December 15, 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
- A Message from the Director
- AUSA's Cincinnati Chapter Announces Scholarships
- Central California Chapter Hosts Concert to Aid Military Families
- My Life, A Kid's Journal Helps Families Through Deployment
- TRICARE Responds to Possible Risk to Beneficiary Data
- California Widens Availability of Preschool for Military Families
- DoD Confirms that Injured Troops will Keep Bonus
- DoD Center Established to Address Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health
- Employment Resource for Injured Veterans
- Group Helps Caregivers and Military Spouses
- American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund
- Nominations Sought for Award Recognizing Great Fathers
- Holiday Season a Prime Time for Computer Viruses
- AAFES & America Supports You Offer Free Music for Troops
- Chavez Family Receive Mention in Better Homes and Gardens
- Holiday Greetings for Wounded Troops
- Trees for Troops & FedEx Spread Christmas Spirit
- Support the Troops with C-Rats
- Foundation Supports Wounded Warriors & Family Members
A Message from the Director
We at AUSA Family Programs wish you the gift of Faith, the hope of Peace and the blessings of love, good health and prosperity this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
Sylvia Kidd, Director, AUSA Family Programs
AUSA's Cincinnati Chapter Announces Scholarships
The Major Samuel Woodfill Cincinnati Chapter has established four $1000 scholarship grants for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operations Enduring Freedom Soldiers, veterans and their families within the chapter's geographical area. To learn more about eligibility requirements please visit the Chapter's website: http://www.ausa.org/chapweb/wcc/index.html
Central California Chapter Host Concert to Aid Military Families
The AUSA Sounds of Freedom Military Band held a concert at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium in September, raising over $5000 for a fund to aid military personal and their families facing financial hardship. Established in 1985, the AUSA Sounds of Freedom Military Band is a group of approximately 45 musicians who donate their time and talents to give public concerts. The fund will be administered by AUSA's Central California Chapter, which is based in Fresno and serves the Central San Joaquin Valley area. Information about chapter is available at http://www.centralcaausa.com.
My Life, A Kid's Journal Helps Families Through Deployment
Health Net Federal Services, LLC recently released My Life, a Kid's Journal, designed for military children whose parent or loved one is deployed. The journal was developed as part of Health Net Federal Services' new initiative to provide additional resources to help children successfully navigate the unique challenges military families face, particularly deployment.
"At Health Net Federal Services and MHN, we are privileged to serve a unique population-the men, women and families of our United States Armed Services. Every day we are reminded of the unique sacrifices our Servicemembers and their families make to serve our country. This journal, My life, provides us with the opportunity to respond to the challenges they face in meaningful ways," said Steve Tough, president, Health Net Federal Services."MHN is proud to have the opportunity to help children cope with the emotions surrounding deployment and war," stated Steve Sell, president, MHN,Inc. "This journal is a wonderful complement to the existing services we provide military members and their families."
The 44-page journal, designed in vivid colors, guides children through the process of formulating and making sense of their feelings during a loved one's deployment and helps establish important dialogue with their parents. The journal is meant to serve as a keepsake for the child or as a gift to their special person who is deployed once it's completed. The response to the kid's journal has been overwhelmingly positive. Word of Health Net's initial distribution of 400 journals to children of junior enlisted Servicemembers at Camp Lejeune's annual Back to School event quickly turned into requests for thousands of journals from military units, organizations, schools and families throughout the TRICARE North Region.
In collaboration with military coalition partners, such as the Association of the US Army, Armed Services YMCA and National Military Family Association, Health Net Federal Services and MHN will continue to distribute My Life throughout the TRICARE North Region.To obtain copies for military children living in the TRICARE North Region, e-mail your request to HNFS_Communications@healthnet.com. Those living outside the North Region can download the journal from the following site: https://www.hnfs.net/common/newsResources/Kids+Journal+News+Release.htm.
TRICARE Responds to Possible Risk to Beneficiary Data
A limited amount of TRICARE beneficiary data has been placed at risk through unauthorized access to claims information. Proactive measures are being taken to ensure that affected TRICARE beneficiaries are informed. Analysis thus far has not produced indications of the beneficiary data being misused. Approximately 4,700 letters have been sent out to affected beneficiaries to notify them of the risk.
TRICARE's information technology services provider Electronic Data Systems (EDS) has established a specific "help line" to handle questions and concerns. The beneficiary notification letters contain a toll-free number [(800) 556-3195] that can be used in the U.S. and from overseas. Those located outside the United States must dial the country's AT&T USA Direct access number first. Additional information about the incident can be found at the TRICARE website press room at http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=350. Information on steps TRICARE beneficiaries can take to protect themselves from identity theft is available at http://www.tricare.mil/tmaprivacy/itpr.cfm.
California Widens Availability of Preschool for Military Families
California's State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Assembly Member Lori Saldaña announced the adoption of emergency regulations allowing officials to disregard Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) when calculating the income eligibility of military families for state preschool. Previously, BAH was included in income calculations with the effect that it artificially inflated many families' income, putting them over the income eligibility level for state preschool. The problem has grown as the military has increased its privatized housing because BAH payments are directed towards the housing contractor.
Speaking at an event celebrating the measures, Saldaña noted that military families move on average seven times during their children's K-12 career. "This can lead to social and educational setbacks that are difficult and expensive to remedy. The academic and social jumpstart provided by preschool can serve as a defense against constant relocation and interruptions in their school experience. I think that all of us have had one goal all along - to give the children of military Servicemembers the head start that preschool provides."
DoD Confirms that Injured Troops will Keep Bonus
DoD officials have confirmed that troops who have been medically discharged will not have to repay enlistment bonuses. Those who have not yet received their full enlistment bonus will continue to receive installments. The Pentagon's statement comes after Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) criticized the DoD for demanding repayment of an enlistment bonus from a Soldier injured in a roadside bombing in Iraq. The DoD has responded to the criticism, saying that a clerical error was made and that the Soldier in question would not have to repay the bonus. Sen. Schumer is also supporting legislation - the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act - to require the DoD to pay enlistment bonuses in full within 30-days of medical discharge for combat injuries. The full details of this story are available from the Army Times: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/11/military_payback_bonus_071127w/
DoD Center Established to Address Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health
The Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health (PH) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) recently opened to lead a national collaborative network to disseminate knowledge about TBI and psychological health issues facing Servicemembers and their families. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is now integrated into the center, as is the DoD Center for Deployment Psychology, which is currently at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. [Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/Releases/Release.aspx?ReleaseID=11527]
Employment Resource for Injured Veterans
Hire Heroes USA is a national non-profit which provides career placement and assistance to disabled veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Through a network of corporate partners, Hire Heroes USA is able to match veterans with potential employers. Veterans currently in rehabilitation care are encouraged to begin an online account. After applying for services, the veteran is contacted by an experienced recruiting representative who will discuss the veteran's skills and geographic location preferences. The service is free to veterans. Learn more at http://www.hireheroesusa.org/
Group Helps Caregivers and Military Spouses
Operation Life Transformed provides military spouses and the caregivers of wounded troops with assistance and support during the transition from the military community to civilian life through training and educational opportunities. The goal is to assist caregivers in finding employment, especially in highly desired fields, so that they can bring financial stability to their families while the Servicemember recovers. The program is geared towards careers that are flexible enough for individuals who may have unpredictable schedules because of their family responsibilities. For more information go to http://lifetransformed.org/default.aspx
American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children who have lost a parent on active duty since September 11, 2001 with financial assistance towards a college education. The award is funded entirely with donations. To learn more about the award, and to make a donation to support the Legion's efforts on behalf of military families, please visit http://www.legion.org/support/?content=gi_amlegacysch#legacy
Nominations Sought for Award Recognizing Great Fathers
The National Fatherhood Initiative Lockheed Martin Award is a special opportunity to highlight the contributions that an outstanding military father has made in his commitment to his family and country. Any father who is currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces on Active Duty or in the Reserves/National Guard is eligible to be nominated. To learn more about the award please visit http://www.fatherhood.org/mfa.asp. The National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI ) is dedicated to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.
Holiday Season a Prime Time for Computer Viruses
Government Computer News recently highlighted a warning about a computer virus that may affect computer users this holiday season. The so-called Storm Worm is commonly spread through e-greetings cards that are sent during the holiday season. People should be careful not to open any e-greetings cards sent from people or addresses they do not recognize. View the full story at http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45492-1.html
AAFES & America Supports You Offer Free Music for Troops
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service and America Supports You are delivering a special gift to troops this holiday season--a free compilation of songs produced exclusively for Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines. After examining all available delivery options, Songs from the “CD For The Troops" will be offered to active-duty military members and veterans with valid military IDs through http://www.aafes.com for free. Artists included on the CD include Billy Joel, the Goo Goo Dolls, Brooks & Dunn, Five for Fighting, and Sarah McLachlan. [Source: http://www.aafes.com/pa/news/07news/07-090.htm]
Chavez Family Receive Mention in Better Homes and Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens' December issue recognized the importance of making volunteering a family affair and featured AUSA's Rubbermaid-Irwin Volunteer Family of the Year for 2007 as an example of volunteering strengthens families and communities. The Chavez family was recognized at the AUSA Annual Meeting in October for their extraordinary efforts to support Servicemember and their families while stationed in Korea.
Holiday Greetings for Wounded Troops
This holiday season, communities across America are invited to mail cards along with personal messages of support to wounded Servicemembers at military hospitals around the country, through a unique partnership between the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc.
With the support of the U.S. Department of Defense and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and with help from Pitney Bowes Government Solutions, the American Red Cross will collect, review and distribute holiday greeting cards to wounded military personnel. For security reasons, the Red Cross will be able to accept only holiday cards but not packages. Red Cross volunteers will receive and bundle the cards, which will be shipped by Pitney Bowes Government Solutions. Then, Red Cross volunteers at the medical facilities will distribute the cards throughout the holiday season.
Please address your holiday cards to:
We Support You During Your Recovery!
c/o American Red Cross
P.O. Box 419
Be sure to affix adequate postage. Cards must be received no later than December 27. Cards received after this date will be returned to the sender. Again, senders are reminded that "care packages" are not part of the program--send only cards and notes. Also, please refrain from using glitter or any other inserts that would not be appropriate in a hospital environment.
Trees for Troops & FedEx Spread Christmas Spirit
This holiday season, Trees for Troops, a project of the Christmas Spirit Foundation, and FedEx will be delivering over 10,000 live Chrsitams trees to military families across the US and to Servicemembers stationed overseas. The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation is the charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association. To learn more about the Trees for Troops program, please visit http://www.treesfortroops.org/
Support the Troops with C-Rats
Operation Interdependence (OI) is a non-profit organization providing care packages to troops deployed overseas. This holiday season, Operation Interdependence's Adopt-A-Box program provides civilians and military family members a means to show their support of the troops. A $30 donation will provide a Servicemember with a box of 50 C-rats (civilian rations). Each C-Rat is a quart-sized bag containing a personal note for the Servicemember and small gifts such as snacks. To learn more please visit the http://www.oidelivers.org and click on the Adopt-A-Box.
Foundation Supports Wounded Warriors & Family Members
The Air Warrior Courage Foundation (AWCF) is a non-profit foundation established to support military aviators and other members of the military community. It provides scholarships to children of fallen aircrew and can provide financial assistance to military families facing hardship. The Foundation also supports troops recovering from injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Visit the Foundation's website at http://www.airwarriorcourage.org/