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2011 March Family Newsletter

Family Newsletter with Pictures

Welcome to Army OneSource Family News - the monthly newsletter from Army Community Service (ACS) and ArmyOneSource.com, the Army's most comprehensive portal for Family members.

IN THIS MONTH'S ISSUE:

 

 
Army Family Action Plan (AFAP

Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) Delegates Choose Top Five Issues

Identification cards for children of deceased Soldiers was the number one issue raised this year at the Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA) Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference. After a week of discussion in working groups, the AFAP delegates reported to Army leaders on the five most critical issues to be focused on this summer. Those five issues include: formal standardized training for designated caregivers of wounded warriors, medically retired service member’s eligibility for concurrent receipt of disability pay, military child development program fee cap, and medical retention processing two-time restrictions for Reserve Component Soldiers. Issues identified at the conference will be focused on by members of the General Officers Steering Committee. The top five will be addressed this summer and the remaining issues will continue through the committee process.

Army Spouse Employment Partnership Update

The Army Spouse Employment Partnership (ASEP) is a self-sustaining and expanding partnership that is mutually beneficial to the Army and Global Partners. The partnership provides Army spouses the opportunity to attain financial security and achieve employment goals through career mobility and enhanced employment options with Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Corporate Partners are provided the capability to tap into a readily available, diverse and talented pool of candidates. Currently, partnerships exist with companies from the private sector, the military, and the Federal Government. A total of 57 corporate partners have hired over 99,000 spouses since the program’s inception. The program has also expanded to the Korean peninsula, and is planning a German expansion.
Soon ASEP will become a joint program that will serve all military spouses. This program will be known as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). The ASEP has accepted this responsibility due to the overwhelming response of the partners, as well as the sister services who want a joint program. The Army will take an already well-established program and institute the mission, vision, and values with the Marines, Navy and Air Force. This change is scheduled to be completed by early spring 2011.

Army Spouse Employment Partnership Update
Army Emergency Relief Annual Campaign

Army Emergency Relief Annual Campaign

To increase awareness of the benefits available through the Army Emergency Relief (AER) Program, the AER Campaign is scheduled for 1 through 15 March 2011. The campaign is fully endorsed by the Secretary of the Army, the Army Chief of Staff and the Sergeant Major of the Army. Last year, AER provided more than 77 million dollars to over 66,000 Soldiers and Family members for all categories of assistance to include emergency needs, child and spouse scholarships, support to Families of Fallen Soldiers and grants to widows and wounded warriors. The AER program is an integral source in “Helping the Army Take Care of its Own”.

Workplace Flexibility Focuses on Families and Children

Military Families, especially children in those Families who have grown up against the backdrop of ten years of war, are the focus of the military’s effort to make workplace flexibility an increased priority. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, spoke during a news conference announcing a new partnership on workplace flexibility between the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute. The focus on flexibility began in March, when President Barack Obama spoke at a White House forum about modernizing the federal workplace to meet the needs of today’s employees and their Families. Because of the time service members spent away from home, many children have spent years without their fathers or mothers. The services must listen to those who have been at home and consider how to create the flexibility and excellence that have made today’s military superb.

Workplace Flexibility Focuses on Families and Children
Government Unites to Improve Child and Youth Programs

Government Unites to Improve Child and Youth Programs

President Barack Obama unveiled a new, whole-of-government approach to military Family support with agencies uniting to create new resources and support programs for military Families worldwide. The government made 50 commitments to improving Families’ quality of life which are outlined in a White House report, “Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment”. The government relied heavily on Family members’ input to identify challenges and develop possible solutions. As a result of the feedback, about half of the report is devoted to the well-being of military children and youth: one section devoted to increasing child care availability and quality, and the another section dedicated to ensuring excellence in military children’s education and development.

New Army Reserve Child Youth and School Services (CYSS) Team Assists Families with Valuable Resources

The mission of the 81st Regional Support Command’s Child, Youth and School Services team is to ensure the Army Reserve Families’ youngest members are not forgotten. The team can assist Families in locating scholarships, pinpointing childcare services and connecting Army Reserve Families to available resources. “We need to get the word out that the Army Reserve has programs in place to take care of its own,” Amanda Hammond, the Army Reserve School Support Specialist, said. “One of our biggest battles we face is educating our Families outside the military installations and located in our communities across the country.”

New Army Reserve Child Youth and School Services (CYSS) Team
TRICARE Beneficiaries Encouraged to Review New Dietary Guidelines

TRICARE Beneficiaries Encouraged to Review New Dietary Guidelines

New dietary guidelines released by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture urge Americans to increase physical activity, reduce sodium intake, choose foods that provide more potassium and opt for water instead of soft drinks. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued every five years, come at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children are overweight or obese. The military and uniformed service communities are not immune to this obesity epidemic.To learn more about healthy diets, exercise and ways to help prevent obesity use the links below.

Directory Links Wounded Warriors and Families to Resources

The Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs created the National Resource Directory, located at National Resource Directory, to link wounded warriors, service members, veterans, their Families and caregivers to nationwide resources that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. This directory contains information on a broad range of topics, including benefits and compensation, education and training, employment, caregiver support, health, housing, and transportation and travel. With such a vast amount of available information, considerable effort went into creating user-friendly navigation tools to help people pin down resources quickly. Feedback from troops and their Families plays an integral role in keeping the site current.

Directory Links Wounded Warriors and Families to Resources
Pentagon Seeks Future Information Technologists

Pentagon Seeks Future Information Technologists

The Department of Defense (DoD), Army, and Air Force chief information officers hosted 50 local high school students at the Pentagon on 3 February 2011 to begin recruiting the next generation of the federal government’s information technology (IT) work force. In partnership with the Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council, DoD is sponsoring the 5th annual IT Job Shadow Day. The Defense Information Systems Agency representatives talked about cyber defense, simulation experts talked about computer crime and forensics, and officials from the Defense Technical Information Center talked about the DoD Technopedia. The DoD and the Federal CIO Council reach out to local high schools, where teachers recommend juniors and seniors who are achievers in information technology, math, science and engineering for the program.

Fallen Marine's Family Adopts His Best Friend

“Whatever is mine is his,” Marine Corps Private First Class Colton W. Rusk wrote about Eli, his military working dog, in the final days of their deployment in Afghanistan. Private First Class Rusk’s Family helped to prove his words true when they adopted the black Labrador Retriever in a retirement and adoption ceremony at the military working dog school at Lackland Air Force Base. After Private First Class Rusk was killed on 5 December 2010 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province by Taliban sniper fire, Marine Corps officials told Darrell and Kathy Rusk, his parents, that Eli, the young Marine’s infantry explosives detector dog, crawled on top of their son to protect him after he was shot. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jessy Eslick of the Department of Defense’s military working dog research and development section handed the leash to the Family, praising Eli as “a dog that brought Marines home to their Families”. Eli, who was trained in the military working dog program, reportedly is the second working dog the Marines discharged to permit adoption by a fallen handler’s Family. “It gets our mind off the sadness of losing Colton, “Mrs. Rusk said, “just knowing we’re going to have a little piece of Colton in Eli. I just wish he could talk and tell us some stories. Just to know we’re going to be able to share the love we have for our son with something that he loved dearly.”

Fallen Marine's Family Adopts His Best Friend
‘Paws for Purple Hearts’

‘Paws for Purple Hearts’ Helping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Paws for Purple Hearts is a non-profit organization that teaches wounded Soldiers to train service dogs for seriously-disabled veterans. The organization may soon begin testing the physiological reactions that come from working with the animals. In partnership with the National Intrepid Center for Excellence, Paws for Purple Hearts founder, Rick Yount, hopes that studies on how dogs help service members will confirm what he already believes – that training dogs saves lives. Testing planned at the National Intrepid Center for Excellence for this fall will focus on sleep studies, tracking biomarkers and symptom reduction, with the goal of providing viable statistics on the benefits of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients working with service dogs. Rick Yount explained that some of the characteristics of PTSD include emotional numbness, isolation, insomnia, hyper-vigilance and nervousness in crowds. Soldiers have to challenge their symptoms in order to be successful: they have to get in touch with their emotions to give praise, and guide the dogs through crowds, ensuring them that it’s safe.

Women Learn to Fight Stress from Home Front

During the week of 24 January 2011 when the White House pledged a vigorous, whole-of-government approach to supporting military Families, 11 women of the Significant Others Support Group worked diligently to learn to cope with the stresses of their husbands’ multiple deployments and post-traumatic stress that affects many of them when they return home. The ten military wives and a fiancée met in a quiet place to learn coping skills through resiliency training. They learned meditation, tried acupuncture, talked, laughed and cried. For five days the Significant Others Support Group charter class studied Family roles and relationships, how combat affects service members, how to raise children during a stressful time in a lengthy war and how to communicate about and deal with control issues when the deployment is over. They also learned how to take care of themselves, an often overlooked need.

Women Learn to Fight Stress from Home Front
Website Links Unemployed Vets, Spouses to Jobs

Website Links Unemployed Vets, Spouses to Jobs

Unemployed veterans, wounded warriors, Reserve Component service members and their spouses searching for jobs can find one-stop shopping at a Web portal designed just for them. The military-friendly Employee Partnership of the Armed Forces operated by the Army Reserve lends assistance not only to those looking for a job, but also to public and private employers who are ready to hire former service members. While many job websites exist on the Internet, veterans should know EmployerPartnership.org offers a personal touch by incorporating a special resume-building feature that translates military language into civilian terms. Deciphering “military speak” is a common concern for human resources people in the corporate world. The web site is free and it’s an excellent way to connect the great skill sets that the military bring to corporate America.

Veterans Affairs Provides Benefits to Veterans’ Caregivers

The Veterans Affairs (VA) Department is launching the first of a series of new and enhanced services supporting Family caregivers of seriously ill and injured veterans. President Barack Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 legislation in May 2010 authorizing VA to establish a wide range of new services to support designated caregivers of eligible post 9/11 veterans. In addition to the new benefits and services for eligible veterans who were disabled in the line of duty since 11 September 2011, the VA also will begin providing enhanced benefits and services to caregivers of veterans of all eras who are already enrolled in VA care.

Veterans Affairs Provides Benefits to Veterans’ Caregivers
(DoD) Takes Steps to Combat Childhood Obesity

Department of Defense (DoD) Takes Steps to Combat Childhood Obesity

On 9 February 2011, the First Lady Michelle Obama marked the one-year anniversary of her “Let’s Move” campaign, a nationwide initiative to promote making healthy food choices and increasing physical activity within homes, schools and communities. The aim is to solve America’s childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. America’s childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years according to the Let’s Move website. Today, nearly one in three American children and about one in four military children are overweight or obese. This issue has a tremendous impact on the health care system, and from a military standpoint, it can affect everything from recruiting and retention to the force’s ability to fight. Spurred on by the first lady’s efforts, the Department of Defense formed a childhood obesity working group in August with a committee of nearly 30 helping professionals from a variety of military backgrounds and expertise. The group set out on a mission to improve the health and nutrition of military Families. With the Army taking the lead, officials are creating standardized menus for child development centers to ensure the centers are meeting children’s nutritional needs. For more information on a healthy lifestyle, people can visit a service health and wellness facility, check in with a base fitness center, or visit the Let’s Move campaign website or Military OneSource.

Leaders Look to Protect Best MWR Programs

The leaders of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs within all services have pledged to sustain the best programs for military Families while searching for ways to deal with inevitable budget cuts. “As we are focused on efficiencies, we will take care of our most valuable asset: our service members and their Families,” said Robert L. Gordon, the Department of Defense’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Community and Family Policy. Results from the first survey of MWR program patrons conducted in 2009 show the programs are fine, but could use improvement especially in outdoor and recreational facilities. Rich Gorman, executive director of the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, said MWR programs are important to help Soldiers maintain physical fitness, alleviate stress and support Families. Mr. Gorman added that support is equal for Families. “Mission accomplishment is directly related to Soldiers knowing their Families are safe and happy,” he said. “The Army has long recognized that if we don’t retain the Family, we simply won’t retain the Soldier.”

Leaders Look to Protect Best MWR Programs
Spouses Can Nominate Boss for Patriot Award

Spouses Can Nominate Boss for Patriot Award

Spouses of Army National Guard and Army Reserve service members are invited to nominate their employers for the Patriot Award. Previously, nominations for the Patriot Award were open only to Army National Guard and Army Reserve service members to nominate their employers. However, after learning of the growing number of employers with supportive initiatives for military spouses, the program added nominations for spouses’ employers. Employers of military spouses are not legally obligated to provide special support, but Army National Guard and Army Reserve spouses often share the challenges that go with military service. The award is sponsored by the Department of Defense agency, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), which was established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Army National Guard and Army Reserve service. The ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws and resolves conflict between service members and employers. For information about ESGR, call 1-800-336-4590.

TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery Offers Convenience, Affordability

For more than ten years, TRICARE has offered home delivery as a convenient alternative to picking up prescription medications at a civilian retail pharmacy. More than one million prescriptions were filled through home delivery in each of the last five months of 2010. Pharmacy home delivery is available to many categories of beneficiaries, including active duty service members deployed overseas. Home delivery can be to any U.S. postal address and overseas Army Post Offices (APO), Fleet Post Offices (FPO) and in some cases, U.S. Embassies. You can sign up on line for pharmacy home delivery or call the Member Choice Center toll free at 1-877-363-1303.

TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery
Officials Invite Spouses to Share Employment Ups, Downs

Officials Invite Spouses to Share Employment Ups, Downs

Department of Defense officials are inviting military spouses to air their state licensing issues and concerns as part of an overall effort to boost spouses’ education and career opportunities. One-third of employed military spouses are in career fields that require a state license, such as some health care professionals, teachers, accountants, pharmacy technicians and medical billers. Officials often encourage military spouses to pursue portable careers, since they may offer easier paths to employment in new locations. However, spouses are running into some issues as they move from state to state. To counter these issues and others, the Department of Defense officials are working with states to streamline processes and eliminate licensing barriers. This effort is part of an overall, interagency effort to increase spouse employment opportunities. People can find more information about spouse education and career opportunities, including free career counseling, on the Military OneSource web site.

Department of Defense (DoD) Strives to Strengthen and Empower Military Families

Department of Defense officials are expanding military Family support programs to better meet Families’ current needs, as well as empower them for the challenges that lie ahead. “It’s not just about providing fish – it’s teaching to fish as well,” Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, told an audience of politicians, spouses and service organization leaders during the Congressional Military Family Caucus Kickoff in the U.S. Capital building. The caucus’ goal is to educate Congress members and staff about the unique challenges – including mental health, wounded warrior care, health care, education and disability—service members and their Families face. Mr. Gordon called for an increase in DOD partnerships to bolster Family support in the years ahead. Officials also are focused on improving spouse employment opportunities. Of the 800,000 military spouses, about 77 percent would like to work. However, spouses are hindered by frequent transitions and deployments.

Department of Defense (DoD) Strives to Strengthen and Empower Military Families