By Jim Cunningham IMCOM KOREAApril 17, 2009
CASEY GARRISON - Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, deputy director and program executive officer of the TRICARE management activity, office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), Washington, D.C., came to the USAG-Casey Community Activity Center with his wife, Brenda, April 8 to brief Family members, Soldiers, Civilians, and Retirees about improvements to TRICARE coverage and other access situations.
"When we were here in October last year, my wife and I made a promise we would go back and work with Gen. Walter (Skip) Sharp, commander United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea, and the staff of the medical brigade, and in my area of responsibility in TRICARE, and make some policy changes.
One was allowing command sponsorship and tour normalization. The second thing was making sure, as we get ready to put an overseas managed care support contract in place, certain things need to happen on the Korean peninsula from the line leadership and in our line of leadership in Washington, D.C. We have been able to make all those things happen for everybody except for retirees and the Civilian workforce."
After meeting with senior military and medical command personnel in Korea, progress is being made for retirees and the Civilian workforce, Granger explained.
"Everyone in uniform and retirees have given our nation a blank check that allows our nation to send them anywhere, most of the time allowing them to take their Families, to go and defend what we believe: democracy, our interests around the world, and our way of life; to defend the nation around the globe or at home. They deserve the best we can offer with TRICARE and this entitlement program. What we are doing in coming back here is making sure we are filling that commitment and the Army Family Covenant."
The changes, which were promised by the leadership on the peninsula and in Washington, D.C, have taken place and are taking place, Granger explained.
"You can see the changes at USAG-Casey and on USAG-Humphreys," Granger said. "We are now seeing Families in the Troop Medical Clinic whether command sponsored or not. Gen. Sharp has put in the right policies and procedures and he has the right support back in Washington, D.C. to move forward and do this over time."
The last thing they will do is award a contract as an over arching umbrella to coordinate all medical care so clinic commanders and doctors are not worried about managing memorandums of understanding among a lot of local Korean hospitals, Granger explained.
"The last time I was here, I came to the group and I wanted find out what was needed in health care," said Brenda, wife of Maj. Gen. Granger. "I also came to represent the Military Child Education Coalition. I am back this time to bring you answers to your health issues."
The first question Brenda had for the group last year was 'what is working.' She wrote a report to Gen. Sharp based on the information she gathered in October.
"The answer I got from the group then was Family practice physicians were good doctors," she said. "The military treatment center has a signup sheet for flu shots, and Family members liked that. Immunizations are available when appointments are scheduled ahead of time, which is good. Army Community Services have health and education information, the Families thought that was working. Dental care with Chicago Dental and Concordia was working except for Family members."
The common situations needing work among USAG-Humphreys, USAG-Yongsan and USAG-Casey were access to health care, or getting an appointment. Emergency resources and continuity of care are also on the list for needing work, along with benefits for spouses and Family members. She found all three garrisons had transportation problems in getting to doctor's appointments and the costs involved.
"In the 'what we can do more of' category I wrote in my report: work with units so the Soldier is not penalized for taking the spouse to the doctor when there is no transportation available."
"This has been our lifelong commitment as public servants," Granger said. "We are patriots and patriotism has been in our hearts since we put on the uniform. Brenda and I will come back and visit because it is always good to visit where you have been before to see how it grows."