Retiree & Veteran Affairs News 26 September 2012 

9/27/2012 

AUSA ON THE HILL

AUSA Director of Government Affairs, Bill Loper, and other representatives from various military and veterans' associations were invited to a roundtable meeting hosted by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Joined by eleven other Democratic members of the House including ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee Norm Dicks and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the group discussed the problems caused by the lingering threat of sequestration that would gut defense accounts and could affect veteran’s education accounts. 

Another topic of discussion was the advance appropriation to fund veterans’ health care. The stop-gap spending bill just cleared by Congress does not include money for it and all of the associations are concerned that the omission will negatively affect veteran health care. 

Also discussed was the need end to the SBP-DIC offset.  This has been a long-time goal of AUSA’s and we will continue to press Congress to resolve it. 

Rep. Pelosi and the other Democratic members pledged again to maintain their efforts to pass legislation on behalf of military personnel, their families and veterans.

STOP-GAP SPENDING MEASURE HEADED TO PRESIDENT

“I would say that it is not a particularly good bill, but passing it is much better than allowing the Government to shut down over a lack of funding."

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii
Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee


In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate cleared a continuing resolution (CR) that will extend spending through March 27, 2013, and increase funding levels for most programs and agencies by about 0.6 percent.  The measure provides $608 billion for the Pentagon, including $88.5 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account, for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Senators then joined their House counterparts and departed the Capitol until after the election.

The question remains about what will happen after the CR expires at the end of March.  CQ Budget Tracker offers some options: 

* Clear an omnibus spending bill in the lame-duck session, using the six spending measures passed by the House as well as those backed by the Senate appropriations committee as a framework. 

* Allow members to offer amendments and shape an omnibus spending bill.

* Maintain the status quo by extending the current CR through the entire fiscal year to allow lawmakers to focus on reducing the deficit and overhauling the tax code.

Budget Tracker believes the last option is the most likely. 

This is no way to do business.

FINALLY...

As previously mentioned, Congress is in recess until after the Nov. 6 elections.  They will return on Nov. 13

Speaking of elections – Please vote!  To assist soldiers, the Defense Department has launched a mobile website for absentee voters.

The Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently launched a mobile website for military service members, their voting-age dependents, and overseas citizens.  The mobile website provides an interface that quickly leads users to voting information in an easy-to-read, mobile friendly format.

Accessible from any smartphone, the site connects voters, wherever they may be, with the latest news alerts, absentee voting information, State election dates, key contact information, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.  Users also can sign up for FVAP’s voting alerts.
 
The new mobile website is found at: http://www.fvap.gov/mobile/.
 
Users will automatically be directed to the mobile website when they visit FVAP.gov from a mobile browser.

This update will return on Nov. 19.

SEQUESTRATION IMPACT REPORT RELEASED

The White House released a highly-anticipated report last week that outlines the impact automatic spending cuts set to begin in January would have on defense and domestic programs.  

Unfortunately, the Defense Department would take the largest hit of any single department, with a 9.4 percent reduction in non-exempt discretionary spending that amounts to a $55 billion cut for defense programs.  

The report said that sequestration would have a “devastating impact on important defense and nondefense programs.  While the Department of Defense would be able to shift funds to ensure war fighting and critical military readiness capabilities were not degraded, sequestration would result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families.”  

Cuts to weapons systems were not detailed in the report, but they would be made at the same 9.4 percent level.  The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz., released letters from top defense industry leaders who outlined the devastating effect sequestration would have on their businesses.  The industry leaders were responding to a query from McCain and six colleagues on the committee about the automatic cuts' impact.

The responses universally described the immense personnel and program disruption sequestration would have on their companies.  Some of the companies are already seeing the effects of the impending cuts in a slowdown of contract awards and difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled workers.

In an effort to address sequestration, the House passed a bill last week that would require the President to submit to Congress by Oct. 15 a plan to replace the defense cuts with other spending reductions.  However, the measure would not allow the plan to include revenue increases, a key point contained in the Democratic plans to address the sequester.

In any event, it is guaranteed that a solution to sequestration will not occur until after the November elections.  Although Congress only returned from their August recess last week, they will depart again on Friday and will not return until Nov. 13. 

CONTINUING RESOLUTION PASSES HOUSE. AWAITS SENATE ACTION

Legislation that would fund the government through March 27, 2013 easily passed the House last week.  

Overall, the continuing resolution (CR) provides spending for the first six months of fiscal 2013 at an annualized rate of $1.047 trillion for discretionary spending, which matches the caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act.  The plan exceeds fiscal 2012 spending by $8 billion.

The bill provides $88.5 billion in war-related funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, the amount requested by the Administration. 

 It also contains provisions that would:

 •Allow the Defense Department to acquire supplies in other countries for use in Afghanistan. 

•Allow additional funding for nuclear weapons modernization efforts, to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

•Allow additional funding for the Veterans Administration to meet an increase in the disability claims workload. 

•Extend the current pay freeze for federal employees, which include members of Congress.

Although the House passed seven of the 12 regular spending bills, the Senate failed to pass any of their bills.  They are expected to clear the CR this week.

STOLEN VALOR ACT HEADS TO SENATE

AUSA-supported legislation that makes it a crime to knowingly benefit from lies about receiving military awards passed the House last week.  

 The Stolen Valor Act of 2011 (H.R. 1775), introduced by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., makes a key change to the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it infringed upon free speech rights. 

 It is expected that Rep. Heck's bill will withstand constitutional scrutiny because the legislation narrowly focuses on those who seek to benefit from their misrepresentations of receiving military awards - not the lie itself.  

 The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.  A companion measure has been introduced by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

PAPER DISCUSSES EARNED MILITARY COMPENSATION

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare (ILW) has produced a National Security Watch that addresses calls to reform the wide range of compensation earned by military personnel.  

The paper touches on four key points:

 1. No amount of reform to military earnings—even comprehensive, systemic reform—could ever make more than a symbolic dent in the nation’s budget and debt crises.

2. Proposed fee hikes or access restrictions for TRICARE are only temporary half-measures that do not address the root causes of cost growth and do not meaningfully “stabilize” account growth.

3. The main purpose of the military compensation system is to help guarantee military readiness.  It is worth paying a premium to ensure that the expertise and professionalism of the force endures.

4. It is unfair to make drastic reforms to military earnings (or to make evolutionary reforms that have a drastic impact over time) that have a substantially negative impact on real people but have a comparatively tiny positive impact toward their intended aims.

As part of our continuing campaign to keep Congress informed on issues important to the association and its members, AUSA sent a copy of the National Security Watch to all members and key staff of the defense oversight committees.  

To view the document, click here.

Stop Loss Pay Deadline Nears

Oct. 21 is the last day for eligible servicemembers whose enlistments were involuntarily extended or had to remain on active duty beyond approved retirement or separation date due to stop loss authority, to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP). RSLSP compensates active duty, Reserve component, former and retired servicemembers who, at any time between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, served on active duty and had their enlistment or period of obligated service involuntarily extended. Claims are processed through the respective services personnel offices - for more information, visit the Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay webpage.

4 Keys to VA Loan Approval

VA loan approval may be easier than many think. Understanding the VA requirements can help borrowers know what to expect during the VA home loan process. The VA publishes a lender's handbook as a guideline for companies that originate and fund VA loans. In the handbook are four basic loan approval requirements that VA-approved lenders use when considering loan applications. A veteran who understands the basic approval guidelines is better able to consider whether they are likely to qualify for a VA mortgage. Read more for the four keys.

Have a Flag Flown on the Battleship NC

The Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina flies the national flag daily and is pleased to fly one for you from the ship's foremast on your special occasion or in memory or honor of your loved one. Flags are flown at no charge except to cover shipping fees, if needed. Flown on the specific date of your preference, the flag, provided by you or purchased through the Ship's Store, will fly high above the NORTH CAROLINA and is then returned to you with a personalized signed certificate from the Executive or Assistant Director. Call the Ship at (910) 251-5797 for more details. For more information, visit the Battleship North Carolina website at www.battleshipnc.com or follow on Facebook.com/ncbb55 and Twitter.com/battleshipnc.

After the Military: Checklists and Tips

What is next after the Military? Explore your options. Start early and get ahead with the Transition Center. Military.com has launched the new Military Transition Center, which features revolutionary personalized checklists to guide servicemembers and retirees through transition even before you begin the separation process. The Transition Center works simply, but effectively. Designed to be the first place you go to plan your transition. Simply enter in your estimated separation date and you'll receive monthly email notifications with checklists and tips to help prepare for your exit from the military -- benefits and options after transition, civilian careers that match your military experience, resume keywords, interview tips, financial changes, relocation advice and more. Visit the Military Transition Center Now. AAFES Online Savings Club

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service's Exchange Online Savings Club is a one-stop clearinghouse for savings and promotions. Shoppers who sign up for the Exchange Online Savings Club are among the first to know about online savings events. They also receive exclusive coupons and are automatically entered for chances to win prizes. Authorized Exchange shoppers can find out more, and join the Exchange Online Savings Club, at the ShopMyExchange.com website at www.shopmyexchange.com/SavingsClub 

The Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a Department of Defense-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through Yellow Ribbon events, servicemembers and loved ones connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments. The Yellow Ribbon Program began more than five years ago through the National Defense Authorization Act and it has benefited tens of thousands of servicemembers from all branches of the military. For more information on the program, visit the Yellow Ribbon Program website at www.yellowribbon.mil, or to register for an event, visit the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program website at www.yellowribbonevents.org .

New Commissaries Rewards Card

The new DeCA rewards card allows you to go online and put electronic coupons on your Commissary Rewards Card. The cashier will scan your card and the coupons automatically are deducted from the shopping total. Get more information on Military.com.

W.Va. Launches Ambitious Veteran Outreach Effort

September 23, 2012 | 8:15 pm
By Lawrence Messina

The Associated Press

The Washington Examiner

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia lawmakers are launching a comprehensive survey Monday to learn more about the state's legions of military veterans and their needs before the next legislative session.

Aided by psychologists and counselors, the project plans to ask veterans about their health, work, education and family, among other topics. The survey is mailing more than 8,000 postcards to veterans this week, inviting them to take part. Veterans can also call a toll-free number to schedule a phone interview, or take the survey online.

"We want to find out what veterans out there need, and what they don't need, and also how they're involved in the community and what they're doing," said Joseph Scotti, a psychology professor at West Virginia University who's helping to carry out the survey. "Veterans are typically can-do people, and so we want to ask about that and document that."

Volunteers will hand out flyers at places like Walmart, and organizers will promote the survey with veterans' groups. To help encourage participation, those who do can enter a drawing for $500 worth of Visa cash gift cards.

Close to 170,000 West Virginians are veterans, more than one in 10 adults, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau. Just 11 states have a larger segment of veterans among their residents. More than two-thirds of West Virginia's veterans are 55 or older, while about 7 percent have served since the Sept. 11 attacks, the estimate suggests.

Scotti said 60 percent of veterans never enroll with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, presenting a challenge to outreach efforts.

"That's a lot of guys and gals out there who may need help but don't know how to get it," Scotti said. "We have a large group of veterans who don't seek services either because they don't need them or think they need them, or they think it's too difficult to go out and get them."

Scotti and fellow WVU Professor Roy Tunick, who teaches rehabilitation counseling and counseling psychology, helped design the survey and will analyze the results. Atlas Research, a firm owned by a service-disabled veteran, is managing the project.

Scotti and Tunick previously helped the Legislature survey veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. That 2008 effort mailed surveys to more than 6,400 veterans and received more than 1,100 responses. A Washington Post investigation that revealed grossly substandard conditions for wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. helped prompt that outreach, said Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer, co-chairwoman of the House-Senate interim Select Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

The Post series included the story of Cpl. Jeremy Harper, an Iraq veteran from West Virginia with post-traumatic stress disorder who drank himself to death in 2004. Fleischauer cited that case and one involving another veteran who had lost a limb and his sight in combat and then burned down his mobile home upon returning to neighboring Pennsylvania.

"Just the thought of someone being alone in a trailer, and not being able to see ... " said Fleischauer, a Monongalia County Democrat. "These veterans risked their lives. They made such a huge sacrifice."

AUSA 2012 Annual Meeting

The Association of the United States Army welcomes all AUSA members, military and civilian employees of the United States armed forces and their families to AUSA’s Annual Meeting which will be held from 22-24, October 2012 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Annual Meeting will include four Military Family Forums in which Army senior leaders and experts in the field of family readiness provide their views on the status of the Army family and Army family readiness programs. All forums will be live streamed across the country and overseas. Anyone eligible to attend the AUSA Annual Meeting may attend the Military Family Forums. Register now by going to: http://www.udreg.com/ausa 

Youth Runs Presented by Health Net at ARMY 10 Miler

Two youth runs, sponsored by Health Net Federal Services will be conducted at the 2012 Army 10 Miler, 100m run for kids in Kindergarten - 3rd grades and a 200m for kids in 4th - 8th grades. Both runs are non-competitive and each child will receive a medal after crossing the Finish Line. There is a registration fee of $10 which includes an official short sleeve youth run t-shirt, race bib and medal. The youth runs are presented by Health Net and take place on Sunday, 21 October at the Pentagon. The runs will start upon completion of the Army 10-Miler of which AUSA is a co-sponsor. For details or to register, please see: http://www.armytenmiler.com/registration/youth-run.htm

Army, Navy Suicide Prevention Awareness

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and the Army and Navy are using the month as a launch pad to focus on their ongoing suicide prevention efforts. Resources will be available all month to guide discussion on stress navigation and suicide prevention concepts. Tools and resources are available on the Navy Personnel Command Suicide Prevention webpage at http://www.suicide.navy.mil, the NavyNavStress.com website (navynavstress.com), and the Army Stand-To! Website (http://www.army.mil/standto/) . For immediate assistance, Servicemembers and family members can contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Message from GEN Austin Regarding Suicide

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III sends a message to Soldiers encouraging them to take advantage of the Army's Suicide Awareness and Resilience training happening on 27 September 2012. For more info and resources from the Army on suicide awareness and prevention visit: http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp .  The ARMY SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAM’S MISSION IS TO Improve readiness through the development and enhancement of the Army Suicide Prevention Program policies designed to minimize suicide behavior; thereby preserving mission effectiveness through individual readiness for Soldiers, their Families, and Department of the Army civilians.  If you or someone you know is suffering from stress, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, contact the Military Crisis Line -- 1-800-273-8255. http://www.militarycrisisline.net/ActiveDuty.aspx

Military Suicide Bereavement Study

The University of Kentucky Military Suicide Bereavement Study is seeking family members of Servicemembers and veterans who have died by suicide. Those who participate in the survey will answer questions to determine eligibility before the research team schedules a convenient time and location for the study, which takes about three hours to complete. The study does not have to be completed in a single sitting and all participants will receive $50 for their efforts. This study was funded by a grant was awarded from the Department of Defense's (DoD) Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) to the University of Kentucky's College of Social Work. For more information about the Military Suicide Bereavement Research study, e-mail mailto:melinda.moore@uky.edu or call (859) 257-0073

TRICARE on Preparing for Emergencies

September is also National Preparedness Month. TRICARE urges beneficiaries to stay prepared for tropical storms, hurricanes, and other emergencies. In the case of evacuations, the TRICARE pharmacy program may authorize early refills for prescriptions. The TRICARE disaster information page at http://www.tricare.mil/disasterinfo offers updated information, along with TRICARE announcements.  Additionally, it provides handy lists of what people may need to access health care. Contact numbers for health care support can be found at the TRICARE Contacts webpage at http://www.tricare.mil/contacts. Information and tips on disaster preparedness can be found at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website at http://www.ready.gov while the National Hurricane Center offers the latest news at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov.

TRICARE/Walgreens Update

Express Scripts had reached an agreement with Walgreens to resume their status as a network pharmacy provider. Although Express Scripts and Walgreens had reached this network agreement for participation in one of Express Scripts networks, TRICARE has decided that Walgreens will remain designated as a non-network pharmacy provider for TRICARE beneficiaries.  For further details about this update, please see: http://bit.ly/UT0LHI

Army Ready with Flu Vaccine

The Army has ordered nearly 2 million doses of vaccine to immunize all Soldiers, their families, civilian employees and retirees for the upcoming flu season. The vaccinations will be available at most installations in October, but each medical facility will set its own schedule for distribution. The Army expects to have 90 percent of the force vaccinated by 17 December. Flu vaccinations will also be available at no cost to beneficiaries from any TRICARE-authorized provider or at any participating pharmacies. To find a participating pharmacy, call 1-877-363-1303 or visit the TRICARE Pharmacy Program website at http://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE/pharmacy/

Family Matters Blog: Managing Military ID Cards Just Got Easier

The Defense Manpower Data Center is making it easier for Servicemembers and their families to get and maintain identification cards.  The center has launched its Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPID), a self-service portal to allow anyone with the Defense Department’s common access card, or CAC to apply for family ID or retirement cards or update dependents’ statuses online.  The change may seem procedural, but its impact will be big for those who, without it, have had to spend countless hours waiting in line with their families to get ID cards.  Before RAPIDS, Servicemembers, retirees and families had to go together to a Defense Manpower Data Center to submit an application form and wait while the ID card is being made.  To read this article in full, please go to:  http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117899

Program Eases Voting for Military Families

Federal voting officials want to ensure that Servicemembers and their families are prepared for their votes to be counted.  The Federal Voting Assistance Program has made the voting process easier for Americans serving overseas. The website includes a tab for each state’s deadlines for registering to vote and casting absentee ballots. Additionally, it has online registration and absentee ballot assistance, and includes a mobile app.  If you prefer to go in person, there are 221 installation voting offices, all of which the program supports.  The Military Postal Service Agency provides free, expedited ballot delivery and ballot tracking to your local election office for overseas-based Servicemembers and their families. Go to your local post office or postal clerk, use the Label 11 DOD form on your absentee ballot envelope and mail it. Go to http://www.usps.com to track the status of your ballot, according to the program’s website.  In order to view this entire article, please go to: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117826

House Passes New 'Stolen Valor' Act

Those who lie about military service or make false claims about receiving military medals with the intent of benefiting from those claims would be committing a crime under legislation passed by the House recently.  The House's 410-3 vote on what is known as the Stolen Valor Act came less than three months after the Supreme Court struck down the original act on the grounds that it violated First Amendment free speech rights. The new bill attempts to get around the court ruling by making clear that it applies only in cases where people lie about a military record with the aim of obtaining payment or other benefits. For more details, see: http://mnstr.me/Swwr1X

New DOD Safe Helpline Mobile App Now Available

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced its new DoD Safe Helpline Mobile application.  With this new app, Servicemembers transitioning to civilian life will have access to critical resources that assists in managing the short and long-term effects of sexual assault.  The DoD Safe Helpline Mobile App is free and available for download from the Apple and Android app stores.  DoD administers Safe Helpline via a contract with the non-profit Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.  To learn more, please go to: http://thankyouforyourservice.us/issue/september-2012/article/new-dod-safe-helpline-mobile-app-now-available

DoD Recognizes Hispanic-American Achievements

National Hispanic Heritage Month gives the Defense Department an opportunity to recognize the significant contributions made by the nation's Hispanic-Americans.  The observance, which began September 15 and runs to October 15, also nprovides the department an opportunity to reflect on diversity and inclusiveness.  Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said diversity is important to the department's mission success and inclusion for military and civilian workers.  Not only does that bring a variety of background skills, language, cultural competencies DoD will need in the 21st century, but diversity also fosters and environment where people feel they can achieve whatever they want.  To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117859

Play Military Trivia and Win an iPod

Do you think you know military history and trivia? Test your knowledge with our Military.com Trivia Challenge. Here's how you win: For each question you answer correctly you'll receive one point, and for each point you'll earn an electronic raffle ticket. At the end of the month we'll have a random drawing of all the tickets and pull out one to determine the winner. Play as little or as much as you'd like during the month, but the more questions you answer correctly, the greater your chances of winning. To play now, click: http://www.military.com/Trivia/Home?ESRC=mrvr.

Army and Air Force Exchange to Salute Those 'Still Serving'

As part of its annual “Still Serving” weekend, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will salute former Soldiers and Airmen by offering unique specials and events at Exchanges worldwide, 5-11 October.  Army and Air Force retirees will receive a flyer featuring exclusive savings on a wide variety of products, including deals at the food court.  Additionally, local Exchanges will honor the service of retirees with “Still Serving” celebrations to include fashion shows, door prizes, health clinics and much more.  Additionally, AAFEES online store , http://www.shopmyexchange.com , will offer 10 percent off any order of $100 or more to shoppers who sign up for the “Online Savings Club E-newsletter,” which offers online savings and exclusive discounts.  You may sign up for this E-newsletter at: http://bit.ly/RwhsEU.  To learn more about activities planned for the weekend of 5 October, contact information for all Army and Air Force Exchanges can be found online at http://www.shopmyexchange.com through the “Store Locator” link.

AAFES $500 Essay Contest

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is asking shoppers to write a short 220-500 word essay on which Exchange Value representative they feel best depicts their lifestyle and how they identify with their preferred individual. Video introductions of all representatives can be seen at http://www.shopmyexchange.com/PatriotFamily. One winner from each represented category will be chosen to receive a $500 Exchange gift card. The contest is open to all military and DoD ID card holders 18-years-old and older. The contest is open until 4 October 2012.Contest entry details, and complete contest rules are available at the Patriot Family Connection webpage at http://www.shopmyexchange.com/Community/patriotfamily/contests.htm 

Military Pay Safe from Budget Cuts

The White House released its 396-page report that details $54.7 billion in Defense Department cuts in 2013 if Congress cannot agree on a deficit reduction plan to avoid sequestration by Jan. 2. The report details the 9.4 percent cuts in Defense Department discretionary spending. As promised by President Obama, funding for military personnel accounts, including pay, will not be subject to sequester cuts. Department of Veterans Affairs funding has also received an exemption.
The White House did hedge in the report saying the estimates found in it are not final.

House Passes New 'Stolen Valor' Act

Those who lie about military service or make false claims about receiving military medals with the intent of benefiting from those claims would be committing a crime under legislation passed by the House last week. The House's 410-3 vote on what is known as the Stolen Valor Act came less than three months after the Supreme Court struck down the original act on the grounds that it violated First Amendment free speech rights. The new bill attempts to get around the court ruling by making clear that it applies only in cases where people lie about a military record with the aim of obtaining payment or other benefits.

VA Says No Service Dogs

The Department of Veterans Affairs will no longer pay for service dogs for veterans suffering only with post-traumatic-stress-disorder and other mental health disabilities. A 67-page, final draft of rules concerning veterans in need of service dogs was published today in the Federal Register and will become final in 30 days. In justifying its decision, the VA cited "nationally established" and "widely accepted" training protocols for sight, hearing and mobility-assistance dogs and the lack of similar training protocols for mental health service dogs. For more details, see this Military.com article. For more military-related pet stories and features, visit the Military.com Pet Corner.

GI Dogs Study in Nevada Seeks Vets

G.I. DOGS, a program of Nevada Humane Society dedicated to providing service dogs and pets for Nevada's military veterans, is conducting a clinical study that hopes to show that veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will show fewer signs of anxiety and an overall reduction in their PTSD symptoms after helping a rescue dog become a certified service dog. Veterans with diagnosed PTSD are being sought to participate in this free clinical study. Participants will work with former shelter dogs to qualify them as service dogs. For more details, please contact Alicia Adams at 775-328-1860. For more information on Nevada Humane Society's G.I. DOGS program, please call at 775-856-2000 ext. 323.

Military Suicide Bereavement Study

The University of Kentucky Military Suicide Bereavement Study is seeking family members of servicemembers and veterans who have died by suicide. Those who participate in the survey will answer questions to determine eligibility before the research team schedules a convenient time and location for the study, which takes about three hours to complete. The study does not have to be completed in a single sitting and all participants will receive $50 for their efforts. This study was funded by a grant was awarded from the Department of Defense's Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) to the University of Kentucky's College of Social Work. For more information about the Military Suicide Bereavement Research study, e-mail melinda.moore@uky.edu or call (859) 257-0073.

Women Vets Stand Down in South Dakota

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Black Hills Health Care System is hosting its first Women Veterans Stand Down on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Sturgis Armory, at the corner of Junction Avenue and Main Street in Sturgis, South Dakota. The Women Veterans Stand Down is intended to serve homeless and low-income female veterans from the VA Black Hills catchment area. There is no charge for any of the services. Veterans who have not previously enrolled with the VA are requested to bring a copy of their military discharge papers, DD 214, to the Women Veterans Stand Down. For more information about the Women Veterans Stand Down, call Dianna Monahan at 605-347-2511 ext. 97247.

AUSA 2012 Annual Meeting

The Association of the United States Army welcomes all AUSA members, military and civilian employees of the United States armed forces and their families to  AUSA’s Annual Meeting which will be held from 22-24, October 2012 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Annual Meeting will include four Military Family Forums in which Army senior leaders and experts in the field of family readiness provide their views on the status of the Army family and Army family readiness programs. All forums will be live streamed across the country and overseas. Anyone eligible to attend the AUSA Annual Meeting may attend the Military Family Forums. Register now by going to http://www.udreg.com/ausa/

Youth Runs presented by Health Net at ARMY 10 Miler

Two youth runs, sponsored by Health Net Federal Services will be conducted at the 2012 Army 10 Miler, 100m run for kids in Kindergarten - 3rd grades and a 200m for kids in 4th - 8th grades. Both runs are non-competitive and each child will receive a medal after crossing the Finish Line.  There is a registration fee of $10 which includes an official short sleeve youth run t-shirt, race bib and medal.  The youth runs are presented by Health Net and take place on Sunday, 21 October at the Pentagon. The runs will start upon completion of the Army 10-Miler of which AUSA is a co-sponsor. For details or to register, please see: http://www.armytenmiler.com/registration/youth-run.htm

CDNY "THE BEST CHAPTER"

The CDNY AUSA Chapter has been awarded “best Chapter” for their size Chapter (less than 250 member goal) by AUSA National. This is a big deal and they will be receiving the award at the Opening Ceremony at the AUSA National Annual Meeting in October. A special thank you all for the tremendous support provided their Chapter EXCOM this past fiscal you (1 Jul 11 – 30 Jun 12).  They are also Runner Up for the Greatest Percentage Increase in Membership and received Honorable Mention for the Greatest Percentage Increase in Corporate Membership. Additionally, they were a Chapter of Excellence which is the top rating for a Chapter. They received six “Best” and two “Greatest” for our size Chapter awards. To learn more about the CDNY AUSA Chapter, please click: http://www.ausacdny.com/

Secretary of Defense to Host National Guard Bureau Change

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta hosted a change of responsibility ceremony for the chief of the National Guard Bureau at 0800 EDT, 7 September in the Pentagon Auditorium. Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass replaced Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley as the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Grass will also receive his fourth star during the ceremony.  As chief of the National Guard Bureau, Grass will serve as a military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council and is the Department of Defense's (DoD’s) official channel of communication to the governors and adjutants general in all 54 states and territories on all matters pertaining to the National Guard. He will be responsible for ensuring that more than half a million Army and Air National Guard personnel are accessible, capable and ready to protect the homeland and to provide combat resources to the Army and the Air Force. For the entire article, please go to: http://www.nationalguard.mil/news/archives/2012/09/090612-Secretary.aspx?src=rss

President Proclaims Patriot Day, Day of Remembrance

President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States as Patriot Day and National Day of Remembrance.  By a joint resolution approved (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day," and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized "National Day of Service and Remembrance."  For the president's proclamation, go to: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117806

Parents Should Stress Safety at 9/11 Anniversary

Dr. Stephen Cozza, associate director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD states that how you talk to children about 9/11 is important and especially for military families.  9/11 is an opportunity to remind children about the meaning of deployments.  There is certainly pride in knowing that your parent is working to prevent this from happening again.  Discussions with children about 9/11 should be age-appropriate and based on information the child needs and is ready for, as well as the family's personal connection to the tragedy.  Additionally, children can become anxious from warnings about ongoing terrorist threats, so conversations should focus on safety and preparedness. To view more about this subject, please see: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117792

Spouses Hold Front Line on Detecting Depression

Military leaders all the way to the commander in chief are drawing attention to the importance of good mental health and putting resources into programs to help veterans, Servicemembers and their families.
But when it comes to recognizing and treating mental health problems, such as depression, spouses are the first line of defense, some treatment professionals say. Spouses know the patients better than their doctors, typically, so they are at the front line of this.  Symptoms of depression can be subtle and hard to detect.  Feeling sad or having a depressed mood is only one of the symptoms of depression.  Other signs of depression include: Trouble concentrating; Changes in eating and sleeping – either too much, or barely at all; Anger or irritability; Low sex drive; Social withdrawal; and Losing interest in activities he or she used to.

TRICARE Requires Proof

After 1 September 2012, TRICARE beneficiaries must send proof of payment with all overseas medical claims, including claims for care received when traveling overseas. Overseas Active Duty Dental Program claims also require proof of payment if the Servicemember pays a provider directly. Beneficiaries who pay an overseas provider directly should indicate this and the amount paid at the top of the medical claim form to ensure the claim is processed quickly and correctly. Claim forms can be downloaded from the TRICARE Forms webpage at www.tricare.mil/forms. For questions about this policy, contact the appropriate overseas regional call center and select option 2 for claims. For contact information, visit the TRICARE Contacts webpage at www.tricare.mil/contacts. For more information about proof-of-payment requirements, visit the TRICARE Proof of Payment for Overseas Claims webpage at http://www.tricare.mil/proofofpayment.

Using Virtual Reality To Treat PTSD

Soldiers are taking part in a virtual reality exposure therapy study at Fort Bragg that is aimed at treating post traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), and other combat related stress disorders. Professionals from the departments of Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services  (DHHS) are conducting a study to see if use of virtual reality (VR), therapy will help Servicemembers coming home from combat environments combat PTSD.  This study is designed to show if virtual reality exposure therapy is an effective way to combat the severity and symptoms of PTSD.  Over the next two years, professionals are looking to work with around 350 Fort Bragg soldiers to show scientific proof that the use of virtual reality is a viable option for the treatment of PTSD.  For more information on PTSD and treatment options visit the National Center for PTSD website at: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/ or go to http://www.fortbraggmwr.com and go to the link for PTSD.

New GI Bill Payment Rates Announced

Each year in October, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) payment rates increase to meet the growing cost of education. This October the MGIB full-time student payment rate will be increased to $1,564 a month for the 2013 fiscal year (2012-2013 School Year). Eligible veterans and Servicemembers could receive as much $56,304 in cash benefits over 36 months. This new monthly payment rate applies to all MGIB users no matter when they became eligible for or began using the Montgomery GI Bill. View the new MGIB rates for part-time through full-time enrollment at: http://mnstr.me/QFecKv .

Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Eases Registration, Ballot Process

With Election Day about two months away, absentee military and overseas citizen voters can enjoy a streamlined process to register, obtain a ballot and exercise their right to vote.  There are, now, new outreach initiatives designed to make voting assistance more innovative and user-friendly than ever before, with an emphasis on engaging junior military personnel, the largest segment of the Defense Department (DoD) population.  Outside of the electronic domain, FVAP maintains a call center that operates five days a week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT and can be used by voters worldwide to get help on how to file an absentee ballot.  For in-person interaction, voting assistance officers and installation voter assistance offices remain available as well.  The goal is to make sure that anyone who wants to vote has the resources and tools they need from anywhere in the world to successfully exercise that right.  Read more information at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117763

Exchange Recognized as Top 50 Organization for Diversity

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES) focus on diversity is being recognized again as LATINA Style magazine has named it one of its LATINA Style 50 for 2012. The annual evaluation, which analyzes more than 800 corporations, identifies organizations that provide the best career opportunities for Hispanic females in the United States. Companies assessed for the Latina Style award were evaluated on issues that readers identified as most important to them in the workplace. Among the principal areas of evaluation were number of Latina executives, retention, mentoring programs, educational opportunities, alternative work policies, employee benefits, women's issues, job retraining, affinity groups and relations. New categories were also added this year that display which companies have a dedicated program to supplier diversity and have increased their Latina population.  For further details, see: http://publicaffairs-sme.com/pressrelease/?p=933&preview=true

Fifth Grade Students Recognized for Supporting Veterans and VA Research

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) honored two students for their efforts to raise awareness about Veterans and VA Research. Francesca Cetta and Claire Quigley were recognized by Dr. Madhulika Agarwal, VHA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Services for their “outstanding efforts on behalf of VA Research and its mission to improve the lives of Veterans.”  Both are fifth-grade students who reside in Potomac, MD.  Inspired by a demonstration of VA’s research efforts and the DEKA arm prosthetic at the April 27 VA Research Week Central Forum, Ms. Cetta enlisted the help of Ms. Quigley to hold a bake sale.  For more information on VA’s research program, visit http://www.research.va.gov.

SmartPay Card + the Exchange = Mission Accomplished

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has a mission to provide quality products and services at competitive prices. This same mission can also apply to authorized GSA SmartPay card holders who are looking for a one-stop source for products or services their agency or organization needs, at the best price. In addition to the same friendly and knowledgeable service Exchange associates provide America’s warfighters, military units and government agencies using a SmartPay card at the Exchange or online at http://www.shopmyexchange.com benefit in a variety of ways such as savings, convenience, and price-matching. In addition to the myriad of savings and convenience benefits of using the SmartPay card at the Exchange, civilian employees who are not normally entitled to Exchange privileges, but are authorized to make organizational purchases, need only show their SmartPay card and a government ID to make official purchases.

Exchange Supports Operation Warfighter with Career Opportunities

At Fort Hood in the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), there is a program, known as Operation Warfighter (OWF) that provides wounded with an opportunity to try new career fields. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is actively supporting wounded and injured warriors through the OWF program.  A total of 11 Operation Warfighter’s have worked at various Exchange locations including Ft. Hood, Waco Distribution Center, Ft. Carson and Exchange HQ’s.  The Exchange work with the WTU to find troops who are interested in participating in an internship.  It’s a win-win arrangement because the employer benefits from having an experienced service member on our staff, and the Servicemember gets to try out life in a corporate environment.  The Exchange is a $10 billion a year operation, so there are lots of opportunities.  To follow up on this subject, please view: http://publicaffairs-sme.com/pressrelease/?p=939

Rate Increase - Montgomery GI Bill Now Worth up to $56,304

Effective 1 October 2012, the full-time monthly GI Bill rate will increase 6% to $1,564.

Now is the time to use the GI Bill. Find schools with VA-approved programs that may:

·  Give Credit for Military Experience with ACE Credits

·  Allow You to Test Out of Classes with CLEP

·  Offer Online Courses with Flexible Class Times

Use the GI Bill to get up to $56,304 toward paying for your Degree

TRICARE Requires Proof

After Sept. 1, 2012, TRICARE beneficiaries must send proof of payment with all overseas medical claims, including claims for care received when traveling overseas. Overseas Active Duty Dental Program claims also require proof of payment if the servicemember pays a provider directly. Beneficiaries who pay an overseas provider directly should indicate this and the amount paid at the top of the medical claim form to ensure the claim is processed quickly and correctly. Claim forms can be downloaded from the TRICARE Forms webpage at www.tricare.mil/forms. For questions about this policy, contact the appropriate overseas regional call center and select option 2 for claims. For contact information, visit the TRICARE Contacts webpage at www.tricare.mil/contacts. For more information about proof-of-payment requirements, visit the TRICARE Proof of Payment for Overseas Claims webpage at www.tricare.mil/proofofpayment.

TRICARE/Walgreens Update

Although Express Scripts and Walgreens have reached a new network agreement for participation in one of Express Scripts networks, TRICARE has decided that Walgreens will remain designated as a non-network pharmacy provider for TRICARE beneficiaries

DoD Issues New Travel Policy

Beginning October 1, 2012, any travel authorization that includes air travel must be approved and ticketed at least 72 hours in advance of the scheduled flight departure to avoid airline reservations from being cancelled. Under the new policy, if an Authorizing Official (AO) does not approve an authorization within 72 hours of departure, the airline reservation will be cancelled and the traveler will arrive at the airport without a ticket or a reservation in the airline's system. This applies to all City Pair and non-contract government flights that are either booked through DTS or through a Commercial Travel Office (CTO). If airline reservations are cancelled, a traveler will be notified via email or phone by their Commercial Travel Office. For more information, visit the General Services Administration website to read the FAQs.

AAFES GSA SmartCard Pricing

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) offers competitive prices to authorized GSA SmartPay card holders. Servicemembers, military units and government agencies using a SmartPay card at the Exchange or online at www.shopmyexchange.com pay no sales tax and receive 10 percent off any purchase (excluding gas, tobacco, alcohol and certain Military Clothing items). AAFES will also match a competitor's price on identical items under the "We'll Match It" program. Also, civilian employees who are not normally entitled to Exchange privileges, but are authorized to make organizational purchases, need only show their SmartPay card and a government ID to make official purchases. For more information, contact your local Exchange.

AUSA 2012 Annual Meeting

The Association of the United States Army welcomes all AUSA members, military and civilian employees of the United States armed forces and their families to  AUSA’s Annual Meeting which will be held from 22-24, October 2012 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Annual Meeting will include four Military Family Forums in which Army senior leaders and experts in the field of family readiness provide their views on the status of the Army family and Army family readiness programs. All forums will be live streamed across the country and overseas. Anyone eligible to attend the AUSA Annual Meeting may attend the Military Family Forums. Register now by going to http://www.udreg.com/ausa/

Youth Runs presented by Health Net at ARMY 10 Miler

Two youth runs, sponsored by Health Net Federal Services will be conducted at the 2012 Army 10 Miler, 100m run for kids in Kindergarten - 3rd grades and a 200m for kids in 4th - 8th grades. Both runs are non-competitive and each child will receive a medal after crossing the Finish Line.  There is a registration fee of $10 which includes an official short sleeve youth run t-shirt, race bib and medal.  The youth runs are presented by Health Net and take place on Sunday, 21 October at the Pentagon. The runs will start upon completion of the Army 10-Miler of which AUSA is a co-sponsor. For details or to register, please see: http://www.armytenmiler.com/registration/youth-run.htm

NTX AUSA Chapter & North Texas Charity Supports Army Families

Did you know that the national headquarters of the Army Scholarship Foundation is in North Texas? Since 2001, this non-profit group has assisted Army family members pursue their educational dreams by assisting them with academic scholarships. The North Texas Chapter of AUSA has been a partner of the Army Scholarship Foundation for the past year, collaborating as a part of the Chapter’s Leadership Development programs.  This year, members recently participated in the Army Scholarship Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Day in Dallas. Chapter members served as evaluators joining with a team of volunteers in helping to review the many applications received by the Army Scholarship Foundation and assisting in selecting the most deserving recipients.  This all day event was most enlightening for our AUSA members. According to Army Scholarship Executive and NTX AUSA member Jeff Gault, this year, the Army Scholarship Foundation provided twelve scholarships to Army family members across the nation, yet well over 200 applications were received from Army family members in need of assistance.  The Foundation provides scholarships to deserving sons and daughters of US Army soldiers and Army veterans, as well as to spouses of serving active duty enlisted Soldiers. For more information on the foundation, please go to: http://www.ArmyScholarshipFoundation.org

President Lauds Troops, Families in Weekly Address

President Barack Obama recently commended Servicemembers and their families in his weekly address to the nation.  The president acknowledged that the members of our armed forces are patriots in every sense of the word, and the United States will continue to do everything in its power to keep them safe and help them succeed.  The president also mentioned to troops at Fort Bliss that part of honoring their service means strengthening the nation they fought to protect by welcoming veterans into the civilian workforce.  It is a time to do some nation-building here at home.  For this entire article, please click: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117726 

Changes Abound as Schools Open Throughout DoD

According to Merilee Fitzgerald, Director of Department of Defense Educational Activity Schools (DoDEA), DoD schools rank at the top or near the top in every measurement of student achievement, but while students may be getting an education that prepares them for 21st century careers, some of the physical plants for the schools themselves are old; not unsafe, but just in failing condition.  DOD provided about $3.7 billion over five years to fix these schools. 49 schools are now in design, about eight schools are under construction, and they’ve opened up some new schools.  The new schools incorporate all the latest educational thinking, all students have laptops, and the schools will have enough outlets to charge them and connect with sites.  To understand these changes further, please view: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117695

TRICARE Benefit Unchanged

The TRICARE benefit will not change now that UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans will replace TriWest Healthcare Alliance as the TRICARE West Region health care contractor. Beneficiaries currently using the TRICARE civilian health care networks are expected to find that most TriWest providers will also have agreements with UnitedHealthcare. For details and the latest updates about the contract change, visit the TRICARE West Region Transition website at http://www.tricare.mil/westtransition to sign up to receive email notifications with new information. All beneficiaries in the West Region will receive welcome packages with information from UnitedHealthcare well ahead of the 1 April 2013 transition date.

Battaglia Asks Leaders to Engage, Troubled Troops to Reach Out

The military’s top enlisted leader wants service members to use September’s National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month as an opportunity to learn what to do when a fellow Servicemember, family member or veteran reaches out for help.  Servicemembers who seek assistance, and those who are in a position to offer it, need to know that it’s OK not to be OK.  Servicemembers, family members or veterans don’t have to wait until they feel suicidal to take advantage of the services offered by the military and the Veterans Affairs Department (VA).  Asking for assistance is the crucial first step, and there are resources out there such as The Military Crisis Line -- 1-800-273-8255.  For the entire article, please click: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117740

Army to Hold Suicide Stand Down

The U.S. Army will conduct an Army-wide suicide "stand down", scheduled for Sep. 27, as a way to empower leadership to prevent further loss of life due to suicide. The stand down is meant to familiarize all members of the Army family with the health promotion, risk reduction, suicide prevention, and comprehensive Soldier and family fitness resources available in the Army. Although the stand down is just for one day, Morales said training and activities will be conducted throughout September, which is recognized in the Army as Suicide Prevention Month. Efforts will likely continue into October, particularly for the Reserve Component. For more information, visit the Army Suicide Prevention Program website located here: http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp

New Transition Training for Soldiers

Post-military life for Servicemembers presents challenges such as finding jobs and obtaining health care. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP), part of the Army Career and Alumni Program, is set up to provide out-processing Soldiers, veterans and dependents with the necessary skills and realistic expectations for their new, civilian life. Though TAP has been part of the Army for years, it is currently undergoing a revision called Transition GPS that will make it more intensive, involved and in-line with current economic trends. The new initiative, which begins 21 November, also makes TAP mandatory for all departing Soldiers. For more information on Transition GPS and the new changes, visit the White House website at: http://1.usa.gov/SQFoFP

National Guardsmen Serving 'Admirably' During Isaac

As Tropical Depression Isaac bounds northward into the Mississippi River valley, National Guardsmen continue to provide critical support to local emergency officials and citizens throughout the Gulf states. Louisiana-Mississippi National Guardsmen are serving admirably during the storm, and have already rescued or evacuated more than 3,400 citizens during ongoing search and rescue operations.  In addition to delivering pallets of generators, water and supplies to key facilities throughout the state, guardsmen have also set up distribution sites to provide meals, ready-to-eat, water and ice.  Further details can be found at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117717

Wounded Warriors Motivated by Paralympic Games

A group of Europe-based wounded warriors took the opportunity to get some relaxation with a trip to observe the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.  Soldiers assigned to Warrior Transition Units, participating in adaptive reconditioning programs in Germany, Italy and Belgium, received passes to London’s ExCel Centre to watch events such as table tennis and judo.  According to Christopher Ebner, the battalion occupational therapist for the Heidelberg, Germany-based Warrior Transition Battalion, the purpose of this trip was to focus on motivating all of our Soldiers that are participating in adaptive rehabilitation programs in our battalion as part of their rehabilitation process.  Once the Soldiers complete the process, they will either return to duty or transition back to the civilian sector.  The other piece of having these Soldiers come to the Paralympic Games is to witness, firsthand, the level of achievement these athletes are able to reach, regardless of their injuries.  Read more at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117703

Army, NFL Team Up to Fight Brain Injuries

The Army and the National Football League (TBI) are working together to improve awareness of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and increase research into its causes, prevention and treatment.  The top leaders of both organizations, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, met at the U.S. Military Academy 30 August to discuss the issue and sign a letter of agreement to continue sharing resources to combat TBI.  Mental and physical toughness, discipline, team over self and stressing the importance of resilience are fundamental to the cultures of both the NFL and the Army.  However, these traits can sometimes prevent them from seeking help following concussions.  The Army and NFL are continuing their dialogue and sharing of research on TBI.   NFL players and Soldiers are now coordinating strategies and using special types of tests to determine if a concussion has occurred.  It seems as if Odierno and Godell would like a cultural shift to where there is no reluctance of football players and Soldiers to ask for help after receiving concussions.  To learn more about this awareness, please see: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117721

Army to Keep Current PFT for Now

The U.S. Army will retain the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, pending a study to determine the best method to measure baseline Soldier physical readiness. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is preparing to reestablish the master fitness trainer program, which will eventually provide commanders at all levels certified fitness advisers. TRADOC will also transition TC 3-22.20 Physical Readiness Training to Field Manual 7-22 Physical Readiness Training in fall 2012. TC 3-22.20 can be found under Physical Fitness Files channel in USAPFS Portal located at: http://1.usa.gov/SgYJn7
ars in Iraq and Afghanistan: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  Strengthens suicide-prevention efforts across the force and in the veteran community; Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between the Department of Veterans Affairs and community providers; Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving veterans; and Promotes mental health research and development of more effective ways to prevent, identify and treat PTSD, TBI and other related injuries.  View the complete article at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117706

New Post Exchange Construction Under Way

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is constructing a new 270,000 square foot Post Exchange off of Gorgas Road, Fort Belvoir, that is expected to open in April 2013.  The new Exchange will house the Military Clothing Store, the Home and Garden Center, the Gun Shop and the Customer Service Center.  New additions to the food court will include a Popeye’s Chicken and a Starbucks.  Shops at the current Exchange will remain the same to include the Barber Shop, Beauty Shop, Optical Shop, GNC and the stores in the food court.  Over half of the construction on the new Exchange has been completed.

Military Families Get Free Tickets to SeaWorld

Anheuser-Busch salutes those who serve through their "Here's to the Heroes" program. Active duty, Reservists, and National Guardsman (and three dependents) can obtain one free admission to any one of the amusements parks: SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place, Water Country USA, and Adventure Island each calendar year. The military member does not need to be present for dependents to participate in the program. All eligible individuals must register online or at the park to take advantage of the program. Other restrictions apply; some parks are seasonal.  Get this deal by clicking: http://mnstr.me/PI8Ifk

New VA Handbook for Veterans

The 2012 edition of the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors is now available online. Produced by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the handbook's chapters cover such topics as VA pensions, home loans, medals and records, special veterans groups, and other federal benefits. It also has a listing of VA facilities, plus links to helpful websites and a telephone directory. The handbook is available in English or Spanish on the VA website at: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp