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January 15, 2006

Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 2

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:

  • DoD Scales Down Troop Deployments
  • Army Begins to Discharge Reservists Who Refused to Mobilize
  • Fort Lewis, McChord to Grow
  • The National Veterans Business Development Corporation
  • VA Home Loan Limit Increases
  • Combat Veteran Fact Sheet
  • Locating Veterans Gravesites
  • Military Honors at Veteran Funerals Imperiled by Army Rules
  • Beware of What Goes Into Those Blogs
  • TRICARE Beneficiary Handbook Update
  • Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI)
  • MCEC Looking for Children’s Artwork
  • Free Tax Preparation Help for Members of the Military
  • “Setting Up a Personal Budget” LifeWorkshop from Military OneSource

DoD Scales Down Troop Deployments
The Pentagon is dialing back the number of troops it planned to send to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan by adjusting some deployment orders and rescinding others. In two announcements the week before Christmas, the Defense Department disclosed decisions that alter deployments involving three combat brigades and some 10,000 troops. Find story details at:

Army Begins to Discharge Reservists Who Refused to Mobilize
The Army on Monday began moves to expel dozens of reserve soldiers who failed to report for duty months after being mobilized for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in effect serving notice to hundreds of others that they could face penalties for ignoring or refusing orders to return to active duty. The proceedings mark a turning point in the Army's struggle to contact, train and deploy thousands of Individual Ready Reserve soldiers, nearly half of whom have requested a delay in returning, asked to be exempt or simply ignored their orders. For story details:

Fort Lewis, McChord to grow
Fort Lewis grew by nearly 5,500 soldiers in 2005, and it will continue to grow in the coming years, with an additional 3,300 soldiers expected by the end of 2007. The active-duty population at Fort Lewis is projected to top 30,000 in the next several years. For full story details:

The National Veterans Business Development Corporation
The Veterans Corporation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was created in 1999 by Public Law 106-50, which also set a 3 percent goal for federal procurement to Veterans including Service Disabled Veteran-owned businesses. They serve transitioning military personnel and all Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve and link them with partners and purchasing agents in both the public and private sectors. The Veterans Corporation provides Veterans including Service Disabled Veterans with the tools needed to be successful in business such as; Access to Capital, Entrepreneurial Education and Access to Services among others. For additional information go to:

VA Home Loan Limit Increases:
Effective January 1, 2006, changes in the loan guaranty limits will mean Military families and veterans are able to get no-down payment loans up to $417,000, up from $359,650. Additional information about VA home loans is available on the Web at or by calling 1-800-827-1000. For the complete story go to:

Combat Veteran Fact Sheet
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides cost-free health care services and nursing home care for conditions possibly related to military service to veterans with combat service after November 11, 1998 for a period of 2 years beginning on the date of their separation from active military service. Those eligible are Veterans, including activated Reservists and National Guard members, if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of “hostilities” after November 11, 1998 and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. For additional information see the Combat Veterans Fact sheet at:

Locating Veterans Gravesites
The burial locations of more than 5 million veterans are available on the Internet. On-line since April 2004, the nationwide Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) gravesite locator,, helps veterans' families, former comrades-in-arms and others find the graves of veterans. VA recently added 1.9 million records for veterans buried primarily in private cemeteries to its database which previously only had records on 3 million veterans buried in VA national cemeteries since the Civil War, and in state veterans cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery since 1999. The new records date from January 1997, the earliest time for which electronic records exist. Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the VA cemetery website at or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000. For complete story visit on gravesite locator visit:

Military Honors at Veteran Funerals Imperiled by Army Rules
Charlene Shimmin cried as two members of the Duluth, MN Combined Honor Guard handed her a folded American flag during a small memorial service for her husband, a World War II veteran. "I can't tell you how much this means to a family," said John Marshall, captain of the Duluth guard, which often provides its services at two or three funerals per day. "I would feel like hell if I couldn't provide it for these men. I think that would be an absolute travesty." Read about Army rule at:

Beware of What Goes Into Those Blogs
Throughout last year, the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy tightened control on bloggers by requiring them to register through the chain of command and by creating special security squads to monitor milblogs. The new emphasis on security is welcome to some. For full story go to:,0,1936295.story?coll=ny-worldnews-headlines

TRICARE Beneficiary Handbook Update
The TRICARE Beneficiary Handbook was updated to reflect the new inpatient cost-shares for 2006. The changes are as follows: Cost-share per diem for beneficiaries other than dependents of active duty members - increased to $535. Active duty family member inpatient cost share - increased to $14.35. TRICARE Standard cost share per diem for inpatient mental health - increased to $175. To view the details of this product, please visit:
For South Region Handbook visit:
For West Region Handbook visit:
For the Retiree Brochure visit:

Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI)
This new insurance program will help families focus on recovery, readjust to military or civilian life and ease worries about financial difficulties. TSGLI benefit payments, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, are made to service members who have suffered certain traumatic injuries while on active duty. The program became effective Dec. 1 and provides financial help to military families through extended periods of medical care and healing. Benefits are also payable retroactively to Oct. 7, 2001, for service members and veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. For additional information please visit:

Monthly hot topics, information and items of seasonal interest for Army Reserve Families can be found through To receive an announcement each month about CONNECTIONS via email, please REGISTER for the site.

MCEC Looking for Children’s Artwork
The Military Child Education Coalition is looking for children's artwork, poems and essays for the "On the Move" magazine which will be published in April for the "Month of the Military Child" as well as for a 2007 calendar. The theme is "Family Traditions Help Us Stay Connected." Entry guidelines must be met and are; must be original and from any child in grades Pre-k through 12. All work must be submitted on paper (no emails or disks). Must use bright colors. Size is limited to 8 1/2 x 11. All submissions must have a signed (by parent) permission sheet attached. Permission sheet is provided by MCEC. All work must be clearly labeled on back with the following information; Child's name, grade, teacher's name, school name, address and contact phone number. Children may submit their artwork to Military Child Education Coalition, Attn: Denise Montana-Graham, 108 E FM 2410, Suite D, Harker Heights, TX 76548. For additional information contact MCEC at

Free Tax Preparation for Members of the Military
Marines, airmen, soldiers, sailors, guardsmen and their families worldwide can get tax preparation help. Military-based VITA sites provide free tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members and their families. The volunteer assisters are trained to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the new Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines (members of the military can now choose to include nontaxable combat pay in their earned income for purposes of computing this credit). For additional information and full story go to:

“Setting Up a Personal Budget” LifeWorkshop from Military OneSource
Money is a source of anxiety for most people at one time or another. Many of us worry about making ends meet from month to month, about credit card debt, or about saving enough for the future. Military OneSource offers on-line workshops to help set up personal budgets. To attend this event, you must first register. Please click one of the following links to register. Once you have registered, you will receive an email message confirming your registration. This message will provide the information that you need to join the meeting. To register; Click here for Tuesday, January 24, 8:00 AM ET. Click here for Tuesday, January 31, 8:00 PM ET. Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For questions regarding registration send an e-mail to