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Military Report: Print And Post (30 May 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

AAFES Certificates Available
Anyone who wants to support troops deployed to Operations Iraqi or Enduring Freedom can show how much they care by sending ?Gifts from the Homefront? gift certificates. More than 46,000 gift certificates have been purchased and sent to troops since the program began in March 2003. These gift certificates, available for purchase by anyone (even those not in the military). ?Gifts from the Homefront? gift certificates are redeemable for merchandise at all Exchange facilities worldwide, and can be purchased by logging on to http://www.aafes.com or calling 877-770-GIFT (4438), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. AAFES gift certificates, which can only be redeemed by authorized AAFES customers, come in denominations of $5, $10, $15 and $20.

Deal of the Week: GEICO Car Insurance
Start saving money and put our discounts to work for you! Visit geico.com to learn why over 475,000 military members switched their insurance to GEICO. Get your free rate quote now at http://img.military.com/misc/DC/DealIndex.jsp?loc=QL

AF Reserve Adopts New Logo
Air Force Reserve Command has a new advertising logo that more closely aligns it with the active force while touting the command as a high-tech, professional fighting force. Sleek and simple, the AFRC logo features the Air Force?s new logo alongside the words ?Air Force Reserve? in a stylish, modern typeface. AFRC recruiting officials began working with Blaine Warren Advertising in January to develop the new logo. It replaces the ?Above and Beyond? logo featured in Reserve recruiting and advertising products since 1998. The command will feature the new logo in all of its new advertising products but will continue using promotional items with the old logo until they are all gone.

Charitable Mailings Prohibited
Each year, the Department of Defense plays a huge role in delivering relief supplies and assisting in relief operations worldwide. For people overseas who want to contribute, the problem is getting the package where it needs to be. However, the military postal service is not an option, say U.S. Air Forces in Europe postal officials. Sending charitable contributions through Air Mobility Command or through the MPS is prohibited. This means organizations and people authorized to use MPS cannot serve as intermediaries for any person or organization not specifically authorized such service.

Job of the Week: Combat Vehicle Mechanic, Honeywell, Gainesville, FL
Wheeled - Tracked - Heavy Equipment Mechanics. Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc. - Logistic Services invites you to put your military experience to work! We have been maintaining the USMC Maritime Pre-positioned Forces (MPF) equipment since the inception of the program 17 years ago. This is an opportunity to live and work overseas, at various locations, maintaining the MPF vehicles stowed on board a fleet of merchant ships. As a full time Honeywell employee you have an outstanding benefits package, excellent hourly wage, overtime, annual hourly wage increase. Company provided tools, food, lodging. Six weeks paid vacation including transportation & travel time. Annual tour completion bonus and if you qualify, the overseas federal income tax benefit. At a minimum, you will need 5 years experience, applicable military or civilian training/school and be a U.S. citizen. Qualified candidates, please include your DD214 with your resume. For more information, go to http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=21658041

Health Care Provision Deleted
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has employed a rarely used authority to strike a provision in the committee-passed $441.6 billion defense authorization bill that would have opened the military's Tricare health care system to all National Guard members and reservists. The provision would push the military's mandatory spending levels beyond those allowed under the fiscal 2006 budget resolution. The bill is scheduled for floor consideration Wednesday. For more information read the article at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0505/052305cdpm1.htm .

House Passes H.R. 2046
The House passed H.R. 2046, The Servicemembers Health Insurance Protection (SHIP) Act of 2005, on May 23. The bill amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) to limit premium increases on reinstated health insurance coverage of servicemembers who are released from active duty after mobilization. It also preserves employer-sponsored health plan coverage for certain reserve-component members who acquire TRICARE coverage in replacement of their health insurance prior to activation. For more information, read the article at http://veterans.house.gov/news/109/5-23-05.html

Introducing the Jeep Everyday Heroes Reward
Day in and day out, 365 days a year, thousands of men and women devote their lives to keeping the rest of us safe and secure. The work is harder and the hours are longer than most of us can imagine. As our way of saying thanks, we're offering a preferred price of 1% below factory invoice on any Jeep vehicle for all qualified police, fire, EMS personnel, or a $500 cash allowance for all military personnel. We depend on you, now you can depend on your new Jeep vehicle. For more information, go to http://www.jeep.com/heroes/?pid=9644833

Medical Service Corps Selections
The 2006 Medical Service Corps in-service procurement program selection board will meet in October, 2005. This program provides a pathway for active-duty, enlisted personnel to obtain a commission as a medical corps service officer in health care administration, environmental health, Industrial hygiene, entomology, pharmacy, or as a physician assistance. The program is open to active-duty, enlisted sailors in paygrades E-5 through E-9. Applications must be postmarked no later than August 26, 2005. Detailed application information can be found at the Medical Service Corps Program website at http://nshs.med.navy.mil/mscipp/mscipp.htm. For more information, read
NAVADMIN 105/05 at http://www.bupers.navy.mil/navadmin/nav05/nav05105.txt

One-Source Aids Military
Military OneSource, a Department of Defense-level Web site and round-the-clock phone center, has an extensive amount of military-related information is gathered into one database. Its huge database of information answers questions on everything from child-care questions to how to get a new ID card. The Military OneSource website can be reached at http://www.militaryonesource.com/

Online Education Webinar for Military & Veterans
Servicemembers and Veterans interested in using their military education benefits are invited to attend a free online webinar, hosted by Military.com and St. Leo University. The webinar, which will be held on Wednesday 22 June at 1200 and 1900 PST, will feature GI Bill and Tuition Assistance information and an Ask the Experts question and answer segment. To register, go to http://www.military.com/UAwebinar/

Panel Ups Health Care Funds
A House spending panel, concerned that soldiers and veterans are not getting the mental health services they need, agreed on Wednesday to boost spending on military health care by billions of dollars. Lawmakers also commissioned a study on post-traumatic stress disorder. The subcommittee agreed to devote $2.2 billion to veterans? mental health care and instructed the Veterans Affairs Department to devote 20 percent of its research money to mental health issues. For more information, read the article at http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,1 ... 05,00.html and the subcommittee's report at http://appropriations.house.gov/index.c ... &Year=2005 .

Pentagon Wants Vaccinations
The Defense Department asked a federal appeals court recently to lift an injunction that stopped the mandatory anthrax vaccination program for military personnel. Justice Department lawyers, in an appeal filed on behalf on the Pentagon, contend that the Food and Drug Administration's documentation on BioPort's Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed proves the vaccine is safe and effective in combating all forms of anthrax. The vaccine is now only fully licensed as safe and effective against cutaneous anthrax. For more information, read the article at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0505/052305gsn1.htm

Retirement Seminar Set
A Military Retirement Entitlement Seminar for members of the military retiree community in and around Chicago, Ill., will be held June 18 at the Deer Creek Christian Church & School, 425 W Exchange Street (University Parkway) in University Park, Ill. It's the second such event sponsored by the 416th ENCOM Association (USAR) to give military retired and family members the opportunity to hear the latest information on military benefits. There is no charge and officials said there is easy access to plenty of parking and seats. Questions or requests for additional information should be directed to Jack Kotter at (815) 932-1022 or email a message to bgkotter@sbcglobal.net

Scholarships for Children
Thanks to the Scholarships for Military Children program, 500 students will receive $1,500 scholarships to apply toward college tuition this fall. Eligibility includes sons and daughters of active duty, Guard and Reserve, and military retired members. The annual scholarship program is usually announced in early November with an entry deadline of mid-February. For more information on the program, visit the Scholarships for Military Children website at http://www.militaryscholar.org

Two Key Benefit Provisions Struck
Military.com has learned that both the provision for Full Concurrent Receipt (CR) for Unemployable (IU) 100% Disabled Military Retirees and the Reservists Pay Security Act of 2005 were struck from the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005 shortly before it was signed into law. The CR provision which would have eliminated the 9 year phase-in of full CR for those deemed 100% disabled due to unemployability by the VA and the Reservists Pay Security Act provision which would have provided federal employees on active duty an entitlement to a pay differential based on their federal position and their military pay are reportedly included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006. To contact your public officials directly, go to
http://vote.military.com/military/mail/ ... id=7659111

University Offers Scholarships
Widener University is making available four, four-year college scholarships to sons and daughters of servicemembers who make the ultimate sacrifice. The scholarship program is called, Widener CARES ? for Children of Active and Reserve Educational Scholarships. The program is open to the sons and daughters of service members killed in action in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. This is a national program. For more information, visit the Widener College Website at http://www.widener.edu/News_Events/Top_ ... 81&pm=3809 or contact the Office of Admissions at 610-499-4126.

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Army Echoes
Issue 2
May-Aug 2005

In This Issue:
=============

1. Can you make an SBP open season election?
2. Is your SBP reduced by the Social Security offset?
3. Health care, communications are CSA Retiree Council's top issues
4. Highlights from Headquarters
5. Online source for ways to support troops
6. Retirement Services celebrates 50 years
7. DoD marks WWII 60th anniversary
8. Recruiting Command asks for your help
9. Retired Soldiers can wear Army PT uniforms
10. DeCA permits assisted shopping for disabled
11. AAFES gives $242.3M to MWR
12. New commander to lead AAFES
13. Outgoing commander's message for retirees
14. AAFES employee earns Defense of Freedom medal
15. DFAS assures customers -- myPay is safe
16. Are you eligible for special disability pay?
17. DFAS changes web address
18. Planning for a fall AFRC vacation?
19. Is E-Echoes for you?
20. AFVC offers off-season condo discounts
21. Certain medications will cost more
22. TRICARE starts online pharmacy tool
23. DoD struggles with rising health care costs
24. You need Medicare Part B to get TRICARE for Life
25. Law raises limits for home loans
26. VA updates benefits handbook, vets can get it free online
27. VA awards grants to state facilities
28. VA reaches out to OIF/OEF vets
29. Proposed legislation that could affect you
30. Keep retired pay records current
31. AAFES project links deployed with homefront


1. Can you make an SBP open season election?
====

As we reported in the Jan-Apr Echoes, Congress has made a major improvement to
the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity and has scheduled an open season to run
from Oct. 1, 2005 to Sept. 30, 2006.

SBP is the plan that lets a retiring Soldier elect to receive slightly reduced
retired pay so that an elected beneficiary can receive an annuity after the
death of the retiree.

Q: I didn?t elect SBP. Won?t my retired pay still go to my surviving spouse
when I die?
A: No, without SBP, your retired pay stops when you die.

Q: How does SBP work?
A: You select a beneficiary such as a spouse, former spouse and/or child. You
elect to cover a base amount of retired pay, which can range from $300 to your
full retired pay. When you die, your beneficiary receives 55% of that base
amount, which has been increased by the same cost of living adjustments made to
your retired pay.

Under the old law, the annuity was 55% until the beneficiary was age 62. After
age 62, the annuity was either 35% of the base amount OR 55% of the base amount
minus the Social Security benefit attributed to military service. The new law
increases the post-age 62 benefit to 40% of the base amount on Oct. 1, 2005; to
45% on Apr. 1, 2006, to 50% on Apr. 1, 2007, and to 55% on Apr. 1, 2008.

Q: Who can make an open season election and what are their options?
A:
? Retired Soldiers who are not participating in SBP will be able to elect it.
? Retired Soldiers who elected SBP, but are covering less than full retired pay
as their base amount, will be able to increase the base amount.
? Retired Soldiers who elected child only coverage will be able to add spouse
or former spouse coverage.

Q: What will the enrollment cost be during the open season?
A: The cost has not been determined yet, but it is expected that it will cover
all the costs that would have been paid if the election had been made at the
first opportunity to do so.

Q: When will the open season election become effective?
A: The retired Soldier must live for two years after the election is effective
for an annuity to be payable. If the retired Soldier dies before the end of
the two years, the open season election becomes void and all costs resulting
from the new election will be refunded to the beneficiary of the voided
election.

Note: The open season election form has not been created yet by DoD. As soon
as the form is available, we will announce it on
http://www.armyg1.army.mil/retire; include it in the next Echoes; and send it
to RSOs.


2. Is your SBP reduced by the Social Security offset?
====

The Social Security offset was the method used to compute the surviving
spouse's post age-62 SBP annuity before the two-tier (55/35) law of 1986. Some
annuitants who had their benefit calculated under this offset method are
already receiving more than 40% of the base amount covered. These annuitants
will not lose any benefits during the phase-in period. (No annuitants will
lose any benefits during the phase-in period.) Beneficiaries whose annuity is
already 40% or more of the base amount will not see a change in October when
those under the two-tiered system have their annuities raised to the 40% level.
Their benefits won't change until the date the phased-in percentage is higher
than the percentage they're receiving. If you have questions about your
annuity, contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service's Cleveland Center.


3. Health care, communications are CSA Retiree Council?s top issues
====

Health care, communications and education remain Army retirees? primary
concerns, the Army Chief of Staff?s (CSA) Retiree Council reported to the CSA
after its annual meeting at the Pentagon April 18-22.

The Council is made up of 14 retired officers and NCOs and is co-chaired by LTG
(Ret.) John A. Dubia and SMA (Ret.) Robert E. Hall. Members are nominated by
their installation retiree councils and approved by the CSA. At its annual
meeting, the Council reviews retiree issues forwarded by installation councils
and determines which should be reported to the CSA and which can be addressed
at the installation level. This year, the Council reviewed 45 issues referred
to it by 20 installation councils.

Regarding health care, the Council asked the Chief to: continue to resource
high-quality health care, refine TRICARE, and expand a targeted information
campaign to assist beneficiaries; incorporate improvements to the non-
subsidized Retiree Dental program during the upcoming procurement cycle (2007);
and extend that program to countries where there is a sufficient retired
population to make it commercially viable, such as Germany and Korea.

Concerning communication with and education of retiring and retired Soldiers,
their families and surviving spouses, the Council recommended that the Chief
continue to fund three issues a year of Army Echoes, and continue to resource
the educational effort necessary to address retirement and retired Soldier
programs, targeting not only retired Soldiers and those about to retire, but
also those making military career decisions.

The Council also urged the CSA to:

? Support eliminating the VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
offset to the SBP annuity, and support moving the effective date of the SBP
premium paid-up provision from Oct 2008 to Oct 2005.

? Support ongoing studies that could lead to full concurrent receipt of
military retired pay and VA disability compensation by all, furthering equity
between military and other federal retirees.

? Support transformation of the Reserve Component retirement system to permit
receipt of retired pay earlier than age 60 based on additional years of service
beyond 20.

? Urge the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to establish
procedures for direct deposit of retired and annuitant pay to foreign banks.

? Resource the Installation Management Agency (IMA) sufficiently to support the
Retirement Services Program and apply Common Levels of Support (CLS) to
manpower positions and program standards. CLS ensures that programs like
Retirement Services meet a common standard regardless of location.

? Facilitate transition from military service to care from the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) to further the partnership between DoD and VA, and
emphasize the complete life-cycle care of Soldiers. Examples of this
transition would be a single separation examination meeting both DoD and VA
requirements, and sharing electronic medical records.

The Co-Chairmen will brief the CSA in October to update him on the Army?s
progress on these issues and to offer their further support.

The Council also conveyed its appreciation to the Association of the United
States Army, The Military Coalition, and The National Military and Veterans
Alliance for their untiring efforts on behalf of not only retired Soldiers and
their families, but the entire Army as well.

4. Highlights from Headquarters
====

Greetings Retired Soldiers and Family Members,

I am excited about this edition of Army Echoes and think you will be too, based
on the news we are sending your way. As usual, we have tried our very best to
offer you the most current information on some very important events that have
recently occurred or will occur in the near future. Perhaps the most important
news in this edition is the article on the upcoming ?Open Season? for
enrollment in the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). While DoD is putting the final
touches on program guidance, I encourage your close attention to this
infrequent opportunity to elect SBP if you are not enrolled (articles 1 and 2).

Also, the annual CSA Retiree Council meeting finished at the end of April and
we highlight the most critical results (article 3).

MG Rochelle, CG of the Army Recruiting Command, is asking for your help in
manning our Nation?s Army (article 8). The Nation is at war, and so recruiting
must be- come our Nation's business, not just Army business.

Lastly, MG Frost bid us farewell as she retired in April after commanding the
Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) for the past 32 months (article 13).

We are noting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Headquarters,
Department of the Army Retirement Services office. While the Army retired
Soldiers prior to 1955, it was then that the Army decided via The Adjutant
General?s office that we wanted to institutionalize the service from a
departmental level and bring visibility to a very important part of the Soldier
life-cycle. Today our mission includes policy oversight and frequent
dissemination of information to some 64 local Retirement Services Offices
(RSOs) worldwide. The ?heroes? in our business are your local RSOs who serve
you on a daily basis. We also understand that many of you volunteer at these
offices and we salute you as you support these critically important personnel
operations.

As we celebrated another Memorial Day our thoughts turned to those who have
served before us, many of whom have passed on. Each of us has special retirees
or veterans who come to mind. It is a special honor from where I sit to
sometimes be a part of those important ceremonies of remembrance and honor of
past and present warriors. This year I remember my father-in-law who recently
passed away. While not a retired Soldier, he served overseas for over three
years in WWII, and always had a special place in his heart for his Army Air
Corp buddies and their experiences all those years ago. Like many of his
generation, he didn?t wear that service on his sleeve ? he held it close in his
heart. He and I often talked about his China-Burma-India service, much like my
Dad and I used to talk about his service in England, Africa, and Italy in that
same conflict. I know that each of you has special memories of a friend or
relative who has gone on to their final destination, but whose service to God
and country is etched in your hearts. Today, we have another generation of
young lions who are answering the call of their Nation; and some who have paid
the ultimate price. So as we reflect on the memorializing of service to
country, we find that common link to something bigger, grander, and more
meaningful: the ultimate freedoms this country offers to those of us
privileged to call ourselves Americans. I urge you to dust off those deep
feelings of pride and remember those heroes of yesterday and today who have
given so much to us all. And know this?as a Retired Soldier you do not have to
wonder IF you made a difference in life. YOU DID!! America is better off for
what you have done!!

It?s an honor to serve you! Keep chargin!!

John W. Radke
Chief, Army Retirement Services


5. Online source for ways to support troops
====
Looking for ways to support the troops? The Army has created an online source
that provides links to sites covering activities such as sending packages and
messages; donating frequent flyer miles; buying gift certificates; and adopting
a Soldier or platoon. The site http://www.army.mil/howyoucanhelp also lists
service aid societies and Veterans Services Organizations.


6. Retirement Services celebrates 50 years
====

This year the Army will mark the 50th anniversary of the Army Retirement
Services program. On Nov. 14, 1955, the Retired Activities Unit was
established as part of the Personal Affairs Section, Personnel Services Branch
of the Office of The Adjutant General. The direction to create this new unit
came from the office of the Army Chief of Staff, then GEN Maxwell Taylor.

The creation of the new office was announced in Circular 600-7, Dec. 15, 1955,
which began,

?To further the maintenance of a strong bond between the active Army and its
retired members, commanders at all levels are enjoined to encourage a more
personal relationship in all dealings with retired personnel.
The Retired Activities Unit in the Office of the Adjutant General, Department
of the Army, will render prompt and complete advice and/or assistance on all
matters pertaining to retired personnel, excepting the actual retirement, and
will furnish information pertaining to rights, privileges and benefits as
changes occur.?

A letter was sent to all Army headquarters offices directing them to establish
a service similar to the Retired Activities Unit at their level.

In a letter to the Army headquarters adjutants general, The Adjutant General MG
John Klein said, "The ultimate benefit to the Army, in this program, could be
the spontaneous creation of a group, enthusiastic and well-qualified to inform
the public of the Army's mission and its needs."

When the unit was created, there were about 99,000 retired Soldiers. This
number had been growing rapidly from about 15,000 before WWII and Korea.
Today, there are about 720,000 retired Soldiers, 100,000 ?gray area? Reserve
retired Soldiers (not yet age 60 and receiving retired pay) and 140,000
surviving spouses.

In the early days of the unit, about 22 staff members served all retired
Soldiers through letters, phone calls and even visits to the Washington, DC,
office. Today, the Army Retirement Services office is staffed by only six
people, but the network of those serving retiring and retired Soldiers,
families and surviving spouses has grown.

Soldiers and families who are about to retire and those who have retired can
turn to Retirement Services Officers (RSOs) worldwide. Retiree volunteers
surface retiree concerns through installation retiree councils and through the
Army Chief of Staff?s Retiree Council.
The new Army Installation Management Agency (IMA) includes a specialist in
retirement issues assigned to work with IMA regions and installations to
support RSOs and retired Soldiers.


7. DoD marks WWII 60th anniversary
====

To mark the 60th anniversary of the final year of WWII, the DoD Commemoration
Committee is conducting regional ceremonies. These ceremonies will recognize
veterans and let them know that a grateful nation continues to remember their
service and sacrifices through the years. Additional events may be listed at
http://www.60wwii.mil. The general telephone number for all inquiries is (703)
696-0120.

Chicago Regional Event
When: Jul 23 Where: TBD Chicago
Contact: LCDR Jack Dunphy (703) 588-8598
jack.dunphy@hqda.army.mil
Pacific Northwest Regional Event
When: Aug 25-28
Where: Vancouver National Historic Reserve, WA
Contact: LTC Bob Hagen (503) 302-4228
robert.hagen@hqda.army.mil
https://www.americassalute.org/app
End of War in the Pacific
When: Sep 2 Where: Washington, DC
60th Anniversary of the End of World War II
When: Sep 2-3
Where: Various Locations, Oahu, HI
Contact: Jennifer Goya (808) 455-1600, x244;
1-888-877-6477; 60th@ussmissouri.org;
http://www.ussmissouri.org/60th_surrender.htm

8. Recruiting command asks for your help
====

By MG Michael D. Rochelle
Commanding General, U.S. Army Recruiting Command

I know you will all agree with me about the importance of service to country;
each of you has dedicated many years to and made countless sacrifices for our
magnificent Army and our nation to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.
Because of you, our Army is where it is today ? relevant and ready to face any
challenge. Thank you for all you have done ? and still do ? for our Army.

I ask for your service once again. Our Army needs your help communicating to
young Americans how the Army can provide them an avenue to achieve their goals
and make a difference in the world.

As I?m sure you?ve seen in the news, recruiting for the Army has become
increasingly difficult. Although we have achieved mission success five
consecutive years, recruiting in a period of sustained combat is a challenge
we?ve never before faced in more than 31 years as an all-volunteer Army.
Ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a hesitance
among potential applicants and their families. An improving economy and
civilian employment outlook, while good for the Nation, are also having a
negative impact.

New, improved incentives
The Army Recruiting Command is responding to these challenges through
traditional methods, such as increasing recruiters and creating new, improved
recruiting incentives which are at historic levels.

For example, did you know:
? The Army College Fund offers recruits up to $70,000 for their education.
? The student loan repayment program, which pays up to $65,000 toward
qualifying student loans, is available to recruits who enlist in ANY job
specialty for at least three years.
We offer enlistment bonuses of $8,000 for recruits with bachelors? degrees and
$7,000 for those with two-year degrees.
? Active Army recruits can receive combined bonuses of up to $20,000 when they
enlist for three or more years.
? The Army Reserve is accepting qualified recruits up to age 40.
? The Army Reserve offers enlistment bonuses up to $10,000 for recruits with no
prior service, and up to $15,000 for those with prior service.

Our Army has always been a great place for individuals from every walk of life
to achieve their goals, improve their education, gain job skills and become
successful leaders.

Recruiters are working hard to find today?s young men and women who believe in
the importance of service to the Nation and want to make a difference in the
world. But they need your help.

As the Secretary of the Army, Dr. Francis Harvey, said during recent testimony
to Congress, ?Recruiting and retention of Soldiers is not just an Army
challenge, it is a challenge for our country. Every one of us ? must do our
part to emphasize to our young people the importance of service to the
country.?

Share your story
Sure, the Army may be a little different today than it was when you served, but
only in terms of technology, structure and war-fighting capabilities. Yet some
things never change, such as our time-honored traditions, values, camaraderie
and ethos. I ask you to help us reconnect with America by sharing your Army
success stories in your communities. Because you have served, you can
communicate that the military is more than just a job, it is a rewarding, life-
changing experience.

As teachers, coaches, community leaders, parents and grandparents, you are
positive role models for today?s youth. You have a far greater impact on their
lives than any of our recruiters will ever have.

You all have remarkable stories to share. Pass them on; they are important to
our Nation. We have to educate the American public about our Soldiers ? and
our veterans ? one story at a time.

Connect with recruiters
I encourage you to get to know the recruiters in your area and let them know
how you can help them communicate the Army?s message. If you don?t know where
to find your recruiter, log on to http://www.goarmy.com and click on ?Locate a
Recruiter? in the right-hand column or call 1-800-USA-ARMY.

To learn more about the latest recruiting news and incentives, visit the
Recruiting Command Web site at http://www.usarec.army.mil/ and click on
?Advertising & Public Affairs.?

Again, thank you for continuing to serve. With your help I am confident we can
achieve Recruiting success for another consecutive year.

9. Retired Soldiers can wear Army PT uniforms
====

Are you a retired Soldier who?s still ?fit to fight?? Is PT still part of your
day? Are you a ?mobilization asset?, ready to return to active duty if needed?
Last year, the CSA Retiree Council asked the Army to recognize this by
authorizing retired Soldiers to purchase and wear the physical fitness uniform
(PFU) and the improved physical fitness uniform (IPFU).

In response to the Council's request, Army Regulation (AR) 670-1 (Wear and
Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia) has been revised, authorizing retired
Soldiers to purchase and wear the PFU and the IPFU. Wearing either uniform
symbolizes retired Soldiers? commitment to continued fitness practices and
continued support of and affiliation with the Army.

Retirees who want either uniform can buy it at the Army and Air Force Exchange
(AAFES) Clothing Store, through http://www.aafes.com, or by calling 1-800-527-
2345.

As stated in the February 2005 regulation, retirees are authorized to wear the
PFU or the improved IPFU with the following provisions:
(1) May wear the PFU or the IPFU with civilian attire off the installation.
(2) When wearing the PFU or the IPFU as a complete uniform, retirees will?
(a) Wear only authorized accessories corresponding to those worn by personnel
of the Active Army.
(b) Keep the sleeves down on the sweatshirt or jacket, the legs down on the
pants, and the t-shirt tucked inside the trunks.
(c) Not roll or push up the sleeves of the IPFU sweatshirt or the PFU/IPFU
jacket.
(d) Wear the sleeves of the IPFU sweatshirt cuffed or uncuffed; may not cuff
the IPFU jacket sleeves.
(e) Wear the black knit cap pulled down snugly on the head, with the bottom
edge of the cap folded up; will not roll the edge of the cap. A similar,
commercially designed black knit cap is authorized for wear.
Pregnant retirees are authorized to wear the t-shirt/sweatshirt outside the
trunks/sweatpants.

For more information, go to http: //www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r670_1.pdf, Ch.
30-3.

10. DeCA permits assisted shopping for disabled
====

FT LEE, VA ? A little-known DoD directive makes assisted commissary shopping
possible for disabled customers. Any authorized commissary shopper who needs
help shopping or who can't shop because of disability can ask to have a
caregiver authorized as an agent to help with shopping.

The agent does not have to be an authorized commissary shopper. Non-military
primary caregivers should contact the installation ID card section to determine
what legal documents, such as power of attorney, may be needed to establish
proof of caregiver status and what they need to do to gain access to the
installation. When caregiver status is verified, the commander's
representative can authorize the caregiver as an ?agent? to shop for the
commissary shopper. For more information, contact the pass and identification
office of the installation where you shop.

11. AAFES gives $242.3M to MWR
====

DALLAS ? AAFES is returning $242.3 million to the Services? Morale, Welfare and
Recreation (MWR) programs. For 2004, this dividend represents an average per
capita dividend of $277 for every Soldier and Airman, a 5% increase over last
year.

Acting AAFES Commander, Air Force BGEN Toreaser Steele, stated that every time
you shop at the Exchange, you provide support to MWR programs, facilities and
non-appropriated fund construction projects such as bowling and youth centers,
golf courses and outdoor recreation. In the past 10 years, AAFES has
contributed more than $2 billion to these programs.

12. New commander to lead AAFES
====

DALLAS ? Air Force MGEN Paul W. ?Bill? Essex will take command of the Army &
Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) in late June. He will replace Army MG
Kathryn Frost who departed April 7 to retire.

Essex is serving as Director of Plans and Programs, Headquarters, Air Mobility
Command, Scott Air Force Base, IL. He is a command pilot with more than 3,500
flying hours. He led unit deployments for Operations Restore Hope and Southern
Watch, and participated in Operation Deny Flight.

AAFES? current Commander is Air Force BGEN Toreaser Steele.

The Army?s highest-ranking female officer, Frost retired April 30, after 31
years of military service. She was the first woman Chief Executive Officer of
AAFES, an $8.3 billion global retail, food, and services organization. As
AAFES commander during wartime, she put top priority on the AAFES pledge to the
troops, ?We Go Where You Go,? by quickly setting up retail facilities in Iraq
and Afghanistan.

13. Outgoing commander?s message for retirees
====

MG Frost, do you have anything to say to retirees as you prepare for your own
retirement?
Absolutely. I want to thank them so much for their loyalty to AAFES. They,
like me, learned to love the AAFES benefit early in their military careers and
they still recognize the value, service and support that AAFES provides. They
tell us that by continuing to shop our stores. They also tell me that with
feedback they provide to AAFES through the comment program. I hope that the
retirees have seen, in the last several years, improvements in our pricing,
improvements in our assortment and improvements in our service and they will
continue that loyalty to AAFES and they?ll continue to tell their friends to
shop AAFES. And I am really proud that as a soon-to-be retiree I?ll be joining
their ranks and I?ll be shopping the PX.

What are you most proud of?
First of all, since I?ve been the AAFES Commander, no other action in the world
compares to the fact that we have followed our troops into Iraq. AAFES was in
Iraq, with our troops, before Baghdad fell. We had stores operating in Iraq
before there were mess halls, showers, latrines or mail. We?re still there
with the troops: 31 stores, 26 name-brand fast food restaurants ? delivering a
little bit of home to the troops. There is nothing more important for us to do
than to be there for them. It is not about selling merchandise. The AAFES
presence wherever our troops go to fight is about transporting the troops out
of a war zone temporarily into a comfort zone. That?s the most important thing
AAFES will ever do.

As the AAFES Commander, obviously, that?s the thing I?m proudest of, but when I
was Deputy Commander of AAFES, there was another proud achievement.

AAFES? Board of Directors was made up of active duty military and senior Army
and Air Force civilians ? there had been no retiree representation. Because
retirees are the largest segment of our population, I felt like they really
needed to have a voice at AAFES. So, retired MG Bill Gourley and I recommended
the creation of the AAFES retiree council to the AAFES Commander. Now, twice a
year the council members come to AAFES, get briefed on programs and plans and
provide feedback to the Commander on things we can do better to support the
retiree community. I?m enormously proud of that because retirees truly do have
a voice in the way AAFES develops programs and plans for the retired community.

14. AAFES employee earns Defense of Freedom medal
====

DALLAS ? Sarah Latona is the first AAFES associate to receive the Defense of
Freedom Medal which honors civilian DoD employees injured or killed in the line
of duty. Latona, who had been driving the dangerous roads in Iraq for 15
months, was injured Oct. 9, 2004 when the bus she was driving was rocked by an
explosion. The bus was destroyed and Latona suffered multiple serious wounds
from shrapnel to the eye, face, right arm, right leg and backside. Her three
service member passengers were also injured and three other trucks in the
convoy behind her were engulfed in flames. Everyone in the convoy survived.
Now, Latona is back in Mountain Home, ID, working four hours a day in the
Military Clothing Sales Store (MCSS). AAFES associates preparing to deploy to
facilities in Iraq or Afghanistan stop by the MCSS to talk with Latona before
they leave.

15. DFAS assures customers ? myPay is safe
====

ARLINGTON, VA ? The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) assures its
customers that every precaution is being taken to make sure their personal data
is safe and secure. With ?phishing? scams occurring more frequently, customers
should be aware that DFAS and its Web-based system, myPay, will not ask for
personal or financial information by e-mail.

?Phishing? attacks trick people into parting with personal information by
luring them to false corporate Web sites or by requesting personal information
be sent in a return e-mail. "Phishers" send e-mails or pop-up messages
claiming to be from a business or organization you would routinely deal with -
an Internet service provider, bank, online payment service or even a government
agency. The message usually says that you need to update or validate your
account information and it might threaten dire consequences if you don?t
respond. You are directed to a Web site that looks like a real organization?s
site. If you give personal information to this bogus site, the scam operators
can steal your identity and make purchases or commit crimes in your name.

DFAS customers can safely make changes to personal information by entering the
myPay Web site (https://myPay.dfas.mil) with a personal identification number
(PIN) and accessing the secure financial page.

myPay combines a 128-bit encryption software (strong encryption) and Secure
Socket Layers (SSL) technology with the user?s social security number, PIN and
secure Web address or DoD-specific telephone number all acting as safeguards
against unauthorized access. This combination prevents information from being
retrieved by outside sources while it's being transmitted. The secure
technology provided to myPay customers meets or exceeds security standards in
private industry.

16. Are you eligible for special disability pay?
====

Retirees with disabilities directly related to an incident(s) involving
training that simulates war, an instrumentality of war, hazardous duty, or
armed combat can apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). CRSC is
tax-free compensation paid in addition to retired pay and VA disability
compensation. It is believed that less than 17% of the eligible pool of Army
retirees have applied, which could mean that not all retirees know the facts
about this program that began in 2003. The Army CRSC branch has awarded over
$378M to over 19,830 Army retirees.

To apply for CRSC compensation, applicants must meet ALL four of the following
criteria AND have at least one rated VA disability determined to have been
combat-related:

? Served 20+ years Active Duty ? OR ? Reservist age 60+ with 20+ creditable
years of service;
? Are in a retired status;
? Are entitled to retired pay (must be offset by VA payments); and,
? Have at least a 10% VA rating.

It is important that retirees send in documentation that proves their
disability (10% or higher VA disability rating) is combat-related. Suggested
documents to include in your CRSC application are: copies of the most recent
and complete/retirement DD214, any DD215s (corrected 214s), medical
documentation showing the origin and cause of the disability, and all available
VA rating decisions. Any other supporting documentation may also help prove
your claim.

For example, here is the experience of one recent applicant. The retiree had
Diabetes Mellitus as a result of Agent Orange, along with additional related
secondary disabilities which are commonly CRSC-approved as presumptive
disabilities. However, the retiree did not provide the specific documentation
needed to show causation. The adjudication specialist advised the retiree to
go back to the VA to get an updated VA rating decision showing the Diabetes
Mellitus was a result of Agent Orange and that the other disabilities were
secondary to the Diabetes Mellitus. This documentation was obtained and
submitted to the CRSC Branch which approved the application.

For more information or an application, call CRSC toll free at 1-866-281-3254,
Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, or go to http://www.crsc.army.mil.

17. DFAS changes web address
====

The DFAS Web site, previously found at http://www.dfas. mil has moved to
http://www. dod.mil/dfas. Users who visit http://www.dfas.mil or who follow
any links to the old address are currently being automatically redirected to
the new site.

18. Planning for a fall AFRC vacation?
====

Considering a fall vacation? The autumn months are one of the off-season
periods at the Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRC) and now would be a good
time to make your reservations.

AFRCs are centrally-managed, Army Community and Family Support Center-operated
facilities for Army personnel, their families, and other members of the total
Defense Force. They include Shades of Green?, FL; Hale Koa Hotel?, HI;
Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Germany; and Dragon Hill Lodge?, Seoul, Korea. We
list the reservation phone and FAX numbers of these facilities on page 10 of
every Echoes.

Following are tips for arranging an AFRC visit.
Tip #1 - Book your reservations well in advance. Take advantage of the AFRC
practice of accepting reservations up to a year in advance. While four to six
months ahead is often plenty of time to make a reservation, the earlier you
make reservations, the better the likelihood of getting the dates you want.
When booking a reservation at the Dragon Hill Lodge, remember that the highest
priority is granted to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) guests, leave and pass
guests, their immediate family members, and guests in a Temporary Duty (TDY)
status.

Tip #2 - Place yourself on the AFRC wait-list* for the dates you want and book
a reservation with alternative dates in case the dates you want are
unavailable.
* This tip varies slightly for the Dragon Hill Lodge? and Hale Koa Hotel?
wait-list procedures: The wait-list for all categories of Dragon Hill Lodge?
guests, other than PCS and temporary lodging accommodations, begins at 1300
hours each day for the desired overnight stay. The Hale Koa Hotel? establishes
wait-list prioritization by active duty status.

Tip #3 - Schedule your AFRC vacation during off-season periods such as
September, October, and November. Weekdays are often less busy than weekends,
as well.

Tip #4 - If the AFRC simply does not have room reservations available during
the time you want, ask for a booking at a ?referral? or ?partner? hotel. This
is a nearby hotel with which the AFRC has entered into a referral agreement.
The accommodations are secured at a rate below the hotel?s full price rates and
save you money. Plus, you can still take advantage of the AFRC?s dining,
entertainment, and other services.

Tip #5 - Most AFRC reservation call centers experience their highest call
volume early in the week (Mon-Wed). Call on Thu or Fri to make your
reservation and reduce your on-line wait.

19. Is E-Echoes for you?
====

Would you rather cancel your paper Echoes and read this publication at your
computer? Would you like to receive Current News updates by e-mail between
issues of Echoes? You can, by signing up through a secure link at
http://www.armyg1.army.mil/rso/echoes.asp.

About 6,000 of you will stop your paper copy with this issue; however, some of
you who volunteered by e-mail by providing the last four digits of your SSN may
still be receiving a paper copy. Why? We were not able to look up full SSNs
of "gray area" retirees until just recently. In other cases, we found that a
few retirees forgot that their e-mail addresses were not the same as their
names, and neglected to include their names. We're all new at this endeavor so
we ask for your patience and thank you for your support!

20. AFVC offers off-season condo discounts
====

The Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC) is a space-available program that offers
retirees, their families and other DoD-affiliated personnel the opportunity to
take condominium vacations at resorts around the world for about $264 per unit
per week.

The AFVC can offer this rate by using excess inventory at condominium timeshare
resorts which generally means off-season or short-notice travel. (Note:
Certain overseas resorts require ?all inclusive? packages which increase the
cost.) While the condominiums are at timeshare resorts, there is NO
requirement to attend a timeshare presentation.

For information, go to http://www.afvclub.com or call 1-800-724-9988. You can
also call the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Office at the nearest military
installation and ask if they participate and have a Resort Resource Book. If
you decide to make reservations, use the account number 7033 00000.

21. Certain medications will cost more
====

Three medications are being placed in the non-formulary category of TRICARE's
new Formulary: Nexium? (esomeprazole), a medication for ulcers and other
stomach problems; and Teveten? (eprosartan) and Teveten HCT? (eprosartan with
hydrochlorothiazide), both used to treat high blood pressure. This means that
beneficiaries will pay a higher co-pay for these medications and military
treatment facilities won't be able to fill prescriptions for them unless
certain conditions are met.

Effective July 17, 2005, beneficiaries will pay $22 for up to a 30-day supply
of these medications at a TRICARE Retail Network Pharmacy (TRRx) or up to a 90-
day supply of these medications through the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP).
Beneficiaries will pay the higher of $22 or 20% in retail non-network
pharmacies.

Patients using Nexium?, Teveten? or Teveten HCT? may wish to ask their doctors
if another drug could be an option. Alternatives to these medications, and
their cost shares are listed below:

Nonformulary Formulary Alternatives and copay
Nexium $3 -- generic omeprazole, $9 - Aciphex, Prevacid, Protonix,
Zegerid

Teveten $9 -- Atacand, Avapro, Benicar, Cozaar, Diovan, Micardiso

Teveten HCT $9 -- Atacand HCT, Avalide, Benicar HCT, Hyzaar, Diovan HCT,
Micardis HCT


If medical necessity is established for using Nexium?, Teveten? or Teveten
HCT?, patients may qualify for the $9 co-pay for up to a 30-day TRRx supply or
up to a 90-day TMOP supply.

Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) will no longer have Nexium?, Teveten? or
Teveten HCT? on their local formularies. MTFs will be able to fill non-
formulary requests for these medications only if: 1) an MTF provider writes
the prescription, and 2) medical necessity is established for these products.
MTFs may (but are not required to) fill a Nexium?, Teveten? or Teveten HCT?
prescription written by a non-MTF provider to whom the patient was referred, as
long as medical necessity has been established.

TRICARE gives the following directions to establish medical necessity. If the
physician feels that it is medically necessary for the patient to receive the
non-formulary medication instead of the formulary medication, then the
physician should call the Express Scripts doctor call line at (866) 684-4488,
to obtain medical necessity approval. The procedures are the same for the TMOP,
except the doctor call line for that program is (877) 283-3858.

Important note about Nexium?: Beneficiaries who already have a medical
necessity determination for Nexium? on file at the TMOP are required to re-
establish medical necessity for the drug under the TRICARE medical necessity
criteria in order to receive Nexium? at the $9 formulary cost share. Existing
TMOP medical necessity determinations for Nexium? will become invalid on July
17, 2005.

Beneficiaries can fill prescriptions for non-formulary and other covered
medications through the TMOP and TRRx pharmacies. Through the TMOP,
beneficiaries may receive up to a 90-day supply of medicine for the same cost
as a 30-day supply in the TRRx. For more information on TMOP, go to
http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/tmop_ contact.cfm or call (866) DOD-TMOP,
(866) 363-8667. For information on TRRx, visit http://www.
tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/trrx_contact.cfm or call (866) DOD-TRRX, (866) 363-
8779.

22. TRICARE starts online pharmacy tool
====

The new TRICARE Pharmacy Formulary search tool (http://www.
tricareformularysearch.org) lets beneficiaries find medication-specific
information using either a drug name or a medical condition. The tool can be
used to:

? Check availability of medications through the Mail Order or Retail Pharmacy
programs.
? Discover which medications are on the Basic Core Formulary which must be made
available at all full service military pharmacies.
? Find copayment information for prescriptions.
? Learn about generic equivalents for brand-name medications, quantity limits
or prior authorization requirements.
? View and print prior authorization criteria and forms. Learn about FDA-
approved drug uses, side effects and interactions with other medications.

Beneficiaries should consult their providers, pharmacists, or other health care
professionals for specific questions regarding their medications. For more
information, go to http://www. tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy.

23. DoD struggles with rising health care costs
====

WASHINGTON (AFPS) ? Rising medical costs and the expansion of health benefits
for retirees, Guard and Reserve members, and their families, are putting a
strain on the military health care system, DoD health and personnel officials
told members of Congress April 21.

Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health
Affairs, and David S. C. Chu, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and
Readiness, testified before the personnel subcommittee of the Senate Armed
Services Committee.

Winkenwerder pointed out that rising health care costs are a nationwide
problem. Chu said rising costs can also be attributed to increased TRICARE
enrollment. He said benefits improvements have made TRICARE ?widely accepted?
by service members, retirees and their families. And, he added, ?others seek
to join this program,? referring to retirees over age 65, who joined TRICARE
for Life, and Reservists, who can enroll in TRICARE Reserve Select. He said
TRICARE's popularity has brought ?substantial cost.?

Winkenwerder said that TRICARE expenses have doubled over the past five years,
from $18 billion to nearly $36 billion. If the trend continues, the program?s
budget could top $50 billion within five years, he said. Winkenwerder estimated
that, by 2010, about ?70% of the health budget will be spent caring for
retirees.?

?The facts show that our expansion of health benefits, such as those for our
senior retirees, underlies the growth, and that growth could put today?s
operations and sustainment at risk,? he said.

The expansion of health care benefits to retirees has also led to higher
pharmacy costs. The cost of TRICARE?s pharmacy program has increased 500%
since 2001, with costs approaching $6 billion this year Winkenwerder said. He
said the department is trying to control costs by starting ?performance-based?
budgets and improving TRICARE?s pharmacy program with a new formulary and
federal pricing for its retail pharmacy network. Still, he added, management
actions alone, even dramatic ones, ?will not stem the rapid growth spending.
That is because benefit expansion and rising utilization are the driving forces
in sending these costs upward,? he explained.

Winkenwerder said part of TRICARE?s problem is that the program?s benefit
structure has not kept pace with changes in the private sector. For example,
enrollment fees and cost shares for TRICARE have not increased in a decade, he
said. Winkenwerder pointed out that while TRICARE cost shares have remained
?unchanged? over the past five years, those for private health care firms have
risen significantly. For instance, cost shares for Kaiser Permanente Mid-
Atlantic region rose 57% and those for Blue Cross Standard rose 87%.

?This has persuaded a growing number of our beneficiaries to drop their private
coverage and to fully rely upon TRICARE,? he said. Winkenwerder predicted that
the ?low out-of-pocket costs and outstanding benefit? that TRICARE provides
will drive ?all of our retirees (to) rely on TRICARE instead of their employer-
based plans in just a few years.?

?Simply put, we face a tremendous challenge with a benefit design that does not
always reward the efficient use of care,? he said. ?And that is increasingly
out of step with employer plans.? However, he told the sub-committee, the
department is looking at ?viable options? to contain costs. One possible
option, according to Chu, would be establishing a health-savings plan for
military families, similar to the one Congress authorized for DoD civil service
employees. ?We are looking hard at how you would offer (such a plan) on a
voluntary basis ? again, your choice ? to military households,? Chu said.

24. You need Medicare Part B to get TRICARE for Life
====

Reminder: TRICARE beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A must
purchase Medicare Part B to remain eligible for TRICARE.

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 provided a special opportunity for these
beneficiaries to purchase Medicare Part B to keep TRICARE eligibility without
paying a penalty for late enrollment. Ordinarily, there is a lifetime 10%
penalty surcharge for each year enrollment is delayed after initial
eligibility.

In March, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent a reminder letter to
TRICARE beneficiaries who have Medicare Part A, but not Part B, giving them 60
days to enroll. If you did not receive this letter, have Medicare Part A but
are not enrolled in Part B, you should contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or
visit your local Social Security office. TRICARE beneficiaries who paid late
Medicare enrollment premium surcharges in 2004 and 2005 and who enrolled in
Medicare Part B in 2001 or later can request reimbursement from SSA.

25. Law raises limits for home loans
====

WASHINGTON ? Recent legislation has increased the ceiling for Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans.

Under the new law, veterans will be able to get no-down payment loans of up to
$359,700. The previous ceiling was $240,000.

VA-guaranteed home loans are made by banks and mortgage companies to veterans,
service members and reservists. With VA guaranteeing part of the loan,
veterans can receive a good interest rate without having to make a down
payment.

The new law allows VA to guarantee one-year adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs)
and it extends, through 2008, VA?s ?hybrid ARM program,? which allows veterans
to lock in a favorable interest rate for at least three years.

More information is available at http://www.homeloans.va.gov or by calling 1-
800-827-1000.

26. VA updates benefits handbook, vets can get it free online
====

WASHINGTON ? The new edition of the popular VA handbook Federal Benefits for
Veterans and Dependents updates the rates for certain federal payments and
outlines many programs and benefits for veterans.

The handbook can be downloaded free at http://www.va.gov/opa/feature/.

The handbook is one of the top-selling consumer publications of the Government
Printing Office (GPO). GPO accepts credit card orders at 1-866-512-1800 (toll-
free) or (202) 512-1800 for $7 each to U.S addresses, or $67 for bulk orders of
25 copies. It can also be ordered from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954 (stock #051-000-00228-8).

Most of the nation?s 25 million veterans qualify for some VA benefits, which
range from health care to burial in a national cemetery. In addition to
describing VA benefits, the 120-page booklet gives an overview of veterans
services provided by other federal agencies.

The handbook lists resources to help veterans access their benefits, including
toll-free phone numbers, Internet addresses and a directory of VA facilities.

It includes veterans programs such as home loan guaranties, educational
assistance, training and vocational rehabilitation, income assistance pensions,
life insurance and compensation for service- connected illnesses or
disabilities. The handbook also gives information on possible benefits for
survivors. It describes programs for veterans with specific service
experiences, such as those who have been prisoners of war or who had
environmental exposures in Vietnam or the Gulf War, as well as special benefits
for veterans with severe disabilities.

27. VA awards grants to state facilities
====

WASHINGTON ? The VA is targeting $22 million in grant money to help improve
some state veterans home, including:

? $830,000 to the Missouri Veterans Home in St. Louis to help pay for a new
roof.
? $4.2 million to the Missouri Veterans Home at Cape Girardeau to help pay for
a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and a new dining
activity room.
? $8.3 million to the Holyoke, MA, facility to help pay for a new air-
conditioning system, auditorium, and improvements to the kitchen.
? $2.3 million to the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky to help pay for a new
fire alarm system and an emergency generator.
? $4.7 million to help pay for a 108-bed state veterans home in Fayetteville,
AR.
? $1.7 million to the Jackson, MS, facility to help pay for a new air-
conditioning system, new roofs and new bedroom furniture.

For information on your state's veterans homes, contact your state veterans
office or visit your state Web sites.

28. VA reaches out to OIF/OEF vets
====

WASHINGTON ? The VA is hiring 50 veterans of Operations Iraqi and Enduring
Freedom (OIF/OEF) to provide outreach services to veterans returning from
Afghanistan and Iraq, doubling the number of counselors.

These counselors visit military installations, coordinate with military family
assistance centers, and interview returning veterans and their families,
briefing them on VA benefits.

29. Proposed legislation that could affect you
====

SBP HR 808, S 185 would end the offset of the SBP annuity by the VA?s
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) which affects those surviving
spouses who are eligible for both.
HR 968, S 185 would move ahead the effective date of the ?paid up? provision of
SBP from Oct. 1, 2008 to Oct. 1, 2005 for retirees who have been paying
premiums for at least 30 years and have reached age 70.

Health care HR 602, S 407 would allow military retirees to enroll in the
Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) and would waive Medicare Part B
premiums for retirees whose service began before Dec. 7, 1956.
HR 836 would change the TRICARE reimbursement rates and cost sharing
requirements to be the same as or as similar as possible to the Blue Cross/Blue
Shield Standard Plan rates under FEHBP.
HR 515 would establish a VA budgeting formula to assure full health care
funding.
S 484 would make health care premiums for retirees tax-free.

CRSC HR 995 would make those who were retired with fewer than 20 years of
active service but who were awarded the Purple Heart eligible for Combat-
Related Special Compensation (CRSC).
HR 1366 would change service-eligibility criteria for CRSC to include those
retired for disability (without sufficient length of service).

Reserve HR 783, S 639, would change the Reserve retirement age.
HR 558, S 337 would change the Reserve retirement age and service requirements.

30. Keep retired pay records current
====

Too often, we hear about survivors who have been denied Survivor Benefit Plan
(SBP) benefits because the retiree failed to update retired pay records when
the retiree married, divorced, remarried, was widowed or gained a child. We
hear from surviving spouses who did not receive the retired pay for the portion
of the last month the retiree was alive because this money went to someone else
whom the Soldier had named at retirement.

We hear from former spouses who lost SBP because neither the former spouse nor
the retiree notified the Defense Finance and Accounting Service within a year
of the divorce that SBP was part of the divorce by sending a letter and a copy
of the decree.

To make sure your spouse (or former spouse) is prepared, keep a file of
information that your spouse (or former spouse) will need when you die. Make
sure your spouse (or former spouse) knows what benefits to expect or not to
expect. Clip this article to your files as a reminder to keep your retired pay
records current when your status changes.

Note: The SBP "paid up" provision which allows retirees to stop paying SBP
premiums after 30 years of premium payments and reaching age 70 does not go
into effect until Oct. 1, 2008.

31. AAFES projects link deployed with homefront
====

AAFES recently introduced its Patriot Family Connection program to help connect
deployed military members with those who support them back home.

The program offers family members, friends of deployed service members and
AAFES associates a chance to record their greetings, words of support and
thanks. Messages can be recorded 24 hours a day, free of charge, and are
forwarded to American Forces Network (AFN) Radio, which is heard at locations
overseas including those in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF).

Anyone can record a message by calling 1-800-713-1302 and following the
prompts. For more information, log on to http://www.AAFES.com and click on the
Patriot Family link. The site includes sample messages. For example, Doug
Ford of Denton, NC, said, ?I want to send all the best wishes to the troops.
God bless ya?ll and thank ya?ll for everything you do.?

The Patriot Family Connection is one of several initiatives AAFES is using to
help bridge the distance between the homefront and the front lines. With Back
to the Homefront, AAFES is creating large commemorative banners filled with
messages from those deployed to OEF/OIF to those who are supporting them back
home. The banners will be made into 10 large billboards and will tour and be
displayed in Exchanges worldwide.

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Military Report: Print And Post (04 July 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

AAFES Saves Customers 22% Everyday
According to a national independent market basket survey, prices at Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) PXs and BXs are on average 22.09 percent lower than comparable retailers. The survey was conducted in February, 2005 and sampled everyday prices of 150 similar items found in six military communities. According to AAFES officials, the savings exchange shoppers receive doesn't end at 22.09 percent. "It's important to remember that the average savings cited by RetailData's survey is before any additional tax-free advantage authorized exchange customers enjoy," said AAFES' Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. "Depending on where a servicemember or military retiree lives, shopping the PX or BX can offer an average savings up to 31.44 percent when you consider that our customers don't pay sales tax." Detailed survey results can be found at the AAFES website: http://www.aafes.com/

Deal of the Week: Advance Auto Parts ONLINE Discount
Advance Auto Parts would like to give you an exclusive discount for your continued support of Military.com and Advance Auto Parts. Find this great discount and more only in the Military.com Discount Center. http://img.military.com/misc/DC/DealIndex.jsp

Air Force Approves Wear of New Medals
The Air Force has authorized wear of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. The Department of Defense campaign medals apply to active duty, Reserve and Guard personnel deployed on or after Oct. 24, 2001 for Operation Enduring Freedom and March 19, 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Airmen must have been assigned, attached or mobilized to units operating in Afghanistan or Iraq for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days to be eligible. Airmen deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, who have 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days, between the eligibility period and April 30, 2005 may elect to wear either the appropriate campaign medal or the GWOT-E medal, but not both. The Air Force Personnel Center will do a mass system update in August to convert GWOT-E medals to ACMs or ICMs, for Airmen now eligible for one of the campaign medals. Airmen who do not want the GWOT-E medal converted should notify their commander's support staff or military personnel flight. For more information, contact the local CSS or MPF, or see http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/pubaffa ... medals.htm

Boots Available for Women Marines
The United States Marine Corps announces the 28 female-specific sized boots introduced to the Corps in January 2005 are now available for special order through the Marine Corps Exchanges. Female Marines may now visit their respective Exchanges and place orders for the footwear ranging in sizes 4 to 11. On-hand stock is also available in limited quantities at some Marine Corps Exchanges. If the Marine Corps Exchange currently does not stock female sizes, please request the exchange to do so. The boots will receive a boost in availability on July 1, 2005 when Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) will ship the footwear directly to MCRD Parris Island and Marine Corps Exchanges Corps wide. The female boots, which meet the same standards of the currently issued male boots, are expected to reduce the majority of foot injuries in women Marines received from wearing ill-fitting boots. For more information regarding the female boots, contact Christie Foster, Project Officer, at (703) 432-3299 or marlee.foster@usmc.mil

BRAC to Cut Base Inpatients 6%
Military health officials concede that some retirees will see higher costs if the Base Realignment and Closure Commission accepts a plan to downsize nine stateside hospitals to outpatient clinics and to refer patients needing hospitalization to civilian facilities. Most of these patients, however, will still be treated by military physicians under facility-sharing arrangements with local communities, said Lt. Gen. George Peach Taylor, Jr., the Air Force surgeon general. The hospital downsizing plan, if accepted by the commission, will impact 148 inpatients a day, six percent of all inpatients treated in military stateside hospitals. The hospital downsizing plan, if accepted by the commission, will impact 148 inpatients a day, six percent of all inpatients treated in military stateside hospitals. The hospitals slated to be downsized to clinics or outpatient surgery centers are at: the Air Force Academy, Colo.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Ill.; Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Andrews Air Force Base, Md.; Keesler AFB, Miss.; Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Eustis, Va. For more information, see http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13 ... 05,00.html

Camp Donates Slots to Military Children
Camp Island Lake, a summer camp for kids in Starrucca, Pa., is giving away 30 free spaces this summer to children of military personnel who have served overseas since Sept. 11, 2001. The program has been dubbed "Operation Thank You." The free slots will be offered during the camp's 3rd session, which runs from Aug. 3 to Aug. 16 and normally costs $2,100 per child. The camp is located in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. It sits on 550 acres of property that includes two large lakes where water-skiing and other boating activities are readily available. Campers can play sports, perform in a circus, or take part in theatre, music or dance productions. The kids can also ride horses or skateboard in the camp's own skate park. The 20,400-square-foot athletic center includes ball fields, volleyball courts, an archery center, a hockey rink, a mountain-biking center, a batting cage, basketball courts, a gymnastics center, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and an 18-hole disc golf course. The camp also offers tutoring in a variety of subjects at no cost, and older kids can take a Stanley Kaplan SAT study course. For more information, e-mail the camp through its website at http://www.islandlake.com

CNN Tours Offer Military Free Admission
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.) is offering ongoing free admission for all active and retired U.S. military personnel who visit the CNN-themed attractions at CNN Center in Atlanta and Manhattan's Time Warner Center. Inside CNN Atlanta and Inside CNN New York will provide free admission to military personnel with a valid I.D. All active and retired military personnel and reservists can visit the attractions at no cost, while their spouse, children, siblings, or parents may enter at a discounted rate of $7 at Inside CNN Atlanta and $12 at Inside CNN New York. To receive the discount, military family members must be accompanied by the military member with I.D. Groups depart several times each hour at both attractions. For hours and reservations at Inside CNN New York, visitors can call 1-866-4CNNNYC or visit http://www.cnn.com/insidecnn/. For reservations to Inside CNN Atlanta, visitors can call 1-877-4CNNTOUR or visit http://www.cnn.com/StudioTour. For more military entertainment and travel discounts, see http://www.military.com/Travel/TravelDi ... 6,,00.html

Contact Center Supports TRICARE Enrollment
The Air Force Reserve Contact Center is the sole point of contact for Air Force reservists to enroll in TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS). This is the first time the Air Reserve Personnel Center has been able to provide a service to all reservists under the Air Force Personnel Service Delivery Transformation Shared Services Organization model, a centralized personnel service. For each active-duty service period of 90 consecutive days, a reservist earns one year of TRICARE coverage if committed to serve in the Selected Reserve ? Air Force Reserve Command Unit Program or Individual Mobilization Augmentee Program ? for the same period. Reservists must commit to serve by Oct. 28 and be serving in the Selected Reserve before TRS starts. Reservists can enroll before their orders expire by going online to http://www.tricare.osd.mil and following the instructions for the TRS program. Questions can be directed to the Air Force Reserve Contact Center at 1-800-525-0102. On the restricted Web, go to http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/customer_support_on.htm and click ?New Request.?

'Doonesbury' Donates to Fisher House
Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, is donating all his proceeds from the sale of his newly released book ?The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time? to the Fisher House Foundation. Stars and Stripes reports that because the $9.95 book has already sold thousands of copies, the financial benefit for the Fisher House could be substantial. Fisher House offers family members of wounded troops temporary housing at little or no cost during their loved one?s hospitalization. With locations at 32 veterans and military hospitals throughout the United States and in Landstuhl, Germany, Fisher House is largely funded through private donations. The book "The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time? is available through AAFES, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. For more details on the book, see http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ ... ilitarycom

House Helps to Thwart Financial Scams
Stars and Stripes reports that the House of Representatives approved new regulations last week on the sales of financial products to military personnel, including ending sales of front-loaded investment plans criticized by federal regulators and military officials. The bill also includes a number of reforms already under consideration by the Defense Department that are designed to protect servicemembers from misleading marketing and unscrupulous lenders. It would create a registry of lenders and insurance companies that violate military restrictions on sales to troops and would prevent companies from contacting troops? commanding officers when trying to collect late loan payments. The bill also requires that instant loan companies, which often issue loans for one- and two-week periods, inform military customers that they may be eligible for grants or no-interest loans through their military branch or service support organizations. The measure still must be debated and passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush before it becomes law. For more details, see http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13 ... ct,00.html

Featured Job: Part Time Recruiter
Kemper Mortgage Inc, currently handling mortgages in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico and Ohio, is a Human Relations/Recruiter. Prior military experience is considered a plus. This position would be part-time (20 hours per week). See the full job posting: http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=31554943. To search for more jobs, please visit our Veteran Job Search at http://www.military.com/Careers

Financial Protection for Deployed Soldiers
Two acts provide financial protection for soldiers who have been deployed. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides protection to active duty, Reserve and National Guard members called to active duty for 20 days or more. It allows a servicemember to stay court hearings or administrative hearings if they are unable to appear due to military service. It also allows a servicemember to reduce the interest rate on pre-service loans and obligations to six percent per year, if military service materially affects his/her ability to pay the debt. It requires a court order before evicting servicemembers or their families from premises for which the monthly rent does not exceed $2,534.32 for the year 2005. For more information on the SCRA, visit http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... 43,00.html

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) applies primarily to Reserve component Soldiers and ensures that members of the Uniformed Services are entitled to prompt return to their civilian employment upon completion of their service. It also protects individuals from discrimination in hiring, promotion, and retention on the basis of present or future membership in the Uniformed Services. It sets time limits for invoking the reemployment rights based on the length of the period of active service. For more information USERRA, see http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... 04,00.html

Florida to Help Reserve Families in Need
If a Reservist?s family in Florida has a financial emergency while the Reservist is on active duty and deployed, the State of Florida wants to help. Starting July 1, financial assistance is available to eligible residents of Florida who are dependents of military people in the reserve components. The Air Force Reserve Command is working closely with the Florida National Guard to iron out the details of applying for this aid. To apply for this aid, a reservist or family member can contact the Air Force Reserve family support offices at Duke Field, Homestead Air Reserve Base or Patrick AFB in Florida. Applicants can also find instructions online at http://www.dma.state.fl.us/family/ under the ?Florida Family Readiness Program? heading.

Navy Law Education Program
The Law Education Program affords selected naval officers the opportunity to earn a law degree and then serve as career judge advocates. Applicants must (1) hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, (2) be serving on active duty as a commissioned officer, and (3) be in pay grade 0-3 or below and have served on active duty for a period not less than two years no more than six years at the time training is to begin. Eligible officers who desire to apply for the Law Education Program for the year 2006 must submit a letter of request no later than February 6, 2006 via their commanding officer to the address given in NAVADMIN 135/05. For more information on the program, read NAVADMIN 135/05 at http://www.bupers.navy.mil/navadmin/nav05/nav05135.txt

Navy Officer Scholarship Program
Applications are being accepted for the 2005 Officer Scholarship Program. Under the program, naval officers enroll in a resident graduate degree program on a full-time basis, receive full pay and allowances, and are entitled to a permanent change-of-station reimbursements. Tuition is paid by a non-Navy-funded scholarship obtained by the officer, and the scholarship must be equal to or greater than 50 precent of the tuition cost. Areas of study of limited by subspecialty and designator. Officers must commence their studies by September 30, 2006 and complete their degree requirements in 24 months or less. Officers interested in applying for the program must receive approval to complete from their commanding officer. For more information on applying to participate in the program, read NAVADMIN 133/05 at http://www.bupers.navy.mil/navadmin/nav05/nav05133.txt

New Program Lets Troops Say "Thanks"
Soldiers now have the opportunity to thank their support team of spouses, parents, and employers through the Freedom Team Salute (FTS). Honorably discharged veterans may also nominate themselves for recognition under this program. Nominees will receive a packet that contains an Army lapel pin, an Army decal, a certificate and a letter signed by the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army thanking them for their support. Once a nominee is registered online, the data is forwarded to the Pentagon. The information is then sent to local distributors who mail out the packets. It takes between four and six weeks for the honorees to receive their packets. For more information or to nominate someone for a Freedom Team Salute Packet, visit the Freedom Team Salute Website at http://www.freedomteamsalute.army.mil/. For more programs that support the troops and their families, see http://www.military.com/Content/MoreCon ... ort_troops

Resumes Sought for All-Marine Women's Teams
Semper Fit is seeking resumes for the All-Marine Women's Basketball trial camp that will be held August 17-September 7, 2005 at MCAS Miramar. Marines interested in competing must submit resumes by July 15, 2005. Resumes are also being sought for the All-Marine Women's Softball trial camp that will be help August 1-21, 2005 at 29 Palms, CA. Resumes can be found at the Semper Fit website at http://www.usmc-mccs.org/sports. Resumes must contain command endorsement stating the Marine will be made available to attend all events if selected. Marines stationed at a command with a local MCCS Semper Fit must also send their resumes through the Semper Fit Athletic Director. For more details, see MARADMIN 288/05 at http://www.usmc.mil/maradmins/maradmin2000.nsf/
0872a7ac9a4c08a6852569b9000bc3f1/46b9e8317e5c993
a8525702d00610e74?OpenDocument

TSP 'Open Season' is History
The restrictions of having only two open seasons each year for civilian and military members to sign up for, stop, resume, or change their Thrift Savings Plan contributions has ended. Public Law 108-469, goes into effect July 1, eliminating restrictions on contribution elections that have always been tied to TSP open seasons. The elimination of open seasons gives individuals more flexibility in managing their TSP contribution amounts depending on their personal situations. Civilians can now make 26 or 27 TSP contribution elections per year (based on pay periods) and military personnel 24 per year. Also, contribution elections submitted on or after July 1, will be effective at the beginning of the pay period following the one in which the election is submitted. More information on the Thrift Savings Plan is available at http://www.tsp.gov/

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Military Report: Print And Post (11 July 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

AAFES Readying for Birthday Celebration
Beginning on Saturday July 23, PX/BX facilities everywhere will honor the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's (AAFES') 110th anniversary with a wide variety of sales, promotions and sweepstakes. Prizes during the three-day celebration will range from candy bars to a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. "Local events will vary from location to location," said AAFES' Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. "I expect to see price cuts of $1.10, prizes for the first 110 customers in the exchange, and lots of prices of $1.10 and $110. Every day of the celebration will bring a new host of events and attractions for troops and their loved ones."

Deal of the Week: Special Military Discounts at Caribbean Resorts
Westin Hotels and Resorts thanks you for your service by offering special summer savings to Servicemembers with valid ID at their luxury hotels in Florida and the Caribbean. Find this great discount and more only in the Military.com Discount Center at http://img.military.com/misc/DC/DealIndex.jsp

Air Force Changes Fitness Test Criteria
Air Force officials are making a few changes to the physical fitness test used to assess the fitness of Airmen. In January 2004, the Air Force underwent a major change in the way it looked at fitness. As part of the Fit to Fight program, the service adopted a more stringent physical fitness assessment that measures aerobic fitness, physical strength/endurance and body composition. Now, 18 months into the program, senior leaders are ready to tweak the assessment to make it even better, said Lt. Gen. (Dr.) George Peach Taylor Jr., Air Force surgeon general. Updates to AFI 10-248 will include a change in how body composition is measured, a new table for the running portion of the test that takes into account the runner's elevation, and a change in the number of days an Airman must wait before retesting after having scored in the marginal category. Dr. Taylor said he hopes the changes to the AFI will be made by late August or early September.

Applications Sought for Olmstead Scholars
Applications are being solicited from Navy officers for the 2007 Olmstead Scholar Program. The program provides two years go graduate study in a foreign language and other cultural travel expenses at a foreign university. Applicants should be available to commence language training in the Summer/Fall, 2006 and begin study at a foreign university in 2007. Applications and other required information must be submitted by September 16, 2005. For more information on this program, read NAVADMIN 150/05 at http://www.bupers.navy.mil/navadmin/nav05/nav05150.txt

CardioConnection Delivers Health Education
Making the transition to a healthier lifestyle can make the difference between life and death for patients with cardiovascular disease. The CardioConnection site was created by the Air Force?s Center for Excellence in Medical Multimedia and features three-dimensional animations of cardiac-related symptoms and procedures, personal testimonials from real patients, and heart-healthy dietary tips. ?It is by far the best educational resource for patients with cardiovascular diseases that I have ever seen,? said Maj. (Dr.) Richard Krasuski, staff cardiologist and director of cardiovascular research with the 759th Surgical Operations Squadron. ?It also appears to help them make the necessary lifestyle changes to get healthier.? For more information, visit the CardioConnection website at http://www.cardioconnection.org

Deploying? Beware of Illegal Artifacts
Multinational Corps Iraq General Order Number One lists all prohibited activities for personnel stationed in Iraq. One of these is: ?Removing, possessing, selling, defacing, or destroying archeological artifacts or national treasures.? ?The illicit trade in art and cultural artifacts is a major international crime,? said Lt. Col. Carol A. McKinney, chief of Law Enforcement Operations at the USAREUR Office of the Provost Marshal. This includes the illegal export of objects protected by international laws, pillaging of archaeological sites and theft of works of art. She added that many historic artifacts were looted following the fall of Saddam Hussein and are on sale in Iraq. However, possessing them is illegal and exporting them out of the country could get you in trouble with the FBI. The bureau has sent agents to Iraq to help with investigations and has issued global police alerts on the sale of stolen Iraqi art and artifacts. The bottom line is do not buy or take anything that could be a historic artifact while you are deployed to Iraq. More information on art crime can be found on the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/arttheft/arttheft.htm

DoD Changes Emergency Data Form
Two recent sad cases highlight the need for servicemembers to designate who should receive their remains if they are killed in action. DoD has changed the Record of Emergency Data Form - the DD From 93 - to require servicemembers to designate exactly who should be declared the "person authorized to direct disposition" of remains. The change grew out of the cases of a soldier and a Marine killed in Iraq earlier this year. In both cases, the men - both unmarried - had not designated a person authorized to direct disposition, and their parents were divorced. Servicemembers could always volunteer the information on persons authorized to direct disposition of remains. The change will make that information mandatory.

AF Enlisted Assignment Listing Available
The Enlisted Quarterly Assignment Listing (EQUAL) for Airmen returning from overseas and continental United States mandatory movers from November through January 2006 will be available July 12. Airmen need to work through their military personnel flights or their commander's support staff to update their preferences by July 28. Deployed Airmen must work with their personnel representatives to update assignment preferences. Airmen will be notified of their selection by mid-August. Airmen can view the lists by logging into the restricted Assignment Management System online at https://afas.afpc.randolph.af.mil/amsweb/master.cfm or visiting their local MPFs.

Health Benefits Extended for Reserve Members
Department of Defense civilian employees called to active duty in support of a contingency operation may continue their Federal Employees' Health Benefits coverage, and have the agency pay their share of the premiums, for up to 24 months. This applies only to Reserve component civilian employees called or ordered to active duty in support of a contingency operation on or after Sept. 14, 2001. The law extended coverage from 18 to 24 months, and provides that agency-paid premiums start the date an employee is placed on leave without pay or separated from civil service to perform active duty. Certain requirements must be met for the employee to be eligible for the 24 months coverage and agency-paid premiums. Questions may be addressed to a BEST benefits counselor by calling 1-800-616-3775 (press 2 for Air Force serviced civilian, then 2 for BEST benefits and entitlements, and follow the prompts). Employees located in foreign areas will first dial the AT&T Direct Access Number for the country they are in, then 800-616-3775.

'Military Idol' Opens Competition
"Military Idol" will give military members a chance to sing their songs like their American Idol predecessors on 34 Army installations around the world this summer. Performers have until July 22 to get involved in the competition based on the principles of Fox television's "American Idol" show. Local Military Idol competition will begin Aug. 1 and continue through Sept. 30. The finals week is set for Oct. 17 through 22, when local winners will compete at Alexander Hall on Fort Gordon, Ga. Eligible contestants must be on active duty military status assigned to the local hosting installation, including members of all branches of service assigned on the installation. Active duty soldiers not assigned to the installation where they will compete also are eligible, but they must provide their own transportation. Only vocalists need apply. Complete rules of the contest, including contestant application forms and a list of locations, are available online at the competition's website at http://www.armymwr.org/home/Show_file.asp?fileID=141

Featured Job: Security Specialist
Callaway Golf Company, a leader in the multi-billion dollar golf industry, is looking for an entry-level Security Specialist. The person filling this position would perform all functions required within the Security Communications Center including access control, alarm monitoring and response, CCTV monitoring and radio dispatching. To see the full job posting, go to http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=31865144. To search for more jobs, please visit our Veteran Job Search at www.military.com/Careers

Naval Scholarship Program Seeks Applicants
The Samuel Eliot Morison Naval History Supplemental Scholarship provides a $5,000 cash award to a selected active duty, commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps who is already pursing graduate study in history, international relations, or a related filed. The award helps to pay for expenses related to research, travel, and the purchase of books and other educational materials. Any officer desiring to complete for the Morison Supplemental Scholarship to be awarded for study beginning in the Fall of 2005 should submit a letter of application by July 15, 2005. For more information on the program, read NAVADMIN 146/05 at http://www.bupers.navy.mil/navadmin/nav05/nav05146.txt

No Pay Cuts with New BAH Guidelines
Defense officials are eliminating the "geographic rate protection" clause that ensures servicemembers moving to a new area receive the same housing allowance as those already living there. Geographic rate protection is expiring in January because Basic Allowance for Housing rates have reached a level where servicemembers no longer have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for housing, said Air Force Col. Virginia Penrod, DoD director of military compensation. Any rate cut from year to year will not negatively affect servicemembers who are remaining in the area where they already receive BAH, she noted. Penrod stressed that the BAH rate is set at the average housing cost for the area. Rates are further set based on military rank, with each pay-grade level having a set acceptable standard of housing. Servicemembers may still have to pay some out-of-pocket expenses if they choose to live above that level. Conversely, if servicemembers choose to live below the average level, they will still receive the same BAH rate. Troops also still have "individual rate protection" as long as they stay within the same geographic area. For more information on the BAH, visit http://www.defenselink.mil/militarypay/pay/bah/

Law Provides Traumatic Injury Insurance
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed the Wounded Warrior Servicemembers Group Disability Insurance Act of 2005 into law. The law provides all military servicemembers with traumatic injury insurance, unless they elect otherwise. The insurance becomes effective on the servicemember?s first day of active duty or active duty for training. Under the law, the following are classified as a qualifying disability: (1) complete and permanent loss of movement of an extremity; (2) burns of a severity equaling third degree or higher and affecting an area or areas of the body exceeding one square foot; (3) the loss of sight of one or both eyes entirely, irrecoverably, and uncorrectably; (4) the permanent loss of one hand, by severance at or above the wrist joint; (5) the permanent loss of one foot, by severance at or above the ankle joint; (6) the loss of speech or hearing entirely, irrecoverable, and uncorrectable; and (7) any other disability specified by the Secretary by regulation for the purposes of this section. Once a qualifying disability claim is verified it will be paid in one lump sum payment. Unless discontinued upon the request of the servicemember or pursuant to government authority, the insurance coverage shall continue in effect while the servicemember is on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training scheduled in advance by competent authority during the period thereof. The annual insurance premiums shall be collected in a process similar to that of SGLI.

Relocation Assistance Helps Sailors Move
Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) counselors, available through the Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP), have the answers and resources to help ensure Sailors and their families experience a successful, stress-free move to a new duty station. Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) counselors, available through the Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP), have the answers and resources to help ensure Sailors and their families experience a successful, stress-free move to a new duty station. Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) counselors, available through the Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP), have the answers and resources to help ensure Sailors and their families experience a successful, stress-free move to a new duty station. Relocation assistance is not just for families or new Sailors who are completing their first PCS move, according to Durden. The Navy?s Relocation Assistance Program can help you create your own personal relocation plan, designed to address issues that are relevant to your move. For more information on RAP or to locate the nearest Fleet and Family Support Center, visit http://www.ffsp.navy.mil or call their 24-hour information and referral hotline at 800-FSC-LINE. Relocation assistance is also available for all servicemembers online through at http://www.military.com/relocation

Shades of Green Offers Summer Specials
The Shades of Green at Walt Disney World Resort has announced 2005 end of summer specials available from Aug. 7 through Sept. 30. Members of the military community, including retired members, are eligible for package deals. Resort officials say that Shades of Green guests have exclusive access to discounted theme park tickets, reduced rates at Disney's PGA professional golf courses, Extra Magic Hours at the parks, and much more. For more information, visit the Shades of Green website at http://www.shadesofgreen.org/funandsun.htm

Shift Rotation Option to Increase Safety
In an effort to increase productivity and reduce the potential for workplace accidents during night and swing work shifts, the Air Force's Air Mobility Command (AMC) commander instituted an optional shift rotation policy on June 21. All AMC organizations with multi-shift operations were advised to consider adopting a 120-day rotation policy for their night-shift workers. The rotation option encourages organizations to rotate all active-duty Airmen assigned to a ?night shift?, a shift where a majority of work hours do not fall between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., every 120 days. The 120-day rotation schedule was selected to coincide with the standard AEF deployment cycle. In addition to active-duty workers, the policy also affects Airmen who have been recalled to active duty, are activated or serving on extended active duty tours. Shift extensions can be requested by an individual or organization for up to 480 days as the mission and individual?s needs dictate. A first 120-day extension can be granted by an organization?s squadron operations officer or superintendent. Two subsequent 120-day extensions can be granted by the squadron and group commander, respectively. The shift rotation option is also being included in an AMC instruction, detailing shift, fatigue and endurance management principles and guidelines, which will be published in the Fall.

US Army - Europe Launches New Magazine
The U.S. Army, Europe?s new quarterly magazine, ?EURArmy,? came out last week. The magazine features articles highlighting USAREUR?s Soldiers, civilians and families. "All of us in USAREUR are proud to bring back the publication of this historically great magazine after a 14-year absence," said USAREUR Commanding General, Gen. B.B. Bell, in addressing readers in a letter included on the issue?s inside front cover. The magazine is available through targeted mailings and on the Web at http://www.hqusareur.army.mil/EURArmy%2 ... ue%201.pdf

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Military Report: Print And Post (25 July 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

USAF Looking for Physical Therapists
The Air Force is taking applications for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, which begins Dec. 17, 2006 at the Health Science Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Completed applications must be sent by military personnel flights and arrive at HQ AFPC/DPAMW, 550 C Street West, Suite 27, Randolph AFB TX 78150-4729 no later than Nov. 25. Incomplete applications or those received after the cutoff date will be returned and will not meet the selection board, said AFPC officials. Qualified applicants should call DSN 665-2775 or (210) 565-2775 for applications. For more information on program prerequisites, including required coursework and application procedures, visit the AFPC Website at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/medical ... tweb05.doc

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USAF Looking for Physician Assistants
The Air Force is taking applications for Physician Assistant Phase I training classes beginning January, April and August 2007. Only active-duty enlisted Airmen are eligible to apply. The selection board is scheduled to convene at the Air Force Personnel Center on March 21. Completed applications must be sent by military personnel flights and arrive at HQ AFPC/DPAMW, 550 C Street West, Suite 27, Randolph AFB TX 78150-4729 no later than Jan. 27. For more information, contact the local military personnel flight, education office or visit http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/medical ... cation.htm
Vacation Club Offers "Nightly Getaways"
The Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC) now offers the option of "nightly getaways." AFVC is a "Space Available" program that offers Department of Defense affiliated personnel the opportunity to take affordable condominium vacations at resorts around the world using condominium timeshares that the owners do not use. The program is managed by RCI (Resort Condominiums International, LLC. Under the program, participants have the option to rent a vacation condo either in one night or more increments or stay for seven days, subject to availability. Resort properties are available in the United States and Canada, with "Nightly Getaway" rates start as low as $75 during peak season, "Last Call" weekly rentals in peak season starting as low as $199, and "Space Available" weekly rentals starting at $264. Nightly getaway reservations must be made within 60 days of travel. Weekly rentals can be made up to 12 months in advance. To make any AFVC reservation, members will need their AFVC installation identification number obtainable from their local MWR/ITT Office. For nightly getaway reservations call 1-888-338-0970. For weekly reservations call 1-800-724-9988 or go to http://www.afvclub.com.

Career Advice for Military Spouses
Military Spouses can find career advice and search thousands of employers who are seeking to hire military spouses at the Military Spouse Career Center. Spouses can also find career advice, family support and information about educational oppertunities. Go to www.military.com/spouse

Army Reserve Soldiers to Receive Honor
Sixteen Army Reserve Soldiers from the Washington, D.C., area who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom were among the first to receive the new "Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen Award" recently. Eventually, all Army Reserve Soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom will receive the award nationwide. It consists of an encased American flag, a specially designed commemorative coin, a lapel pin set for the Soldier and spouse, and a Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen flag under this new Soldier-recognition program enacted recently by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The Army Reserve expects to award this new honor to 70,000 Soldiers by the end of the fiscal year, the September. These awards will be presented at ceremonies throughout the country as Army Reserve Soldiers return home. The ceremonies will be open to families, employers, co-workers, community leaders, and elected officials.

myPay for Military Retirees
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is gearing up another effort to move more retirees into the myPay electronic system. DFAS officials will send out a letter soon to some 400,000 retired members under age 65 who are not currently enrolled in myPay. The letter focuses on the benefits of the myPay system, which is designed to help customers better manage their retired pay account. The myPay website is at https://mypay.dfas.mil . At the website, retired members can view their account information from any computer with Internet access virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone needing assistance using myPay, call toll free 1-800-390-2348; commercial (216) 522-5122 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Guard Supports Families
Families of deployed National Guard and Reserve members face challenges beyond those of active-duty families, and a strong family support network stands behind them to help through those difficult days. To help support these families, the National Guard Bureau Family Program offers a wide range of services and support ranging from family readiness groups at the unit level to a Website that details the full range of services available to families, including points of contact. More than 400 family assistance centers nationwide serve as the program's centerpiece. These centers, generally set up in National Guard armories, serve as a critical link for families during the loved ones' deployments, said Air Force Col. Anthony Baker Sr., the Guard's chief of Family Programs. They serve not only Guard and Reserve families, but also families of all active-component members deployed or recently returned from a deployment. Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum described them as a single-stop shopping source for families needing information or assistance, not only during the deployment, but also before and after. For more information, visit the National Guard Bureau Family Program Online Community website at http://www.guardfamily.org/

Marine Corps Silver Dollar
The United States honored a branch of the military with a commemorative coin for the first time last week, the Marine Corps 230th Anniversary Silver Dollar. The image on the front of the coin features a rendition of Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's historic photograph depicting the raising of an American Flag by the United States Marines at Iwo Jima. The reverse, by United States Mint sculptor-engraver Charles L. Vickers, features an engraving of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, the official emblem of the United States Marine Corps, which has remained virtually unchanged since 1868. The Secretary of the Treasury has authorized a maximum mintage of 600,000 Marine Corps 230th Anniversary Silver Dollars. During the initial issue period of July 20 until August 22nd , the proof silver dollar will be available from the United States Mint online, by telephone and by mail for $35 and the uncirculated silver dollar for $33. After August 22nd, the proof silver dollar will be available for $39 and the uncirculated silver dollar for $35. The Marine Corps Coin & Stamp Set will sell for $40.00 and have a limit of five sets per order and household. Customers can purchase the Marine Corps 230th Anniversary Silver Dollar by using the United States Mint's secure website, http://www.usmint.gov, or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers with TTY equipment may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468). A shipping and handling fee of $4.95 per order will be added to all domestic orders.

Spouse to Teacher Opportunities
Marine Corps Base Quantico's Career Resources Management Center and Old Dominion University are among several offices currently offering information on a pilot program for military spouses interested in becoming teachers. The pilot program called "Spouses to Teachers" is designed to assist active duty, reserve, Individual Ready Reserve, and National Guard spouses in obtaining a career in education. The program will help individuals to get teaching positions for kindergarten up to 12th grade. The program also supports individuals by providing information on how to become a teacher, guidance on teacher certification requirements, paths to getting certified, employment potential, financial assistance, and employment searches, said Barbara West, Career Resources Management Center's family member employment assistance program coordinator. The pilot project is offered in selected states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Virginia. According to the program's Website, limited funding is provided to reimburse the cost of required state tests for teacher licenses and certifications. Therefore, financial assistance is limited to $600 per person. However, additional exam funding may be approved on a case-by-case basis. For more information, visit the Spouses to Teachers website at http://www.spousestoteachers.com

Navy Tightens Fitness Rules
After nearly a year of planning, the Navy is modifying its Physical Fitness Assessment criteria in a push to "change the culture" toward a healthier force, officials said. Stars and Stripes reports that a key and immediate change is that commanders now can halt promotions if sailors fail their Physical Readiness Test just once. Under the new directive that will be released soon, commanders will face black marks on their own records if sailors under their command do not pass their PRTs. Leaders will have some leeway, especially if sailors in mandated remedial programs show improvements in their PRTs, or lose weight as part of the body-composition measurement portions. And unlike before, sailors who fail a PRT will be able to re-test during the same cycle.

2005 AAFES Fall/Winter Catalog Available
With nearly 600 pages, service members, their families, and retirees can find savings on a variety of items in the Exchange Service's 2005 Fall/Winter Catalog. The Fall/Winter 2005 Catalog is available at all main stores and online at http://www.aafes.com/ . Prices in this all-services catalog are valid July 21, 2005 through Jan. 17, 2006, for any authorized exchange customer. Orders can be placed by mail, fax or phone. To place orders toll free from the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam call 1-800-527-2345. The Exchange Catalog center is open around-the-clock, seven days a week.

Northern New England Retiree Activity Day
Brunswick Naval Air Station, Maine, in cooperation with other military installations in the area, will sponsor the eighth annual Northern New England Military Retiree Activity Day Aug. 13. Retired members -- and their families -- of all branches of the Armed Forces are invited to activities, which will be held in Bldg. 151 at the Brunswick NAS in Brunswick, Maine. All activities will be indoors. For more information, contact retired Navy Lt. Commander Paul Loveless at (207) 921-2609 between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday, or by E-mail at nasbfsc-rao@navy.mil. On the agenda are informational presentations on legal assistance, health care information, survivor benefits, recreational facilities, commissaries, exchanges, the Veterans Administration, veterans cemeteries, and veterans homes. There also will be an opportunity for DEERS updates and ID card renewals.

DOD to Consider Cash, Cut Benefits
Stars and Stripes reports that the Defense Department is weighing the option of taking the money it spends on benefits and offering it as cash for servicemembers to spend as they see fit. This option was discussed at the Defense Department's advisory committee on military compensation during its third public meeting last week. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chartered the committee in early spring, directing its members to come up with recommendations for improving the Pentagon's military compensation system in a report due in April 2006. The compensation committee spent its Wednesday meeting discussing options on five specific categories: special and incentive pays; retirement pay, including pensions and medical benefits; Guard and Reserve compensation; medical benefits for serving forces; and family issues, such as housing and spouse employment opportunities. The notion of offering cash instead of benefits, such as DOD-sponsored childcare or fitness facilities, came up during the quality-of-life discussion.

Retirees Get CRSC Statements Online
In an effort to provide improved service to our Retirees, the Defense and Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is implementing the electronic delivery of Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) account statements. For those military retirees who are to receive CRSC, the statements are now available on a monthly basis via the online pay account site, myPay. The CRSC account statements provide detailed information regarding your continuing monthly CRSC payments including disability ratings, unemployability, Purple Heart indicators, as well as other entitlement data. While retirees may continue to contact the Retired and Annuitant Contact Center by phone at 1-800-321-1080, it is trusted that the statement will answer questions regarding the computation of the CRSC payment. Please note that the CRSC monthly statement will only contain information concerning the continuing monthly payment. Details about any retroactive payments will be available through myPay by the end of the year. The CRSC monthly statement will only be available through the myPay Website at https://mypay.dfas.mil.

SBP One-Year "Open Season" Enrollment
The FY 2005 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the President's on October 28, 2004 authorized an open enrollment period to allow retired members to participate in the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) or increase the level of their participation if they were not previously participating at the maximum allowed level. The open enrollment period will last for one year beginning on October 1, 2005. The Military Officers Association of America (http://www.moaa.org) has learned that the Pentagon's Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) open season implementation plan is nearly ready and hopefully will be available to the public in late July. The open season will give non-enrolled retirees a chance to enroll and provide their spouses a significantly improved SBP benefit. Legislation approved last year (which also authorized the open season) will phase out the current SBP age-62 benefit reduction by April 2008 - effectively providing lifetime SBP annuities of 55% of covered retired pay.

All-Marine Golf Championship
The All-Marine Golf Championships will be held September 11-17, 2005 at Parris Island, SC. Marines interested in competing must submit applications by September 1, 2005. Applications must include proof of current handicap. The handicap for men must be four or lower, and the handicap for women must be fourteen or lower. Applications must also contain command endorsement stating the Marine will be made available to attend all events if selected. Applications can be found at http://www.usmc-mccs.org/sports.

Surviving Family Members Get Housing Extension
Surviving family members of service members killed in action are receiving an extension on the time they are allowed to continue receiving basic allowance for housing or remain in government quarters rent-free. Congress recently extended the duration from 180 to 365 days, said Col. Gerald Barrett, chief of the Compensation and Entitlements Division in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff Army G1. The extension applies only to the surviving dependents of those Soldiers who die on or after May 11, 2005. Dependents of those Soldiers who die before that date continue to be entitled to the BAH benefits for 180 days from the date of the Soldier's death. Soldiers married to another Soldier are not entitled to receive the extension payment on behalf of the deceased Soldier because they would be entitled to receive BAH in their own right. Surviving family members should contact their casualty assistance officer for more information on the BAH extension and guidance on how to complete the required claim form. The extension authority expires on Sept. 30, 2005, unless it is authorized by the 2006 fiscal year National Defense Authorization Act. (Add Legislation Alert)

West Point Looking For Liaisons
The admissions office at the United States Military Academy is looking for Military Academy Liaison Officers. These officers, or MALOs, help future cadets get through the admissions process and serve as mentors to them when they arrive. Only reserve officers hold the official position of a MALO, but anyone is welcomed to volunteer and help with the recruitment process. Maj. Shelly Jackson, the media officer for the admissions office at West Point, said there are 231 MALOs and 1,436 volunteers. Jackson said the MALOs are broken down by congressional districts and have to undergo training, which includes completing an online tutorial, shadowing a current liaison officer for approximately one year, and attending the annual MALO conference at West Point. For further information on becoming a MALO or cadet recruitment volunteer, please contact Maj. Jackson toll-free at 800-822-2769 ext. 5701, commercial 845-938-5701, DSN: 688-5701 or fax: 845-938-8121.

Record Funding Approved for Veterans
U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said veterans should be pleased with a $2 billion emergency supplemental approved last week by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, of which he is a member. "As we await for the Interior Appropriations bill to be finalized, we have today made steps to ensure that there is adequate money to ensure that veterans are well taken care of," Craig said. "The $1.5 billion approved earlier and the $2 billion approved...will later be reconciled. But we have assured veterans today that there will be sufficient money to meet the needs of veterans. Clearly, we are going to reach a point where we cannot continue to keep spending at this pace, but the needs of veterans are being met." In addition to the emergency supplemental of $2 billion, the legislation approved today will provide more than $70.7 billion in direct payments to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2006. That figure includes $36.6 billion for mandatory veterans' benefits including pensions and compensation.

Subcommittee Proposes $1.98B for VA
A Senate subcommittee injected $1.98 billion last week into a spending bill to cover a Veterans Affairs shortfall projected in next year's budget. The $82.8 billion spending bill, which also pays for military construction projects, provides $23.3 billion next year for veterans' medical services, which the committee said is $1.34 billion more than President Bush requested. Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson disclosed in early July that unexpectedly high health care demands had eaten a hole in his agency's budget this year and would also leave a shortfall next year. The amount for next year's shortfall could be reduced to $1.5 billion if Congress approves a Senate proposal to spend $1.5 billion to cover the shortfall in this year's budget. The House has provided $975 million for this year, an amount the White House initially endorsed but later said should be increased to $1.2 billion.

VA's 75th Anniversary Celebrated
Vice President Richard B. Cheney joined Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson in Washington, D.C. on July 21 to kick off a yearlong celebration of the VA Department' 75th anniversary. Cheney honored the veterans in the audience, from 103-year-old World War I veteran Lloyd Brown to veterans of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. All, the vice president said, "have shaped the life of this nation for the better" through their service and sacrifice. In doing so, he said, they "have given every generation of Americans a lesson in the values of personal responsibility, morale strength and unselfish courage." Every military veteran, whether drafted or enlisted, commissioned or not, and regardless of their service or whether they served in combat, shares common experiences and a common bond, Cheney said. "Each took an oath (and) lived by a code a stood ready to fight and to die for their country," he said. Today, some 237,000 VA professionals provide health care to more than 5 million veterans through 157 hospitals and more than 850 community-based clinics. Fifty-five VA regional offices distribute pensions and disability compensation to more than 3.4 million veterans. In addition, 120 national cemeteries provide a dignified, permanent final resting place for those who wore the uniform of the U.S. armed services. The anniversary celebration will continue through the year with events throughout the country. For more information, visit the VA's 75th Anniversary Website at http://www.75anniversary.va.gov/

VA Improves "My HealtheVet" Website
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently improved its Web-based system for providing health care information to its patients. Under the latest improvement to VA's "My HealtheVet" Website, veterans will be able to update personal information and record medical data such as prescriptions. A capability that was recently added to the site allows veterans to record their personal information and medical data - including emergency contacts, health care providers sand insurance, prescriptions, tests and allergies - in a private, secure Internet environment. Eventually, veterans will be able to receive their medical records from VA online. The My HealtheVet website is at http://www.myhealth.va.gov/

Veteran Groups: VA Funding Formula Change
Recent announcements that the Department of Veterans Affairs had underestimated its fiscal 2005 and 2006 health care budgets by billions came as no surprise to the four veterans' service organizations who co-author The Independent Budget, now in its 19th edition. Senior leaders from AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have been outspoken in their efforts to tell the administration and Congress that the VA's funding formula was flawed. The Independent Budget provides the nation's decision-makers a veterans' perspective on federal spending and national policy priorities for veterans programs. As a comprehensive, authoritative policy document, The Independent Budget focuses on funding recommendations for veterans' health care, benefits delivery, medical facilities construction, veterans' cemeteries and other so-called discretionary programs that will be needed in the coming fiscal year. Congress is required by law to provide sufficient funds for compensation and pension payments and other mandatory spending, so The Independent Budget makes specific recommendations for other VA programs such as Health Care.

Casting Call for Cable Channel Show
A call has been put out for former servicemembers with experience or knowledge of high-tech weapons to audition for the host position for a major cable channel show on weapons. The show's producers are looking for male veterans in the 20s-40s age range, with a wide range of knowledge in modern tactical analysis. Candidates who are intelligent, well-spoken, in great shape, experienced in special ops, dynamic, with a "big or unique" personality are especially encouraged to apply. For more information, contact casting director Gary Malyszek at 917-553-4294 or garycastinggroup@yahoo.com

Scholarship Spotlight: Horatio Alger Military Veterans Scholarship
The Horatio Alger Association is accepting applications from June 1, 2005 through September 1, 2005 for its Horatio Alger Military Veterans Scholarship. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants should exhibit the following characteristics: - Demonstrate integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity - Demonstrate a strong desire to pursue higher education - Prove service under the U.S. Military and service in the Iraq/Afghanistan theater beginning in 2001 or later (DD214) - Intend to pursue a bachelors degree at an accredited institution (awardees may start their studies at a two-year institution and then transfer to a four-year institution) - Prove critical financial need - United States citizenship For more information on the scholarship and how to apply, see https://www.horatioalger.com/scholarshi ... /index.cfm. To search over 1,000 other scholarships, go to the Military.com Scholarship Finder at http://www.military.com/Education/ScholarShip/newsearch

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DoD to Notify Gulf War Vets on Latest Chem Agents Study

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2005 - The Defense Department is again sending letters to thousands of Gulf War veterans exposed to low levels of chemical agents contained in munitions destroyed at a weapons depot in Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March 1991.

A study released this week by the Institute of Medicine here concluded that veterans possibly exposed in that area appear to have a higher risk for brain cancer death than veterans who were not exposed. However, the study's authors said more research is needed to confirm their findings.

This letter is the third DoD is sending to update Gulf War veterans possibly exposed. Letters also were sent in 1997 and 2000 to inform veterans about developments.

Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, DoD's deputy director for deployment health support, said the purpose of the latest letters is to notify veterans whose units were in the possible hazard areas about the study and to remind them of medical services the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs can provide.

He said the letters won't recommend that veterans take any specific action, but will inform them on what to do if they feel affected. "If they feel fine, they don't need to do anything," he said. "We don't want them to get highly concerned about this study. It is a preliminary finding, and we will continue to investigate to better understand what this may or may not mean for their health."

Kilpatrick noted this is the first study saying there is a possibility of a long-term health effect. "We do not have 'cause and effect' relationship at this point," he said. "But we do want the veterans to know that this data is there, and we want them to know from us that we are committed continuing the investigation to follow-up, because we are concerned about their health."

The Defense Department first prompted the study in 1997 after it was learned that rockets and other munitions destroyed at Khamisiyah in 1991 contained nerve agents sarin and cyclosarin. During the study, Kilpatrick said, IOM researchers compared the causes of death in a group of 100,487 possibly exposed U.S. Army Gulf War veterans with those among 224,980 Army Gulf War veterans who were not exposed to nerve agents released during the demolitions.

He said the study found no difference in overall mortality or all cancer mortality.

Still, the study showed that exposed veterans were about twice as likely to have died from brain cancer as unexposed veterans, corresponding to roughly 12 excess deaths due to brain cancer among the 100,487 exposed veterans over a nine-year period.

Kilpatrick said that finding has puzzled researchers, because neither sarin nor cyclosarin is a known carcinogen. "Neither has been shown to cause cancer," he said. "It's too early to speculate as to what could cause the brain cancer among those in the study."

He noted that medical science has tied only one factor to brain cancer. "When you take a look at the causes of brain cancer, the only one that is really recognized is exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation," he said. "That doesn't mix with what our Gulf War veterans were exposed to in the Gulf War."

He also pointed out that the length of time between the possible exposure and illness among the exposed Gulf War veterans is much less than is usual for development of brain cancer. "This period is generally 15 to 20 years for brain cancer. This study has only evaluated the first nine years after this possible exposure," he said.

Kilpatrick said a lot more research needs to be done before any conclusion can be drawn on whether chemical agents at the site can be linked to brain cancer among Gulf War veterans. He said he emphasized that the notifications are part of the Defense Department's commitment to keeping veterans informed about health issues related to their deployment.

"The message is that we care about our veterans' health, and we are continuing to investigate to try and understand what the long-term health effects are," he said. "We are working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs to understand this issue, and as we get more information, we will continue to share it with those concerned."

Kilpatrick said one comforting aspect of the study is that the overall death rate from diseases, injuries and other causes for Gulf War veterans was similar between those whose units may have been exposed and those whose units were not.

"This study overall shows that the death rate of those in the Gulf is no different for military personnel," he said. "We have done other studies looking at death rate of those in the Gulf to those who didn't deploy, and it is the same in every aspect. So that is very comforting.

Related Site:

DoD Deployment Health Support [ http://www.pdhealth.mil/main.asp ]

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Military Report: Print And Post (8 August 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

Retraction: Some Lose Hundreds In Pay
Military.com recently ran a Marine Corps News story that contained errors about the state of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). We have confirmed with DFAS officials that the original Marine Corps News article was incorrect. At this time, servicemembers will not be losing any portion of their BAH.

Deal of the Week: 10% Off Personal Camo Comfort Kits
World Prep has developed the Personal Comfort Kit for military personnel and are available in: camo, khaki and red. They are designed to fit in the side pocket of a BDU and have been widely distributed by the USO. Find this great discount and more only in the Military.com Discount Center. http://img.military.com/misc/DC/DealIndex.jsp

Air Force Seeks Intern Applicants
The Air Force Intern Program (AFIP) is a fast-paced 12 to 24-month program that is designed to develop tomorrow's leaders. While the program is available to both line and non-line officers, a maximum of three slots are available to non-line officers. The Air Force Intern Program Central Selection Board will choose 30 junior and mid-level captains to study the application of air and space power, and observe senior Defense Department leadership in critical decision-making processes. The program lasts between one and two years, and officers incur a three-year active duty service commitment upon completion of the program. Officers who have not attended Squadron Office School in-residence prior to AFIP will be allotted quotas to attend prior to attending AFIP. For application instructions and more information, visit the officer professional developmental website at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/fdso/AFIP.htm.

Air Force Looking for IAS Program Applicants
The Air Force is seeking to develop a cadre of Air Force officers with international insight, foreign language proficiency and cultural understanding to work in today's security and expeditionary operations environment. The Air Force will select officers at the mid-career point, normally seven to 12 years, and use them in demanding international/political-military assignments as International Affairs Specialists. Officers will receive formal training and education with follow-on assignments on one of two development paths. Path 1, the Political-Military Affairs Strategist, offers a well-managed career broadening opportunity to gain international experience. Path 2, the Regional Affairs Strategist, places officers on a more demanding developmental opportunity with multiple IAS assignments. Officers on this path will develop into regional experts with professional language skills. Officers interested in applying for this program must submit a Transition-Officer Development Plan (T-ODP) through their reviewer to their AFSC assignments and functional development team expressing a desire for RAS development. T-ODPs must be received no later than Aug. 31. Officers interested in RAS consideration must take the Defense Language Aptitude Battery. Contact your testing official at your military personnel flight to take this test. For more information on the IAS program, log onto the IAS Website on the Air Force Portal at https://www.my.af.mil/iaw/iaw. For more information on qualifications or eligibility information, officers should contact their appropriate assignments/development team or the AFPC IAS assignments team at DSN 665-4071.

Navy Seeks Educational Programs Applicants
Applications are being sought for the academic year 2006-2007 for the Federal Executive Fellowship (FEF) Program, the Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellowship Program (SDCFP), and the Arthur S. Moreay Program for Study in International Relations. Applications for the October selection board are due to the Navy Personnel Command (PERS-440C) no later than September 16, 2005. A single application is permissible if applying for more than one of the above programs. Details regarding the above programs can be found at the Navy Personnel Command website at http://www.npc.navy.mil/careerinfo/education. Details on requirements to meet in applying for these programs is available in NAVADMIN 182/05 at http://www.npc.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres/B2 ... V05182.txt.

Navy Seeks Medical Commissioning Applicants
The Navy Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program provides a path for active-duty enlisted Sailors who already have some college credit to obtain a baccalaureate degree in nursing and a commission in the nurses corps. The FY 2006 Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program selection board will convene in December, 2005. Applications must be postmarked by October 1, 2005. Additional documents to meet program eligibility must be postmarked by November 1, 2005. Application information can be found at http://nshs.med.navy.mil/MECP/MECP.HTM, NAVADMIN 186/05 at http://www.npc.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres/93 ... V05186.txt.

Introducing the Jeep Everyday Heroes Reward
Day in and day out, 365 days a year, thousands of men and women devote their lives to keeping the rest of us safe and secure. The work is harder and the hours are longer than most of us can imagine. As our way of saying thanks, we're offering a preferred price of 1% below factory invoice on any Jeep vehicle for all qualified police, fire, EMS personnel, or a $500 cash allowance for all military personnel. We depend on you, now you can depend on your new Jeep vehicle.

2005 GEICO Military Service Awards
The Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) has established a military service awards program to honor one enlisted member from each military service and one member from selected reserve components for outstanding contributions to the military or civilian community in one of the following areas: (1) drug and alcohol abuse prevention, (2) fire safety and fire prevention, or (3) traffic safety and accident prevention. The recipient will be recognized at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC and will receive a cash honorarium of $2,500. For application information, visit http://www.geico.com/military/serviceAwards.htm.

Featured Job: Store Detective
Kmart Corporation is in need of a Store Detective to help reduce theft and operational losses and improve training and profitability of their location through auditing, training, coaching and developing team members, investigating and apprehending theft and fraud suspects. To see the full job posting, go to http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=32782146. To see more veteran jobs, go to our Career Center at http://www.military.com/Careers/Home.

Hearing on Readiness of Guard & Reserve
The chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans? Affairs, Senator Larry Craig, conducted a field hearing in Boise, Idaho last week to examine how well the United States is prepared for the return of National Guard and Reserve troops. "Unlike active duty personnel, the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve do not return to a military base where they have a network of people and services. Instead, we send them back from Iraq to their old jobs, to their families and friends. I want to make sure that we are ready, so that when our Guard and Reserve come back, they receive the help they need," said Craig (R-Idaho). Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne and Senator Craig questioned members of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other military leaders about insuring a smooth transition home. Among other things, the lawmakers are concerned about healthcare and ensuring those who do not live near a V.A. hospital still receive treatment. So far, more than 393,000 veterans have been discharged from service since the start of the war in Iraq, said Jonathan Perlin, Veterans Affairs health undersecretary. Roughly 60 percent of those soldiers are reservists or guardsmen, he said. He added that 26 percent of all those discharged have sought VA health care.

Army Creates Mentorship Websites
The new Army Mentorship Community and Army Mentorship Resource Center websites are now operational and available to those with Army Knowledge Online access. As part of the new mentorship philosophy, ?Leaving a Legacy Through Mentorship,? the sites are designed to help bring mentors and mentees together. All Active Component Soldiers, Reserve Component Soldiers, Department of Army Civilians, Spouses, Retirees, Veterans, and Contractors, who are authorized AKO access, are encouraged to participate in the program. Within the Army Mentorship Community, there are multiple tailored mentorship forums. Each forum offers the opportunity for open dialogue between voluntary mentors and those seeking advice, guidance, and mentorship. In these forums, open discussions are highly encouraged in order to help others develop and grow personally and professionally. The Army Mentorship Resource Center offers valuable information for both mentors and mentees including related articles, a mentorship handbook, a sample Individual Development Action Plan, and a searchable mentorship profile server for mentors. You can visit the Army Mentorship Resource Center at http://mentorship.army.mil. From this site, you can also log on to the AKO Army Mentorship Community.

Household Goods Moving Plan Improves
Stars and Stripes reports that the DoD is preparing to unveil a new household-goods moving program that will replace lost or ruined goods with brand-new items, or reimbursement. The program shifts the emphasis away from which mover is cheapest to which movers have provided the best service according to previous customer evaluations. Movers who get poor scores will get dropped to the end of the list, and eventually may lose the government?s business completely. ?Families First? is the result of some 10 years of pilot projects and test programs aimed at revamping the household goods moving program the SDDC has launched since the early 1990s, said Thomas Hicks, chief of the personal property division in the Surface Department Distribution Command (SDDC), Alexandria. For more information on the ?Families First? program, visit http://www.sddc.army.mil/frontDoor/0,18 ... --,00.html.

Injured Sailors Get Clothing Allowance
The Secretary of the Navy has authorized reimbursement for civilian clothes to injured or wounded Sailors in transit to medical care or home to the United States. The reimbursement is available for wounded or injured Sailors during evacuation for medical treatment, during travel to another medical facility, or for travel home. Eligible Sailors are those with an illness, wound or injury received or aggravated while on active duty in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. Though reimbursement for civilian attire purchased under the above conditions is limited to $250 per Sailor, the authorization is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2004. Servicemembers or their family members may purchase the clothing directly. Or, commanding officers, appointed representatives, personnel support activities, personnel support detachments, or authorized Navy hospital liaison staff may purchase the civilian clothing" on the Sailor's behalf, said MCPO Victor Carter, assistant head of the Navy's Uniform Matters Office. For more information see NAVADMIN 156/05 at http://www.npc.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres/A0 ... v05156.txt.

DOL Improves USERRA Complaint Process
U.S. Labor (DOL) Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced a new service to help ensure National Guard and reserve servicemembers return to the jobs and benefits they are entitled to under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). The latest improvement by the Department of Labor is a website at https://vets1010.dol.gov/Login.aspx?Ret ... fault.aspx where a USERRA or veterans' preference complaint can be filed electronically. Developed by the Labor Department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS), the form is called the VETS Form 1010. It is easy to fill out and can be filed in seconds electronically. Employers can obtain detailed information about USERRA by calling 1-866-4-USA-DOL or by visiting http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.

Long Term Care Insurance Still Available
Active-duty servicemembers, some Reservists, appropriated-fund civilian employees, retirees and qualified family members can still apply for the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). The program can help federal employees defray the costs of in-home care, nursing-home care, or assisted-living facilities for people no longer able to perform normal daily activities because of chronic-health conditions. The FLTCIP is the largest program in the nation. It is sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management and provides affordable group premiums and comprehensive benefits. Premiums are based on applicant's age, so the sooner people apply, the smaller premium they will pay. Once enrolled, coverage will not be canceled as long as premiums are paid on time and coverage cannot be canceled due to age or a change in health. For more information, call 1-800-582-3337, TTY 1-800-843-3557, or visit the FLTCIP website at http://www.ltcfeds.com.

Military Programs Ease PTSD Pain
Ten to 20 percent of the thousands of war veterans will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a psychiatric disorder that occurs after a life-threatening event such as personal assault, natural disaster or military combat. The effects of the disorder can be debilitating with symptoms ranging from severe nightmares and flashbacks to insomnia and increasing social isolation. In recent years, the focus for the military has been on the rising occurrences of combat-related disorders as more and more troops return from war. To start the healing process, psychiatrists recommend a variety of methods such as relaxation techniques, sleep strategies and, in some cases, medication. Each military branch has programs, and the Department of Veterans Affairs offers free counseling sessions. For more information on PTSD or VA assistance, visit the Military.com PTSD Center at http://www.military.com/PTSD. People can also contact their local military mental health facility.

Navy Announces Law Education Program
The Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) has announced requirements and enrollment deadlines for the fiscal year 2006 (FY06) Law Education Program (LEP). The program affords selected Department of the Navy officers the opportunity to earn Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor degrees, and serve the Navy and Marine Corps as career Judge Advocates. Candidates must be serving on active duty as a commissioned officer in pay grades O-1 to O-3 and have at least two - and no more than six - years of active-duty service as of the law school class convening date. Candidates must already hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and be able to complete 20 years of active service as a commissioned officer prior to their 55th birthday. Selected officers must begin law school prior to their six-year anniversary date, and students have up to 36 months to complete their degree program. Additionally, selected students will be required to obligate for additional service at two full years for each year (or partial year) they are enrolled in the program, in addition to any other obligation that the individual may have previously incurred. For specific guidance on the Law Education Program and application requirements, see SECNAVINST 1520.7F or NAVADMIN 135/05 at http://www.npc.navy.mil/ReferenceLibrar ... 135_05.htm. Questions about the application process should be directed to Billie Colonna, Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center (NETPDTC) by phone at 850-452-1807 (DSN 922-1807). All other program questions should be directed to Lt. Cmdr. Colleen Shook, Naval Personnel Command, at 901-874-4084 (DSN 882-4084). For additional information on careers in the Judge Advocate General?s Corps visit http://www.jag.navy.mil. For more information on the Naval Education and Training Command, visit http://www.cnet.navy.mil.

Overseas Quarterly Assignment Listing
The Enlisted Quarterly Assignment Listing for overseas requirements for April - June 2006 is now available. Individuals need to work through their military personnel flights or their commander's support staff to update their preferences. Deployed Airmen should work with their PERSCO representative to update assignment preferences. Assignment preferences need to be updated by Aug. 18. Airmen will be notified of their selection before Sept. 15. EQUAL advertises upcoming assignment requirements, by Air Force Specialty Code and rank. Airmen should review, prioritize and update their assignment preferences based on the EQUAL list. People can view the lists at local MPFs or on the AFPC home page at https://afas.afpc.randolph.af.mil/amsweb/master.cfm.

Roadmap Helps Sailors Reach Education Goals
In July, a new Education Degree Roadmap tool was introduced on Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) to make it simpler for Sailors to manage their training and course-completion transcripts and plot their educational progress through their Electronic Training Jacket (ETJ) online. The roadmap consists of point-and-click flow charts that explain, in simple detail, the steps involved and necessary points of contact for validating and updating ETJ information. By using the Roadmap, Sailors learn how to gain maximum credit for their Navy training and experience and transfer college credits from other institutions and specialized schools. In many cases, after using the Roadmap, Sailors discover they are a lot closer to earning a college degree within their career field than they previously imagined. Sailors can access their Education Degree Roadmap via the NKO Website under the ?Learning? menu. A similar Rating Roadmap has been developed to help Sailors select their school of choice from the Navy?s partnership program that best fits their needs for rating-relevant education. For more information on the Education Degree Roadmaps, visit the Navy Knowledge Online Website at http://www.nko.navy.mil. For more information on the Navy College Program, visit http://www.navycollege.navy.mil. For more information on the Naval Education and Training Command, visit http://www.cnet.navy.mil.

Laughlin Air Force Base Needs Volunteers
Laughlin Air Force Base, located in Del Rio in far Southwest Texas, is in need of military retirees, dependents, widows or widowers to staff the all-volunteer Retiree Activities Office (RAO). Hours of operation, while not yet established, are envisioned to be from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday (except holidays) with one or two volunteers performing approximately three hour each per day. Actual hours of operation, however, are flexible depending on the number of calls and visitors per week. This will be worked out when sufficient volunteers are on board, said retired Chief Master Sgt. Fred Dickinson, Area VI (Texas) representative on the Air Force Retiree Council. Even though the local Military Personnel Flight provides support to retired members, Chief Dickinson stressed the definite need for a volunteer RAO staff based on the size of the local military retiree community. Any volunteer retired military member from any branch of the Uniformed Services regardless of rank/grade as well as adult family members and surviving spouses of retirees are eligible to perform RAO duty. Chief Dickinson said, "As you may have noted, the RAO jobs are all-volunteer with no actual monetary compensation. However, the assistance provided to fellow retirees, dependents and survivors can be a rewarding experience." Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at the Laughlin AFB RAO should contact Freda Borders, 47 MSS/DPMPC, 427 Liberty Drive Room 121, Laughlin AFB, Texas 78843-5153 or telephone (830) 298-5828. Also, you may contact Chief Dickinson, toll free at 1 (866) 654-3540 or (210) 536-6418. You may leave a brief message on voice mail with name, grade and a good telephone number where you can be reached.

USAF Professional Training Courses
More than a year after its charter signing, U.S. Air Forces in Europe University continues to expand its course catalog, garnering an increasingly large student body. The university has been the nerve center for professional training courses and programs available within the Air Force since April 2004. The university offers courses for a wide variety of career fields, such as personnel, security forces, civil engineering and medical. ?The course catalog includes everything from ?Advanced Cardiac Life Support? to ?Anti-terrorism Force Protection,?? said Robert Coleman, USAFE University registrar. ?Each course is evaluated by the students upon completion. We then use that feedback to continually improve the course; i.e., we learn what to keep, to add, and to drop from the curriculum.? The university website, located on the USAFE Portal, is also changing to become more user-friendly, he said. ?We encourage USAFE members to look through the online catalog and we encourage supervisors to approach us with course proposals,? said Mr. Power. ?USAFE University is committed to USAFE?s professional training needs.?

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Military Report: Print And Post (15 August 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

Blue to Green Program Offers Bonuses
While the Army?s transformation will result in a larger force, the opposite is true for the Navy and Air Force. The Navy is expected to reduce its force by 8,000 by the end of this year, and the Air Force will likely trim at least twice as much. To help meet the needs of a growing Army and retain quality, experienced servicemen from the overstaffed services, the Department of Defense launched a program last year to allow sailors and airmen, enlisted and commissioned, active and Reserve, to transfer to the Army. Under Operation Blue to Green, sailors and airmen willing to enlist for three years may be eligible for bonuses up to $40,000. Those willing to retrain in one of more than 50 priority military-occupation specialties can receive bonuses of up to $10,000. The recruiting command will determine the amount of the bonus based on the skill and availability of training. Those airmen and sailors in an MOS ?equal? to an existing Army MOS may qualify to receive the Army?s selective re-enlistment bonus currently offered to Soldiers re-enlisting (those amounts fluctuate). If the servicemember has a transferable job skill, he or she will attend a four-week Warrior Transition Course to learn essential skills and information needed in the Army such as rank identification, uniform policy and career progression. Those who require new skill training will attend a much more extensive course. Operation Blue to Green is open to all ranks and specialties. Officers and E-1s through E-5 will retain their rank. The rank of E-6s and above will be determined case by case. The program is also an option for Air Force and Navy ROTC cadets. The program is not designed for those who have already left the service or are being chaptered out for any reason. For more information, visit your installation retention counselor or contact Lt. Col. Terri Ashley at terri.ashley@hqda.army.mil. To learn more about transitioning, get free information now from Military.com at https://secure.military.com/leads/Recru ... dForm1.jsp. For more on military career opportunities and announcements, see the Military Professional Development Center at http://www.military.com/Careers/MPDC_Fr ... 1,,00.html.

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PTSD Survey Shows Increase
Recent surveys of returning Iraq and Afghan units show that about 20 percent of troops who have returned from combat deployments meet the clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety. Most veterans will experience readjustment challenges once home and up to 50 percent can benefit from on-base counseling and medical resources, the VA or at one of 206 Vet Centers countrywide. For veterans clinically diagnosed with PTSD -- 15 to 18 percent of troops surveyed three to 12 months after their deployments -- specific medical intervention is necessary. PTSD is a psychological condition where the mind and body are reacting to specific stressors experienced in combat. Rates for PTSD were highest among units that served deployments of 12 months or more and had more exposure to combat. And while rates were much lower for troops returning from Afghanistan than Iraq -- with 6 percent of Operation Enduring Freedom veterans surveyed PTSD symptoms -- PTSD remains prevalent in these units as well. If you or someone you know is exhibiting post-deployment readjustment or PTSD symptoms -- sleeplessness, nightmares, excessive startle and hyperactivity, anxiety, mood and anger swings, significant behavioral changes -- help is available. Contact 911 if the behavior becomes reckless or dangerous -- or -- call 1-800-827-1000 for the nearest VA, Vet Center, VA Hospital Post-Deployment Clinic or state-funded contracted providers in your area.

USAF International Affairs Program
Air Force officers and civilians have the opportunity to continue their education through the Global Master of Arts Program II, a 12-month program culminating in a Master of Arts degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. This graduate studies program is available to all mid-career officers and civilians serving in international affairs positions who have at least eight years of international affairs experience. The purpose of the program is to improve the quality and professionalism of the international affairs workforce. This year there are six Air Force slots for the program. The board usually looks for captains to lieutenant colonels and midlevel civilians who fit the entrance criteria, including a foreign language requirement. The part-time program is unlike most graduate courses in that it requires three, two-week residency sessions combined with Internet-based courses of study. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 1 for the class beginning in March. Applications can be downloaded at www.iaprograms.net/docs/050325_gmap-ii_app.pdf

Virtual Family Readiness Groups
An Army program to support and improve how information is passed to families when soldiers are deployed will make its debut on Oct. 1. "The virtual Family Readiness Group (vFRG) is designed to replicate the major components of FRGs, but in a virtual context," said Jay M. Burcham, chief of the Deployment and Mobilization Readiness division for the Family Programs directorate at U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center here. "Soldiers downrange in Iraq, Korea or wherever they are deployed will be able to communicate with families around the world by logging into this system.? Functions of the virtual Family Readiness Groups will include news and information relating to your FRG and unit, instant messaging, forums and discussion groups, document and photo sharing, a unit vFRG locator, emergency family plans, phone trees and organization charts, dedicated kids and teen areas, and blogs. Users of the site will first have to register and be authenticated by command-level administrators. Also, to support the upcoming start of the system, a waiting list area where units can sign up to establish a virtual FRG has been added to The Army FRG website at http://www.armyfrg.org.

Military Retiree Appreciation Weekend
The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colo., will host the seventh annual Military Retiree Appreciation Weekend Aug 27-28, 2005, to honor military retirees and family members from all Services. The event starts with a breakfast from 6 to 8 a.m., Aug. 27, at the High Frontier Dining Facility. Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. are speakers and exhibits at the Buckley AFB Fitness Center. Keynote speaker will be retired Army Maj. General William J. Matz, Jr., current president of the National Association of Uniformed Services, who will discuss issues of importance to the retiree community. Support agencies, retiree and veterans groups will provide needed information and answer questions. Also, retirees will have the opportunity to renew ID Cards, execute wills and powers of attorney. The event will end with a Prayer Breakfast in the High Frontier Dining Facility from 7 to 8 a.m. on Aug 28. For more information, contact the Retiree Activities Office at (720) 847-6693 or 9213 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by e-mail at RAO@BUCKLEY.AF.MIL.

DoD Launches New Online Library
Servicemembers, their families and their health-care providers have a new online Defense Department resource for deployment health issues. The DOD's Deployment Health Risk Communication Working Group and the Joint Task Force for Family Readiness Education on Deployments have joined together to create the Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library. The library is intended to provide servicemembers, families and health-care providers a quick and easy way to find information about deployment health and family readiness. The online library includes fact sheets, guides and other products on a wide variety of health topics. The topic listing was based on feedback from servicemembers, their families and health-care providers, said Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness. Information will be added to the site as new topics and areas of concern emerge, she added. The Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library is available at http://deploymenthealthlibrary.fhp.osd.mil/home.jsp.

DoDDS-Europe School Registration
Registration for the 2005-2006 school year is underway system-wide at DoDDS-Europe schools. While many families registered their children before schools went on summer recess in June, those who have not or those who have more recently arrived in their communities are urged to register their children immediately. School registration for every child in DoDDS-E schools is an annual requirement by Department of Defense Regulation to determine continued eligibility for school enrollment. Parents are urged to complete their children's registration as soon as possible if they have not done so to date. In depth descriptions of eligibility and enrollment as well as a selection of forms needed to register students are on the DoDDS-E website at http://www.eu.dodea.edu/enroll.htm. Some paperwork can be prepared in advance, but all parents will need to visit their children's schools to complete the registration process. Visit http://www.eu.dodea.edu/schoolregister.htm for more information. Parents should call their children's schools for detailed instructions regarding documentation required for registration. DoDDS-E schools, except those in Bahrain, Volkel, Geilenkirchen and schools in the Benelux, will open for instruction Aug. 29.

Volunteer Youth Coaches Needed
Stars and Stripes reports that some U.S. bases in Europe have the equipment, the children, and the fields to run a successful youth sports program, but they desperately need volunteer coaches, who are difficult to find because coaching often means donating time at least twice during the workweek from 3:30 to 5 p.m. when the children have their practice time. There is also a shortage of referees on many bases. If you would like to volunteer to be a coach, contact the youth sports coordinator for Morale, Welfare and Recreation at your local base.

'Freedom Walk'
The Defense Department today announced the first "America Supports You Freedom Walk" to honor the victims of 9/11 and America's military personnel, as well as to celebrate freedom. The Freedom Walk will begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 11 in the Pentagon South parking lot, near the site where the airliner crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. The walk route will consist of a two-mile trek through Arlington National Cemetery, over the Potomac River, and will end by the reflecting pool on the National Mall, where a free concert featuring country music star Clint Black will take place. To avoid long lines, America Supports You Freedom Walk participants are encouraged to arrive at the Pentagon South parking lot between 7 and 8 a.m. According to the Freedom Walk Website, the first 1,000 people to arrive will receive an official America Supports You campaign lapel pin. Participants also are encouraged to take the Metro to either the Pentagon or Pentagon City stations and follow the signs to the Freedom Walk staging area. Those wishing to walk in this year's Freedom Walk can register online by visiting the America Supports You Freedom Walk website at http://www.asyfreedomwalk.com/. Volunteer opportunities also are available online. Registration is open until 10 a.m. Sept. 9.

Single Marine Program on MarineNet
Learning about the Single Marine Program and its online distance learning courses has gotten a little easier with the addition of nearly 200 new titles on the Marine Net Website. The courses are primarily geared toward those directly involved with the Single Marine Program: unit representatives, executive council members (president, vice president, scribe, treasurer), and anyone else interested in self-improvement. The courses are designed to provide program members with short, effective online learning opportunities to expand their base of knowledge in their personal, professional and volunteer efforts. The courses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there is no tuition fee or course costs. Each course has an average length of two to three hours and can be accessed through MarineNet. To enroll in one of these courses, follow these steps: 1. Log on to MarineNet at https://www.marinenet.usmc.mil/portal/ 2. Review the link on the MarineNet home page that lists the Single Marine Program series 3. Select a course of interest 4. Select the Course Catalog 5. On the right, select the ?New Search? link. 6. Enter the course code and search. 7. Select a course and review the description. 8. Select the ?Enroll? link, confirm enrollment, navigate back to the description, and launch the course. For more information or questions, call the MarineNet Help Desk at (888) 4DL-USMC (435-8762) or submit a request at http://www.marinenet.usmc.mil.

Navy Website Promotes Health and Fitness
The Navy has developed a website called the HP (Health Promotion) Toolbox, which promotes a fit and healthy lifestyle among Sailors. The toolbox includes helpful information on nutrition, injury prevention, physical fitness, and alcohol and drug abuse prevention as well as other topics. The Toolbox includes free health promotion materials and a calendar of events with supporting resources that can save time for those responsible for command health promotion efforts. The HP Toolbox is available at http://www-nehc.med.navy.mil/HP/HP_TOOLBOX.HTM.

Featured Job: Firearms Instructor
The Firearms Academy of Hawaii, Inc., is currently recruiting for the position of Firearms Instructor. This position requires a background in law enforcement or military service, with a significant amount of verifiable, documented training experience. This position will provide Anti-Terrorism / Force Protection training to US Navy personnel in the Puget Sound region. To see the full job posting, go to http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=33040763. To see more veteran jobs, go to http://www.military.com/Careers/Home.

New Program Recruits Native Speakers
A new Army National Guard program is helping attract young people with native language skills and cultural expertise into the military to support the global war on terror. The new program focuses on recruiting native speakers in 20 languages and dialects, most spoken in the Middle East, into the Army's 09L "translator aid" career field, said Army Capt. Bill Greer, national program manager. The Guard program is currently a pilot in Michigan, Texas and California, areas of the United States with large Arab-American populations, but is expected to expand to more states later this year. So far, the new program has recruited about 15 members, most of them with prior military experience, said Greer, who hopes to recruit about 50 by the program's first anniversary. Soldiers with native language abilities bring special capabilities to the force that can't be easily replicated in traditional language programs, Greer explained. Native speakers bring an inherent understanding of local culture, customs, courtesies, taboos and body language that isn't readily absorbed in classroom settings, he said. And because members of the program have gone through basic training and advanced individual training, they bring an understanding of the military that simply isn't offered by contract linguists, he said. To find out more about joining, visit "Joining the Military" at https://secure.military.com/leads/Recru ... dForm1.jsp.

Navy Fleetwide Survey Available Online
The Navy Task Force Uniform (TFU) Survey is now available on BUPERS Online (BOL), allowing Sailors the opportunity to respond to uniform changes they set in motion with the first fleet survey in February 2003. By logging onto BUPERS Online and selecting Uniform Survey from the BOL Application Menu, the survey provides Sailors with the chance to give input regarding the directions of current test uniforms, as well as the future initiatives of TFU. Aside from asking what Sailors think about the current uniforms being tested, we also want fleet feedback on uniforms not previously addressed in our seabag," said Command Master Chief (SS) Robert Carroll, director of TFU. "We're asking questions about physical fitness gear, service and dinner dress uniforms, E-7 and above service uniforms, as well as a variety of uniform components." After users log in, they are directed to the appropriate survey based on their current pay grade. The Navy TFU Survey is available at http://www.bol.navy.mil/.

TRICARE Builds Its Uniform Formulary
The TRICARE has announced the addition of 11 new medications to the TRICARE Uniform Formulary. Additionally, they approved moving seven medications to non-formulary status. The following medications have been added to the Uniform Formulary: Levitra? (PDE-5 Inhibitor); nystatin, clotrimazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, Mentax?, Naftin? (Topical Antifungals); and Rebif?, Avonex?, Copaxone?, Betaseron? (Multiple Sclerosis Disease Modifying Drugs). The non-formulary medications include: Viagra?, Cialis? (PDE-5 Inhibitors); and ciclopirox, econazole, Oxistat?, Ertaczo?, Exelderm? (Topical Antifungals). Formulary alternatives are available for these medications at a co-pay of either $3 or $9. Beneficiaries will pay $22 for up to a 30- or 90-day supply for non-formulary medications, depending on whether they fill the prescription at a TRICARE Retail Network Pharmacy (TRRx) or through the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP). Beneficiaries will pay the higher of $22 or 20 percent in retail non-network pharmacies. The implementation date of the $22 co-payment for the topical antifungal medications is Aug. 17, 2005, and the implementation date for PDE-5 Inhibitors is Oct. 12, 2005. Patients currently using the newly designated non-formulary medications may wish to consult their doctor about formulary alternatives or if a medical necessity is appropriate for them. If medical necessity is established for using non-formulary medications, patients may qualify for the $9 co-payment for up to a 30-day supply or up to a 90-day TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP) supply. Medical necessity forms are available on the TRICARE Pharmacy Website at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/med ... mulary.cfm. Procedures for completing and submitting medical necessity information may be found on these forms. For more information about TMOP, eligible beneficiaries may visit the Express-Scripts Inc. Website at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/tmop_contact.cfm or they may call (866) DOD-TMOP, (866) 363-8667. Beneficiaries may also contact the TRICARE Retail Pharmacy Program TRRx customer service line at (866) DOD-TRRX, (866) 363-8779, or visit http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/trrx_contact.cfm. For additional information about various medications, their availability and cost, beneficiaries may use the TRICARE Formulary Search Tool at http://www.tricareformularysearch.org/d ... fault.aspx.

TRICARE Survivor Benefits: Overview
TRICARE-eligible family members, whose sponsor dies while on active duty will continue to receive TRICARE benefits. During the three years following a sponsor's death, surviving spouses and children under 21 years of age (23, if enrolled in a full-time course of study in an institution of higher learning) remain eligible for TRICARE Prime without enrollment fees and copayments. Surviving family members may enroll in TRICARE Prime where offered, but lose eligibility for TRICARE Prime Remote for Active Duty Family Members, if enrolled in that program at the time of the sponsor's death. Surviving family members who are not enrolled in TRICARE Prime may use TRICARE Extra or Standard, but are subject to the appropriate active duty cost shares and annual deductible requirements for each program. During the three-year survivor benefit period, surviving family members are protected from having to pay out-of-pocket expenses of more than $1,000 per fiscal year for TRICARE allowable charges for covered services. Active duty family members who accompanied their sponsor on orders outside of the continental United States (OCONUS) and reside in that location at the time of their sponsor's death are eligible for three-year transitional health care benefits under the TRICARE Overseas Program Prime. Surviving family members who are enrolled in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) at the time of the servicemember's death remain eligible for dental care under the TDP Survivor Benefit program. Under this survivor program, the Government will pay 100 percent of the premium for three years from the month following the sponsor's death. For additional information on dental survivor benefits, beneficiaries may refer to the TRICARE Dental Program Survivor Benefit fact sheet at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/Factsheets/v ... cfm?id=262. It is extremely important for survivors to update their TRICARE eligibility in DEERS. Surviving family members may go to the nearest Uniformed Services identification card-issuing facility , which can be found at the RAPIDS Site locator at http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/, or contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office Telephone Center at (800) 538-9552. Surviving spouses must contact the ID card-issuing facility in advance to determine the range and scope of available services.

Vacation Club Adds Nightly Getaways
The Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC), a vacation rental program offered to military personnel by RCI (Resort Condominiums International, LLC), has added the option of nightly rental opportunities as an expanded service to eligible participants. Active duty and retired military personnel now have the option to rent a vacation condo either in seven day increments or choose to stay for one night or more, subject to availability. Rentals come in a variety of sizes: one bedroom and larger condos, studios and cottages. Many of the vacation properties come with fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, living room, dining area, swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center and handicapped accessibility features. For Nightly Getaway reservations call 1-888-338-0970. For weekly reservations call 1-800-724-9988 or go to http://www.afvclub.com. To make any AFVC reservation, members will need their AFVC installation identification number obtainable from the following offices, depending on the military installation: MWR (Moral, Welfare & Recreation), ITT (Information, Tours & Tickets or Information, Tours & Travel) and ITR (Information, Tours & Recreation). The Armed Forces Vacation Club is a space available program offering Department of Defense affiliated personnel the opportunity to take affordable vacations at resorts.

Video Raises Suicide Awareness
Creators of a video are hoping it will educate, prevent and lower the risk of suicides across Air Combat Command as well as the rest of the Air Force. "Air Combat Command Off-Duty Survivor Stories: Suicide Choices; Terminal Consequences," is the second in a series of videos by the 436th Training Squadron's multimedia flight highlighting key Air Force issues. ?The common theme [of the series] is Airmen talking about their experiences and what they went through in order to help save another's life," said Senior Master Sgt. James Jarvis, 436th TS multimedia flight superintendent and director of the video. Because Air Force suicides are rising, Sergeant Jarvis said he wanted to address the problem by creating something different than what was already available on the subject. "We wanted to create a video production that targets (a) peer and is based on being a good wingman and saving another's life," Sergeant Jarvis said. "We didn't want to create a training video which was essentially a lecture, or (target) one particular group. Instead, we wanted to create a product that could hit home with everyone and emphasize the need for Airmen to look after one another." The video is available to all DoD personnel and can be obtained through the Joint Visual Information Services Distribution Activity in either DVD or VHS format. To order the production, visit http://dodimagery.afis.osd.mil/davis/ or submit a fax request to DSN 795-6106. When sending a fax, Airmen must include the production's PIN number, title of requested production, choice of DVD or VHS and number of required copies. The PIN number for "Suicide Choices" is 614503. Copies of the production are free when mailed to an official military address and should be received within two to three weeks.

Congress Seeks to Expand Death Benefits
The House has passed the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Enhancement Act of 2005 (H.R. 3200), which permanently increases SGLI and Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) from $250,000 to $400,000. SGLI and VGLI were increased earlier this year through emergency war supplemental appropriations, but the increases were due to expire 30 September 2005. The legislation also requires the DoD to notify a servicemember's spouse should the member decline SGLI or choose an amount less than the maximum. The spouse must also be notified should the member designate someone other than the spouse or dependent child as a beneficiary. The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) and other veterans' groups have expressed concern over this requirement, citing concerns about compromising the servicemembers' right to privacy in designating a beneficiary of his or her choice. The Senate's FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1042), which will not be acted on until September, increases SGLI to $400,000 as well; however, the legislation fails to make the increased SGLI retroactive - which means that if a servicemember died on active duty in 2003, his or her family would receive the one-time retroactive death gratuity payment of $100,000, but would not be eligible for the increased SGLI payment of $400,000 (up from $250,000). The Senate also voted to permanently increase the death gratuity benefit paid to families of servicemembers killed while on duty to $100,000 (up from $12,420), and makes the payment retroactive to 7 October 2001 -- the day operations began in Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terror. Contact your representative and let your voice be heard on this important legislation.

TRICARE to All Reservists
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate armed services subcommittee on military personnel, says he will be "adamant" during negotiations with House conferees on a final defense authorization bill that it include his Senate-approved amendment to open a premium-based military health insurance plan to any drilling Reservist or National Guard member. For more details, see http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13 ... 05,00.html

Hawaii on a Budget
When it comes to finding the cheapest military lodging amenities in Hawaii, the best places to look are hotels and cabins owned and operated by the Department of Defense. These facilities are made available specifically for all active duty personnel, reservists and retirees looking to take a vacation offering a wide range of rooms that can fit into anybody?s budget. Lodging rates run from $51 - $190 a night depending the facility and amenities you choose. Learn more at: http://www.military.com/Finance/Content ... ea=Content

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DoD Announces One-Year Open Enrollment for SBP

The Department of Defense announced today that military retirees, who opted out of some or all their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage, will have another opportunity to elect coverage during a one-year open enrollment period from Oct. 1, 2005 through Sept. 30, 2006.

Upon a retiree's death, SBP provides an annuity of up to 55 percent of the military retired pay. Until recently, the annuity for a surviving spouse age 62 or older was reduced to 35 percent to reflect the availability of Social Security benefits. This reduction will phase out by April 2008, and the full 55 percent benefit will be paid regardless of the spouse's age in accordance with the Fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization Act.

Current non-participants will be able to elect any coverage they could have elected previously upon retiring from active service or upon receiving notification of eligibility for reserve retired pay at age 60.

If they have a reduced election, they may increase their coverage. A participant with child only coverage may add a spouse or former spouse to their coverage, and a member may add child coverage to spouse or former spouse coverage.

But those who took SBP coverage and later elected to terminate that coverage are not eligible to make an open enrollment election.

Open enrollment elections require a lump sum buy-in premium as well as future monthly premiums. The lump sum equates to all back premiums, plus interest, from the date of original eligibility to make an election plus any amount needed to protect the Military Retirement Fund. The latter amount applies almost exclusively to those paying fewer than seven years of back payments.

The lump sum buy-in premium can be paid over a two-year period. Monthly premiums for spouse or former spouse coverage will be 6. 5 percent of the coverage elected, the same premium paid by those currently enrolled. Reserve component members under age 60 and not yet eligible for retired pay do not pay back premiums or interest, but must pay a monthly SBP premium "add-on" once their retired pay starts.

Elections are effective the first day of the month after the election is received, but no earlier than Oct. 1, 2005. An election is void if the retiree dies in the two years following an election and all premiums are refunded to the designated survivor.

To make an open enrollment election, a retiree must complete and submit a DD Form 2656-9, "Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) Open Enrollment Election. " The form is available electronically at www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/for ... 2656-9.pdf

For assistance with the form, members should contact the retiree activities office for their service.

Mail the completed form to the address specified on the form. Applicants will be formally notified of their cost and have 30 days from the date of the notice to cancel the election by notifying the Defense Finance and Accounting Service or the reserve component, as applicable, in writing.

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Military Report: Print And Post (22 August 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

Air Force Offers Podcast
Using the Internet and digital technology, the Air Force Broadcasting Service now offers its radio news in a podcast. Podcasts are broadcasts of Internet audio programs, usually in an MP3 format. Many commercial content providers offer free podcast feeds, which deliver the audio to subscriber?s desktops. Podcasting has a subscription model, which uses a feed to deliver an enclosed file. Listeners can subscribe to feeds using software that periodically checks for and downloads new content automatically. ?We?re excited that Airmen, civilians and their families can now hear our daily updates whenever and wherever they want,? said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Hoke, of the broadcasting service. "The Air Force News team works hard to make sure the information in 'Around the Air Force' is useful to our audience. Now it?s much easier to get to as well.? Any digital audio player or computer with audio-playing software can play podcasts. Once the podcasting software has been installed, users can add the Air Force podcast feed located at www.af.mil/media/podcast/afradionews.xml . People without a podcasting background can read detailed listening instructions online at .

Deal of the Week: $25 off Motorola RAZR v3
Get this ultra thin phone with precision cut keypad in black, exclusively from Cingular. The RAZR v3 has a digital VGA camera with 4x zoom, MPEG 4 video playback, speaker phone, and quad band for international roaming. http://cingular.com/military_8_1/?bref=EB16060200900911

Air Force Tests New Officer Assignment System
The Air Force will conduct a test of a continuous officer assignment system for a select group of career fields beginning in September. The test system seeks to eliminate the vulnerable-to-move list and facilitate deliberate career moves through force development. The test system is also expected to reduce permanent change-of-station costs by eliminating unnecessary moves, said Air Force Personnel Center officials here. The current system works fine, but can be improved by adapting it to the tenets of the force development construct, said Col. Lee Hall, AFPC director of assignments. The test and validation process, scheduled to begin with assignment actions after Sept. 1, will include officers in the civil engineer career field on the mission support side. Also included are rotary-wing pilots and fixed-wing special operations/combat search, as well as rescue pilots, navigators, fire control officers and electronic warfare officers (UH-1, MH-53, MH-60, HH-60, CV-22, AC-130, HC-130, MC-130 primary major weapon systems, regardless of current duty specialty) from the rated community. For more information on assignments, officers can visit the Air Force assignments website at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/afas/ or contact their AFPC assignments team. For more military career news and promotion updates, see www.military.com/militarycareers.

Air Reserve Website: One-Stop Service
The Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) is more than 7,000 miles from Baghdad, but for an individual mobilization augmentee serving in Iraq, the center?s personnel services are only seconds away. Earlier this year, ARPC officials released the Virtual Personnel Center for the Guard and Reserve, a Web-based personnel service portal for Air Force reservists and Air National Guardsmen. The new service at the center, an Air Force Reserve Command direct reporting unit, is already getting some valuable use. ?Being able to have your records updated with a simple click of a button was impressive,? said Master Sgt. Scott Davis, an IMA attached to the 7th Security Forces Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. ?I was honestly expecting the records update to take weeks, but my records were updated within a matter of hours.? The Web portal at http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/ has been online since April, but was given a new look and re-released July 15. For more military career news and promotion updates, see www.military.com/militarycareers.

Introducing the Jeep Everyday Heroes Reward
Day in and day out, 365 days a year, thousands of men and women devote their lives to keeping the rest of us safe and secure. The work is harder and the hours are longer than most of us can imagine. As our way of saying thanks, we're offering a preferred price of 1% below factory invoice on any Jeep vehicle for all qualified police, fire, EMS personnel, or a $500 cash allowance for all military personnel. We depend on you, now you can depend on your new Jeep vehicle. Learn more at http://www.jeep.com/heroes/?pid=9644833.

Civilian Employer Registration Deadline
More than a year into a program that requires Reservists to register their civilian employers into a common database, the DoD is still looking to achieve its goal of 95 percent of all Selected Reserve members to register their civilian employers by the end of December. To reach that goal, Air Force Reserve Command officials are emphasizing the benefits associated with participating in the program as well as the consequences of failing to comply. Registering employers into the common database is not voluntary; it is a requirement. People who knowingly fail or refuse to provide their employment-related information, or who provide false information, may be subject to administrative action or punishment for dereliction of duty under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Reservists should register online as soon as possible by going to https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/esgr/index.jsp. Reservists are required to enter their employment status, employer name, mailing address, civilian job title and totalnumber of years in their current civilian occupation. Once Reservists have initially entered their civilian employer information into the database, they are required to update it annually. For more information and guides for Reserve and Guard members, see www.military.com/deployment.

TRICARE to Provide Hearing Aids
Beginning Sept. 1, active-duty family members (ADFMs) who meet specific hearing-loss requirements, will be eligible to receive hearing aids including services and supplies as a TRICARE benefit. This benefit is extended as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2002. Previously, hearing aids and services were only available to those who were in the Program for Persons with Disabilities (PFPWD). The FY 2002 NDAA provision allows for coverage of a hearing aid to ADFMs diagnosed with a "profound" hearing loss. With the assistance of service physicians and audiologists from both the Department of the Defense and Veterans Affairs, TRICARE has established separate hearing-level thresholds for adults and children. Eligible TRICARE beneficiaries will receive all medically necessary and appropriate services and supplies, including hearing examinations administered by authorized providers that are required in connection with this benefit. Eligible beneficiaries who suspect that they or a family member may have a hearing loss should schedule an appointment with their primary care manager (PCM) for an initial examination. The PCM will then refer the beneficiary to an audiologist for any necessary tests. For more information, beneficiaries may visit the TRICARE Website at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/ or call the TRICARE Regional Office (TRO) North (1-877-874-2273), TRO South (1-800-444-5445), or TRO West (1-888-874-9378). Overseas beneficiaries may call 1-888-777-8343. For more general information on TRICARE and its programs, see http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... -1,00.html

New AFN Satellite Decoder
Stars and Stripes reports that a new American Forces Network satellite decoder is on its way to military exchanges for about half the price. Scientific Atlanta has designed a cheaper model that provides all of the same features and programming as the original version. The current models available in military exchanges sell for between $535 and $565 each at overseas bases. The newer model will be on the shelves at Army and Air Force Exchange Service retail stores within three months, said Judd Anstey, an AAFES spokesman in Dallas. Friedrich said the decoder costs $239 each if the government buys it at the bulk rate. But Anstey said the retail price has not been determined because AAFES is in negotiations with the manufacturer. The Navy Exchange Command, which also is looking into selling the newer decoders, is awaiting ?set-up information? from the supplier before it begins offering the new model. For more on discounts and items for the military, see www.military.com/discounts.

New Physical Rehab Center
Servicemembers with severe injuries requiring extensive treatment and rehabilitation will soon get assistance at a new facility on Fort Sam Houston. The $30 million National Armed Forces Physical Rehabilitation Center, funded by the nonprofit Intrepid Heroes Fund, will be built on a 4.5-acre site adjacent to two new 21-room Fisher Houses. The groundbreaking for the four-story, 65,000 gross square feet center is planned for the fall. The facility will include indoor and outdoor rehabilitation facilities and a day care center to support accompanying family members staying at the Fisher Houses. The first floor will house a running gait analysis, dual force plate treadmill, uneven terrain modeler, swimming pool and a child center. The second floor will be dedicated to prosthetic manufacturing. The third floor will accommodate physical therapy services, a prosthetic workshop, a gym and a 30-foot climbing and rappelling wall. The fourth floor will house occupational therapy services, a daily life activities lab and a running track. The center will support treatment and rehabilitation of patients with amputated limbs, severe burns, blindness and head trauma. For more benefits related to severely injured veterans, see http://www.military.com/support.

New Sexual Assault Victims Assistance Policy
Military members who are victims of sexual assault now have the option of making a confidential report and receiving medical assistance without involving the military investigative process. A new Department of Defense policy establishes sexual assault response coordinators or SARCs at all military installations. SARCs assist people who want to report sexual assault, without involving law enforcement, and need assistance in accessing military and civilian community support. Maj. Denise Thompson, chief of behavioral health at Air Force Reserve Command headquarters, Robins Air Force Base, says, ?To encourage victims to report sexual assault, DOD has mandated that an option of making a restricted (confidential) report be available to all military personnel.? This reporting option allows military members who become victims of sexual assault to make a confidential report to a SARC, she said, and provides an avenue to receive medical care and counseling, along with access to a victim advocate, without initiating the investigative process or involving notification of the commander. Only sexual assaults that occur during military status will be eligible for restricted reporting, the major said. Sexual assaults occurring while Reserve and Guard members are in civilian status will be referred to a local agency for medical care and may be reported to the local authorities. However, a report of a civilian sexual assault does not require a report to a commander. For information about the new DOD sexual assault reporting policy, contact your base SARC or Major Thompson at DSN 497-0391. Her e-mail address is denise.thompson@afrc.af.mil.

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Firepower 2005 Conference, September 27th - 28th
Guns, Rockets, Missiles and Ammo conference will be held on September 27th - 28th at the Georgetown University Conference Center, Washington D.C. Speakers will address the evolution of the U.S. Military arsenal to maintain future battlefield supremacy. Visit www.idga.org to register for the conference.

"Operation Birdie" Scholarships
LPGA Pros and friends, Catherine Cartwright and Angela Jerman have teamed up to support the Special Operations Warrior Foundation through the "Operation Birdie" program. "Operation Birdie" was started three years ago by Catherine Cartwright to support the Warrior Foundation's college scholarship programs for the children of fallen special operations personnel. By donating $25 per birdie and receiving matching pledges from supporters, Catherine has donated nearly $25,000 to the Warrior Foundation. This year, Catherine's friend and fellow pro golfer Angela Jerman has joined her. Angela has also pledged $25 for every birdie and $50 for every eagle throughout the 2005 LGPA tournaments. You can support "Operation Birdie" by either emailing Catherine Cartwright with your pledge at operationbirdies@att.net. Or you can make a pledge online with Angela Jerman at http://www.angelajerman.com. You can also download and print out the "Operation Birdies" donation form and pledge sheet and e-mail or fax it to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation at the contact information given on the form. For a complete military scholarship database, see http://www.military.com/scholarships.

Flier Miles For Wounded Troops
Operation Hero Miles, through a partnership with several major airlines and the Fisher House Foundation, offers Americans the opportunity to donate their unused airline sky miles to wounded troops and their families for visits to medical facilities and trips home. Every flight provided comes about only because a family or individual takes the time to donate frequent flier miles to the Hero Miles Program to make sure that the nearly 3 million miles needed each week are available. The program's agreements with individual airlines only permit airline tickets for military (or DoD civilian employees) hospitalized as a result of their service in Iraq, Afghanistan, or surrounding areas, and their families. These tickets cannot be used for R&R travel, ordinary leave, emergency leave, or other travel not related to a medical condition. Currently, participating airlines include Alaska Airlines, America West Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Northwest Airlines. For more information on the Operation Hero Miles program, including information on how to donate frequent flier miles to the program, visit the Hero Miles website at http://www.fisherhouse.org/programs/heroMiles.shtml. For more travel discounts for servicemembers, veterans, and military families, see www.military.com/discounts.

GI Bill Apprenticeship and OJT Program Offers Up to $12,000
If you are currently in the guard or reserve, the On-The-Job Training (OJT) Program offers you an alternative way to use your VA (G.I. Bill) education and training benefits. While you are being trained for a new job, you can receive monthly training benefits from the Veterans Affairs in addition to your regular salary, that means you can receive up to $753 a month ($216 for Reserve) tax-free, on top of your regular salary! That's up to $12,000 in cash benefits over 2 years, for training in an On-The-Job or Apprenticeship training program. You may be eligible if you are otherwise eligible for the GI Bill either under the Active Duty (Veteran) or Reserve GI Bill programs. Contact your local State Approving Agency (SAA) at http://www.gibill.va.gov/education/SAA.htm. Your SAA will help you get started on the process and answer any questions you may have. To get more information on the GI Bill directly from the VA, call toll free 1-888-GI-BILL-1. To make full use of up to $1,004 a month from the GI Bill, find schools that serve military & veteran students here at http://www.military.com/Education/Lead1.

Stateside Housing Could Become a Problem
Stars and Stripes reports that the Overseas Basing Commission still has doubts about stateside facilities needed when servicemembers and families are brought back to the United States in a massive realignment of forces, despite months of reassurances from the Department of Defense. The final report, released Monday, mirrors draft versions released in May. It does not outright dismiss the military restructuring plans, but does recommend ?a more inclusive discussion? on the issue before moving ahead. Commission members note that questions still exist about whether stateside bases have facilities such as schools and medical facilities ready to maintain families? quality of life. The report is available at the Commission's website at http://obc.gov/. The commission is scheduled to end its work on Sept. 30. For more deployment news and guides for servicemembers and families, see www.military.com/deployment.

Booking TDY Trips on Discount Airlines
Stars and Stripes reports that thanks to a software upgrade earlier this summer, SatoTravel can now book seats for temporary duty assignments on discount airlines. SatoTravel processes TDY and official business trips for almost all military commands in Europe. Until recently, Sato did not have the ability to arrange business trips on airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet. Even with the change, there is still a handful of considerations that might prohibit such a move. Among them is a restriction that reservations must be made with a U.S. airline if that carrier flies the route. Airlines also need to meet government standards, which not all of those flying in Europe do, said Tyler Nemchick, a traffic management specialist with Installation Management Agency-Europe. The biggest problem, he said, might be a loss of flexibility. Still, the government could end up saving millions of dollars. For more travel discounts for servicemembers, veterans, and military families, see www.military.com/discounts.

Some Air Force NCOs Face Retraining
More than 3,000 staff, technical and master sergeants have been identified to receive retraining vulnerability notices under the initial phase of the Air Force's fiscal 2006 Noncommissioned Officer Retraining Program. The retraining program is designed to help balance the enlisted force by moving NCOs in specialties with surpluses to those with shortages. As part of Phase I of the program, scheduled for Aug. 1 to Oct. 14, Air Force officials notified NCOs as vulnerable to retrain. Officials asked these Airmen to submit their choices of shortage career fields they would most like to retrain into or to apply for special duty assignments no later than Oct. 14. If voluntary measures are unsuccessful, the Air Staff will implement Phase II, involuntary retraining. In Phase II, individuals identified as vulnerable in Air Force Specialty Codes not meeting retraining-out objectives, and without approved retraining or special duty assignments by Oct. 14, will be involuntarily retrained. Vulnerability listings by grade and AFSC were posted on AFPC's website Aug. 1 and will be updated weekly. To view the list, Airmen can login to the AFPC Website at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/vs/ and click on the retraining link. Anyone interested in more details about the program can contact his or her local military personnel flight. For more military career news and promotion updates, see www.military.com/militarycareers.

"Tribute to the Troops"
The second annual "Tribute to the Troops" motorcycle ride is scheduled to roll through the American heartland over the Sept. 11 weekend. The tribute ride, which will include several hundred bikers, is a means to honor servicemembers who gave their lives for freedom and to raise money for local Minnesota and Wisconsin military families who lost loved ones in recent military engagements. The bikers will visit the homes of many these families to pay their respects. The event will conclude with a benefit concert headlined by Universal South recording artist Rockie Lynne, a Minneapolis resident and former paratrooper with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. The 2005 Tribute to the Troops is actually three separate motorcycle rides that cover different parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. All three routes will converge on Hamel, Minn., where the benefit concert will take place. The concert will also feature the regional bands The Killer Hayseeds, G.B. Leighton, and Brat Pack Radio. Tickets to the show will be available at the door on the day of the event. All donations collected at the concert will be given to the Wounded Warriors Hospital Fund, a nonprofit organization that purchases comfort items, such as televisions and computers for military medical facilities. For more information on the motorcycle ride and benefit concert, visit the Tribute to the Troops website at http://www.tributetothetroops.org/. For details on other programs that support the troops, see http://www.military.com/Content/MoreCon ... ort_troops.

TRICARE For Guard and Reserve
Defense Department officials have made ?tremendous efforts and strides? to meet the needs of Reservists and Guardsmen who now qualify for health-care coverage under the TRICARE program, according to Dr. David Tornberg, acting deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity, and deputy assistant secretary of defense for clinical and program policy. Thousands of Reservists and Guardsmen and their families became eligible to purchase health-care insurance through TRICARE in late April. Congress authorized the new benefit, called TRICARE Reserve Select, for reserve component servicemembers under the fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization Act. The plan is designed to serve as a bridge for reserve-component troops leaving active duty who are not covered by civilian employer or other health insurance plans, defense officials said. TRICARE Reserve Select is available to all reserve component troops who have been activated for at least 90 consecutive days since Sept. 11, 2001, served supporting a contingency operation and agree to continued service in the Selected Reserve. Mobilized Reserve component members released from active duty are advised of their eligibility as part of their demobilization process. Reservists serving on voluntary active-duty man-day tours who do not go through out-processing, as well as mobilized members, must call the Contact Center at (800) 525-0102 to start the enrollment process. Monthly premiums cost $75 for individual coverage and $233 for family coverage. Eighty percent of Guard members and Reservists called to active duty already are covered by another form of health insurance. After thirty days on active duty, they qualify for full benefits under the TRICARE system. More information about TRICARE, including a description of services available by location, is available on the TRICARE Website at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/.

Car Giveaway For USAF?s 58th Birthday
USAFE Services and Exchange New Car Sales are celebrating the Air Force?s 58th birthday by giving away a car. One winner will receive a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser as part of the USAFE Birthday Bash Celebration Sept. 18. The drawing is open to Airmen assigned to USAFE, their family members and DoD civilian employees 18 years and over with a valid DoD ID card. Entry forms also are available at most USAFE Services facilities, at Exchange New Car Sales facilities on USAFE installations and online at http://www.usafesvsmarketing.org/. Entry form inserts will also be in the Aug. 25 and Sept. 6 issues of the Stars & Stripes newspaper. All entries must be received at USAFE Services headquarters no later than noon on Sept. 18 to be included in the drawing. Information about rules, eligibility, and participation is on the entry forms, and can also be viewed online at http://www.usafesvsmarketing.org. For more on discounts and items for the military, see www.military.com/discounts.

Winter Safety Campaign Coming
The Army in Europe 2005-2006 Winter Safety Campaign will run from 1 October 2005 through 30 April 2006. European winters present a wide range of very dangerous and lethal hazards, from carbon monoxide poisoning to black highway ice, to the air and ground hazards of dangerous winter weather-cold and precipitation. The purpose of this campaign is to reduce the potential for accidental injury and death to servicemembers, civilians, and local national employees, and to preserve assets. This campaign will continue to emphasize deployment and redeployment risk management. More information will be posted soon on the USAREUR Safety website at http://www.per.hqusareur.army.mil/servi ... mpaign.htm.

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Military Report: Print And Post (5 September 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

Hurricane Relief for Servicemembers and Family
Military OneSource is available 24/7 to provide military servicemembers and their families information on evacuation and emergency leave processes and other emergency resources. This information can be vital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Military OneSource can be reached toll free at 1-800-342-9647. Click here for important information on Evacuation and Emergency leave. http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,1 ... 55,00.html For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

Deal of the Week: $25 off Motorola RAZR v3
Get this ultra thin phone with precision cut keypad in black, exclusively from Cingular. The RAZR v3 has a digital VGA camera with 4x zoom, MPEG 4 video playback, speaker phone, and quad band for international roaming. To find out more, visit Cingular at http://cingular.com/military_8_1/?bref=EB16060200900911. Find this great discount and more at the Military.com Discount Center at http://img.military.com/misc/DC/DealIndex.jsp?loc=QL.

Web Resources for Hurricane Katrina
The Department of Defense has set up a webpage with Hurricane Katrina relief information at http://www.defenselink.mil/home/feature ... index.html. The United States Coast Guard has also set up a webpage that contains useful links and emergency telephone numbers concerning Hurricane Katrina at https://www.piersystem.com/external/?ci ... ernal.view Document&documentID=82320. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website contains resources that are useful after Hurricane Katrina including instructions for evacuees, how to get help, make donations, tips for hiring contractors, and links to other resources. The website is available at http://www.fema.gov/press/2005/resources_katrina.shtm. Meanwhile, the Hurricane Help Line for Sailors is 1-877-414-5358. Navy military or civilians who are unable to contact their chain of command to report their status should call the hotline number. This line is staffed 24x7 by Navy personnel and will have connectivity with Navy, FEMA and other government agencies. Civilian, military and contract personnel, and their dependents, who are attached to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) New Orleans or Naval Support Activity (NSA) New Orleans who need information or assistance can contact the Navy Region South Hurricane Information Line at 1-877-989-6743. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

GI Bill Payment Rates Set to Increase
Each year the Department of Veterans Affairs readjusts the GI Bill Basic Payment rate to reflect the increased cost of education tuition and other expenses associated with pursuing a college degree. The rate increase effects all GI Bill benefit programs including Active Duty GI Bill Chapter 30, Reserve GI Bill chapters 1606 and 1607, the GI Bill OJT and Apprenticeship program and the Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance (DEA) program. The Payment Rate Increases The basic payment rates will increase on October 1st for each program as follows: 1) Active Duty GI Bill will increase from $1004 a month for a full-time student to $1034 a month. 2) Selective Reserve (S.R.) GI Bill will go from $288 a month to $297. 3) Activated Reserve GI Bill is will be up to $827 depending on the length of activation. 4) GI Bill OJT and Apprenticeship program jumps from $753 ($216 for S.R.) to $878.90 ($252.45 for S.R.) 5) The DEA rate increases to $827 a month. Note: these numbers are based on the 2006 Full-time student rate. Click here for more details and to see the rates for half time and part-time students. http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... -1,00.html

DoD Pay Issues After Katrina
Banks and credit unions in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have implemented contingency procedures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina so that a normal payday was expected for those expecting Defense Finance and Accounting Service automatic deposits Sept. 1, DFAS officials announced last week. The Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Banking and Credit Union Associations have implemented procedures to pull the EFT files into their alternate banking and credit union sites where possible, officials explained. "DFAS is closely monitoring the financial institutions as each (progresses through its) contingency procedures to assure funds are available to account holders," a DFAS statement issued Aug. 31 said. "Most banks and credit unions should have the EFT funds deposited into account holders' accounts within the next 24 to 48 hours." For those expecting delivery of checks by mail in the declared disaster areas, local information is the best source for determining when mail delivery will be resumed in their area, officials said. Central pickup locations are being planned by the U. S. Postal Service and will be announced locally when they are determined, DFAS officials added. DFAS officials recommended that military members or civilian employees who cannot access an account in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area contact the home office of their financial institution and then their local finance office if they need money now. The finance office can provide for a partial or casual payment, in cash. The cash payments will be deducted from future pay, officials said. Additional information and updates will be provided as available. For assistance, call 1-888-DFAS411 (1-888-332-7411). For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

IDGA Fire Power Conference
The Institute for Defense and Government Advancement Firepower 2005: Guns, Rockets, Missiles and Ammo conference will be held on September 27th - 28th at the Georgetown University Conference Center, Washington D.C. Speakers will address the evolution of the U.S. Military arsenal to maintain future battlefield supremacy. Visit www.idga.org to register for the conference.

AAFES Waives Interest Rates
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) announced it is waiving interest and suspending monthly payment requirements to Exchange Credit Program cardholders displaced by Hurricane Katrina. "According to our records, there are approximately 15,000 accounts impacted in undeliverable zip codes," said AAFES' Treasurer Grant Morris. "No interest will be charged; and no payments will be due for an undetermined period of time. The interest rate and payment exclusion, will also apply to new purchases for an extended time period." AAFES determined eligibility by matching accounts to the U.S. Postal Service's listing of impacted zip codes. Affected areas in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi include:Mobile, AL; Meridan, MS; Hattiesburg, MS, Gulfport, MS; McComb, MS; New Orleans, LA; Houma, LA; Mandeville, LA. All Exchange Credit Program cardholders displaced by Hurricane Katrina can contact Customer Service at the nearest Exchange, call 1-877-991-7827, or visit www.aafes.com to update their contact information.

Citizens Helping Heroes Launches Katrina Relief Program for Troops
Washington, DC - Citizens Helping Heroes announced today that it has launched a targeted campaign to help the families of National Guardsmen currently serving in Iraq who have been left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Monies raised will go directly to the families of those service members deployed overseas, who live in the Gulf Region. To donate, please visit www.citizenshelpingheroes.org for detailed information. In Louisiana and Mississippi, the states hit hardest by the hurricane, up to 40 percent of their National Guard troops are on active duty in Iraq. While the National Guard at home has been taking part in rescue operations and law enforcement, some 6,000 members of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guard have been forced to watch the catastrophe from 7,000 miles away in Iraq. Over the past eight months, 23 members of the Louisiana National Guard have died in Iraq - only New York's Guard unit has suffered as many deaths. Private Richard Beyl of New Orleans (94 th Engineer Combat Battalion), stationed in Mosul, is worried about his family. "I've tried calling, but I haven't been able to reach anyone. When I call my cousin's cell phone, it says all circuits are busy. I just want to get in contact, so I know that they are all right. I hope they left before it hit." As Americans largely focus on the civilian families devestated by Hurrican Katrina, CHH wants to ensure that families of those so bravely fighting on our behalf are supported. The organization is encouraging citizens to remember that Katrina is an added hardship to military families already facing financial and emotional difficulties. These families had already make huge personal sacrifices on behalf of our country before the devestations of Katrina. This disaster only heightens the financial and emotional pressures already facing the families of service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

USAF Hurricane Related Information
For information relating to Hurricane Katrina, to include Stop Movement and entitlements, the following phone numbers and Websites are available. 1) The Air Force Personnel Center Personnel Readiness Center can be contacted toll free at (800) 435-9941. The PRC can provide information about bases affected by Stop Movement and provide instructions for contacting a person?s unit control center. 2) The AFPC website at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil contains information on entitlements for Air Force people affected by the hurricane, such as limited evacuation allowances and expenses for lodging, transportation, meals and incidentals. Click on the "Hurricane Katrina" tab. The allowances can be viewed by at the AFPC Website by clicking the ?military? tab, then the ?readiness? tab and then the ?readiness support? link. Once there, Airmen can click on links outlining Hurricane Katrina entitlements. 3) The Keesler website at http://www.keesler.af.mil can provide local updates on recovery efforts at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Air Force Reserve Command personnel assigned to New Orleans and Keesler should check in with their units immediately if they have not done so. 4) Those assigned to the 926th Fighter Wing should call the command post at Barksdale AFB, La., at (318) 456-9233 for accountability. 5) Reservists and civilians assigned to the 403rd Wing may check in at (888) 436-2246 at extension 53177. If unable to reach those numbers, AFRC airmen can report their current status, whereabouts, or get answers to questions concerning Air Force hurricane operations by contacting the AFPC Personnel Readiness Center at (800) 435-9941. For questions that cannot be answered by AFPC, reservists may contact the AFRC headquarters staff at the following extensions by dialing toll free at (800) 223-1784: civilian personnel, ext. 71206; personnel readiness center, ext. 71262; family readiness director, ext. 71241; chief personnel, ext. 70390. The AFRC command center -- open 24/7 -- is available at extension 70680. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

USAF Hurricane Evacuation Entitlements
Air Force officials want to ensure airmen, their families and Department of Defense civilian employees evacuated during Hurricane Katrina are aware they may be eligible for certain entitlements. Eligible people may be entitled to limited evacuation allowances and expenses for lodging, transportation, meals and incidentals. The allowances can be viewed by visiting the Air Force Personnel Center's Personnel Readiness website by going online to http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil and choosing the ?military? tab, then the ?readiness? tab and clicking on the ?readiness support? link. Once there, airmen can click on links outlining Hurricane Katrina entitlements. For current information on the status of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Airmen, DOD civilians and family members can call AFPC's Personnel Readiness Center toll free at (800) 435-9941, or visit the Keesler Website at http://www.keesler.af.mil. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

Public Asked to Report Spills to Center
The U.S. Coast Guard reminds those impacted by Hurricane Katrina to report oil spills and hazardous material releases to the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 (toll free), (202) 267-2180 (direct), or (202) 267- 4477 (TTD). ?As people return to their homes and businesses they may encounter oil spills and chemical releases caused by the hurricane, and I encourage them to report those to us,? said Lt. Latasha Pennant, operations officer at the National Response Center. ?The National Response Center is staffed 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-a-year, and our watch standers will immediately relay spill reports to the appropriate agency to initiate a response.? The National Response Center is the sole national point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States and its territories. The National Response Center also takes reports of terrorist and suspicious activity and breaches of maritime security. More information on the National Response Center can be found at the National Response Center?s website: http://www.nrc.uscg.mil. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

Featured Job: Police Officer
UT Southwestern Medical Center seeks an experienced and educated individual for the full-time position of Police Officer. Responsibilities include providing service, information, and directions to students, employees and visitors, investigates all criminal offenses to detect and arrest criminals and to recover lost or stolen property, and much more. To see the full job posting, go to Police Officer job posting at http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=33825381. To see more veteran jobs, go to our Career Center at http://www.military.com/Careers/Home.

$400,000 of SGLI Coverage Now Available
Four hundred thousand dollars of Servicemembers? Group Life Insurance automatically went into effect for everyone in the U.S. military Sept. 1. If servicemembers do not want the maximum SGLI coverage, they will have to change it in writing, even if they opted for much less or none in the past. The previous maximum coverage is $250,000. In addition, a new law now requires the services to tell spouses if servicemembers designate a primary beneficiary other than their current lawful spouse, or they turn down SGLI coverage or reduce it after Sept. 1. SGLI coverage still runs 6.5 cents per month for $1,000 of insurance, but the increments of coverage change from $10,000 to $50,000. If people take no action, the monthly maximum premium automatically goes from $16.25 to $26. Veterans can opt for more coverage under Veteran Group Life Insurance if they are covered by SGLI before separating from the service. The increased SGLI coverage becomes retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001, for survivors of servicemembers who died in a combat zone, combat operations or combat-related situations. If death occurred between Oct. 7, 2001, and Sept. 1, 2005, survivors will receive $150,000 in transitional insurance, bringing the total maximum coverage to $400,000.

NMCRS ? Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society staff is sincerely concerned for the safety and welfare of our Sailors, Marines and their families whose jobs have them in the Gulf Coast. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the NMCRS has established special accounts to track charitable contributions and disbursements to ensure that funds donated for this purpose are used to provide financial support to the families impacted by the hurricane. Individuals, organizations and corporations wishing to make a donation to help these families may visit the NMCRS web site www.nmcrs.org, or may send a check payable to NMCRS (or Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society) and mail it to the NMCRS Headquarters address: 875 North Randolph Street, Suite 225, Arlington VA 22203. In the lower left corner of the check, please annotate Hurricane Katrina Relief. All donations will be acknowledged and we appreciate the benevolence of patriotic Americans across the nation. The NMCRS is not in a position to accept donated articles of clothing, bottled water, canned food or other items of substance. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section covering the disaster at http://www.military.com/Hurricane.

Vacant USAF Retiree Council Positions
Four retired Air Force members will be named later this year to fill vacancies on the Air Force Retiree Council. Although those selected will not become members until July 1, 2006, the new area representatives normally attend the next Council meeting as observers. Vacancies will occur in Areas V, VII, VIII, and XIV. Retirees who reside in an area where there will be a Council vacancy are encouraged to visit the Retiree Activities Office at the nearest Air Force base to review the application procedures and Council member responsibilities in the governing directive, Air Force Instruction 36-3106, Retiree Activities Program, which is available at the Retiree Activities Program link on the Air Force Retiree Services Branch site at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/afretire. Interested Air Force retirees may apply only for the vacancy in the area of their residency. Candidates, officer or enlisted, must apply to the commander of the nearest installation. Since commanders must screen all applications, but may forward only one nomination to the Council co-chairmen by Nov. 7, interested retirees should apply not later than Oct. 14. The Council co-chairmen will accept nominations only from installation commanders. While all Air Force retirees will be considered, those who have shown previous involvement in retiree programs may bring valuable experience to the Retiree Council.

?America Supports You?
"America Supports You" is a nationwide program launched by the Department of Defense that showcases the many ways America is showing its support for servicemembers and their families. The program is designed to gather information about and recognize the many activities Americans are doing to support our troops. More importantly, "America Supports You" lets servicemembers and their families know about these programs. The "America Supports You" website at http://www.americasupportsyou.mil offers detailed information on the program, including materials such as press kits, downloadable logos, stories of support, and an ever-growing page of responses from servicemembers around the world. According to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, "AmericaSupportsYou.mil...finds out from all across the country what people are doing to be supportive of the troops and the families of the troops. And they've listed these things about what individuals are doing, classrooms, organizations, clubs, corporations, states, departments and agencies. And it has been a wonderful thing, because it tells something about the heart of America and the support that exists out there for the men and women in uniform who are doing such a superb job."

Certain Officers Eligible for Credit
Active-duty Air Force officers in the grades of major and above, and some captains, are eligible to receive joint duty credit for deployments because of a recently expanded list of approved operations. The fiscal 2002 National Defense Authorization Act and Title 10 United States Code Section 664 authorizes cumulative joint-duty credit. It only applies to officers who deployed for at least 90 continuous days to an approved combined joint task force headquarters staff. The cumulative credit may be used in combination with a present or future joint duty assignment to allow early departure from a joint duty position. The legislation does not apply to officers serving in medical, legal or religious career fields. Captains who filled a valid major or higher grade billet may receive the joint duty credit. For more information on how to self-nominate or where to fax or e-mail supporting documentation, officers can visit the Air Force Personnel Center?s Joint Assignment Section Website online at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/jom/. Officers may also call the center at DSN 665-3720 or commercial at (210) 565-3720 for more information.

2005-2006 CFC Kick Off
The 2005 to 2006 Combined Federal Campaign begins Sept. 1 and runs six consecutive weeks through Dec. 15 for bases within the continental United States. The overseas CFC campaign begins Oct. 1 and runs six consecutive weeks through Dec. 15. Exact dates and campaign goals are established in each geographic area by the local federal coordinating committee and are available through the installation CFC project officer. The CFC was established in 1961 and is the largest workplace charity campaign in the country. This annual fall fundraising drive allows nearly 4 million federal employees and servicemembers to contribute to thousands of local and national nonprofit organizations. Last year, federal employees and servicemembers donated a record-setting $257 million to the campaign. Contributions can be in cash, check or by payroll deduction. On average, one in four federal employees or their dependents will benefit from the campaign charities this year, CFC officials said. Donors may designate which charity, or charities, receives their money by filling out a pledge card. For more information, people can contact their local campaign project officers or visit the CFC Website at http://www.opm.gov/cfc.

Family Member and Survivor ID Cards
A permanent U.S. uniformed services identification card will be available in September for all eligible family members and survivors age 75 and over of deceased servicemembers. Currently, uniformed services retirees are the only persons who receive a permanent ID card. Beneficiaries currently in possession of a valid ID card should obtain the new permanent ID card within 90 days of expiration. If beneficiaries? cards are not due to expire for at least another year, they need not apply for the new ID card until their existing card is within 90 days of expiring, TRICARE officials said. The Military Health System requires all eligible beneficiaries to have an ID card to receive health care. Beneficiaries will continue to receive health-care benefits, and their claims will be processed with their current ID card until they receive the permanent ID card as long as their information is current in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Even though active-duty and retired servicemembers are automatically registered in DEERS, their family members are not. It is the sponsors? responsibility to register their family members into the system. Sponsors must also update the system for themselves and their family members to ensure TRICARE benefits and claims processing will continue uninterrupted. It is also important for surviving family members to update their personal information in the system when the active duty or retired sponsor dies. For more information, people can call the DEERS support office at (800) 538-9552, or visit the Tricare Website at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/deers. For more information about the permanent retiree ID card, people can call the Tricare Regional Office North at (877) 874-2273, the TRO South at (800) 444-5445 or TRO West at (888) 874-9378. Overseas beneficiaries can call (888) 777-8343. Beneficiaries can also find the nearest ID card issuing facility at http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/owa/home. Go to the Military.com TRICARE Overview for more information on TRICARE benefits. http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... -1,00.html

Force-Shaping Phase II for officers
The Air Force?s officer corps is overmanned by about 4,000 Airmen. In fiscal 2005, the Air Force?s voluntary force shaping initiatives successfully reduced the size of the active duty population to its congressionally authorized level of 359,000. However, the fiscal 2006 budget trims the Air Force down to 357,400 Airmen. The new population target shows the Air Force will have an overage of officers. Air Force officials recently announced the next force shaping Phase II evolution to address the officer surplus, waiving recoupment of unearned portions of some bonuses and education costs. ?Some of the Air Force programs where recoupment is not pursued include transfers to the Guard or Reserve via Palace Chase, Limited Active Duty Service Commitment waivers, ROTC cadet disenrollment and interservice transfers to the Army via Blue-to-Green,? the general said. Eligibility criteria differs among the programs and interested officers are encouraged to consult information presented at the Air Force Personnel Center Force Shaping Website at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/retsep/shape2.htm or their local military personnel flight. Visit www.Military.com/MilitaryCareers for more military career news including promotion lists and vital career development information.

Keep Your myPay PIN Secure
It is important that military members know that the myPay personal identification number (PIN) ? is just that ? a personal code to provide each member access to his/her personal payroll information. It is one part of the security that is provided to members to prevent identity theft. A member should never give out their myPay PIN. In recent months, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service has become aware of companies asking for PIN numbers to set up allotments for individual servicemembers, ex-spouses using PINs to alter information, and individuals sending e-mails or "phishing" for PINs, bank information and social security numbers. Each individual member is responsible for arranging his or her own allotments. By providing your myPay PIN to others, you are allowing access to your valuable financial information and leaving yourself extremely vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. DFAS has created the opportunity for servicemembers to provide a trusted family member a restricted access PIN ? this allows that person to only view the information in the account without making adjustments or changes. This option was created mainly for deployed members, but everyone using myPay has access to this option. To access this option, log onto myPay, select Personal Settings Page and then select "Restrict Access PIN". Meanwhile, if you have disclosed your PIN to anyone who is unauthorized to have it, immediately log onto myPay and change your current PIN. You can change your PIN at any time by clicking on the "Change PIN" option on the Personal Settings page. You must enter your new PIN twice.

MarineNet Spouses Learning Series
Pressures in today's society can be overwhelming, and can affect even the strongest. However, there are techniques that can help individuals maintain balance and motivation. MarineNet, in conjunction with the Marine Corps College of Continuing Education, has created a series of courses to help spouses achieve balance in their lives as military spouses both professionally and personally. The Spouses Learning Series are now available as online courses and include 48 new titles on the MarineNet Website. The courses listed under the Spouses Learning Series header provide an online distance learning opportunity for all spouses. ?Family members that are in the DEERS data base are eligible to take these classes,? said Steve Brown, customer outreach and education marketing coordinator, College of Continuing Education. ?Essentially, if you have a Department of Defense- issued identification card, you?re eligible. This includes retirees.? The courses are primarily geared toward spouses of Marines and anyone else interested in self-improvement. Each course has an average length of two to three hours and can be accessed through MarineNet. To enroll in one of these courses, log on to MarineNet, review the link on the MarineNet home page that lists the Spouses Learning Series, select a course of interest, and select the Course Catalog. On the right, select the ?New Search? link, enter the course code and search, select a course and review the description, then select the ?Enroll? link, confirm enrollment, navigate back to the description, and launch the course. For more information or questions, call the MarineNet Help Desk at (888) 4DL-USMC (435-8762) or submit a request to http://www.marinenet.usmc.mil. In addition the Military.com Spouse Career Center offers vital information and resources to help you and your family deal with everything from deployment to personal finance and childcare. www.military.com/spouse/fs

Marine Corps Marathon Coming in October
The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) announced last week that inspirational marathon champion Dick Beardsley will be the featured speaker at the MCM Celebration Dinners on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The entertainment lineup for the first Healthy Kids Pasta Bash was also unveiled to include local a cappella band Cartoon Johnny and an energizing program featuring Ronald McDonald. Runners, family and friends are cordially invited to listen to Beardsley?s motivational words and commemorate three decades of "The People's Marathon" at the MCM Celebration Dinners. Tickets remain available for the 7:45 p.m. seating, however, the 6 p.m. seating has been sold out. The party includes an elegant pasta dinner buffet, lively entertainment, atraditional Marine Corps ceremony and coveted prizes including airfare from Jet Blue Airways. Tickets are $30 per person and children four years and under are free. For a more kid-friendly carbohydrate load, check out the Healthy Kids Pasta Bash on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 4 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Tickets to both events may be ordered by visiting the Marine Corps Marathon website at http://www.marinemarathon.com or calling 1-800-RUN-USMC.The Marine Corps Marathon continues a combined tradition of dedication, sportsmanship and patriotism. Since its inception, over 300,000 civilian and military runners from all walks of life have participated, deservingly earning the event its nickname ?The People?s Marathon.? The 30th Marine Corps Marathon will be held on Oct. 30.

Military Coalition Warns Pay Panel
The Military Coalition, a powerful league of 35 service associations and veterans' organizations, has warned a blue ribbon panel studying military compensation to be wary of claims by senior Defense officials and outside economists that service pay and benefits need business-like reforms. Coalition representatives testified Aug. 31 before the Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation, leveling a barrage of criticism at Defense officials and recent government and independent reports that suggest military personnel costs are out of control, particularly for retirees and survivors, and must be reined in and rebalanced. For more information, read the article at http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13 ... 05,00.html

TRICARE Reserve Select Update
TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) coverage became available April 26, 2005, for certain members and former members of the National Guard and Reserve and their family members. As of today, more than 3,000 eligible National Guard and Reserve members are enrolled in the new premium- based health plan offered for purchase by the Department of Defense (DoD) for a total of more than 9,000 covered lives. Nearly 8,500 other members have taken steps to purchase TRS. To qualify for TRS coverage, National Guard and Reserve members must have served on active duty for 90 days or more in support of a contingency operation on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and executed a service agreement with their Service/Reserve Component to continue serving in the Selected Reserve. Monthly TRS premiums are $75 for member-only coverage and $233 for member and family coverage. In the spring, DoD mailed a letter and a TRS fact sheet to these eligible National Guard and Reserve members who separated on or before April 26, 2005. These members were informed that they have until Oct. 28, 2005, to execute their service agreement with their Service/Reserve Component or give up their opportunity to purchase TRS coverage. Instructions for National Guard and Reserve members initiating a service agreement (DD Form 2895) are available on the Guard-Reserve Web portal at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/Guard-ReservePortal. Eligible National Guard and Reserve members who separate from active duty on or after April 27, 2005, must enter into a service agreement with their Service/Reserve Component by their last day of active duty service. A TRS handbook, a list of Reserve Component points of contact and other TRS educational materials are available on the TRICARE Website at www.tricare.osd.mil/reserve/reserveselect. Go to the Military.com TRICARE Overview for more information on TRICARE benefits. http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... -1,00.html

New Marine Mentoring Program
A new Marine Corps-wide professional development program will be employed in September. The Marine Corps Mentoring Program strives to provide every Marine from private and private first class newly graduated from recruit training to the Corps? most senior leadership with have access to tools and resources designed to help each individual Marine realize his or her full potential, personally and professionally. Under the program, every Marine will have a mentor who will be responsible for helping the junior Marine make decisions and take actions necessary for positive career and professional development to occur. Other key points of the program will implementing a peer buddy system to help Marines acclimate as they join new units and emphasizing a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week mentality for all Marines. ?Everything (Marines) do on or off duty will affect the unit and fellow Marines,? said Drake. Drake said worksheets maintained by mentors will not become a matter of permanent record, but will remain between the mentor and the junior Marine. Visit www.Military.com/MilitaryCareers for more military career news including promotion lists and vital career development information.

Savings Deposit Program Pays 10%
The Savings Deposit Program (SDP) is a savings program available only to those serving in designated combat zones. (It should not be confused with the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) that is available to everyone in the military and is a different program.). Participating servicemembers earn a 10% rate of return on their investment. Military members deployed in combat zones, qualified hazardous duty areas, or certain contingency operations may deposit all or part of their pay into a DOD savings account. All interest accrued on earnings deposited into the SDP is taxable. Servicemembers can participate in the program if they are serving outside the United States or United States possessions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and have served at least 30 consecutive days in an area designated as a combat zone or is in direct support of a combat zone. Also, members serving on permanent duty assignment outside the United States or its possessions in support of contingency operations and serving on active duty in the designated area for more than 30 days. To make a deposit into the fund, troops are asked to contact their financial office. Withdrawing the money before leaving the combat zone is not authorized, unless there is an emergency. The last day to make a deposit into the fund is the date of departure from the assignment, however, interest will accrue up to 90 days after return from deployment.

Soldiers Warned on Posting Material on the Internet
The U.S. Army is warning soldiers that posting photographs on their Web logs may inadvertently reveal sensitive information and place lives at risk. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker circulated a memo to all Army personnel last week saying the Army must do a better job at operational security. Gen. Schoomaker promised that amendments to Army regulations would be promulgated within a month, and that officers would have access to new training materials on the issue by last Friday. A note from A note from Gen. Schoomaker's deputy, Gen. Richard Cody, was circulated with the memo. It pointed out that even seemingly innocuous material can assist the enemy. The note said Iraqi insurgents and foreign jihadists are using pictures -- of roadside bomb strikes, firefights, injured or dead U.S. soldiers or enemies, and destroyed or damaged vehicles and other equipment -- "as propaganda and terrorist training tools." "The enemy is actively searching the unclassified (computer) networks for information, especially sensitive photos, in order to obtain targeting data, weapons system vulnerabilities and (tactics, techniques and procedures) for use against the Coalition," he wrote. To see some current military blogs, visit http://www.frontlineblogs.com.

Treats for Troops
Rich Lane founder of Treats and Letters From America Incorporated not for profit, sends homemade beef jerky and letters to Marines, sailors, and any other servicemember who request it. To receive jerky, servicemembers must directly request it through e-mail or a letter. Requests should be e-mailed to unclerich@treatsandletters.org. However, the email must be sent from an authorized military e-mail address. Request letters should be mailed to Treats & Letters From America Inc. NFP, P.O. Box 52, Lansing, IL. 60438-0052. Postal requests must have a military return address and postmark. For more information, visit the Treats & Letters website at http://www.treatsandletters.org/.

USAREUR Retiree Appreciation Day
Retirees can take advantage of many services offered October 15, during U.S. Army, Europe?s 25th Annual Retiree Appreciation Day at the Patrick Henry Village Pavilion here, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ?The Retiree Appreciation Day is a great opportunity for retirees to present their concerns personally to a representative. The representatives are here to address issues and ensure they are resolved. This event has a lot to offer and it is our way of saying thank you,? explained 1st Personnel Command Retirement Service Officer Bob McEntire. Issuing ID cards is one of the most important services that will be offered that day. ID cards provide retirees access to their military benefits to include Tri-Care, Moral Welfare and Recreation services and the commissary. ID cards will be issued and personal records checked to insure that they are in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. A National Personnel Records Center representative will also assist retirees with military personnel and medical record questions and problems. The Patrick Henry Village Dental Clinic will open its doors at 9:00 a.m. and will be staffed by eight dentists and 10 hygienists who will provide general dentistry and dental hygiene services. The U.S. Army Medical Command, Heidelberg, and the Wellness Center will also be providing a variety of health care services and information.

DeCA - World's Biggest Case Lot Sale
The World's Biggest Case Lot Sale will offer savings at nearly 270 commissaries in September. Most stores are participating, according to Patrick B. Nixon, chief executive officer and acting director for the Defense Commissary Agency, adding that customers can save up to 50 percent or more off regular prices during case lot sales. The sales typically feature items by the case such as canned goods, beverages, cleaning or laundry products, and in some cases, fresh chicken, pork or beef. The worldwide sale is held two times per year, in May and September. Since commissaries have the flexibility to have their sales anytime during the month, shoppers who live in regions with multiple commissaries, such as Norfolk, Va., or San Antonio, may be able to hit several different sales during September. Shoppers can find out when their commissary is having its sale through a special link on the front page of http://www.commissaries.com. The link takes shoppers to a page with sale dates. Each date is also linked to the store's "spotlight" page where customers can check out other store news or find out more about sales. While customers are visiting the website, they can sign up to get all the latest news from DeCA, delivered via e-mail through the "Commissary Connection" newsletter.

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Military Report: Print And Post (12 September 2005)

Below is the complete version of this week's Military Report. Print it, circulate it, and make sure your colleagues and friends keep up with the latest military benefits updates.

Safe Haven Policy Change
Military family members ordered to evacuate military installations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama due to Hurricane Katrina are now authorized to select an alternate safe haven anywhere in the continental United States, defense officials confirmed today. David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, announced the new policy in a memo sent to the service secretaries Sept. 1. The authority applies to family members whose housing was declared uninhabitable following the hurricane. Families affected by the policy qualify for up to two months of advance pay, and military family members will receive safe haven allowances for up to 180 days after arriving at their alternate safe haven location. Allowances will be paid in accordance with the Joint Forces Travel Regulation, with calculations generally following rules for temporary duty travel: the actual cost of lodging, plus a separate meal and incidental allowance, explained Air Force Lt. Col. Al Bruner, from Chu's office. Family members age 12 and over will receive travel pay and 100 percent of the per diem for their safe haven location for the first 30 days, Bruner said. DoD will pay full travel costs and 50 percent of the per diem rate for family members under age 12. For more information, servicemembers should contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service's 24-hour, toll-free hotline at (800) 756-4571 and request option 6.

Deal of the Week: 15% Off Flag Cases, Medals, Ribbons & More
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American Legion Members Could Qualify for Immediate Disaster Assistance
Active duty personnel and members of the National Guard and Reserves impacted by Hurricane Katrina may qualify for immediate relief cash grants if they are current members of The American Legion. As Legionnaires they can apply to receive up to $1500 under The American Legion?s National Emergency Fund program to cover costs of food, shelter and clothing needed as the result of devastation created by the nation?s largest natural disaster that affected several Gulf Coast states. A cash grant will be immediately placed in the members credit card account upon approval to cover costs created by displacement from the storm. If the individual does not have a credit card, funds can be transferred direct to a hotel/motel to cover the cost of lodging. Legionnaires can call toll-free 1-800-433-3318 to apply by phone. Another option for those with computer access is secure online application at http://www.legion.org. The American Legion National Emergency Fund was established in 1969 in the wake of Hurricane Camille. Established by Legionnaires to provide relief to Legionnaires impacted by natural disasters, the fund has provided assistance to thousands of members. Donations can be made to The American Legion National Emergency Fund securely online http://www.legion.org/?content=katrinadonate.

CLEP Exams Save Time and Money
There is a way for servicemembers to earn their degrees using knowledge gained from work and personal study, while at the same time saving money and shortening time spent in classes. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and the Excelsior examination program are available to servicemembers in pursuit of a college degree. These programs save students time, money and encompass a large variety of courses. They are in high demand because they can eliminate general course credits. CLEP General Exams cover most first-year level college work. CLEP Subject Exams usually cover a wide range and variety of subjects and fields, which can be applied toward higher-level requirements. The examination program, along with Excelsior exams, also cover subjects that are more specific to degree programs, though they usually do not exceed second-year college level exams. Except for specialized exams, such as speech, which requires an audio-taped impromptu speech, most CLEP exams are uniform in nature. The CLEP General Examinations are timed and multiple choice; the subject exams are timed also, but are not multiple choice. Test results are usually received at the education center three to six weeks after the test date. CLEP exams the government money and servicemembers don?t have to pay for tuition, books, gas or related expenses. CLEP and Excelsior exams are free for active-duty military members, free or a minimal cost to reservists and guardsmen, and are relatively inexpensive for dependents and retirees. For more information on CLEPs and other military education programs visit www.Military.com/Education.

AFOATS Hit Hard By Katrina
Air Force Officer Accession and Training School (AFOATS) officials are assessing the damage to Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps detachments and Junior ROTC units affected by Hurricane Katrina. Twenty-five Air Force JROTC units located in high schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama are potentially affected. Of the 70 instructors assigned to those units, only 25 have been accounted for. Reports have confirmed that at least 13 of the 25 high schools were totally destroyed. Capt. John McIntyre, operations officer for AFJROTC Headquarters here said, "We are assessing what it is going to take to reestablish those units in terms of uniforms, text books and supplies, but our primary concern right now is locating those instructors we have not heard from." Captain McIntyre said the units in and around the New Orleans area have seen the most devastation. Only a few of the instructors assigned to those units have reported in. "We are concerned about the safety of our instructors and their families and hope when they have an opportunity they will be in touch with us by either telephone or e-mail," he said. Brig. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, AFOATS commander, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of people who have lost loved ones and homes in the hurricane. We are especially concerned for the JROTC instructors and ROTC cadets we haven't been able to make contact with and hope to hear from them soon." To contact AFOATS Headquarters, call toll-free at 1-866-235-7682, ext. 3-7513 for JROTC, and ext. 3-9410 for ROTC. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Air Force Aid Society Relief Fund
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Air Force Aid Society has established a nationwide relief fund to help Air Force families affected by the hurricane. Donations to the AFAS Hurricane Relief Fund will be accepted directly from individuals, corporations and organizations, both military and civilian. Monetary contributions may be made by check or credit card. Credit card donations may be made by calling (703) 607-3073 or (800) 769-8951 or by a secure online credit card form located on the Air Force Aid Society Website at www.afas.org. Checks should be made out to the Air Force Aid Society and reference the hurricane relief fund. "The Air Force Aid Society's goal is to be there when you need us," said retired Lt. Gen. John D. Hopper Jr., Air Force Aid Society chief executive officer. "Due to the overwhelming number of requests from individuals who want to help, establishing the relief fund will allow us to track contributions and disbursements donated for this purpose. At all times it is important to look out for our fellow Airmen, and at times like this it is even more crucial." Besides receiving donations, the AFAS is also ready to help individuals who have been affected by the hurricane. If you need assistance, please visit any Air Force Aid Society office or visit the above Website or call the phone numbers above. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Child Care for Hurricane-Affected Airmen
Air Force families affected by Hurricane Katrina and those involved in hurricane relief operations are eligible for free or subsidized child care. Air Force officials opened the Air Force Extended Duty Child Care Program to those involved with relief efforts and those affected by the hurricane, whether they were previously enrolled in Air Force Services Family Member programs or not. Child care exceeding 50 hours a week will be free for servicemembers and civilian employees eligible to use on-base child-care services. Toni Koppen, chief of family member programs for Air Force Services, said Airmen or Air Force civilians need to call their local services squadron family child-care coordinators to take advantage of the free childcare. ?Tell them you are an evacuee and that you want to use the Extended Duty Child Care Program,? she said. ?The same goes if you are deploying as part of relief operations.? For those servicemembers who use off-base child-care centers or family child-care homes, subsidies are available. Air Force Services contracted with the National Child Care Resource and Referral Agency to provide off-base child-care subsidies in local civilian communities for Air Force families temporarily using state-licensed child-care homes and facilities. Families needing child-care help in civilian communities can call the referral agency at (800) 424-2246 to ask about the Operation Military Child Care Subsidy Program. For general information on the program, visit http://www.childcareaware.org/ and click on Military Partnership Programs. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

USAF Asks Evacuated Families to Check In
Officials at the Air Force Personnel Center are urging Air Force family members in safe-haven status to call AFPC at (866) 299-0596 to report their safe-haven location and other contact information. Personnel officials are available 24 hours a day to take calls from family members and ensure they are fine and aware of their entitlements. For those family members with Internet access, additional information is available at http://www.af.mil/katrina, http://AFcrossroads.com, and http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Air War College - Nonresident Program
The Air War College (AWC) has announced the revision of its Nonresident Studies course to ensure currency and relevancy. The college will launch the new curriculum in January 2006. According to Air War College officials, the nonresident program will continue to emphasize the knowledge, skills and attributes required of all Air Force senior officers as they prepare for leadership positions with institutional responsibilities. Officials also said because of structural changes in the design of the course modules, only elective credit can be transferred from the existing program to the revised nonresident program. The core of the current program is not compatible with the revised program. Officials cautioned that unless potential students need to complete AWC before the fall 2006 promotion boards, students who have not yet enrolled in the AWC nonresident course should wait to enroll in the revised program to take advantage of its more relevant and current curriculum. The current program ends Dec. 1, 2006. To ensure sufficient time to complete the curriculum by that time, the college will not accept new enrollments in the existing program after Oct. 1, 2005. Officials will post more information as it becomes available on the AWC Nonresident Homepage at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awc-ns.htm.

Army Emergency Relief is Ready to Help
For those Soldiers, active and retired, and their family members who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Army Emergency Relief Fund (AER) will assist with short-term needs such as food, lodging, clothing, gas, and other financial needs such as rent deposits and bill payment. Any soldiers or family affected by Hurricane Katrina who are in need of financial assistance can call the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The toll free number is 1-866-878-6378. AER is a private nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to help Soldiers and their dependents in times of financial hardships. AER provides interest-free loans with delay-start repayment, as well as grants on an as-needed basis. AER obtains most of its funds through donations from both the general public and the Army Family. Donations can be sent to the Army Emergency Relief Headquarters at 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, Va. 22332. For more information on the Army Emergency Relief Fund, visit http://www.aerhq.org/. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Introducing the Jeep Everyday Heroes Reward
Day in and day out, 365 days a year, thousands of men and women devote their lives to keeping the rest of us safe and secure. The work is harder and the hours are longer than most of us can imagine. As our way of saying thanks, we're offering a preferred price of 1% below factory invoice on any Jeep vehicle for all qualified police, fire, EMS personnel, or a $500 cash allowance for all military personnel. We depend on you, now you can depend on your new Jeep vehicle. http://www.jeep.com/heroes/?pid=9644833

Childcare & Youth Programs Directory
Military spouses seeking information about childcare benefits, youth programs and community support can find a directory of information at http://www.military.com/spouse. Resources also available for spouses include personal finance, K-12 education and relocation information.

Navy Detailing Continues
The Job Advertising and Selection System (JASS) and JASS Career Management System (JCMS) has been offline since Aug. 29 due to the impact of Hurricane Katrina, and Navy detailers are taking all order requests over the phone and through email until the system is up and running again. Detailers have also extended their hours to compensate for the extra phone calls and emails. The extra hours will also make it easier for Sailors stationed overseas to obtain orders. "It's important that every Sailor understands that their application is important," said Master Chief Operations Specialist (SW/AW) Patrick Lumley, PERS-4 senior enlisted advisor. "If they pick up the phone and call the detailer they know their application is going to be recorded. The detailer is going to continue to look at each and every application the same way, whether it's via JCMS or not. The detailer is still going to look at their qualifications, what platforms they have worked on - it's all being taken into consideration as if JCMS had not gone down." The main thing Lumley wants Sailors to understand is that detailers are here to help and if Sailors have any questions, they should ask. "The Navy is 24/7, 365 days a year, and we're going to take care of our people no matter what situation they are in," Lumley said. "If a Sailor detached from their previous command before the server went down or had orders being negotiated, their detailers can help." The current schedule can be viewed at http://www.npc.navy.mil/enlisted/jass.

Featured Job: Armed Security Officer
Security Consultants Group, Inc. has immediate openings for Armed Security Officers to work in the Gulfport/Biloxi Mississippi area. Previous experience in Security, Law Enforcement or Military preferred and must pass Federal Background check and drug screen. Apply Online Today at http://jobsearch.military.monster.com/g ... D=34092737! To see more jobs, go to our Career Center at http://www.military.com/Careers/Home.

DoD Offers Help for Displaced Employees
Defense officials vowed last week to keep DoD civilian employees affected by Hurricane Katrina as up-to-date as possible on benefits and other entitlements and to help these employees continue to contribute to the department's mission. Marilee Fitzgerald, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, encouraged maximum use of alternate worksites, telework, alternative work schedules, temporary duty at alternative work sites and other flexible work arrangements to ensure all employees can keep working following the hurricane. The Defense Civilian Personnel Management Service Website, at www.cpms.osd.mil, is being updated regularly with relevant information, as well as links to agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition, OPM announced last week a new, toll-free hotline for current or retired federal employees or annuitants impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The hotline, (800) 307-8298, will be staffed between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Central Time to answer callers' questions about health insurance, life insurance, disability issues and the status of paychecks and retiree annuity payments, OPM officials said. Officials urged all current federal employees affected by the hurricane who have not yet contacted their agency to call the hotline immediately. The OPM Website, at www.opm.gov, also provides a page specifically for Hurricane Katrina victims and human resources professionals handling their cases. The page provides information on benefits, such as emergency leave transfer, military leave, insurance, retirement payments and human resources flexibilities available to assist affected federal employees. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Emergency Numbers for Servicemembers and Families
Here is emergency contact information after Hurricane Katrina for servicemembers and their families: (1) Army: Soldiers, spouses, family members and all members of the Army Family who need assistance because of Hurricane Katrina should email the Well-Being Liaison Office at katrina.relief@us.army.mil or call them at 1-800-833-6622. Information is also available on the Army's Katrina Hurricane Relief website at http://www.army.mil/katrina/index.html. The website will be consistently updated as soon as new information becomes available. (2) The Army National Guard Helpline is 1-888-777-7731. Families of deployed Army National Guard Soldiers affected by Hurricane Katrina can call the number above and identify yourselves so that we may inform deployed Guardsmen of your situation. (3) The Military One Source telephone number is 1-800-342-9647. Any military members or families in need of counseling services may call the Military One SOURCE number above. (4) The Keesler Air Force Base Helpline telephone number is 1-800-435-9941. (5) The Navy Telephone Helpline is 1-877-414-5358. This line will be staffed 24 hours by active duty Navy volunteers and will have connectivity with Navy, FEMA and other government agencies. They will try their very best to answer questions regarding the status of Navy family members, but please be aware that communication in the region is still inconsistent. (6) Army Reserve family members and Soldiers affected by Hurricane Katrina may now contact the Army Reserve through the new call center at 1-877-464-9330 or from a military phone DSN 367-9330. Phones are manned 24 hours a day. There is also website established where families of deployed/mobilized and dislocated Army Reserve Soldiers and Army Reserve Civilians may provide their current contact information at http://www.arfp.org. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Military Logistics Summit September 28th - 30th
The Institute for Defense and Government Advancement will be holding the Military Logistics Summit, September 28th - 30th, 2005. The Summit will offer thorough treatment of military logistical issues including performance-based logistics, RFID for defense, battlefield logistics, featuring more than 70 leading military logistics speakers addressing the most cutting edge advances in military logistics that matter to you. Find out more at http://www.idga.org/cgi-bin/templates/g ... vent=7720&.

Exceptional Family Member Program
The Exceptional Family Member Program's (EFMP) primary mission is to ensure the special needs of a family member can be met at a new duty station, says Jannie Gooden, EFMP assistant coordinator at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va. Servicemembers must ensure EFMP enrollment is up-to-date to ensure the monitors have the most accurate information. "Enrollment in EFMP is mandatory upon identification of a special need," says Gooden. By Sept. 1, all servicemembers who have family members with special needs must be enrolled in EFMP in order to continue to receive certain medical benefits through TRICARE's Extended Health Care Option. In order to be assigned to EFMP, servicemembers must complete the Exceptional Family Member Medical and Educational Summary, or Department of Defense forms 2792 and 2792-1. Individuals can go to their unit EFMP representative for assistance with the enrollment process and referrals to the EFMP coordinator. Unit representatives also act as liaisons between enrolled EFMP servicemembers and the EFMP coordinator. Once a servicemember is enrolled in EFMP, he or she will be assigned to one of the four EFMP categories. Servicemembers who receive permanent change of duty station orders must check out with their current EFMP coordinator to ensure that all records are forwarded to their new EFMP coordinator, which eliminates possible delays in medical services, housing placement, or special services needed for exceptional family members. For more information on EFMP or to download DD 2792 and DD 2792-1, visit http://www.efmconnections.org.

New Increased GI Bill Rates for 2006
As of 1 October, you may be eligible for over $37,000 in GI Bill benefits to pursue an undergraduate, graduate, technical degree or certificate. Many schools offer credit for military experience. Learn more about the opportunities available and request free information from military-friendly schools today at http://www.military.com/Education/Lead1.

FEMA Getting Assistance to Individuals
As the response efforts to get people out of harms way and placed in safe clean environments continues, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency is reaching out to individuals and assisting them in the application process for disaster assistance. The registration process is one of the first steps in receiving aid through FEMA's programs, and assistance is being expedited to assist those in need. Expedited assistance to help people with their emergency needs of food, shelter, clothing, and personal necessities is being made available to individuals as they apply to FEMA on line at www.fema.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 800-462-7585. FEMA personnel are fanning across the nation visiting shelters and setting up disaster recovery centers staffed with individuals to assist in the process of providing expedited assistance. Currently, the amount of money being distributed through the expedited assistance program is $2,000 per household. This expedited assistance is made available by FEMA to those residents severely impacted by disasters from Mississippi and Louisiana who do not have the usual means of identifying damage to their property or unable to provide the immediate documentation necessary. This emergency assistance is provided to help with disaster needs such as transportation, clothing, rental housing, other housing accommodations, and food, and is included in the calculation of total benefits for which victims are eligible. Once individuals register with FEMA for assistance, funds will be made available either through the use of electronic transfer to put funds directly in individuals' bank accounts, debit cards in some locations, or by check that can be delivered directly to individuals through the US Postal Service. The US Postal Service and FEMA have been coordinating to be sure mail is able to be forwarded and delivered to individuals staying in shelters. Affected individuals in designated counties can register online for disaster assistance at www.fema.gov or call FEMA's toll-free registration line 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) - TTY 800-462-7585. Victims are encouraged to register on-line due to the possibility of high call volume. If registering by phone, owners of commercial properties and residents with only minor losses are urged to wait a few days before calling so those whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged can be served first. Phone lines are open 24-hours, 7 days a week.

Government Contractors & Vendors Hotline
For Government Contractors/Vendors directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has established a 24-hour Hotline. The toll-free number is 1-800-756-4571, Option 6.

Free Legal Counsel For Guard Families
Members of the National Guard mobilized for federal duty, along with their families, can get free counsel at any active duty military installation that has a legal assistance office, according to Air National Guard Maj. Tom Serrano who is a lawyer at the National Guard Bureau. This is especially important for the families of mobilized Guard members who may have to deal with legal issues in the wake of one of this country's historic natural disasters. "National Guard families are entitled to legal assistance," Serrano said. "They can contact the legal assistance office on an active duty base for many kinds of legal assistance they may need." Yes, he added, an Army Guard family can even turn to the Navy for help. There are several active duty installations in the region stricken by Katrina that can offer this free legal help. Legal assistance links can be found through each service's family assistance Websites. However, neither Guard members who have been placed on state active duty nor their families qualify for free legal assistance, Serrano said. Serrano offered these additional tips to National Guard families who are faced with putting their lives back together: -- it is never too late to obtain a power of attorney. Also, do not take unnecessary chances to get your life back to normal. Do not give people money simply because they promise to repair your roof or remove that uprooted tree from your living room. You may never see them, or your money, again, said Serrano. If someone you do not know approaches you with an offer to repair your home, make sure they are legally bonded, that they have a certificate of insurance, that they can prove who they are and who they represent before doing business with them. Visit the Military.com Legal Assistance section http://www.military.com/Resources/Resou ... 04,00.html for more information and links to a Legal Assistance office near you.

Gas Shortages Hit Some AAFES Stations
The closure of refineries and offshore oil platforms as well as oil pipeline failures in the Southeastern United States are impacting fuel availability at Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) gas stations. Citing the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, many AAFES suppliers have given notification of "out of gas" situations at terminals around the country. As a result, there have been sporadic gas shortages at AAFES stations in the Southern and Eastern parts of the United States. AAFES will continue to monitor the situation as it develops. AAFES officials stress that the shortage should not be viewed as a limited regional issue. According to the Oil Express, the industries' information paper, the situation is a national matter involving at least 40 states where product shortages may soon arise. As is the case with the entire petroleum industry, AAFES does not have a get-well time frame for reliable gasoline supplies until the industry damage in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi can be assessed. AAFES operates 249 gas stations worldwide, including 177 locations in the Continental United States.

IRS Disaster Relief Toll-Free Number
The Internal Revenue Service has announced the establishment of a special toll-free telephone number for use by taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina. People affected by Katrina who need help with tax matters can call 1-866-562-5227, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Callers to this dedicated telephone line can find out about available tax relief, get free copies of their tax return transcripts and receive Disaster Tax Loss Kits. Callers may also be referred to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's assistance lines for additional help. Affected taxpayers who need copies of tax returns to apply for aid or other purposes can have the normal user fee waived by writing "Hurricane Katrina" in red across the top margin of their Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. More information about tax relief for victims, making charitable contributions and links to other government web pages is available at the Internal Revenue Service website at http://www.irs.gov. The IRS is continuing to monitor the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and will provide additional relief and guidance in the days ahead. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

MarForRes Helps Military Families
Marine Forces Reserve (MarForRes) family readiness assistance programs are banding together to provide assistance to military families affected by Hurricane Katrina. Different programs offer different services, and knowing who can offer what can ease the challenge of maintaining a healthy and stable family, says Marine Corps Family Team Building Program Manager, Connie Bryant. For financial advice or loans, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) can help immensely, said Bryant. They offer budget counseling and in the event of a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, NMCRS can offer interest free loans and even grants for unforeseen emergencies, essential vehicle repairs, food, rent and utilities. The American Red Cross can help families with immediate disaster relief, said Bryant. The Red Cross can provide food, water, clothes and shelter to any person needing it because of the hurricane. These agencies can be contacted by visiting your local family services center, or logging on to the Army National Guard's website at www.arng.army.mil, and searching for family services to find the nearest facility near you. In addition to military assistance programs, displaced military families can also take advantage of state and local government programs and benefits, as long as they meet certain requirements, which vary depending on location. For example, the State of Texas grants $255 food vouchers, soon to increase to $275, a month for Louisiana state residents who can provide a Louisiana state identification card. State and local benefits can also be found at a local family services center. To find out more about what benefits you or your family might be eligible for, contact Military One Source, a hotline that can help out with questions one might have about relief efforts or general information, call toll-free 1-800-433-6868 or log on to www.mccsonesource.com. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Quantico Schools Looking for Substitutes
Marine Corps Base Quantico is looking for qualified substitutes for all grades, pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. ?Substitute teachers are needed to cover classrooms for teachers who are absent due to illness, personal circumstances, or required training,? said Mike Gould, assistant superintendent for New York and Virginia Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools. The school system is not looking for a specific number of substitutes; any increase in the amount of qualified substitute teachers available will be welcomed, he said. Applicants must have a bachelor?s degree from an accredited college or university and have experience working with groups of children in an educational environment. Substitute teachers are not assigned to any individual school. The entire sub list is available to each school, and substitutes may be called by any one of the three elementary schools or the middle/high school located on base. Substitute teachers may indicate a preferred grade-level range. Any DoD dependent or member of the local community that meets the qualification requirements is eligible to be a substitute teacher. Anyone interested in applying to become a substitute teacher can contact the Quantico Schools Human Resources Office at (703) 784-4095. An application will be provided by mail or may be picked up in the Human Resources Office, located in Burrows Elementary School. Anyone interested may also visit http://www.am.dodea.edu. Along with the required application form, applicants must provide a legible copy of official transcripts, and if available, a copy of any teaching certificates. For more information on career opportunities visit www.military.com/spouse or www.military.com/careers

New DFAS Policy Decreases Identity Theft
The Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller and the Under Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness (P&R) have co-signed a new policy that directs all military departments and all defense civilian employees to support the policy to eliminate paper copies of LES and W-2 tax statements. Under the new policy, military members and civilian non-bargaining employees who log on to the myPay website after Sept. 1 are consenting to receive electronic copies of their documents. Bargaining unit civilians will be brought onto this system as soon as local negotiations are completed. MyPay is currently available to all Department of Defense (DoD) military members, DoD civilian employees, and military retirees and annuitants. Although the policy applies to DoD military members and DoD civilians, the benefits of using myPay to eliminate identity theft associated with postal delivery of these statements also applies to retirees and annuitants for their 1099 tax statements. For many years, myPay has provided military members and civilian employees with a secure method to view, print, and save their LES, W-2 or 1099s electronically. Receipt of electronic documents through myPay eliminates risk associated with hand-delivered mail. By using myPay to view and print LES and W2 statements, the names, addresses, and social security numbers (SSN) of military members, civilian employees, retirees, and annuitants are protected. The individual controls when the document is viewed and printed. The individuals? sensitive data is under their control at all times. This is particularly important for W2s and 1099s, where the SSN cannot be masked due to IRS regulations. In addition to obtaining electronic copies of LES and tax statements, customers can make adjustments to federal and state tax withholdings and update bank account and electronic transfers by accessing myPay. Military members, civilian employees, retirees, and annuitants can obtain access to myPay by requesting a PIN online at https://mypay.dfas.mil or by calling 1-800-390-2348.

USAF Seeks Katrina-Affected Future Airmen
Air Force Recruiting Service officials are seeking contact from members of the delayed entry program (DEP)who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. Those affected may contact the recruiting service at (210) 671-2951 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. CDT. After normal business hours, an Air Force representative is available at (210) 865-5364. Enlistment contracts by people who are in the delayed entry program remain valid. Air Force Recruiting Service officials have began coordinating with the Military Entrance Processing Command and Air Force technical training schools to identify alternate training dates for members of the DEP delayed because of the hurricane. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Seeking LA National Guardsmen & Families
The Louisiana National Guard's Lake Charles family assistance coordinator is seeking assistance in locating Guardsmen and their families from the Greater New Orleans area. Anyone in contact with Soldiers, Airmen or Guard family members evacuated to the southwestern part of the state should immediately call Cammi Quinn at 377-491-2536 ext. 8102 or use the toll free number at 800-611-2536 ext. 8102. Hurricane Katrina damaged the homes and personal property of countless Guardsmen. While the Citizen Soldiers are dealing with the aftermath, their families may stand in need of life sustaining assistance. The Guard's family assistance program can provide relief for these citizens reducing the strain on state emergency resources. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Some Airmen Can Carry Over Leave
Airmen who were recalled from or unable to take annual leave this past year for reasons such as support for contingency operations will be allowed to accumulate more than the normal 60 days after the fiscal year ends. Special leave accrual carry over also applies to the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members who performed full-time training or other full-time duties for more than 29 days. Airmen who lost leave may carry the following leave amounts: (1) up to 120 days for Airmen deployed or assigned to hostile fire/imminent danger pay areas; (2) up to 90 days for Airmen who deployed or were assigned to other than hostile fire/imminent danger locations; and (3) up to 90 days for Airmen impacted by significant and unforeseen operational mission requirements as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, Airmen who lost leave as a consequence of assignments in support of contingency operations as of Sept. 30, 2005 are authorized restoration of the leave they lost. Those Airmen who meet the criteria for having excess leave should contact their local military personnel flight, customer service element for additional guidance such as eligibility to carry over leave beyond the following fiscal year.

TRICARE Information for Hurricane Victims
Tricare beneficiaries and their families affected by Hurricane Katrina will continue to receive health benefits, service and support during this time of tragedy, said Tricare Management Activity officials. Affected beneficiaries enrolled in Tricare Standard, a fee-for-service option, may seek care from any Tricare-authorized provider. Displaced beneficiaries enrolled in Tricare Prime can call Humana Military Healthcare Services at (800) 444-5445 for more information or to find a provider in their area. Additionally, Tricare officials said they are committed to working with those affected by the hurricane to ensure they receive their medications. Beneficiaries will be able to get early prescription refills as needed, and through Sept. 14, the Department of Defense is waiving the pharmacy co-pay for affected beneficiaries who are unable to pay it. For beneficiaries previously using the mail order pharmacy, prescriptions may be requested from retail pharmacies if unable to receive them by mail. However, prescriptions will not be shipped to ZIP codes blocked by the U.S. Postal Service. The Tricare mail order pharmacy contractor is actively transferring prescriptions, upon the beneficiary?s request, to retail pharmacies for those who participate in the program. They are also updating patient information to include temporary mailing addresses so prescriptions will reach beneficiaries at their new locations. For more information about the mail order pharmacy benefit, call toll free (866) 363-8667. For questions about filling prescriptions or submitting claims for the retail pharmacy program, call toll free (866) 363-8779. The Tricare Website at www.Tricare.osd.mil includes important information for displaced or affected beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may also contact beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinators, debt collection assistance officers and family support representatives at local military installations. If beneficiaries are unable to obtain assistance at any of the named resources, they may call (800)363-2273. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

The Army's Role in Post-WWII Japan
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Army has launched a special online presentation, focusing on its role in post-war Japan. On Sept 2, 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender and signed documents aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, officially ending the war. The online, video presentation on the Army's website highlights the last year of the war in the Pacific and the ensuing seven-year occupation of Japan with a series of video vignettes. The entire presentation lasts about 20 minutes, said Robbie Thompson, a multimedia producer who led the Army Web team in the project. He said about seven hours of archival film ? much of it from the U.S. Army Signal Corps -- along with about 1,000 still photos, were searched through at the National Archives to create the final product. The site focuses on the ?call to duty? of U.S. Soldiers in Japan who faced a foreign culture, language barriers and other obstacles as they worked to support the emergence of democracy in Japan, Thompson said. The presentation can be viewed at http://www.army.mil/postwarjapan/.

?Wounded Warriors? Lifted Up by Contributors
The ?Wounded Warriors? program, founded by Col. John D. Folsom, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) liaison officer with II Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd) here in Iraq, has emerged as a powerful tool for people who want to help Marines and other servicemembers while they recover from injuries. The program has developed and focused its energy on two main tracks. The first aims to improve the quality of life at hospitals assisting in the recovery of injured servicemembers. Folsom fills this need by collecting money and directly purchasing or connecting generous donors with the hospital. Whether it is TVs, laptop computers, DVDs, CDs or basic items like towels, flip-flops or linens, the needs are continually met. The second track for the program is operating the Website www.woundedwarriors.org, which publishes a monthly newsletter connecting hospitals in need with the growing list of generous donors who support the program. To date, the program supports hospitals and medical facilities in the Afghanistan and Iraq theater of operations, Germany and the United States. Sites include the 86th Combat Army Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq; the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl Germany; Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Al Asad?s medical facility in Iraq and Camp Fallujah Surgical, Fallujah, Iraq. Folsom plans to continue this effort long after fighting has ended because the troops will still suffer effects of their wounds and there will always be injured servicemembers in the military. For more information on how you can help Wounded Warriors, visit www.woundedwarriors.org. For employment assistance and information for Severely Injured Servicemembers and Veterans visit the Severely Injured Career Center at www.military.com/support

Online Veteran Service Office Resources
Veteran Service Offices are a resource created to assist servicemembers and veterans in applying for and getting the VA benefits they need and deserve. Veteran Service Offices, which are normally located at VA Regional Offices, VA Hospitals and Clinics, are operated by one of many military veterans service organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The counselors who work in these offices are referred to as either Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) or District Service Officers (DSOs). These counselors are committed to assisting you with the process of getting enrolled in the VA, filing claims, appeals and pursuing your hard-earned benefits and compensation. In the past it has been difficult for veterans to find their local VSO, however thanks to the VFW there is a new online resource to assist veterans who need the type of assistance only a truly dedicated VSO can provide. To find a VSO near you go to V.F.W. Service Officers at http://www.vfwserviceofficer.org/ and click on the resources link. Read more about the valuable services VSOs provide at http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13 ... 04,00.html.

VFW Unmet Needs Program
The program provides vital assistance to the families of servicemembers of all five branches of the service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard), as well as members of the Reserves and National Guard. Financial assistance awarded by the program is offered in the form of grants, not loans, so recipients don't need to repay them. In addition assistance may be provided in the form of needed skills or labor. For families in need, the VFW Foundation makes it easy to apply for help. Online applications are available at http://www.unmetneeds.com/, or families may call 1-866-789-NEED (1-866-789-6333). Once a military family completes the initial application, the VFW Foundation contacts the family, and the application is quickly evaluated. If the application is approved, funds are immediately sent to the family. The Unmet Needs Program is administered by the VFW Foundation and supported by Vermont American and individual donations. Individuals can donate either money or time online at http://www.unmetneeds.com/. Contributions can also be mailed to the Unmet Needs Program, VFW Foundation, 406 West 34th Street, Room 514, Kansas City, MO, 64111. Note: 100% of public donations received online or through the mail (see address information or brochures for details) goes directly to our military families in need.

VA Sets Up Toll -Free Nationwide Number for Veterans, Families
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has set up a toll-free number for veterans who normally receive health care at VA facilities in New Orleans, Gulfport, Miss., and Biloxi, Miss. The number can also be used by family members concerned about the location of veterans who were hospitalized at those facilities. The Gulfport facility has been closed, and the New Orleans medical center has been evacuated. The Biloxi facility is still operational. The number is 1-800-507-4571. It will be staffed continuously for the duration of the emergency. By calling that number, people can find out about: (1) receiving health care for veterans evacuated from the storm area; (2) receiving prescription drugs for veterans in the stricken area; (3) locating evacuated VA patients; and (4) any other health care questions for veterans in the area affected by the storm. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

Disaster-affected Legionnaires Offered Fast Assistance
Members of the nation?s largest veterans organization impacted by Hurricane Katrina can now apply directly to national headquarters for immediate relief cash grants from The American Legion?s National Emergency Fund (NEF). Legionnaires can apply to receive up to $1500 to cover costs of food, shelter and clothing needed as the result of devastation created by the nation?s largest natural disaster that affected several Gulf Coast states. A cash grant will be immediately placed in the members credit card account upon approval to cover costs created by displacement from the storm. If the individual does not have a credit card, funds can be transferred direct to a hotel/motel to cover the cost of lodging. ?We want all Legionnaires to know that help is just a toll free call away,? said National Commander Thomas L. Bock. ?Our goal is rapid processing of each application to get money into the hands of our members and their families within a matter of hours.? Legionnaires can call toll-free 1-800-433-3318 to apply by phone. Another option for those with computer access is the online, secure application at https://join.legion.org/katrina/. The American Legion National Emergency Fund was established in 1969 in the wake of Hurricane Camille. Established by Legionnaires to provide relief to Legionnaires impacted by natural disasters, the fund has provided assistance to thousands of members. Donations can be made to The American Legion National Emergency Fund by calling 1-800-433-3318 or going to http://www.legion.org/?content=katrinadonate. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

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VA Launches Hurricane Katrina Blog
The Department of Veterans Affairs Thursday launched an employee blog on VA?s Hurricane Katrina website. The blog includes stories from VA employees in and around the disaster left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and brings into sharp relief the experience of those who survived the storm and those who helped them. The blog is the latest component of VA?s Hurricane Katrina website, designed to provide information to veterans, family members and VA employees affected by the disaster. The website includes comprehensive information on VA hospital and health care facilities, information links to locate veterans evacuated to different VA medical centers, updates on veterans benefits and operations at VA?s national cemeteries. Since its launch on September 2, the day before the Labor Day Holiday, the website has received more than 40,000 visits. The URL for the VA Hurricane Katrina Blog is http://www1.va.gov/opa/katrina/story/. The blog and other information on the Hurricane Katrina website can also be accessed directly from the main VA homepage at http://www.va.gov. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

VFW Help Hurricane Relief Efforts With Online Donation Form
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has established an online donation form for people wishing to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The money collected will provide financial assistance to veterans and military servicemembers who need emergency help. The online donation form is available at https://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=what.l ... 2774&tok=1. To date, National VFW Headquarters in Kansas City, has donated $100,000 each to the VFW Departments of Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as $30,000 to Alabama. Numerous VFW Departments and Posts are contributing to relief efforts, including the Department of California, who has provided $15,000 to Mississippi and Louisiana. For more on Hurricane Katrina, visit our special section at http://www.military.com/Hurricane covering the disaster and ongoing relief efforts.

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