August 4, 2006
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 13
This newsletter is published bi-monthly by the AUSA Family Programs Directorate. If you would like to receive the Family Programs Update by e-mail, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.
You are invited to attend The Family Programs Military Family Forums at AUSA’s Annual Meeting, Oct. 9-11. This is your opportunity to receive updates on the latest programs and most current issues affecting our Soldiers and their families. For additional information go to the Family Programs web site (www.ausa.org/family)
- 07 Pay Raise Confusion
- Army to Cut Domestic Spending
- Hearing Planned on Transfer Plans
- Walter Reed to Build Amputee Center
- Study Links Military Duty in Iraq to Lapse in Some Mental Ability
- Always a Soldier Program Pairs Veterans With Jobs
- SGLI Premium Rate Changes
- Army Community Service
- Army Offering the Option of GI Bill Transferability
- Sesame Street’s “Talk, Listen, Connect – Helping Families During Deployments
- Military One Source Newsletter
- TRICARE Formulary Changes
- Continuation of TRICARE Benefit for Children of Service Members Who Died on Active Duty
- School Quest™ to Help Students Heading to New Schools
- New SaferKidz Website
- Family Center, Children’s Camp Provide Grief Outlet
- Operation Helping Hands Brings Gifts to Iraqi Children
- Same Great Product, Fresh New Look
- Send a Card to a Soldier
- Honorable Mention (AUSA Chapters)
`07 Pay Raise Confusion
There is some confusion about the percentage of military pay increases for next year. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations Act which establishes funding levels for DoD programs, pay, and benefits authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Committee’s actions on this and another bill added to the confusion. The House and Senate versions contained different percentage increases for the pay raise. The House (H.R. 5122) proposed a 2.7 percent increase, while the Senate (S. 2766) accepted the administration’s recommendation of 2.2 percent. The House version of the Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 5576) contains funding for only a 2.2 percent raise; however, its bill covering federal civilian pay provided for a 2.7 percent increase. The administration had proposed the same 2.2 percent increase for civilian employees as for military service members. AUSA and other members of The Military Coalition believe a military force at war should be paid the higher 2.7 percent across-the-board raise. The Military Coalition feels that although the gap between average civilian pay raises and military pay raises has narrowed in recent years, but still remains at approximately 4 percent. To follow the progress of the appropriations bills, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/
Army to Cut Domestic Spending
The Army, feeling the strain of continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is tightening its spending at home. Because of the costs of overseas combat operations, the Army is taking several steps including canceling nonessential travel, limiting purchases to critical wartime needs and freezing all new contract awards. It also said it would stop civilian hiring, release temporary release temporary employees and limit the use of government credit cards. The Army is hesitant to cut benefits because it needs to recruit new soldiers and retain current ones. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/20/AR2006072001710.html
Hearing Planned on Transfer Plans
Virginia Rep. Thomas M. Davis III will hold a hearing this month to question the Army about its plans for transferring 22,000 employees to Fort Belvoir. The Army announced last week that it is planning to cluster most of the relocated employees at the Engineer Proving Ground, a mostly vacant site a couple of miles northwest of the
main post in northern Virginia. Visit this site for full story: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fairfaxfocus/2006/07/armys_relocation_plan_disregar.html
Walter Reed to Build Amputee Center
Walter Reed Army Medical Center last week granted a $10 million contract for construction of a rehabilitation center for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who lost limbs in the conflict. The contract for a new building was unusual because the hospital complex is scheduled to close in 2011. But Walter Reed officials said the growing number of amputees being treated left them no time to wait. Visit this site for more info: http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1471963.php
Study Links Military Duty in Iraq to Lapse in Some Mental Ability
A large study of Army troops found that soldiers recently returned from duty in Iraq were highly likely to show subtle lapses in memory and in ability to focus, a deficit that often persisted for more than two months after they arrived home, researchers report. But the returning veterans also demonstrated significantly faster reaction times than soldiers who had not been deployed, suggesting that some mental abilities had improved. The study, appearing in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to track carefully such changes in mental functioning over time in soldiers who deployed to a war zone and those who did not. For full story Visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/health/psychology/02psych.html
Always a Soldier Program Pairs Veterans with Jobs
U.S. Army Materiel Command’s “Always a Soldier” program provides disabled veterans opportunities to seek employment within AMC, and provides them with opportunities for career advancement, job mobility, family well-being and greater financial security. The goal of the program is to provide continuing support to warfighters beyond their active-duty service. By providing jobs for these veterans, AMC can clearly benefit by tapping into the valuable experience and commitment that our men and women in uniform embody. Although finding jobs for injured veterans is the program’s primary mission, the staff also assists Soldiers and their families with purchasing food and clothes, explaining job-application processes and providing veteran resource information. Most veterans recruited through the program served in operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, but the program is open to Soldiers wounded in all conflicts. For more information about the “Always a Soldier” program and to apply on-line, visit http://www.amc.army.mil/alwaysasoldier or call (703) 806-8140. For the complete story visit: http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=9363
SGLI Premium Rate Changes
Effective July 1 the monthly premium rate for basic Servicemember's Group Life Insurance increased by 5 cents per month for each $10,000 of coverage, from 65 cents per month per $10,000 to 70 cents per month per $10,000. As a result of this increase, members who have the maximum $400,000 of SGLI coverage will see their monthly SGLI deduction from service pay increase by $2 a month, from $27 to $29, which began with their July pay. This monthly SGLI premium includes a $1 per month charge for traumatic injury protection coverage, which took effect Dec. 1 and provides payments of up to $100,000 for serious traumatic injuries.
Army Community Service
Army Community Services (ACS) facilitates the commanders' ability to provide comprehensive services that support the readiness of Soldiers, civilian employees, and their families, including adapting available services to the unique needs of each installation. The Army is committed to providing a full range of essential services to Soldiers and their families to ensure resiliency, family preparedness, improve readiness, and support recruitment and retention. Family Readiness Program Support reduces family tension by training and properly preparing Soldiers and family for deployments and reunions. ACS and Reserve Component Family Programs support the expeditionary force by promoting self-empowerment and satisfaction with military life through prevention, education, and training which aids Soldier retention, readiness, morale and family preparedness. The core family programs include Financial Readiness, Emergency Assistance, Exceptional Family Member Program, Employment Readiness, Family Advocacy, Emergency Placement Care, Information and Referral, Outreach, Deployment/Mobilization programs, Army Family Team Building and Army Family Action Plan. Also includes services for Family Readiness Groups, Army Emergency Relief, Transition Assistance, and installation volunteer support. For more information on Army Community Service visit: http://www.army.mil/aps/06/maindocument/infopaper
Army Offering the Option of GI Bill Transferability to Spouses
On July 21, the Army implemented a pilot program which allows Soldiers serving in critical skills who re-enlist, the opportunity to transfer their Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits to their spouse. Education has long been a key component of any incentive package that attracts and retains Soldiers. Family Members play and important part in whether or not a Soldier chooses to re-enlist. MGIB transferability may be an additional incentive to assist the Army in retaining soldiers with critical skills. Allowing Soldiers to transfer part of their MGIB benefits to their family members has been a top Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) issue for several years. The ability to transfer the benefits to spouses will be limited to certain Soldiers with critical skills, who have been in the Army for at least six years and re-enlist for at least four more. Critical skills are defined as qualification for a Selective Re-enlistment Bonus (SRB) and entitlement to a Zone B or Zone C bonus at the time of reenlistment. Soldiers enrolled in the MGIB who qualify can transfer up to 18 of 36 months of their MGIB entitlement to the spouse, which equals a benefit of at least $18,000. The benefit can be prorated for part-time enrollment. For Soldiers who elected the Army College Fund (ACF) as an enlistment option and/or have enrolled in/paid toward the $600 MGIB Additional Opportunity, their expanded benefit is transferred. Soldiers who choose transferability will receive a smaller monetary amount for their SRB, because the Army pays the cost of the spouse’s share of the education benefit out of its funds reserved for bonuses and incentives. The VA will continue to pay the service member’s share. (Cont’d)
The Army has considered offering MGIB transferability of benefits since it was authorized to do so on a limited basis by Congress in the FY 2002 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The law which allows the Services to offer members in critical skills (which are determined by the individual Service Secretary) the ability to transfer MGIB benefits to family members. While the law would have allowed transferability to children as well as spouses, the Army has decided to limit the option to spouses only. Given the current conditions established in the law, the Army cannot offer transferability to all Soldiers; however, Army leaders have pledged to explore the possibility of requesting that Congress expand their authority based on the success of this pilot. For additional information Soldiers must contact their retention Career Counselor if they chose to participate, completion of DD Form 2366-2, Montgomery GI Bill act of 1984 (MGIB) is required at the time of re-enlistment. For information visit: http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=9319
Sesame Street’s “Talk, Listen, Connect – Helping Families During Military Deployment”
Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. with additional support from the New York office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) and the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) have partnered to produce a new project, “Talk, Listen, Connect”. The Sesame Workshop Group held several focus group sessions with military family members and child-care providers and were also assisted by their Advisory Board, a member of which is AUSA Family Programs Director Sylvia Kidd, to insure that the materials addressed the needs of young children of deployed Service members. These bilingual kits are designed to help military families know how to help their young children cope with feelings, challenges, and concerns experienced during various phases of deployment: pre-deployment, deployment and homecoming. The kit includes: A Sesame Street DVD, a parent/caregiver magazine, and a Children's Activity Poster. The kits will be distributed during Military Family Forum III at AUSA’s Annual Meeting, Oct. 9-11 at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC. They will also be available at the Family Programs pavilion on the exhibit floor of the convention center. For additional information about the kits visit: http://www.sesameworkshop.org/tlc
Military One Source Newsletter
Register for your on-line copy of the Military One Source Newsletter to receive information on a wide variety of subjects such as: Communicating with Your Kids: Connecting with Your Child During Times of Change, deployment preparation, or relocation. We often bring our worries home with us, children pick up on our feelings, and can tell when we are anxious, worried, or under stress. Connecting with your child during times like these can help reduce stress at home. This is just an example of the many informative articles, books, videos and other things that are available to you, your FRG or your unit. To register visit:
TRICARE Formulary Changes
Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., director, TRICARE Management Activity, made the decision to place additional medications on the TRICARE Uniform Formulary and to designate others as nonformula (or third tier) on July 26, 2006. For a list of medications, their formulary status and where they are available, interested parties may go to http://www.tricareformularysearch.org/dod/medicationcenter/default.aspx. Medical necessity forms and criteria are available at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/medical-nonformulary.cfm . Additional information on both TRICARE Retail Pharmacy and TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy and the location of the nearest TRICARE retail pharmacy may be accessed at http://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE or by calling 866-363-8667 for the mail order pharmacy or 866-363-8779 for the retail pharmacy.
Continuation of TRICARE Benefit for Children of Service Members Who Died on Active Duty
The National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by the president on Jan. 6, 2006, provides continuation of the TRICARE Prime benefit at the active duty family member payment rate for the children of service members who died while serving on active duty for more than 30 days. Under the new legislation, surviving children continue TRICARE Prime, Extra and Standard benefits at the active duty family member payment rate for the duration of their TRICARE eligibility. They may also be able to receive benefits under the Extended Care Health Option and TRICARE Prime Remote for Active Duty Family Member programs. Prior to implementation, timely guidance and information will be sent by the Department to notify these family members of their eligibility for the retroactive transitional survivor benefit. Surviving spouses maintain TRICARE Prime, Extra and Standard benefits at the active duty family member rate for a three year period. At the end of the three year period, eligible surviving spouses continue TRICARE Prime, Extra and Standard benefits at the retiree pay rate. Before implementation of these new survivor benefits can begin, the Department must publish in the Federal Register the rules necessary for this legislation. Following that, policies and procedures will be issued to the TRICARE managed care contractors who process TRICARE claims. Guidance and procedures for retroactive claims will be also published. TRICARE relies primarily on the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) for eligibility. It is important that all information in DEERS be current. To ensure they receive the most current information on survivor and other TRICARE benefits, surviving active duty families may: Visit the http://www.DEERS.mil.org to update their address, or Call (800) 538-9552 or (866) 363-2883 (TTY/TDD for hearing impaired), or Fax address changes to (831) 655-8317, or Visit their local ID card facility (to find a facility visit http://www.DMDC.mil.org Rapid site locator), or Fax address changes to (831) 655-8317, or Mail their new information to Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office, ATTN: COA, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside, CA 93955-6771.
School Quest™ to Help Students Heading to New Schools
The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), an organization that has devoted itself to meeting the challenges of moving with school age children is launching SchoolQuest, an Internet tool which will help transitioning parents and students get information about schools across the nation from preschool to high school. SchoolQuest, located at https://schoolquest.org/ and available free of charge to military and civilian children, provides a safe and secure environment for families to obtain information on educational and extracurricular activities. After answering a series of questions, families will receive an e-mail from SchoolQuest™ with facts, resources, and transition advice to help the user find out about the area schools that serve the military community selected. It also provides general information on how parents can ease a student’s transition and offers an On-line Library which provides resources for families in transition. The School Quest™ site currently has limited information on schools serving many installations, but MCEC will be updating the site frequently. The Association of the United States Army Family Programs Directorate is a sponsor of School Quest and has pledged funds for several years to maintain and update the program. Families are encouraged to visit the site often to see new information. Families can also use information provided by the Standard and Poor’s School Matters site http://www.schoolmatters.com to supplement what is available through School Quest. Another Parent Toolkit is available through the DoD MilitaryStudent.org website http://www.militarystudent.dod.mil/. All of these sites will provide parents with essential tools to help their children transition to a new school.
New SaferKidz Website
SaferKidz helps make our children safer by providing secure family accounts which provide a place for visual and biographic information in the event of an emergency. To register visit: http://www.saferkidz.net/profiles_offered.asp
Family Center, Children’s Camp Provide Grief Outlets
Death. It isn't an easy subject for most people to talk about, and experiencing the death of a loved one can be unimaginable for adults and even harder on children. Two FT. Hood women have taken up the mantle of caring for families who have lost loved ones. The “Rays of Hope” program works mostly with children who have lost a significant person in their lives. Children often do not have the same outlets for grief as adults. The camp brings children together and gives them a chance to not only have some fun but to meet other kids who are going through the same thing. For complete story visit: http://www.theforthoodherald.com/page1.html
Operation Helping Hands Brings Gifts to Iraqi Children
In Dahuk, Iraq the Soldiers brought toys and smiles to children in one of Iraq's northernmost provinces recently, with Operation Helping Hands. The humanitarian assistance mission was conducted by Soldiers of the 142nd Corps Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. Soldiers handed out Beanie Babies, sports uniforms, soccer balls, teddy bears and candy, all donated by a variety of American organizations. For complete story visit: http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=9303
Same Great Product, Fresh New Look
Effective July 13, the Exchange Services’ on-line concession mall, CentricMall, will undergo a radical transformation as it officially becomes the ExchangeOnlineMall at aafes.com. While the address has changed, the more than 55 popular retailers offering specially-negotiated prices to the military community remain the same. The redesign will feature a fresh new look and a more functional organization of shopping sites to make it even easier for customers to find just what they’re looking for. ExchangeOnlineMall.com, which currently averages more than 83,000 visitors a month, can be reached by choosing the link at http://www.aafes.com Featured partners include FTD, Books-A-Million, Napster, and the women’s apparel store, Avenue. The 2006 Fall/Winter Exchange Catalog is available now at all main stores and on-line at AAFES, http://www.usmc-mccs.org/, http://www.navy-nex.com/ or http://www.cg-exchange.com/ Prices in this all-services catalog are valid through Jan. 15, 2007, for any authorized exchange customer. Active duty military members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as military retirees, reservists, National Guardsmen, Department of Defense civilians stationed overseas, Exchange employees and their family members are all authorized exchange privileges. For complete article go to http://www.ausa.org/family and click on More AAFES News.
Send a Card to a Soldier
Go to the web site at http://www.letssaythanks.com to send a Soldier a card. You will be able to select a thank you card and Xerox will print it and send it to a soldier who is currently serving in Iraq. You are not able to pick out a specific Soldier but it will go to a member of the Armed Services. This service is free and only takes a short time brighten the day of one of America's Military heroes.
HONORABLE MENTION (AUSA Chapters)
The Omar Bradley Chapter-El Paso TX
The Omar Bradley Chapter in conjunction with the Ft Bliss /El Paso Education Fair, Eight school districts and their educational leaders were involved to present scholarship to deserving students. . The high light and Grand Kick off was when the Omar Bradley Chapter of AUSA made its annual presentation of scholarships. The amount this year increased from $5,000 to 10 $10000. Scholarships were presented to Soldiers and family members from all components of the Service. President Al Hobbs was joined on stage by MG Robert Lennox to present the scholarships. Approximately 1200 persons were in attendance.
AUSA’s George Washington Chapter Presents Scholarships
The George Washington Chapter Presented $10,000 in Scholarships. Twenty soldiers and or family members will find their pursuit of a university education a little more affordable this year thanks to the George Washington Chapter corporate members and sponsors that have supported its annual Scholarship Golf Tournament. This year’s tournament will again be at Ft Belvoir, VA on Aug 16, 2006, contact MR Ron Burns if you are interested in supporting or participating in the Golf Tournament.