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Family Readiness Update February 2013

MyCAA Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts

The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program provides up to $4,000 (over 2 years) of Financial Assistance for military spouses who are pursuing degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment in portable career fields. The Department of Defense reopened the popular MyCAA program in October 2010, with several key changes in eligibility and dollar amounts. Read more: http://www.military.com/education/money-for-school/military-spouse-career-advancement-accounts-financial-aid.html

DOD Offers Non-medical Counseling to Troops, Families

The Defense Department is working to continuously ensure the well-being of service members and their families through no-cost, short-term, non-medical counseling in the interests of military and family readiness, a defense official said. Jena M. Moore, program analyst for counseling in the Office of Military Community and Family Policy, explained the program during an interview with The Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. "The Military and Family Life Counseling program ... offers short-term, non-medical counseling," Moore said. "And it's confidential for our service members and family members." The program, administered by licensed professionals with masters or doctorate degrees in a mental health-related field, provide services for active duty, National Guard and reserve members and their families, as well as DOD civilians "serving as part of the expeditionary workforce and their families”. To read this entire article please click: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118895

New Resource Helps Troops, Families Plan Deployments

Jan 10th it was released that the Defense Department has launched a new resource to help troops and their families plan for the "before, during and after" of deploying. Barbara Thompson, director of DOD's office for family policy, explained "Plan My Deployment" during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. "This is a new, interactive, online tool that supports service members and their families as they prepare for the different stages of deployment," she said. The new resource guides users through the "ins and outs" of deployment, Thompson said: from power of attorney and legal assistance considerations to financial and emotional issues. Other tips and tools address education and training benefits, she added. "We modeled this after the very, very popular 'Plan My Move,' which helps with [permanent change of station] moves," she said. "It's the same kind of approach: we look at providing the tools and information, and you tailor it to your individual family's needs." Plan My Deployment saves the user's information, she said, so people can exit from the site and return at their convenience, picking up where they left off. Though other deployment planning guides and resources already exist, Thompson said, DOD leaders wanted to offer family readiness assistance to the entire active duty, National Guard and Reserve force and their families. To read this entire article, please click: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118960

Tax Assistance at Military OneSource

Military.com released earlier this week that Military OneSource and H&R Block have joined forces again to provide a free online tax preparation service for service members. Two services -- basic and premium ---- are provided through H&R Block, with one notable difference. The basic service is free, and the premium service would apply to taxpayers who must file Schedule C returns, generally to report gains or losses from business ownership. All members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are eligible to use these services including members of the National Guard and Reserve components, regardless of activation status. Coast Guard reservists activated under Title 10 authority to serve with the Navy also are eligible, and so are spouses and other family members enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. For more information, contact Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil/.

Hunter unveils bill to protect military pay

A California lawmaker is collecting cosponsors for a bill he plans to introduce that would prevent military paychecks from being delayed if the U.S. government runs into cash flow problems. The bill is in response to a statement made Jan. 14th by President Obama that military paychecks could be one of the things not paid if Congress doesn’t increase the $16.3 trillion limit on U.S. debt, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said he aims to try and protect military pay. Hunter, a Marine combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now sits on the House Armed Services Committee responds by saying “There are different ways the debt ceiling fight can play out but regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, the men and women of the military, who are defending our freedom, and anyone serving in a combat zone, should be able to take comfort in knowing they will get a paycheck.” To read the entire article about Hunters bill to protect military pa y visit the Army Times website by clicking here: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2013/01/military-duncan-hunter-protect-pay...

'Fiscal-Cliff' Deal Affects Paychecks

According to The legislation that President Barack Obama signed Jan. 2 that postponed the fiscal cliff means changes to military and civilian paychecks. The legislation increases Social Security withholding taxes to 6.2 percent. For the past two years during the "tax holiday" the rate was 4.2 percent. For military members, Social Security withholding is located on their leave and earnings statement in the blocks marked "FICA taxes". Active duty military personnel will see pay adjustments in their January mid-month paycheck and will be reflected on the January leave and earnings statement. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) stresses that all personnel should review pay statements carefully. To read the entire article please click: http://www.military.com/military-report/fiscal-cliff-deal-affects-payche... You may also want to read “3 Ways the fiscal cliff may Impact taxes” http://www.military.com/money/personal-finance/taxes/3-waysfiscal-cliff-... To learn more about your 2013 taxes and how you could be affected by the fiscal cliff.

'Healing Heroes' Helps Military Families

A new and unique book has just been released that supports MILITARY FAMILIES who are facing changes due to the injury of someone they love. The book "The Healing Heroes Book: Braving the Changes When Someone You Love Is Wounded in Service" is an activity book and valuable tool for military children and families to help them deal with the feelings and challenges, adjust to the changes, and cope when someone they love is wounded in service. You can order the Healing Heroes Book at the http://www.wateringcanpress.com/html/healingheroesbook.html for more military family support resources

Group Reports Top Numbers in Wounded Warrior Jobs

A national organization has had such a high rate of success in its jobs program for severely wounded warriors, it recently called on the Defense Department and other agencies to adopt its approach, announced by officials of the nonprofit group at a news conference conducted by the National Organization on Disability at the Disabled American Veterans headquarters on Jan 15th. The nonprofit group officials went on by saying an evaluation of its four-year program shows that 70 percent of its seriously wounded warriors are experiencing employment and education success at about twice the rate of veterans who are not in the program. The findings of the study stem from the organization’s Wounded Warrior Careers program, which has had about 275 wounded veterans under its tutelage since the program became active in 2008 at the Army’s suggestion. Candidates in the program often have severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, the two signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Of those 275 wounded warriors, the organization says the 70 percent represents those who are employed, in training or enrolled in other forms of education. To read the entire article and learn more about the Wounded Warriors Career Program, please click: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119009 to read the entire article.

Continuing Education Resources for Veterans

Active soldiers and veterans are important members of American society: soldiers because they fight to keep the American people safe, and veterans because, additionally, they bring their past experiences and wisdom back to society–which can help catalyze better decisions surrounding war and protection in the future. In 1944, when the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (the G.I. Bill) was created, it was meant to provide benefits to World War II veterans that could help them acclimate back into life outside of fighting. Since then, the bill has grown to focus very heavily on providing subsidies and scholarships for the education and career-based training of America’s veterans. However, the G.I. Bill system has been wrought by technological instability, as well as an overwhelming influx of returning veterans seeking its benefits, resulting in late reimbursement. If you are pursuing financial assistance for higher education as a veteran from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, there are some important things you need to be aware of as you navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). To read the entire article about education resources for Veterans please click here: http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.org/resources/veteran-continuing-ed/

Wal-Mart Makes Pledges on Veterans, Sourcing

Wal-Mart Inc. plans to offer jobs to veterans in their first 12 months odd active duty and boost domestic sourcing of products by $50 billion over the next ten years. The retail giant said its employment offer—available to any honorably discharged veteran—will begin Memorial Day. Most of the jobs will be in Wal-Mart Stores and clubs, and some will be in distribution centers and the Home Office. "Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make," Wal-Mart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon said. "Veterans have a record of performance under pressure." Noting that Wal-Mart already is the largest private employer of veterans in the U.S., Mr. Simon added that the company projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans during the next five years. To read more about WalMart Inc. pledge to hire Veterans, please click: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142412788732423510457824347191870551...

Top Ten Ways to be a Military Work/Life Balance Ninja

Does anyone believe that work/life balance is possible in the military? Surely that kind of even-stephen life is only for couples who work 9 to 5 and live near the grandparents and never move. Balance isn’t for people like us. Or is it? Military.com and http://spousebuzz.com/ called on Mike Auzenne of Manager Tools, a firm that provides consultancy and training to managers in Fortune 1000 companies around the world. Mike and his business partner Mark Horstman are both graduates of West Point who served in the Army before making the jump to the corporate world. http://spousebuzz.com/ figured that unlike so many corporate types, the Manager Tools guys would be able to outline the steps of work/life balance in the real world military. To read the entire article and check out Mike’s specific suggestion for military members read more: http://spousebuzz.com/blog/2013/01/military-work-life-balance.html#ixzz2...

Army & Air Force Exchange Service and U.S. Army Partner to Open ‘Wounded Heroes Service Center’

After more than a decade of war, the military continues to adapt to the changing needs of service members. Even the 117-year-old Army & Air Force Exchange Service is adjusting to address new realities as it opens a new facility designed specifically for wounded warriors. Just a short drive from Landstuhl Medical Center, the military’s largest hospital outside of the United States, the Exchange partnered with the Department of the Army to open a first-of-its-kind facility for wounded Soldiers in Kaiserslautern, Germany at Kleber Kaserne. “Many injured service members come to Landstuhl with little more than the clothes on their back,” said the Exchange’s Military Clothing Manager at Kleber Kaserne, Deniz Barcala. “Since 9-11, thousands of troops have been bused to our warehouse to pick up clothing, footwear and more after being evacuated from a war zone. About a year ago, Army and Exchange leadership decided we could serve these heroes better.” The resulting “Wounded Heroes Service Center,” with handicap accessible dressing rooms, bathrooms and entrance, is a first for the Exchange. Now open, the new Military Clothing store is for the exclusive use of patients being treated at Landstuhl Medical Center. “The opening of this facility is another example of the Army’s continued investment in the care of our wounded servicemen and women,” said the Commanding General of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command Maj. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee. To read the entire article and more about the “Wounded Warriors Service Center” please click: http://publicaffairs-sme.com/pressrelease/?p=1176