Kentucky National Guard deployed without health insurance for weeks

Soldiers from the 149th Vertical Construction Company in Cynthiana, Kentucky, deployed to the U.S. southern border on Oct. 15. No medical benefits guaranteed as part of their activation were deployed with them.

After not getting many immediate answers, a group of 120 deployed soldiers reached out with concern on behalf of their wives and fellow soldiers. WCPO then contacted Kentucky National Guard leaders and discovered a long-standing problem.

“The new payroll system we put in has a lot of problems, nothing is automated, and everything seems to be manual,” said James Kentucky Army National Guard Personnel Director. Army Colonel Richmond said.

Once orders are given, National Guard leaders send soldier information into the system to request salaries and benefits. However, in that case, the security guard’s computer system and the active-duty Army system don’t seem to work well together.

“Currently, there is a disconnect between the Army National Guard personnel and payroll system and the Defense Entitlement Reporting System (DEERS) system,” said Carla A. Raisler LTC, SC Director of Public Affairs at KYNG.

An email chain between KYNG, the wife of one of the 149th Soldiers, and representatives of Tricare and DEERS indicated that among the officers and officials responsible for ensuring that Soldiers received their benefits in a timely manner. I saw frustration.

One of the emails was a reply from the Head of the Human Resources Systems Branch at the Joint Force Headquarters pointing to the timeline of the problem.

M. Jason McIntosh said, “This process is a systemic problem (that has been going on for years) and cannot be resolved until someone comes along who can make changes at the board/congress level. .

But the National Guard is not unaware of the problem.

On September 20, National Guard Director General Daniel Håkansson addressed the issue at a media roundtable. His opening remarks linked the issue to overall readiness.

“Today, about 60,000 security guards do not have health insurance,” Hokanson said. with coverage. This can cause undue financial and medical hardship for Soldiers, Airmen, and families. . ”

There is a move to call for TRICARE for all health plans where Guard and Reserve members are already covered by the health plan as part of an off-deployment standby service. An idea to ease the activation of guard members.

WCPO learned of the issue on Tuesday, November 1st and made an inquiry the same day. Richmond said his team began the process of manually correcting each soldier’s record after being alerted.

“So we sympathize with the family’s plight and everyone jumped the ring of fire after learning this was a problem. All but two have now been fixed. And, Two of them are still working,” he said.

Richmond adds that changes will be made for future deployments as the National Security Agency tries to work on a better fix.

“I think the move forward is internal to the Kentucky National Guard. We’re going to put in some checks and balances just to make sure soldiers roll over into the personnel system and qualify for that healthcare,” he said. He said.

Soldiers of the 149th Vertical Construction Company have been deployed for 12 months.

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