September 16, 2011

Wyden Letter Prompts DoD to Change Policy Denying Injured Guard and Reserve Members Medical Assistance

Washington, D.C. – Coming on the heels of a letter sent to DoD undersecretary Dr. Clifford Stanley on Tuesday calling on the department to fix a policy severely inhibiting the access to healthcare injured National Guard and Reserve members receive after leaving the service, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) announced that Undersecretary Clifford has instituted changes to the Transitional Assistance Medical Program  (TAMP) that will ensure separating servicemembers injured in combat receive the healthcare they are legally entitled to.

Under the previously flawed policy, injured servicemembers that were assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit – a unit designed to give healthcare to injured servicemembers -- prior to separating from the service were considered to have left the army -- starting the clock on the temporary transitional health benefits offered by the TAMP program. 

“The TAMP program was designed to give returning servicemembers access to healthcare while they transition into their civilian lives,” Wyden said. “DoD’s misinterpretation of the intention of the program not only went against the spirit of the law that created it, it went against the common decency our troops should expect from a military they dedicated their lives to. The decision to change the policy means that the most vulnerable members of our armed services will be given the healthcare they have earned.”

TAMP gives servicemembers 180 days of access to the TRICARE healthcare program once separating from the service. Those injured servicemembers assigned to the WTU and considered officially separated from the service were having their temporary TRICARE benefits run concurrently with the healthcare they were receiving as an active-duty member assigned to the WTU. For a soldier with a severe injury like the a loss of a limb, the required stay in the WTU could easily exceed 180 days leaving them zero access to TRICARE once leaving the service.

The new policy will give all injured servicemembers receiving healthcare in the WTU access to the full 180 days of TRICARE they were promised once separating from the military.

Click here to read Stanley’s letter to Wyden announcing the change.

Click here to read Wyden’s original letter to Stanley.