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DoD releases list of genetic tests covered by Tricare

The Defense Health Agency has announced which genetic tests Tricare will cover starting in September.

The Pentagon's health arm published a list Friday of 35 laboratory-developed tests covered under a new pilot program, from the better-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests for breast cancer and in-utero cystic fibrosis to tests for rare inherited disorders like Lynch syndrome and Von Hippel-Lindau disease.

The demonstration project starts Sept. 1. But if beneficiaries paid for a test on the list since Jan. 1, 2013, they may be eligible for reimbursement. They will have to file a claim to receive payment, according to a Tricare news release.

Air Force crews deliver 114,000 meals, 35,000 gallons of water in Iraq

One C-17 and two C-130s flew through the night Aug. 8 to unload the first of several drops of food and water on Mount Sinjar in Iraq, where starving and dehydrated refugees were stranded by threat of death at the hands of Islamic State militants if they descended.

It was the first humanitarian airdrop over Iraq since the war ended in 2011. And for the crews, the importance of the mission didn't fully set in until after landing.

"It was quite an eye-opener to see the results of the drop on CNN when we got back, and even more so to hear none other than the president of the United States on TV the next day talking about our mission to the press and the American people," Maj. Stephen Holt, C-130 pilot with the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, told Air Force Times.

Military hair policy changes after controversy

Dreadlocks, cornrows, twisted braids and other hairstyles popular among African American women will be more accepted across the military after a forcewide review of hairstyle policies prompted several changes, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

The three-month review came after a spate of complaints that service-level grooming policies were racially biased against black women who choose to wear their hair naturally curly rather than use heat or chemicals to straighten it.

"Each service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting military requirements," Hagel wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill notifying them of the changes Monday. "These reviews were informed by a panel of military personnel of mixed demographics reflective of our diverse force."

Pentagon: Effectiveness of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq remains limited

The Pentagon's top war planner said the military campaign's impact remains limited after four days of airstrikes in northern Iraq, and the Islamic militants continue to be a powerful force capable of terrorizing Iraqi civilians and seizing territory.

"I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained, or that we are somehow breaking the momentum of [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]," said Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of operations, or "J-3" for the Joint Staff, told reporters Monday.

"They are very well organized. They are very well equipped. They coordinate their operations and they have thus far showed the ability to attack on multiple axis. This is not insignificant," Mayville said at a Pentagon briefing.

Robins plans workplace-safety partnership

Robins Air Force Base officials say they're working with a federal agency and two unions to improve workplace safety.

Base officials are scheduled to formally enter into the alliance Friday with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 987 and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local F107.

Base spokesman Roland Leach said the groups' goal is a safer and healthier workplace.

Defense Department sets up Ebola task force

The Defense Department is closely watching the Ebola epidemic, establishing a small internal task force to evaluate ways to support international efforts to stop the outbreak, the Pentagon's top spokesman said Tuesday.

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said DoD already is helping in Liberia, with a small number of military and civilian public health officials from U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, providing support.

"Clearly, we're watching this as closely as everybody else is and it's an interagency effort here in the United States," Kirby said. "It's not just the Pentagon, it's CDC, USAID, it's State Department. We're all talking about this and working on this."

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees

The Air Force is taking aim at obesity among dependents and retirees through two pilot programs that could eventually go servicewide.

Part of the new Healthcare to Health initiative — H2H for short — the programs target parents of Air Force children as well as spouses and retirees through interactive courses on base, said Kelly Williams, a certified health education specialist who has spent two years developing the initiative.

The first, called 5210 Healthy Military Children, teaches moms and dads how to make consistent, healthy meal and exercise choices at home. The second, Group Lifestyle Balance, focuses on weight management, physical activity and healthy eating for spouses and retirees at risk for weight-related health problems like Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, strokes and heart attacks.