Military News Briefs for the Week of Dec. 1, 2000
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2000 (This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending Dec. 1, 2000.)
DoD STOPS ANTHRAX SHOTS FOR TROOPS IN KOREA
Dwindling vaccine supplies have forced DoD to further curb its plan to vaccinate all service members against anthrax.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said in a Nov. 30 DoD press briefing that, effective immediately, service members in or going to Korea will not be vaccinated. Remaining stocks of the vaccine will be reserved for those heading to Southwest Asia, he added.
"We want to conserve our supplies and still protect people going to the highest threat areas," Bacon said. "We know the Iraqis produced anthrax. We know they weaponized anthrax. We believe (anthrax) is a clear and present threat in Southwest Asia."
HEALTHCARE BENEFITS GROW FOR RETIREES AGE 65 AND OVER
Military retirees and their spouses who are age 65 and over will get two substantial benefits from the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act signed Oct. 30 by President Clinton.
Dr. H. James Sears, executive director of the TRICARE Management Activity, said that after Oct. 1, 2001, TRICARE becomes the "second payer" to Medicare for retirees and their spouses age 65 and over. As second payer, TRICARE will cover many of the costs not covered by Medicare. Officials urged over-65 beneficiaries to consider their healthcare coverage needs carefully before canceling private supplemental insurance.
The second benefit is a new prescription drug program beginning April 1, 2001, that will include continued cost-free access to military medical treatment facility pharmacies and, with co-payments, access to the National Mail Order Pharmacy Program and retail networks managed by TRICARE regional support contractors.
COHEN DIRECTS IG TO EXAMINE MILITARY ABSENTEE BALLOTING
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has asked the DoD inspector general to look into problems concerning military absentee balloting. He ordered the inquiry following reports that many absentee ballots from service members were not counted because they lacked postmarks.
"The secretary's goal and his instruction to the IG is to make sure we have a system that makes every vote count," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said during a news conference Nov. 28. He said Cohen asked the IG to examine the process and recommend any changes to make it "more efficient, more fair, more inclusive and to make it easier."
In his instructions, Cohen asked the IG to examine current procedures for handling military ballots, standard cancellation and postmarking, and how those procedures are actually implemented.