Covid-19 Government Need to Know Archives

  • June 24, 2020

    TAPS Participates in Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Toxic Exposure Roundtable: TAPS applauds Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT) for hosting a virtual roundtable discussion last week on the damaging effects of toxic exposure on service members, veterans, and their families.

    Coleen Bowman, TAPS Senior Advisor for Illness Loss and the wife of Sergeant Major Rob Bowman who died from a rare cancer that was caused from exposure to toxins while deployed, participated in this important roundtable. TAPS will continue to work with the committee to ensure service members, veterans, and their survivors receive the care and benefits they have earned.

  • June 24, 2020

    Secretary of Defense Briefs MSO/VSO Leaders on DoD Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper spoke with 30 military and veteran service organization leaders today, including TAPS President and Founder Bonnie Carroll, on the Department’s actions to improve diversity and inclusion. Sec. Esper outlined his three initiatives to build a better U.S. military that pursues equal opportunity and inclusiveness.

    The three initiatives are: 1) Directed the civilian and uniformed leadership of the Pentagon to immediately present actionable ideas that the department can begin implementing now. 2) Standing up an internal “Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion in the Military,” which will develop concrete, actionable recommendations to increase racial diversity and ensure equal opportunity across all ranks - especially in the officer corps. 3) Establishing a “Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services” that will provide long-term and sustainable guidance to the Department’s leadership on these issues.

  • June 24, 2020

    Disabled Vets Will Receive Lifetime Access to National Parks: The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act (S.327), introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill would make all veterans with service-connected disabilities eligible for a free, lifetime entry to America’s 419 national parks sites and other federal lands. Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • June 24, 2020

    Theodore Roosevelt Sailors Receive COVID-19 Antibody Testing: Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt participated in voluntary COVID-19 antibody testing. Thousands of sailors from the aircraft carrier and the embarked staffs signed on to have their blood drawn. It will be analyzed for antibodies indicating whether or not they have been previously exposed to COVID-19.

  • June 24, 2020

    IRS Operations During COVID-19 Mission-Critical Functions Continue: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds taxpayers and tax professionals to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed the processing of tax returns, refunds, and payments. To protect the public and employees, and in compliance with orders of local health authorities around the country, certain IRS services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns and responding to correspondence are extremely limited or suspended until further notice.

    All Taxpayer Assistance Centers remain temporarily closed as are many volunteer tax preparation sites until further notice. Although the tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020, from April 15, the IRS continues to process electronic tax returns, issue direct deposit refunds, and accept electronic payments. Taxpayers should file electronically through their tax preparer, tax software provider, or IRS Free File.

  • June 24, 2020

    CDC Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps: As some communities in the United States begin to convene youth camps, CDC offers suggestions for ways in which camp administrators can help protect campers, staff, and communities, and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Camp administrators can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations, making adjustments to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community.

  • June 17, 2020

    The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) was launched today. PREVENTS is the culmination of a year-long collaboration with over 150 public and private stakeholders focused on developing and implementing a national plan for the prevention of suicide at the national and community levels. A critical message of PREVENTS is that we need to change the culture surrounding mental health and suicide, encouraging Veterans – as well as our whole Nation – to be open to talking about and addressing mental health in general and suicide in particular. 

    TAPS is an integral part of the PREVENTS task force and is honored to be represented at today’s event. TAPS Suicide Loss Support provides special resources and programming to all survivors of military suicide loss.

  • June 8, 2020

    IRS Warns Against COVID-19 Fraud: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today reminded taxpayers to guard against tax fraud and other related financial scams related to COVID-19. In the last few months, the IRS Criminal Investigation division (CI) has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes looking to take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers. CI continues to work with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad to educate taxpayers about these scams and investigate the criminals perpetrating them during this challenging time.

  • June 8, 2020

    Army Targets COVID-19 Vaccine by End of Year: The global race to field a lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine may be nearing its last lap, as the Army aims for a vaccine by the end of this year to prevent the deadly virus, said the force’s top medical research officer.

  • June 8, 2020

    VA National Cemeteries Resume Committal and Memorial Services Halted by COVID-19: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries will resume committal services starting June 9 in all but two VA national cemeteries. VA national cemeteries will contact families who were unable to hold a committal service due to the COVID-19 pandemic to arrange memorial services for their loved ones beginning in July.

  • June 8, 2020

    VA Releases Safe Firearm Storage Toolkit in Suicide Prevention Effort: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released a Safe Firearm Storage Toolkit developed in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry. The toolkit guides communities through the process of building coalitions to raise awareness about safe storage and its connection to suicide prevention.

  • June 8, 2020

    DoD Updates Guidance on Personnel Movement and Travel Restrictions: The Secretary of Defense recently signed a memo, moving to a conditions-based, phased approach to personnel movement and travel. Locations must meet three conditions to lift travel restrictions. These criteria are: 1) Removal of shelter-in-place orders or other travel restrictions, 2) 14-day downward trajectory of flu-like and COVID-19-like symptoms, and 3) 14-day downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases or positive tests.

  • June 8, 2020

    DoD Increases Money for Do-It-Yourself Moves: A revision to the Defense Department’s Joint Travel Regulations has increased the monetary payment to service members who choose to move their household goods. From May 26 through December 31, 2020, service members using the Personally Procured Move (PPM) program can receive a payment equal to 100 percent of the estimated cost the government would pay to move their items.

  • June 1, 2020

    Economic Impact Payments Being Sent by Prepaid Debit Cards: Nearly 4 million people are being sent their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card, instead of paper check. The debit cards arrive in a plain envelope from "Money Network Cardholder Services." Unfortunately, we are hearing that some people are confusing them with unsolicited credit card offers and are accidentally throwing them out or shredding them.

    Get the details on what the prepaid debit card looks like and how to access or recover your payment.

  • May 29, 2020

    President Trump Extends Guard Coronavirus Mission Until Mid-August: President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will extend National Guard orders authorizing domestic coronavirus response missions through mid-August, according to the Military Times. In a twitter post Thursday afternoon, Trump praised the Guardsmen for “doing a great job fighting the coronavirus” and said their orders would be extended an additional two months “so they can continue to help states succeed in their response and recovery efforts.”

  • May 29, 2020

    Representatives Introduces Bill to Ensure Cost-Of-Living Adjustment for Veterans: In order to ensure our nation’s veterans receive the benefits they have earned, House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) Chairwoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) introduced a bipartisan bill to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to veterans. The legislation is cosponsored by DAMA Ranking Member Representative Mike Bost (IL-12).

  • May 29, 2020

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Releases Resources to Assist States to Open: Across America, states and localities are experiencing different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have chosen to begin moving gradually and strategically toward resuming civic life. To help states, tribes, localities, and territories, as well as businesses and community organizations operate as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC released two new resources to aide in reopening.

  • May 29, 2020

    Department of Defense Changing of Health Protection Condition Levels During COVID-19: Secretary Esper updated guidance to commanders on changing local Force Health Protection Condition (HPCON) levels to allow bases to begin planning to return to normal operations in the COVID environment. This guidance sets the considerations and processes for commanders who are seeking to adjust their local HPCON levels in a manner that will continue to protect our personnel from further spread of COVID-19 and preserve the operational readiness of our global force.

  • May 29, 2020

    VA has Security Tools to Help Veterans Guard Online Privacy During COVID-19: During the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have turned to accessing critical health care and financial services online and on their mobile devices. VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) has security tools to protect Veterans’ personal information online. To help Veterans be proactive in guarding their privacy, health, and financial information online, VA is offering step-by-step video instructional guides. These video instructional guides are called "Privacy Best Practices for Veterans" and "Authentication Methods for Mobile Applications and VA.gov."

  • May 22, 2020:

    National Memorial Day Observance: The 152nd National Memorial Day Observance to honor America’s fallen military service members at Arlington National Cemetery will be live-streamed beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, May 25, 2020.

    The U.S. Army Military District of Washington will conduct a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at 9 a.m. at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony hosted by Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Mark T. Esper, will be modified from the standard ceremony to practice physical distancing to ensure the safety of all participants. Attendance of the National Memorial Day Observance is limited to official ceremony participants. The public is encouraged to live-stream the ceremony.

  • May 20, 2020:

    TAPS Supports Bill to Expand Veterans Survivor Benefits: TAPS is honored to join with Representative TJ Cox (D-CA-21) along with Representatives Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39), Ted Yoho (R-FL-3), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5) to support their bipartisan legislation, the Caring for Survivors Act of 2020.

    This important legislation would improve Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for survivors who lost their loved ones to a service-related injury or illness by:

    • Reducing the age allowed for a surviving spouse to remarry and maintain their benefits from 57 to 55, consistent with other Federal survivor programs.
    • Increasing the DIC base rate to 55% of the rate of compensation paid to a totally disabled veteran.
    • Easing the 10-year rule for eligibility and replace it with a graduated scale of benefits that begins after five years and increases by percentage until reaching full amount at the 10-year mark.


    TAPS has long advocated for increasing and improving DIC, and we remain committed to ending the remarriage penalty for all surviving spouses.

  • May 20, 2020:

    Memorial Day Commemorations at NCA Cemeteries: The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will be observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed for our Nation while protecting the health and safety of visitors and team members during COVID-19.

    All 142 VA national cemeteries will be open for visitation throughout the Memorial Day weekend. Families and friends are welcome to place flowers or individual flags at Veterans' gravesites. Cemetery visitors are asked to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health and safety guidelines, and local travel restrictions. Families are being asked to spread out their visits over the weekend leading up to Memorial Day on May 25, 2020.

    NCA will not host public events for Memorial Day, including the mass placement and retrieval of gravesite flags by any groups. Cemetery staff will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony to officially commemorate Memorial Day and will share pictures of the event on Facebook and other social media. Please view and share the NCA Memorial Day Message.

  • May 20, 2020:

    Boy Scouts of America & NCA Join Together to Ensure Every Fallen Hero is Remembered on Memorial Day: Scouts across the country will build on the tradition of honoring our nation's fallen heroes this Memorial Day by posting public tributes to our veterans in partnership with the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    This effort will take place through the Veterans Legacy Memorial – a digital memorial that houses a profile for each of the 3.7 million veterans interred in one of more than 140 national cemeteries.

    Members of the public are encouraged to participate in this collective tribute for our fallen heroes by leaving a message for at least one veteran by Memorial Day on the Veterans Legacy Memorial webpage and by joining Scouts and the country in the National Moment of Remembrance.

  • May 20, 2020:

    VA Launches New Roll of Honor Web Page: The site provides an opportunity to remember those Veterans interred during the COVID-19 crisis and reflects interments in our cemeteries starting on April 13, 2020. While the VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will work with families to schedule committal services once the crisis passes, they want to honor and remember these Veterans now.

    Each day, the NCA will add the names, branch of service and location of burial for each Veteran interred in a national cemetery on the previous day. Those interred during this crisis will also be memorialized with individual profile pages in the Veterans Legacy Memorial, after the cemetery updates the Veteran's interment record.

  • May 20, 2020:

    TRICARE Revises Telehealth Policy to Respond to COVID-19: To improve virtual access to health care during COVID-19, TRICARE recently revised its policy on telehealth services. This temporarily allows you access to care more easily during the constraints of the pandemic. These changes will remain for the duration of the stateside public health emergency. They may be in place overseas beyond the U.S. national emergency end date, based on local conditions.

  • May 13, 2020:

    Why the Economic Impact Payment Amount Could be Different than Anticipated: The IRS and Treasury have successfully delivered nearly 130 million Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to Americans in less than a month, and more are on the way. Some Americans may have received a payment amount different than what they expected. Payment amounts vary based on income, filing status and family size.

    In many instances, eligible taxpayers who received a smaller-than-expected EIP may qualify to receive an additional amount early next year when they file their 2020 federal income tax return. EIPs are technically an advance payment of a new temporary tax credit that eligible taxpayers can claim on their 2020 return. Everyone should keep for their records the letter they receive by mail within a few weeks after their payment is issued. For answers to some of the most common scenarios, please read the IRS news release.

  • May 13, 2020:

    Senators Work to Increase Telehealth Options for Military Families During COVID-19: Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a bipartisan call for the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to cover the full scope of telehealth services under TRICARE amid the coronavirus crisis, particularly mental health care.

    On May 12, 2020, TRICARE announced that it now covers telehealth visits by telephone and has eliminated the patient co-pays and cost shares for telehealth options during the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made during a virtual town hall meeting convened by the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative, which TAPS is an active member.

  • May 13, 2020:

    House and Senate Introduce Legislation to Provide Financial Protection for Military Families Amid COVID-19: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), and Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to provide additional legal protections for servicemembers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

    The legislation expands SCRA protections to servicemembers and their families who were previously issued orders to change duty stations but, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, received a stop movement order and may have a housing or car lease in two different locations. The legislation would be retroactive to March 1, providing much needed relief to military families.

  • May 7, 2020:

    DoD Streamlines Process for Student Military Survivor Benefits: The Department of Defense has streamlined the process for the child beneficiaries of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) to certify that they are full-time students. The SBP annuity paid to the children of fallen Service members and deceased military retirees typically ends when a recipient turns 18 but may continue to age 22 as long as the child is attending school full-time: high school or an accredited trade school, technical or vocational institute, college or university. The law requires that when a child turns 18, he or she certify their attendance in a full-time course of study, a process that can often be frustrating for busy college students.  

    This has been particularly challenging during the current COVID-19 crisis when school campuses are closed while school continues remotely. The DD Form 2788, “Child Annuitant’s School Certification,” is now a self-certification form allowing children to quickly confirm current or past school attendance without the need to obtain signatures from school officials or provide transcripts to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The self-certification will now be required once a year, relieving students from having to submit a new form each semester.  Access the new DD Form 2788.

  • May 7, 2020:

    DeCA Begins Daily Health Screenings for Everyone Who Works in Commissaries: On May 8, the Defense Commissary Agency will begin daily health screenings of anyone who works in commissaries – including employees, baggers and affiliated contractors – before they start their shifts.The employee health screenings are the latest in a series of safety measures commissaries have implemented as a result of COVID-19.

  • May 7, 2020:

    VA Expands Support Services for At-Risk Veterans: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it has expanded support services enabled by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to make available immediate relief for Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness during COVID-19.

  • April 30, 2020:

    CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes: This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home. Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

    Reopening the country also strongly relies on public health strategies, including increased testing of people for the virus, social distancing, isolation, and keeping track of how someone infected might have infected other people. This plan is part of the larger United States Government plan and focuses on cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and can also be applied to your home.

  • April 30, 2020:

    Congress Passes and President Signs Fourth Economic Stimulus Bill: On April 21 and 23 respectively, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act and the President signed it into law on April 24, 2020.  This was the fourth economic stimulus bill to provide critical financial and health care support during COVID-19. The bill provides $484 billion in additional funding. It replenishes and enhances key programs covered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was the third stimulus bill signed into law on March 27, 2020.

    Learn the key take-aways about the fourth stimulus bill »

  • April 30, 2020:

    Military Hospital and Clinic Operations, COVID-19 Myths vs. Facts: You may be wondering how the Military Health System response to the health care demands of COVID-19 impacts the care you may get at military hospitals and clinics. TRICARE resources, FAQs, and these “myths vs. facts” help you separate rumors from truth.

  • April 24, 2020: 
    Congress Extends VA Work Study to Coronavirus Impacted Students: This week, the Senate passed the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. The bill authorizes continued VA Work-Study payments during COVID-19 pandemic, among other important fixes and protections. Without this new law, the VA would not have been able to continue to pay this benefit if a school is closed or has no way to support the VA Work-Study position remotely. 

  • April 21, 2020: 
    SPECIAL ALERT: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a special alert for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with qualifying dependents under age 17, who DID NOT OR WERE NOT REQUIRED to file 2018 or 2019 taxes.

    You must provide the IRS information on your dependents by MAY 5 in order to quickly receive the full amount of your stimulus payment.

    You can access the special non-filer tool on the IRS’ webpage.

    By providing this information on the portal, you will receive $500 per qualifying dependent in addition to your $1,200 stimulus payment. Failure to provide this information may result in a Social Security or SSI recipient waiting longer to receive their $500 per qualifying dependent.

    Please note that if you are a Social Security or SSI recipient and do not have any qualifying dependents, you do not need to take any further action.

    Following extensive work by the IRS and other government agencies, $1,200 automatic payments will be starting soon for those receiving Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn't file a tax return in the last two years. No action is needed by these groups; they will automatically receive their $1,200 payment. 

  • April 14, 2020: 
    Stimulus Payments Have Begun: The first economic stimulus payments have started to go out for eligible taxpayers, beginning with people who have set up direct deposit with the IRS. You will be able to track your payment through the IRS website. Get My Payment will show the projected date when a deposit has been scheduled and allows people a chance to provide their bank information. People who did not use direct deposit on their last tax return will be able to input information to receive the payment by direct deposit into their bank account, expediting receipt. Your most recent tax return in 2018 or 2019 will be used to determine if you receive a payment and how much it will be.

    Learn the key take-a-aways of the Cares Act »

  • April 14, 2020: 
    IRS Get My Payment Tool: The IRS has created an online tool, called Get My Payment, that can be used to check on the status of your stimulus payment, confirm your payment type, or enter your direct deposit information.  If you don’t file taxes, use the Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here application to provide simple information so you can get your payment. 

  • April 14, 2020: 
    All VA National Cemeteries Remain Open: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemeteries remain open and continue to provide interment for Veterans and eligible individuals during this health crisis. Effective, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, to ensure social distancing at the cemetery, witnessing family members will now be asked to view the interment from their cars or the road very near their cars. Families may visit the gravesite in the days following the interment consistent with CDC guidelines and local travel restrictions.

  • April 14, 2020: 
    Department of Education Suspending Federal Student Loan Collection: To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until September 30, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose.

  • April 14, 2020:
    Commissaries Now Requiring Face Covering for Store Employees and Customers: Commissaries are now requiring some form of face covering for store employees and customers to enter a commissary.The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) guidance applies to all agency stores and other facilities worldwide where no local directive has yet been issued.This guidance does not supersede the existing installation policies.

  • April 8, 2020: 
    TAPS Leads the Way on National Guard Activations: Currently, there are over 27,000 members of the National Guard activated to combat coronavirus in all 50 states, but only 21 of those states are on federal orders. Only those who die while on federal orders are eligible for benefits from the VA and Defense Department. TAPS is working with Congress and DoD to move all members of the National Guard onto federal orders to ensure families of Guard members who die from COVID-19 will be eligible for benefits.

  • April 8, 2020: 
    TAPS Working to Waive Pharmacy Co-Pays: Do you use a military pharmacy? If so, you may need to switch your prescription to Mail Order, Home Delivery or to a TRICARE retail network if your pharmacy closes or decreases service. TAPS is concerned with the additional burden of pharmacy co-pays on survivors, military families and retirees, and is working with Congress to temporarily waive them during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • April 8, 2020: 
    Congress Ensuring VA Education Benefits: Last week, Congress passed legislation to ensure students continue to receive VA education benefits, even though universities have gone online. Students should see no impact on their benefits for spring, summer and fall 2020 terms. If your BAH was lower than normal or another error occurred in your VA education benefits, please contact TAPS Education Services at education@taps.org.

  • April 8, 2020: 
    Suspension of VA Debt Collections: VA announces that anyone with a debt through the Department of Veterans Affairs would have the ability to suspend collections and payments on those debts. If you would like to suspend your payment for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact VA Debt Management at 800-827-0648. There will be no penalty or interest imposed during this time.

  • April 8, 2020: 
    Federal and State Tax Deadline Extended: Most of you know that the deadlines to file and pay federal income taxes have been extended to July 15, 2020. Although many states have extended their filing and payment dates to mirror the federal government, not all have followed suit. Find out your state tax filing date information.