4 things in the defense spending bill for veterans

Matt Saintsing
August 01, 2018 - 3:59 pm

Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

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The must-pass annual defense spending bill was just rubber stamped by the Senate, sending the massive $716 billion legislation to the White House. 

Here’s how the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act will impact veterans: 

Access to on-base shopping

Disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, and caregivers of vets severely injured in battle will be given access to shop on a military installation. They’ll also be able to use military recreational facilities, like the gym or pool. 

Commissary and Exchange expansion

Cashiers at military commissaries and exchange retail services can expect a drove of new shoppers. Beginning in 2020, any veteran with a service-connected disability can walk in and get groceries at a commissary, or shop at base and post exchanges. Additionally, Purple Heart, Medal of Honor recipients, and former prisoners of war will see the benefit. 

Tricare (un)changes

Military advocates successfully killed a Senate provision that would have removed protections from about a million recent military retirees who are grandfathered into current TRICARE fees. Senators largely wanted cost-sharing across all current and future retirees under 65.

The CBO estimated that retirees who use TRICARE Select would have seen a cost bump from $1,645 a year, to $2,800 for family coverage and more than double from $570 to $1,160 for individual coverage. 

Trump’s Parade

The House added language that funded President Donald Trump’s military parade in Washington, D.C. “It’s appropriate to honor and celebrate 100 years of patriotic sacrifice in a way that expresses appreciation and admiration for our men and women in uniform,” reads the conference report. 

The bill does, however, “prohibits the use of operational units or equipment in the parade if the Secretary of Defense believes such use will hamper readiness.” 

The annual bill, which usually isn’t passed until after the August recess, now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. 

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