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April 15, 2006

Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 7

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:

  • Group Takes Protest to Walter Reed
  • Soldiers Can’t Wear Nonissue Vests
  • Bill Would Offer Tax Break to Casualties’ Families
  • April is the Month of the Military Child
  • Connecting One Army Family One Youth at a Time
  • DoD Attracts Students with Scholarships
  • SAT/ACT Prep Programs Available
  • Veterans Affairs Services (VAS)
  • House Panel Nixes VA Enrollment Fee Plan
  • A Military Clause is a Must in Your Lease
  • AAFES Recruits Military Family Members
  • POGs, AAFES Gift Certificates That Make Cents
  • TRICARE Dental Program Helps Guard and Reserve
  • Online Commissary Makes More Products Available

Once again, Family Programs will be a part of the AUSA Annual Meeting, Oct. 9-11. Family Forums I, II, and III will address current issues that concern and/or affect service members and their families, followed by a question and answer period. Please continue checking the Web site ( for the latest information about the Forums.

Group Takes Protest to Walter Reed
The unabated roar of motorcycles outside Walter Reed Army Medical Center roused the curiosity of Sgt. 1st Class Norman Stollberg, who’s recuperating from war injuries. Outside the medical center’s main gate in Washington D.C., the spring air stirred a chorus of American flags, held aloft by members of the D.C. chapter of Free Republic, a group that demonstrates every Friday at the hospital to show support for soldiers. More than 25 came out a day early, though, on April 6 to counter an anti-soldier protest, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church members who have picketed the funerals of troops around the country. For the full story visit:

Soldiers Can’t Wear Non-issue Vest
The Army has banned soldiers from wearing any ballistic protection other than officially issued Interceptor Body Armor. In a “Safety of Use Message,” made public March 31, the service ordered soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop wearing Non-issue gear. For story visit:

Bill Would Offer Tax Break to Casualties’ Families
A bipartisan bill introduced this week would offer greater income tax forgiveness for Service members who die as a result of injury or disease incurred in a combat zone. Check facts:

April is the Month of the Military Child
We here at AUSA Family Programs have long understood the value of caring for and celebrating children of Servicemembers. April is designated by the Department of Defense as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community. This month is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and challenges they overcome. Installations are honoring military children by providing a month packed with special activities that include arts and crafts shows, picnics, carnivals, fairs, parades, block parties and other activities. The Month of the Military Child is part of the legacy left by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He established the Defense Department commemoration in 1986. NOTE: View the original version of this web page on

Connecting One Army Family One Youth at a Time
The U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center, Child and Youth Services, Army Teen Panel is launching a website connecting active Army, reserve component and Department of Defense civilian youths around the world. The website, "Real Teens Connected" (RTC), is for teens 13-18 years of age affiliated with Army Active Duty, National Guard, Reserves, Accessions Command, and Department of Defense Civilians. Real Teens Connected offers a variety of services to include: scheduled chats, question and answer boards, a support service for youth, news updates, and relocation information. To access RTC, youths must have an Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account that is sponsored through parents/guardians or siblings. After confirmation go the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) website,, register with the YouthNet site, and login. Click on the menu tab "Army Teens," then in the authentication box, type in your AKO user name and password. The RTC website is sponsored and was created by the Army Teen Panel (ATP).

DoD Attracts Students With Scholarships
Defense Department officials hope to attract applicants to the department's new SMART scholarship program for students in science and math disciplines. The scholarship program allows individuals to acquire an education in exchange for a period of employment with the Defense Department in the specified areas. More detailed information can be obtained by contacting: Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Scholarship Program, American Society for Engineering Education, 1818 N Street N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Program officials can be reached by phone at: (202) 331-3516.

SAT/ACT Prep Programs Available
Thanks to the sponsorship of football players represented by the Victory Sports Group, military personnel can obtain eKnowledge's SAT or ACT Standard Power Prep program(s) and the $199 is waived. Families that request the program(s) pay only shipping, handling, and materials costs associated with the request. The VSG sponsorship includes all armed forces families, active or retired in the US Air Force, US Army, US Coast Guard, US Marines Corps, US Navy, all branches of the Reserves, and National Guard units in every state. The sponsorship will last through the 2005-07 school years, ending July 1, 2007. For more details, visit the MilitaryHOMEFRONT NFL Players Donation page at

Veterans Affairs Services (VAS)
The organization called Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) that is providing benefit and general information on VA and gathering personal information on Veterans is NOT affiliated with the VA in any way. VAS may be gaining access to military personnel through their close resemblance to the VA name and seal. The VA Legal Counsel has suggested they coordinate with DoD to inform military installations, particularly mobilization sites, of this group and their lack of affiliation or endorsement by VA to provide any services. To view the unaffiliated site click here:

House Panel Nixes VA Enrollment Fee Plan
The House Budget Committee killed the Bush administration’s plans for charging some veterans an enrollment fee for health care and raising their prescription drug prices, but it left alive a proposal to increase health care fees for some military retirees under age 65. Story details at:

A Military Clause is a Must in Your Lease
Time for yet another military move? If you plan to live off post, be sure that you thoroughly read your lease. We all know the military is famous for unexpected orders, whether it is for PCS or TDY. With a normal lease, your landlord is under no obligation to let you break your lease just because you have received new orders. When you enter into a lease agreement, be sure your lease has a military clause in it.

AAFES Recruits Military Family Members
AAFES is currently recruiting for entry-level positions and management positions worldwide in Retail, Information Systems, Finance & Accounting, Logistics, Food Service/Restaurant Management, Contracting & Procurement, and occasionally other career fields. As a founding member of the Army Spouse Employment Partnership, AAFES was one of the first employers to sign a statement of support pledging its best efforts to increase employment opportunities and provide training for Army spouses. Like other Department of Defense employers, AAFES offers employment preference to military spouses and family members. Once employed, AAFES’ reinstatement program helps military families when they move from installation to installation by allowing eligible AAFES associates to compete with current associates for in-house jobs. “That’s in addition to having up to 36 months to find a job at the new location, while maintaining eligibility for reinstatement benefits,” said Westphal. Military family members can find out more about AAFES’ “Spouse Employment Preference” program, along with a listing of current job openings, at

POGs, AAFES Gift Certificates That Make Cents
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service helps troops meet Department of Defense requirements to limit change in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom through polystyrene gift certificates that are used just like cash to purchase a variety of items, including sodas and snacks at the PX/BX. Dubbed POGs, the flat, disc-like gift certificates come in 5-, 10- and 25-cent denominations. Used primarily in contingency locations to save DoD the extra cost of shipping heavy coins into war zones, POGs not only facilitate retail operations in war zones, but have become OEF/OIF collectibles. POGs are also lighter for troops to carry and have the added benefit of making no noise in the field when carried in pockets. While mainly used in the more than 50 contingency locations throughout OEF/OIF, POGs are accepted at any AAFES Exchange around the world. Read more about this at

TRICARE Dental Program Helps Guard and Reserve
“The TRICARE Dental Program provides a way for National Guard and Reserve members to meet and maintain their dental requirements prior to being called to active duty,” said Navy Cmdr. Robert Mitton, deputy director, Dental Care Division, TRICARE Management Activity, and reduce their risk of dental problems before and during deployment. National Guard and Reserve members, with at least 12 months remaining on their service commitment, and their families are eligible for the TRICARE Dental Program. If the enrolled sponsor is activated, he or she becomes eligible for dental treatment in military dental treatment facilities and is automatically disenrolled from the TRICARE Dental Program. In addition, family members benefit from reduced monthly premiums while their sponsor is on active duty. Family member enrollment does not depend on the sponsor being enrolled; family members may enroll in the TRICARE Dental Program at any time. For more information, beneficiaries may access the TRICARE Dental Program online at, or call toll-free 1-800-866-8499, 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Members residing outside the United States should dial their country code followed by 888-418-0466 (toll-free). Beneficiaries may also access the TRICARE Web site at which displays the TRICARE Dental Program Fact Sheet as well as other dental related fact sheets.

Online Commissary Makes More Products Available
Authorized shoppers can now search the online commissary by category, price, or special occasion. Easter gift packs include a gift box for under $18 that features candy, and a stuffed bunny toy as well as a chocolate one. The assortment is expected to grow to 70 items within a few weeks, said Bonnie Powell, chief of marketing for the Defense Commissary Agency. Check it out at: