US Army: Army Echoes, Issue 2, 03 Sep

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Army Echoes, Issue 2, September 2003 Schoomaker is new Army Chief of Staff WASHINGTON (ARNEWS) -GEN Peter Schoomaker came out of retirement August 1, and swore to uphold the duties as the Army’s 35th Chief of Staff. “I’m absolutely delighted that General Schoomaker is going to undertake this responsibility,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. “It’s an enormously important one — not just for the Army but for the country.” Before retiring in August 2000, Schoomaker served 31 years in the Army
   Army Echoes , Issue 2, September 2003 Schoomaker is new Army Chief of Staff  WASHINGTON (ARNEWS) - GEN Peter Schoomaker came out of retirement August 1, andswore to uphold the duties as the Army’s 35th Chief of Staff.“I’m absolutely delighted that General Schoomaker is going to undertake this responsibility,”Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. “It’s an enormously important one — not just for theArmy but for the country.”Before retiring in August 2000, Schoomaker served 31 years in the Army. He said that heknows this Army is very different from the one he entered.”I truly feel blessed to be part of the Army’s future,” he said. “I have the opportunity to contend andhelp the Army as it becomes more relevant and ready.”Schoomaker is the first retired four-star officer ever to be called back to serve as the Army Chief of Staff. He and his father are also one of the few father-and-son teams to serve in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army. His father, Fred Schoomaker, who also had a long-standing military career, wasthe assistant to Army Chief of Staff GEN Harold Keith Johnson from 1964-1968. Schoomaker comesfrom a household of career military men. His younger brother, BG Eric Schoomaker, is the chief of theArmy's Southeast Regional Medical Command.  Before retiring, Schoomaker spent three years as commander-in-chief of the U.S. SpecialOperations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, FL. Since retiring, he has taught and mentored withinthe Army including serving on the adjunct faculty at the School for the Advanced Military Studies at FtLeavenworth, KS, and as a senior mentor with the Joint Forces Command  You can request records online The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is working to make it easier for veterans withInternet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members can use a new onlinemilitary personnel records system to request documents. Others who need documents must stillcomplete the Standard Form 180 which can be downloaded from the web site.The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests byeliminating the records center’s mail- room processing time. Also, because the requester will beasked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized.Veterans and next of kin may access this application at vetrecs.archives.gov. Please notethere is no “www” in the address. Highlights from Headquarters Greetings Retirees/soldiers and family members—- This has certainly been an eventful summer for the U.S. Army and this office. As the lead storyannounces, all of us join in welcoming our new Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), GEN Peter Schoomaker. All soldiers, retirees, veterans, and family members extend our best wishes andprayers to him as he begins his tenure of service as the 35thCSA. We also thank GEN Eric Shinsekifor his long and dedicated service to our Army and Nation. May God bless both of them and their families.During early August (pg. 4), we conducted a very successful Retirement Services Officer (RSO)training conference here. I believe it was important to bring together the installation people whoactually prepare soldiers for retirement; and then provide services to them and their families after retirement. They are such a vital part of the Army personnel team! It was a week packed with goodtraining and great team building because all attendees had the opportunity to exchange ideas andlearn from each other, and the speakers who provided training or inspiration. Feedback was positive.Our intent is to continue to conduct this weeklong training every other year as we routinely do.Since our last issue, I have traveled to Retiree Appreciation Days at Schofield Barracks and FtBuchanan. Once again I met many fine retirees and spouses, and learned from each of you. Soon Iwill be off to Germany and Italy; and in the late fall to several similar events. Being a part of theinstallation’s recognition of your service to the Army and this Nation is clearly one of the highlights of this job. Frankly, it's inspirational to meet you and talk to you, if only for a few minutes each.We're excited about a project that we've been working on for some time. Soon we'll help launch aweb-based “Army Benefits Tool” (ABT) that will be on a home page under “Army Knowledge Online”(AKO) (www.us.army.mil.) By the way, AKO is a great retiree benefit that you should check out. AKO isone way the Army is communicating with soldiers, retirees, and family members through the web.ABT's intent is to help soldiers, retirees, veterans, and family members locate sources of currentinformation on pay, benefits, and entitlements aligned to a “life cycle model” of a soldier—from entryinto service, thru transition, retirement, and even death. The web site will have a variety of informational links, as well as calculators to assist in individual planning for the future. Stay tuned.As I indicated in the May issue, we're working with the Installation Management Agency to insurethat installation Retirement Services Offices remain a priority personnel operation on post. Once againI solicit your participation in your area installation retiree council. Doing so will help make sure your views are heard by installation commanders and strengthen the role of the local RSO.Finally, continue to support the outstanding Americans in uniform. Who among us is not proud of what they do every day, no matter where on earth they're sent? Like many of you once did, they serve  in some tough places under extremely difficult conditions. As you did, they serve America with graceand strength and the certainty that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Remember their families.And always proudly proclaim “once a soldier, always a soldier”. It remains an honor to serve you. JohnW. Radke Chief, Army RetirementServices Overseas mail limit waived for Rx Military retirees living overseas can now receive prescription drug shipments larger than 16ounces.Contracted suppliers for the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP) program can mail a 90daysupply of prescription drugs, because an exception has been made to the policy that limits theweight of the packages sent to APO/FPO addresses.This exception to policy is limited to prescription medication shipments. No other suppliers or programs are authorized under this policy. Currently, Express-Scripts, Inc., is the only authorizedTMOP contracted supplier. Combat-Related Special Compensation update Three months after the start of Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), the Army hadreceived almost 16,000 applications. Six hundred thirty-two applications had been approved; 680were denied and 1,744 were waiting for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) records.CRSC is a special benefit for certain disabled military retirees. Congress enacted the benefit in theFiscal Year 2003 Defense Authorization Act.Military retirees receiving disability compensation from the VA have their military retired pay reducedby the amount of the disability compensation. CRSC will replace some of that reduction (except for anypart of the compensation paid for dependents) for military retirees with combat related disabilities whomeet the criteria stated below. CRSC will be paid by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’sCleveland Center which will make payments retroactive to June 1, 2003, for those whose disabilityoccurred before that date.To be eligible, the military retiree must have at least 20 years of active duty or a combination of active duty and Reserve points equaling 20 years of full-time active duty ( 7,200 points ) and either aVA disability rating of 10 percent or higher associated with award of a Purple Heart; or a VA disabilityrating of 60 percent or higher for other illnesses or injuries attributed to combatsituations, combat-oriented training, hazardous duty, or instrumentality of war.CRSC is not granted automatically. Retirees who believe they are eligible must apply for it.The application form and instructions are available at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/crsc/; or http://www.dior.whs.mil/forms/DD2860.PDF; or http://web1. whs.osd.mil/icdhome/DD2500-.htm; or through Army Installation Retirement Services Officers (RSO) (see pgs 9-10).Applications are being processed by the Army Personnel Command's CRSC Branch. A branchspokesman says that the main reason applications have been denied thus far is that the retiree’sdisability did not meet the combat-related definition. The CRSC branch offers the following guidancefor Army retirees who have applied or are planning to apply for CRSC. For Reserve retirees  – you must have 7,200 points to meet the length-of-servicerequirement. Reserve retirees who meet the disability requirement but did not earn 7,200 point donot qualify. For those retired for disability  – you still must have completed at least 20 years of service (or 7,200 points) in order to meet the length-of-service requirement. For all applicants  –When submitting an application, include a copy of your DD Form 214 or 215,retirement orders, Purple Heart citations and orders, initial and most current VA rating decisions,Reserve retirement and point documentation, and other service documents indicating a combat-relateddisability. For all retirees who have applied or are planning to apply for CRSC  – The CRSC Branchasks that you be patient since they've been flooded with applications. They say retirees will receive  an acknowledgement a few weeks after their applications are received. For all retirees calling the CRSC Branch  – The CRSC team asks for your patience becausethey're receiving about 700 calls a week. They report that the only time you’ll have to leave amessage is when two other calls are in progress or after hours (before 8:30 a.m. and after 5 p.m.).Two phone operators take calls and answer messages all day with an extra person added when thevoicemail system has 30 calls.So, if you have a question about CRSC, first, check the CRSC information on the ArmyRetirement Services Home Page (www. armyg1.army.mil/retire). If you still have questions, call your RSO. Finally, call the CRSC branch at 1-866-281-3254 or 703-325-5163.DoD offers the following additional guidance. Classify disabilities as awarded by the VA . If you don't have this information, contact the VAregional office (1-800-827-1000) and request a listing of their disabilities by VASRD code (VA Scheduleof Rating Disabilities). The VA has notified regional offices to expect and support such requests. Try to submit a copy of the first VA rating decision on the disability showing the basis of theaward — especially for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). More recent ratings may showonly that the disability rating has been increased with no information about the srcin of the disability or basis of the award. Avoid submission of unrelated documents . Try to provide only those supporting documentsthat deal with qualifying conditions. This is especially true for medical records. The review board mayfind it difficult to document a combat disability if the retiree sends in all his/her medical records. Workshop helps RSOs help soldiers, retirees Ninety-two Retirement Services Officers (RSOs) and Transition Center (TC) personnel took part ina weeklong training workshop in Arlington, VA, to help them serve soldiers, retirees and families.The bi-annual workshop, held from Aug. 4-8, was followed by a two-day class for new Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) counselors.RSOs prepare soldiers and families for retirement and continue to provide support for retirees andfamilies after retirement. All retirees and their families are served by an RSO although, in some cases,the RSO may serve retirees in more than one state. (See pgs. 9 and 10 for a list of RSOs.)The workshop was conducted by the G-1’s Army Retirement Service staff with the PersonnelCommand’s Retirement and Separations Branch. Workshop topics included TRICARE and Armymedicine, Retired and Annuitant Pay, the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the Army Well-BeingProgram and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. This year’s workshop featured two firsts –elective break-out instruction sessions and one-on-one staff assistance visits between 35 RSOs andmembers of the five-person Army Retirement Services staff. It was the first workshop for almost half of the attendees.As a result of downsizing, many RSOs serve not only as RSOs but also as TC managers, casualtyassistance officers and ID card officers. After recent competitions between government’s “mostefficient organization (MEO)” and private contractors, some RSOs are now part of a smaller MEO,others are contractors.Retired LTG John A. Dubia, Co-Chairman of the Army Chief of Staff’s Retiree Council, welcomedRSOs and TC personnel as they began a week of briefings by subject matter experts, telling them,“You’re the subject matter expert for retirees.” He reminded attendees of everything retirees continueto do for the Army as “retired still serving” volunteers on posts and “combat multipliers” volunteering for mobilization.The Adjutant General BG Gina Farrisee also welcomed workshop participants, telling them, “Isincerely thank you for everything you do to support soldiers and families.” SMA announces retirement at workshop Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) Jack L. Tilley chose the RSO/TC Training Workshop as theoccasion to announce his January 2004 retirement.
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