RIVERSIDE – Never one to turn his back on a veteran, a solider, a member of the National Guard, or Reserves, Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez has enlisted the help of fellow supervisors to fight for military personnel again.

This time the fight is for healthcare.

Perez and Fifth District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt joined forces to support federal legislation that would allow Guard and Reserve members serving in dual status to qualify for TRICARE like others in the Guard. TRICARE is the health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families around the world.

Perez and Hewitt convinced fellow supervisors to direct the CEO, COO, and or Deputy CEO of Legislative Affairs to instruct their Washington, D.C.-based lobby team to formally convey the support of Supervisors for U.S Senate Bill 164 and House of Representatives Resolution 613S. 164 and H.R. 613, the TRICARE Reserve Select Improvement Act.

Supervisors want Guard and Reserve members, serving in dual status, to have the same health care options as others who serve.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines, R-Montana, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia; sponsored Senate Bill 164. U.S. Reps. John Garamendi, D-California, and Trent Kelly, R-Mississippi, sponsored H.R. 613. The two bills will expand TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) eligibility to all National Guardsmen and Reservists, regardless of their civilian occupation.

Under current law federal employees who serve in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve are prohibited from participating in Tricare Reserve Select (TRS).  This disparity creates a financial incentive for transitioning service members to take their skill set and credentials away from the federal government, and penalizes those who choose to serve their country in a civilian capacity. It also limits the effectiveness of TRS as a recruiting tool within the public sector.

Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is a premium-based health insurance plan for National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve service members that provides a comparable level of care as their active duty counterparts, at an affordable cost.  The military services leverage TRS as an incentive to recruit new service members, as well as retain others who are leaving active duty with valuable, high-demand skillsets—such as aircraft maintenance.  These service members are top candidates for the National Guard’s dual-status technician program, which allows an individual to continue serving an on a part-time basis, and help maintain military aircraft as a federal civilian.

This would expand healthcare choice to more than 70,000 dual status military technicians in Reserve Components nationwide. Supervisors are passionate as this legislation directly benefits dual status military personnel and their families who are assigned to March Air Reserve Base and the Naval Surface Warfare Center along with Armories and Reserve Centers in Riverside County.

Support for the legislation would ensure Guardsman, Reservists, and families have greater choice and equal access to competitive healthcare coverage.

The two bills have garnered support of numerous Military Service Organizations.



Image Sources

  • National Guard: NPR