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November 1, 2006

Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 19

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.

In this issue:

  • Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB Honor Veteran’s Day
  • USAEUR to Hold Town Hall Meetings About Upcoming Changes in GS System
  • Commanding Officer Domestic Violence Training
  • Army Reserve Family Programs
  • Connect And Join Helps Families Through Separation
  • New Gold Star Family Center Opens at Fort Hood
  • Army National Guard Increases Number of Family Assistance Centers
  • Reactivated? Don’t Let Your Family Lose TRICARE Prime Coverage
  • Understanding TRICARE point of Service Charges when Overseas
  • Holiday Mailing Deadlines
  • Wrong Receipts at AAFES Worth More Than Just a Free Drink

Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB Honor Veteran’s Day
From October 20th to November 11th, Wal-Mart and SAM'S CLUB stores across the U.S. will display their annual in- store "Wall of Honor" to recognize military men and women currently serving our country, as well as the veterans who have fought to protect our freedom. During this time, customers wishing to honor a "hero" who has served or is currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces are invited to bring a photo to any U.S. Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB Photo Center to be included on the Wall. Customers have a choice of one of two packages offered as a courtesy by Kodak. The first package includes two free 5"x7" prints. One print is placed in a decorative photo holder and added to the Wall and the other is given to the customer free of charge. The second package includes one 5"x7" print, to be placed on the Wall, as well as one 3.5"x5" print and two wallet sized photos for the customer. For more information about Wal-Mart's continuing support of our military and other community giving programs, log-on on to To learn more about America Supports You and the stories of Americans supporting the troops, please log on to

USAREUR to Hold Town Hall Meetings about Upcoming Changes in GS System
U.S. Army Europe is planning approximately 50 Town Hall meetings over the next several months to explain the upcoming shift away from the General Schedule — or GS — system to its U.S. civil servants. Similar briefings will be held in the coming weeks and months for U.S. civil servants working for the Navy and Air Force in Europe. The GS System will be replaced by the National Security Personnel System beginning October 2007. Under the new system employee compensation and pay raises will be based on performance. This new merit-based system will allow for more pay raises and bonuses, but it will also permit supervisors to penalize people for sub-par work. NSPS has met with some resistance from a coalition of federal employee unions in the United States, and so aspects of the program will not be implemented until the court challenges are finished. Go to the NSPS Web site at for more information.

Commanding Officer Domestic Violence Training
The Department of Defense has implemented new training for Commanding Officers to help combat the problem of domestic violence among military families. The training, which is based on DoD policy, is web-based, interactive, and self-paced. It is designed to heighten awareness of domestic violence and to encourage COs to establish a command environment favorable to the reporting and resolution of domestic violence incidents. The training web-site can be viewed at Some portions of the site require registration; however, there is general access to information about DoD policy regarding domestic violence and links to each service’s family advocacy program.

Army Reserve Family Programs
The Army Reserve Family Programs Office actively works with dozens of groups providing services to military families. By partnering with government agencies, veterans’ groups, non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, libraries, parks and recreation departments, and civic organizations, military families have access to a wide spectrum of benefits and services. The Army Reserve Family Program Web Portal, has been designed to help the family, friends and employers of Army Reserve Soldiers find all the information they need. For information about Army Reserve Family partnerships please go to A monthly newsletter for Army Reserve Family Programs is available at

Military is a new website, launched last month, to help to make relocation less stressful for military families. With information on over 200 military installations and their surrounding communities, the web site covers topics such as base services and community resources. It also includes a directory of military friendly businesses. As of writing some of the information is incomplete. Nonetheless, as it continues to grow, the web site promises to be a comprehensive resource for military families on the move. The site’s address is

Connect And Join Helps Families Through Separation
What can military families do to help ease the strain of separation? Connect And Join, a family support and education services publishing company, has added a special feature to its family communications portal, The "Ask Dr. Fred" column allows families experiencing separation to ask Dr. Frederic Medway for practical advice on how to keep lines of communication open even though family members may be miles apart. Dr. Medway is an internationally recognized researcher and Professor of Psychology at the University of South Carolina and a licensed school psychologist. He has been studying military family issues and the impact of separation and deployment since 1987 and joined Connect And Join as an evaluation director in 2005. Dr. Medway emphasizes that family communication needs to be effective as well as frequent in order to reduce feelings of isolation and to help ease the pain of separation. Practicing effective communication during separation also improves the reunion process and makes it less likely that family members will believe rumors. Dr. Medway can be reached at (888)729-9828 or via email at

New Gold Star Family Center Opens at Fort Hood
The numbers of families who have lost loved ones in combat is rising. To honor and support these families, Fort Hood recently opened a new Gold Star Family Support Center on September 22, 2006. The Center is funded by private donations and supported by an all-volunteer staff. It also draws on other installation and community resources. Through the Center, Gold Star Families have access to support groups and referrals to local resources. The Center also sponsors special events. Children have their own rooms, including a play room complete with murals of popular children’s characters hand-drawn by a 1st Cavalry Division soldier. Play therapy is available for children ages 5-11 and a teen support group is expected to begin soon. A web site for the center is being developed which will allow families to learn about the Center’s events and activities and to connect with other Gold Star families, especially those who live outside the greater Fort Hood area.

More information about the Center click here

Anyone interested in making a donation to support the Center is asked to visit and specify the gift to the Fort Hood Gold Star Family Support Center.

Army National Guard Increases Number of Family Assistance Centers
The Army National Guard (ARNG) validated a Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) requirement for 420 Family Assistance Centers (FACs) across the 54 states and territories in 2006. These FACs are strategically placed in each state and territory to overcome the geographic isolation of both Active and Reserve Component families from services provided by installations. Each FAC is staffed with military and civilian personnel, members of the Recruiting and Retention force, Soldiers on Active Duty Special Work orders, contract personnel, temporary technicians, state employees, and volunteers. As of May 2006, 353 FACs are operational in all 50 States and 4 Territories. The FACs are important to support families of deployed Guard and Reserve service members as well as family members of geographically dispersed Active Duty Families. The Centers not only offer support to families during deployment but also provide services to help Soldiers and families following the return home. For additional information, click here:

Reactivated? Don’t Let Your Family Lose TRICARE Prime Coverage
New rules now allow the families of National Guardsmen and Reservists to keep their Prime coverage when they re-enroll up to 30 days after the sponsor’s activation. Previously, families enrolled in TRICARE Prime under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) were automatically switched to TRICARE Standard when their sponsors were recalled to active duty. Although family members could re-enroll in Prime, coverage did not start immediately. The new rules allow for a seamless transition from TRICARE Prime coverage under TAMP to the same coverage as an active duty family member. TAMP also offers TRICARE Prime coverage for 180 days to some service members leaving active duty and their eligible family members. Details of this policy can be found in the TAMP fact sheet <>

Understanding TRICARE Point-of-Service Charges when Overseas
Point of Service is an option under TRICARE Prime that allows enrollees the freedom to seek and receive non-emergent health care services from any TRICARE authorized civilian provider, in or out of the network, without requesting a referral from their Primary Care Manager (PCM) or the Health Care Finder (HCF). Point-of-service has an annual deductible, and enrollees pay more when they use this option instead of getting a referral or authorization for care. Point-of-service charges now apply to active duty family members enrolled in the TRICARE Global Remote Overseas and TRICARE Puerto Rico Prime programs. Active duty family members enrolled in an overseas military treatment facility, TRICARE Global Remote Overseas or TRICARE Puerto Rico Prime should ask their primary care manager or their program’s call center for authorization when seeking routine or specialty care from a host nation provider to avoid point-of-service changes or the possibility that TRICARE may deny their claim. The point-of-service deductible is $300 per individual or $600 per family, and the cost-share is 50 percent of TRICARE-covered services. The deductible applies only to outpatient services, and the cost-share applies to both inpatient and outpatient services. Point of service deductibles and cost shares do not apply to the annual fiscal year catastrophic cap of $1,000 for active duty family members. Overseas and TRICARE Puerto Rico Prime Point-of-service was already in effect for those enrolled in overseas military treatment facilities under TRICARE Overseas Program Prime. Active duty family members enrolled in TRICARE Prime options overseas should be aware that the point-of-service requirements for overseas programs differ significantly from those for stateside. Unlike TRICARE Prime programs in the United States, overseas Prime enrollees don’t need authorization when seeking urgent care, regardless of location. Additionally, active duty family members enrolled overseas do not need authorization for routine or specialty care while visiting the United States and point-of-service doesn’t apply to such care. They are encouraged, however, to get all routine and specialty care prior to their visit to the United States or if in the United States to coordinate their care with their Primary Care Manager. This will insure that the medical record contains documentation of care received and it will allow the family member to know if adequate follow-up care is available when they return from their visit to the United States. For more information, TRICARE Overseas Program Prime and TRICARE Global Remote Overseas enrollees may refer to TRICARE Puerto Rico Prime enrollees may refer to .

Holiday Mailing Deadlines
Deadlines for mailing holiday packages to Servicemembers overseas are rapidly approaching. The postal Service is again providing free "mailing-kits" each containing four Priority Mail boxes, six Priority Mail flat rate boxes, 10 Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and 10 customs forms with envelopes. Send as much as you can fit into a Priority mail flat-rate box to any APO or FPO address for $8.10, regardless of weight. Pay attention to the suggested deadlines because mailing is expected to be heavy this year.

The following Deadlines are for Christmas delivery, Hanukkah deadlines are 10 days earlier.

*Except for mail going to APO/FPO Zip codes starting with 093; deadline for these locations is Dec. 4
**EMMS not available to APO/FPO starting with 093

Wrong Receipt at AAFES Worth More Than Just a Free Drink
As a military command with a retail mission, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is constantly evaluating Loss Prevention measures to maximize the annual dividend returned to military Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. One Loss Prevention measure that has been especially successful in eliminating employee theft actually enlists the support of PX/BX shoppers through the promise of a free drink or other promotional coupons for anyone who identifies an inaccuracy on their receipt.

While there are signs all over the exchange advising customers of the offers, it is important to note that this effort goes far beyond free beverages, it’s really a critical loss prevention tool that allows AAFES to partner with customers to mitigate loss. AAFES recruits the customer, makes them part of the team and provides a token of appreciation to those who report inaccuracies. By taking the time to review their receipt, these ‘crime fighters’ help protect their dividends and ultimately strengthen the exchange benefit at home and to our deployed warriors abroad.

A recent incident at Ft. Lewis Washington, resulted in the military community recovering $3,540 through a signed promissory note, and the potential for future loss has been reduced as separation actions against the associate have been initiated. Furthermore, the Fort Lewis Military Police issued a citation and the Federal Prosecutor is reviewing the case for criminal prosecution Shopper should always double check their receipts. The sale of goods and services at AAFES operations in 2005 aided in the return of $229 million to military MWR programs. For 2005, AAFES paid a per capita dividend of $234 for every Soldier and Airman. Every penny counts, in today’s budget constraint environment!