Retiree & Veteran Affairs News 31 October 2012 

10/31/2012 

 

2013 COLA Military Retirees and Vets

The 2013 cost-of-living adjustment for military retired pay, SBP annuities,   Social Security checks, and VA disability and survivor benefits will be 1.7   percent. The COLA will go into effect on December 1, 2012. The January check   will be the first to reflect the increase. Retirees who left the military in   2012 and those who took the REDUX retirement package will not see the full 1.7 percent increase next year.

TRICARE Reserve Payment Plans to Change

TRICARE will stop taking premium payments by mail for the TRICARE Reserve Select and Tricare Retired Reserve programs at the end of the year. Starting Jan. 1, TRICARE will accept only electronic funds transfers or credit and debit cards for the monthly payments. TRICARE is urging beneficiaries to verify that their banks make EFT payments or set up a recurring card payment. The Defense Manpower Data Center will notify affected beneficiaries by email. New beneficiaries will be notified in their welcome packages. Failure to pay premiums on time could result in a 12-month lockout.

Depression, Anxiety and PTSD

Depression and anxiety are flip sides of the same coin because they often   occur simultaneously. Loss of control causes anxiety for the post-traumatic   stress disorder (PTSD) sufferer. On the flip side, depression results from not   being able to regain that control. People with PTSD feel detached or   disconnected from friends and family. They find little pleasure in activities   they once enjoyed. They may even have difficulty experiencing positive emotions   such as joy and happiness. Isolation develops as they avoid engaging,   particularly in activities that might trigger memories of the traumatic event or   event that triggered the PTSD. Get help on the Military OneSource website. If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call the Military Crisis Line 24/7 at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

Featured Job: AllState Hiring Veterans

At Allstate, we celebrate creative problem solving, full engagement and working together to keep all people in Good Hands(R), and we recognize our military veterans as men and women who share this vision. The sacrifices you've made for our country demonstrate your level of commitment, resourcefulness and integrity -- invaluable characteristics that we seek in new talent

Fed to End Paper Pay Checks

In an effort to save about $2 million in printing costs and comply with new Treasury Department mandates, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will longer offer military members, military retirees and annuitants, and federal civilian employees the option of getting paid by paper check. The Treasury Department has set March 1, 2013, as the date all federal government payments should be delivered by electronic funds transfer methods such as direct deposit. It is estimated that the U.S. government spends about $130 million each year to print and mail paper checks.

Spouses of Heroes Education Act

The Spouses of Heroes Education Act S.1852) would amend the Post-9/11 GI Bill to include spousal eligibility for the Fry Scholarship. Under this legislation, spouses of these service members could receive the full cost of public, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance. Read more.

Army Addresses Ft Meade Exposure Risks

The U.S. Army at Fort Meade, Maryland is making available the Records of Decision (ROD) for the former pesticide shop and the former mortar range at Fort Meade. The ROD documents the Army's plans for addressing risk posed by munitions and explosives of concern at the site. Copies of the ROD are available at the Fort Meade Environmental Management System website at www.ftmeade.army.mil/environment/ -- click the links for Clean-up Program, Program Sites and then the Pesticide Shop or Former Mortar Range links. For additional project information, visit Fort Meade's Environmental Management System website at www.ftmeade.army.mil/environment/ or call the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office at 301-677-1361.

AAFES Halloween Treasure Hunt

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is sponsoring the "Halloween Treasure Hunt Sweepstakes," which will send Exchange patrons on a "spooktacular" scavenger hunt throughout the store. Using a treasure map featured in the Exchange sales flyer or from the store, shoppers can use the map to hunt for clues within the Exchange. After collecting all five clues, treasure hunters can visit the Patriot Family Connection webpage at shopmyexchange.com/patriotfamily for official rules and to enter their clues. The contest ends at midnight on Oct. 31, and no purchase is necessary to enter. For more information, visit your local Exchange.

Holidays at the Exchange

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is ready to help shoppers this holiday season. The Exchange recently released its annual Toybook Exchange shopping guide, which features this year's most popular gifts. Toybook items can be ordered online at shopmyexchange.com or shoppers may visit their local Exchange to enjoy selection, value and savings. Online purchases made with the Military Star Card get free shipping on orders of $49 or more. In-store shoppers can use the fee-free holiday layaway now through December

TRICARE Prime Cuts Coming Next Year to Some Areas

The Army Times is reporting that TRICARE beneficiaries in Iowa; Minnesota; Oregon; Reno, Nev.; and Springfield, Mo., will no longer be able to enroll in TRICARE Prime as of April 1 next year, although the Pentagon will not confirm the report. Active duty personnel and their families will not be affected nor will beneficiaries who live in an area where there is a military treatment facility. It is estimated this could impact as many as 30,000 TRICARE Prime enrollees living in those areas.

The cuts in Prime are coming because those areas lie outside the areas that will be covered by a new TRICARE regional contract. There are two exceptions according to the report: current Prime enrollees who live within 100 miles of an available primary care manager and sign an access waiver; and new enrollees outside the Prime service area if there is network capacity and the primary care manager is less than 100 miles from where the beneficiary lives.

The Times report says the move will save a great deal of money for the Pentagon because it cuts administration overhead and shifts more of the costs to beneficiaries. This, of course, is what the Pentagon has had in mind for the last several years when it has tried to cut health care benefits and make beneficiaries pay more and more of the costs of their health care.

The report further says that this move by the Pentagon has been in the works since 2007 but was delayed because of contract disputes. It also says that there are concerns other regions may see the same thing happen.

According to the Times report:

“Under the changes that will start April 1, as many as 170,000 Prime enrollees across all three regions eventually may have to drive longer distances to see a Prime provider or switch to Tricare Standard, which has no enrollment fees but carries greater out-of-pocket costs:

• Cost shares are 20 percent for active-duty family members and 25 percent for retirees and other eligible beneficiaries.

• Annual deductibles for outpatient care are $50 for an individual and $100 for a family for active-duty members in paygrades E-4 and below, and $150 for an individual and $300 for a family for all others.

• The annual catastrophic cap — the maximum health care costs a beneficiary must pay in any one fiscal year — is $1,000 for active-duty families and $3,000 for retirees.”

We at TREA think these cuts in health care benefits are outrageous and we will continue to fight to stop the proposals that have been put forth by the Pentagon that would make even more dramatic cuts to your promised and earned military benefits.

Commissary Rewards Card Now Available Worldwide

The Defense Commissary Agency has recently announced that its new Commissary Rewards Card is now available at all commissaries.

The card, a joint effort with grocery industry partners to help customers save even more on their commissary purchases, was made available incrementally in all stores after completion of testing that began Aug. 8.

"By using this card, our customers can access digital coupons and redeem them in any military commissary," said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph Jeu. "This effort is about leveraging technology to reward our customers for using their commissary benefit."

The card launched with a feature allowing customers to save time and money by clipping and redeeming coupons digitally. As an introductory offer, customers who pick up their cards by Oct. 24 will have some coupons preloaded to their cards for use in the commissary immediately.

"Since we are required by law to sell at cost, we can't lower our prices any further," explained Marye Carr, DeCA's project manager for the Rewards Card program. "But we saw an opportunity to work with our industry partners to offer rewards, such as digital coupons, that would help customers save even more on their commissary purchases."

Cards are easy to use

The cards are easy to use. Customers simply pick up their cards in-store, then visit DeCA's website to complete registration and load digital coupons to their account. Then, when the card is scanned at the register, the coupons are matched to their purchases and automatically deducted from the balance owed.

Customers have the option of printing off a list of their coupons before making the trip to the commissary to help them keep track of the savings available to them in the store. New offers will typically be posted online every two to three weeks.

As an incentive, customers who register their card by Oct. 24 also have the opportunity to enter the 2012 Commissary Rewards Card "Home for the Holidays Sweepstakes" sponsored by Dr Pepper-Snapple. This is a chance to win round-trip airline tickets for four to anywhere in the United States, lodging in a hotel room that accommodates four for six days and five nights, and $1,000 spending money. The sweepstakes entry form appears at the end of the online registration process.

Digital coupons, just like their paper counterparts, have expiration dates and other terms and conditions that must be followed for redemption. However, unlike paper coupons, digital coupons cannot be accepted for up to six months after expiration overseas. That's because these coupons are distributed digitally and are instantly available to all customers worldwide, so overseas customers don't need extra time to use them. When a coupon expires, it will disappear from the customer's account.

Also, DeCA's coupon policy limits coupons to one per purchase, so these digital coupons cannot be combined with manufacturer coupons, including paper coupons and military or commissary coupons, for the same item or set of items.

Digital couponing is just the first step for the Commissary Rewards Card. DeCA is partnering with its industry and military resale partners to identify additional rewards for cardholders, such as targeted savings based on a customer's specific usage, alerting customers to sales promotions available at their local stores, and rewarding consistent shoppers with specific incentives.

"Long-term, we expect that the Commissary Rewards Card will be more than just a digital couponing card," Carr said. "We are working to develop other features to reward customers for using their commissary benefit."

For more information about the card, go to the Commissary Rewards Card FAQ page. Help is also available through the customer service hotline at 855-829-6219 or through email at commissarysupport@inmar.com.

Commissary Benefit Threatened by Looming Budget Cuts

Another military benefit is being threatened by the “sequester” (those budget cuts that are scheduled to go into effect January 2 of next year unless Congress changes the law). Half of the cuts are scheduled to come from the Defense Department budget and among other things, commissaries could take a major blow.

According to the Armed Forces Marketing Council, the association that represents manufacturers of products sold in commissaries, the cuts could force commissary store hours to be drastically shortened because of cutbacks in the number of staff working in each commissary. It is even possible some commissaries could be closed in areas where posts and bases are co-located.

Exchanges will not be affected because they are self-sustaining through the profits they generate, but the commissaries rely on a $1.4 billion subsidy from Congress each year. This is what allows commissary users to save about 30 percent on the grocery purchases.

Some members of Congress have been working on legislation to try and save the Defense budget from the sequestration, but the issue must be dealt with after the elections. What finally happens will most likely depend a great deal upon who wins this November.

TREA urges those who are concerned about the commissary benefit to contact their Senators and Representative and express to them that concern and ask them to support legislation to save the commissaries from these crippling cuts.

In the meantime, we are continuing to lobby in Washington to save the commissaries and the other earned and promised military benefits that have been targeted because of the need to curb federal spending.

The Exchange Partners With “Feds Hire Vets”

As part of an ongoing effort to recruit and hire veterans, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is teaming up with “Feds Hire Vets” to highlight employment opportunities in military and veteran communities.

The vision of the “Feds Hire Vets” is to be the leading source of Federal employment information for our Veterans, transitioning service members, their families, Federal HR professionals and hiring managers. The goal of the initiative is to assist those who have served our country in the military find employment in the Federal Government through consistent, accurate information and useful training, amongst other resources, in ways that inform both the applicant and hiring agency. In addition to the Exchange, employment opportunities through the Defense Commissary Agency, Veterans Canteen Service, Navy Exchange Service Command, Coast Guard Exchange and Marine Corps Community Services are also highlighted on the “Feds Hire Vets” site.

The Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government was signed on November 9, 2009, by President Barak Obama, and establishes the Veterans Employment Initiative. Currently military spouses, dependents, veterans, reserves, and active duty represent 35% of the employees at the Exchange with Veterans exclusively representing 10%.

“We are united in our efforts to ensure veterans and military family members are aware of the great employment and career opportunities to continue serving in our communities that exist in military resale,” said the Exchange’s VP of Career Management Darryl Porter. “This website is one of many strategies to assist the Exchange in the recruitment and employment of Veterans.”

Get Your Prescriptions on Time When Using TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery

TRICARE beneficiaries have several choices to obtain their prescription medications, which include pharmacies at military clinics and hospitals, Pharmacy Home Delivery and more than 57,000 in-network retail pharmacy locations nationwide. Many beneficiaries find that military pharmacies, which fill brand name and generic prescriptions at no cost, are their best option, but you may decide the convenience of Home Delivery is right for you.

If you are using Home Delivery, you will want to do everything you can to ensure your prescriptions are delivered on-time and accurately. More than 1 million prescriptions ship monthly through Home Delivery, but there are times when a prescription can’t be filled and the order must be returned to the beneficiary.

The most common reason your medication cannot be filled is information missing from the prescription, such as a date of birth or address. If required information is missing, Express Scripts Inc., the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, will contact either you or the prescribing physician to try to get the appropriate information to fill your prescription.

Some medications may require prior authorization or approval, or have a limit on the quantity that can be prescribed at one time. To ensure your prescription is filled without a problem, you can call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303, or check out the formulary search tool at pec.ha.osd.mil/formulary_search.php for medication limitations.

It can be frustrating to receive a returned prescription or an “unable to fill” letter. The following are some suggestions to help avoid having a prescription returned.

Ask your physician to send prescriptions electronically to TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery.

If submitting a prescription by mail, make sure the patient’s name, date of birth, mailing address and the sponsor’s Social Security number are written clearly on the back of the prescription.

If you receive a message from Express Scripts about your prescription, or if you don’t receive a prescription you’ve ordered, contact Express Scripts right away to find out what you need to do to get your prescription filled

TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery delivers prescription medications safely and securely right to your door. There is no cost for generic medications, and brand name medications cost only $9 for up to a 90-day supply, only a quarter the cost at a network retail pharmacy. Home Delivery has no shipping costs, and refills are easily ordered online, by phone, regular mail, or mobile app. Home Delivery also offers convenient notifications about order status, refill reminders, and assistance in renewing expired prescriptions.

For more information on TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery visit www.tricare.mil/homedelivery or the Express Scripts website at www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE. Smartphone users can download the Express Rx mobile app for free by going to www.express-scripts.com/mobile or by using services like the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace.

Next Year’s COLA Will Be 1.7%

On Tuesday the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that next year’s Cost-of-living-Adjustment (COLA) will be 1.7% While SSA calculates the COLA to adjust Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) numerous other federal payments are also increased by this amount. This includes military retired pay, SBP, DIC, Disability Payments and more. It will also affect monthly Medicare payments Part B and TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for retirees under the age of 65.

It is better than the recent 3 years when there was no COLA but it is still a small percentage. You can read more of how it is calculated by going to www.socialsecurity.gov/cola

Changes in TRICARE Dental Program

Recent changes in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) have left some military families paying out of pocket. Many local dentists are not part of the new contractor's network, and though they may still "accept TRICARE," they will require a patient to pay beyond normal cost shares. This may result in charging patients the balance between their charges and what the TDP would pay for. Dentists in the TRICARE network are not permitted to do that. Thus, beneficiaries should find out first if their dentist is part of the network. To find a list of providers or address other TRICARE Dental concerns, call the MetLife Dental Customer Contact Service Center at 1-855-638-8371 or visit the MetLife TDP website. Beneficiaries should have their Social Security number and that of their sponsor on-hand before calling or visiting the website.

Big Changes In-Store for Commissaries

Commissary patrons may soon see a huge change in how they shop for groceries. According to an article by Tom Philpott, military families might be ordering groceries online with curbside pickup by this time next year. In addition, a new smart phone app will enable military shoppers to instantly compare commissary and commercial supermarket prices. There is also big news for those stationed near large military installations in area like San Diego, San Antonio and Virginia's Tidewater area, where DeCA will be testing Costco like "warehouse" style commissaries.

VA Health Care Eligibility

Eligibility for VA health care is dependent upon a number of variables, which may influence the final determination of the services for which you qualify. These factors include the nature of a veteran's discharge from military service (e.g., honorable, other than honorable, dishonorable), length of service, VA adjudicated disabilities (commonly referred to as service-connected disabilities), income level, and available VA resources among others. Get a full summary of eligibility on Military.com.

Veterans Wanted: Chevron is Hiring

U.S. veteran talent wanted: You've met important challenges in your military career. Are you ready to apply your skills to new challenges in a career with Chevron? At Chevron, we recognize the value of your commitment to teamwork and service, and we invite you to join us where you can turn your experience and ideas into solutions. Search jobs and learn more on Military.com's Veterans Talent Portal.

AAFES Expanding Online Offerings

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is increasing its online product selection to mirror its biggest main stores, which means military shoppers will soon have greatly expanded online merchandise options. The expanded Exchange Online Store assortment at www.shopmyexchange.com recently launched and added eight brands and 214 items. Brands available at brick and mortar Exchanges can be found by searching by brand name or within a product category at shopmyexchange.com with a layout that helps shoppers find what they want and need more easily. Additionally, products will now be visible prior to log-in with a username and password required only for checkout.

AAFES Accepting OTC Benefit Cards

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is now accepting the Medagate Over the Counter (OTC) benefits card on a worldwide basis. Medagate is a card-based program provided by Medicare and Medicaid Services that enables merchants to accept payment at the register for medicine and medical supplies covered by medical insurance plans. Medagate OTC cards have been issued in ten states with more states expected to participate in 2013. Cardholders can simply bring qualifying items to an Exchange checkout (including Express, Troop Store and Main Store locations) where the Medagate OTC card is swiped to pay for all eligible items. Insurance providers, in conjunction with Medagate, produce a catalog that identifies medicine and medical supplies that qualify for reimbursement coverage/payment.

Vets Warned About More Scams

The Salisbury Post is reporting that Veterans need to be aware of scams involving companies that require payments for processing pension and benefits forms. According to the report, the North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs has become aware of 'pension poachers' targeting veterans through seminars and other veteran outreach events. It is important for all veterans to know that there is no reason for a qualified veteran to pay anyone to process their benefit claims. The VA and several Veterans Service Organizations, like the American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS offer these services at no cost to the veteran through accredited district service officers. DSOs are available nationwide to assist veterans with necessary paperwork.

Biden, Odierno Announce Education Milestone for Military Kids

According to Dr. Jill Biden, more than 100 colleges and universities have signed on to a White House initiative to prepare educators for the unique needs of their military-connected students.  Military children change school systems, on average, six to nine times. Through each transition, they are faced with leaving their friends and adjusting to new schools and new surroundings, all of which can affect a student's opportunity to achieve academic success.  Through the initiative, co-sponsored by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Military Child Education Coalition, all teachers can make an impact on military children and will be better prepared to make a difference in the life of a military child.  The initiative, called "Operation Educate the Educators," will help ensure positive experiences for military children, 80 percent of whom attend public schools. For details, please see: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118103

DOD Teacher Finds Crossroads in U.S. Education

Common Core Standards, No Child Left Behind, STEM, differentiated teaching, merit pay. Keeping up with the latest policies, ideas and buzz words in education is enough to make parents', along with more than a few educators', heads spin.  Of 1.3 million military-connection children, 80 percent attend public schools, and the ones who attend Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools mostly move in and out of it and public schools. DODEA works closely with military-connected public schools, even offering grants to help smooth transitions for students who move due to military relocations.  Accordingly, DODEA has signed on to the Education Department's Common Core Standards, which mandates common core curriculum for students across grade levels.  While the details of implementation still have to be worked out, the policy, which is voluntary and not adopted by all states, will give teachers more flexibility in how they meet the objectives than No Child Left Behind, which DODEA did not take part in.  Read more at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118138

Walter Reed Joins National Kidney Exchange Pool

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the first military hospital to join and participate in a national network of civilian centers for a kidney transplant exchange.  The National Kidney Registry, or NKR, allows voluntary donor-and-recipient pairs who aren't compatible based on immunological differences to donate and receive live donor kidneys from others in similar situations from the network.  The NKR received the go-ahead from the Defense Department in June. Walter Reed's first kidney exchange using the national registry involved a military couple and took place 21 August. Seven donor-and-recipient pairs now await transplantation at Walter Reed through the registry. Numerous benefits exist for the military in the kidney exchange program.  To read about them, see the entire article here: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118094

TRICARE Requires Electronic Payments

To avoid losing coverage, beneficiaries enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) or TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR) who pay monthly premiums by check need to switch to an electronic form of payment before 1 January 2013. Beginning 1 January 2013, TRICARE will only accept monthly premium payments using recurring automatic payments by credit or debit card, or by recurring electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a linked bank account. Beneficiaries can contact their regional contractor to set up automatic payments and obtain more information. Contact information for each region is available at the TRICARE Contacts webpage at http://www.TRICARE.mil/contacts. For more information about TRS or TRR, visit the TRICARE website at http://www.tricare.mil.

Help for Depression

October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month. Depression is a very common condition affecting more than 20 million adults in the United States each year. Depression is treatable and beatable.  If you or someone you know is in a crisis, seek help immediately: (1) call 911; (2) visit the emergency room or speak to a healthcare provider; or (3) call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to speak with a trained counselor-- this is a 24-hour toll-free hotline provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Screening tools, tips and more information about depression can be found at the following websites: (1) Militarymentalhealth at http://www.militarymentalhealth.org, (2) Help Yourself.Help Others at www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org, (3) Screening for Mental Health at http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org, (4) U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Depression/ and (5) the Helpguide at http://www.helpguide.org.

Multistate Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

CDC is coordinating a multistate investigation of meningitis among patients who received epidural steroid injections (medication injected into the spine). Several of these patients have had strokes related to the meningitis. In several patients, the meningitis was found to be caused by a fungus that is common in the environment but rarely causes meningitis. This form of meningitis is not contagious. The source of the fungus has not yet been identified, and the cause of infections in the other patients is still being assessed.  Any beneficiaries who have had a steroid injection since 1 July 2012 at a facility in one of 23 states identified by the CDC should check the info page at http://www.tricare.mil/healthadvisory for more.

Message on Importance of Voting

On November 6th, Americans will have the opportunity to exercise the most important responsibility we have in a democracy – the right to vote.  Voters will choose from candidates at every level – from the Commander-in-Chief, to legislative representatives, to county commissioners, city council members and others.  If you're overseas or away from home, request your absentee ballot immediately, and mail it back in time so that your vote will count.  And if you need help, visit your Installation Voter Assistance Office, or see your Unit's Voting Assistance Officer, or visit the website http://www.fvap.gov.

New Roth TSP Contributions Open

Beginning 1 October, active-duty members of the Air Force, Army and Navy will be able to contribute to the Roth Thrift Savings Plan as part of their investment planning. The after-tax contributions will be electronically deducted from Servicemembers' pay accounts. Active-duty Servicemembers also can start their Roth TSP contributions now through their online MyPay accounts or submit a TSP-U-1 form to their finance office. Branches of the National Guard and Reserve will be able to make Roth TSP contributions by mid- to late 2013. For more information, visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) website at: http://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers/rothtspformilitary.html

Retroactive Stop-Loss Pay to Close for Good

Pentagon officials say 21 October will be the final deadline for any veterans seeking retroactive stop-loss pay.  The program gives troops $500 for every month that they were held beyond their initial separation or retirement dates under the stop-loss policy between 11 September 2001, and 30 September 2009.  The Defense Department initially estimated that 145,000 former service members were eligible, but only about 100,000 have claimed the benefit, which averaged payments of about $3,600.  Additional information, including application procedures, is online at: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/

VA Offers a New Tool to Help Veterans Prevent Diabetes

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced the implementation of a pilot version of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a program being promoted nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aimed at reducing the number of Veterans who develop diabetes.  The DPP was a major multi-center clinical research study aimed at discovering whether modest weight loss through dietary change and increased physical activity or treatment with the oral diabetes drug metformin could prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.  For more information on this program, contact Jay Shiffler (jay.shiffler@va.gov) at the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. To learn more about the VA’s prevention program, visit http://www.prevention.va.gov/index.asp.

VA Improves Programs for Women Vets

VA's commitment to improve women's health services and to close a "gender gap" in preventive health services is making women veterans feel more welcome at Department of Veteran Affairs hospitals and clinics after years of making them feel as if they weren't really veterans. Since 2008 VA has put over 1500 primary care providers through a 40-hour program to help them gain a better understanding of issues like birth control, maternity care, and PTSD in women.  To read more regarding Veteran women’s programs, go to: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,250699,00.html.

Driver Beware; Concerned Calls Put Brakes on Automobile Ads

Recent advertisements in Auto Trader and major metropolitan newspapers offering automobile sales through a company calling itself “Exchange Inc.” has consumers calling the Army & Air Force Exchange Service for answers.  It appears someone is using the Exchange’s trademarked logo and name without permission to purportedly sell vehicles in the United States,” said the Exchange’s Loss Prevention Vice President Rick Koloski.  Despite the fact that military exchanges do not have the authority to sell vehicles in the continental United States, the individuals responsible for these advertisements have left consumers from Texas to Colorado with the impression they are doing business with the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) oldest and largest exchange service. Additionally, Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) facilities are located solely on military installations. While the Exchange does have mail order and Internet offerings, the Exchange does not advertise in civilian outlets such as metropolitan newspapers or automobile sales magazines. All advertisements for legitimate Exchange offerings are published in outlets whose audiences are mostly comprised of military members.

Cutest Kiddo Could Collect $2000 in Exchange Contest

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is searching across the globe for the world’s most adorable kid. Exchange shoppers can visit the Exchange’s Facebook page to upload a photo and enter the “3rd Annual Cutest Kiddo Contest.”  The entry receiving the most “votes” will receive a Disney Cruise Trip for four to the Bahamas plus a $500 Exchange Gift Card. Seven runners-up will each win an Exchange Gift Card valued up to $2,000.  Photos must be submitted to the Exchange Facebook page by 11:59 pm CST on 8 November.  Fans may vote for the picture they think is the “cutest” starting Nov. 9 through Dec. 6. Winners, based on the amount of “votes” received, will be announced on 12 December on the Exchange’s Facebook page.  Complete entry rules and regulations for the “3rd Annual Cutest Kiddo Contest” can be found at http://www.facebook.com/AAFES.BX.PX.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Exchange

Exchange shoppers won’t have to wait for December to start the holiday season as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s Facebook page is hosting “12 Weeks of Gifting” contest. From Sept. 28 – Dec. 20, shoppers can count down the last 12 weeks until Christmas by entering to win different prizes each week. As the big day gets closer, prizes get bigger and better. Each week’s giveaway is a secret, so shoppers can visit the Exchange Facebook page each week to enter. Much like the “Twelve Days of Christmas”, each week will have a corresponding number of prizes. For example, week 12 will have 12 winners, week 11 will award 11 gifts, while week one has one, the grand prize. Complete rules for the Exchange’s “12 Weeks of Gifting” contest are available at the Exchange Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/AAFES.BX.PX

Exchange Offers Fee-Free Holiday Layaway

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES) Holiday Layaway program is now fee-free. Shoppers simply select their gifts for layaway and stop by customer service to complete the layaway process.  “Fee-free” means that while the Exchange collects an initial $3 processing fee for new layaways, that amount is returned to customers, via an Exchange Merchandise Gift Card, upon final payment and pick up their items. In addition, toy layaway will be extended through 23 December. Gifts are safely out of sight until final payment and pick up just before Christmas. Also, for a limited time only, 1 November through 16 December, customers can place computers, laptops, iPads and netbooks on layaway. A deposit of only 15 percent is required when starting the layaway process. See customer service for program details and eligibility. To take advantage of fee-free holiday layaway and extended layaway for toys, visit http://www.shopmyexchange.com