Monday, December 12, 2005

Expanded Guard and Reserve Health Care Is Critical To National Defense

We at Love America First, Navy Corner, Knickerbocker News, and The Bosun Locker would like to join Boots in Baghdad (soon to be Boots in Kabul) and Black Five in supporting some very important legislative business regarding the TRICARE comprehensive health care plan for National Guard and Reserves.

Senator Lindsey Graham, (R- S.C.), a member of Senate Armed Services Committee, is leading the fight for TRICARE coverage on a "cost-share basis" to all Guardsmen and Reservists. "You can't ask men and women to leave their families time and time again [and] leave their businesses for a year or two at a time without increasing the benefits..." Senator Graham said. "Because wouldn't it be nice if every Guardsman and Reservist member knew they never had to worry about health care again as long as they're in the Guard or the Reserves?"

According the information obtained at Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Senator Graham's bill, The Guard and Reserve Readiness and Retention Act of 2005, would vastly improve health care benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves. The bill would allow them to enroll in TRICARE for a monthly premium regardless of their activation status.

Graham's legislation also calls for a decrease in retirement age based on years of service in instead of the current age 60. Under the proposed law, an individual could serve for 22 years and be eligible for retirement at 59. However, an individual who enters the military at 18 and serves for 34 years could begin receiving retirement benefits at 53. "This reform package provides better health coverage and a fair retirement system that promotes retention," said Graham. "It will [would] ensure that Guard and Reserve personnel and their families are justly compensated for their service. We must be sure to take care of every person who puts their life on the line to fight for liberty and freedom throughout the world."

Active duty military personnel currently receive compensation based on their years of service and are offered retirement packages, normally, after completing 20 years of services. National Guard and Reserves are now serving along active duty troops on a more frequent basis with extended deployments. National Guard and Reserves were once known as "citizen soldiers" but are becoming known "soldier citizens" because of extended missions and assignments in the war on terror and national disaster relief support.

The TRICARE amendment will be debated and discussed between the House and Senate conferees within the next few days. The National Guard and Reserves enjoy strong support from the Senate, however, they still need support from all House and Senate members.

What you can do to help:

On the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) website, there is a "Write to Congress" link. By using this "Write to Congress" feature you can contact your Congressional members directly via e-mail, and send the pre-written message (or edit it as you wish) by entering your zip code in the space provided. Contact your Congressman/Woman and Senators immediately and urge their support for TRICARE. Ask your representative to contact the members of the House Armed Services Committee and Authorization Conferees to urge their support of this critical provision within the Senate version of the defense authorization bill.

I strongly urge you to support our soldier citizens of the National Guard / Reserves and their families with a comprehensive health care plan that they deserve for the sacrifice that they are making for our great country. Please pass this information on to your family and friends to act now!

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Cross-posted: Knickerbocker News, Navy Corner