Healthcare option rejected
As House-Senate conferees ironed out final details of the 2002 defense authorization bill, sources confirmed two decisions affecting career military retirees. One, conferees rejected a Bush administration proposal to require 700,000 military retirees who use both the VA healthcare system and military hospitals or clinics to use one system or the other, but not both. Given the specialty care available only through the VA for prosthetics, blind rehabilitation, spinal cord injuries and the like conferees decided that Bush's "forced choice'' plan was a bad idea.
Retirees lost one, too, when conferees couldn't find money to lift the ban on concurrent receipt of both military retired pay and VA disability compensation. They did agree to raise special monthly payments, now running $100 to $300 a month, for the most severely disabled careerists. The raise will be modest, no more than $50 a month over two years. But a "gesture'" of some extra money will go for the first time to retirees with disability ratings of 60 percent, source said.
Military praised for stewardship
The military in Hawai'i is the "most improved player" on the team fighting to protect the environment, state Environmental Health chief Gary Gill said following a conference with senior military officers in Waikiki.
Gill said he has seen enormous improvement in the military's environmental stewardship over the past decade.
The comments came after members of the Hawaii Joint Interservice Regional Support Group met with heads of Hawai'i and federal environmental agencies Dec. 6 for the third annual meeting of the Hawaii Environmental Forum in Waikiki.
Gill told attendees that the state now has authority from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue permits under and enforce the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.