Commissaries To Close An Extra Day

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has taken steps in line with DoD direction to initiate civilian furloughs to reduce its FY 13 fiscal shortfall.

Beginning July 8 2013 through September 30 2013:

All commissaries will close on Mondays; this is in addition to regularly scheduled closure days.

Commissaries normally closed on Mondays will close one additional day per week, in most cases Tuesday.

Any commissaries normally closed Monday and Tuesday will close on the next business day.

New Agent Orange Bill Introduced

Rep. Chris Gibson (N.Y.) recently introduced the "Blue Water Navy Ship Accountability Act" (H.R. 1494) that requires the United States Army and DoD's Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC) to do a comprehensive search to determine which ships operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. Service members serving on those ships would be eligible for a presumption of Agent Orange exposure when filing a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Earlier this year, Gibson also introduced the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act" (H.R. 543) that clarifies a presumption for ailments associated with exposure to Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War. The bill would authorize those who served off the coast of Vietnam, so-called "blue water vets," to claim disability benefits from the VA.

HASC Approves Defense Authorization Bill

The House Armed Services Committee marked up and approved the House version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R.1960) this week. The panel accepted all of the recommendations of the Military Personnel Subcommittee (referenced in 5/24/13 edition of NewsBytes), including a full 1.8-percent active duty pay increase, the rejection of the Administration's request for TRICARE-for-Life (TFL) and TRICARE Standard enrollment fees and drastic increases in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays. The Committee bill also requires the Defense Department (DoD) to make a one-time offer of continued coverage to TRICARE Prime beneficiaries who live in areas where the Prime option will be discontinued as of October 1, 2013.

The committee also adopted an amendment that would authorize "veteran status" for members of the Reserve Component who served 20 or more years. These Guard and Reserve personnel are considered military retirees, but do not qualify for veteran status under current policy.

The Committee's mark also includes a variety of provisions that seek to prevent sexual assault, improve prosecution of sexual assault perpetrators, and protect victims of sexual assault.

The bill now moves to the House floor for further consideration, perhaps as early as next week. The Senate Armed Services' subcommittees begin markups of the Senate's version of the bill on June 11, 2013. Once both chambers approve their respective versions of the NDAA, a conference committee will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills.

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