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VA Honolulu Benefits Program

Veterans can now speak directly via video conference with a VA benefits adviser in Honolulu to ask questions and discuss concerns involving their benefit claims.

To participate, first schedule an appointment by emailing a request to pctc.vbahon@va.gov (Veterans may use their own email account to correspond directly with VA).

Once the request is received, the VA will schedule an appointment with the veteran. Appointments will be made five days in advance for a one-hour time slot and will only be scheduled from 8 to 11 a.m. weekdays.

On the day of the appointment, the veteran simply shows up at the CBOC with any pertinent documents and a VA staff member will guide him/her to the designated room for the video-conference. Assistance will also be provided with faxing any additional documents to VA Honolulu.

For additional assistance, please visit the VA’s Vet Center on Kuhio Highway near Fish Express or stop by the Kauai Office of Veterans Services collocated within the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway near the airport.

DoD announces new grooming standard, religious expression policy:

A clean shave and a boot camp buzz cut are no longer mandatory for those whose religion grooming practices differ from those traditionally required by the U.S. military.

As required by Congress, the Pentagon recently announced that beards, turbans, religious body art and other previously off-limits manifestations of spiritual devotion now can be allowed by commanders throughout the military on a case-by-case basis.

The policy also OKs certain other religious practices not related to appearance. This new law comes on the heels of the recent decision to permit open service to gays in the military and allowing benefits for same-sex spouses and provides some assurances that these individuals would be permitted to express their faith’s teachings on homosexuality.

While the new policy has its limits, it is designed to allow troops free expression of their religion, as required by the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

TFL Rx changes in March

Beginning March 15, TriCare For Life (TFL) beneficiaries will be required to fill maintenance medication prescriptions refills through the TRICARE Home Delivery (mail-order) pharmacy system. The new requirement stems from the FY 2013 defense authorization bill.

In a bipartisan compromise to avoid large, across-the-board TRICARE pharmacy copay increases, Congress included a mandatory mail-order pilot program for TFL beneficiaries to offset the cost.

Mail-order pharmacy delivery lowers costs for both beneficiaries and DoD. (Source:  http://www.moaa.org/Main_Menu/Take_Action/Top_Issues/Enjoying_Retirement/Health_Care/TFL

Upcoming veterans activities

• Memorial Day Observance, 10:30 a.m. to noon, May 26 Veterans Cemetery

• Independence Day Celebration, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 4, Kauai Veterans Center

• Korean War Veterans Recognition, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. July 4

Info: Aida Cruz at 246-1135.

Tony Elliott is Kauai Office of Veterans’ Services (Questions: 241-3348).

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