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Washington Update for October 3rd, 2016

TREA- the Voice of the Enlisted

Washington Update for Monday, October 3rd 2016


Last Thursday Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to finance the federal government through December 9th and then adjourned until after the election. Of course, they went home to campaign. On Friday President Obama signed the CR so there will not be a shutdown.

In additional to the regular costs of running the government the CR provided money to deal with the Zika mosquito crisis, to help floods victims in Louisiana and many other states (which may include victims of Hurricane Matthew as it aims at our East Coast) and money to help Flint, Michigan with their lead contaminated water system.  But it will require that we wait until their return in November when we will have a lame duck session of Congress. Then they should pick up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and other bills that are of deep concern to TREA members.


Wells Fargo In Trouble Again – This Time for Violating Law that Protects Servicemembers


Navy Does Away with Rating Titles for Enlisted Sailors


…. And the reaction


DHA announces that CVS is out and Walgreen’s is back in the TRICARE pharmacy network





Wells Fargo In Trouble Again – This Time for Violating Law that Protects Servicemembers


One of the nation’s largest banks, Wells Fargo, has been in the news lately because of a scandal in which company employees created millions of phony bank accounts in reaction to company pressure to boost sales figures.  The CEO of the company has been in the hot seat before investigating Congressional committees and thousands of employees have been fired.



Now we’ve just learned that Wells Fargo has also been violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, between 2008 and 2015 “Wells Fargo Bank unlawfully repossessed hundreds of servicemembers’ cars without the proper process, and the bank will now rightfully pay for its violations.”



The bank has agreed to pay those who were affected $4 million to compensate for the unlawful repossessions.



According to, “The Justice Department got a complaint that Wells Fargo grabbed the Ford from an Army National Guard soldier in North Carolina, according to court records and the department’s statement. The bank shed the vehicle in an auction before demanding $10,000 in an unpaid balance from the soldier -- a situation that raised a red flag for a military lawyer helping with his debt counseling.



Navy Does Away with Rating Titles for Enlisted Sailors


In a move that undoes a tradition that goes back to the Continental Navy, last week the Department of the Navy scrapped all of its 91 enlisted ratings titles. The shift is designed to ease transitions between enlisted job specialties.

Sailors will no longer be identified by their job title, for instance, Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor, effective immediately. Instead, that would be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor, according to the Navy Times.


Navy officials say the move is intended to improve sailors' lives and ease their transition into the civilian workforce by broadening their skills. Within the next three to four years, earlier if possible, the service plans to allow sailors to retrain in related skills, expanding their worth to the Navy while reaping broader assignment opportunities as well as increased advancement changes and greater access to special pays and bonuses that come with the most critical skills. 


“We’re going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other services do,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke in a Sept. 19 interview. “We recognize that’s going to be a large cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that now.”

Sailors past and present have longstanding and deep love of the titles that have defined their Navy lives. All of these now belong to the history books. 

To highlight a few: Gunner’s Mate stood up the watch in 1775 in the Contintental Navy. Boatswain’s Mate dropped anchor in 1775, too. Hospital Corpsman rushed to duty in 1948 after being called four other names over the previous 150 years. Operations Specialists started tracking in 1972 an upgrade from the name Radarman before it. 

Through Navy history, as many as 700 titles have come and gone. Over 400 were created and eliminating during and immediately after World War II. But this move will disband these ratings entirely and reorganize sailors into Navy Occupational Specialties, or NOS, that will define the peer group they compete with for promotion. Under this new system, for example, Gunner's mates will be identified as B320 and quartermasters will be B450. 

The move also strips the titles airman, fireman, constructionman and hospitalman, titles that will be also replaced by job codes. The title seaman is the sole non-rated rating remaining, for E-3 and below. 

The moves leaves the enlisted force's foremost symbols as the petty officer crow and the chief petty officer anchors. It remains unclear what will happen to the ratings badges that feature iconic rating insignia that officials are considering changing. An engineman’s gear. An information systems technician’s sparks. These images were beloved by many and inspired countless tattoos.


The huge shift was approved by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and had been advocated by the now retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens, who urged it as way to promote more cross-training and boost sailors’ post-service employment opportunity. It began by a directive from Mabus to find gender-neutral rating titles that stripped them of the word "man," in an effort to be more inclusive to women sailors who make up an increasing size of the force. 


Sailors aren't losing everything in their titles, however: the warfare qualifications that demonstrate mastery of their operational commands will remain. 


Still up in the air is what to do about the Navy's specialty marks — those rating-specific designs on dress uniforms, belt buckles — even pins on a sailor's ball cap.  

For now, there is no change, Burke said.  



…. And the reaction


Many sailors are very upset by the announcement that the Navy is walking away from its centuries oud enlisted rating city. Indeed 3 days after the announcement an internet petition posted at has approximately half of the 100,000 signatures it needs to require the White House to comment on the petition (It certainly does not require that the White House agrees to restore the rating system.



The petition says: 

“For 241 Years Navy personnel have been identified by their Job specialty, known as a "Rating". The oldest rates such as Boatswain Mates, and Gunners Mate predate the founding of this country. Being known by your job title was a sense of pride. A sign of accomplishment. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations just senselessly erased this tradition. One only has to visit Navy social media pages to see the disgust and outrage of current and former personnel. One by one current leadership continues to erode the very things that set the Navy apart from the other services. Mr. President, I and the others signing this petition request you use your authority to restore to our Sailors what they have earned.”



DHA announces that CVS is out and Walgreen’s is back in the TRICARE pharmacy network


Last week the Defense Health Agency (DHA) announced that on December 1st Walgreen’s will be returning to the TRICARE Pharmacy Network and CVS will be out. You may remember that in 2011 a similar situation occurred. Walgreen refused to give the discounts Express-Scripts were demanding on behalf of TRICARE and left the network. Now CVS is refusing additional discounts and will be an out-of-network in 2 months.


After December 1st if you have a prescription filled at any CVS (including those in Targets) you will have to pay the full cost of their medication up front and file a claim with Tricare for partial reimbursement.


Even with this change the TRICARE Pharmacy Network will have over 58,000 pharmacies and 98% of TRICARE beneficiaries will have a network pharmacy within 5 miles of their homes.      

DHA said Express Scripts will be reaching out to patients who take specialty medications to help them transfer their prescriptions without a gap in coverage.

Express-Scripts is the “pharmacy benefit manager” for DoD’s pharmacy benefit. If you have any questions either write us or go to Express-Scripts’ website at:


PHOTO:  Remembering a Hero-Sailors pay their respects at the grave of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL, on the 10-year anniversary of his death, at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, Sept. 29, 2016. Monsoor posthumously received the Medal of Honor in 2008 for his heroic actions while serving in Ramadi, Iraq. The sailors are assigned to the USS Michael Monsoor. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Abe McNatt


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