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January 1, 2006

Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 1

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 type “subscribe” in the subject line.

In this issue:

  • First Annual CincHouse Convention
  • 2006 Newman’s Own Awards
  • Families Hail AAFES’ Program to Help Injured Troops
  • Senator Wants Mental Health Task Force
  • $441.5 Billion Defense Bill Includes Benefits Changes
  • Veterans Health-Care Spending Will Not Be Cut
  • VA Ponders Lump Sum Payments for Lesser Disabilities
  • DoD Announces Implementation of Traumatic Injury Protection Insurance
  • Traumatic Injury Protection Available Under the Servicmembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
  • Advocates Oppose Health Care Co-Payment Hikes
  • Personnel, Not Programs, May Face Cuts
  • New Rules Apply to Reservists, Employers
  • Guard Soldiers Offered Recruiting Bonuses
  • Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
  • Military Health System Enters New Era
  • Reserve Family Child-Care Survey
  • Possible Help for Deploying Parents Without a Care Giver
  • Officer Divorce Rates Fall
  • Beware of Phishing Scams

First Annual CinC House Convention
CinCHouse invites you to the first annual CinCHouse Convention for military families January 10-12 at the San Diego Convention Center. The CinCHouse Convention is being held in conjunction with WEST 2006, one of the largest national security conferences with more than 10,000 attendees. In partnership with the US Naval Institute and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, WEST is well known for its high-level policy discussions among senior Pentagon leaders, commanding officers and senior enlisted. CinCHouse, the nonprofit community of nearly 900,000 military wives and women in uniform, will produce seminars and panel discussions this year under the theme “How Do We Recruit and Retain the Right People?” Confirmed speakers include Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Mullen and Sylvia Kidd, Director of Family Programs for the Association of the U.S. Army.

Panel topics include: The Impact of the Family on Future Retention. Do Pay, Benefits or Deployments Impact Recruitment and Retention? Should We Return to a Traditional “Invasive” Leadership Style? Rejuvenating the Family Support Centers. In addition to the discussion panels and speakers, you and your family are welcome to join the military families for our opening dinner on Coronado Beach, Wednesday night’s dinner aboard the Berkeley docked in San Diego Harbor and a wide variety of excursions throughout beautiful San Diego. For more information and discounts on travel and accommodations, please visit or e-mail

2006 Newman’s Own Awards
For the seventh consecutive year, Newman's Own, Fisher House and the Military Times Media Group join in announcing the Newman's Own Award. Volunteer organizations are invited to compete for a share of $75,000 in grants. Just provide information on your innovative plan that improves the quality of life for military families and their communities, and your organization could be awarded funding for implementing the plan. For specific rules of eligibility visit or call (888) 294-8560. All entries must be received by April 28, 2006.

Families Hail AAFES’ Program to Help Injured Troops
When military service members are injured in Operations Enduring or Iraqi Freedom, that trauma is made all the more difficult by an arduous transition process from the battlefield. Troops are often flown immediately to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with little more than the clothes on their backs and identification around their necks. From there, wounded troops recuperate at U.S. medical centers and begin reintegration into civilian life. Walter Gardiner understands the challenges injured troops evacuated from a war zone face first hand. His son, Sgt. Ryan Gardiner, was medically evacuated from Baghdad. When Sgt. Gardiner reached the hospital in Germany, he had nothing to his name until an Army and Air Force Exchange Service personal shopper arrived on the scene. Armed with underwear, socks and a change of clothes, the civilian associate brought more than products, he delivered comfort to a Soldier in need.

AAFES associates Shane Warren and Charlotte Stobie are personal shoppers who visit with troops, make a list of needed items, select items at the Exchange and then hand deliver them. “I was once wounded and brought to Landstuhl, so I know what it means to have a friendly face at a time when you are alone and frightened. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are assisted by AAFES staff. More than 6,000 injured troops have been helped by the AAFES personal shopper program in the last 10 months alone. Section 1319 of Public Law 1559 allows AAFES to allocate $250 towards the purchase of civilian clothing to qualifying service members who arrive at several military hospitals. To qualify for the allotment, service members must be medically evacuated from Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

Senator Wants Mental Health Task Force
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is making a last-minute pitch for congressional negotiators to approve the creation of a military mental health task force. Two groups of negotiators - one working on the 2006 defense authorization bill and the other on the defense appropriations bill - are considering legislation sponsored by Boxer that would establish a defense task force to recommend improvements in military and veterans' mental health programs. For more on this story:

$441.5 Billion Defense Bill Includes Benefits Changes
Congressional negotiators have approved several landmark changes in military benefits, particularly for members of the National Guard and reserve. The 2006 defense authorization bill approved Dec. 16 by House and Senate negotiators includes: For more on this story:

Veterans’ Health-Care Spending Will Not Be Cut
In a continuing war of words over spending on veterans' programs, the top Republican on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee accused his Democratic counterpart of trying to scare veterans with predictions of health-care budget cuts. Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, the committee's ranking Democrat, said House Republicans were preparing a 1 percent across-the-board cut in federal spending that would amount to giving veterans a lump of coal for Christmas because it would reduce spending on their health care and benefits. Read the details at:

VA ponders Lump Sum Payments for Lesser Disabilities
The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering a controversial change in disability benefits that would provide a one-time lump sum, rather than monthly payments, to those with low-rated disabilities. Veterans' groups do not like the idea, recommended in a May report from the VA's inspector general as a way to cut costs. For more on this story:

DoD Announces Implementation of Traumatic Injury Protection Insurance
The Department of Defense announced today the implementation of Traumatic Injury Protection Insurance under the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. The program, which will be known as TSGLI, is designed to provide financial assistance to service members during their recovery period from a serious traumatic injury. All members eligible for SGLI will become insured for traumatic injury protection of up to $100,000 unless they decline SGLI coverage.

A flat rate of $1.00 will be added to the monthly SGLI deduction, regardless of the amount of SGLI coverage that the member has elected. TSGLI is not disability compensation, it is an insurance product, and has no effect on entitlement for compensation and pension benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs or disability benefits provided by the Department of Defense.

The retroactive provision of PL 109-13 provides that any service member, who suffers a qualifying loss between Oct. 7, 2001, and Dec. 1, 2005, will receive a benefit under the TSGLI program if the loss was a direct result of injuries incurred in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. For more information: ARMY - Jeanette Mendy at (800)237-1336 or; AIR FORCE - Thomas Perry at (210) 565-3310 or 2410 or; NAVY - MCPO Ralph Gallaugher at (800)368-320 or; MARINE CORPS - Lt. Col. Will Goldschmidt at (703)432-9277 or; COAST GUARD - Lt. Terrence Walsh at (202) 267-1648 or; U.S. Public Health Service - Lt. Cdr. Tiffany Edmonds at (301)594-2963 or

Traumatic Injury Protection Available Under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
Traumatic injury protection available under the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) plan provides financial assistance to eligible Soldiers and their families, which is vital during their extensive recovery and rehabilitation process. If a Soldier is unable to complete a claim due to incapacitation or death, family members with an appropriate Power of Attorney or letter of guardianship may apply for TSGLI benefits on behalf of a Soldier. Family members of a deceased Soldier who survived for seven days after incurring a traumatic injury and qualifying loss may also apply for TSGLI benefits.

TSGLI covers a range of traumatic injuries, including, but not limited to: Total and permanent loss of sight in one or both eyes, loss of hand or foot by severance at or above the wrist or ankle, total and permanent loss of hearing in one or both ears, loss of thumb and index finger of the same hand by severance at or above the metacarpophalangeal joints, quadriplegia, paraplegia, or hemiplegia, 3rd degree or worse burns covering 30 percent of the body or 30 percent of the face, and coma or the inability to carry out two of the six activities of daily living due to traumatic brain injury.

Additional information on the traumatic injury protection benefit, as well as a listing on qualifying injuries, can be obtained by calling 1-800-237-1336 .Claims can be faxed to 1-866-275-0684 or mailed to Department of the U.S. Army Traumatic SGLI (TSGLI) 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0470 Visit the web site at for application and contact information.

Advocates Oppose Health Care Co-Payment Hikes
Major military associations are appealing to Congress to prevent increases in health care co-payments and fees for service members and retirees. The Military Coalition, a group of 36 associations representing 5.5 million active, reserve and retired service members and their families, is concerned about the Pentagon's recent announcement of an 8.5 percent increase in premiums for Tricare health coverage for reservists. Read the following link for details:

Personnel, Not Programs, May Face Cuts
Hampered by an increasingly combative relationship with Congress, the Pentagon is expected to seek savings from its payroll rather than making deep cuts in major weapons programs in its next long-range plan. The blueprint for military restructuring that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is to release, is the first one fully conceived since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Story details:

New Rules Apply to Reservists, Employers
The Labor Department has issued new rules spelling out the rights and responsibilities of returning Guard and Reserve members - and of their employers. The rules published are designed to help enforce a law that has been on the books for 11 years. This is the first clarification of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act since that law was enacted in 1994. Read complete story at:

Guard Soldiers Offered Recruiting Bonuses
National Guard soldiers can earn up to $2,000 in bonuses for every person they sign up under a recruiting program announced Nov. 28. Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army Guard, unveiled the Guard Recruiter Assistant Program when he was in Charleston, W. Va. The program will start with Iowa, North Dakota, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, and is expected to be available in all U.S. states and territories by the end of fiscal 2006. For story details read:

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
CRSC offers military retirees a monthly tax-free compensation that supplements concurrently, their VA disability pay (VA Waiver) and retired pay. To apply for CRSC, applicants must first meet ALL four of the following criteria AND have at least one rated VA disability determined to have been combat-related: Served at least 20 years active duty -OR- Reservist age 60 or older with 20 or more qualifying years. Are in retired status and are entitled to retired pay offset by VA disability payments (VA Waiver). Have at least a 10% disability rating.

Combat related disabilities are those incurred with documented proof: In the performance of duty under conditions simulating war (e.g. exercises, field training). While engaged in hazardous service (e.g. flight, diving, parachute duty. Through an instrumentality of war (e.g. combat vehicles, weapons, Agent Orange), or as a direct result of armed conflict. (con’t. next page)
Please visit following site for Online help: Veterans Benefits Administration. Visit the CRSC web site for answers to all of your frequently asked questions Phone CRSC Service Center at 1-866-281-3254 for help.

Military Health System Enters New Era
AHLTA, the new global electronic health record system, is the largest, most significant electronic health record system of its kind with the potential to serve more than nine million Servicemembers, retirees and their families worldwide. When fully implemented, about 60,000 military healthcare professionals at DoD medical facilities in the United States, and 11 other countries will use this electronic health record system. Beneficiaries' health records will be available around the clock and around the world, available to healthcare providers, yet protected from loss and unauthorized access. The longer term vision, expected to be achieved in the next two to three years, is a continuously updated digital medical record from the point of injury or care on the battlefield to military clinics and hospitals in the United States, all completely transferable electronically to the Veterans Health Administration.

Reserve Family Child-Care Survey
Army Reserve Families have until Jan. 31 to participate in the child-care needs survey online at

Possible Help for Deploying Parents Without a Care Giver
The VFW National Home for Children cares for children in many situations including Deployments. Parents never give up custody and cost is based on individual circumstances. For additional information call 800-851-0238. All calls are confidential.

Officer Divorce Rates Fall
Army officer divorce rates made an about-face in 2005, falling sharply in the year after a spike in marital split-ups generated national debate over whether the war in Iraq was tearing families apart. The dramatic increase, then decrease, in divorce statistics from 6 percent of all active-duty officers, about 60,000 in 2004, to 2.3 percent in 2005 had statisticians double-checking their numbers. For more on this read:

Beware of Phising Scams
'Tis the season for Phishing. Actually, every season is Phishing season nowadays. In the latest iteration of an unfortunately proliferating trend, online con artists recently have been trying to victimize users of the Army Knowledge Online network and the financial company USAA, blanketing the world with e-mails that purport to be from those reputable institutions. Story details: