Freedom and Fireworks Fly at 2016 US Family Health Plan Freedom Over Texas Festival

Earlier this month, US Family Health Plan Alliance member organizations celebrated Independence Day by participating in patriotic events across the country. In Houston, Christus Health proudly served as title sponsor of the Freedom Over Texas Festival, an annual Fourth of July event that draws more than 50,000 people from across the state and region.[layerslider id=”7″]

Christus Health, part of TRICARE’s US Family Health Plan program, serves members in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. Overall, the US Family Health Plan program provides care to nearly 150,000 military family members and retirees across the country.

This year, the Freedom Over Texas Festival featured fireworks displays and musical performances by country music superstars Darius Rucker and the Eli Young Band. The day also included a historic flyover by two Vietnam War-era helicopters, flown by two veterans who had been shot down on July 4, 1971.

Alongside the festival events, Christus Health worked with the Houston Dynamo, the local Major League Soccer franchise, to host Military Appreciation Night on Saturday, July 2. This partnership is an extension of Christus Health’s relationship with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, which helps Houston-area kids who might normally lack the resources to play soccer.

“We were so grateful to be a part of this event that gives back to the city of Houston and surrounding communities in a way that highlights the sacrifices of our armed services,” said Anita Leal, Executive Director of the Christus Health US Family Health Plan.

For more information visit www.freedomovertexas.org.

USFHP Member Series: From Marine One to Brighton Marine

Former Marine One “Trip Leader” Now Focused on Family’s Health and Happiness in New England

When retired Gunnery Sgt. Dan Aronhalt reflects on his 20 years in the military, he remembers the familiar tune of Lynn Anderson’s country song, “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” used notably in the U.S. Marine Corps’ recruiting commercials.

Aronhalt – a US Family Health Plan member now living in Pawtucket, Rhode Island – recounts how an intervention of fate dramatically reshaped his future. Fresh out of high school, Aronhalt knew he didn’t want to go to college, opting instead to join the military and serve his country. But after unsuccessfully trying to meet with a U.S. Navy recruiter in Pawtucket, he instead ended up in front of a recruiter for the Marine Corps.

This encounter launched Aronhalt’s career in the Marines, half of which he spent overseeing the fleet of Marine Corps helicopters that includes Marine One, the call sign for whichever Marine vehicle transports the president of the United States. Aronhalt’s service on Marine One spanned nearly 10 years and the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. As designated “trip leader,” Aronhalt worked in maintenance control, overseeing a crew of 125 personnel as they made necessary repairs to all Marine One aircraft.

“It’s a good feeling to say I’ve done this because not many people have the opportunity to do what I did. Working on a presidential aircraft was an honor, and I’m glad I did it for as many years as I did,” Aronhalt says. “I’ve shared my experience with many people, and it kind of makes them go, ‘wow.’”

Though Aronhalt no longer spends his time in the company of U.S. presidents, the good feelings continue as he and his wife, Sandy, enjoy the ease of managing their healthcare through US Family Health Plan of Southern New England through Brighton Marine Health Center. The Aronhalts were married last summer and joined US Family Health Plan in January.

Still Newlyweds: Dan and Sandy Aronhalt were married at an “I Do” barbeque at their Pawtucket home last summer.

Still Newlyweds: Dan and Sandy Aronhalt were married at an “I Do” barbeque at their Pawtucket home last summer.

Describing himself as being in “fairly good health,” Aronhalt has never had a problem accessing care when he needs it. He rates the plan a “10” and said he and his wife could not be more satisfied with the quality care they receive, especially the prescription service and 24-hour telehealth line.

“The way that US Family Health Plan handles prescriptions is excellent,” Aronhalt says. “The Brighton Marine facility takes care of all my prescriptions, and they do a fantastic job. The costs are less than I was paying during active duty, and they cover even more. The people are helpful, and everything works well because they’ve made it so easy. If you call the 24-hour line, you’ll likely get in to see a doctor that day.”

Aronhalt says military service is an experience anyone would benefit from in gaining knowledge and training. And, while the military never promised him a rose garden, now retired, he appreciates the ease of care management he and his wife enjoy through US Family Health Plan.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Tedford (USAF Ret.) and his family.

MEMBER MINUTES VIDEO: ‘Access Is Everything’

USFHP Member Minutes Profile

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Tedford

After a 30-year active-duty career in the U.S. Air Force — including eight years as communications chief on Air Force One — Chief Master Sergeant Michael Tedford has enjoyed nearly a decade of retirement with his wife, Katrina, and their children.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Tedford served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years, including 22 years at Joint Base Andrews and eight years in the cockpit of Air Force One.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Tedford served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, including 22 years at Joint Base Andrews and eight years aboard Air Force One. He is pictured above with former President George W. Bush and at bottom with former President Bill Clinton and crewmates.

Retirement has been “very smooth,” Tedford says, as a result of the reliable and convenient access to quality healthcare he and his wife receive through the Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan.

“My wife and I have been enrolled in the Plan for nine years,” Tedford says. “The US Family Health Plan has been a phenomenal success, and once we got into it and saw how good it was, we’ve been nothing but big proponents.”

Chief Tedford touts the US Family Health Plan’s convenience of access, a necessity due to a daily commute from his home in Maryland to downtown Washington, D.C., and his and Katrina’s primary care and surgical needs.

“Especially as my wife and I get older, I think it’s going to be significant to our health, because if we didn’t have the Plan available I think our health would suffer as far as the quality and the access. Access is everything,” Tedford says.

The Tedfords are among nearly 150,000 US Family Health Plan members nationwide to enjoy access to quality healthcare with top-rated patient satisfaction through six regional TRICARE Prime provider organizations. To learn more about the US Family Health Plan, watch the interview above or explore the rest of our website.

US Family Health Plan Alliance CEO Jim Schweiter Discusses Military Health Care Reform

Jim Schweiter, US Family Health Plan CEO

Jim Schweiter

In a recent article for the National Military Family Association (NMFA), US Family Health Plan Alliance CEO Jim Schweiter addressed the series of proposed reforms to the Military Health System that are under consideration as part of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

In his piece, Schweiter highlights a recent study from the University at Buffalo that emphasized the importance of health care providers who serve our military community having a full understanding of military culture. Further, he urges Congress to preserve those elements of the current system, including TRICARE Prime’s US Family Health Plan program, which have been shown over time to work well, provide high quality care, and achieve better health outcomes and high beneficiary satisfaction.

 

A recent study from the University at Buffalo and published in the journal Military Behavioral Health concluded that health care provider networks that serve veterans and families in the military community need to have a fundamental understanding of military culture in order to provide effective care and improve patients’ health outcomes. This kind of understanding of the military community and culture can only be acquired by working with the military and serving the community and its people over time.  

The findings underscore the critical importance of understanding how military service impacts care utilization—fundamentals that the US Family Health Plan provider organizations have developed and refined through more than 30 years of serving nearly 150,000 military family members.

The US Family Health Plan view is that service members and their families deserve the greatest respect for their service, and also the highest-quality health care. The US Family Health Plan has been a long time leader in quality care for military families, retirees and other beneficiaries in the Military Health System, systemically providing the critical components of health care that is tailored to military families as outlined in the study’s findings:

  • An in-depth knowledge of military culture, values and ideals;
  • An understanding of the stressors of military life and post-service adjustment;
  • Recognition that a person’s military service might influence his or her care utilization habits;
  • Avoidance of individual barriers to a patient-provider relationship.

To read Schweiter’s full commentary for the National Military Family Association, click here.

Happy Independence Day from the US Family Health Plan Alliance

Independence Day Message from the US Family Health Plan Alliance

On this Fourth of July, the US Family Health Plan Alliance celebrates the independence of our great nation and pays tribute to all our men and women in uniform, retirees and military family members. The selfless service and sacrifices of these brave men, women and families must always be appreciated and honored, and the Fourth of July is a fitting occasion to reflect upon and commemorate all they do to keep America free and secure.

For more than 30 years, the member organizations of the US Family Health Plan Alliance have been proud to deliver high-quality healthcare to military families and retirees. In honor of our members, we are celebrating Independence Day through various events. One of our member organizations, Christus Health, is proud to sponsor again this year the annual Freedom Over Texas festival, the City of Houston’s signature annual patriotic celebration.

The US Family Health Plan is grateful for the privilege of providing high-quality healthcare to our uniformed services family members and retirees, and we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July.