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August 15, 2006

Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 14

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 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 (

  • AUSA Raps Senate for NOT Passing Spending Bill
  • Benefits Package for Veterans Passes
  • 3RD BCT Back to Iraq in a Year? Move May Extend Enlistment Terms
  • Military Update Back Pay for Disabled Retirees Set
  • Insurer Settles Charges Over Its Sales to Soldiers
  • Payday Loan Rate Cap Aims to Help Service Members
  • Heroes to Hometowns Program
  • Ft. Leonard Wood Staff Sergeant Earns Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
  • Early Alcohol Use May Increase Risk of Future Alcohol Problems
  • Moms of Slain Troops Weigh New Goals
  • Deployment Preparation for Kids
  • Army Reserve Teen Panel Looking for Members
  • Scholarship News
  • CONUS Stores Now Accept Voyager for Payment at Pump
  • TRICARE Reserve Select Open Season
  • Honorable Mention (AUSA Chapters)

AUSA Raps Senate for Not Passing Spending Bill
The Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) chided Senate leaders for leaving town for their August recess without completing work on the fiscal 2007 defense appropriations bill. Retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, the association's president, stressed the importance of resuming consideration of the legislation as soon as the Senate returns Sept. 5 to make passage of the conference report possible by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Benefits Package for Veterans Passes
A Civil War-era policy that prevents veterans from hiring attorneys moved one step closer to being removed when the Senate unanimously approved S. 2694, the "Veterans' Choice of Representation and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2006." If adopted by the House, the legislation will overturn a policy that denies veterans the right to hire attorneys to help them seek benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under current law, a veteran has to exhaust the VA process – which may take years – before hiring an attorney. The legislation would also require the Army to remove of the ashes of convicted double murderer Russell Wagner from Arlington National Cemetery. Also included are changes to the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance benefits program. If approved by the House, veterans and survivors will be eligible for accelerated educational benefits for high-cost, short-term training leading to jobs in five areas of the economy: transportation, construction, hospitality, energy and high technology. For additional information go to:

3RD BCT Back to Iraq in a Year? Stop-Loss May Extend Enlistment Terms
Fort Carson's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, will be returning from Iraq this fall, but may have a short stay at home before its 3,900 soldiers return to war, the unit's commander confirmed. "There is a possibility we could deploy again in 11 months," Col. Brian Jones wrote in an e-mail from Iraq. A 2007 redeployment may also prevent hundreds of 3rd Brigade soldiers currently in uniform from leaving the service when their terms of enlistment are up, which expire Dec. 31, 2007. Under the Army's stop-loss rules they could be compelled to stay in uniform until the unit leaves Iraq. For more on this story visit:

Military Update Back Pay for Disabled Retirees Set
The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have worked out a plan for sharing the cost and delivery of about $500 million in back pay to more than 100,000 military retirees with VA-rated disabilities. The retroactive payments are owed to nearly half of all recipients of Combat-Related Special Compensation, or CRSC; and of Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay, or CRDP, since those programs began in 2003 and in 2004. Although no date for the payments has been announced, a streamlined computer process on complex calculations of back pay involving CRSC and CRDP will significantly reduce earlier projections that the repayment process could take up to six months. For more on this story visit:

Insurer Settles Charges Over Its Sales to Soldiers
American Amicable Life Insurance has agreed to pay up to $70 million to settle state and federal complaints that it used deceptive sales practices to sell unsuitable insurance products to thousands of American service members across the country and on bases overseas. The company will pay $10 million in cash refunds to 57,000 current and former service members who bought its products after Dec. 31, 1999. The rest of the money represents the potential cost of raising the future cash value of policies sold to 13,000 other military customers and 22,000 civilians, although the final price tag will depend on how many of those policies are held to maturity.

Payday Loan Rate Cap Aims to Help Servicemembers
An impressive alliance of 70 consumer and veterans groups is supporting a congressional amendment to protect military personnel and their families from potential predatory loans. The measure would cap interest rates on payday loans to military personnel at 36 percent a year. Consumer and veterans groups say payday lenders clustered around military bases focus on young and often financially naive service members.

Heroes to Hometowns Program
The Defense Department and the American Legion pledged last week to mutually support "Heroes to Hometowns," a nationwide program that assists severely injured military veterans. The program encourages local communities to prepare support programs for injured veterans and their families. Community assistance may entail job searches, home remodeling, transportation requirements, or anything a family might need to transition back to civilian life. For more information visit:

Ft. Leonard Wood Staff Sergeant Earns Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
For Staff Sgt. Charles Berry, of Ft Leonard Wood's Training Support Battalion, volunteering is just another part of his daily life, and recently he was recognized for the many hours he has spent helping people. Berry received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service medal for his actions and commitment to volunteering throughout the community and demonstrating a genuine concern for not only the military Servicemembers but the civilian community as well. He is involved with numerous volunteering projects in the community including the Richland Head Start program and Habitat for Humanity. "Volunteering is a way that you can give back to the community, because you can never forget where you came from. You never know when you are going to be down and someone else who is volunteering can help you back," Berry said. For the complete article visit:

Early Alcohol Use May Increase Risk of Future Alcohol Problems
A new study from the Boston University School of Public Health's Youth Alcohol Prevention Center has found that drinking among young teens may lead to an increased risk of alcohol dependence. Plus, that dependence could develop more quickly, come on at younger ages, and lead to more relapses than in alcoholics who begin drinking later. Of the 43,000 adults surveyed, nearly half of those who had developed alcoholism had done so by age 21. The study appears in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Read the full article at: earlydrinking.html

Moms of Slain Troops Weigh New Goals; Charity Group Considers More Political Involvement
The deaths of service members in Iraq has re-energized the American Gold Star Mothers organization, which after the Vietnam War pushed for treatment programs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. More recently, members lobbied lawmakers for a $1,500 annual payment for parents of service members who die at war. Visit this link for complete story:

Deployment Preparation for Kids
There are a number of documents for kids of different ages that can used to prepare them for a deployment. Specially created coloring books or activity books will help younger children understand that a parent is being deployed and what to expect. These are available at:

Army Reserve Teen Panel Looking for Members
Army Reserve teens enrolled in the 9th-12th grade are eligible to participate in the Army Reserve Teen Panel. Teen panel Volunteers will attend up to two meetings, participate in volunteer activities within their community and work with other Army Reserve Teens to develop innovative programs and opportunities for presentation to Army Reserve Leadership. Army Reserve Family Programs will hold four panels for teens in FY06, one each in the NE, SE, NW, SW regions. For more information, to meet the current teen panel member or to get an application, visit the Army Reserve Teen Panel page of the Army Reserve Family Program’s web portal,

Scholarship News
The VFW has a couple of different programs, including the Patriot’s Pen which is available to students in grades six, seven and eight, these student contestants write a 300-400 word essay based on “Citizenship in America”. The first-place winner receives a $10,000 savings bond and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C.
In the Voice of Democracy program, this provides over $3 million annually in scholarships, of which the first-place winner, who competes with all the first-place VFW Department winners, receives a $30,000 scholarship. Visit the attached web site for contest rules:

CONUS Stores Now Accept Voyager for Payment at Pump
To help accommodate more military fleet customers and to speed up fueling transactions, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service now accepts Voyager credit cards for payment at its gasoline pumps at its CONUS locations. Previously, Voyager credit cards were only authorized when military customers physically went into AAFES facilities to pay because of software limitations that didn’t allow verification of user information at the pump. This limited the use of the card to the hours the facility was attended. Now, anything from officer staff cars to motor pool vehicles can fill up and pay with Voyager at the pump at anytime, day or night. Roughly 260 AAFES shoppettes now accept Voyager for payment at the pump. Visit: for information.

TRICARE Reserve Select Open Season
The 2006 National Defense Authorization Act extends the opportunity to purchase the TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) health plan to all members of the Selected Reserve. Open season for qualifying and purchasing TRS Tier 2 or Tier 3 began Aug. 1, 2006, and coverage becomes effective October 1, 2006. Members who qualify for TRS Tier 1 should consult their Reserve Component personnel office for details about qualifying. Visit their site for all your TRICARE questions:

CHAPTER: Post earns annual award for work with community
Fort Lewis was selected as the “Defense Installation of the Year,” by the Association of Defense Communities for coordinating with its neighbors on a wide variety of important issues. Based on a nomination by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, the award recognizes Fort Lewis for its overall efforts to work with surrounding communities on housing, mission expansion, schools and other critical issues. The community school campaign plan is just one example in which Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base leaders work with the surrounding school districts’ leadership to help students smoothly transition into their new schools and to involve military parents in being a part of the educational process for their children. The goals of the community school campaign include representation of a military parent on each PTA, school counselors receiving training about military children to recognize signs of stress, and annual visits to each school district by the garrison commander or the commanding general. For complete article visit: