Tricare Adminstrative Walk-In Service Closure a Hard Pill to Swallow for Some Veterans

- Banks, airlines and of course the federal government are now providing more services by phone or online to save money.

But that is exactly what the health care program that serves military members, retirees and their families will soon do.

Tricare will end administrative walk-in services at 189 facilities in this country on April 1st. The program says its goal is to improve the services used by more of its clients-- online and telephone. However, some veterans view the closing of walk in help centers as a hard pill to swallow.

It's news Mike Hood started processing last month when he visited the clinic.

"They briefed me because I was gonna update my records and since I still have a dependent son those things need to be taken care of," says Mike Hood, a Persian Gulf War veteran.

The Pentagon says updating records and other administrative services can be done online or by phone and save the government millions of dollars. Congressman Mac Thornberry says cutting costs is a positive and replacing face-to-face customer service with technology is sometimes  necessary.

"If you just look at the number of people who have actually visited the office there at Sheppard it's been on the way down so fewer people have been there last year versus the year before," says Rep. Mac Thornberry.

Still, some say the service closure will make taking care of requests like billing related questions difficult.

"As you age you lose eyesight.  You lose hearing.  You still have guys coming off the battle field injured.  Some are blind.  Some have lost hearing.  Some have lost hands."

Despite the inconvenience, Tricare will end walk in services at some facilities in its effort to save money.

According to the Pentagon, the April 1st closure of Tricare's administrative walk-in services will save $250 million over the next five years but the government says overseas Tricare service centers will remain open.

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