September 15, 2007
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 38
In this issue:
- AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award Winners Announced
- AUSA’s Tucson-Goyette Chapter Shows Its Support for Deployed Troops
- Dwell-Time Amendment May Get New Vote
- VA Catching Up on Retroactive Pay Backlog
- Ginnie Mae Increases Homeownership Opportunities for Veterans
- TRICARE Beneficiaries Can Save Time, Money With New Service
- Defense Department Shares Data with FDA to Enhance Medical Product Safety Reviews
- Guard and Reserve Members Must Take Action to Switch to Restructured TRICARE Reserve Select
- Humana and ValueOptions Enhances Behavioral Health Resources for TRICARE Beneficiaries
- DoD May Establish New Health Agency
- New Family Assistance Center Opens at Fort Lewis
- Army Extends Level of Support to Fallen Soldiers' Families
- Scholarship Announcement: Council of College and Military Educators (CCME)
- National Guard Bureau Provides Guide for Parents
- United Through Reading Program Benefits Military Children
- Operation Give A Hug Needs Your Support
- Operation: Action Packed! Supports Deployed Servicemembers
AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award Winners Announced
AUSA Family Programs is pleased to announce that LTC John R. Chavez, his wife Holly, and their five children have been selected as the 2007 AUSA Rubbermaid-Irwin Volunteer Family of the Year. The Award recognizes an exceptional family whose volunteerism has contributed significantly to the well-being of the Army community. The Chavez family was nominated by AUSA’s Korea Chapter for their volunteer efforts while LTC Chavez was assigned to the 1-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion. Each member of the Chavez family, from the oldest to the youngest, has demonstrated a strong commitment to the welfare of Soldiers and families, as well as to their Korean neighbors, through a variety of volunteer activities.
In recognition of all that they have done on behalf of Soldiers, families and their community, the Chavez family will receive a trip to Washington D.C. for the AUSA Annual Meeting, where they will be recognized at the opening ceremony on Monday, 8 October. They will also receive a cash prize and a gift basket courtesy of Rubbermaid, AUSA and GEICO. AUSA Family Programs would also like to congratulate the two runner-up families: First Sergeant Roberto Marshall and family of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Staff Sergeant Christopher Rolack and family of Yongsan Army Garrison, Korea. Each runner up family will be awarded a savings bond and gift basket in recognition of their dedicated service to their neighbors and communities.
AUSA Family Programs will also host three Military Family Forums at the AUSA Annual Meeting. For further information about the schedule of events please visit the Family Programs website at http://www.ausa.org/family.
AUSA’s Tucson-Goyette Chapter Shows Its Support for Deployed Troops
The Tucson-Goyette Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, which serves members in the greater Tucson and Yuma communities of Southern Arizona, is helping to ensure that the Marana, Arizona–based 1-285th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion is getting a taste of home while they are deployed. The Chapter has been raising donations to put together care packages to send to the unit, which is currently deployed to Afghanistan. The Chapter has also purchased calling cards so that Soldiers can call home. To learn more about the Tucson-Goyette Chapter please visit http://www.chapters.ausa.org/tucson-goyette
Dwell-Time Amendment May Get New Vote
Legislation requiring that regular and reserve units of the armed forces have at least the same time at home as the length of their previous tour of duty overseas may be up for vote again in the Senate. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced the legislation (S 2012) in early July but the bill never came to vote. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) now believes the bill has a better chance of passage. A similar bill, HR 3159, was introduced into the House by Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA). [Source: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/09/military_senate_dwelltime_070905w/]
VA Catching Up on Retroactive Pay Backlog
With the introduction of Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) in June 2003 and Concurrent Receipt Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) in January 2004, retirees with service-related disabilities no longer incurred a reduction in their retired pay equivalent to the amount of their VA compensation for service-related injury or illness. However, difficulties implementing the two programs meant that some eligible retirees did not obtain concurrent receipt benefits. As a result the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) have been reviewing personal files to ensure back payments are made to those eligible. To date, almost 75,000 files have been reviewed and DFAS has begun working on another 33,000. More information about this issue is available at Military.com: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,147657,00.html
Ginnie Mae Increases Homeownership Opportunities for Veterans
The Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) announced on September 1, 2007, that it will eliminate the restriction on the size of mortgage loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that can be used as collateral for Ginnie Mae securities. Currently, Ginnie Mae limits the size of VA-guaranteed loans that can back Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to the conforming loan limit of $417,000. Ginnie Mae will continue to require that the amount of cash down payment, plus the amount of the VA guaranty, equal at least 25 percent of the value of the home. [Source: http://www.ginniemae.gov/news2007/08-30presshud.asp?Section=Media]
TRICARE Beneficiaries Can Save Time, Money With New Service
Registering for the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP) just got easier with the launch of the new Member Choice Center (MCC). By using this new service beneficiaries can obtain TMOP enrollment assistance and have the MCC contact the physician to obtain new prescriptions and forward them to the TMOP for processing, making the switch from retail to mail order virtually effortless for the beneficiary. Beneficiaries should go to the “My Benefit” portal on http://www.tricare.mil or to http://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE to complete the registration. There’s also the option to call the MCC at 1-877-363-1433. When a beneficiary calls the MCC, a patient care advocate from Express Scripts Inc., TRICARE’s pharmacy benefit provider, explains the program and offers to transfer the current prescriptions to the safe and convenient mail order option. If the beneficiary agrees, Express Scripts Inc. submits a prescription transfer request to the patient’s physician. The mail order pharmacy can save beneficiaries as much as 66 percent on medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes. The beneficiary may receive up to a 90-day supply of most medications for the same amount they would pay for a 30-day supply at a retail pharmacy. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=310]
Defense Department Shares Data with FDA to Enhance Medical Product Safety Reviews
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Defense have announced a partnership to share data and expertise related to the review and use of FDA-regulated drugs, biologics, and medical devices. General patient data such as prescriptions, lab results and patient weight will be used by the FDA to spot trends, which may identify potential concerns as well as recognize benefits of products. The two agencies will protect all personal health information exchanged under the agreement, in accordance with federal law. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=309]
Guard and Reserve Members Must Take Action to Switch to Restructured TRICARE Reserve Select
National Guard and Reserve members currently in the TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) health care plan must sign up for the restructured TRS by Sept. 30, 2007, in order to continue their coverage. Effective Sept. 30, the “old” TRS ceases to exist. To continue TRS coverage, all current members must follow the instructions at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/trs/ to print out, sign and return a new TRS request form to their regional contractor by Sept. 30. If payment is usually made by check, the first month’s payment must also be included. Those members who are paying electronically do not need to include a payment – if they meet the Sept. 30 deadline in submitting a new TRS request form. National Guard and Reserve members can find out more about the restructured TRS through the “My Benefits” portal at http://www.tricare.mil. TRS offers coverage comparable to TRICARE Standard and Extra. National Guard and Reserve members can contact their Reserve Component points of contact to be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/ra/html/tricare.html if they have additional questions about their eligibility for TRS. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=314]
Humana and ValueOptions Enhances Behavioral Health Resources for TRICARE Beneficiaries
Humana Military Healthcare Services (HMHS) and ValueOptions, the South Region subcontractor for mental health, recently announced the launch of a new online portal to provide TRICARE beneficiaries with a secure, safe environment to seek information, educational materials and self-assessment tools on behavioral health, addiction and recovery, life events, and daily living skills. The portal can be accessed by visiting http://www.humana-military.com. To ensure users’ privacy, the website is a VeriSign secure site, which means that all traffic to and from the server is secured by encryption. [Source: http://www.humana-military.com/South/corporatecomm/CurrentReleases/09042007.htm]
DoD May Establish New Health Agency
A recommendation put to the Department of Defense’s Task Force on the Future of Military Healthcare would establish a new agency to oversea military medical training and research in order to streamline the military health care system. The new agency would manage TRICARE activities but each service would keep control of its medical facilities and healthcare personnel. More information on this issue is available from Military.com: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,148317,00.html. To learn more about the DoD Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care please visit http://www.dodfuturehealthcare.net/.
New Family Assistance Center Opens at Fort Lewis
A new Soldier Family Assistance Center opened recently at Fort Lewis to provide support to Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Battalion and their families. The Center will provide Soldiers with central access to representatives from over forty installation services and agencies and is located close to a new barracks building. The facilities have been designed assist troops recovering from injury through modifications such wheelchair accessible ramps, widened doorways, and extra parking spaces designated for handicapped drivers. The Center is part of the Army’s ongoing effort to improve facilities for wounded warriors.. Under the Army Medical Action Plan similar centers are planned for other installations serving injured Servicemembers. [Source: http://www.nwguardian.com/news/story/6646611p-5922426c.html]
Army Extends Level of Support to Fallen Soldiers' Families
Launched in February 2006, the Army Long Term Family Case Management (ALTFCM) program has helped more than 5,000 families of Soldiers. The program provides long-term support to Families of fallen Soldiers by helping them to obtain benefits and various other types of support in the months and even years following the loss of their loved one. Information about Army Long Term Family Case Management is available on the program's website (http://www.altfcm.army.mil) or by calling a support coordinator at 1-866-272-5841. [Source: http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/08/29/4641-army-extends-level-of-support-to-fallen-Soldiers-families]
Scholarship Announcement: Council of College and Military Educators (CCME)
This year the CCME Military Spouse Scholarship Program will be offering scholarships to 10 spouses of uniformed Servicemembers. The CCME MSSP is a need-based education assistance program designed to provide military spouses with financial assistance in pursuing educational goals. To be eligible, applicants must be:
Applications should be submitted through the CCME website at http:www.ccmeonline.org. Any questions can be directed to Doug Barr at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.563.7481. The deadline to apply is September 17, 2007.
- A uniformed services spouse (Active Duty, Reserve, Guard);
- Currently enrolled in an associates, bachelors, or graduate degree program;
- Attending a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution;
- Have a minimum 3.0 GPA
National Guard Bureau Provides Guide for Parents
Our Sons, Our Daughters: A National Guard Parent's Guidebook to Deployment is now available for downlaod from the National Guard Bureau website. The Guide features information about the history of the Guard, family readiness groups, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, raising grandchildren, emergency notification, and PTSD. The document is available in PDF format at http://www.ngb.army.mil/resources/downloads/Parents_guide.pdf.
United Through Reading Program Benefits Military Children
United Through Reading is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded to encourage parents and children to read together. United Through Reading’s Military Program is designed to help parents and children stay connected while separated during long deployments by helping parents make videotapes of themselves reading aloud which can then be sent to their children. More information about the Military Program is available at http://read2kids.org/united.htm.
In cooperation with Kellogg’s® United and Target stores, United Through Reading is also launching a book offer which will take place from July through December in Target stores and in September in military commissaries and exchanges throughout the world. Consumers can receive a free Simon & Schuster children’s book with two proofs of purchase from any combination of Kellogg’s cereals (Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats® Bite Size, Kellogg’s® Frosted Flakes®, Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran®, and Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies®). Additional books can also be ordered with a $5 donation. For more information, visit http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/kelloggs.htm.
Operation Give A Hug Needs Your Support
Operation Give a Hug, founded in 2004, helps comfort military children who are missing a deployed parent by providing them with special dolls. Each doll provides a place to put the photo of the deployed parent and gives a child a tangible way of relating to that parent. The program’s initial goal was to provide the “Daddy/Mommy” dolls for the roughly 8000 children at Fort Lewis. Since then, the organizers of Operation Give A Hug have distributed thousands of dolls at no cost to military family support groups, school counselors, child and youth services, and tragedy assistance officers worldwide in an effort to reach out to the children of military personnel. Requests for dolls continue to be made and Operation Give A Hug needs donations to continue its mission. To learn more about Operation Give A Hug and to make a donation online please visit http://www.operationgiveahug.org/. Operation Give a Hug is a sponsored project of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Tacoma Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. Donations are tax deductible in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service code.
Operation: Action Packed! Supports Deployed Servicemembers
OAP! supports deployed Servicemembers by allowing them to register online to request care packages that include many popular and hard to obtain items from home. OAP! then supports the troops with monthly care packages until they return to the US. Learn more about OAP! at http://www.operationactionpacked.org/about.htm.