April 1, 2007
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 27
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 and type "subscribe" in the subject line.
In this issue:
- Reminder: Nominations Sought for Volunteer Family of the Year Award
- Independent Review Group Holds First Meeting on Walter Reed; Invites Comment
- Bill to Improve Education Benefits for Veterans Introduced
- Army Creates Wounded Soldier Hotline
- Medical Holdover Program Ombudsman Program Assists Soldiers and Families
- Wounded Warrior MilAir Initiative
- TRICARE Global Remote Overseas
- Pacific Army Bases Among First to Give New HPV Vaccine
- DOD Investigates Reports of myPay Hacking
- Ft. Leonard Wood Residents to Receive Housing Assessment Survey
- Imminent Danger Pay Will Continue for U.S. Troops in Kosovo
- Family Readiness Group Deployment Assistant Program
- April is the Month of the Military Child
- County Veteran Service Officers Can Help Veterans Obtain Benefits
- GI Bill Top-Up Tuition Program for Active Duty Personnel
- IRS Provides Tax Guidance for Military Families
- New Programs Help Military Families Plan their Finances
- Army Reaches Public Through YouTube, Flickr, Del.icio.us
- AAFES Building Stronger Exchange Benefit
- DeCa Announces Best Commissary Nominees
Reminder: Nominations Sought for Volunteer Family of the Year Award
The Association of the United States Army’s Family Programs Directorate invites nominations for the 2007 AUSA Rubbermaid-Irwin Volunteer Family of the Year Award, which recognizes the vital role volunteers and families play in the life of military communities. Nomination forms and submission guidelines are available on the AUSA Family Programs website at www.ausa.org/family. Nominations for the 2007 award must be received by the Family Programs Directorate no later than June 15, 2007. Questions regarding this year’s award should be directed to the Family Programs staff at 800-336-4570, ext. 151 or 150, or by e-mail: email@example.com.
Independent Review Group Holds First Meeting on Walter Reed; Invites Comment
The first public meeting of the Independent Review Group, established by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to investigate concerns about rehabilitative treatment of wounded Servicemembers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, took place in early March. The meeting allowed patients and family members to provide input to help the group focus on shortcomings and recommend improvements. Patients and family members who were unable to attend the public meetings can reach the group by telephone at 1-866-268-2285 or by email at www.ha.osd.mil/dhb/irg.
Bill to Improve Education Benefits for Veterans Introduced
In early January, Senator James Webb (D-VA) introduced the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 (S.22) which would expand the level of education assistance to veterans to levels equivalent to that enjoyed by World War II veterans under the original G.I. Bill. The proposed legislation would cover tuition, room and board, and a monthly stipend of $1,000. Funds provided by the existing Montgomery GI Bill do not cover all costs associated with higher education. The increased benefits would be targeted at Servicemembers who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001.
Army Creates Wounded Soldier Hotline
The Army has established a hotline for injured Soldiers and their family members facing problems associated with medical care. The Wounded Solider and Family Hotline can be reached at 1-800-984-8523 between 7:00am and 7:00pm (ET), Monday to Friday.
Medical Holdover Program Ombudsman Program Assists Soldiers and Families
Reserve Component Soldiers in medical holdover and their families who require assistance with administrative processes or have concerns about medical care may call the MHO Ombudsman Program toll free at 1-866-908-2762 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information hotline is run 24/7 and staffed by a team of military retirees, under the supervision of a medical officer, with extensive knowledge of military medical affairs, the Medical Holdover Program, and Reserve Component issues.
Wounded Warrior MilAir Initiative
The Secretary of Defense announced in March that military personnel on active duty who have been injured in a combat zone and are currently receiving treatment at a medical treatment facility will be offered excess seats on any DoD aircraft in the continental United States supporting DoD senior officials. Wounded Warriors traveling in a leave status will be offered seats on a space-available basis prior to any other potential space-available passenger. Immediate family members with valid DoD ID cards may also be offered seats when accompanying Wounded Warriors to their destination. To find the nearest military passenger terminal or information about the Air Mobility Command go to http://www.amc.af.mil/questions/topic.asp?id=380.
TRICARE Global Remote Overseas
Active duty military personnel and active duty family members assigned to a remote overseas location may be eligible to enroll in TRICARE Global Remote Overseas (TGRO). TGRO also coordinates dental care although it does not provide dental services. The TGRO call center in each overseas area ca help coordinate host-nation care in remote overseas locations. More information about the TGRO program is available on the TRICARE Overseas Website at http://tricare.mil/overseas. An updated TRICARE Global Remote Overseas fact sheet is also available at http://www.tricare.mil/Factsheets/print.cfm?id=279.
Pacific Army Bases Among First to Give New HPV Vaccine
The Stars and Stripes reports that family members at U.S. Army bases in the Pacific are among the first in the region to have the option of getting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The vaccine protects against four of the major types of HPV, including two strains that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that the vaccinations should begin when girls reach the age of 11 to 12 years old. The HPV vaccine is a Tricare-covered benefit for active-duty personnel and their family members. Read the full article at http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=44964&archive=true.
DOD Investigates Reports of myPay Hacking
According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), about two dozen users of myPay have had their accounts hacked in recent months. MyPay allows Servicemembers and Defense Department civilians to check their finances online. It’s likely that the problem occurred after users’ personal information was stolen from their home computers using spyware. DFAS has provided a fact sheet to help users protect their computers and personal data: http://www.dod.mil/dfas/news/2007pressreleases/release02070001.htmlThe original Stars and Stripes article about the myPay security issue is available at http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=44355&archive=true.
Ft. Leonard Wood Residents to Receive Housing Assessment Survey
Families residing on Fort Leonard Wood will soon receive the official Department of the Army Resident Assessment Survey. This survey is a great opportunity for military members and their families to provide honest feedback on current housing conditions and how well the installation meeting on-post housing requirements. Information from this survey will help guide the post in improving housing facilities and services. The answers are strictly confidential and officials ask residents to offer honest responses. No personal data will be tabulated and the survey does not identify individual residents or occupants. The full story is available in the Installation Management Command’s newsletter: http://www.imcom.army.mil/site/newsletter/imcomnewsletter.html
Imminent Danger Pay Will Continue for U.S. Troops in Kosovo
The Department of Defense has decided against cutting imminent danger pay for US troops stationed in Kosovo. Approximately 1,700 US troops are deployed in Kosovo, with most serving as part of the NATO peacekeeping force. The reversal means that these troops would not experience a cut in pay mid way through their deployment and that troops may still claim tax free status on their earnings.
Family Readiness Group Deployment Assistant Program
Running a Family Readiness Group (FRG) can be an especially demanding and stressful task for volunteers, especially in a time of multiple, extended deployments. The Army initiated an FRG Deployment Assistance Program to help Rear Detachment (RD) personnel and FRG volunteers manage the administrative and logistical aspects of coordinating FRG activities, thereby allowing volunteers to focus on supporting families. The program has proven very successful but funding remains unpredictable. However, the Army announced in its recent posture statement that it would seek to standardize the program and funding. The 2007 Army Posture Statement is available at http://www.army.mil/aps/07
April is the Month of the Military Child
April is the month of the military child, a time to recognize and pay tribute to military children for their commitment, sacrifice, and unconditional support for their parents. Connect And Join, an online communications and activities site that connects families around the world who are separated by deployment, is partnering with the American Legion Auxiliary to encourage retailers to host crafting and scrap booking events for military children and their families and friends to take place on Saturdays throughout April. The supporting web site, http://www.monthofthemilitarychild.com, provides event ideas, lessons plans, and downloadable posters. Military families can also email email@example.com or call at 1-888-729-9828 to find participating stores in their local area. As part of the Month of the Military Child celebration, AUSA Family Programs is also helping to sponsor an event at the Pentagon during April for children of military personnel.
County Veteran Service Officers Can Help Veterans Obtain Benefits
The National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO) is an organization made up of local government employees who assist veterans, family members, and survivors in developing and processing claims for veterans’ benefits. Veteran Service Officers are trained to understand the benefits process and work collaboratively with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other nationally chartered veterans’ organizations to ensure veterans and family members receive the benefits to which they are entitled. To locate a Veteran Service Officer visit the NACVSO website at http://www.nacvso.org.
GI Bill Top-Up Tuition Program for Active Duty Personnel
Military personnel participating in the GI Bill program and who are still on active duty and have served for at least two years may be eligible for the tuition top-up benefit. The program allows the VA to pay the difference between the total course cost and the cost covered by the service tuition assistance program, up to the maximum rate that a veteran would receive. To apply for the GI Bill, or to learn more about the Top-Up program, visit the website of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs: http://www.gibill.va.gov
IRS Provides Tax Guidance for Military Families
The IRS website has a special section designed to help military personnel with filing taxes. Current tax law provides some special benefits for active members of the U.S. Armed Forces and those serving in combat zones. The site includes information about deadline extensions, tax exclusions for personnel in combat zones, and the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003. Visit the IRS website to learn more: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=97273,00.html
New Programs Help Military Families Plan their Finances
The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Investor Education Foundation will expand the scope of its Military Financial Education Campaign this year, adding two new programs aimed at specific populations within the military community - military spouses and wounded and severely injured Servicemembers. The Foundation will assist injured Servicemembers and their families, who often receive significant monetary compensation and are faced with a myriad of complex financial decisions dealing with Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (TSGLI), Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI), Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), and Survivor Benefits. Additionally, the Foundation will conduct a comprehensive survey of military spouses to determine what information, education and tools they need to help them make sound financial decisions. An e-learning financial simulation game is also in development to teach the military community about the importance of managing their finances and financial planning. To learn more, visit http://www.nasd.com/PressRoom/NewsReleases/2007NewsReleases/NASDW_018687. The NASD Investor Education Foundation is also behind SaveAndInvest, an online resource center for saving and investment information for Servicemembers and their families. Visit http://saveandinvest.org to learn more.
Army Reaches Public Through YouTube, Flickr, Del.icio.us
The Army has started sharing videos and photos of Soldiers in action around the world at popular content-sharing websites such as You Tube, Flickr and Del.icio.us. The images and videos show Soldiers fighting the war on terror, helping to guard the southwestern border, assisting others during natural disasters, partnering with homeland-security first responders and providing humanitarian assistance. Learn more at http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/03/22/2359-army-reaches-public-through-youtube-flickr-delicious/
AAFES Building Stronger Exchange Benefit
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will invest more than $1 billion over the next four years to improve and expand exchange facilities. The program comes in response to changing demographics within the military and Base Realignment and Closure actions. AAFES is a valuable benefit for military shoppers but and in order to continue serving military families in a dynamic retail market they must design better exchange facilities and provide their customers with great value products and competitive pricing. To learn more about AAFES’s improvements please visit http://www.aafes.com/pa/news/07news/07-019.htm.
DeCa Announces Best Commissary Nominees
The Defense Commissary Agency has announced this year’s nominees for its Best Commissary awards. Nominees in their respective categories are:
The annual awards recognize overall excellence in commissary operations and service. Awards will be presented at the DeCA/American Logistics Association 2007 Training Event and Conference held in Richmond, Va., in April.
- Scott Air Force Base, Ill., best superstore
- Fort Lewis, Wash., best superstore
- Fort Huachuca, Ariz., best large commissary, United States
- Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., best large commissary, United States
- Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, best small commissary, United States
- Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., best small commissary, United States
- Camp Humphreys, South Korea, best large commissary, overseas
- Schweinfurt, Germany, best large commissary, overseas
- Camp Kure, Japan, best small commissary, overseas
- Izmir Air Station, Turkey, best small commissary, overseas