April 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
- Nominations Sought for AUSA Newell Rubbermaid Volunteer Family of the Year Award
- AUSA Hosts DeCA Patron Council
- AUSA’s Fort Riley Chapter Supports Wounded Warriors
- House Passes Bill to Expand Research into Traumatic Brain Injury
- Oregon Waives Tuition for Some Veterans’ Family Members
- Kansas, Kentucky First States to Sign Compact on Education Transition for Military Children
- DoD Prepares to Remove SSNs from Identity Cards
- Servicemembers May Have Opportunity for Sabbatical Leave Under New Proposal
- Combat Pay Can Count Toward Economic Stimulus Payment Eligibility
- “Month of the Military Child” Prize Giveaway Sponsored by United Concordia
- TRICARE Committed to Military Children Year Round
- CDC Launches New Autism Campaign
- More Civilian Providers Accepting TRICARE Standard
- Funds Promised to Improve Guard Dental Readiness
- Agreement Allows TRICARE Beneficiaries to Continue Participation in NCI Cancer Trials
- TRICARE Builds Strong Behavioral Health Support
- Iraq Service Linked to Increased Allergy Risk
- VA’s New ‘Travel Nurse’ Program Hits the Road
- VA Putting Mobile Pharmacies on the Road
- Foundation Offers Vacations for Vets Program
- Counseling Association Focuses on Veterans
- Military OneSource Seeks New Family Readiness Specialists
- DeCA has New Chief
- Commissaries Highlighting Food Safety
Nominations Sought for AUSA Newell Rubbermaid Volunteer Family of the Year Award
The Association of the United States Army’s Family Programs Directorate invites nominations for the 2008 AUSA Newell Rubbermaid Volunteer Family of the Year Award to recognize the vital role volunteers and families play in the life of military communities. The award will be presented on Monday, October 6, at the opening ceremony of the Association’s Annual Meeting (Oct. 6-8) at the Washington Convention Center. The winning family will receive a trip to Washington D.C. for the Annual Meeting, a cash prize and a gift basket courtesy of Rubbermaid, AUSA and GEICO. Two runner-up families will also be selected and each will receive a savings bond and gift basket. All nominated families will receive an Association coin and certificate.
Nominations for the Award may be submitted only through AUSA chapters. However, we encourage family readiness coordinators, volunteer coordinators and anyone else that is aware of a deserving family to contact their local AUSA chapter leaders with information. To locate your local chapter please visit the AUSA Regional Activities website at http://www.ausa.org/chapters. Active duty, U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Army retiree and Department of the Army families are eligible for the award. Nomination forms and submission guidelines are available on the AUSA Family Programs website at http://www.ausa.org/family. Nominations for the 2008 award must be received by the Family Programs Directorate no later than June 13, 2008. Questions regarding this year’s award should be directed to the Family Programs staff at 800-336-4570, ext. 151 or 150, or by e-mail: email@example.com.
AUSA Hosts DeCA Patron Council
The Defense Commissary Agency held its most recent Patron Council meeting at the Association of the United States Army Headquarters, in Arlington, Virginia. Sylvia Kidd, AUSA’s Director of Family Programs, also serves as AUSA’s representative on the Council. The goal of the Council is to share commissary information and customer concerns. Council members represent active duty, Guard and Reserve members, retirees and military families. To learn more about the recent meeting, and about the Patron Council, please visit http://www.commissaries.com/press_room/press_release/2008/DeCA_45_08.cfm.
AUSA’s Fort Riley Chapter Supports Wounded Warriors
The Fort Riley/Central Kansas Chapter of the Association of the United States Army has embarked on a major fundraising effort to assist injured Soldiers. The Chapter uses the funds to provide a stipend to wounded Soldiers returning to Fort Riley’s medical facilities to cover the cost of emergency financial needs. The Chapter is also providing robes, emblazoned with the 1st Infantry Division patch, to 1ID Soldiers evacuated to major medical facilities. To learn more about the Fort Riley Chapter, please visit http://www.ausa.org/chapweb/frk/ausa/index.htm.
House Passes Bill to Expand Research into Traumatic Brain Injury
The Reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act (S 793), which passed the House on April 8, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to report to the relevant congressional committees on activities and procedures that can be implemented by the CDC, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve the collection and dissemination of on the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury among the military members and veterans. The bill may now proceed to a conference committee of senators and representatives to work out differences.
Oregon Waives Tuition for Some Veterans’ Family Members
Oregon’s Legislature recently enacted a law providing a full tuition waiver for a bachelor’s or master’s degree at an Oregon University System institution for a child or spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces who either died on active duty, became 100% disabled in connection with military service, or died as a result of a disability sustained on active duty after September 11, 2001. Information on the tuition waiver as well as the application form can be found on the home page of the OUS website under “Featured Documents” at http://www.ous.edu, and is available at any of the seven OUS institutions: Eastern Oregon University (La Grande); Oregon Institute of Technology (Klamath Falls); Oregon State University (Corvallis); Portland State University (Portland); Southern Oregon University (Ashland); University of Oregon (Eugene); and Western Oregon University (Monmouth).
Kansas, Kentucky First States to Sign Compact on Education Transition for Military Children
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed into law April 9th legislation that will ease the transition for military children as their Servicemember parents move from assignment to assignment during their careers. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear followed suit the next day. The compact, developed by the Council of State Governments, education experts and the Department of Defense, addresses common problems that affect military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments. States that sign on to the compact agree to work collectively with other compact states to create uniform standards of practice, including the transfer of records, course placement, graduation requirements, redundant or missed testing, entrance-age variations and other transition issues. Twenty-one other states are actively considering the compact and 14 of those state legislatures have bills submitted in one or both chambers. Kansas is the first state to adopt the compact. Adoption in ten states makes the compact operational.
DoD Prepares to Remove SSNs from Identity Cards
In response to Congressional pressure to protect Servicemembers and their families from identity theft, the Department of Defense is moving ahead with plans to remove Social Security numbers from identity cards. SSNs will be removed from the identity cards of family members by year’s end and replaced temporarily by the sponsor’s SSN. By 2009, the SSN will also be removed from Servicemembers’ ID cards. More information about this issue is available from the Army Times online at http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/04/military_id_cards_040408w/
Servicemembers May Have Opportunity for Sabbatical Leave Under New Proposal
According to the Air Force Times, the Department of Defense officials are considering a pilot program that would allow Servicemembers to take up to three years of leave from their military careers. The sabbaticals would be unpaid but healthcare benefits would continue. Currently the Navy is the only service ready to implement the plan but other services may follow depending on the response to the Navy program. To learn more about this topic please visit the Air Force Times online at http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/03/army_sabbatical_033108w/
Combat Pay Can Count Toward Economic Stimulus Payment Eligibility
Military personnel serving in combat zones have the option of including their nontaxable combat pay on their 2007 or 2008 income tax returns if it helps their eligibility for the 2008 economic stimulus payments. To receive the stimulus payment this year, combat zone personnel or their spouses must file a 2007 income tax return by Oct. 15. Otherwise, they can claim the economic stimulus payment on next year’s income tax return. More information about this topic is available from the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=180334,00.html
“Month of the Military Child” Prize Giveaway Sponsored by United Concordia
United Concordia is supporting April’s “Month of the Military Child” celebrations by sponsoring a web-based, random drawing. Children of active duty and National Guard and Reserve sponsors enrolled in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) are eligible for this drawing. To enter, simply visit the TDP website at http://www.tricaredentalprogram.com and complete a contest entry form between 8 a.m. March 27, 2008, and midnight April 23, 2008. Entries will be accepted via online submission only. Winners will be selected at random. Only one entry per child is permitted. Winners will be announced on the TDP Web site on May 22, 2008.
TRICARE Committed to Military Children Year Round
Dr. Joseph Kelley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Clinical and Program Policy and Acting Chief Medical Officer, TRICARE Management Activity, recently issued a statement recognizing the strength of military children and encouraging military parents to take advantage of TRICARE child health initiatives. Although Dr. Kelley’s message is inspired by April’s Month of the Military Child activities he emphasized that TRICARE is committed to taking care of nearly 2 million military children year round. Dr. Kelley’s statement can be read in full at http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/doctor_is_in.aspx?fid=68
CDC Launches New Autism Campaign
April is National Autism Awareness Month and to coincide with the month long event the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched a campaign to help parents recognize the early warning signs of autism and other developmental problems in their children. Information about the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” Campaign is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/actearly/. TRICARE partially covers autism services through the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO). Additionally, TRICARE covers Educational Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders (EIA) for qualifying children under the Enhanced Access to Autism Services Demonstration. Learn more at http://www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/jsp/Medical/IsItCovered.do?kw=Autism+Services&x=22&y=9
More Civilian Providers Accepting TRICARE Standard
More civilian providers are accepting TRICARE Standard beneficiaries according to a recently released survey. Yet, TRICARE officials acknowledge that increasing the number of providers and types of providers across the Nation remains a high priority, especially in remote areas. The findings, part of the Department of Defense Survey of Civilian Physician Acceptance of TRICARE Standard, show that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, almost 93 percent of responding physicians in 53 hospital service areas (HSAs) were aware of the TRICARE program, with 84 percent of physicians in those 53 HSAs accepting new TRICARE Standard patients.
Funds Promised to Improve Guard Dental Readiness
An increase in Department of Defense funding is intended to prevent National Guard Soldiers from being classed as non-deployable because of dental health problems. The funds will provide dental treatment to members of the Guard regardless of their alert status. Currently, dental treatment is only available for Soldiers whose units have been alerted for mobilization.
Agreement Allows TRICARE Beneficiaries to Continue Participation in NCI Cancer Trials
The Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have renewed their agreement for a continued partnership in cancer clinical trials. The agreement allows TRICARE-eligible cancer patients to take part in NCI-sponsored Phase II and Phase III cancer clinical trials as well as cancer prevention trials. Phase II trials typically study the effectiveness of new drugs or therapies against a specific type of cancer. Phase III trials compare new treatments to existing therapies.
TRICARE Builds Strong Behavioral Health Support
The TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) continues to improve a strong behavioral health care system by launching many initiatives to assist Servicemembers, families, health care providers and military leaders. Information about the full range of mental health services available to Servicemembers and their families, as well as contact information, can be found through the following TRICARE press release: http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=383
Iraq Service Linked to Increased Allergy Risk
A report given at the recent Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunotherapy (AAAAI) indicates that service in the Persian Gulf may put Servicemembers at a higher risk of developing nasal allergies.
VA’s New ‘Travel Nurse’ Program Hits the Road
To deal with a nationwide shortage of nurses and to improve the quality of care for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has created a “Travel Nurse Corps” to enable VA nurses to travel and work throughout the Department’s medical system. The Travel Nurse Corps, headquartered at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, is beginning as a three-year pilot program. Initially, it will place as many as 75 nurses at VA medical centers across the country. The goals of the program are to improve recruitment, decrease turnover of experienced nurses and maintain high standards of patient care. To learn more about VA’s Travel Nurse Corps, visit the website at http://www.travelnurse.va.gov, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free at (866) 664-1030 or in Phoenix at (602) 200-2398.
VA Putting Mobile Pharmacies on the Road
To support veterans and their families during major emergencies, especially natural disasters, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun to deploy mobile pharmacies that will provide vital medicine when patients are unable to fill their prescriptions. VA will also open up the facilities to help communities during major disasters and other emergencies. Each VA mobile pharmacy is housed in a 40-foot-long solid steel trailer built to withstand winds in a Category 3 storm. The units include a satellite connection with VA’s Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy system, a computerized, automated state-of-the-art mailout pharmacy that can process more than 1,000 prescriptions hourly.
Foundation Offers Vacations for Vets Program
The Maryland-based Greenwell Foundation has a respite program for disabled veterans undergoing treatment in the Washington, DC area. The Foundation provides weekend stays for Servicemembers and their families with outdoor activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and sailing. Servicemembers who would like to participate in the Vacations for Vets program, please contact 301-373-9775 or email@example.com. The Vacations for Vets program also needs volunteers to support its work. For information on volunteering please call 301-373-9775 or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteer applications can be downloaded from Greenwell's website: http://www.greenwellfoundation.org.
Counseling Association Focuses on Veterans
The American Counseling Association emphasized the importance of providing counseling services to military personnel at its recent Annual Convention, reports the Associated Press. The American Counseling Association is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Learn more at http://www.counseling.org.
Military OneSource Seeks New Family Readiness Specialists
Military OneSource (MOS) has positions open for Joint Family Support Assistance Program Consultants who will become experts in state and regional resources available to Servicemembers and their families. The consultants will be located at various locations throughout the United States. Job information is available through
DeCA has New Chief
The new director for the Defense Commissary Agency is Philip Sakowitz, formerly the executive director of the Army’s Installation Management Command.
Commissaries Highlighting Food Safety
The Defense Commissary Agency considers food safety such a priority that its 259 stores will be highlighting this message throughout the month of April. During April, customers will learn more about how commissary products are safeguarded during delivery to the store. Also, DeCA will announce its participation in Be Food Safe, a government program involving a group of nearly 30 retail grocery chains, to help educate consumers about the four steps of preventing foodborne illnesses in the kitchen: cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling foods. Customers will begin seeing Be Food Safe posters in the stores and information linked to DeCA’s Food Safety web page at http://www.commissaries.com.