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Tom Philpott

After service in the Coast Guard, and 17 years as a reporter and editor, Tom launched "Military Update," his syndicated weekly news column that features timely news and analysis on issues affecting active duty members, reservists, retirees and their families, in 1994.


"Military Update" columnist Tom Philpott, left, moderates a panel discussion with retired Gen. David Petraeus and Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., in October, 2018.<br>Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes

'Military Update' columnist Tom Philpott ends 25 years of reporting for and about the military

As "Military Update" columnist Tom Philpott announces his retirement, he looks back on 25 years of providing America's servicemembers and veterans with the inside track on issues that affect their lives.


MILITARY UPDATE

Senators urge VA not to fumble expansion of caregiver benefits

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie last December ordered suspension of further downgrades or stoppage of caregiver benefits to current recipients. Senators have praised to move, but say there is still a lot of work to be done.


MILITARY UPDATE

Personnel chiefs blame unsafe base housing on leadership failures

Three-star personnel chiefs and senior non-commissioned officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps testified Wednesday that unsafe and sometimes scandalous conditions of base housing units can largely be blamed on leadership failures.


MILITARY UPDATE

Use scalpel, not cleaver on medical billets, USUHS chief urges

Dr. Richard W. Thomas, a retired Army major general, surgeon and current president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, is worried about tentative Defense Department plans to eliminate more than 17,000 uniformed medical billets.


MILITARY UPDATE

Task force backs a merger of the military's stores

Under a proposal suggested by a Department of Defense-sponsored task force, the military’s three separate exchange services should be consolidated under a single resale enterprise, estimated to save between $700 million to $1.3 billion over the first five years.


MILITARY UPDATE

New VA rules on access to outside care leave many unknowns

The number of veterans eligible for health care services in their communities, using networks of private-sector providers contracted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is expected to jump this summer when regulations setting new access standards for community care become final.


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  • MILITARY UPDATE

    'Blue Water Navy' bill sinking in Senate despite late-hour talks

    As many as 90,000 ailing “Blue Water Navy” veterans are likely to have to wait for a new Congress to see legislation passed that would make them eligible for Agent Orange-related disability compensation and VA-paid health care.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    VA officials say they were blindsided by computer problems, process changes on GI Bill payments

    At a hearing this month on GI Bill claim delays, lawmakers criticized VA leaders and legacy computer systems that seem to defy modernization despite Congress year after year allocating hundreds of millions of dollars for VA information technology upgrades.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Tricare seeking right mix of therapies for kids with autism

    Nearly 15,000 military children with autism receive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services, usually 20 or more hours of therapy per week, to learn desired behaviors and douse undesirable behaviors under a demonstration program offered through Tricare, the military’s health insurance benefit.


  • Military Update

    Vets resume court fight over ‘non-VA emergency care’ costs

    By inserting two words — “deductibles, coinsurance” — into the revised rule, VA successfully neutralized the impact of the 2016 Staab decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to save the department billions of dollars.


  • Military Update

    Restructuring of health system slows to curb readiness risk

    This was to be the month that the 5-year-old Defense Health Agency assumed management responsibility for all Army, Navy and Air Force health care facilities. The restructuring of the military health system continues and the deadline has been extended.


  • Military Update

    Student vets win too as court unchains Obama loan protection

    U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss dismissed legal arguments from an association of for-profit colleges, which succeeded for more than a year to block Obama administration rules to bring financial relief to defrauded student borrowers and to strengthen federal protections against deceptive school practices.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Wilkie jilts Walz on Mar-a-Lago probe, cites pending lawsuit

    VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has refused to provide Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, with copies of emails and other internal communications between Department of Veterans Affairs officials and three members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club who allegedly influenced VA policies and executive hiring and firing decisions for at least a year.


  • MILITARY UPDATE COLUMN

    Isakson vows 'Blue Water' relief; Trump inflates Choice reform

    Veterans have reason to be uncertain over what Congress and the Trump administration plan both for “Blue Water Navy” Vietnam War veterans who have Agent Orange-related ailments, and for veterans seeking smoother access to more convenient and timely health care from private-sector physicians and hospitals.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Tricare recoups $280M so far from compound drug scams

    What bad actors in the pharmacy industry did over the last decade or so was produce compound drugs of unproven effectiveness; conspire with unscrupulous health care providers to write prescriptions for them, and create marketing networks to target health insurance plans with relaxed rules on compound drugs.


  • Military Update

    ‘Blue Water Navy’ supporters target VA secretary’s hardline

    Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, met with Robert Wilkie to try to coax the new VA secretary out of his department’s newly stiffened opposition to a House-passed bill that would extend VA health care and compensation to tens of thousands of former sailors and Marines with Agent Orange-associated ailments. “We haven’t convinced him yet,” Brown said.


  • Military Update

    DAV report: Health care gaps narrowing but remain for female veterans

    The VA has made many reforms in response to long neglected medical needs of a rising population of female veterans, according to a new report. But more improvements are needed, as women are carving out larger, more prominent places in the military and veteran spaces.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Retirees to gain access to wider menu of dental plans

    Sometime in October military retirees can begin to review online the various features and monthly premiums of dental plan options for replacing their Tricare Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), which is set to expire after Dec. 31.


  • Military Update

    VA cites slow-rolled Agent Orange report to oppose spina bifida bill

    In March 2016, Veterans Affairs received the latest in a series of scientific literature reviews from the National Academy of Medicine on Agent Orange-associated ailments. VA officials promised to review the results and that then-VA Secretary Bob McDonald would act on the Academy report’s findings by July 2016.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Mulvaney is urged not to weaken military consumer protections

    Almost 30 military associations and veterans groups on Thursday sent a joint letter to Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, urging that he not weaken CFPB enforcement of the 2006 Military Lending Act to leave military consumers more vulnerable to predatory or deceitful lenders.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Former secretary Principi finds Mar-a-Lago trio's alleged influence on VA 'astounding'

    Former VA Secretary Anthony Principi says he “found it astounding” that three wealthy friends of President Donald Trump, members of his Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Fla., were able to affect executive hiring at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and might have influenced VA policy.


  • Military Update

    Veteran groups divide over tighter transfer rules for GI Bill

    Two of the nation’s largest veteran service organizations hold opposing views on the Defense Department’s plan to tighten rules next year on the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to servicemembers’ spouses and children.


  • Military Update

    VA rips ‘blue water’ Agent Orange bill, urges Senate to sink it

    The Blue Water Navy bill passed the House unanimously in late June and seemed certain to fly through the Senate. On Wednesday, however, Paul R. Lawrence, the undersecretary for benefits, delivered a blistering attack on the bill.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Retiree Tricare hikes rejected; disabled vets to shop on base

    A House-Senate conference committee tasked with ironing out differences in separate versions of the defense authorization bill has rejected Senate-passed provisions that would have sharply increased Tricare fees, deductibles and co-pays for a million retirees under age 65.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Number of disabled vets to get tax refunds jolts law’s backers

    The Defense Department and Internal Revenue Service announced this week that almost 10 times that number of disabled veterans — just over 130,000 — are due tax refunds under the 2016 law, which Congress passed to correct a long-tolerated flaw in tax withholding practices for disability severance pay.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Conferees urged to reject Senate-passed Tricare fee increases

    The Senate wants the higher Tricare cost-shares to apply, as the Department of Defense intended, to all current and future retirees. If the Senate language becomes law, DOD officials would reset fees starting in 2020.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Congress, Pentagon step toward allowing far more shoppers on base

    Defense Department officials have told Congress they conditionally support opening on-base shopping to disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and caregivers of severely injured veterans — changes to current law that would add at least a few hundred thousand weekly shoppers to commissaries and exchanges nationwide.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Vet realtor pulls alarm on plan to fund ‘blue water’ Navy bill

    The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s plan to pay for a bill to extend Agent Orange disability benefits to 90,000 “blue water” Navy veterans of the Vietnam War will not continue to shield all disabled veterans from a funding fee.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    Lump-sum ‘take rates’ projected for new blended retirement

    In a recent report, government actuaries assume that 5.2 percent of retiring officers and 22.8 percent of retiring enlisted will be enticed enough by cash to accept deep cuts in retired pay. Here's what that could mean.


  • Military update

    Did Senate panel go too far on officer management reforms?

    Personnel chiefs jointly testified in January on the need to make targeted reforms to the 1980 Defense Officer Personnel Management Act to provide greater flexibility to recruit and retain the officers they need. Reforms unveiled Wednesday might be viewed by service leaders as having gone beyond what’s needed to modernize officer management.


  • MILITARY UPDATE

    DECA chief hears you: Commissary shelves will be better stocked

    The biggest problem with commissaries, and perhaps a major reason why sales are falling, “is product availability,” wrote Vicky Olhson, wife of a retired Air Force officer who shops on Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. “There seems to be a total lack of concern on the part of the commissary management to keep shelves stocked.”


  • Military Update

    DOD looking to advance plan to merge commissary and exchange systems

    Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan has directed that a task force be formed by July 1 to develop a business case for consolidating the military’s three separate exchange services, and the Defense Commissary Agency, into a single resale enterprise to oversee and streamline all on-base store operations.

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