Kaua‘i Veterans Corner

Welcome home soldiers parade

The returning Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers will be honored with a welcome home parade on Saturday. The parade will start at 10 a.m. from the historic County Building, and end at Vidinha Stadium. Leading the parade will be Gov. Linda Lingle, Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste, and state Department of Defense Adjutant Gen. Robert G.F. Lee. Other participants include high-school bands, JROTC members, veterans and the honorees, the returning soldiers of Company A.

Veterans are asked to assemble at the historic County Building no later than 9:15 a.m., and if a member, wearing the shirt of his or her respective organization. There will not be any vehicles for non-walking veterans, but they are encouraged to join the parade participants in a specially-roped-off area at Vidinha Stadium.

VA medical priority groups

There are eight priority groups for those seeking VA medical care. Each month, a medical-priority group will be featured. Individuals in Group 8 are those veterans with income and/or net worth above both the VA Means Test and the Geographic Means Test thresholds. This determination can be made by completing an application form at CBOC. Veterans in Priority Group 8 are the only ones ineligible to receive medical care, with one exception. Those who enrolled prior to Jan. 16, 2003, and remained enrolled, are eligible for continued care.   

VA versus TRICARE health benefits

There is a distinct difference between the two healthcare benefits available for veterans. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical-care facilities are for all veterans, and there are eight medical-priority categories. Medical services are provided at VA facilities. Patients may be referred to civilian facilities for specialty care. On Kaua‘i, medical services are provided by the Kauai Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), located at 3367 Kuhio Hwy., Lihu‘e. TRICARE is a medical plan available to military retirees, their dependents, and for certain active-duty personnel. This is similar to medical coverage provided by an employer. For military retirees, this is a lifetime benefit, and includes prescription-drug coverage. The medical facilities will process claims for reimbursement. Personnel must be enrolled in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System). DEERS is a computerized database of those who are entitled under the law to TRICARE benefits. Active-duty and retired service members are automatically registered in DEERS, but they must register their family members. Retail network pharmacies check TRICARE eligibility through DEERS.

TRICARE/VA prescription costs

Prescription costs under the TRICARE program are based on three tiers. The first tier (formulary generics) is $3 for a 30-day supply. If purchased through a TRICARE mail-order location, then the cost will be $3 for a 90-day supply. Medications for the second tier (formulary brand names) are $9. Medications for the third tier (non-formulary) require a $22 co-payment. Co-payments may be higher at non-network retail pharmacies. Individuals on third-tier medications may wish to consult with their physicians on changing to a first- or second-tier alternative. Basically, co-payments under the VA system are $8 for a 30-day supply.

Seeking WWII Merchant Marines

Former Merchant Marine members who served from Dec. 1, 1940, through Dec. 31, 1946, are asked to support members of the Just Compensation Committee (JCC) in their efforts to amend the United States Code and the Social Security Act. The proposed legislation, in both the House and Senate, will provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States Merchant Marines or with the Army and Naval Transport Services during World War II. Veterans are asked to write their congressional delegates to support House bill HR23 and Senate bill S1272. In support of this cause, donations can be sent to JCC, PO Box 1705, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.  For more information, contact Herb Case at 742-1817.

Scholarship for spouses

Members of the National Military Family Association (NMFA) award scholarships to the spouses of uniformed service members (including the National Guard, reserves and retirees). The scholarships are normally in the amount of $1000, and may be used to obtain professional certification or post-secondary education. Applications must be submitted by April 15. For added information, contact the NMFA toll-free at 1-800-260-0218, or visit the Web site at families@nmfa.org.

Johnny Rabasa, a Hanama‘ulu resident and Kaua‘i High School graduate, served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a command sergeant major. He served in Vietnam.

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