Second Quarter 2002
Second Quarter 2002
The Army has given approval for soldiers who are actively involved in Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle to wear certain insignia and medal devices.
Any reserve component soldier who is involuntarily mobilized in support of these two operations is eligible to receive the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device, according to PERSCOM. Volunteers are also eligible, but their orders should cite that duty is in support of the war-on-terror operations.
Also, the sleeve insignia for former wartime service and overseas service bars have been approved for wear by soldiers who have been assigned to units that have participated in ground operations during Operation Enduring Freedom. The soldier must have been assigned to a unit that has actively participated in or been in direct support of ground combat operations against hostile forces during Operation Enduring Freedom, in which they were exposed to the threat of enemy action or fire, either directly or indirectly. To wear sleeve unit insignia, soldiers must be deployed within Central Command Operations and fall under the command of the commander in chief, CENTCOM. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
SOLDIERS’ ONLINE FORUM
Soldiers worldwide are now invited to submit stories, commentaries and other articles to the Army News Service under a new program called "Soldiers Forum." The best of the articles will be posted on the ArmyLINK News website at the end of the week; they will also be sent to Army newspaper editors at installations and commands across the globe for use on their commentary pages.
The purpose of the program is to "give soldiers a voice on ArmyLINK," said COL Stephen Campbell, chief of command information at HQDA. The articles should be more than just "complaint columns," Campbell said. He explained that if problems are brought up, suggested solutions should be included. On the other hand, Campbell said, the letters "can’t just be peaches and cream either." He explained that the forum is looking not just for laudatory comments but for insightful discourse on subjects of interest to the entire Army. First-person accounts of combat in Afghanistan or duty in the Philippines are examples of articles that would be considered for publication, Campbell said. But those are the exceptions rather than the norm. He said the column is looking for reflections and recommendations regarding everyday Army life. Observations about Family Team Building programs, the NCOES or Common Task Training are just a few examples of relevant topics. More controversial topics such as drug abuse, domestic violence, street gangs, suicide prevention, retention, single-parent soldiering, OPTEMPO and PERSTEMPO may also be discussed.
Letters and articles should be sent to the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, ATTN: SAPA-CI (Soldiers Forum), Room 2B720, 1500 Army Pentagon, Washington DC 20310-1500 or e-mailed to email@example.com. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
NEW I.D. CARD
About 25,110 soldiers and Army civilians have already received the credit-card size, multiple-function Common Access Card (CAC) with an embedded computer chip. By May 2003, about 1.4 million cards will have been issued to Army personnel, and 4 million cards issued throughout DoD. The card is not being issued to family members and retirees yet, but there are plans to implement this in the future, said COL Monique Hale, from PERSCOM.
The CAC has a magnetic stripe, two barcodes and an integrated circuit chip. The magnetic strip will be used to gain access to controlled areas. The bar codes and chip will be used to store identification, demographic and benefits information. The computer chip will also store the class 3 Public Key Infrastructure certificates that allow cardholders to digitally sign documents such as e-mail, encrypt information and establish secure Internet sessions. More information.
(From an ArmyLINK news story.)
NEW ARMY RESERVE CHIEF
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced recently that President George W. Bush has nominated Army Reserve Major General James R. Helmly for promotion to lieutenant general and appointment as the next Chief, Army Reserve. Helmly succeeds Lieutenant General Thomas J. Plewes, who has been Chief, Army Reserve since 25 May 1998. The Chief, Army Reserve is also the commanding general for the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
SOLDIERS MAGAZINE NEEDS PHOTOS
The Soldiers magazine staff wants your help in preparing its 2003 Almanac edition. Each year Soldiers selects photos submitted by soldiers, civilians and family members throughout the Army.
To participate, send your photos with complete caption information to Soldiers; ATTN: Photo Editor, 9325 Gunston Road, Suite S-108, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5581. Do not e-mail your photos until you have contacted the Soldiers photo editor at soldiers@ belvoir.army.mil. Guidelines for submitting photos. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
MORE ON "STOP-LOSS."
The Army added 38 more career-management fields and military occupational specialties to the stop-loss program in February. Army officials announced on 12 February the third stop-loss increment, affecting selected active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops by stopping voluntary requests for retirement or separation, effective 22 February 2002.
This expansion is the largest to date. It impacts approximately 2,630 active duty, 3,920 Reserve and 4,190 National Guard soldiers, said LTC Bob Ortiz, Chief of Enlisted Professional Development for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1. Those numbers bring the total affected by the three stop-loss announcements to about 3,330 active, 4,450 Reserve and 4,760 Guard soldiers.
The Army will evaluate stop-loss on a monthly basis and use it as a tool to maintain unit readiness, Ortiz said. Additional stop-loss actions are possible, he added.
Stop-loss does not affect most involuntary separations or retirements, nor does it generally limit laws, regulations or policies that may lead to involuntary separations, retirements or releases from active duty. (From an Army News Service story.)
Two programs have been revised to help stabilize soldiers returning from Korea and other unaccompanied tours. The Deployment Stabilization policy and the Homebase and Advanced Assignment Program (HAAP) have been expanded, according to Army officials.
After completing a tour in Korea or other dependent-restricted areas, soldiers will now be stabilized from operational deployments for six months at their new duty station.
HAAP is expanding to specialists and corporals who have reenlisted at least once, beginning 1 March. HAAP participants can return to their current duty station after completing a dependent-restricted tour or get orders to their follow-on assignment before leaving the country. There are two options under HAAP: either homebase or advance assignments. Under the homebase assignment option, soldiers can leave their family members at their current installation and then return for another tour after completing a dependent-restricted tour. Families residing on post will be able to remain in housing. The second part of HAAP is advance assignment. Along with their assignment notification to a dependent-restricted tour, soldiers will also receive the location of their follow-on assignment before leaving the country.
PERSCOM’s goal is to match HAAPs with soldiers’ assignment preferences, officials said, but added there will be cases were the soldiers’ preferences cannot be met because of Army Manning the Force priorities. The expanding of HAAP to selected specialists and corporals will not apply to soldiers currently in Korea or placed on assignment instructions prior to 1 March. (From an ArmyLINK story.)
DRILL SERGEANT PROGRAMS
New procedures to support the Drill Sergeant Assignment Preference Program (DSAPP) were announced by PERSCOM in March.
The DSAPP is an incentive for soldiers to volunteer for and successfully complete Drill Sergeant (DS) duty. In support of the DSAPP, PERSCOM has committed to assigning Drill Sergeants to one of their three CONUS preferences (or, if preferred, an overseas volunteer location) to the maximum extent possible. As an added incentive, Drill Sergeants who voluntarily extend their DS duty for 12 months will be placed on assignment instructions for their follow-on assignment at the time the extension is approved.
Questions should be referred to DSN 221-8070, commercial 703-325-7201 or e-mail EPINF@HOFFMAN.ARMY.MIL. (From MILPER Message # 02-119.)
SPECIAL FORCES RECRUITING
U.S. Army Recruiting Command recently announced the restoration of a recruiting program to allow highly qualified, motivated young men to apply directly for Special Forces upon enlistment. The initiative will be limited for the first year to just 400 soldiers., who must undergo an average of more than 80 weeks of intensive, demanding military training. The minimum term of enlistment will be for five years. Both nonprior- and prior-service soldiers may be eligible. This enlistment option carries the same incentives as that for an infantry soldier, such as cash bonuses.
More information can be obtained by calling 800-USA ARMY or at www.goarmy.com. (From an ArmyLINK news release.)
GULF WAR RESOURCE CENTER
The National Gulf War Resource Center has rescheduled its annual Gulf War conference for 3-5 May 2002, in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was originally scheduled for early October 2001, but was cancelled in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.
It is important for Gulf War veterans who were deployed in Southwest Asia to be examined to determine if they suffer from any service-related diseases or conditions. Recent changes in public law may warrant a reexamination of any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims. The Resource Center has been on the forefront of keeping Gulf War issues in the media and on the minds of the American public.
DEPLOYMENT HEALTH CARE
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. William Winkenwerder announced the implementation of a new clinical guideline for use by military and VA physicians in caring for the unique needs of military personnel and their families. "This guideline, which provides a structure to assess and manage post-deployment health, is primarily about improving the medical care for post-deployment concerns among all our patients, whether an active duty servicemember, a spouse, a child, a veteran or reservist," said Army LTC Charles Engel, a practicing physician and Gulf War veteran.
The guideline also applies to individuals who were not deployed but who link their concerns to a military deployment-for example, family members of recently deployed active duty personnel. The guideline also will offer physicians support in monitoring the long-term health of patients with deployment health issues and provide patients with the education they need to take an active role in their own health care. More information. (From a DoD news release.)
COMBAT ZONE TAX BREAK
Servicemembers who served in Afghanistan will receive significant tax breaks as a result of an executive order signed by President Bush. The order was effective 19 September and applies to service in Afghanistan and the airspace above it. Servicemembers directly supporting operations in Afghanistan from other locations are also eligible if they are receiving imminent danger or hostile fire pay.
Eligible servicemembers also receive an automatic extension to file their taxes. (From a DoD news release.)
According to PERSCOM officials, effective March 2002, Army Knowledge Online (AKO) e-mail addresses for the rated NCO and the rating officials will be required on all active duty NCO-ERs. Reports that have already been completed will not be returned due to missing e-mail addresses, said SGM Ray Everette, NCO-ER manager.
The new procedures were adopted to stop the return of NCO-ERs that have gaps in the reporting period, Everette said. Gaps occur when the "from date" on the report is not the month after the "end date" of the last report on file. This usually means that there is a report missing from the file, Everette said. When the AKO e-mail addresses are included on the NCO-ERs, officials will be able to directly contact the rated NCO and his rating officials to inform them that there is a discrepancy. (From an Army News Service story.)
ASK - SAM
Everyday about 1,000 soldiers tell their assignment managers where they want to be stationed, and with the help of modernized programs, their wishes are being granted. Assignment Satisfaction Key (ASK), introduced to the Army in October 2001, gives enlisted soldiers the capability to post assignment preferences directly onto the Total Army Personnel database.
As of March, 44,703 soldiers have logged onto PERSCOM Online, providing personal contact data and listing preferences for stateside, overseas and special-duty assignments.
Before soldiers can log onto ASK, they must have an Army Knowledge Online account. ASK will require soldiers to select three stateside locations and three other preferences outside the continental United States (CONUS).
Soldier Assignment Module (SAM) is a recent Army Transformation initiative that enables assignment and career managers at PERSCOM to identify all the open requirements that soldiers may be eligible for, and provides the capability to identify the most eligible soldier for an assignment. Combined with ASK, this program identifies all soldiers who have volunteered for an assignment and places them at the top of the list for selection. It also identifies all soldiers who have indicated a preference for an assignment in the list of eligible soldiers. This allows PERSCOM to use the preference and volunteer assignment information to the maximum extent possible.
PERSCOM’s goal is to involve soldiers in managing their careers. Personnel leaders at all levels are encouraged to ensure soldiers are educated on these initiatives.
Point of contact for these programs is Mrs. Adcock-Dodd. E-mail her at TAPCEPO@HOFFMAN.ARMY. MIL. (From an ArmyLink news story.)
The Army has created several programs to help parent soldiers, who make up nearly half of the active duty force. One such program is the New Parent Support Program (NPSP). Part of the DoD Healthy Parent Initiative, NPSP has two sections that target first-time, young parents and dual military couples. The first section, NPSP-Standard, is available at all Army installations and is open to all families. Services provided include play mornings for young children, general parent education, and support activities. The second section, NPSP-Plus, is available at larger Army installations. This program uses role modeling, mentoring and one-on-one parent education to supplement and complement existing installation programs. In addition, NPSP-Plus uses a home visitation model to promote positive parenting.
To help families left behind when their soldier sponsor deploys, the Community and Family SupportCenter instituted Operation R.E.A.D.Y. (Resources for Education About Deployment and You) in 1995. The program focuses on separation issues, promoting communication among family members and providing additional resources to help families cope. The program provides assistance prior to, during and after deployment.
Operation R.E.A.D.Y. and other programs to assist military families are available at all military bases through the installation’s Army Community Service Center. (From an Army News Service story.)
TROOPS TO TEACHERS
DoD and the Education Department have resurrected the Troops to Teachers program with an $18 million infusion from the FY 2002 budget. The new money will give retiring or separating servicemembers a chance to become teachers.
Those retiring from the military have always qualified for the program. Now a new group can apply: Servicemembers who separate after six years or more of service, are not eligible for retirement, and agree to serve three years in one of the reserve components are now eligible for the program.
The program pays potential teachers up to a $5,000 stipend to help cover the costs of a teacher certification program. Some participants will also receive a $10,000 bonus in lieu of the stipend if they accept a job in a "high-needs" school district. (A high-needs district is one where 50 percent of its students come from low-income families.) Those who enroll in the program must teach for at least three years. For more information, visit your installation education office. (From an AFIS news story.)
OPERATIONALLY DELETED SOLDIERS
In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, many units deployed with short notification, resulting in soldiers being operationally deleted from assignments. PERSCOM has initiated a new procedure for soldiers who were on assignment prior to being deployed and as a result of the deployment were deleted from the assignment. If soldiers still desire to go to the assignment location, they should call 800-255-ARMY upon their return from deployment. (From MILPERS Message # 02-115.)
NEW MEMBER BENEFIT
AUSA has just signed on Budget Rent-a-Car as a new member benefit. This will provide our membership a lower-cost rental than the "big" rental car companies. To book a car, members need only call 800-455-2848 and use the BCD# X741700. Address questions to Melanie Shepherd at 800-336-4570, extension 664.
NO COLD WAR MEDAL
DoD will not be creating a Cold War service medal, and Army officials said any commemorative medals made by private vendors are unauthorized on the military uniform. "After careful consideration, it was decided not to create a medal," said Brad Loo, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. "Throughout the Cold War years, commanders used a full spectrum of individual, unit and service awards to recognize the achievements and sacrifices of service-members," Loo said. Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen approved a Cold War Certificate that recognizes all servicemembers and federal employees who faithfully served in the United States military during the Cold War era, Loo said.
There are several different designs of medals being offered on the Internet and even at military clothing sales stores. It is against the law to wear these or any other unauthorized medal on the military uniform. Penalties for ignoring this law include fines and confinement. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
INCREASE IN BURIAL BENEFITS
Under a new law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will increase reimbursement for funeral expenses and cemetery plots for service-disabled veterans and provide government markers for veterans’ graves even if families already have installed private markers.
The Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001 increases the burial and funeral expense allowance from $1,500 to $2,000 for veterans who die as a result of a service-connected disability and the cemetery plot allowance, for certain other disabled veterans, from $150 to $300.
The law also directs VA to honor requests for government markers for veterans buried in private cemeteries even if their graves have headstones or markers furnished at private expense. The $500 increase in funeral reimbursements applies to deaths on or after 11 September 2001. The new provision for markers applies to veterans’ deaths on or after 27 December 2001.
OVERSEAS HIGH SCHOOL
High school students whose parents are stationed in remote locations are eligible to attend a resident school program at London Central High School. Department of Defense Education Activity Director Joseph Tafoya said the program was started to provide an American high school experience for students whose parents are stationed in overseas locations in which a DoD school is not available.
To be eligible, students must be family members of military or DoD civilian personnel stationed in a location to which they are allowed to bring their families but in which there are no suitable American high schools. For students in these circumstances, the military pays all costs, including room and board. Tafoya said the military covers transportation costs for three round trips between home and school-winter and spring breaks and summer vacation.
Students have private dorm rooms. Dorms have day rooms, TV rooms and computer labs. Counselors in the dorms provide 24-hour supervision. The two dorms-one for males and one for females-can house about 100 students each. As of February they were only half full. (From an American Forces Press Service story.)
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and the Military Child Education Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, have produced an information packet to help students and parents navigate a change of schools.
The packet, called "Chart Your Course: Planning a Successful Journey Through High School and Beyond," covers several key areas. It includes milestones students should reach in middle school and high school and information on extracurricular activities that are common to most schools. It also includes an "academic passport" that contains a four-year plan recommended by the Military Child Education Coalition.
Copies of the packet are being distributed to all 7th- through 11th-grade students in DoD schools worldwide. For a fee of $12, parents of students not in DoD schools can request a copy by contacting Ana Hernandez at 254-953-1923 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The coalition also offers information on successful school transitions. (From an American Forces Press Service story.)
VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT
Recent legislation calls upon the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to develop a program to collect and preserve audio- and videotaped oral histories, along with documentary materials such as letters, diaries and photographs from veterans and support personnel of World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.
The Library of Congress has prepared a project kit with guidelines for libraries and volunteers. More information can be obtained by calling 703-681-7205. (From an MWR Feedback article.)
RECRUIT A RETIREE
AUSA has launched a membership campaign to at least double the new retirement membership. The campaign runs from April 2002 to March 2003 and uses prizes and cash to encourage individuals to recruit retirees into the Association. We believe this is a great opportunity to increase membership and reward members who do the recruiting. Please give this your strongest support throughout the campaign year.
- One drawing per quarter for a $500 saving bond. This provides each successful recruiter a cash prize for recruiting even one new retiree.
- Campaign Awards for Recruiters - Prizes are awarded as each level is achieved:
- 10 new retiree memberships - pen & pencil set or one-year membership.
- 20 new retiree members - $100 savings bond.
- 35 retiree members - $200 savings bond.
- 50 new retiree members - AUSA watch and one three-year membership.
For more information call SGM (Ret) Leroy Bussells at 800-336-4570, ext. 678.
RECREATION CENTERS UPGRADED
The Army is adding 299 more rooms to its Shades of Green hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. During the 18 months of construction (to begin in April), the hotel will close, according to Peter Isaacs of the U.S. Army Community and Support Center. "By closing the hotel completely, we’ll reduce construction time by six months and the cost of the project by $6 million," Isaacs said. "We will continue to offer guests accommodations at quality hotels, including some on the Disney Resort, at affordable rates," Isaacs added.
While hotel room rates will remain the same as they were for Shades of Green, guests will have to pay the 11 percent state and local taxes during this period.
The Army is also building a brand new hotel in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. The new 300-room hotel in Garmisch, an hour south of Munich, at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, will replace four older hotels currently operating in Chiemsee and Garmisch. Hotel amenities will include a swimming pool, spa facilities, conference and meeting rooms, a restaurant and lounge, all scheduled to open in 2004.
On 5 November 2001, a new hotel for servicemembers opened in Keystone, Colorado. "Rocky Mountain Blue" is a partnership between the Air Force and Keystone Resorts, a 1,749-acre facility with 22 ski lifts. (From an Army News Service story.)
HELP FOR HIGH ENERGY BILLS
Consumer Guidance has established a grant fund to help people who are having financial problems because of high energy costs. This grant program is funded by private donations from corporations and private citizens who receive a tax exemption because of the organization’s nonprofit status granted by the Internal Revenue Service.
"Many people who are struggling with energy bills do not know that financial assistance is available from nonprofit organizations and from the government," says Allen Nichols, Executive Director of Consumer Guidance. "We’ve established a grant program and also publish a number of booklets to help consumers who are coping with rising energy costs."
Consumers can receive a free grant application and more information about other financial help.
VACCINE BAN FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs William Winkenwerder recently reiterated and strengthened a long-standing DoD policy to avoid immunization of servicewomen during pregnancy. This action was taken because of issues raised about preliminary data from a Naval Health Research Center Study of women who received the anthrax vaccine.
"Although these study results are preliminary and there are significant concerns about the database that require further investigation before any conclusions can be made, we are taking these steps to reaffirm our existing policies, " stated Winkenwerder.
The preliminary data identified a possible relationship between maternal anthrax vaccination in the first trimester and higher odds of birth defects. Because the data supporting the study showed that a number of women might have received the anthrax vaccine beyond the first trimester, study data is now being revalidated. (From a DoD news release.)
The first Military Bridge Championship will be held during the 2002 Summer North American Bridge Championships 18-28 July at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. Active and reserve component members of all the armed services, DoD civilians, and family members are eligible to compete.
For the Summer NABC website address and more information on the military championships, send an e-mail to Maj. Steven Forsythe at MAJSLF@aol.com. (From an AFIS news release.)