May 1, 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 Fort Hood Chapter Distributes Over $1.6 in Contributions
- The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Expands CRSC Eligibility
- Bill Introduced to Establish Partnerships to Assist Underserved Veterans
- House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee Hearing on Programs Treating PTSD
- Legislation Introduced for Construction and Repair of VA Medical Facilities
- House Panels Champion Veterans’ Bills
- Winners of the Commander In Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence
- New Autism Demonstration Expands Opportunities for ABA Providers
- Autism Survey for Army Families
- New Overseas Voter Services Website
- Absentee Ballots Remain the Way to Vote in This Fall’s Election
- Comic Book Masters Address the Serious Stresses of Returning From a Deployment
- ThanksUSA Provides College Scholarships to Military Spouses and Dependents
- North Carolina CARE-LINE Telephone Support for Service members Now 24/7
- Help Build a DVD Lending Library for Troops in Iraq
- Zero to Three Releases Video Highlighting Family Deployment Experiences
- Camp Magik for Children Provides Relief from Grief and PTSD
- The First Annual National Summer Meeting for the United Female Veterans of America
- Reduction for Military Personnel Covered by SGLI and VGLI
- Fraud Costs TRICARE Over $100 Million
AUSA Fort Hood Chapter Distributes Over $1.6 in Contributions
The Central Texas Fort Hood AUSA chapter distributed over $1.6 million to FRGs, deploying and returning units, Soldier recognition, PTSD/TBI treatment, school supplies for Iraqi kids, Wounded Warriors, and other installation activities through cash donations, grants and in-kind gifts received over the past twenty months. We greatly appreciate their outstanding, consistent support of Army Soldiers and families. To learn more go to http://www.forthoodausa.org. To learn more about AUSA’s Chapters and to locate your nearest Chapter, please visit http://www.ausa.org/chapters.
The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Expands CRSC Eligibility
The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) expands combat related compensation eligibility to include certain medical retirees with less than 20 years of service and a combat-related VA disability rating of 10 percent or greater. Retired veterans must still provide documentation that shows a link between a current VA disability and a combat related event. To receive Combat Related Special Compensation, submit your application (DD form 2860), through your parent military service branch. Learn more at https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/crsc/index.html
Bill Introduced to Establish Partnerships to Assist Underserved Veterans
US. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced a bill (S. 2796) to establish partnerships between the Department of Veterans Affairs and community organizations to connect with underserved veterans. When selecting community organizations to partner with VA, priority will be given to those groups that reach out to rural veterans, minority veterans, and other underserved populations.
House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee Hearing on Programs Treating PTSD
The House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee recently conducted a hearing to examine the current programs for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Subcommittee also addressed current research programs focusing on PTSD. Of the 300,000 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom who have accessed VA health care, more than 120,000 or 40.1 percent have a mental disorder. Of those who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, 59,838 have been diagnosed with PTSD. The opening statements of all the witnesses and the web cast of the hearing are available on the Committee website: http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/hearing.aspx?NewsID=188
Legislation Introduced for Construction and Repair of VA Medical Facilities
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation at the request of the administration to authorize $1.9 billion for the construction and repair of various Department of Veterans Affairs' medical facilities across the country. Two of the main projects contained in the bill are to build a new polytrauma center in San Antonio, Texas and to upgrade the Palo Alto, California facility. The legislation also increases the total authorization for the new VA hospital in Denver and authorizes $60 million in leases for community-based outpatient clinics in 11 states and territories. The Majority Committee Member's Views and Estimates letter are available at http://veterans.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?pageid=12&release_id=11552 .
House Panels Champion Veterans’ Bills
Landmark legislation updating GI Bill benefits and home loan programs, as well as thirteen other veterans’ bills, passed two House subcommittees Wednesday, a significant contrast to the inaction in the Senate on veterans’ legislation. Seven benefits and five health care bills were passed by House lawmakers on a bipartisan basis, indicating that agreement is still a possibility despite the conflicts in the Senate that cross party lines. Among the benefits bills passed by the House Veterans’ Affairs economic opportunity panel is HR 5684, the Veterans’ Education Improvement Act. The bill will increase GI Bill payments, provide $500 a month to cover living expenses for full-time students, and allow benefits to be used to repay student loans or cover a wider variety of vocational and business training. More information on this bill is available from the Air Force Times online: http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/04/military_veteransbenefits_bills_042308w/
Winners of the Commander In Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence
On Thursday, May 8, 2008 at 2 p.m., the winners of the 2008 Commander in Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence, sponsored by DoD, will be honored in a Ceremony in the Pentagon Auditorium, Room BH650. This years winners include Fort A. P. Hill, Bowling Green, Va.; Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, San Diego, Calif.; Naval Base Coronado, San Diego, Calif.; Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Del. and Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va. The award recognizes installations that provide outstanding and innovative efforts in support of DoD missions. [Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=11834]
New Autism Demonstration Expands Opportunities for ABA Providers
The Department of Defense (DoD) and TRICARE have announced a demonstration project to care for military dependents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The Enhanced Access to Autism Services Demonstration, which went into effect March 15, allows reimbursement for educational intervention services, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), delivered by paraprofessional providers.
Autism Survey for Army Families
Army personnel with a family member on the autism spectrum are invited to participate in a 25 question survey to help determine what supports would be useful to Army families dealing with this issue. The survey is being conducted by the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Responses are anonymous and the survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. The survey is available at http://uncodum.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_9LTmblgFPZSnqEk&SVID=Prod. For more information about the survey contact Barbara Hall, Community Development Director, Citizen Soldier Support Program at (919) 306-9336.
New Overseas Voter Services Website
The new Overseas Voter Foundation (OVF) website offers a full complement of user-friendly, automated voter services to uniformed services members and their families, including voter registration/ballot request, election official directory services, voter help desk, state-specific voter information directory, write-in ballot and My Voter Account services. The OVF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan public charity incorporated in Delaware providing voter services for US Citizens Overseas and Uniformed Services Members. Visit the website at https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/overseas/home.htm
Absentee Ballots Remain the Way to Vote in This Fall’s Election
Servicemembers will have to continue to vote by absentee ballot rather than via the Internet. At a House Administration Committee hearing, members were advised that electronic voting for Servicemembers is a possible long-term solution, but others were concerned about the possibility of fraud. For now, the Pentagon has reached an agreement with the Postal Service for expedited delivery of election related material beginning in September. Learn more about this issue through the Air Force Times online: http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/04/military_absenteeballot_voting_041508w/
Comic Book Masters Address the Serious Stresses of Returning From a Deployment
Coming Home...What to Expect, How to Deal When You Return from Combat created by comic-book masters Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon is available free to active-duty, guard, and reserve members and their families. The book, about four returning Servicemembers, each affected by combat in some way, is designed to give returning troops a heads-up about issues they may face at home -- like marital stress, drug and alcohol abuse, aggressive driving, sleep problems, and combat stress symptoms -- and where and how to get help. Online users can order their own individual copy of the booklet by going to
http://www.militaryonesource.com or by calling 1-800-342-9647.
ThanksUSA Provides College Scholarships to Military Spouses and Dependents
ThanksUSA, in a charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to "thank" active-duty troops by providing college scholarships to their spouses and dependents, today opened its third year accepting applications for scholarships. Interested applicants can find more information, eligibility requirements and the official application form at http://www.ThanksUSA.org. Applications will be accepted through May 15, 2008.
North Carolina CARE-LINE Telephone Support for Service members Now 24/7
North Carolina's telephone referral service for counseling and support for Servicemembers and veterans is now available around-the-clock. The CARE-LINE service, operated by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, aims to connect people with counseling and other services provided by government agencies and nonprofits. The CARE-Line receives more than 200,000 calls a year. To reach CARE-LINE 24 hours a day, seven days a week, telephone (800) 662-7030 (English or Spanish) or (877) 452-2514 (TTY). For more information, visit the NCcareLink website at http://www.nccarelink.gov.
Help Build a DVD Lending Library for Troops in Iraq
Operation: A Bit of Home is encouraging people to send their unwanted DVDs to troops stationed overseas. With the help of Operation: A Bit of Home and the Army's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) troops in Iraq now have their own DVD lending library and hoping to complete two more. DVDs and DVD players may be sent directly to MWR staff in Iraq or to Operation: A Bit of Home. Please visit Operation: Bit of Home's website (http://www.operationabitofhome.com) to learn more about the program.
Zero to Three Releases Video Highlighting Family Deployment Experiences
ZERO TO THREE has just released a video “Young Children on the Homefront: Family Stories, Family Strengths” in which military families share their unique deployment experiences and early childhood professionals offer tips and strategies for families. Zero to Three is a national nonprofit dedicated to the healthy development of infants, toddlers, and their families, with information for parents and professionals. The video can be viewed online at http://www.zerotothree.org
Camp Magik for Children Provides Relief from Grief and PTSD
Camp Magik in Georgia, a camp for children suffering the loss of a parent, provides around-the-clock access to counseling, which includes addressing post traumatic stress disorder which often goes along with grief, according to University of Georgia researchers. At Camp Magik, children enjoy traditional camp activities, such as hiking and canoeing while interacting with other children who have also endured the loss of a parent. In a University of Georgia news release, Rene Searles McClatchey, an adjunct professor in the UGA School of Social Work, notes that, “Grief therapy doesn't help if you don't take care of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms first." There are three sessions a year with a limit of 50 children per camp. Contact Rene Searles McClatchey, 404/790-0140, email@example.com; or click on the Camp Magik website at http://www.campmagik.org
The First Annual National Summer Meeting for the United Female Veterans of America
The United Female Veterans of America is hosting their First Annual National Summer Meeting in St Louis, Missouri at the St Louis Marriott West June 26-29, 2008. All women veterans are invited to join them to learn how to help others and themselves. For information on the National Summer Meeting visit the UFVA website (http://www.ufva.us/) or call 410-272-5040.
Reduction for Military Personnel Covered by SGLI and VGLI
Veterans and military personnel with life insurance policies managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will see a reduction in their premiums as of July 1, 2008, thanks to improved investment earnings and a reduction in non-combat claims. The premium cuts affect military personnel covered by Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and veterans covered by the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI). To obtain more information about the SGLI and VGLI premium reductions or to view a table with the new VGLI rates, visit the VA insurance Web site at http://www.insurance.va.gov/ or call the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance at 1-800-419-1473.
Fraud Costs TRICARE Over $100 Million
USA Today reports that TRICARE, the military’s health insurance program that insures 9.2 million current and former Servicemembers and dependents worldwide, has fallen prey to swindlers to the tune of more than $100 million over the past decade. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics in the Philippines have conspired with veterans to submit bogus claims for medical services never delivered, inflated claims, and shared kickbacks with retirees. Pentagon auditors say that it has taken years for TRICARE to uncover the fraud and that lax controls still mean the system is vulnerable. View the full story at http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2008-04-23-tricare-fraud_N.htm