Local News

Family of deployed NC National Guard soldiers raise questions about medical benefits

Posted August 28, 2019 7:55 p.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2019 8:04 p.m. EDT

— Thousands of North Carolina National Guardsmen are headed to the Middle East, but some of their family members here at home are in a fight for for medical benefits.

WRAL News has been flooded with complaints from National Guard family members who say their Tri-Care medical coverage has disappeared, and it's causing hardships for families who need medical care right now.

Families of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team packed the Crown Theater early this month in Fayetteville to bid farewell to their loved ones who were heading off to war.

Since that deployment, there has been a tug-of-war between family members and the National Guard over Tri-Care Medical coverage.

John Jones has a son who's getting ready to deploy.

"What that means is the soldiers, as I understand it, are probably receiving their medical care from Army physicians but their families don't have any medical care."

Kaylyn Hayes and her National Guard husband have two children.

Their 2-year-old child is running a fever and needs to see a doctor.

"When I go to make a doctor's appointment they call me an hour later and said it's showing we're ineligible and we're not covered," she said. "Then, we're finding out from other people that there is no coverage."

But the National Guard says that's not true.

We're told the 4,000 soldiers who are now on active duty and training in Texas and their families are covered by Tri-Care.

So what's the problem?

"This is a very large unit and it's all manually inputted from system to system," said Lt. Col. Matthew Devivo. "It takes up to 10 working days to get the soldier's name into the system and that's what the problem is."

But it's been nearly three weeks since the solders received their orders.

WRAL News asked Devivo what families should do if they need medical care right now.

"We ask that they bring a copy of their Title 10 orders and that they understand that they may have to pay out of pocket for that visit until the system catches up," he said.

If families pay out of pocket at the front end for healthcare, they can be reimbursed later.

That answer isn't sitting well with some National Guard families.

"I don't want to sit and have to ask for help for the next year while he's gone because they cannot straighten out their situation," Hayes said.