OCTOBER 1, 2007
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 39
In this issue:
- Congress Addresses Family and Medical Leave Act
- Administration Seeks Lifetime Care for Medically ‘Unfit’ Veterans
- Veterans’ History Project
- Defense Forums Focuses on Veterans’ Needs
- Army Opens Rehab Center for Amputees
- New Program Helps Severely Wounded Warriors Navigate Health Care
- Sports Project Aids Injured Troops
- Television Channel Features Wounded Warriors
- Community Based Healthcare Organizations Support Guard and Reserve
- Servicemembers Urged To Set Up Family Member Accounts before Deployment
- Defense Department to Change Blood-Donation Policy
- SAT/ACT Preparation Materials Available Free to Military Families
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Sponsors Scholarships
- Airmen May See Cut in Special-Duty Pay
- Operation Homefront Receives 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator
- Army and Air Force News Holiday Greetings Program Begins
- Toys for Tots Makes Special Request
- Operation Care Package Supports Troops
- New Employment Site Empowers Potential Job Candidates
Congress Addresses Family and Medical Leave Act
Congress is considering amending the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow spouses caring for injured Servicemembers to have up to 26 weeks of leave. At present, the law allows up to twelve weeks of leave per year for various situations, including care of a seriously ill family member. The proposed legislation would also expand leave eligibility to those working for small businesses and for extended family members, such as siblings. Hearings for HR 3841, which took place recently before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, included testimony from military family members whose employment had been jeopardized when they took time off work to care for an injured loved one. The bill was introduced by Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) on September 6, 2007 and is similar to legislation (S 1975) introduced by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) in August. [Source: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/09/military_familyleave_070918w/]
Administration Seeks Lifetime Care for Medically ‘Unfit’ Veterans
The White House plans to ask Congress to extend TRICARE coverage to Servicemembers who have been discharged from the Armed Forces because of service-related mental or physical health conditions. Currently, Servicemembers who separate from the military because of injuries rated below 20 percent disability receive a severance award rather than retired pay, making themselves and their families ineligible for TRICARE. The proposal is one of several recommednations which will be submitted to Congress in September based on the findings of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. The change to the TRICARE eligibility rules could affect up to 10,000 veterans and would be applied retroactively to veterans discharged after 2001. To learn more about this issue, please see Tom Philpott’s Military.com column: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,149951,00.html
Veterans’ History Project
The Veterans History Project, run by the Library of Congress, relies on volunteers to collect and preserve stories of wartime service. The Project’s primary focus is on first-hand accounts of U.S. Veterans from World War I to the current Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. In addition, interviews with civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, and medical volunteers are also needed. Learn more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/vets-home.html.
Defense Forums Focuses on Veterans’ Needs
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), in partnership with the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), hosted a one-day Defense Forum - "Keeping Faith With Those Who Serve: How Can We Provide the Health Care Our Military and Veterans Need-and Deserve?" on September 18, 2007, in Washington D.C. Sylvia Kidd, AUSA’s Director of Family Programs, attended the conference which also included military leaders, health care providers, wounded warriors and representatives from other non-profit organizations. More information about participants is available at http://www.usni.org/conferences/details.asp?id=5
Army Opens Rehab Center for Amputees
Walter Reed Army Medical Center recently opened a 31,000 square foot rehabilitation center to help with the rehabilitation of injured troops. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment and programs for physically and occupational therapy, the Center features a climbing wall and a vehicle simulator to help Servicemembers regain driving skills. [Source: http://www.wtop.com/?sid=1246855&nid=25]
New Program Helps Severely Wounded Warriors Navigate Health Care
The new Warrior Care Support Program in TRICARE’s North Region provides wounded Servicemembers with a single point of contact for their medical care; taking stress out of military health care for beneficiaries and their families. The program identifies eligible severely ill or injured Servicemembers to participate through military treatment facility (MTF) referrals, records identification and Servicemember requests. Criteria are not restricted to service-related injury and the program is voluntary. Upon acceptance in the program, a health care coordinator from a team of nurses, doctors and administrative staff will assist with a timely and seamless transition and coordination of physical and behavioral health care services from the MTF to the civilian sector or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition to coordinating care, the team assists the warrior and family members by educating them on health care choices, providing specialized resources and assisting with claims resolutions and authorizations for medical equipment. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=316]
Sports Project Aids Injured Troops
The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project is a partnership between Disabled Sports USA, its chapters and the Wounded Warrior Project, to provide year round sports programs for Servicemembers severely injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Taking part in sports has been shown to help individuals with injures with successful rehabilitation. The Wounded Warriors and their family members are provided these opportunities free of charge, including transportation, lodging, adaptive equipment and individualized instruction in over a dozen different winter and summer sports. Programs take place at sites throughout the United States of America offering Wounded Warriors the opportunity to integrate as participants and mentors in their home communities. Learn more at http://www.dsusa.org/programs-wwdsp-about.html.
Television Channel Features Wounded Warriors
The Home Box Office (HBO) television channel is airing a new documentary series focusing on veterans of the Iraq War. Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq features interviews with ten Soldiers and Marines who were injured in the conflict and runs until October 8, 2007. Profiles of the Servicemembers and more information about the series is available at http://www.hbo.com/aliveday/
Community Based Healthcare Organizations Support Guard and Reserve
The Army developed Community Based Healthcare Organizations (CBHCOs) with the intention of reducing the number of Servicemembers in Medical Holdover and to ensure that Guard and Reserve members requiring prolonged medical care to receive treatment where they live and work. The CBHCO program allows a recuperating Soldier to live at home and to access medical facilities near home while remaining on active duty. Each Soldier’s care is managed by a professional nurse who oversees all medical care and tracks the Soldier’s medical progress.
Servicemembers Urged To Set Up Family Member Accounts before Deployment
Deployable and TRICARE Remote Servicemembers should consider setting up Family Member Accounts to enable their family to access medical, pay and human resource websites in their absence. The Family Member Account is a secure credential issued to sponsors and their family members that allows them to log on to other Department of Defense websites. To get a Family Member Account, the active duty sponsor can log on to https://sso.dmdc.osd.mil/famAcctMgr using his or her CAC or DFAS PIN. Eligibility for an account is based on the family’s benefit status in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). The sponsor selects which family members are eligible and then creates a separate account and a temporary password for each of them. Once the account is established, the sponsor gives family members their numbers and temporary passwords. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=315]
Defense Department to Change Blood-Donation Policy
The Defense Department is changing its military blood-donation regulations to allow for a wider spectrum of civilian donors. Current department rules only permit blood donations from Servicemembers, Defense Department civilians, retirees and their family members. The new policy will enable non-Defense Department affiliated civilians to donate blood through the Armed Services Blood Program at collection points located on department or federal property. The policy change, slated to become effective later this month, will address concerns of veterans who aren't military retirees, but nonetheless want to donate blood for the troops. More information about donation is available at http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/. [Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=47340]
SAT/ACT Preparation Materials Available Free to Military Families
A company that makes test-preparation products for students to help them through college entrance exams is offering free materials to Servicemembers and their families. eKnowledge is an online and CD-ROM-based learning program that teaches test-taking techniques for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, and American College Test, or ACT. The company plans to expand its coverage soon by offering complimentary programs to Junior ROTC members. The SAT/ACT Standard Power Prep programs normally cost $199.00 but military personnel can obtain SAT/ACT Standard Power Prep program(s) for only shipping and handling costs. Servicemembers interested in receiving free eKnowledge products can complete an online request form at http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil by following the link to "Donation: VSG/NFL Players," and Junior ROTC cadets should visit http://www.sat.eknowledge.com/JROTC . Requests can also be made by calling eKnowledge at 951-256-4076 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Sponsors Scholarships
The Veterans of Foreign Wars has two scholarship programs. The Voice of Democracy (VOD) scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades 9-12 that annually provides more than $3 million in scholarships. The Patriot's Pen award is a youth-essay writing contest that gives students in grades 6,7 and 8 the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy. The deadline for both scholarships is November 1, 2007. Learn more at http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=cmty.levelc&cid=1836&tok=1.
Airmen May See Cut in Special-Duty Pay
Budget restraints are causing Air Force leaders to consider cutting special-duty assignment pay for thousands of airmen by $75 per month. Special duty pay is provided to enlisted personnel who perform duties designated as extremely difficult or requiring a high level of responsibility. [Source: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,148325,00.html]
Operation Homefront Receives 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator
Operation Homefront, a national non-profit founded shortly after September 11, 2001 to provide support to military families, has been awarded a coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s leading non-profit evaluator. The rating recognizes the efficiency with which a charity manages its funding, administrative and program costs. For more information on Operation Homefront and its programs please visit http://www.operationhomefront.net. For more information on Charity Navigator please visit http://www.charitynavigator.org.
Army and Air Force News Holiday Greetings Program Begins
The Army and Air Force Hometown News Service once again will have a camera team traveling throughout Europe in September and October recording holiday greetings from troops and families for broadcast on stateside television and radio stations. The camera team will also be taping holiday greetings to send to relatives in the 50 states and U.S. territories. Those eligible to participate in the holiday greetings program are active duty, government civilians, retirees, Department of Defense Dependent School teachers and family members stationed overseas. [Source: http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/08/31/4686-hometown-news-kicks-off-holiday-greetings-program/]
Toys for Tots Makes Special Request
In response to recent events within the toy industry regarding unsafe toys manufactured in China, the Toys for Tots Foundation is asking its loyal supporters to screen toys prior to purchase to ensure that only safe toys are donated to the upcoming 2007 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign. The toys identified as potentially unsafe can be found on the Mattel toy recall list at http://service.mattel.com/us/. Learn more about the Toys for Tots program at http://www.toysfortots.org/default.asp.
Operation Care Package Supports Troops
The United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) is enlisting support of individuals around the world to support the troops through Operation USO Care Package. These packages are being delivered to members of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed around the world to show them they have not been forgotten and to provide a ‘touch of home’. With a donation of $25 you can sponsor a care package and include a personal message of support and encouragement. These USO Care Packages at minimum include requested items such as pre-paid worldwide phone cards, sunscreen, travel size toiletries, disposable camera and a message from the donor thanking them for their service and sacrifice. Learn more at http://www.usocares.org/.
New Employment Site Empowers Potential Job Candidates
Applying for a job with the Department of Defense’s oldest and largest exchange service is now easier than ever before thanks to an expanded, online career center. With opportunities in retail, food service, procurement, information systems and more, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) revamped career center offers targeted entry-level, hourly and management opportunities that are searchable by keyword, job title, area of interest and location.
The updated system allows entry-level and management applicants to quickly search and apply for available positions across the AAFES system and even check on the status of jobs previously applied for. Once an initial profile is complete, a “Job Agent” can be created to notify applicants of new positions that match their career interests. AAFES’ revamped career center is available under the “AAFES employment” link at http://www.aafes.com.