October 1, 2006
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 17
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)
In this issue:
- AUSA Family Programs Announces 2006 Volunteer FOY
- Expect More Cuts in Family Support Programs, Army Warns
- Deadline Approaching for Reimbursement Claims
- Are you Entitled to a Retroactive Payment?
- Your Bank Card Gives Thieves Access to Your Bank Account
- Are You Ready to Vote?
- Web Based Voting Tools
- Emotional Wounds Require Focus, Too
- Combat-Related Special Compensation
- ASEP Helps Relocating Army Spouses Find Jobs
- Army Emergency Relief Expands Spouse Education Assistance
- America Supports You: Program Connects Families with Books
AUSA Family Programs Announces the 2006 AUSA Rubbermaid – Irwin Volunteer Family of the Year
The Association of the United States Army would like to congratulate CSM Darrel Calton, his wife Kay, their two sons, Derek and Andrew and daughter, Kaylin from Fort Detrick, MD on their selection as the 2006 AUSA Rubbermaid – Irwin Volunteer Family of the Year. The Caltons have shown great enthusiasm for serving their country, community, schools and most of all their fellow Army families. The Calton Family will receive an all expense paid trip to Washington, DC to receive their award at the AUSA Annual Meeting being held at the Washington, DC Convention Center October 9th – October 11th. Additionally, the Calton family will receive a cash award, Certificate of Appreciation and a gift basket, compliments of Rubbermaid – Irwin, AUSA Family Programs and GEICO.
AUSA Family Programs would also like to congratulate the two runner up families, CPT Michael E. Griswold, his wife Louise and their children, Sheri-Lynn and Michael Jr. from Fort Irwin, CA, and South Dakota National Guards SSG Jay Roberts, wife Sharon and their children, Kelsey, Lauren and Sam. These two families are also wonderful representatives of the many dedicated volunteers whose efforts are the life source of many of the programs and services offered by the military to help lessen the challenges of military life. By recognizing these families for their service and publicizing all that they have done and continue to do, we are in effect honoring all of the very special people within our community that are so willing to reach out a helping hand. Both families will receive a Certificate of Appreciation, a US Savings Bond as well as a gift basket, compliments of Rubbermaid – Irwin, AUSA Family Programs and GEICO.
Expect More Cuts in Family Support Programs, Army Warns
Army officials have told base commanders to prepare for even deeper cuts in family support programs and other non-war-related expenses next fiscal year. In June, the Army announced cuts in base discretionary spending and other non-war expenses to offset unexpected costs associated with military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even after Congress approved supplemental military funding in response, service officials said they would continue to curb spending. And although the fiscal 2007 defense budget is still being debated in Congress, Army officials already have warned base commanders that they'll likely face more belt tightening under next year's budget because of the ongoing combat operations. "The time of having as much money as bases want for everything they want to do is gone," said Stephen Oertwig, spokesman for the Army Installation Management Agency. "We don't know what the exact budget will be, but we know it will be a very austere budget." Military family advocates warned that further cuts in vital family support programs could jeopardize military readiness by distracting soldiers. The House Armed Service Committee's ranking Democrat, Missouri's Rep. Ike Skelton, said the Army received about $500 million less for base maintenance and programs this year because of the unexpected extra war costs. Programs have been scaled back and staff and hours cut. Some on post part-time positions for spouses have also been eliminated as well as summer jobs for teens. Contact AUSA Family Programs with information about the cuts in programs serving families at your installation by emailing email@example.com
Deadline Approaching for Reimbursement Claims
Soldiers have until Oct. 3 to file reimbursement claims for private purchases of such protective and safety equipment as body armor. Claims should be filed with the Soldier's current unit. Former Soldiers should mail their claims to the U.S. Army Claims Service at Fort Meade, Md., with a postmark date of Oct. 3. More information on the reimbursement program is available at http://www.jagcnet.army.mil or Soldiers also may contact Maj. Paul Cucuzzella at 301-677-7009, ext. 431, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are You Entitled to a Retroactive Payment?
The Department of the Army's Families First Casualty Call Center Finance Liaison Office may be trying to disperse a retroactive payment to you. The National Defense Authorization Act 2006 increases the amount of death benefits paid to beneficiaries of all deceased active duty Servicemembers. The amount has been increased for the Servicemembers Life Insurance (SGLI) from $250,000 to $400,000 and the death Gratuity from $12,000 to $100,000. If you suffered the loss of a loved one between October 7 2001 and December 31, 2006, you may be eligible for a retroactive death payment. For additional information contact Major Ricky Hollings or MSG Patricia Jackson at the Families First Casualty Call Center at 866-272-5841.
Your Bank Card Gives Thieves Access to Your Bank Account
Commentary by Fort Knox employee: Even though I've read numerous cautionary tales and warnings about credit card and identity theft, I never once considered that I might one day be a victim. So my naiveté was shattered recently when I got a call from an official at Fort Knox Federal Credit Union advising me that someone in Mexico had used the number from my debit card to make a purchase there. Although it wasn't for a large amount of money, the credit union officials were astute and suspicious enough to notice that I couldn't be in two places at once -- particularly since the two places were thousands of miles apart. To read more on this article visit:
Are You Ready to Vote?
In the last several years, DoD has had a special challenge of reaching deployed service members on the battlefield, whose particular circumstances make it hard for them to participate in the by-mail absentee voting process. DoD officials have been working on this problem for several years and Servicemembers and U.S. citizens living overseas now have an ever-expanding array of electronic voting options available. DoD has launched a new Web site outlining electronic voting options for residents of each state. The Integrated Voting Alternative Site (IVAS), which was launched Sept. 1, includes information from all 55 states and territories on the various electronic ballot requests and delivery alternatives available to U.S. citizens living overseas covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The IVAS can be found on the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site at: http://www.fvap.gov/ and will be updated to reflect changes to state laws.
Web Based Voting Tools
DoD has developed two web-based tools that states can use in the voting process. Both involve an on-line, automated version of the Federal Post Card Application, which is the form used for voter registration and request of absentee ballots. Both are designed for individuals who are already registered to vote in their home states. The first tool would allow registered voters covered under the overseas act to log into a secure Web site, fill out automated Federal Post Card Applications, and e-mail them to their local election officials. The second tool would allow the registered voters to upload the completed applications to a secure server, where the local election officials can log on and download the forms and then possibly upload blank ballots to the same site for the voters to access. Both of these tools would only be open to military members and their families and DoD civilian employees and contractors stationed overseas. Security of this site would be ensured because individuals in these categories already have unique identifiers from DoD that could be used for verification. In addition to electronic voting options, DoD continues to work with the U.S. Postal Service and the military postal system to ensure ballots are delivered on time to military members and U.S. citizens living overseas.
Emotional Wounds Require Focus, Too
Military couples face added stresses which their civilian counterparts do not. Constant military moves are tough enough, but when you add long-term and multiple deployments to the mix, even the strongest marriages can be tested. While our servicemen and women will continue to serve with distinction, these military uncertainties and separations can have an emotional impact on families. According to the U.S. Army, 6% of married officers and 3.5% of enlisted soldier got divorces in 2004. It is important to point out that the Army's overall divorce rate for 2000, before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was 2.2%. To help ease the divorce problem, the Army has improved existing programs and introduced new ones:
*A two-day program followed by a retreat that helps couples develop better communication skills.
*A marriage education program that focuses specifically on issues that affect Reserve and National Guard couples.
*A family support group system that provides practical and emotional support for spouses of deployed soldiers.
*A program that includes briefings for soldiers on how their absence might affect their family relationships and how they can deal with changes that might have occurred during their deployment.
While daily U.S. troop deaths and political skirmishes over the direction of the Iraq war capture most of the headlines, it is incumbent upon our political leaders to remain cognizant of the emotional wounds soldiers could also be suffering in their marriages. In the meantime, military chaplains, family-support groups and mental-health counselors will fill the gap to assist the spouses and children who have been left behind. Spreading democracy in Iraq or any other hot spot must not come at the expense of military marriages. Helping our troops maintain healthy families is a human imperative that none of us can afford to ignore. Capt. James Key, chaplain, is a brigade unit ministry trainer at Fort Irwin in California.
Combat-Related Special Compensation
Combat-Related special Compensation (CRSC) is a monetary award providing tax-free monthly compensation to eligible retired veterans with combat-related injuries. With CRSC, you may receive the combat-related compensation in addition to your military retirement. You must meet all of these requirements; Active, Reserve or medically retired with at least twenty years of service, have a 10 % or greater VA rated injury, be receiving retired pay and your current military retired pay has been reduced by the amount of VA disability payments. You must also be able to provide documentation that your injury was a result of simulated war training,(e.g. field exercises); hazardous duty such as parachute duty: an instrumentality of war such as weapons, Agent Orange or combat vehicles or Armed conflicts such as gun shot or shrapnel wounds. Call 866-281-3254 or visit http://www.hrc.army.mil/crc/postcard
ASEP Helps Relocating Army Spouses Find Jobs
The phrase “I’ve got orders,” is one uttered by Servicemembers around the world. For Army spouses, those words can evoke a host of emotions associated with the uncertainties of moving. Besides packing and preparing to leave, working military spouses face financial and employment uncertainty at the new duty location. Enter the Army Spouses Employment Partnership, a program designed to support military spouses by helping them establish and maintain careers wherever the Army sends them. The partnership is an agreement between the Army and 21 Fortune 500 companies that offer a spectrum of career opportunities for Army spouses. Corporate America is embracing military spouses because they add varied backgrounds and skill sets to the workforce and military spouses tend to be more committed employees. Positions available through ASEP range from beginner to advanced levels. ASEP was established in 2003, and was driven by an initiative begun by Gen. Eric Shinseki, then chief of staff of the Army, when a statement of support was signed between the Army and 13 corporations. Since then, the ASEP partnership has increased to 21 companies. Military spouses can apply for jobs on-line through the Army Spouse Employment Partnership at www.myarmylifetoo.com or www.militaryspousejobsearch.org for more information call (803) 751-5432. For complete article go to: http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=9572 .
Army Emergency Relief Expands Spouse Education Assistance
For Academic year 2007-2008, Army Emergency Relief (AER) is expanding the stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP) to include spouses of retired Soldiers and surviving spouses of retired Soldiers who died while residing in the U.S. Prior to this change only spouses of active duty Soldiers and widows(ers) of Soldiers who died while on active duty were eligible for this assistance. All spouses must be registered in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS). This program is not offered to spouses who are obtaining second undergraduate and graduate degrees. Spouses who receive free tuition as a result of their employment will not be eligible for tuition assistance from AER but may apply for assistance for fees, supplies, books (no duplicates) for classes in which they are enrolled as a full-time student. Financial assistance to spouses living in the United States is awarded based on financial need as evidenced by income, assets, family size, special financial obligations and circumstances. Different eligibility requirements apply to spouses living overseas. Scholarships are awarded annually for up to four academic years to attend post-secondary school full-time as undergraduate level students. Spouses/surviving spouses must apply every academic year. Applications for the 2007-2008 AY for ALL eligible spouses will be available at http://www.aerhq.org/ from November 1, 2006 through March 1, 2007 or by writing to: HQ, Army Emergency Relief; Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program; 200 Stovall St.; Alexandria, VA 22332-0600
America Supports You: Program Connects Families with Books
A California-based program designed to reinforce the benefits of reading aloud to children is making it easier for deployed parents to do so. “United Through Reading,” a Family Literacy Foundation program for military families, provides deployed parents the means to video record themselves reading to their children from wherever they’re stationed. Deployed parents receive the materials necessary to record themselves reading to their child, including a small library of children’s books. United Through Reading is available at 140 sites overseas, and on Navy ships. Included in that number are about 40 United Service Organizations sites. All the branches can find availability of the program at USOs. Currently, the program works mostly with the Navy, and has some outreach in the Marine Corps, but United Through Reading has its toes in the door with other branches. The Target Corporation has helped that expansion tremendously, providing the nonprofit organization with some much-needed funding. The Family Literacy Foundation is a member of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, which highlights ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation’s Servicemembers