December 1, 2007
Family Programs Update
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.
- Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative
- AUSA Chapter Teams up with Foundation to Support Troops and Families
- Force Reduction in Europe Postponed
- House Committee Addresses GI Bill for Reserve Component
- Illinois Offers Tax Credits for Employing Veterans
- Small Business Loans Available for New York Reservists
- Scholarships Available for Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans
- Wesleyan University Creates Veterans’ Scholarships
- Warrior Navigation and Assistance Program Launched
- TRICARE Offers Shingles Vaccine for Beneficiaries Age 60 and Older
- TRICARE Website Allows Beneficiaries to Manage Health Care Information
- TRICARE Dental Program Overseas Now Requires Command Sponsorship
- Geographic Scope of Retiree Dental Program Expanded
- Marrow Donors Sought
- Humana Website Wins Awards
- Study Helps Army Understand Post-Deployment Soldier Health Issues
- Military Healthcare Services Recognized by ESGR
- ESGR Seeks Nominations for Freedom Awards
- Military Spouse Website Launched
- CarePages and USO Support Wounded Troops
- Commissaries Accept AFFN ‘Thank You’ Cards
Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative
AUSA Family Programs recently attended the launch of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative. The Initiative is designed to advance military spouses into portable careers by providing them with education and training in high-growth, high-demand occupations. Career Advancement Accounts are flexible education funding accounts to pay for expenses directly related to post-secondary education and training, including tuition, fees, books, equipment, and credentialing and licensing fees.
The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are jointly investing $35 million in eight states demonstrating this initiative (California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington) targeting 18 military installations. Voluntary Education Centers and One-Stop Career Centers will collaborate to provide career counseling, guidance and assessments to support military spouse career and education choices.
Teams of DoD and DOL staff have jointly trained participating installation and state/local community workforce staff on partnership implementation and will be providing ongoing technical assistance. The first accounts will be issued to allow training to begin in January 2008 to coincide with the education enrollment cycle. For more information on eligibility for the Military Spouse Career Advancement Initiative, as well as the application process, please visit MilitaryHOMEFRONT: http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/portal/page/mhf/MHF/MHF_DETAIL_0?content_id=242564
AUSA Chapter Teams up with Foundation to Support Troops and Families
The Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter successfully negotiated a $750,000 grant from the Dallas Foundation, thereby increasing the timeliness and availability of mental health care for Soldiers and their families at Fort Hood and in North Central Texas.
The grant application was written last spring, by then Chapter President Don Jones and Board Member Matthew Wright. They followed up with a personal plea to the Foundation at its Dallas headquarters, identifying Soldier and family member mental health needs and recommending Scott and White Hospital (with 22 locations in North Central Texas) as well positioned to provide this type of care. More information about the Central Texas- Fort Hood Chapter is available through their website: http://www.forthoodausa.org/
In February, the Dallas Foundation set aside $5 million for the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment (TRIAD) Fund, which will distribute grants to nonprofit organizations across the North Texas region over a two year period. The money will be awarded to nonprofit groups that provide needed services to active and former military personnel serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan and their families. Learn more at http://www.triadfund.org
Force Reduction in Europe Postponed
The New York Times Reports that Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has put on hold plans to reduce force size in Europe. The decision is linked to the continued need to maintain a large number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, there are concerns that housing and infrastructure at military bases in the US is not sufficient to support units relocating from Europe. [Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/washington/21military.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss ]
House Committee Addresses GI Bill for Reserve Component
On November 7 the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs unanimously approved HR 3882, the Fair Benefits for Guard and Reserve Act, to amend the Montgomery G.I. Bill to ensure education benefits are available to Reserve Component troops. The legislation followed an incident when members of a Minnesota National Guard unit retuned from an extended deployment and discovered that they did not qualify for active-duty GI Bill benefits because of how their orders were issued. It is likely that other units were affected because initial mobilization orders that did not clearly state they were being called up for 730 or more days. To track the progress of this bill, please visit http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.03882:
Illinois Offers Tax Credits for Employing Veterans
Beginning in tax year 2007, Illinois employers can earn tax credits for hiring veterans who have recently been on active duty overseas. Employers can earn the new Veteran’s Tax Credit of 5 percent of total wages paid, up to a maximum of $600 annually, for wages paid to each veteran hired after January 1, 2007. The veteran must work at least 185 days during the tax year for the employer to qualify. The credit is available for veterans who were members of the Armed Forces, the Armed Force Reserves, or the Illinois National Guard on active duty in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. For more information about the Veteran’s Tax Credit, go to the Department of Revenue’s website [http://www.tax.illinois.gov] or call the Department of Revenue’s toll-free assistance line at 1-800-732-8866. For more information on Illinois Veteran programs and initiatives visit the IDVA website at http://www.state.il.us/agency/dva or call 1-800-437-9824.
Small Business Loans Available for New York Reservists
The State of New York is providing small-business loans up to $150,000 with below-market, fixed interest rates to eligible state residents returning from active duty. Returning New York veterans interested in applying for a small-business loan under the Veteran’s Loan Program should call (800) 923-2504.
[Source: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/11/military_businessloans_071113w/ ]
Scholarships Available for Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans
The Fund for Veterans’ Education was established to provide scholarships to veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan or Iraq since September 11, 2001 and who are now enrolled in college or vocational-technical school. Founded in 2007, the Fund for Veterans' Education will provide scholarships for undergraduate study during the 2008 and 2009 academic years. Scholarships will be awarded, based on need, to veterans from all fifty states and the District of Columbia who are pursuing undergraduate degrees at four-year colleges and universities, two-year community colleges, and a range of technical and vocational schools. To learn more about eligibility requirements and application procedures please visit http://www.veteransfund.org/index.html
Wesleyan University Creates Veterans’ Scholarships
Two alumni of Wesleyan University in Connecticut have donated funds to establish need-based scholarships for former military personnel for four years of full-time baccalaureate study. These new gifts will fund as many as 10 scholarships at any given time.
[Source: http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/2007/1107veterans.html ]
Warrior Navigation and Assistance Program Launched
Humana Military Healthcare Services (HMHS) has launched the Warrior Navigation & Assistance Program (WNAP) to support active duty, Guard and Reserve Servicemembers and their families during transition. The program offers person-to-person guidance and access to a new advocacy unit to assist Servicemembers in obtaining access to care or information on resources. Additionally this new specialized unit will oversee education and assistance initiatives for civilian providers caring for Service Members and their families. One attribute of the dedicated unit is a toll-free number for Service Members in transition and their families. This telephone number, 1-888-4GO-WNAP, provides direct access to a multi-disciplinary team who will assist Servicemembers and/or family members in problem solving and other needed medical or community resources.
TRICARE Offers Shingles Vaccine for Beneficiaries Age 60 and Older
TRICARE now covers Zostavax, the vaccine designed to prevent shingles for beneficiaries 60 and older. Shingles is a painful viral disease that affects more than one million Americans every year. More than half of those cases happen in people age 60 or older. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a single dose of shingles vaccine for everyone age 60 and older. Beneficiaries who receive the shingles vaccine after October 19, 2007, must have vaccinations administered in a provider’s office. Zostavax is covered under the TRICARE medical benefit and is not reimbursable under the pharmacy benefit. Beneficiaries with coverage or claims questions should contact the TRICARE regional claims processor found on their beneficiary explanation of benefits (EOB) notice, or if living overseas contact the local TRICARE Service Center or the TRICARE Area Office for the area in which they live. For more information on shingles and the vaccine you may visit the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-shingles.pdf.
TRICARE Website Allows Beneficiaries to Manage Health Care Information
TRICARE Prime and Prime Remote beneficiaries in the United States including Hawaii and Alaska can log on to https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/bwe/ to enroll, disenroll, choose primary care managers (PCM), transfer regions, update personal information, add other health care information and request enrollment cards. BWE allows Standard beneficiaries to update personal information, add other health care information and enroll in Prime. BWE’s link to the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS), allows beneficiaries to update their personal information for both TRICARE and DEERS at the same time. Sponsors and family members can access their TRICARE information by using their Common Access Card (CAC), Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) “myPay” Personal Identification Number (PIN) or Family Member Account PIN. Enrollment forms are still available at http://www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/overview/Enrollment/WebEnrollment to fill out and mail to a TRICARE regional office. Beneficiaries can also visit a TRICARE Service Center to enroll and get assistance with other health care needs.
TRICARE Dental Program Overseas Now Requires Command Sponsorship
As of December 3, 2007, TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) enrollees who live overseas must be command sponsored in order to receive the overseas TDP cost-share benefits. If a TDP enrollee is not command sponsored, he will be responsible for the same cost-shares as beneficiaries living in the United States. In accordance with that policy, non-command sponsored TDP enrollees who receive dental care overseas will now be responsible for these cost-shares as well as any difference between the dentist’s charge and dental contractor United Concordia’s allowances for treatment. Determination of a TDP enrollee’s command sponsored status is based on their enrollment in either the TRICARE Overseas Program Prime or TRICARE Global Remote Overseas program as reflected in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Beneficiaries who have questions about this policy can contact United Concordia for more information, at 1-888-418-0466 or email@example.com.
Geographic Scope of Retiree Dental Program Expanded
Currently, the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program is applicable only in the 50 United States (U.S.) and the District of Columbia, Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the TRICARE Management Authority is set to expanding the geographic scope of the program to ensure that all TRICARE-eligible retirees are eligible for the same dental benefits, regardless of their location. Information on the TRDP premiums for the newly covered areas and details about implementation is not yet available. For more about the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, visit http://www.trdp.org/.
Marrow Donors Sought
November is National Marrow Awareness Month, and the C.W. Bill Young/Department of Defense (DoD) Marrow Donor Program is working hard to provide hope and help to patients waiting to find a marrow donor. The C.W. Young Donor Program is only for military donors. The Program works in conjunction with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) which brings donors together in a confidential and secure data search system. Joining the registry is almost effortless and completely painless. Participants fill out a short two-page DoD consent form and a swab is taken from inside their mouth. Potential donors receive an official card signifying they have registered as a bone marrow donor. They are added to the NMDP National Registry through the DoD Marrow Donor Program. To be eligible to join the registry through the DoD program you must be:
- Age 18 to 60 and in good health
- Active Duty Military, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reservist
- Immediate family member of an Active Duty Service Member
- A DoD civilian employee
For more information on the C.W. Young Donor Program, as well as a list of walk-in locations or to establish a walk-in registration program go to http://ww.dodmarrow.org. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=342 ]
Humana Website Wins Awards
Humana Military Healthcare Services (HMHS) won first place for their website in the 2007 e-Healthcare Leadership Awards for “Best eBusiness Site.” This leading awards program, now in its eighth year, recognizes the best websites of healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare associations, online health companies, pharmaceutical/medical equipment firms, suppliers, other healthcare organizations, and business improvement initiatives. To view the HMHS website, please go to http://www.humana-military.com. [Source: http://www.humana-military.com/South/corporatecomm/CurrentReleases/11202007.htm]
Study Helps Army Understand Post-Deployment Soldier Health Issues
A study of 88,000 Soldiers who went through two health assessments when they redeploy -- once during an initial Post Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) and again three to six months later during a Post Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) – found important benefits to screening twice. Screening for a second time can uncover individuals who were not indicated for health concerns in the first screening. The second screening also allowed physicians to track patients whose symptoms had improved since the first screening. More information about the study’s results is available at http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/11/13/6083-mental-health-needs-of-soldiers-returning-from-iraq-identified-through-two-army-medical-surveys/. The study appears in the November 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association: http://jama.ama-assn.org/
Military Healthcare Services Recognized by ESGR
Humana Inc. and Humana Military Healthcare Services have been recognized as “5-Star Employers” by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) organization as a result of their ongoing support for Humana and HMHS associates who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. ESGR developed the 5-Star Employer program to enlist support of employers in developing human resource policies and practices that encourage participation in Guard and Reserve programs. Induction into the program demonstrates that Humana and HMHS are active advocates for associate service and have educated their managers to ensure that associates on military duty can serve with no concerns that it will negatively impact their employment or career development at Humana. [Source: http://www.humana-military.com/South/corporatecomm/CurrentReleases/11142007.htm]
ESGR Seeks Nominations for Freedom Awards
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is seeking employers with records of stellar support for military employees. The group is accepting nominations for the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards through January 21, 2008. Past recipients of the award have provided full salary, a continuation of benefits, care packages and other forms of help such as home and lawn care for families of employees fulfilling military obligations. ESGR is encouraging National Guardsmen, Reservists and their family members to nominate employers who offer their employees similar support. Nomination forms are available on the committee’s website: http://www.esgr.org.
Military Spouse Website Launched
Military Spouse magazine has just launched a new online venture. The website features daily content, blogs written by Military Spouse Magazine columnists and topical experts, forums for spouses to discuss their experiences, a recipe portal that allows spouses to share meal ideas, and the opportunity to share stories. Visit the site at http://www.milspousemag.com
CarePages and USO Support Wounded Troops
Operation: Show You Care is a special partnership between the USO and CarePages where wounded Servicemembers can be honored and appreciated by Americans this holiday season. Wounded Servicemembers or a member of their family posts their story on the CarePages.com “Yellow Ribbons for Wounded Troops” tribute page and then visitors post a yellow ribbon in their honor. CarePages are free, easy-to-use web pages that help family and friends communicate when a loved one is receiving care. Learn more at http://www.revolutionhealth.com/pages/carepages--operation-show-you-care
Commissaries Accept AFFN ‘Thank You’ Cards
The Defense Commissary Agency now accepts the Armed Forces Financial Network “Thank You” card at all commissaries stateside and overseas. The “Thank You” card campaign was designed to give thanks to military members and their families during the holiday season. However, the cards can be used all year long. The cards offer military members and their families a convenient and secure payment alternative to cash, checks or credit cards.
In the past, AFFN partnered with on-base banks and credit unions to provide Certifichecks (gift checks) to families staying at Fisher houses. The Certifichecks were used for personal care items, food and holiday meals. This holiday season, AFFN has launched the “Thank You” card to replace the gift checks and will distribute more than $38,000 worth of cards.Recipients of the $50 cards receive a four-digit personal identification number with the card, so it can be used at any retail store – just like an ATM or debit card. The card is authorized for point-of-sale transactions only and will not work in an ATM. For more information on the new “Thank You” card, visit http://www.AFFN.org or contact the Armed Forces Financial Network via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Source: http://www.commissaries.com/press_room/press_release/2007/DeCA_130_07.cfm ]