June 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
- St. Albans School of Public Service Selected Recipients of AUSA Scholarships for the 2008 Summer Session
- Senate Passes the Post 9/11 GI Bill
- Military Spouses Residency Relief Act Introduced to the House of Representatives
- Congress Passes Tax Benefit Act for Service Members
- The House Armed Services Committee Approved Pay Raises for the Military
- House Legislation Approved for New Hospital at Fort Riley
- TRICARE for Life Families Left Out of Preventive Care Plan
- Senate Approved $165 Billion in War Spending
- Tough Choices Face Women in Uniform
- Private Psychiatrists Offer Free Help to Returning Troops
- Post-Traumatic Stress Jumps by Nearly 50% Over the Previous Year
- Emotional Support from Loved Ones is Vital for Returning Injured Service Members
- Veteran’s Affair’s Announce Two New Panels to Address Suicide
- Camp C.O.P.E Hosts Children of Injured Service Members
- Children of Deployed Adapting to Absence of Parent
- Iowa and Vermont Provide the Most Comprehensive Health Care for Children
- Hand Held Device to Be Used by All Military Doctors on the Battlefield
- Military Town Foreclosures Surge at Four Times the US Rate
- Minnesota Reduces Property Taxes for Veterans
- Pace University Offers Veterans Tuition Scholarships
- Expiration Dates for Veterans’ Benefits
- Complicated Veteran’s Affair’s Disability Compensation System Slows Process
- Joint Chief Reminds Uniformed Service Members to Avoid Politics
- The Wounded Warrior Clothing Support Program (WWCSP)
- DeCA Commissaries Recall Ground Beef
- DOD Makes Military ID Cards More Secure
- Navy Credit Union Expands its Membership to All Branches of the Military
St. Albans School of Public Service Selected Recipients of AUSA Scholarships for the 2008 Summer Session
This year, AUSA partnered with St. Albans School of Public Service (SPS) to award summer tuition to two deserving Army dependents. SPS Director Suzanne Wood said, “We’re delighted that AUSA has, through this scholarship, given us an opportunity to bring children of serving military personnel - who truly epitomize public service - to take part in the St. Albans School of Public Service program.”
The winners are John Lasko of Wiesbaden American High School in Germany and Benjamin Garlick of Osbourne High School in Manassas, VA. Both recipients were chosen by SPS for demonstrating strong academic achievement and leadership skills at their current educational institutions. They will begin the summer session on June 22nd. To learn more about the winners and about St. Albans School of Public Service, please visit their website at http://www.schoolofpublicservice.org.
Senate Passes the Post 9/11 GI Bill
In a bi-partisan vote of 75-22, the Post 9/11 GI Bill (S.22) passed the Senate despite President Bush’s promise to veto the bill. The Post- 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 was introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D) of Virginia. The bill acts as an enhancement to the Montgomery GI Bill and will increase all educational benefits for those who have served as active-duty military since September 11, 2001. The bill creates a new program which would allow the government to match any tuition expenses that exceed the maximum amount given under the new Education Assistance Act. Veterans would have up to 15 years to utilize their tuition reimbursement, compared to the 10 years offered in the previous GI Bill. For more information about the bill, please visit the Library of Congress’ website at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.00022:.
Military Spouses Residency Relief Act Introduced to the House of Representatives
U.S. Representative John Carter (R- Fort Hood) introduced the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (H.R. 6070), which would amend the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The amendment allows military spouses to maintain the same permanent state of residency as their active duty spouses, regardless of where they are stationed. SCRA gives service members the ability to maintain a home of residency, regardless of placement by military orders. This has given service members tax relief along with making the change in driver’s licenses and vehicle registration unnecessary. The proposed amendment would give military spouses the same benefits as they relocate with their active-duty spouses. For a copy of the proposed legislation, please visit the Library of Congress website at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.06070:.
Congress Passes Tax Benefit Act for Service Members
The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (H.R. 6081) was approved by Congress and is on the way for final approval by the President. The bill includes a combination of tax benefits and extensions to expiring benefits for service members and their families. The bill also allows surviving families to put death gratuities into tax-deferred savings accounts and employers to continue contributing to the retirement plans of employees who were killed or severely disabled. To view all provisions of the bill, please visit the Library of Congress at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.06081:.
The House Armed Services Committee Approved Pay Raises for the Military
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (H.R. 5658) was approved by the House Armed Services Committee. The bill authorizes $531.4 billion for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. The act also stipulates an increase in military pay by 3.9 percent with an additional $70 billion allocated to support ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in the next fiscal year. For a copy of the bill, go to the House Armed Services Committee at http://www.house.gov/hasc/.
House Legislation Approved for New Hospital at Fort Riley
The House approved legislation to allocate $404 million for a new hospital at Fort Riley and an additional $50 million to construct a housing facility for injured Soldiers at the Army base. Under the bill, the fifty-year-old Irwin Army Community Hospital would be replaced with a larger, more modern health facility. In addition, treatment and care of seriously wounded troops would be enhanced through the addition of housing in a “warrior support complex.” Read the entire press release at http://www.cjonline.com/stories/051608/kan_279580383.shtml.
TRICARE for Life Families Left Out of Preventive Care Plan
A new TRICARE preventive health care program, created by a House subcommittee, leaves out 1.5 million Medicare-eligible retirees and their families enrolled in the TRICARE for Life program because of budget constraints. The plan, approved by the House Armed Services committee as part of the 2009 defense authorization bill, is intended to cut the military’s long-term health care costs by providing preventive care. The personnel portion of the bill does include a 3.9 percent military pay raise, a tuition assistance program for military spouses, and increases in Army and Marine Corps active-duty personnel, along with Army National Guard and Army Reserve support personnel on full-time active duty. Please read the entire press release at http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/05/military_tricare_preventivecare_050708w/.
Senate Approved $165 Billion in War Spending
The Senate approved an additional $165 billion in new war funding which will extend the financial support into the next presidency. The bill passed 70-26 in a bi-partisan vote. The Pentagon reported that the money is needed to secure on-time pay checks to soldiers and to avoid civilian layoffs. The House of Representatives is likely to vote on the bill in early June.
Tough Choices Face Women in Uniform
Women now make up about 15 percent of the Armed Services and as many as 1 in 10 active-duty women become pregnant every year. Depending on which branch of the military they serve, mothers are required to deploy as soon as four months after their babies are born, forcing them to make a difficult decision between family and duty. All branches give new mothers six weeks of maternity leave before they have to go back to work, but some lawmakers and military officials believe the Pentagon should expand maternity benefits as a way of retaining the best recruits. To read more, visit
Private Psychiatrists Offer Free Help to Returning Troops
Private Psychiatrists are volunteering one hour of their time to assist soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health concerns. There is a current shortage on the number of psychiatrists hired by the government for mental health treatment. According to Terry Jones, a spokesperson for the Pentagon health issues, there are only 1,431 mental health professionals for the 1.4 million active-duty personnel. Give an Hour (www.giveanhour.org) is one of the organizations responsible for linking mental health professionals with military service members in need. For more information on these programs, please visit http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2008/05/26/private_psychiatrists_offer_free_help_to_returning_troops/.
Post-Traumatic Stress Jumps by Nearly 50% Over the Previous Year
According to Pentagon data, the total number of U.S. troops diagnosed by the military with PTSD after serving in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, has jumped nearly 50 percent in 2007 since the previous year. The vast majority suffering from PTSD served in the Army, while Marines had the second highest number. Military officials warn that the numbers only represent a small fraction of the total number of effected Service Members since those who are diagnosed by Veteran’s Affair’s workers or civilian caregivers, along with those who avoid treatment for fear of it negatively affecting their careers, are not included in the percentage. Read the full article in the Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/05/27/AR2008052701512.html?hpid=sec-health.
Emotional Support from Loved Ones is Vital for Returning Injured Service Members
According to veterans and medical experts at the Morehouse School of Medicine’s conference, adjusting to a catastrophic injury is more likely to occur with the support of spouses and family members. The Morehouse School of Medicine’s “Wounded Troops and Partners: Supporting Intimate Relationships” national conference focuses on how U.S. agencies, health-care providers and communities can help wounded troops and their partners develop and maintain healthy intimate relationships. To read more about the conference, visit http://www.msm.edu/x2176.xml.
Veteran’s Affair’s Announce Two New Panels to Address Suicide
The Veteran’s Affair’s Department established two new panels to better address suicide attempts among patients under VA care. The two panels will provide research and advice for VA programs. House Veteran’s Affair’s Committee Chair, Bob Filner (D), voiced concern that the plan was a lack of real action and suggested the real solution was to provide a thorough and mandatory medical evaluation by competent medical personnel for PTSD and traumatic brain injury to every Service Member who leaves military service. To read the entire press release, visit http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/05/military_vapanels_suicides_052208w/.
Camp C.O.P.E Hosts Children of Injured Service Members
Camp C.O.P.E., an acronym for Courage, Optimism, Patience, and Encouragement, attracted over 70 children and teens of injured Service Members from the Fort Sam Houston area, providing an opportunity for each child to better cope with their emotional issues. Camp Founders Elizabeth Reep and Sarah Blint, from Dallas, expanded Camp C.O.P.E to the Ft. Sam Houston area because of the large population of wounded and deployed warriors in the area. The first camps were held in Orlando, Florida, while Elmo from Sesame Street and Big Kenny Alphin of the country duo Big & Rich, dropped in to greet the children. To read more about the camp, visit http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/05/22/9385-children-of-deployed-injured-troops-share-experiences-at-camp-cope/index.html.
Children of Deployed Adapting to Absence of Parent
Students at Fort Campbell in Kentucky are graduating this spring like millions of other children across the country. However, many of these graduates have at least one parent gone on a lengthy deployment. Studies show that military family adolescents are very adaptive to deployments, but the absence of a parent during major life events can affect a child in a variety of ways. To read more about the students from Ft. Campbell, visit http://kstp.com/article/stories/S454033.shtml.
Iowa and Vermont Provide the Most Comprehensive Health Care for Children
A national assessment of children’s health care by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation focused on health care issues, ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia on issues relating to children’s health care. Factors included rates of insurance coverage, vaccinations and preventive visits to the doctor. Iowa and Vermont came out on top, while Oklahoma and Florida were at the bottom. Read more at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4942128&page=1.
Hand Held Device to Be Used by All Military Doctors on the Battlefield
The Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4), which Army Doctors first took into combat zones in 2003, will be used by all medical personnel to quickly input medical information for all Service Members in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other combat deployment. Military doctors frequently provide care for Service Members from different branches. The MC4 will ensure medical information will follow the patient all the way back to hospitals in the U.S. or Germany, enabling doctors on the ground to know what to expect when the patient arrives. For more information on the MC4, visit http://www.armymedicaltechnology.com/.
Military Town Foreclosures Surge at Four Times the US Rate
According to data complied by research firm RealtyTrac Inc., foreclosures in military towns are increasing at a rate 4 times the national average. The areas hardest hit by foreclosures include properties in Columbia, SC, a 492 percent increase, and Woodbridge, VA, a 414 percent increase. According to Rudi Williams of the National Veterans Foundation in Los Angeles, military families were targeted by subprime lending because of their weak credit ratings due to frequent moves and lower salaries. Legislative efforts, along with VA mortgages are hoping to decrease the number of foreclosures in the future. To read more about this alarming trend and to find information to help with a foreclosure, go to http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=awj2TMDLnwsU.
Minnesota Reduces Property Taxes for Veterans
Disabled veterans in the state of Minnesota are eligible for significantly decreased property taxes beginning 2009. Veterans who qualify, must have their paperwork into the county assessor’s office no later then July 1, 2008. For more information about the property tax forgiveness policy, please contact the Minnesota’s Veteran’s Linkage Line at 1-888-LinkVet or visit their website at http://www.mdva.state.mn.us/.
Pace University Offers Veterans Tuition Scholarships
Beginning in fall 2008, Pace University in New York will offer a scholarship program to all military veterans who served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq since September 11, 2001. Eligible veterans registering as new undergraduates or graduate students will receive a 50 percent tuition scholarship and waived application fees. Additional criteria and deadline information can be found on the Pace University web site at http://www.pace.edu/page.cfm?doc_id=30819.
Expiration Dates for Veterans’ Benefits
Many Veteran benefits carry an expiration date. The following list shows only a few benefits that will expire after time:
Tuition Assistance: $4,500 a year that expires as soon as you transition from Active Duty.
Montgomery GI Bill for Active-Duty: 10 years from the date of last discharge or release from active duty.
Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserve: 14 years from the date of eligibility for the program, or until released from the Selected Reserve or National Guard.
Veterans Education Assistance Programs: 10 years from the date of the last discharge or release from active duty.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment: 12 years of separation from service or within 12 years of being awarded service-connected VA disability compensation.
For a complete list of benefits, please visit: http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/veterans-benefit-expiration-dates
Complicated Veteran’s Affair’s Disability Compensation System Slows Process
Thousands of the staff added to the Veteran’s Affair’s Department to help process disability claims, did not attend the mandatory training. As a result, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report indicating that the Veteran’s Affair’s Department “does not adequately evaluate its training and may be falling short in some areas of design and implementation.” Due to a heavy caseload, new employees don’t always go through the training. The GAO report recommends a variety of ways to enforce appropriate training within the department. Read more about the GAO report, at http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/05/military_va_training_052708/w.
Joint Chief Reminds Uniformed Service Members to Avoid Politics
In an unusual open letter to uniformed Service Members, Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen warned recipients to avoid politics, particularly when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be at the center of the upcoming Presidential election. Admiral Mullen’s missive, published in the Joint Force Quarterly, reminds uniformed Service Members of their duty to “remain apolitical at all times.” To read more, go to http://duggmirror.com/politics/Military_Chief_Warns_Troops_About_Politics//.
The Wounded Warrior Clothing Support Program (WWCSP)
The WWCSP is a collaborative effort by multiple military programs and a non-profit organization to support wounded warriors. The WWCSP provides wounded warriors with uniform alterations and modifications at no charge, while also providing special footwear to those who utilize the program. The program is being implemented at Brooke Army Medical Center on June 30, 2008 and is currently under way at Walter Reed’s Wagner Gymnasium. Army-Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) expects to provide this service at their locations by August 2008.
DeCA Commissaries Recall Ground Beef
On May 15, The Defense Commissary Agency announced the voluntary recall on packages of 85 percent lean ground beef purchased at 10 different commissaries between May 1 and 14 due to a possible E-coli contamination. The commissaries affected include Great Lakes, Ill.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.; Carlisle Barracks, Pa.; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, N.J.; Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn.; Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa.; Fort Carson, Colo.; and Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Commissary customers who purchased 85 percent lean ground beef at any of these commissaries between May 1 and May 14 should bring their receipt to any DeCA commissary for a full refund. For the full recall announcement, go to http://www.military.com/military-report/commissaries-recall-ground-beef.
DOD Makes Military ID Cards More Secure
As of December 2008, the Department of Defense will begin using only the last four digits of Social Security numbers on military identification cards. Military agencies are also planning to use the abbreviated version when sharing military records as part of a broader strategy to fight large-scale cyber crime rings.
Navy Credit Union Expands its Membership to All Branches of the Military
The world’s largest credit union, the Navy Credit Union, has expanded its membership to include all branches of the military. For membership information, please visit their website at http://www.navyfcu.org.