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Personal Matters -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
As a Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader, what can do I to improve the group's communication with members who do not speak English?

Answer:
There are a number of things you should consider. For example, the most obvious is to enlist the help of group members who speak English as well as other languages to help translate messages and/or serve as a sponsor to some of your non-English speaking members. Many times you can find translating assistance at your local Army Community Service or Host Nation Services office (if OCONUS). Check with local high schools or colleges for foreign language students who may be willing to help translate for you – perhaps to translate Family Readiness Group (FRG) newsletters and flyers. The important thing to remember is to make all members feel welcomed. If you are currently stationed overseas and you have members in your FRG who are from your host nation, consider enlisting their help in planning cultural events for your FRG. They may welcome the opportunity to actively participate in the group.

Question:
How can I obtain military privileges (ID cards, access to services, etc.) for my legally dependent parents, adopted children, foster children, etc.?

Answer:
In general, you must have the appropriate legal documents to certify dependency such as adoption papers for children, or other documents stating that you have legal guardianship of your parents, foster children, etc. The Army Legal assistance office can provide you with specific information on this subject.

Question:
How can I protect myself from identity theft?

Answer:
There are a number of things you can do to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud such as not giving out personal your information to others unless you have a reason to trust them. Check your financial information regularly to make sure the information is correct such as the appropriate transactions listed on your bank or credit card statements. Periodically ask for a copy of your credit report that lists all bank and financial accounts under your name and maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.

Question:
How do I do my banking online?

Answer:
Not all banks have online banking, but those who do usually have brochures that can explain the specific online services they offer or information on their website that outlines what they offer and how to set up your online access. Accessing your account information online typically requires you to set up a user id and password that is associated with your specific account(s). Once you have established these, you can often view things like your account balance; a listing of your transactions to include any automatic deposits or withdrawals; pay bills online; transfer money between different accounts; and apply for loans and other services. Contact your specific financial institution for more information.

Question:
How do I have my mail forwarded from an old address to a new address?

Answer:
You can have your mail forwarded from an old address to a new address by completing a change of address form at your local U.S. Post Office or complete this form online at www.usps.gov. Note that they will forward your mail for a set period of time so it is important to inform your friends, family and those with whom you do business of your new address. Magazines will be forwarded for 60 days; most catalogs are not forwarded.

Question:
How do I know if I am getting the best calling plan and/or internet service?

Answer:
The only way to find the best telecommunication services and plans is to research each of them, which can take some time. Knowing your requirements is the most important thing you can do before comparing services. For example, having unlimited calling capability in the continental United States for a set price may sound like a good deal, but if most of your calls will be local - it may be less expensive for you to have a basic service than an unlimited calling plan. Make a list of your calling needs and habits, how often you will be using the Internet and how important it is for you to have quick access (i.e., dial-up vs cable or DSL), and how often, if at all, might you use a cell phone. Survey your friends, neighbors and co-workers to see what they use and what providers have the best reception in your area. You can also contact the local providers in your area to see what their plans offer and make your own comparisons or visit each of their websites.

Question:
How do I obtain a visa for my foreign born spouse and/or adopted child?

Answer:
Contact the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office or the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for assistance on obtaining a visa for your foreign born spouse and/or adopted child.

Question:
How do I obtain or renew my stateside driver's license when serving OCONUS?

Answer:
It is best to renew your stateside driver's license before relocating overseas if it is due to expire during the time you are expected to be overseas. However, some states allow for you to renew driver's license by mail if a new photo is not required. Consult with the Department of Motor Vehicles division for the state in which your driver's license was issued.

Question:
How do I search for information on the Internet?

Answer:
The Internet contains millions and millions of webpages. Unless the specific Uniform Resource Locator (URL) associated with the site you are trying to find is known, most people use a tool called a “search engine” to help them find it. A URL is the Wide World Web (www) address for the site. Search engines use keywords or phrases to find web sites that contain the information for which they are looking. There are a number of search engines available on the Internet such as Google and Yahoo (e.g., www.google.com and www.yahoo.com). Most search engines use Boolean operators for their searches. Boolean operators (e.g., AND, OR, NOT, etc.) provide instructions to the search engines as to which keywords you want your results to include or exclude. For example, if you were looking for information on apples and oranges, “apples AND oranges.” Your results would be limited to sites that contained the words “apples and oranges.” If you entered “apples OR oranges,” your results would include sites containing either the word “apples” or “oranges.” Search engines also allow you to use an asterisk (wildcard) in place of letters. You can usually find some advanced search capabilities on search engine sites that allow you to narrow the scope of your search to certain file formats; sites that were updated within a certain date range, etc. Note that these are just a few tips to help you in your quest for information on the Wide World Web. The Pandia Search Central at http://www.pandia.com is a site dedicated to search engines and productive Internet searching. This site offers a “search tutorial” that provides more information on how to navigate the Wide World Web. Also, check your community education centers, libraries, and local colleges and universities for computer classes. Many offer ones specifically on using the Internet.

Question:
If I adopt a child born in a foreign country, will my adoption expenses be reimbursed?

Answer:
Active duty military members can be reimbursed for documented, reasonable, and necessary "qualifying" adoption expenses up to $2000 per adoptive child, but not more than $5000 per calendar year. A "qualifying" adoption refers to a child under the age of 18, intercountry adoptions, and adoptions of children with special needs and only if they are arranged by a qualified adoption agency. The adoption must have been arranged through a state or local government agency or through a nonprofit voluntary adoption agency that is authorized by state or local law to place children for adoption. Private adoptions and adoptions of stepchildren are not covered. Check with your military legal and/or finance officer for more information.
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