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March 26th Membership Meeting/Dinner Cancelled!
Unfortunately, our General Membership meeting and dinner scheduled for March 26th has been cancelled. This is due to concerns regarding the continuing spread of the “coronavirus.”
The CDC ‘s guidance for dealing with the ongoing pandemic was reiterated and reinforced by our State Governor today (Thursday). The most relevant aspect of that was for persons over the age of sixty-five to take extra precautions, even beyond the CDC’s evolving recommendations about sizeable gatherings and social distancing.
In light of the average age of our chapter members, the board has decided that it would indeed be a prudent precaution to cancel our March 26th meeting at Lake Hickory Country Club.
While chapter members and spouses won’t have the honor and pleasure of each other’s company this time, we hope and expect that we’ll again conduct business and enjoy camaraderie at the next meeting/dinner, scheduled for May 28th at Lake Hickory Country Club.
BTW: The next BOARD MEETING FOR BOARD MEMBERS ONLY is still scheduled to be take place on April 23rd in Duffy’s Tavern at LHCC.
Now that we’re into the 2020 New Year, it might be smart to check the expiration date on our military ID cards, including the Dependent IDs for family members. If the card doesn’t have “indefinite expiration” it’s easy for the expiration date to sneak up on us and, thus, bring about an urgent situation. Some of the ID processing centers have long wait times. For example, the Air National Guard in Charlotte now has an appointment wait time of over two months! Plus, it’s one ID card per appointment; if ID cards are needed for other family members, each will need their own appointment. Keep in mind that your military ID is one of a very few documents that will be accepted by airport security officials for air travel beginning October 1st. The DoD RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler website can be accessed via the “Useful Links” page of our chapter website that you're now viewing.
VA Authorizes Local Urgent Care
VA now offers an urgent care benefit that provides eligible Veterans with greater choice and access to timely, high-quality care. When using the urgent care benefit, Veterans must go to a contracted urgent care provider in VA’s network. Upon arriving, Veterans must state they are using their VA urgent care benefit. The urgent care provider will verify the Veteran’s eligibility before providing care. If a Veteran arrives at an urgent care network location and has difficulty receiving care, just call 866‑620‑2071 for assistance. To find an urgent care location in VA’s contracted network, search by ZIP at website: https://vaurgentcarelocator.triwest.com
PRIORITY VA PROCESSING FOR PURPLE HEART RECIPIENTS
Beginning April 1st, the VA will provide priority disability benefits claims processing for the initial claims from discharged combat Veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. “Those who hold the Purple Heart, the recognition of wounds taken in battle, will now receive priority consideration when it comes to claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Secretary Wilkie. The Veterans Benefits Administration will amend its priority processing categories to include initial claims received from Purple Heart recipients on or after April 1, 2019. Purple Heart recipients are already treated on a priority basis at VA hospitals and are exempt from co-payments for their medical care. The Purple Heart award is the oldest U.S. military decoration and is awarded to U.S. service members for wounds suffered at the hands of the enemy. General George Washington awarded the first purple-colored heart-shaped badges to soldiers who fought in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In 1932, it was revived to commemorate Washington’s 200th birthday.
Military Retirees Still Subject to UCMJ
The U.S Supreme Court recently determined that military retirees are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Although the retirees are no longer in uniform, they can be court martialed if they commit an illegal act, even if that crime is not related to military service. This became the Supreme Court’s official position by virtue of their rejecting an appeal (petition) regarding a military retiree who was court martialed and subsequently sentenced for an illegal act not related to his military service.
Along those same lines, U.S. Code Title 10, Armed Forces, Subtitle A. General Military Law, Part II Personnel, Chapter 47 Uniform Code of Military Justice, Section 802, Article 2. Persons Subject To This Chapter, states that persons subject to the UCMJ include: (4) Retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay. (5) Retired members of a reserve component who are receiving hospitalization from an armed force.”
IRS Tax Fraud & Identity Theft Protection
Prevention, Detection & Victim Assistance
(Click on relevant button to IRS website)
New 4th Branch Website & Petition!
The NC 4th Branch has launched a new website and advocacy center in support of ongoing efforts to eliminate the state income tax on government (military/federal/state/local) retirees’ hard-earned retirement benefits! To help launch their new site and online advocacy tool, they have launched a new petition (in advance of this year's legislative session) to gather names to show the strength of our common cause. Please take just a moment to visit the action center at the website and click "Take Action" (or the arrow beside "1 Petition") to add your name and to validate your 4th Branch membership. Visit website: (Spread the word!)
NEW VETERANS IDENTIFICATION CARDS (VIC)
The Veterans Administration recently announced availability of the new Veterans ID Card (VIC) to be used in lieu of the standard DD-214 to show proof of military service. The VIC is for Veterans who do not carry a military retiree or Medically Discharged ID card. For further details and the procedures for obtaining a VIC, visit:
North Carolina 4th Branch Letter Regarding HB-103
Honor Our Service: Treat All Government Retirees Equally
We are part of your community. We served in the military, federal, state or local government. We are retired teachers, firefighters, police, veterans and others you see daily. And when it comes to taxation, we are treated very differently.
In North Carolina, government retirement income is not taxed if you had five or more years of service as of August 1989. For many, this is a welcome and hard-earned benefit for their years of service. But for most - even someone with 30 years of military service that began in 1985 - they literally pay the price for simply having started their career later.
Not only does this impact many thousands of retirees in our state, but it also impacts FUTURE retirees; current military, federal, state and local government employees whose service is every bit as valuable as that of folks who got their five years in before August 1989. Taxing retirement income has a serious impact on the quality of life for many retirees.
This unequal tax policy puts our state at a disadvantage, too. As military and other federal retirees look to move away from high-cost regions like Washington, D.C., a key factor is relocating to a state whose tax policies honor their service. Neighboring states like Tennessee and South Carolina already give tax breaks to government retirees. Meanwhile North Carolina only does so for a minority of our government retirees.
Lastly, there's the economic argument. Retirees moving to or staying in our state spend money, build homes and contribute to the state and local economies. When projecting results 10 years, the ratio of benefits to costs is 2.5 to 1, a significant offset to the diminished income tax revenue.
If you are a government retiree who this issue impacts, or simply a citizen who believes we should honor their service and treat all government retirees equitably, there's something you can do. The 4th Branch is a coalition of individuals and groups representing these military, federal, state and local public-service retirees. And the 4th Branch is fighting to get our state legislature to right this inequity.
You too can help right this wrong. Honor the government retirees who are part of your community for their years of service. Write to your legislative representatives or visit the 4th Branch website (engage.4thbranchnc.org) for more information and to get involved.
North Carolina 4th Branch
AAFES ON-LINE SHOPPING FOR ALL VETERANS
A recent DoD policy change allows 16 million honorably discharged veterans to shop on-line for discounted military exchange products starting on Veterans Day this November. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is expanding on-line exchange shopping to all honorably-discharged veterans with access to computers for essentially two reasons: One is to reward their service with exchange product savings that, on average, will be near to 20 percent versus commercial department store prices when military exemption from state and local sales tax are considered too. The other purpose is to increase exchange revenues to help offset sales declines due to the drawdown of active duty forces and base closures. (Paraphrased from MOAA news item)
AAFES will soon be providing procedures for Veterans to verify their service and start shopping on-line in November. All the details will be posted on their website as they become available.
More NC Specialized
Military License Plates!
Thanks to two recent unanimous approvals by the NC General Assembly, there are now fifty specialized plates relative to those who have served in the military, including one for the Merchant Marine Academy that some military officers have attended. The most recent addition is the Veterans plate for those who have served in the military, a specific plate for each branch of service. There are also three forms of disabled Veterans plates with the handicapped-parking symbol, none of those can be ordered on-line. Plus, a few others can’t be ordered on-line due to proof of eligibility requirements. Further info and ordering procedures are at www.ncdot.gov. Click on License Plate; then click on Specialized & Personalized Plates.
Veterans Administration App Store
The VA Mobile App store has a collection of thirty-seven different Apps (programs) developed specifically for Veterans care, such as: Concussion Coach, PTSD Coach, PE Coach. When visiting the VA's on-line App store, you not only see a description of the App, you can also view a short imbedded video explaining the nature and use of each specific App. All Apps work on web-based platforms (desktop, laptop, notebook, etc.). iOS and Android mobile devices (smartphones) can handle many but not necessarily all of the Apps. Once on the VA App store screen, click on the "App Store" tab, then “Platform” tab, and then on your category of device to see what Apps it’s capable of handling. You then know what Apps can be downloaded directly to your device. The VA Mobile App Store is at:
(Or click on below button)