March 15, 2008
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
- AUSA and MCEC Offer Scholarship for Prestigious Summer Program
- AUSA Chapters: Support for Soldiers and Families
- New Law Improves Reserve GI Bill
- Expanded GI Bill Raises Concern
- Maryland Legislature Introduces Plan to Help Military Children
- Second Woman Since World War II to Receive Silver Star
- VA Expansion Comes a Year Early to Help Combat Vets
- Humana Military Healthcare Services and Shepherd Center Partnership
- Veterans Affairs Grant and Per Diem Program Helps Homeless Vets
- Transitional Medical Benefits Available for Separating Servicemembers
- TRICARE Uniform Formulary Update
- TRICARE Clarifies Shingles Vaccine Benefit
- Proposal Would Allow More Accompanied Tours for Troops in South Korea
- Subscriptions for Service Members Program
AUSA and MCEC Offer Scholarship for Prestigious Summer Program
The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) is joining the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) to provide one Army teenager with a full scholarship to the prestigious School of Public Service at St. Albans School, Washington, DC, during the summer of 2008. The School of Public Service (SPS) is a leadership program which features an intensive four-week summer academic session held in Washington, D.C., from June 22 - July 19, 2008. AUSA will fund the total cost of tuition, room and board for one student for this summer’s program. The value of this scholarship is just short of $5,000.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be the son or daughter of a member of the United States Army (Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard), either currently serving or retired. The deadline for the online application is April 15, 2008. Application must be made online at the SPS website: https://www.stalbansschool.org/home/form.asp?id=4892. Please contact Ms. Suzanne Woods at SPS with any questions: email@example.com or 202-537-5531.
AUSA Chapters: Support for Soldiers and Families
The Rock Island Arsenal Chapter of AUSA is an active organization that supports and assists Soldiers and families stationed on Rock Island, Illinois and in the surrounding area. In the last two years the Chapter has raised and donated funds to support a variety of Soldier and family events and provided emergency funds to military families in need. The Chapter has also reached out to wounded warriors by providing a wheelchair ramp for a Soldier returning from Walter Reed and donating tickets to a monster truck event to wounded Soldiers. If you would like to know more about the Chapter please visit http://www.ausa.org/chapweb/fac/index.html.
AUSA’s Charleston Chapter is also committed to supporting the nation’s wounded warriors, The Chapter conducts an annual Fund Drive to raise funds for "Wounded Warriors, Veterans, and Survivors of Troops Killed.” In the past two years it has raised and distributed almost $14,000 to wounded warriors, family members, and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston. Learn more at http://www.geocities.com/dvswayz/AUSA/index.html We’d like to thank the Rock Island Arsenal Chapter and the Charleston Chapter for all they have done to support Soldiers and their families.
New Law Improves Reserve GI Bill
The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act contained a number of enhancements to the Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves (MGIB-SR) and the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). The changes include:
To learn details of the new provisions please visit http://www.gibill.va.gov/NDAA2008.html
- Accelerated payment for MGIB-SR and REAP
- Qualification for the 80% rate for REAP based on aggregate service of 3 or more years
- $600 buy-up program for REAP participants
- Modified ending dates for REAP participants separated from the Selected Reserve
- Modified ending dates for MGIB-SR participants involuntarily separated
- Retention of REAP eligibility during breaks in Selected Reserve service for members who remain in the Ready Reserve during those breaks
Expanded GI Bill Raises Concern
According to a recent story published by Military.com some Department of Defense officials are expressing concern that a new bill to expand GI Bill benefits would negatively impact retention by encouraging veterans to leave the military early to pursue educational opportunities. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S 22), which was introduced last year by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), now has strong bipartisan support and stands a good chance of becoming law. The bill would provide any Servicemember, active or reserve, who has served on active duty for more than three months since September 11, 2001 with GI Bill funding. Additionally, the bill would increase the maximum benefit available to individuals who have served 36 months or more on active duty by covering tuition at any university for four years. Currently, the monthly GI Bill rate for fulltime education or training is capped at $1100 per month. To learn more about this issue go to Tom Philpott’s Military Update column at http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,163440,00.html.
Maryland Legislature Introduces Plan to Help Military Children
Maryland has joined a growing number of states considering legislation to help ease school transition for military children. The legislation would establish an interstate compact, known as the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which is designed to facilitate the transfer of certain educational records and special education services between schools in states which participate in the compact. The Council of State Governments developed the Interstate Compact in cooperation with the Department of Defense in 2006. More information about the Interstate Compact is available from the website of the Council of State Governments: http://www.csg.org/programs/ncic/EducatingMilitaryChildrenCompact.aspx
Second Woman Since World War II to Receive Silver Star
Army Specialist Monica Lin Brown will be awarded a Silver Star later this month for bravery while serving in Afghanistan. The Silver Star is the nation’s third highest medal for valor. Specialist Brown, a medic, is being recognized for saving the lives of five comrades following an attack on the convoy in which she was traveling.
VA Expansion Comes a Year Early to Help Combat Vets
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced recently that its program to open Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to returning combat veterans, is well ahead of schedule. In February 2007, VA announced it would open 23 new centers during the next two years. Fifteen of those centers are already operational, and five others are seeing patients in temporary facilities while finalizing their leases. The other three facilities will begin operations later this year.
The community-based Vet Centers are a key component of VA’s mental health program, providing veterans with mental health screening and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling, along with help for family members dealing with bereavement and loved ones with PTSD. Vet Centers provide counseling on employment, plus services on family issues, education and outreach, to combat veterans and their families. Vet Centers are staffed by small teams of professional counselors, outreach specialists and other specialists, many of whom are combat veterans themselves.
Humana Military Healthcare Services and Shepherd Center Partnership
Humana Military Healthcare Services (HMHS) and the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based hospital specializing in the medical care and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord and brain injuries, has announced a partnership with Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. This partnership will assist military Servcemembers wounded during their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as their families, in obtaining additional care that will aid in their recovery from combat related injuries. The SHARE Initiative, began in January 2008, and will primarily focus on wounded Servicemembers in the Southeast, subsequently expanding to encompass a larger population. For more information, please contact Susan Johnson at the Shepherd Center, 404-352-2020.
Veterans Affairs Grant and Per Diem Program Helps Homeless Vets
VA's Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program is offered annually (as funding permits) by the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Programs to fund community agencies providing services to homeless veterans. The purpose is to promote the development and provision of supportive housing and/or supportive services with the goal of helping homeless veterans achieve residential stability, increase their skill levels and/or income, and obtain greater self-determination. More information about the program and application materials are available from http://www1.va.gov/homeless/page.cfm?pg=3.
Transitional Medical Benefits Available for Separating Servicemembers
TRICARE’s Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) provides 180 days of transitional health care benefits to certain Uniformed Services members and their families, if the Servicemember is:
For those who qualify, the 180-day TAMP period begins upon the Active Duty sponsor's separation.
- Involuntarily separating from Active Duty under honorable conditions.
- A National Guard or Reserve member separating from Active Duty after a period of more than 30 consecutive days in support of a contingency operation.
- Separating from Active Duty following involuntary retention (stop-loss) in support of a contingency operation.
- Separating from Active Duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on Active Duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation.
TRICARE Uniform Formulary Update
TRICARE has announced the placement of five additional, non-formulary (or third tier), medications on the TRICARE Uniform Formulary list. Three of the medications change to non-formulary status on April 16, 2008, and two on June 18, 2008. For a complete list of medications, their formulary status and where they are available, beneficiaries may visit www.tricareformularysearch.org/dod/medicationcenter/default.aspx.
TRICARE Clarifies Shingles Vaccine Benefit
For beneficiaries 60 and older, TRICARE now covers Zostavax, the vaccine designed to prevent shingles. TRICARE officials caution that “covered” doesn’t necessarily mean “free” for TRICARE Standard or TRICARE for Life beneficiaries. Zostavax is covered under the TRICARE medical benefit but is not reimbursable under the pharmacy benefit. Vaccines are not a part of the TRICARE pharmacy benefit because they cannot be self-administered. Beneficiaries must have vaccinations administered in a doctor’s office.
According to TRICARE officials, the physician should supply the Zostavax and include its price on the itemized bill for the office visit and the injection. TRICARE will reimburse a provider for administering the Zostavax vaccine in its office as a part of the TRICARE medical benefit. Just as with any TRICARE medical benefit, beneficiaries are responsible for their deductibles and cost shares. [Source: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=371; http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=370]
Proposal Would Allow More Accompanied Tours for Troops in South Korea
General B. B. Bell, Commander of US Forces in South Korea, is urging the Department of Defense to allow more accompanied tours for troops stationed in South Korea. Under current policy, very few personnel stationed in South Korea are authorized to have spouses and children live with them. In recent years, however, many troops assigned to South Korea have only recently come back from tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, a situation that extends the length of family separation and negatively affects quality of life. To learn more, please visit the New York Times online: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/washington/11military.html?ex=1362888000&en=94e383cdb5174d6d&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Subscriptions for Service Members Program
The Subscriptions for Service Members program provides an opportunity for members of the public to say thanks to troops serving overseas by paying for their magazine and journal subscriptions. Servicemembers on overseas active duty may select up to three free magazine subscriptions, which will then be matched with a donor. To learn more about the program please visit http://www.subscriptions4servicemembers.com/?afd_number=7321