TRICARE Temporarily Waives Referrals for Some in Hurricane-Affected Areas

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By the Defense Health Agency

Coast Guard personnel help medevac a patient in the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian. The Coast Guard is supporting the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency and the Royal Bahamian Defense Force with hurricane response efforts. Coast Guard photo

The Defense Health Agency is waiving the referral requirement for anyone in a TRICARE Prime plan in North Carolina, South Carolina, parts of Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. TRICARE Prime enrollees in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas may see an authorized provider in any location without a referral from their primary care provider until Sept. 30.

Referrals are waived until Oct. 1 for enrollees in Florida; North Carolina; South Carolina; and the following counties in Georgia: Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce and Wayne.

Prescription Refills

TRICARE has initiated emergency procedures for prescription refills in areas affected by Hurricane Dorian through Sept. 6 for Puerto Rico and through Sept. 9 in some other locations. Emergency procedures are in place through Sept. 9 for:

  • Florida
  • Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce and Wayne counties in Georgia
  • S. Virgin Islands
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Accomack, Chesapeake City, Essex, Gloucester, Hampton City, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Newport News City, Norfolk City, Northampton, Northumberland, Poquoson City, Portsmouth City, Richmond, Richmond City, Suffolk City, Surry, Virginia Beach City, Westmoreland and York counties in Virginia

To get an emergency refill, take your prescription bottle to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. To find a network pharmacy, call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303 or search the network pharmacy locator.

If possible, visit the pharmacy where the prescription was filled or another store in the chain. If necessary, your provider may call in a new prescription to any network pharmacy.

Hospital and Clinic Operations

Some military hospitals and clinics are closed or operating in a limited capacity because of Hurricane Dorian. Patients should check the status of their military hospital or clinic before trying to access care. The waivers include active-duty service members using urgent care.

TRICARE enrollees not on active duty can receive urgent care from any TRICARE-authorized urgent care center or provider without a referral.

For more information, visit www.tricare.mil/disaster.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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TRICARE Temporarily Waives Referrals for Some in Hurricane-Affected Areas

New EagleCash Consolidates DOD’s Stored-Value Cards

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New EagleCash cards will combine the Defense Department’s EZpay, legacy EagleCash and Navy Cash stored value cards into one. U.S. Treasury graphic

By Mark Orders-Woempner

In a quest to bring the Defense Department’s three separate stored-value cards into one, representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps journeyed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to plan their way forward with the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service in early August.

Several years ago, Fiscal Service and the DOD decided on a single card initiative, known as the One-Card Initiative, to combine the current stored-value cards into one that would be industry compliant, improve security and leverage cost savings through economies of scale, said Tony Taylor, the U.S. Army Financial Management Command EagleCash program manager.

What’s Currently in Use

Currently, the DOD uses three distinct stored-value cards, which include non-reloadable EZpay cards, to optimize training time at initial entry training sites and reloadable EagleCash and Navy Cash cards for deployed personnel as a secure alternative to hard currency. A rebranded and new EagleCash card will be the one to replace all DOD stored-value cards.

“Our collective movement toward a unified SVC has been an organizational priority for Fiscal Service,” said Ronda Kent, Fiscal Service assistant commissioner for payment management. “The next-generation EagleCash will be a driver for cost savings and increased operational efficiency for us all.”

Navy Seaman Corey Gambirazio returns a Navy Cash card to a Marine after completing a transaction in the ship’s store aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, June 5, 2019. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kaitlyn E. Eads

When Changes Will Come

During their most recent meeting, the stakeholders laid out a plan for deployment, including releasing the cards to initial training sites later this year and issuing them to deployers in the first part of 2020. Software and hardware capable of handling both the current cards and the new EagleCash will be deployed around the globe this fall.

“The goal with the new EagleCash card is to right size with a common platform that gives more flexibility and reduces duplication of efforts,” explained Chris Ritchie, Federal Reserve Bank Boston Treasury Services SVC program vice president.

Once the new EagleCash card is deployed, a majority of service members will be issued one upon entry into the military at their initial entry training site. That same card they use initially to purchase uniforms and other items for basic training will follow them through their career, and they will be able to load and use it as they deploy.

An airman holds up an EagleCash debit card while he’s seated in front of a computer.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Levisay transfers money from an airman’s EagleCash Card into a Savings Deposit Program account, Aug. 11, 2008. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Donald Branum

“When this goes live, we expect a seamless transition for the cardholders,” said Taylor, who added that troops currently use the legacy EagleCash instead of their debit or credit cards in contingency areas of operation that tend to lack financial and communication infrastructure.

How Consolidation Improves Security

“The new EagleCash cards keep service members’ bank accounts completely separate from their purchases,” Taylor explained. “Not only does this give them peace of mind, it keeps them in the fight instead of standing in line waiting at a finance office to get cash.”

EagleCash also significantly reduces U.S. dollars in the battlespace where they can be leaked from vendors to enemies, which can turn into weapons coming over the fence aimed at our troops,” Taylor added.

At the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in 2004, the Army collected and processed more than $480 million in U.S. cash in theater. Today, EagleCash has reduced that number to near zero.

U.S. Army Spc. Irianis Cruz Torres trains on using EagleCash during a U.S. Army Financial Management Command and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston-hosted training session at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston May 8, 2019. Photo by Mark Orders-Woempner, Army

How It Helps Save Money

Not only does EagleCash potentially save lives, it also saves money. The Army estimates it has saved approximately $225 million since the program’s inception.

Treasury’s Fiscal Service, DOD and Federal Reserve Bank leaders indicated they hope those savings will grow even more once all three cards are consolidated.

“We have a number of former service men and women that used these stored-value cards in the field now working on the program,” said Todd Aadland, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City senior vice president, whose team will be taking over the administration of certain back-office elements of the new-EagleCash card program. “They understand the importance of their mission and display it proudly when they come to work.

“Not only will we be able to reduce our manpower footprint through combining the stored-value cards into a single program,” Aadland continued, “we will see efficiency, flexibility and usability gains through the use of a common technology stack.”

Nearly all the stakeholders said their primary focus was supporting service members, first and foremost.

“Our customers truly are the men and women in uniform who carry these cards,” said Kent. “We take great pride in taking care of them and giving them our absolute best. They deserve it.”

Marine Corps Sgt. Halmia Jackson disperses money to a U.S. soldier so he can purchase high-demand items from the Warfighter Express Service Team Marines at Al Qa’im Forward Operating Base, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2017. WES-T Marines work expeditiously to bring personal high-demand items, postal services and cash dispersing to troops in locations where these services are unavailable. Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Conner Robbins

A direct reporting unit to the assistant secretary of the Army for financial management & comptroller, U.S. Army Financial Command, provides finance support and liaison on matters pertaining to the adequacy of finance policies, systems and reporting requirements to Army commands, component commands, direct reporting units, installations, tactical units and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

USAFMCOM also performs unique Armywide actions such as financial management unit technical training, electronic commerce and classified finance and accounting oversight. The command is also responsible for the delivery of Armywide financial management functions including enterprise resource planning systems support, audit and compliance support, financial operations support, enterprise resource planning business process standardization support and Army field financial management activities operational oversight.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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New EagleCash Consolidates DOD’s Stored-Value Cards

Surprise! USO Pacific Delivers Its 5,000th Birthday Cake

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By Katie Lange

Imagine spending your birthday far from home, without any family or friends to celebrate with you. Then — BAM! — next thing you know, you’re being surprised with a birthday cake and a personal message from those loved ones you’re missing.

Thanks to a wildly popular USO Pacific program, birthday cake deliveries have been happening for thousands of service members over the past 12 years.

Thirteen Marines stand in a group for a photo. Two in the front are holding up a sign that says “Operation Birthday Cake, Happy Birthday, From USO Foster.” One in the middle is holding a cake, while one in the background gives two thumbs up.

Several Marines help one of their own celebrate his birthday at Camp Foster, Okinawa. USO Okinawa Facebook photo

Operation Birthday Cake

It all started in 2007, after the mother of a newly deployed Marine requested to have a birthday cake sent to him. The USO Pacific agreed, and the mom was so thrilled that she shared the news with other military moms. The next week, the USO center in Okinawa had 15 more cake requests.

Thus, Operation Birthday Cake was born. Since then, the program has delivered nearly 7,000 cakes across the Pacific — to Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, mainland Japan and even Australia — but it’s most prevalent in Okinawa, where a huge number of young Marines are deployed. Thanks to their families, that USO center recently delivered its 5,000th cake — to Marine Corps Cpl. Cody Gnall.

A large sheet cake with two balloons attached to the top corners reads “Happy Birthday. We celebrate our 5,000th cake.” It includes the USO logo.

USO Okinawa delivered its 5,000th cake to a Marine at Camp Schwab on July 22, 2019, as part of the Operation Birthday Cake program. USO Okinawa Facebook photo

“Many of [these service members] are away from home for the very first time,” explained USO Regional Vice President C.K. Hyde. “So, it’s a great opportunity for their families back home to engage with them and get that meaningful connection on a special day of the year.”

Do the Service Members Know?

For a majority of service members, the cakes are a surprise.

“A lot of these big, tough service members, you can tell they’re moved, especially when the message from their family back home is read to them,” Hyde said. “It’s really quite meaningful for everyone involved.”

SURPRISE! There’s nothing better than bringing a birthday cake surprise from a mom and dad to their son when they can’t be there and the Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 were ready to show some love! Happy Birthday to Major Batcha! Thanks for letting us be part of this special day! #OperationBirthdayCake #BeTheForce

Posted by USO Hawaii on Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The cake-deliverers often capture the surprise on video, then send it back to the family. Sometimes the presentation will be livestreamed and the families can actually be part of it.

Who Makes the Cakes, and How Are They Delivered?

On Okinawa, most of the cakes are from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. For service members on naval ships or remote locations, they’re made at a base commissary or even possibly a local bakery.

A sailor pipes icing onto a large sheet cake while on a ship.

Navy Chief Petty Officer Proceso Canlas, from Manila, Philippines, writes the names of sailors celebrating August birthdays. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen J. Zeller

Delivery can be intricate, but the USO makes it happen through its staff and a network of more than 2,500 volunteers across the Pacific.

“For instance, on the USS Ronald Reagan, which is a 5,000 person city — the aircraft carrier home-based in Yokosuka [Japan], … what we will do is we will work with the Navy leadership team, and if there are five to 10 people, we’ll get them all together with their leadership in one of the galleys on the ship, and some of our volunteers will go and deliver multiple cakes at once,” Hyde said.

A young Marine holds up a box with a cake in it that reads “Happy 20th Birthday Sam.” Several other Marines seated around a table smile.

A Marine on rotational deployment to Darwin, Australia, is surprised by his unit with a locally made birthday cake delivered from the USO. USO Pacific Facebook photo

“We can track people down almost anywhere across the Pacific and make sure that they get a cake,” he continued. “About the only exception is if a ship is at sea executing an operational mission where security is the predominant factor. We can’t really reach out to those locations.”

But the effort is totally worth it, he said.

“There’s no denying that doing about 1,500 cakes a year takes a lot of time and effort, but it really is a labor of love,” Hyde said.

Several Marines stand outside a building door to sing happy birthday to a fellow Marine. One of the men holds a box with a cake.

Several Marines surprise a fellow Marine with a birthday cake outside a building. USO Okinawa Facebook photo

Other USO centers across the world have delivered cakes in the past, but the USO Pacific said it’s the only one with an organized program.

“I just think it’s a natural fit with our region,” Hyde said. “The Pacific Fleet is the largest of all the U.S. fleets, with approximately two-thirds of all the major surface combatants in the U.S. Navy assigned or deployed to the Pacific.”

How Can I Order a Cake?

The cakes are paid for through the USO’s operational budget, which is funded by donations. There are online forms you can fill out to request a cake for your service member if they’re in Japan or Hawaii. Otherwise, you can get in touch with the USO Pacific and find out how they can surprise your loved one!

A young Marine smiles while holding up a cake that says “Happy Birthday Twin!”

A Marine smiles for the camera as he holds his birthday cake up in Okinawa, Japan. USO Okinawa Facebook photo

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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Surprise! USO Pacific Delivers Its 5,000th Birthday Cake

Altering Expectations: My Internship at the Pentagon

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By Caroline Rutten 

A woman in a blazer and red blouse smiles at the camera. A wooden fence appears to be the backdrop.

Caroline Rutten, intern for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

I entered my internship at the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) with no military background, no military experience. Despite growing up in close proximity to Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California, the military was simply a background aspect of my upbringing.

Fast-forward to the present. I’m a senior sociology student at the University of California, Davis. I’m a research assistant, a writer for the newspaper and sorority sister. I’ve studied and taught English in Ghana, and I’ve traveled to the West Bank to gain firsthand knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yet, in spite of my wide-ranging experiences, I did not know the difference between a lieutenant colonel and a colonel.

I severely lacked a basic understanding of the largest and most lethal military in the world – not my most shining confession.

Caroline Rutten poses on top of the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, Belgium. Photo courtesy of Caroline Rutten

When I was offered an internship at the Pentagon, I accepted it hesitantly. I ultimately decided to use this opportunity as a method to understand the interworking details of how this bureaucracy functions. I was granted a rare chance to be a civilian working in the military’s epicenter, a rare chance that I should not dismiss. However, I was nervous how I would acclimate to a culture so far removed from my own. Would I be able to keep up? Would I be accepted as a member of the team?

Rest assured, I have finally learned the military rankings during my time here. I now use military time in my everyday vernacular (I still do subtract 12 in my head each time, I must qualify) and I use the military alphabet when spelling out a word. And, in retrospect, I did fulfill the fact-finding quest that I reduced my expectations for my internship to be. As I attended senior meetings and worked on my own communication plans, I interacted with various divisions and personnel within the military. I learned the different roles that each one contributes to the overall Department of Defense mission.

However, more significantly, my initial fear became the most impactful aspect of my internship: exposing myself to an unfamiliar environment.

OSD/PA intern Carolina Rutten records audio for a radio segment during her time at the public affairs office. Photo courtesy of Caroline Rutten.

What emerged from my initial discomfort was personal growth. I found myself more motivated to learn, to stay curious and to take on projects and tasks that would deepen my knowledge of the military. In turn, I was met with a public affairs team that acknowledged my hard work and willingness to learn, as well as pushed me to greater success. I have witnessed their sincere dedication to their work on a daily basis, and they have each served as a constant inspiration in how I can be a stronger communicator and thinker.

I also discovered my keen interest in a public affairs career. Its fast pace, strategic and creative characteristics make each day different from the previous. Because I placed myself into unaccustomed territory, I discovered a potential profession that might have remained overlooked. Through my internship, not only did I peek into the complexity of the system, but I was reminded that benefits emerge through vulnerability.

I am now leaving my summer internship with both a potential new career path and a greater understanding of how a portion of my government functions. I’ve since disregarded my initial hesitations, pleased that they passed. As a civilian, I now feel a personal connection with my military that I would have not felt without this experience.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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Altering Expectations: My Internship at the Pentagon

Basics of Base Access, Part 2: REAL ID Act, FAQs Answered

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

If you’ve ever been on a Defense Department installation, you know the drill – you need to have a Common Access Card, a sponsor, or some other form of federally approved ID to get on base.

The Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Main Gate Access Control Complex. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damany Coleman

The Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Main Gate Access Control Complex. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damany Coleman

If you don’t have that access, though, it can be a little confusing and stressful. We wrote a blog about this subject before, and people are still checking it out frequently, asking questions. Since it’s been a few years, I thought it was time to update that post. I won’t reiterate its content here – you can read that by clicking above – but we do hope it answers more of your questions!

Know the Details of the REAL ID Act

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 as a product of changes made after Sept. 11, causing Congress to tighten up the issuance process and documentation needed to access federally secured locations or transportation. Cards that are REAL ID-compliant have specific security features that prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication.

A lot of states and U.S. territories meet the REAL ID Act’s standards. Others have received extensions, some are under review, and several have been deemed noncompliant, which means those driver’s licenses and ID cards won’t get you access to DoD installations or other federal facilities.

An array of CAC and military identification cards. Photo by Nell King

An array of CAC and military identification cards. Photo by Nell King

A few states have been noncompliant for a while, while others have been deemed newly noncompliant – which means their IDs won’t be usable at DoD facility after Jan. 30, 2017. If you’re from one of those noncompliant states, you may have to use a passport instead.

Confused? I’m not surprised, so I’ll make it easy for you – click here to find out where your state stands.

If you’re from Minnesota or Washington state, you might be able to use an “enhanced” ID, if you have one. To find out if your license is “enhanced,” check the front of your ID. REAL ID-compliant cards will say “enhanced driver’s license” or “enhanced identification card.” They will also bear a small image of the American flag.

If you’ve got additional questions about the REAL ID Act, read some FAQs here.

If You Need to Get an ID Card

If you think you have a right to gain regular access to a DoD installation, you’ll likely need some sort of DoD identification card. If you’re not sure what kind you need or how to get it, check out this page to figure out which forms you need and what sort of proof of identity it’ll require.

Not sure where to get that ID once you have the forms? You can go to any RAPIDS site near you.

Sgt. Noci Foronda uses an installation access control system PDA to scan an identification card in order to determine eligibility for base access during guard force training on Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr.

Sgt. Noci Foronda uses an installation access control system PDA to scan an identification card in order to determine eligibility for base access during guard force training on Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr.

Questions We’ve Gotten

What is the policy for military veterans’ access to military installations?

If you’re a vet, you should be able to get an ID card by presenting DD Form 214 (your certificate of release or discharge from active duty), your retired pay orders, a notice of eligibility or your retirement orders.

I am the surviving spouse of a military retiree. My spouse ID was lost right after my spouse passed away. How do I get a new one so I can access base?

If you’re the spouse of a military retiree, you can go to any RAPIDS site and present your birth certificate and your marriage certificate.

Can someone with a military ID issued through the Army get onto an Air Force base with that same ID?

As long as you have a valid military ID or CAC card, you should be able to use it at various installations.

When someone works for the DoD, are they able to live in on-base housing?

Maybe.
Priority to occupy homes is given to service members assigned to the installation. However, if there is not enough demand for housing from military personnel and occupancy rates drop below a certain level, the developer can rent to other personnel using the “tenant waterfall” to choose priority.
For example, the waterfall could be: (1) other military members not assigned to the installation or unaccompanied service members; (2) federal civil service employees; (3) retired military; (4) guard and reserve military; (5) retired federal civil service employees; (6) DoD contractors/permanent employees, and then (6) the general public.

I might get work on a military base, but I’m on probation with the law. Is that a problem?

Any sort of derogatory information discovered through a background check means you will likely be denied access to the base. However, you may apply for a waiver. Your organization/government sponsor can elect to sponsor you through this process. If the waiver is granted, you will be eligible to access the installation.

Can I take my mom on Tinker Air Force Base with her using her Vermont driver’s license?

As long as you have a CAC card or any other kind of sponsoring ID card, you’re allowed to escort her onto the base in your vehicle. Since Vermont is Real ID-compliant, her Vermont driver’s license is acceptable.

Former reservist with no ID. Can I get access to the base?

It depends on which base you’re trying to access. I suggest contacting your installation’s DEERS office to see if you’re eligible for an ID. If not, they’ll be able to tell you how to proceed to get a day pass or find a sponsor.

I am recently married and we need to get me on base to fill out paperwork; however, a couple months ago I lost my photo ID and have yet to get a new one because of my last name changing. How will I be able to get on base with my husband, who is active duty in the Army?

If you’re the spouse of an active-duty service member, you can go to any RAPIDS site to get an ID. You’ll have to present your birth certificate and marriage certificate.

Hopefully this page answers any questions you might, or at least points you in the right direction. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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Basics of Base Access, Part 2: REAL ID Act, FAQs Answered

Storied WWII Unit Was Made Up of Nisei. Who Were They?

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By Katie Lange,
Defense Media Activity

Every May, there’s a lot going on. There’s May Day, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Memorial Day, just to name a few. It also happens to be Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While that might not be a big deal to you personally, it means a whole lot to the armed forces.

442nd Regimental Combat Team at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, June 1943. Photo courtesy of the U.S. War Department

It just so happens that one of the most decorated military units in American history – the 422nd Regimental Combat Team – was a segregated World War II unit made up entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry.

This is a big deal for obvious reasons. But in case your brain is struggling today, here’s a bit of the history as to why.

You see, Japanese-Americans were barred from military service at the start of World War II. The Pearl Harbor attacks on Dec. 7, 1941, led to major backlash, including a change in draft status for Japanese-Americans – known as Nisei – from ”draft eligible” to “enemy alien,” meaning they couldn’t enlist in the armed forces. Hundreds of thousands of Nisei were relocated into internment camps out of fear and distrust.

Members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team play “galloping dominoes” upon the bed of a GI truck at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, June 1943. Photo courtesy of the U.S. War Department

Despite this, many Nisei still wanted to serve America, and they were eventually able to do so through the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, the Military Intelligence Service, and the storied 442nd RCT – which became the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in U.S. military history.

The 442nd RCT was activated Feb. 1, 1943, and was composed of Nisei men who had volunteered from Hawaii and internment camps on the mainland. They trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, before deploying to Italy in June 1944, where they joined in combat with the 100th Infantry Battalion – the first Nisei Army unit to be activated in the war.

In the following two months, the 442nd RCT earned nine Distinguished Service Crosses, while the 100th earned three. By mid-August, the 100th officially became part of the 442nd RCT. “Go for broke” was their motto.

The men of the 442nd RCT fought so well that, in September 1944, they were reassigned to the invasion of southern France under the 7th Army and took part in the drive into the Vosges Mountains. During four weeks that fall, they liberated Bruyeres and Biffontaine and also rescued a battalion that had been cut off from its division.

Members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team train at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in 1943. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Signal Corps

For several more months, the 442nd RCT guarded the French/Italian border. By March 1945, they were again reassigned, this time to the 5th Army and the Po Valley campaign, where they were attached to the 92nd Infantry Division, an all African-American unit. Together, they helped drive the Germans out of northern Italy.

In their two years of service, the 442nd RCT and the 100th IB (before it joined the 442nd) earned:

  • 7 Presidential Unit Citations
  • 2 Meritorious Service Plaques
  • 36 Army Commendation Medals
  • 87 Division Commendations

Individual soldiers were awarded 18,000 decorations, including:

The Color Guard of the 442nd RCT stands at attention while citations are read following the fierce fighting in the Vosges area of France, Nov. 12, 1944. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Signal Corps

  • 21 Medals of Honor
  • 29 Distinguished Service Crosses
  • 560 Silver Stars
  • 4,000 Bronze Stars
  • 22 Legion of Merit medals
  • 15 Soldier’s Medals
  • Nearly 9,500 Purple Hearts

The units lost 650 men, more than 3,700 were wounded in action, and 67 were declared missing in action.

Because of the 442nd RCT’s success, the draft was reinstated in the internment camps back home, and several other battalions and companies were incorporated into it.

The 442nd RCT was demobilized and inactivated about a year after World War II came to an end, but their lineage and the honors given to them remain a steadfast reminder of the Nisei courage, discipline and devotion to country during a time when their countrymen didn’t always love them back. Many of the men who served in the 442nd went on to have distinguished careers in science, higher education and government.

For their commitment and devotion to the cause, we certainly thank them for their service during this heritage month!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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Storied WWII Unit Was Made Up of Nisei. Who Were They?

Gen. Dunford on the Fight Against Violent Extremism

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The following is an excerpt from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford’s opening remarks that he delivered last week at his third Chiefs of Defense Conference on countering violent extremism:

I believe the increase in the chiefs of defense that we have here today since 2016 reflects a consensus on a number of key points, and I’ll go through those.  First, I believe we all recognize that violent extremism is a transregional threat that affects the security of all of our countries.  I think we recognize that violent extremism is a generational challenge that demands that we develop solutions that are politically, fiscally and militarily sustainable and, of course, sustainable in the context of our overall security requirements.

Chiefs of defense from around the world listen to the chairman’s opening remarks during the Chiefs of Defense Conference on countering violent extremist organizations. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro

We recognize that defeating transregional violent extremist organizations requires a broad network of like-minded nations to share intelligence, information and best practices. And we recognize that in many cases, there’s opportunities for collective or complementary action.  And most importantly, while we recognize that combating violent extremism requires a whole-of-government approach, we also appreciate the military dimension of the challenge and the unique role that chiefs of defense have in influencing, developing and implementing comprehensive solutions.

Chiefs of Defense from around the world 🌍 arrive for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford’s 3rd Chiefs of Defense conference on countering violent extremism.Stay tuned for LIVE coverage at 9 a.m. ET:www.twitter.com/thejointstaff

Posted by The Joint Staff on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Video: Chiefs of Defense arrive for conference

I’d like to begin today’s dialogue with a few thoughts on our progress to date in confronting the threat and some considerations as we look to the future.

I believe it’s fair to say that, in the last few years, we’ve made significant progress in our efforts to counter violent extremism, and our progress has been enabled by improved information sharing in the military, the intelligence and the law enforcement channels.  For example, over the last three years, Operation Gallant Phoenix has grown from less than 20 people representing two nations to over 250 people representing more than 25 nations.  And this initiative has contributed to an impressive number of disrupted attacks, arrests and prosecutions.

And also, in addition to OGP, there are now complementary issues that are being developed in a number of regions, to include West Africa and Southeast Asia.

We’ve also enhanced collaboration to more effectively interrupt the flow of foreign fighters and threat resources, all while undermining the credibility of the extremist narrative.  This is important because I believe it’s the flow of foreign fighters, the ability to move resources and the ideology that allows these groups to actually operate transregionally.  Our long-term success will be determined by our effectiveness in cutting what I described as the connective tissue – those three things: the foreign fighters, the resources and the ideology – cutting that connective tissue while enhancing the whole-of-government effort at the regional, local and the national level.

Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses other leaders at an annual Chiefs of Defense Conference. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro

There’s a number of statistics that actually highlight the positive trends.  2017 marked the third consecutive year in the decline of terrorist attacks and deaths worldwide.  The progress against ISIS has been particularly encouraging.  In 2017, compared with 2016, global ISIS attacks were down 23 percent. And the lethality of external ISIS attacks is also declining.  In 2015, ISIS attacks averaged 25 killed per attack, and in 2018 the average number killed was three.  In Iraq and Syria, ISIS holds 2 percent of the territory that they held in 2014 and their access to resources has been greatly reduced. In Iraq and Syria, ISIS holds 2 percent of the territory that they held in 2014 and their access to resources has been greatly reduced. I think in part that’s due to the cooperation that we have had with Turkey, represented here today. And many ISIS experts have also been killed, including external operation leaders and facilitators.  ISIS media production has fallen by more than 85 percent and its monthly publication, Rumiyah, hasn’t been produced in over a year.

But I think we’re all realists in this room.  And despite recent successes against ISIS and the positive trends, we know there’s actually much work to be done.  Little progress has been made in addressing the underlying conditions that lead to violent extremism.  And challenges remain in our political, our military, our intelligence and our law enforcement cooperation.  Despite the fact that we’ve had some positive trends in cooperation, clearly there’s much more to be done, and we’ll discuss that here today.

ISIS is far from defeated and has a presence in countries from West Africa to Southeast Asia.  Its ideology continues to inspire homegrown violent extremists in many of our countries.  And we saw that last year in many countries, to include the United Kingdom, Spain, Egypt, the Philippines and the United States.

In Iraq and Syria, coalition forces are clearing the last concentrations of ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley.  But even as we see success on the ground, ISIS is already evolving to implement a more diffuse model of command and control and operations, and they’re looking to maintain relevance by exploiting disenfranchisement and conducting high-profile attacks.

We also see al-Qaida enhancing cooperation with its affiliates and increasing its connectivity and access to operatives and targets.

In short, ISIS, al-Qaida and associated groups remain resilient, determined and adaptable.  And while some areas of sanctuary have been reduced, both groups are operating in a more dispersed and clandestine way, leveraging the internet to keep their narrative alive and becoming less susceptible to conventional military action.

Chiefs of defense from around the world pose for a group photo ahead of the Chiefs of Defense Conference on countering violent extremist organizations at Joint Base Andrews, Oct. 16, 2018. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro

But perhaps the greatest challenge facing us today is the danger of complacency.  A misreading of our progress to date and a misunderstanding of the character of the threat may cause political leaders to lose focus on violent extremism while they turn to other pressing challenges.  And I believe those of us gathered here today have a good appreciation for the consequences of prematurely relieving pressure on the enemy and allowing them the space to reconstitute.

In closing, I believe the challenge for us in this room is to develop sustainable approaches to disrupt acts of terror and other manifestations of extremism, even as we support our governments in the development of long-term, comprehensive measures to address the underlying conditions that feed extremism.  And I trust that a candid dialogue and exchange of ideas today will help us identify opportunities to enhance our cooperation and our common understanding.

Watch the chairman’s full remarks here.

Learn more about the chairman’s takeaways from the conference here.

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Gen. Dunford on the Fight Against Violent Extremism

TRICARE Dental & Vision Plan Changes

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By Katie Lange, Department of Defense

A lot of TRICARE recipients who AREN’T actively serving may want to enroll in vision and dental coverage through the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program, known as FEDVIP. Currently, more than 3.3 million federal employees already use it. It’s never been available to Defense Department beneficiaries before, but now it is!

Capt. Austin Ladner, 99th Dental Squadron dentist, conducts an oral cancer screening during Retiree Appreciation Day at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Couillard

Dental eligibility:

If you’re an active-duty service member, an active-duty family member or you’re in the Guard or Reserve, your TRICARE dental plans will stay the same.

But if you’re enrolled in the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program, things are going to change. TRDP is going away at the end of 2018, so if you want to continue coverage, you must enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan. There is no rollover, so make sure you enroll during open season!

The good news: there are 10 dental carriers from which to choose.

“What we realized is that people have different types of dental needs,” said Navy Vice Adm. (Dr.) Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency. “Younger beneficiaries probably need to make sure that they have the kind of care that’s preventative. In teen years, there are probably different demands, and certainly, as we get more distinguished and more mature, there are some additional needs.”

Maj. Brett Ringger, an optometrist from the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Medical Group, tests his patient’s vision June 19, 2018, at one of four health-care clinics in Eastern Kentucky. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lynn Means

Vision eligibility:

If you’re enrolled in a TRICARE health plan and you’re NOT an active-duty service member, you’re also eligible to enroll in one of four FEDVIP vision plans. Sorry, TRICARE Young Adult enrollees – like active-duty service members, you’re not eligible for this.

FEDVIP Enrollment:

Like the rest of your benefits, your open season for enrollment in FEDVIP will be Nov. 12 to Dec. 10. Coverage will begin on Jan. 1, 2019. Much like TRICARE Prime and Select plans, the only time you can get coverage under FEDVIP outside of open enrollment is if you experience a qualifying life event.

Still trying to figure this out? Visit Tricare.Benefeds.com for more information and to sign up for email notifications that will update you on eligibility, rates and more. You can check out their frequently asked questions section here. The 2019 plans and rates are now available so you can compare and decide which plan best meets the needs of you and your family.

READ MORE: Part 1: What to Know Before TRICARE Open Season This Fall
Part 2: TRICARE Open Season: Picking a Plan for 2019
Part 3: What’s New With Your TRICARE Coverage in 2019

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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TRICARE Dental & Vision Plan Changes

What’s New With Your TRICARE Coverage in 2019

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By Katie Lange, Department of Defense

We recently filled you in on the health care plans you have to choose from during the upcoming TRICARE open season and how you go about enrolling (if you missed these blogs, check the links at the bottom of this one).

There are also some parts of TRICARE that have expanded this year, and we thought you should know about them.

TRICARE Open Season

TRICARE is establishing an open enrollment season. Watch this video to learn more about what this means for your TRICARE benefit.

Posted by TRICARE on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mental and behavioral health care is expanding.

“We’re making sure that we’re covering the kind of care that our patients need for substance use disorders, and making sure they have the right kind of therapy – inpatient or outpatient,” said Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency.

TRICARE is also starting to cover dual diagnoses.

“What that means is if you have a substance use disorder diagnosis, as well as a behavioral health disorder, then we’re able now to cover that,” Bono said. “Those are conditions that we want to make sure that our patients get the most modern and relevant treatment possible.”

Flu shots are more widely available.

Preventative care is also important, including when it comes to flu season. Flu shots are now covered under TRICARE from any participating pharmacy or TRICARE provider.

There are a few changes to TRICARE Pharmacy.

The Defense Health Agency knows that getting needed medications at the lowest possible cost is extremely important.

“In order to offset the cost of medications that we get from the pharmacies, which tend to be a little bit more expensive, we’ve raised the copay,” Bono explained. “But we’re also trying to make it as easy as possible for our patients to get their medications from either a military treatment facility or from the mail-order pharmacy.”

Prescription copays increased on Feb. 1, but don’t worry – they only went up by a few dollars. Find out what your plan costs here.

MHS GENESIS Patient Portal

The Military Health System is also rolling out a new electronic record management system called MHS GENESIS. Its patient portal is a secure website where you can access all of your health information, manage appointments and communicate securely with your care team.

“It’s extremely easy to navigate,” Bono said. “I think people will really like how they can interface with their doctors.”

The system is one that other large health care organizations use.

“It’s something widely used in the industry, and it has an excellent track record,” Bono said. “It’s a nice interactive site for them to get in and see what the doctors have ordered, or even the notes from previous appointments.”

She said it’s great for providers, too.

“All of the doctors and nurses and techs and pharmacists – they’ll be using the system,” Bono said. “We’ll also be able to import the information of your episodes of care for whenever you see a civilian provider.”

The website is being rolled out across the country with the deployment of MHS GENESIS. A few hospitals in the Pacific Northwest are the first few to get it so far. Officials are hoping they’ll be able to use the system for other things in the future, such as referrals.

“We’re actually field testing a referral management system with our new MHS GENESIS,” Bono said. “We would like to make that more streamlined so the patient isn’t the one going back and forth.”

READ MORE:
Part 1: What to Know Before TRICARE Open Season This Fall
Part 2: TRICARE Open Season: Picking a Plan for 2019

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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What’s New With Your TRICARE Coverage in 2019

50 Years in the Making: Vietnam Vet to Get Medal of Honor

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By Katie Lange, Department of Defense

This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.

It’s been 50 years since John L. Canley, then a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, led his company in a brutal weeklong fight against North Vietnamese troops, saving hundreds of people from harm during the infamous Battle of Hue City.

Many thought he should have earned the Medal of Honor for his actions. He didn’t, but that’s changing.

A portrait of retired Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, taken July 9, 2018. President Donald J. Trump will be awarding the Medal of Honor to Canley during a White House ceremony, October 17, 2018, for his heroic actions during the Battle of Hue City while serving in Vietnam. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Erik Estrada

On Oct. 17, a now-80-year-old Canley, who retired at the rank of sergeant major, will have his Navy Cross upgraded during a ceremony at the White House. He will be the 300th Marine to have earned the nation’s highest military honor.

For those who don’t know, the Battle of Hue City was one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. It was part of the surprise attack by North Vietnamese troops that’s famously known as the Tet Offensive.

Canley was a gunnery sergeant for Company A during a weeklong portion of the battle to retake the city.

Canley talks with a Marine during a Vietnam Veteran Pinning Ceremony, Sept. 7, 2018, in Charlotte, North Carolina, as part of Marine Week Charlotte. The ceremony not only honored Marines of the past but gave those currently serving an opportunity to meet the men who paved the way for them. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Daniel Jean-Paul

On Jan. 31, 1968, the company came across intense enemy fire. Canley ran through it, risking his life to carry several injured Marines back to safety. His company commander was wounded during the shootout, so Canley assumed command, despite his own injuries. He reorganized the scattered men and personally moved through their ranks to advise and encourage them.

For the next three days, Canley and his company were able to fight their way back into the city. Eventually, he led his men into an enemy-occupied building in Hue. Canley managed to get himself into a position right above the enemy’s strongpoint, where he was able to drop an explosive attached to a satchel, taking out several insurgents and forcing those who survived to run away.

Two days after that, on Feb. 6, his unit tried to capture a government building. They suffering heavy casualties during the mission, but Canley continued to encourage his men forward until they drove the enemy out.

Canley shakes the hand of  a child after a physical training session during Marine Week in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 7 2018. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Careaf Henson

Canley was wounded yet again, but he refused to let his injuries stop him. Twice during the fight, he was seen scaling a concrete wall in full view of the enemy to pick up fallen Marines and carry them to safety.

“He wasn’t one of these gruff, screaming guys. You did stuff for him because you didn’t want to disappoint him,” former Marine Corps Pfc. John Ligato, who served alongside Canley, recently told Military.com. “You followed him because he was a true leader – something you need in life-and-death situations. … He was totally fearless. He loved his Marines, and we loved him back.”

That selfless dedication to his men during such a volatile time earned Canley the Navy Cross in 1970. But for more than a decade, many who served under him have been working to get that award upgraded to the Medal of Honor. After years of bureaucratic delays, that’s finally happening.

Congratulations, Sergeant Major Canley. The honor is well-deserved!

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

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50 Years in the Making: Vietnam Vet to Get Medal of Honor