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News | March 14, 2023

Know your VA and TRICARE Benefits

 – Munson Army Health Center (MAHC) held an educational benefits brief for Military Veterans and Retirees, 9 March 2023, in the Health Center’s Main Conference Room. This event was also livestreamed on Facebook.

Col. Michael S. Mendenhall, Commander/Director Munson Army Health Center, started the event by welcoming all who attended in person and virtually.

“We have had a few questions in our community about eligibility for our active-duty service members, as well as retirees and those that are about to retire. There are also questions for those individuals that have benefits within the Veterans Administration (VA). We want to help our community understand all military medical benefits with the VA and TRICARE, this way we can limit the confusion on what Munson can provide and the benefits that the VA can provide for eligible service members,” said Mendenhall.

Munson partnered with the VA by coordinating this event with Ms. Michelle Sweeney, Veterans Administration Outreach Program Specialist Eastern Kansas Healthcare System.
“The VA has so many benefits and medical services that are available to VA eligible Service members. One benefit I would like to talk about, and you don’t have to be a VA eligible or VA registered, is our Vet Centers. Vet Centers are not VA hospitals but are strictly counseling centers. The closest one is in Kansas City,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney continued, “If you are VA enrolled and eligible, you have an option to use it for what you want and use other insurance (TRICARE) for what you don’t want. They can sit side by side, but you must be enrolled. The VA may be able to pick up co-pays from other insurance for referred-out services.”

To enroll in the VA, the service member must have a DD form 214 that is the certificate of release or discharge from Active Duty.

“My best advice to you is to be your best advocate. Get what you need from the services at the VA. For example, if you want to change your health care provider, you can. If you want to use the pharmacy services, you can. You have options if you are enrolled,” said Sweeney.

Ms. Toni McCall, Chief Business Operations Division Munson Army Health Center, explains that TRICARE for Life is the portion of TRICARE that is available to retirees after you turn 65 years of age. It is TRICARE’s Medicare wrap around coverage.

“If you are not a TRICARE eligible beneficiary, Medicare wrap around coverage is typically something you have to pay for, but you get this for free as a TRICARE for Life beneficiary. This is available if you have Medicare parts A and B. It is important to understand that you must have part B to maintain your TRICARE eligibility. There is no premium associated with the TRICARE for life Benefits, but you will begin to pay a premium for Medicare part B,” said McCall.

McCall added, “Unlike TRICARE Prime, the authorization process is no longer required for most specialty care under TRICARE for Life. Your Primary Care Provider may refer you to a specialist, but this process occurs between the Primary Care Provider and the specialist without involving either Medicare or TRICARE. You also can keep your pharmacy benefits without having to pick up any additional coverage from a commercial insurance provider.”

It is recommended to schedule your first appointment (for after you turn 65) with your civilian provider before you turn 65. This is important because it may take several months to get your initial appointment with a civilian provider. This is so you will have continued medical coverage for after you turn 65.

We encourage you to go to to learn more about TRICARE for Life benefits and for questions about specific services.
For additional resources on VA benefits, go to
For information on the Kansas City, MO Vet Centers, call 816-753-1866.
For more information on Veterans services call Ms. Michelle (Sheli) Sweeney at 785-559-8190 or email at
To watch the Facebook Live Brief and see the slides presented go to
Need to Update Your Information in DEERS? Click Here