Veterans Resources

By Mitch Cota




I am Mitch Cota, retired from the U.S. Air Force with thirty years of service. I am also a past State Commander of the
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Department of Louisiana. My goal since retiring was to help veterans with their
benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). My objective with this column is the same; to reach out to veterans and ensure they are getting the information, assistance, and service they earned from serving this
nation in uniform.

In addition to updates coming from the VA we hope to bring you information on upcoming job fairs and other events for veterans in the city and around the state. The following are two articles from the VA and one upcoming change from Tricare.

VA Announces – Two New Training Programs for Veterans: The week of August 24th, VA launched two new training programs, Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) and VA Learning Hubs, that will allow veterans to learn skills and earn credentials at no cost to help advance their civilian careers. ALPs will offer veterans training and certifications in the IT field. They will be held at various locations nationwide, and will include classroom and online instruction. This program is open to veterans of all eras and does not affect GI Bill eligibility. VA is now accepting ALP applications and veterans are encouraged to apply as soon as possible as space is limited. Learning Hubs will be launched in 27 cities this year and are available to all veterans and transitioning service members. Courses will offer training to improve veteran employability in various high demand fields, and will feature online and in person components. Following course completion, veterans will receive verified training certificates. To learn more about ALPs and Learning Hubs, veterans are encouraged to email inquiries to: Veteran Employment.vbaco@va.gov. To visit the ALP website, go to: http://benefits.va.gov/tap/alp.asp.

VA Announces New Rules Regarding Service Animals: On Monday August 28, VA announced new rules regarding access allowed for service animals on VA property. The goal of the revised regulation is to keep VA in line with legal and sanitary requirements. It states that only dogs individually trained to perform work for an individual with a disability will be considered service animals. Other animals will not be permitted in VA facilities, unless expressly allowed as an exception under the regulation for activities, such as animal-assisted therapy or for other reasons such as law enforcement purposes. To read more, visit: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2723.

From the Tricare Website: http://www.tricare.mil/rxnewrules090115 Starting October 1, 2015, a new law requires all TRICARE beneficiaries, except active duty service members, to get select brand name maintenance drugs through either TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery or from a military pharmacy. Beneficiaries who keep using a retail pharmacy for these drugs, will have to pay the full cost.

Maintenance drugs are those you take regularly for a long time, such as drugs to control blood pressure or cholesterol. The law does not apply to drugs you take for a short time, like antibiotics, or generic drugs. Beneficiaries living overseas, or with other prescription drug coverage, are not affected.

The TRICARE pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts, is sending a letter to beneficiaries taking an affected drug, explaining their options. Beneficiaries can contact Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303 to see if they are affected.

After October 1, beneficiaries still filling an affected drug at a retail pharmacy will receive another letter informing them of the change to the benefit. After that, beneficiaries have one final “courtesy” fill at a retail pharmacy. If they fill at a retail pharmacy again, they have to pay 100 percent of the cost of their medication.

TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery is a safe, convenient and low cost option to get maintenance drugs. You can get up to a 90-day supply, as opposed to a 30-day supply from a retail pharmacy. You save up to $176 a year for every brand name drug you switch to Home Delivery. Military pharmacies offer up to a 90-day supply of drugs at zero copay, but not all drugs are available. You can check with your local military pharmacy to see if they carry your prescription.

For more information about this change to TRICARE’s pharmacy benefit, visit www.tricare.mil/RxNewRules.
If you anyone has any questions please contact me at mitchellcota@dcc.edu or mitchcota@mitchcota.com.

What Next?

Recent Articles