are caught, they will also suffer," he told AP in his home in northern Tayug town. "It’s not worth it." Aside from the prison term, Buyao is having more than a third of his $800 monthly pension deducted to pay for $132,390 in restitution that a U.S. court ordered him to pay. He says he got only 200,000 pesos ($4,760) from Marzan for signing false claims, with much of the money going for drinking binges. [Source: Military.com AP article 28 apr 08 ++]

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GI BILL UPDATE – May 1, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

A Republican GI Bill plan, the Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment through Education Act, with many features attractive to active-duty service members and their families was unveiled 22 APR. No bill number has been assigned to date. It is their effort to show that it’s not just Democrats who want to improve veterans’ education benefits through their Post-9/11 Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act S.22. The Republican plan includes increases in basic benefits, a new book allowance, broad rights to transfer unused benefits to family members, and the ability to use veterans’ benefits to pay off existing student loans. It also would extend GI Bill benefits to service academy and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship graduates, who are currently ineligible for payments, and would allow about 5,000 people who entered active duty between 1977 and 1985 to sign up for the benefits plan from which they were excluded. The package is intended as an alternative to a GI Bill plan introduced last year by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) that has the support of most House and Senate members. It also helps Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ) Republican presidential candidate and ranking minority party member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has faced increasing pressure from veterans’ groups for not supporting Webb’s bill, S.22 which now has 57 cosponsors.

Under the Republican bill active-duty members, monthly GI Bill benefits would rise 1 OCT to $1,500, up from the current $1,101, enough to cover the average cost of a four-year public college including room, board, tuition and fees, said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee. Another $500 annual payment would help cover the cost of books and supplies. Asked if he thought a living stipend was needed in addition to the basic benefit, Graham said room and board is factored into the cost. “We don’t have beer money included,” he said. That is less than what Webb proposes in his bill S.22, which would provide GI Bill benefits plus a living stipend in amounts varying by state. Webb proposed basic benefits that matched college tuition and fees, up to a maximum payment set by the most expensive four-year public college in a state. The monthly living expense proposed by Webb would match the military’s basic allowance for housing for an E-5 with dependents in the area of the school being attended, estimated to be $1,000 a month or more. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and another co-sponsors of the new bill, said Webb’s plan could take a year or more to implement because of the difficulty in setting a benefits cap for each state, and would create inequities between states. Burr said increases called for by the Republican bill would take effect this year, and veterans would get the same payment no matter where they went to school.

Patrick Campbell of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans said the provisions noted by Burr are not necessarily advantages. Basing payments on average tuitions, Campbell said, “means, by definition, that half of the people are not going to be paid enough to cover the cost of their college education. That is why I still prefer Webb’s bill.” The Pentagon has opposed Webb’s bill, arguing that it would encourage people to get out of the military to use the benefits. Defense officials do not want GI Bill benefits to be more than about $1,500 per month. In response to military concerns, the Republican bill promises to phase in additional increases for those who have served 12 or more years on active duty. Monthly benefits would increase by $150 in 2009, $150 in 2010 and $200 in 2011, capping at $2,000. Benefits for reservists also would increase to $1,200 a month for people who have been mobilized since 11 SEP 01, a jump from the current $880. Benefits for other Guard and reserve members would increase to $634 a month, double the current rate. Recognizing that veterans’ benefits are insufficient to pay for every school, the bill includes a provision encouraging colleges and universities to forgive loans accumulated by veterans. Schools can receive $1,000 for forgiving 25% of a veterans’ debt, $2,000 for forgiving 50% of debt and $3,000 for forgiving 100% of debt, Graham said. The proposal allowing transfer of GI Bill benefits to family members would be a retention boost for active, Guard and reserve forces, Graham said. It would allow those who have served six years to transfer 18 months of GI Bill benefits to a spouse or child, and allow 36 months of GI Bill benefits to be shared after 12 years of service.

While the Republican bill is more generous than the plan envisioned by the Pentagon earlier this year, when President Bush endorsed the idea of sharing veterans’ educational benefits with family members, Graham said he did not expect administration opposition. Asked about the Pentagon view, Graham said he had spoken with defense officials who “agreed” to the proposal but quickly amended that to say, “Well, I think they are going to agree.” The bill does meet the basic limitations on payments spelled out last week by defense officials in testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The Republican bill has three features not included in Webb’s proposal:

• Service academy graduates and Senior ROTC graduates who are excluded from the current GI Bill plan, unless they earned benefits through prior enlisted service, would get full benefits, including transfer rights, if they serve in uniform for five years beyond their initial obligation.

• About 5,000 active-duty members who entered service between 1977 and 1985, when the only education benefits plan available was the low-paying Veterans Education Assistance Program, or VEAP, would be allowed to enroll in the GI Bill. They would have to pay a $2,700 contribution, more than the $1,200 payment for other service members. They would also be limited to using the benefits only to pay for a bachelor’s degree and would not have the option of transferring benefits to family members. The enrollment option would be available to anyone still on active duty or to those who were on active duty on 11 SEP 01, who have since retired.

• GI Bill benefits could be used by enrolled active-duty members to pay off federal student loans, which is not currently allowed. State or private loans would not be covered. Up to $6,000 per year could be repaid. The payments would reduce a member’s total GI bill benefits, under rules to be determined, to ensure no one is paid more than other GI Bill users. Republican aides said this feature would be another way to encourage people to remain on active duty.

Webb spokeswoman Kimberly Hunter said the Republican bill seems to focus “on educational benefits for career military officers while ignoring the 75% of service members that choose not to pursue a career in the military.” Hunter said. “S.22 is an affirmative readjustment benefit designed to transition post-9/11 veterans into civilian life, which is the same benefit given to the World War II vets. Sen. Webb has consistently said that the military does a fine job at managing its career force, but really fails to take care of their people once they leave the military. The Republican bill follows that same philosophy. As veterans’ unemployment continues to rise and recruitment continues to fall, we need affirmative programs that reward active-duty service, transition veterans into civilian life and target new pools of potential recruits.” [Source: NavyTimes Rick Maze article 23 Apr 08 ++]

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FILIPINO VET INEQUITIES UPDATE – May 1, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

On 24 APR, the Senate passed S .1315 the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act (companion bill of H.R.760), which would authorize additional wounded warrior benefits including a new term life insurance program for disabled veterans. contains various measures to help veterans. One of the provisions would provide benefits to Filipino veterans who fought along side U.S. forces in World War II including non-citizens living outside the US in part by barring recent court-directed expansion of VA compensation to certain additional categories of disabled US veteran. Ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) offered an amendment, which was defeated, which would strip out benefits for those Filipino veterans that had not been injured in the line of duty. The House has not yet completed action on its bill, HR 760, which contains even more generous benefits for Filipino veterans of WWII. The Senate bill which contains the below provisions now goes back to the House where further attempts to change or eliminate this part of the bill are expected. For a complete listing of S. 1315 provisions, refer to the Thomas website at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.01315:

• Provide retroactive traumatic injury coverage under SGLI for qualifying injuries incurred between October 7, 2001 and December 1, 2005

• Authorize SGLI coverage for members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)

• Raise the VA home mortgage life insurance rates to $200,000 by 2012

• Accelerate award of special adaptive housing benefits to certain currently serving servicemembers (including burn victims) likely to be released from active duty due to the extent of their disabilities.

• Increase supplemental burial benefits to $2100 in the case of a service-connected death and $900 for a non-service connected death.

• Allow troops called to active duty for not less than 90 days to cancel or suspend their cell phone contracts without incurring early termination or reactivation fees.

• Increase the maximum amount of supplemental Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance from $20,000 to $30,000.

• Expand eligibility for home improvement and structural alteration assistance to include permanently disabled servicemembers.

• Provide a specially-adapted housing grant to veterans and qualified servicemembers with severe burn injuries.

• Extend authority of the VA to assist individuals living temporarily in residences owned by family members.

• Provide automobile and adaptive equipment assistance to disabled veterans and servicemembers with severe burn injuries.

• Increase to $445 from the current $300 allowance for veteran burial plots.

• Provide a presumption of service-connection for osteoporosis for former POWs with post-traumatic stress disorder.

• Increase cost-of-living for additional dependency and indemnity compensation paid to certain surviving spouses with minor dependent children.

• Expand retroactive traumatic injury protection under SGLI (TSGLI) to include all servicemembers, not just those injured in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

[Source: NAUS Weekly Update & MOAA Leg Up 25 Apr 08 ++]

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VA RETRO PAY PROJECT UPDATE – May 1, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

In OCT 06, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) initiated the process of providing retroactive compensation for more than 133,000 disabled recipients of either Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) or Concurrent Retired Disability Payment (CRDP) and VA compensation. Since then, more than 85,000 additional retirees have been identified by the VA as potentially eligible for retroactive payment. As of April 20, DFAS reported that nearly 179,000 accounts have been processed, with approximately 39,000 remaining. Of those, more than 16,000 are new cases. But about 23,000 of the most complicated cases from the originally identified group are still being worked. The joint process gives priority to the original cases, but those remaining require multiple laborious computations. In many cases, these can only be done by hand, because the individuals have had several VA rating changes and have switched back and forth between CRDP and CRSC payments with annual changes in the relative value of the two programs – due to the rating changes or the ramp-up of CRDP payments, or both.

DFAS has reported that by 31 MAY, it will complete its review of the initial 133,000 files of disabled retirees The number of contractors hired and trained to work the files has climbed to 233 from 51 since DEC 07. So far, DFAS and the Department of Veterans Affairs have paid a combined $308 million in back payments to disabled military retirees. Both continue to identify new retirees that may be eligible for retroactive compensation and are working to developing automated changes that will expedite that process. On a separate topic, medical retirees with less than 20 years of service will soon be able to have their CRSC applications adjudicated for disabilities incurred as a result of combat or combat related events. DoD expects to release guidance to the military services by the end of this month or in early May. MOAA will keep you informed as soon as the guidance is published. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update & MOAA Leg Up 25 Apr 08 ++]

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OLONGAPO CITY Embassy Outreach January 25, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 17th January 2008

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

U.S. Embassy representatives from the American Citizen Services, Non- Immigrant Visa, and Immigrant Visa Units of the Consular Section; Department of Homeland Security; Social Security Administration; and the Joint US Military Assistance Group will be in:

OLONGAPO CITY

Friday, January 25, 2008

8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

G/F, Museum Chinese Restaurant

Legenda Hotel and Casino

Waterfront Road, Subic Bay Freeport

Olongapo City

American Citizen Services personnel will answer questions and:

Accept applications for Passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad Provide information on registering with the Embassy Perform notaries and affidavits of legal capacity to marry in the Philippines

Non-Immigrant Visa personnel will answer questions:

(Cannot entertain case/application specific inquiries)

Regarding visa application process

Immigrant Visa personnel will answer questions and:

Provide instructions for applying for U.S. Immigrant status Field questions related to existing immigrant visa applications

Department of Homeland Security personnel will answer questions and:

Accept DHS applications/petitions

Provide instructions for filing such applications/petitions Distribute DHS forms and guidelines regarding DHS applications/petitions Provide information related to Immigration matters

Social Security Administration will answer questions and:

Discuss basic entitlement requirements for the different Social Security benefits; Develop claims for benefits; Process Social Security number applications; Resolve Post-Entitlement cases, e.g., Change of Address, Report of Death, Medicare enrollment, Direct Deposit enrollment, Non-receipt of benefits, etc.

TRICARE and DEERS personnel of the Joint US Military Assistance Group

(JUSMAG) will answer questions: (MILITARY ID CARDS CANNOT BE ISSUED DURING THE OUTREACH)

Discuss basic application process and entitlement requirements for military ID cards; and Discuss Tricare benefits.

SCHEDULE OF FEES

PASSPORT APPLICATION FEES

Adult (16 and above) Passport Application fee: $97 Minor (under 16) Passport Application fee: $82 Passport Renewal fee (minor) $82

(adult) $67

Additional Passport Pages: no fee

Consular Report of Birth Abroad: $65

NOTARIALS

Affidavit

(Subscribed and Sworn To) $30

Extra Copy

Other doc. related to the same transaction $20

Acknowledgment of Signature $30

Voting registration card or absentee ballot no fee Savings Bonds no fee

Affidavit of Legal Capacity to Marry $30

Report of Death of an American Citizen no fee Selective Service Registration no fee

Fees will only be accepted in U.S. dollars. Must have exact amount, no change will be available.

Non-Immigrant Visa matters cannot be handled at the Outreach. All inquiries regarding Non-Immigrant Visas must be made at the U.S.

Embassy in

Manila or call: 1-909-101-7878

Additional information can be obtained prior to the visit by

contacting:

American Citizen Services Section of the American Embassy in Manila

(02) 301-2000 ext. 2246

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Military/Dependent ID Cards

Posted by Service Officer on 15th January 2008

Military/Dependent ID Cards   

Effective 1 January 2008:  The DEERS/RAPIDS ID Card workstation located at the Social Security and Veteran s Affairs section, Window 3, will be open on a first come, first served basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please come to Window 3 and ask for a number, you may then have a seat and wait to be called. All questions may be directed to (63) (2) 524-2227 on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 8a.m. and 3p.m. Calls placed outside of these days and times will not be entertained. Hours of operation are as follows:
Mondays

Closed
Tuesdays
Open 8:00a.m. to 3:00p.m.
Wednesdays
Closed
Thursdays
Open 8:00a.m. to 3:00p.m.
Fridays
Closed

The workstation will be closed on all weekends and U.S. and Philippine federal holidays.

The following personnel are eligible for DOD ID Cards:
Active duty members, retired members, and members of the Reserve components not on active duty in excess of 30 days.  
Retired Reserve members who have reached their 60th birthday. 
Family members of military sponsors on active duty for more than 30 consecutive days. 
Family members of Ready Reserve (Selected, Individual and Standby Reservists) 
Family members of Retired Reservists, who have qualified for retired pay at age 60, yet have not reached age 60.      
Un-remarried or unmarried former spouses previously enrolled in DEERS.
Medal of Honor recipients and their eligible family members.  
One hundred percent Disabled American Veterans* (DAVs) and their family members.      
Former members having reached age 60 and in receipt of retired pay for non-regular service, and their family members. 
Also eligible are survivors of the following: 
Active duty members.  
Retired with pay members.     
Reserve members on active or inactive duty.   
Retired reserve members who qualify for pay at age 60 but die before reaching age 60. 
One hundred percent DAVs*     
Medal of Honor Recipients.    
*Please note that DAVs MUST HAVE A COMBINED RATING OF 100% TO BE ELIGIBLE. DAVs receiving 100% because of unemployable status but whose combined rating falls below 100% are NOT eligible. No exceptions will be made.
In order for dependents to receive an ID card the sponsor must be present, if not, the dependent must meet one of the following conditions:   
                The dependent must bring along an original DD Form 1172 signed by the sponsor and notarized from a DEERS/RAPIDS workstation validating them as a dependent, along with a valid national ID (such as a Filipina/US passport, driver s license, NBI report, voter s card, etc.) 
- OR –
                The dependent must bring along a valid Power of Attorney notarized by a US notary which gives her the power to act on the sponsor s behalf, along with a valid national ID as stated above.   
- OR –
                If the sponsor is deceased, the un-remarried spouse or unmarried former spouse may act on their own behalf.   
It is advised that they should bring all original and/or certified copies of documentation that verifies their relationship with the sponsor such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and previous DOD ID cards. Photocopies will not be accepted.  
V/R
SPC Babcock, Jeremy L
DEERS/ADMIN/SUPPLY
JUSMAG – Philippines
United States Embassy
1201 Roxas Blvd., Ermita
Manila, Philippines

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Down For Maintenance

Posted by Service Officer on 31st August 2007

Down For Maintenance RAO Davao will be back up soon!

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