APRIL 15, 2007
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 28
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
- Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2007 Passes Senate; Faces Presidential Veto
- Bill to Improve Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury Introduced
- List of Countries Removed From Imminent Danger Pay List
- New 2007 Targeted Raises Go Into Effect
- Air National Guard Retirement Process Goes Online
- Alert Issued on Thrift Savings Plans
- TSGLI Provides Financial Support to Wounded Servicemembers
- Some Protective Eyewear May Pose Danger to Troops
- Army Families Online Announces New Column for Military Survivors
- Army Improves Support Network for Military Survivors
- Believe in Tomorrow Foundation to Establish Respite House for Military Children
- Sesame Workshop Helps Children Through Deployment
- NACCRRA Child care Programs Help Military Families
- United Concordia Sponsors “Month of the Military Child” Drawing
- Documentary Tells the Story of Military Brats
- Pet Food Recall Widens
- DeCA Pulls Several Brands of Olives
- AAFES’ Military Move Center Brings Savings Home
- Internet Resources for Military Parents and Children
Reminder: Nominations Sought for Volunteer Family of the Year
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 now available. 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.
Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year 20027 Passes Senate; Faces Presidential Veto
On Thursday, March 29 the Senate approved a $123 billion supplemental war spending bill. The House passed its version of the bill (HR 1591) on March 23. The measures exceed the President’s fiscal 2007 supplemental request and, in addition to emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, include funding for domestic legislation. Provisions of bill HR 1591 would also provide additional funds for military healthcare to include funds for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and to address problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Funding would also be provided to improve Veterans’ medical facilities though increased personnel numbers, improved claims processing, and facility maintenance.
Both versions of the bill contain language that calls for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Senate version calls for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq beginning 120 days after enactment, with a goal of finishing by March 31, 2008. The House version would require the withdrawal of troops from Iraq no later than the end of August 2008. The House version also includes provisions that would direct the DoD to maintain certain standards for the amount of time a Servicemember can be deployed and the amount of time spent at home between deployments. House and Senate Democrats seem confident that they will be able to iron out these differences in conference. However, the President has indicated that he would veto HR 1591 if the final version of the bill includes language calling for a timetable for troop withdrawal.
Bill to Improve Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury Introduced
On March 29, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) introduced a bill to improve the detection, assessment, and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The bill would also provide for an extended support system for veterans with TBI and their family members. Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. U.S. casualties in Iraq have included a greater proportion of TBI cases than in any other war, largely as a result of injury caused by improvised explosive devices. The high percentage of Servicemembers diagnosed with TBI, approximately one in every 10, has led medical professionals to label it as the “signature wound” of the Iraq War.
Because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish mild cases of TBI from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder the new legislation would improve the screening process to identify TBI in returning troops. The bill would also establish a establish a Traumatic Brain Injury Family Caregiver Personal Care Attendant Training and Certification Program, which would train and certify family caregivers of TBI patients as personal care attendants, enabling them to provide quality care at home and at the same time qualify for compensation from the VA. In addition, the legislation would ensure continued care and assessment for veterans with TBI who live in areas without access to major medical facilities. To learn more about bill S. 1065 please visit http://www.thomas.loc.gov to search by bill number.
List of Countries Removed From Imminent Danger Pay List
Effective November 1, 2007, Servicemembers deployed to the following countries will no longer qualify for imminent danger pay: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Angola, Georgia, Sierra Leone, Croatia, and Macedonia. The Department of Defense defines imminent danger status as “duty in a foreign area in which the member was subject to the threat of physical harm or imminent danger on the basis of civil insurrection, civil war, terrorism, or wartime conditions.” The loss of IDP ($225 month) will be offset for some Servicemembers in these countries by hardship duty-location pay (HDP-L). Effective November 1, 2007, HDP-L will increase from $100 to $150 per month in Angola, Georgia and Sierra Leone. In addition, HDP-L will be paid to service members in Macedonia at the rate of $100 per month. Hardship duty-location pay is compensation paid to members in designated hardship duty locations (i.e. areas where quality of life is substantially below that most members in the U.S. generally experience). To read the DoD press release please visit http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=10677
New 2007 Targeted Raises Go Into Effect
Mid-range and senior military Servicemembers will see an increase in their pay this April. For selected mid-grade enlisted and warrant officer pay grades the raise will come in the form of a targeted pay raise of up to 8.3 percent. For the most senior officer, enlisted and warrant officer pay grades April 1 will bring an extension of the military pay charts to up to 40 years of service. Servicemembers will see the increased amount in their Mid-April paychecks. For more information, view the April 1 pay charts.
Air National Guard Retirement Process Goes Online
Eligible members of the Air National Guard can submit retirement applications electronically via the virtual Personnel Center - Guard and Reserve. This Web-enabled service is available at any time from anywhere in the world and will give Airmen the ability to monitor the status of their application from start to finish. Guard Airmen can log on to the vPC-GR to begin the process and see other Guard-specific options. This new process applies only to Airmen who initiate a retirement application online, and not to Airmen who have already applied for retirement through their local MPF.
Alert Issued on Thrift Savings Plans
Soldiers, family members and Army civilians using their home computers to access Thrift Savings Plan accounts online are vulnerable to identity theft. TSP officials have identified customers who are victims of a computer crime known as "keylogging" or "keystroke logging." Keylogging is a diagnostic tool used in software development that captures a user's keystrokes. The technique can capture a computer user's TSP personal identification number or other personal account information such as a Social Security number. Computer users should follow general computer security principles at home and download antivirus software.
TSGLI Provides Financial Support to Wounded Servicemembers
December 1, 2006 marked the one-year anniversary of the establishment of Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI). TSGLI was created to help Servicemembers and their families get through tough financial times that often happen when a Servicemember is severely injured. Approved TSGLI claimants receive a one time payment of up to $100,000, based on the type and severity of the injury. That money might be the difference that allows a Soldier’s family to stay with him or her during recovery, help with unforeseen expenses or give them a financial head start on life after recovery. The TSGLI recently overhauled its website to include extensive new features such as user-friendly graphics, detailed program information, outreach materials, program statistics that detail claims and dollars paid; and an online discussion forum, where users can log in, post questions or comments and interact with others to share best practices and answer common questions. For more information about TSGLI, contact the U.S. Army TSGLI service center at 1-800-237-1336 or TSGLI@conus.army.mil. You can also visit the web site at www.tsgli.army.mil.
Some Protective Eyewear May Pose Danger to Troops
Military medical officials in Iraq are reminding troops that not all “ballistic eyewear” provides the same protection. “Soldiers are buying a lot of commercial combat eye protection, and they’re not aware that some of it is not approved,” U.S. Army Capt. Joy Schmalzle, chief of optical fabrication for the 32nd Multi Functional Medical Battalion at Logistic Support Anaconda, said in a military news release. A list of approved ballistic eyewear is available at http://www.armyoptometry.com. More information about this story is available from the online edition of the Stars and Stripes: http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=52438&archive=true.
Army Families Online Announces New Column for Military Survivors
Army Families Online, the website of the Army’s Well-Being office, is now hosting a column by for military survivors by military widow Joyce, who lost her Soldier husband in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. Joyce will offer advice and support to bereaved military family members. To view Joyce’s column go to http://www.armyfamiliesonline.org and click on “Our Survivors.”
Army Improves Support Network for Military Survivors
The Army Families First Casualty Call Center (FFCCC), which assists families of fallen Soldiers, recently underwent several changes to better serve those who seek support in the months and years following the loss of a loved one. The organization will now be called the Long Term Family Case Management (LTFCM). A new interactive website, available at http://ww.altfcm.army.mil, includes enhanced features with detailed information on survivors’ benefits, Soldier services, and support programs. The site also features interactive tools to determine whether a family is eligible to apply for the Death Gratuity or retroactive Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) benefits.
Believe in Tomorrow Foundation to Establish Respite House for Military Children
On April 28 the Believe In Tomorrow Foundation will break ground on The Believe In Tomorrow House at Pinnacle Falls, near Hendersonville, North Carolina. The facility will provide free respite care for military families and their critically ill children. The Believe in Tomorrow National Children's Foundation has provided retreat housing for families of critically ill children since 1982, allowing families to recharge in a relaxing environment far away from the stressful routine of medical treatments. Although the Foundation has served the children of military families for several years, the Pinnacle Falls house is the first facility to be dedicated entirely to military families. To learn more about the Foundation and its new project to help military families please visit http://www.believeintomorrow.org
Sesame Workshop Helps Children Through Deployment
Sesame Street's Elmo and his friends at Sesame Workshop are helping military children deal with a parent's deployment through a new project called Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families during Military Deployment. Sesame Workshop and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., launched the project last August, with support from the NY State office of Mental Health, The Military Child Education Coalition, AUSA Family Programs, and others. The Talk, Listen, Connect project offers families a kit with materials in English and Spanish to help them better cope with deployments. The kit provides parents a DVD featuring Elmo and his dad who is preparing to deploy, a poster that explains some of the ways Elmo is dealing with the his father's absence, and a magazine for parents and caregivers. The kit is available free of charge through AUSA Family Programs. Please email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-336 ext. 151. A request form is also available on our website: http://www.ausa.org/family. Click on the link for “Resources’ and then click on “Publications and Materials.” Sesame Workshop, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will air "When Parents are Deployed," a documentary featuring families who have used the Talk, Listen, Connect DVD twice during Memorial Day weekend. Check your local listings for more details.
NACCRRA Child Care Programs Help Military Families
NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, works with more than 800 state and local Child Care Resource & Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high-quality, affordable child care. In partnership with the Department of Defense, NACCRRA also administers three programs which offer subsidies to help Servicemembers and their families locate and use licensed and qualified child care providers in their local community.
- Operation Military Child Care provides a subsidy for child care to National Guard and Reserve parents who are activated or deployed and whose children are enrolled in non-DoD licensed child care programs. It is also available to military families who are unable to access child care on military installations. To learn more about Operation Military Child Care go to http://www.naccrra.org/MilitaryPrograms/
- Operation Child Care is a voluntary program admisitered through local child care referral agencies and designed to support the short-term child care needs of National Guard and Reserve members in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. Operation Child Care providers may be able to offer returning Servicemembers a few weeks of rest and recuperation leave by donating a minimum of four hours of child care services. To learn more, please visit http://www.childcareaware.org/en/operationchildcare
- Another NACCRRA/DoD program assists the families of severely injured Servicemembers in finding and paying for licensed child care services for six months during their period of recuperation. The program is available nationwide wherever the injured Servicemember is receiving either in-patient or out-patient medical care and is designed to allow spouses to be at the bedside or to help with medical appointments. NACCRRA and the DoD will pay an offset to the civilian child care provider during the recovery period. For more information visit http://naccrra.org/MilitaryPrograms/injured.php or call 1-800-342-9647.
United Concordia Sponsors “Month of the Military Child” Drawing
United Concordia, the contractor responsible for administering the TRICARE Dental Program, is recognizing April’s “Month of the Military Child” by sponsoring a web-based drawing in which prizes will be awarded to military children of varying ages. Children of active duty or National Guard & Reserve sponsors are eligible. Winners will be selected at random. Those wishing to enter should complete the entry form located on the TDP website between March 28 and April 26, 2007. More information is available on the TDP website: http://www.tricaredentalprogram.com/tdptws/forms/mnth-military-child-home-2.pdf
Documentary Tells the Story of Military Brats
Brats: Our Journey Home is a documentary film that chronicles the unique life of the children of US military personnel. Military Brats from past and present share intimate memories of their mobile lifestyle and growing up on military bases around the world. The film includes an interview with General Norman Schwarzkopf and is narrated by Kris Kristofferson, both military brats. The filmmaker, Donna Musil, is also the daughter of an Army officer. The film’s website is http://www.bratsourjourneyhome.com/order.htm
Pet Food Recall Widens
Commissaries worldwide have been directed to remove from their shelves certain categories of Del Monte and Nestle Purina PetCare pet products. In both instances, the recalls resulted from the discovery that the affected products contained melamine, a substance not approved for use in food. To learn which brands are affected by the pet food recall please visit the Food and Drug Administration’s website at http://www.fda.gov/. The Defense Commissary Agency is urging customers who have purchased any of these products to return them to the store from which they purchased it for a full refund. Any unused portions of the product should not be consumed. More information about the DeCA’s response to the pet food recall is available at http://www.commissaries.com.
DeCA Pulls Several Brands of Olives
Commissaries worldwide have been directed to remove from their shelves several brands of olives that have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that can cause a life-threatening illness or death. To date there have been no reports of illnesses connected with this recall. However, consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. This recall applies to product containing codes beginning with the letter “G” followed by 3 or 4 digits under the following brands: Borrelli, Bonta di Puglia, Cento, Corrado’s, Dal Raccolto, Flora, Roland, and Vantia. Any commissary customers who have this product at home are asked to return it to the store from which they purchased it for a full refund. Any unused portions of the product should not be consumed. More information on this recall is available at http://www.commissaries.com
AAFES’ Military Move Center Brings Savings Home
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has launched a new service offering military families a quick and easy way to save time and money on the numerous challenges associated with moving to a new assignment. Searchable by specific street address, AAFES’ Military Moving Center service is a “one stop” shop where military families moving to or within the continental United States can connect and compare local utilities and services with just a few clicks of the mouse, as well as learn about special offers available to them in their new location. To access the site go to http://www.aafes.com and click on the “Military Moving Center” link.