Environmental Press # 334

Subj: Fw: RAO Bulletin Update 20 OCT 03 [ii]
Date: 10/20/2003 7:27:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Joe Martin" <mongo@capital.net>


Read on down to the petition on the FERES Doctrine.


----- Original Message -----
From: "James F. Tichacek" <raoemo@mozcom.com>
To: <Recipient list suppressed>
Cc: "RAO Baguio" <raoemo@mozcom.com>
Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2003 9:03 AM
Subject: RAO Bulletin Update 20 OCT 03 [ii]


> Update Includes the Following Articles:
> · CR Update 20
> · Disabled Vets Sought To Testify
> · Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon
> · Blood Pressure Guidelines
> · Feres Doctrine Petition
> · Telemarketing Call Elimination Update
> · Debit Cards
> · Consumer Price Index (CPI)

CR UPDATE 20: A Step Forward - In a meeting 16 October at the Office of the House Majority Whip, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), representatives from military associations received a briefing on the concurrent receipt provisions in the conference report on the FY04 NDAA. Also attending the meeting were Rep. Duncan Hunter, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Chairman, House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL). Rep, Bilirakis, the House Champion of CCR for the past 18-years, commented that they would continue to build on the below provisions to which both the White House and the Senate have
> agreed. Rep. Blunt said the $22.13 billion cost would be paid by mandatory (entitlement) spending and not by DOD funds.

1.) Phase-In of Full CR for 50% and above. - Retirement-qualified members of the uniformed services who are eligible for VA disability compensation based on a service-connected disability rated 50 percent or higher to receive full VA disability compensation without a reduction in retired pay during the eleventh year after a ten-year transition program. In the case of a member who receives a disability retirement, retired pay to be reduced, but only to the extent that the member's retired pay exceeds the amount of retired pay to which the member would have been entitled based solely on the member's years of service.

2.) Benefits During Calendar Year 2004 - The provision would provide the following amounts to disabled retirees effective January 1, 2004:
> Members with a disability rated as total would receive $750 per month.
> Members rated 90 percent disabled would receive $500 per month.
> Members rated 80 percent disabled would receive $350 per month.
> Members rated 70 percent disabled would receive $250 per month.
> Members rated 60 percent disabled would receive $125 per month.
> Members rated 50 percent disabled would receive $100 per month.

3.) Transition During Calendar Years 2005-2013 - The provision would reduce for each retiree the difference between the amount of retired pay received the previous year and full concurrent receipt by 10 percent during 2005, 20 percent during fiscal year 2006, 30 percent during 2007, 40 percent during 2008, 50 percent during fiscal year 2009, 60 percent during 2010, 70 percent during 2011, 80 percent during 2012, and 90 percent during 2013,
> respectively. During calendar year 2014, all retirees with a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or higher would receive their entire retired pay and VA disability compensation.

4.) Coordination of Benefits - Uniformed services retirees may not be paid both Combat-Related Special Compensation authorized in section 1413a of title 10, United States Code and benefits under this provision. Retirees who qualify for both programs would be given the option to choose the program that provides the greatest benefits.

5.) Revisions to CRSC Program - Coverage under CRSC would be extended to all retirees with combat related disabilities, regardless of the level of disability rating. Coverage will include service-members who are retired from a reserve component with 20-years of service regardless of their rating level.

6.) Establishment of a Commission A 13 member Commission will be established to review the current VA disability system and make recommendations to ensure the system adequately compensates veterans for disabilities that may be incurred as a result of service and to determine what should be done with regard to longevity retirees rated less than 50% disabled.

7.) Effective Date - The provisions of the legislation would be effective January 1, 2004.

While this proposal provides progress on the elimination of the Veterans Disability Tax it should be remembered that it not only fails to cover more than 300,000 disabled veterans, it also fails to end the tax fully for 10 years for those who are covered. Continued pressure on our legislators in the congress will be necessary to achieve this goal. [Source: Various 18 OCT 03]

DISABLED VETS SOUGHT TO TESTIFY: VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi is looking for veterans who have a 100% disability, and are willing to testify that they have waited more than 30 days for medical appointments. If you know of any veterans who meet this requirement you or they are requested notify the below as soon as possible with the following information concerning the veteran.
> · Name:
> · Veterans' Claim Number:
> · Address:
> · The identification of the VA Medical Facility and Clinic:
> · The date action was initiated to get an appointment:
> · The date of the appointment:
> · Any other information concerning difficulty in getting an appointment within 30-days.

Notification Point of Contact:
> · Paul Spera: Region 1 Veterans Liaison to the Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, VA Medical Center, Bldg 2, Rm 106 830, Chalkstone Ave., Providence RI 02980 Tel: (401) 273-7100 ext-2154 (voice) or (401) 965-9885 (cell) or (401) 525-2526 (fax) paul.spera@med.va.gov
> · Butch Miller: Region 2 Veterans Liaison to the Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Indianapolis VA Medical Center, 1481 West 10th St., Indianapolis IN 46202 Tel: (317) 554-0000 ext. 4077 (voice) or (317) 319-6972 (cell) or (317) 554-0594 (fax) butch.miller@mail.va.gov
> · Bruce Nitsche: Region 3 Veterans Liaison to the Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, 3033 Winkler Extension, Room 747, Fort Myers FL 33916 Tel: (239) 931-6135 (voice) or (239) 851-0057 (cell) or (239) 931-6136 (fax) bruce.nitsche@mail.va.gov
> · Jon Schneider: Region 4 Veterans Liaison to the Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, VARO, Room 965, ATTN Director's Office, 210 Walnut St. , Des Moines IA 50309 Tel: (515) 323-7506 (voice) or (515) 707-1221 (cell ) or (515) 323-7412 (fax) jon.schneider@mail.va.gov
> · William Bishop: Region 5 Veterans Liaison to the Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Anchorage VAM&NOC, 2925 De Barr Road, Ste 3351, Anchorage AK 99508 Tel: (907) 257-4992 (voice) or (206) 604-7795 (cell ) or (907) 257-4993 (fax) william.bishhop@mail.va.gov
> · Jay Vargas: Region 6 Veterans Liaison to the Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs Office of intergovernmental Affairs, VARO, 8810 Rio San Diego Dr., Ste 4415, San Diego CA 92108 Tel: (619) 400-5405 (voice) or (858) 232-8743 (cell) or (619) 400-5417 (fax) jay.vargas@mail.va.gov

[Source: NAUS Update 10 OCT 03]
> AIR FORCE EXPEDITIONARY SERVICE RIBBON: Air Force secretary James G. Roche has approved award of the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon to recognize members' support of air expeditionary force deployments. The ribbon will be awarded to active-duty, Reserve and Guard members who completed a contingency deployment after Oct. 1, 1999. Deployed status is defined as either deployment on contingency, exercise, deployment orders or members sourced in direct support (in theater or out) of expeditionary operations with an overnight stay away from home station. To qualify, individuals must have deployed for 45 consecutive days or 90 nonconsecutive days. There is no time limit to accumulate the 90 nonconsecutive days. Any contingency deployment qualifies regardless of the duty, destination or location of the temporary duty, including those within the continental United States. [Source: Armed Forces News 3 OCT 03]

> BLOOD PRESSURE GUIDELINES: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has released new clinical practice guidelines for preventing, detecting, and treating hypertension (high blood pressure). The guidelines feature modified blood pressure categories, including a new "prehypertension" level that covers about 22% of American adults (about 45 million persons). High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease; is the chief risk factor for stroke and heart failure; and can lead to kidney damage. It affects about 50 million Americans - one in four adults. Treatment aims for blood pressure to be less than 140 mm Hg systolic and less than 90 mm Hg diastolic for most people with hypertension (less than 130 systolic and less than 80 diastolic for those with diabetes and chronic kidney disease). Key aspects of the new guidelines include:

> - In persons older than 50 years, systolic pressure above 140 mm Hg is a much more important cardiovascular risk factor than diastolic pressure.
> - The risk of cardiovascular disease, beginning at 115/75 mm Hg, doubles with each increment of 20/10 mm Hg;
> - Individuals who are normal at 55 years of age have a 90% lifetime risk for developing hypertension.
> - Individuals with a systolic pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg should be considered prehypertensive and make health-promoting lifestyle modifications to prevent cardiovascular disease.
> - For most patients with uncomplicated hypertension, thiazide-type diuretics should be used, either alone or combined with drugs from other classes. Certain high-risk conditions are compelling indications for the
> initial use of other antihypertensive drug classes (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers).
> - Most patients with hypertension will require two or more antihypertensive medications to achieve goal blood pressure.
> - For blood pressure more than 20/10 mm Hg above goal pressure, consideration should be given to initiating therapy with two agents, one of which usually should be a thiazide-type diuretic. *Optimal therapy requires a high degree of patient motivation.

> The NHLBI Web site http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/ has considerable information, including a free consumer booklet (Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure) and a PDF copy of the full report. [Source: Consumer Health Digest #03-20, May 20, 2003]

> FERES DOCTRINE PETITION: Feres refers to the name of a court decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court in 1950 which held that soldiers who were serving in the armed forces could not sue the United States for injuries received while on active duty. The opinion actually covers three different factual situations:
> (1) In the Feres case itself, the soldier had burned to death in a barracks fire started by a defective heating plant;
> (2) In the companion case of Griggs v. United States, the soldier was alleged to have died from medical malpractice by army surgeons;
> (3) In the case of Jefferson v. United States, the plaintiff, while on active duty in the army, had undergone an operation on his abdomen. Eight months later, after being discharged, he had to undergo another operation due to recurring pain in his abdomen. After opening him up, the surgeons pulled out a towel, 18 inches wide by 30 inches long, that had stenciled on it: "Medical Department U. S. Army"! Interpreting the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Court concluded that Congress had not intended for the government to be liable to members of the armed forces when it provided for liability "in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances . . . ," because the relationship between the government and its soldiers had no counterpart in private relations between individuals. Ever since, this rule of non-liability has been referred to as "the Feres
> doctrine.". In the interim, by case law developed in the lower federal courts, the Federal Tort Claims Act has been interpreted to allow federal prisoners to sue the United States for medical malpractice in prison hospitals. Thus, our country accords greater rights to common criminals than it does to members of its armed forces. The dangers of the Feres Doctrine has been presented to the United States Congress via
> (1) The Rockefeller Senate VA Report of December 1994, recognizing the doctrine does allow uninformed consent for human experimentation of Americans;
> (2) The Cox Commission Report on the 50th Anniversary of the UCMJ, recognizing non-legitimate military decisions are violating the constitutional rights of Americans to redress wrongful acts and omission in the military command, legal and medical systems;
> (3) VERPA's Official Statement for the Record, re October 8, 2002, Senate Judiciary Hearings on the Feres Doctrine, providing substantial claims from independent veterans' organizations and individuals asserting human and
constitutional rights abuses with the DOD and VA.

> Congress has been requested many times to amend the statute to provide for liability, but has always refused to do so. Once again veterans are making this request. Anyone who believes the Feres Doctrine should be abolished can go to www.petitiononline.com/fd1950/petition.html and sign a> petition to that effect. The petition calls for legislative action to be taken under the Veterans Equal Rights Protection Act of 2003 (VERPA Act). You can contact the author of the petition for additional information at the VERPA Board of Directors verpalegislative@aol.com [Source: Veterans Voting Block [VVB] msg 5 AUG 03]

> TELEMARKETING CALL ELIMINATION UPDATE: Despite efforts by the telemarketing industry the FTC's Do Not Call system has begun to operate through use of www.ftc.gov/donotcall . As of 1 OCT, more than 50 million telephone
numbers registered with the FTC are off-limits to unsolicited calls from companies that do not have established business relationships with the recipients. Two weeks ago, after a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled that the FTC lacked the authority to run the registry, Congress quickly passed a law to clarify that it does. On 25 SEP, in a case brought by the American Teleservices Association, a federal district judge in Utah ruled that a registry that prohibits calls from businesses but not charitable and political groups, is unconstitutional. But on 7 OCT, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the FTC's request to stay the district court order while the FTC is appealing it. Consumers can now file complaints beginning 11 OCT at www.ftc.gov/donotcall or by calling 1-888-382-1222. Those who registered before 31 AUG can complain about any telemarketing call received after 1 OCT. To file a complaint, you must know the date of the call and either the name or the phone number of the company that called. Consumers who put numbers on the registry after 1 SEP 03 must wait three months before filing a complaint. The registration process was reopened on 8 OCT. Both judges who ruled against the list received a flood of calls from angry consumers.
> \[Source: Consumer Health Digest #03-39 dtd 7 OCT 03]

> DEBIT CARDS: Debit cards look like a regular credit card but operate much like cash or a personal check. Unlike a credit card that defers payment, your checking or savings account is debited shortly after you use a debit card. In other words the debit card is a quick pay now product that gives you no grace period like a credit card. There are two types of debit cards:
> (1) Online or point of sale which electronically transfers your money immediately from your account to the merchant's bank using a pin number, and
> (2) Off line which stores debit information and may take up to 3 days to process the transaction.

> Advantages of using a debit card are:
> · They are easy to get and use.
> · They are a great alternative to cash or checks
> · Unlike using a check there is no need to show identification or carry a checkbook.
> · When traveling there is no need to carry much cash or travelers
> · You can combine an ATM card and debit card features into one card.
> · They are a great vehicle when you want to ensure that you or a member of your family (e.g. a child in college) only spends what you have in your bank account.

> If a debit card is lost or stolen your liability under federal law for unauthorized use depends on how quickly you report the loss. If you report the loss before your card is used without your permission you have no liability. There is a $50 maximum liability as long you report the card stolen within two days of discovery. Your liability increases to $500 if you don't report the loss within 60 days. If you wait more than 60 days to notify your bank, you may lose all the money in your bank account if your card is used fraudulently. Bottom line, to avoid loss or inconvenience make sure you protect your debit and credit cards and PIN numbers and always have the bank contact number on hand to report a loss immediately if it occurs. [Source: MOAA Member Services Update SEP 03]

> CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI): The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in prices over time of goods and services purchased by households. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes CPIs for two population groups:
> (1) CPI-W. The CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers covers households of wage earners and clerical workers that comprise approximately 32 percent of the total population.
> (2) CPI-U. The CPI for All Urban Consumers covers approximately 87 percent of the total population and includes in addition to wage earners and clerical worker households, groups such as professional, managerial, and technical workers, the self-employed, short-term workers, the unemployed, and retirees and others not in the labor force. For this group an additional figure called the Chained CPI for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) is computed and published.

> The CPI-W is used to set COLAs for military retirees, federal civil service retirees, Social Security beneficiaries, VA disability benefits, and most all other government programs, to include welfare programs. This figure, which controls our annual raises, is derived at using a number of variables. The CPIs are based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, and fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctor and dentist services, drugs, and other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living. Prices are collected in 87 urban areas across the country from about 50,000 housing units and approximately 23,000 retail establishments- department stores, supermarkets, hospitals, filling stations, and other types of stores and service establishments. All taxes directly associated with the purchase and use of items are included in the index. Prices of fuels and a few other items are obtained every month in all 87 locations. Prices of most other commodities and services are collected every month in the three largest geographic areas and every other month in other areas. Prices of most goods and services are obtained by personal visits or telephone calls of the Bureau's trained representatives.

> In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location are averaged together with eights, which represent their importance in the spending of the appropriate population group. Local data are then combined to obtain a U.S. city average. The index measures price change from a designed reference date. For the CPI-U and the CPI-W the reference base is 1982-84 equals 100.0. The reference base for the C-CPI-U is December 1999 equals 100. An increase of 16.5 percent from the reference base, for example, is shown as 116.5. This change can also be expressed in dollars as follows: the price of a base period market basket of goods and services in the CPI has risen from $10 in 1982-84 to $11.65. Movements of the indexes from one month to another are usually expressed as percent changes rather than changes in index points, because index point changes are affected by the level of the index in relation to its base period while percent changes are not. [Source: www.bls.gov/cpi 15 SEP 03]

> Lt. James "EMO" Tichacek, USN (Ret)
> Director, Retiree Activities Office & U.S. Embassy Warden Baguio City RP
> PSC 517 Box RCB, FPO AP 96517-1000
> Tel: (63-74) 442-7135 or stateside FAX to email service 1-801-760-2430
> Email: raoemo@mozcom.com (Primary) & raobaguio@hotmail.com (Alternate)
> Web: http://post_119_gulfport_ms.tripod.com/rao1.html

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