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Military News Briefs for the Week Ending Oct. 6, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2000 –

(This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service stories for the week ending Oct. 6, 2000)



An enhanced TRICARE Retiree Dental Program went into effect Oct. 1 that covers more than 100 new procedures and expands beneficiary eligibility criteria.

The new program supersedes one started in February 1998 that augmented "space-available" retiree dental care at military hospitals and clinics. New services include crowns and bridges, full and partial dentures, orthodontics and a second annual cleaning.

The new services come at a price: Enrollees will pay about double for coverage under the new dental plan. Monthly premiums, dependent upon geographic region, range from $21 to $34 for one person; $40 to $65 for two; and $62 to $105 for a family of three or more.

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Defense Secretary William S. Cohen travels Oct. 6-11 to Tunisia, Greece and England for talks on bilateral matters, multilateral actions and NATO affairs.

The secretary's first stop is Tunisia to meet with President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Defense Minister Mohamed Jegham. U.S. military forces exercise 12 to 14 times a year with the Tunisians. Also, Tunisia receives education and training money and military financing from the United States.

Cohen will attend the Southeastern European Defense Ministerial in Greece. The group, composed of defense ministers from the region, discuss mutual concerns and ways to work together more closely. This is Cohen's third meeting with the group.

The secretary then travels to Birmingham, England, for informal meetings with NATO defense ministers. The ministers will discuss the NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative, the European Security and Defense Identity and the Balkans.

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Delivery delays of the 2000-2001 influenza vaccine throughout the United States have activated a priority immunization program in DoD and the Coast Guard.

DoD officials said currently available vaccine supplies will be administered first to operational military personnel, health-care workers with direct patient contact, and active duty and nonactive duty Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System enrollees who have high-risk medical conditions.

Next in order of priority will be military trainees, groups in close contact with high-risk persons, all other military members in priority for deployment, other active duty members and mission-critical DoD civilians at overseas facilities, and all other beneficiaries.

Officials said DoD and the Coast Guard will delay organized flu vaccination campaigns until early to mid-November, pending receipt of adequate vaccine supplies.

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The federal Hatch Act of 1939 restricts the political activity of executive branch employees, including military personnel, DoD civilian employees, and the employees of the District of Columbia government and certain state and local agencies.

Allowable activities include running for nonpartisan public office; registering and voting as one chooses; assisting in voter registration drives; attending political fundraisers, rallies and meetings; and holding office in political clubs or parties.

As examples of prohibitions, federal employees generally may not solicit or receive political contributions, and they may not engage in political activity while on duty, in a government office or while wearing an official uniform.

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