MAY 1, 2007
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 29
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
- Military Spouse Appreciation Day is May 11, 2007
- AUSA Family Programs Sponsors Month of the Military Child Activities at Pentagon
- Tours in Iraq and Afghanistan Extended to Fifteen Months
- Soldiers in New Fifteen Month Rotation Will Still Get Extension Bonus
- DoD Announces Program to Recognize Frequent Deployment
- Military Spouse Employment Event to be Held at Fort Belvoir, VA
- Medical Transcription: A Career That Moves With You!
- Book Review: Help! I’m a Military Spouse – I Get A Life Too!
- Programs Offer Recreational Opportunities for Wounded Servicemembers and Families
- Talking to Children About Traumatic Events
- Retirement – It’s The Rest of Your Life
- Revamped Force Health Protection & Readiness Website Promotes Fit Force
- AAFES Giving Military Shoppers Opportunity for “Enchanting” Trip
- Olives Recall Does Not Affect Commissaries
- Chapter Honorable Mentions
- Resources for Military Spouses
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 available online. 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.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is May 11, 2007
In 1984 President Reagan proclaimed the Friday before Mother's Day of each year to be Military Spouse Appreciation Day in recognition of the “countless personal sacrifices” military spouses have made in support of the Armed Forces from the earliest days of the Continental Army. In his speech, President Reagan acknowledged the many challenges experienced by military spouses and also the many positive contributions they have made in their communities. “As volunteers,” President Reagan noted, “military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors.”
Today, as deployments continue in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spouses still play a vital role in the readiness and well-being of Servicemembers and their families even as they care for their own families and homes and pursue their career and educational goals. AUSA Family Programs would like to extend our appreciation of military spouses in recognition of their many accomplishments and their efforts on behalf of Soldiers, families and their communities. Please turn to the resources section of this newsletter for a list of programs and services for military spouses, including information on employment and education initiatives.
AUSA Family Programs Sponsors Month of the Military Child Activities at Pentagon
To help celebrate April’s Month of the Military Child activities, AUSA Family Programs will sponsor Sand Art activities for the children of military personnel who work at the Pentagon on April 26 as part of “Take your son or daughter to work day.” AUSA partnered with Connect and Join, a web-based communications company that helps bring together families separated by deployment though online projects and services, to support free arts and crafts activities for military children throughout the month of April. Learn more about Connect and Join at http://www.connectandjoin.com.
Tours in Iraq and Afghanistan Extended to Fifteen Months
On April 11, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that US Army units would deploy to Iraq for fifteen month rotations instead of twelve, effective immediately. The policy change also affects Army units already in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army National Guard and Reserve units are not affected by the tour extension. In a letter to families, General David Petraeus, the Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, send a letter to the families of deployed troops. In the letter, he acknowledged that the news of the deployment extension would be hard on families but that the extension was necessary for the success of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also thanked Army Families for their sacrifice. General Petraeus’s letter may be read in full here: http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/04/16/2675-letter-from-gen-petraeus-to-families-of-deployed-soldiers/
Soldiers in New Fifteenth Month Rotation Will Still Get Extension Bonus
The Stars and Stripes reports that all Soldiers serving the new fifteen month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan will still receive the Army’s $1,000 per month extension bonus for serving more than a year in theater. Like all bonuses for those serving in combat zones the extension bonus is tax-free. The full article may be viewed at http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=52648&archive=true
DoD Announces Program to Recognize Frequent Deployment
The Department of Defense recently announced a program to recognize service members who deploy or mobilize beyond the established rotation policy goals. The goals for the Active and Guard/Reserve units are one year deployed to two years at home station and one year mobilized to five years demobilized respectively. Administrative absence will be granted to Servicemembers when these goals are not met and can be used at their convenience. This is provided to enhance the Servicemember's quality of life and will be done on the following basis:
- One day for each month a service member is deployed over 12 of 36 consecutive months of active duty or over 12 months of a 72 month period mobilized for the Guard/Reserves.
- Two days will be granted when thresholds of more than 18 of 36 consecutive months for active duty or 18 of 72 months for the Guard/Reserve are exceeded.
- Four days will be provided when thresholds of more than 24 of 36 consecutive months for active duty or 24 of 72 months for the Guard/Reserve are exceeded.
Administrative absence is authorized by the commander. It is separate and distinct from normal leave accrued by a service member. [Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=10760.]
Military Spouse Employment Event to be Held at Fort Belvoir, VA
The United Services Organization (USO) of Metropolitan Washington and the Joint Employment Transition Services are hosting a Military Spouse Expo on Saturday, May 5 at the Barden Education Center, Fort Belvoir, VA. The event will include seminars to help spouses search for jobs online, improve their resumes, and tips for applying for federal jobs. Online registration is available at http://www.usometrodc.org. There will also be a job fair for Servicemembers and spouses on Friday, May 18, at the SOSA Recreation Center. More information is available from Vicki Mullen, the Fort Belvoir Employment Readiness Program Manager, at 703-805-2605 or from the USO at 703-696-2552.
Medical Transcription: A Career That Moves With You!
On Saturday April 21st, the AAMT and the MTIA, in collaboration with the Departments of Labor and Defense, launched a new spouse employment career option -- Mission Medical Transcription: A Career that Moves with You. Medical Transcriptionists translate oral medical records to written form based on dictations provided by medical professionals. Military spouses interested in a medical transcription career may be eligible for military spouse scholarships, discounts, specialized grants, Pell Grants or Sallie Mae student loans to offset the cost of tuition. Tuition ranges from $1,320 to $5,170, with the average cost being $3,000 for the typical 18 month training program. Information about approved MT schools and financial aid information is available at http://www.aamt.org/scriptcontent/mtapproved.cfm. In addition, some military installations have local scholarship information through Family Centers. Spouses can also find out if they are eligible for Workforce Investment Act funding through the Department of Labor's One-Stop Career Centers, which can be found on http://www.milspouse.org/. [Source: http://cs.itc.dod.mil/files/content/AllPublic/Workspaces/QOL-LIBRARY-PUBLIC/MilitaryHOMEFRONT/238549.html]]
Book Review: Help! I’m a Military Spouse – I Get a Life Too!
The second edition of Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer’s Help! I’m a Military Spouse – I Get a Life Too has just been published, with support from AUSA Family Programs. The book offers military spouses an informative, practical and inspiring guide to military life with topics on health and wellness, finding support and resources, pursuing a career, and how to make the most of being married to the military. As well as drawing on their own experiences as military spouses, the authors draw on the experiences and collective wisdom of the many military spouses who have attended their workshops. To learn more about the authors and their book please visit http://www.militaryspousehelp.com.
Programs Offer Recreational Opportunities for Wounded Servicemembers and Families
Operation Purple Summer Camps are free camps for military children who have a family member deployed, about to depoy, or just returned from a deployment. The camps are designed to help children better cope with the stress associated with separation due to deployment. This year, the Operation Purple program will add a camp for children of wounded Servicemembers. To learn more about the program, which is run by the National Military Family Association, please visit http://www.nmfa.org for an online application.
Another program for wounded Servicemembers and their families has been established by the Blewitt Foundation. The Destination R & R retreat will be held this summer, from August 5 to 9, at the Turf Valley Resort near Baltimore, MD. To learn more please visit http://www.theblewittfoundation.org/
Talking to Children About Traumatic Events
The recent shootings at Virginia Tech may again have parents wondering how to talk to their children about traumatic events. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), a nonprofit organization comprised of mental health professionals, offers several resources through its website as well as advice to parents on how to talk to children about events reported through the media. Seeing and hearing about local and world events, such as natural disasters, catastrophic events, and crime reports, may cause children to experience stress, anxiety, and fears. Parents can help their children by limiting exposure to media, including the Internet, providing reassurance, and asking their children if they have any questions about what they are reading and hearing. Several fact sheets are available on the AACAP’s website: http://www.aacap.org. In addition, Military One Source has resources and information for families coping after a tragedy, as well as a 24/7 hotline at 1-800-342-9647. More information is available at http://www.militaryonesource.com.
Retirement – It’s the Rest of Your Life
And they lived happily ever after – or did they? As part of a family, you know this is the last line of many bedtime stories. As part of a military family, you should know that the “happily ever after” takes planning, especially if you’re approaching Army retirement.
What can you do? Visit the Army Retirement Services Web site – http://www.armyg1.army.mil/retire. You’ll find a section dedicated to preretirement information, including the Preretirement Counseling Guide and the Preretirement Briefing as well as a section devoted to the Survivor Benefit Plan (the only way that part of retired pay can be continued after the retiree’s death). The site also includes a list of all Army Retirement Services Officers worldwide with addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and their Web site links.
If at all possible, both Soldier and spouse should attend the installation preretirement briefing. Even if that’s not possible, you both need to plan for retirement. You’ve spent many years as an active Army family; you’ll spend even more as a retired Army family. You need to plan those years together.
Revamped Force Health Protection & Readiness Website Promotes “Fit Force”
Servicemembers, DoD leadership, and health care planners and providers are among those who benefit from the launch of a revamped Force Health Protection and Readiness (FHP&R) website at http://www.fhp.osd.mil. The site provides a wealth of information to promote and sustain a healthy and fit force, safeguard the health and well-being of Servicemembers and their families, prevent injuries and illness and protect the force from health hazards, as well as sustain world-class medical and rehabilitative care to the sick and injured anywhere in the world.
AAFES Giving Military Shoppers Opportunity for “Enchanting” Trip
To introduce their newest fragrance, “Enchanting,” by Celine Dion, perfume manufacturer Coty and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) are offering military families the chance to win a trip for two to see Dion live in concert in Las Vegas. This “AAFES only” prize package, which includes roundtrip airfare for two, two nights at Caesars Palace, ground transportation, meals, tickets to the concert and a $250 shopping spree, is valued at $3,000.*
From April 20 to May 10 in CONUS locations and from June 1-30 in OCONUS, authorized shoppers can register at participating locations worldwide for a chance to win the trip, which will be awarded on or about July 30. No purchase is necessary to enter. Personnel with exchange privileges can find the PX/BX nearest them by logging on to the store locator link at http://www.aafes.com
Olives Recall Does Not Affect Commissaries
The Defense Commissary Agency has determined that the brand of olives it carries is not affected by the current national recall of Cerignola, Nocellara and Castelvetrano olives manufactured by Charlie Brown di Rutigliano & Figli S.r.l, in Bari Italy. The Roland product stocked in the commissary is of the Kalamata variety manufactured by Euro American from Greece. This Roland product does not contain Cerignola, Nocellara or Castelvetrano olives mentioned in the current recall. The current recall covers all sizes of cans, glass jars and pouches of Cerignola Olives, Nocerella Olives and Castelvetrano Olives containing codes beginning with the letter "G" followed by 3 or 4 digits under the following brands manufactured by Charlie Brown di Rutigliano & Figli: Borrelli, Bonta di Puglia, Cento, Corrado's, Dal Raccolto, Flora, Roland and Vantia. For more information on this recall, please visit the FDA website, http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/charliebrown03_07.html