Latest Updates are here for our Troops and their Families. See our Veterans page for latest news for our Veteran Servicemembers


 Family Service Members' Group Life Insurance Benefit Changes

Service members married to other service members are no longer automatically enrolled in the Family Service members’ Group Life Insurance program, Pentagon officials said. The change was effective Jan. 2, and to date affects about 4,500 service members. No changes have been made to the Service members Group Life Insurance program in which all service members are enrolled. SGLI provides up to a $400,000 payment to a service member’s beneficiary, while the Family SGLI term insurance benefit provides a payment to a service member of up to $100,000 upon the death of a spouse or $10,000 for dependent children. The Veterans Affairs Department administers the program. There are no changes for personnel who were auto-enrolled before Jan. 2, nor are there changes for military members married to civilian spouses, Martin said.

GI Bill Policy Update to Transferability Rules

Soldiers who opt to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member will now be required to serve an extra four years in the Army, regardless of the amount of time they've already been in the service. The policy change, announced in an April 15 memo to military personnel, starts Aug. 1. The new rule will affect mainly retirement-eligible senior officers and enlisted soldiers. The current policy allows retirement-eligible members to transfer their GI benefits to a family member with anywhere from zero to three extra years' service depending on the length of time the applicant has been in the military. Non-retirement- eligible soldiers who wish to transfer their GI Bill benefits to a family member were already required to have six years of active duty and then re-up for another four years. The new policy makes the additional four-years a requirement for anyone wanting to transfer their benefits. 

Army Sleep Study

Researchers from academia and the private sector are teaming up to study and improve the sleep quality of Soldiers through an online survey. The survey is now available online to active and reserve-component Soldiers, other servicemembers, as well as veterans. Soldiers take the 10-minute survey to describe their own sleep patterns and habits, which will help researchers which kinds of sleep aids and coaching might be most useful to Soldiers. The focus is not just on sleep, but also on other health problems that poor sleep might be signaling. There are more than 100 types of sleep disorders and some of these are linked to serious health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. For more information, visit the National Sleep Foundation website at www.sleepfoundation.org.

Army to Update Transition Assistance

Parts of a new transition assistance program, or TAP 2.0, were tested this summer and TAP will be ready for separating servicemembers over the next few months. The employment workshop of TAP has been given at seven pilot installations and will be ready for all TAP sites by January. Troops attending TAP will be able to select a path, depending upon if they plan to pursue education after the military, search for a job or start their own business. After the initial mandatory five-day workshop, additional days of training will be available depending upon the path that servicemembers select and their ability to meet "career readiness standards." For information on current transition assistance, visit the TurboTAP website at http://turbotap.org/register.tpp.

COLA Overview

As a servicemember, you can expect to be stationed virtually anywhere in the country. During your career, you are likely to be assigned to a variety of low-, moderate- and high-cost locations. To help offset the effects of higher cost areas, military servicemembers may be eligible for a Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA). COLA is designed to compensate for being stationed in certain "high-cost" locations in the continental United States (CONUS). Get a full overview and calculate your COLA.

Changes in TRICARE Dental Program

Recent changes in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) have left some military families paying out of pocket. Many local dentists are not part of the new contractor's network, and though they may still "accept TRICARE," they will require a patient to pay beyond normal cost shares. This may result in charging patients the balance between their charges and what the TDP would pay for. Dentists in the TRICARE network are not permitted to do that. Thus, beneficiaries should find out first if their dentist is part of the network. To find a list of providers or address other TRICARE Dental concerns, call the MetLife Dental Customer Contact Service Center at 1-855-638-8371 or visit the MetLife TDP website. Beneficiaries should have their Social Security number and that of their sponsor on-hand before calling or visiting the website.




Panetta Announces Initiatives Targeting Sexual Assault

Sexual assault has no place in the Defense Department, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on January 18 calling the crime “a stain on the good honor of the great majority of our troops and their families.” Panetta announced four initiatives today designed to aid victims and strengthen prosecution of military sexual assault cases. He said a “broader package of proposals” soon will follow two new sexual assault policies the department announced in late December. The secretary said 3,191 sexual assaults were reported in the military last year, but because historically only a fraction of such crimes are reported, the true incidence of sexual assault likely approaches 19,000. Troops willing to fight and die for their country “are entitled to much better protection.” To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289628&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/zDuXcM





SecArmy Reaffirms Support for Soldiers, Families

Secretary of the Army John McHugh reaffirmed the Army’s support to Soldiers and families during a visit to the headquarters of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command on January 11. Following a morning visiting with Wounded Warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center, McHugh met with Installation management Command, or IMCOM, Commanding General Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter and other top IMCOM officials at Fort Sam Houston to discuss installation issues. McHugh’s visit, which included tours of the IMCOM headquarters building and nearby Installation management Academy, ended with a recognition ceremony for a number of IMCOM Soldiers and civilians. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289630&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/yTurwG

Career Fair Draws 1,000 Job-seeking Spouses

More than 1,000 military spouses were on the job hunt today at the nation’s largest hiring fair and career forum dedicated solely to career-seeking military spouses. The chamber launched the Hiring Our Heroes program in March as a nationwide effort to help veterans and spouses find employment. While the chamber aims to host 100 veteran and spouse career fairs across the nation in a year, this spouse-only fair was the first of its kind. The turnout exceeded even the chamber’s expectations, said Laura Dempsey, senior advisor of military spouse employment for the chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program. Military spouses aren’t seeking job preference, but job empowerment, noted Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289631&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/waIBpK





Law Eases TSA Screenings

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law 3 January to streamline airport screening procedures for Servicemembers and their families traveling on official orders. The Risk-based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act gives the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) six months to develop and implement a plan to expedite screening services for Servicemembers on orders and in uniform. The agency also expedites the screening process for Honor Flight Network veterans, and partners with the Defense Department to expedite screening for wounded warriors and their families. For further details on TSA screenings, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289635&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/4AsfG





Seasonal Affective Disorder

While it may be just a temporary case of “winter blues” for most people, for others the long cold days of winter can be a serious psychological problem. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder and never has an acronym been more apropos: SAD. Two seasonal patterns of SAD have been described: the fall-onset SAD and the summer-onset SAD. The fall onset type, also known as “winter depression,” is most recognized. In this subtype, major depressive episodes begin in late fall to early winter and decrease during summer months. The cause of SAD is not well understood. It is believed that the decreasing daylight available in fall and winter triggers a depressive episode in people predisposed to develop the disorder. However, no studies have established a casual relationship between decreasing daylight and the development of winter SAD. To read this article in full, please go to; http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289638&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/grJlxY

Military's Groundbreaking Vaccine Targets Breast Cancer

Military researchers here have developed a cutting-edge cancer vaccine that’s slashing breast cancer recurrence rates and giving some survivors a better shot at a cancer-free future. After more than a decade of research and testing, the cancer vaccine, dubbed E-75, soon will move on to its final phase of testing to earn Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. There are high hopes for this vaccine and its lifesaving potential for breast cancer survivors, particularly since breast cancer is the one of the most prevalent types of cancer seen among military beneficiaries. The vaccine targets a protein commonly over-expressed in breast cancer cells called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2/neu. To understand this vaccine further, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289639&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://bit.ly/wT9vYe





Walgreen TRICARE Contract Expires

The expiration of the retail pharmacy contract between Express Scripts, Inc. And the Walgreens pharmacy chain means Walgreens is no longer a TRICARE pharmacy network provider as of 1 January. TRICARE beneficiaries changing from Walgreens pharmacy can simply take their current prescription bottle to their new network pharmacy to have the prescription transferred. To find a nearby network pharmacy, use the "find a pharmacy" feature on Express-Scripts website at http:http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289640&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://bit.ly/ywI5M4//bit.ly/ywI5M4 . Beneficiaries who want help finding a pharmacy, changing their medications to Home Delivery, or who have other questions can contact Express Scripts at 877-885-6313. For more information, visit the TRICARE website at http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289641&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/u0EGNb.

VA Deploying Mobile Centers

The Department of Veterans Affairs has deployed 20 additional Mobile Vet Centers. These customized vehicles travel to communities to extend VA's reach to veterans, servicemembers and their families, especially those living in rural or remote communities. VA has 300 Vet Centers across the country offering individual and group counseling for veterans and their families, family counseling for military related issues, bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death, employment assessment and referral, VA benefits explanation and referral, screening and referral for medical issues and other services. To find out more about Vet Center services or find a Vet Center in your area, visit VA's Vet Center webpage at http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289642&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://bit.ly/9n95as.





College Credit for Military Experience

The American Council on Education (ACE) was created in 1942 to recognize the educational value of military training and experience. Through ACE, you can take academic credit for most of the training you have received, including Basic Training. The first step to claiming the credits you have earned is to request a transcript from your military service. Each service will provide unofficial personal copies and send schools an official copy of your transcript at no charge. In most cases, ACE recommended credits will be used to fulfill your free-elective requirements, but each college determines the number of credits they will accept, and how they will be applied toward your degree. In fact, some schools may even choose not to grant any credit for military experience. That is why it is critical to shop around for a school that meets your specific requirements. For more information, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289643&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://mnstr.me/wWGmAs





AKO Issues ID Theft Warning

Stars and Stripes reports that Army Knowledge Online (AKO) is recommending that users monitor their credit card statements and change online passwords, especially if they used their Stratfor password with other accounts. Hackers recently published hundreds of thousands of registered email addresses and Stratfor usernames online, along with thousands of credit card numbers. If users find fraudulent activity on their credit cards, AKO recommended contacting one of the three main credit bureaus and submitting a fraud alert. Stratfor is providing 12 months of identity theft coverage to all of its paid customers. For more tips on avoiding financial and computer scams, visit: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289644&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://mnstr.me/A2m9Bk

Visit Base Guides to Get Local Info

Looking for the best tacos in town or the perfect spot for a romantic dinner? Did you find a business that you think other servicemembers should visit -- or avoid? Our new Military.com Base Guides, sponsored by NFCU, is your one-stop source for what you need to know about life on base and around your area. Get the scoop on your area now.

AF Wounded Warrior Child Care

Wounded warriors and the dependents of combat-fallen warriors now have priority placement privileges on child care waiting lists for Air Force child care programs. This includes child development centers, family child care homes and school-age programs. In order to receive priority placement, Airmen must be enrolled in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. The base casualty assistance representative can help with eligibility verification. For families unable to access installations, community-based child care subsidy assistance is available through the National Association of Resource and Referral Agencies website at www.naccrra.org/military or by phone at 800-424-2246.

TRICARE Home Delivery

Beneficiaries who use TRICARE pharmacy home delivery get prescription medications shipped to their door. They also have the option of automatic prescription refills when their medication supply is running low. Beneficiaries using home delivery also save money. Copayments at retail pharmacies are three times higher for a 90 day supply of the same medication. For more information about home delivery, visit the TRICARE website. To sign up for home delivery, or to enroll existing home delivery prescriptions in the automatic prescription refill program, beneficiaries should go to ESI's website, or call the TRICARE Member Choice Center at 877-363-1433.







Fed Begins Phase-Out Of Paper Benefit Checks

On 1 May, the first step in ridding paper checks for federal benefits began.  People newly applying for federal benefits as of that date must choose an electronic payment option at the time they apply for benefits, paper checks are no longer an option. The policy applies to disability payments, GI Bill payments, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income as well as other benefits through the Veterans Affairs Department, Anyone currently receiving federal benefits by paper check must switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013. To switch you can go to http://www.GoDirect.org, call the Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center’s toll-free help line at 800-333-1795, or speak to someone at your personal bank or credit union. Those who would prefer to receive their payments on a prepaid debit card, or who do not have an account at a financial institution, can receive a Direct Express Debit MasterCard card through GoDirect.org.  No action is required If you already receive your checks electronically.  To read more about the Feds going “paperless”, please go to: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/04/military-direct-deposit-federal-benefits-042911w/





New Bills Could Impact Military Life

Several recently proposed bills could impact important aspects of military life including military pay, retirement benefits, spouse employment and GI Bill benefits.  House bill HR 1297 would ensure military pay is safe in case of future government shutdowns, and HR 1451 would protect current student veterans from the financial impact of GI Bill 2.0.  Senate bill S.745 would ensure veteran students would not lose GI Bill benefits during scheduled school breaks, In addition, some FY2012 budget proposals include cuts which could result in TRICARE Prime premium and fee increases, limits on access to the VA health care system for certain vets, and a possible military pay freeze.  To learn more or to contact your elected officials, please go to: http://www.military.com/military-report/new-bills-could-impact-military-life?ESRC=miltrep.nl

New Bill Restores Fairness to GI Bill

In an attempt to rectify the possible financial damage caused by last year's Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act, Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and Chairman Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) have recently introduced bill H.R. 1383, the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011. H.R. 1383 will temporarily authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay tuition and fees on behalf of eligible veterans attending non-public education and training institutions under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, in an amount that is the greater of $17,500, or the maximum in-state rate for undergraduate tuition and fees.  For inquires, comments, or to read more about this topic, please go to: http://www.capwiz.com/military/issues/alert/?alertid=41246501&type=MLhttp://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.1383.IH

Proposed Combat Pay Increase

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced legislation that would give Servicemembers modest increases in their combat-related special pay and Family Separation Allowance (FSA). Specifically, the bill would raise the monthly hostile fire or imminent danger pay from $225 to $260; hazardous duty pay from $250 to $260; and the monthly FSA from $250 to $285. According to information posted on his website, McNereny introduced a similar bill last year entitled the Combat Act in 2010. Provisions from that bill subsequently passed the House with bipartisan support, but it did not pass through the Senate.  To learn more about this legislation, please go to: http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2011/04/congress-seeks-to-raise-combat-pay/

DoD Casualty Assistance Program Information-link below

Link for this page:  http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/tf/casualtyassistance

The Department of Defense strives to support the families of wounded or deceased service members by providing them with accurate and compassionate services through the Casualty Assistance Program.  The Casualty Assistance Program covers a wide spectrum of services ranging from supporting severely injured service members who are working to regain a level of normalcy in their lives to assisting family members of deceased, unaccounted for, or missing service members with final arrangements and with understanding and accessing certain benefits and entitlements.

Voluntary Education

Military personnel and their adult family members seeking to obtain a vocational or college degree, boost their careers, demonstrate skills through licensure or certification, or staying proficient in a foreign language, may profit from the DoD Voluntary Education Program. Installation off-duty education centers offer degree programs through distance learning, traditional college, and on military installations. The degree programs and instruction are flexible to accommodate the mobile lifestyles of service members and their adult family members, regardless of their geographic location. Those interested can obtain education guidance, and if qualified, tuition assistance, from their Service on-line education portal or installation education center.  Visit each Service's education offerings at DoD's voluntary education website.




Leaders Outline Improved Health Care Services

The Defense Department has taken a number of recent steps to improve health care and family support services for military members and their families.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee about several areas of improvement during a hearing about the department’s fiscal 2012 budget.  The DoD has improved the delivery of mental health services by hiring 6,000 mental health care workers since 2001, previously the department had only about a thousand.  Officials also have stabilized programs, specifically regarding mental health and family support services, by removing them from the supplemental war funding budget and placing them in the base budget to make them sustainable. Public awareness campaigns such as the one announced last month concerning the health of military families also goes a long way in helping Servicemembers and their families.  The White House campaign “is a huge step forward in giving this visibility in a way we just haven’t had before,” said Gates.  To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62875

As new information is made available we will add it here so please check this often:


TriWest Offers New Service to Combat Anxiety

--Expanding Condition Management Programs to include Anxiety--

PHOENIX (Mar. 1, 2011) TriWest Healthcare Alliance has a new Disease Management program for clinically diagnosed anxiety, which now joins the array of wellness and disease management programs offered to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and, in general, can help one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it develops into a disabling disorder. Anxiety disorders last at least six months and can grow worse if not treated. Eligible beneficiaries suffering from this level of anxiety can receive extra help through TriWest Healthcare Alliance, which manages the TRICARE military healthcare entitlement on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD) for 21 western states.

Significant anxiety disorders affect about 40 million U.S. adults 18 years and older in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. To compare, approximately 37 million people live in the state of California.

The Anxiety Disease Management program at TriWest has a number of services to help beneficiaries cope with their disorder, including a health coach who works with one’s primary care manager to tailor an action plan. The health coach will then work with the beneficiary until the plan’s goals are met. As needed, the beneficiary can also access smoking cessation, exercise, medication and nutrition help from his or her TriWest health coach.

TriWest’s Disease Management department also offers support to beneficiaries with diabetes, asthma, lung diseases (COPD), heart failure and major depression. The anxiety program, launched by TriWest in March, is a no-cost entitlement for those who are eligible. Eligibility is determined by TRICARE and is based on claims history. Once a beneficiary is identified as eligible to participate in the program, the DoD refers the beneficiary to TriWest. A Disease Management health coach then contacts the beneficiary and invites him or her to participate in the program.   

In addition to what it offers through its Disease Management programs, TriWest works alongside the Military Health System to offer behavioral health resources for those in need. One such resource is the TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP). With this program eligible beneficiaries, including services members and their families, can access private, confidential counseling sessions 24/7 with a licensed therapist via the Internet (Skype), chat or the phone. These sessions are non-clinical and intended for general life issues, such as stress management or relationship problems. For more information, visit www.triwest.com/onlinecare

Beneficiaries can find additional resources at www.triwest.com/anxiety and www.tricare.mil.

Published Date: 03/01/2011





Operation Showers of Appreciation:  This organization hosts baby showers for military families that are expecting their little bundle of joy! I think that is just absolutely wonderful and a great idea!!  The next baby shower is scheduled for March 5, 2011 in the Fremont, California area so if you are a military family expecting a new baby, please contact her asap. The following Wish List can be printed out and used to send over to the organization to help them with your family needs.  If you are nominating a family, please fill out the form below after copying it and send it along with the Wish List.

President, Operation Showers of Appreciation, Inc.

(866) 977-6762 ext 81

(fax) 760-859-3331

(cell) 949-547-7780

Tax ID # 26-2419938









Army Launches New Website for Wounded Warriors

The Army Warrior Transition Command launched a new website covering issues identified in feedback from wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans. The new site, http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=11405592&m=1165408&u=AUSA&s=http://www.WTC.army.mil, was designed to be a comprehensive source of information on Army warrior care for more than 16,000 wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans

DoD Call Center Links Troubled Troops, Resources

Troubled troops, veterans and family members have a round-the-clock, free resource for locating the help they need to deal with psychological health problems and traumatic brain injury. The 24/7 Outreach Center is part of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, or DCoE. The center is always staffed with trained, professional health-resource consultants.  To visit the DCoE Outreach Center, go to: http://www.dcoe.health.mil/24-7Help.aspx








TRICARE Supplement Law Changed

Civilian employers of military retirees once again can offer a TRICARE supplemental plan with their health insurance options, so that workers who elect to use their TRICARE Standard benefit can buy coverage conveniently and with pre-tax dollars. The change took effect June 18, 2010 under a final rule published by the Department of Defense (DoD). To learn more, and to read the article by Tom Philpott go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10140412&m=1062742&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,216641,00.html?wh=benefits&ESRC=finance.nl

Electronic Medication Management Program Helps Injured

Military doctors say a new device is showing very positive results in keeping Wounded Warriors on top of their medications. The electronic medication management assistant, Emma, is currently being used at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and 3 other military medical centers. Emma is offered to Soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury who have non-medical attendance or who are on the high-risk sole provider program. Emma reminds patients to take medication and can also help prevent accidental or intentional overdose. Emma is directly linked to the provider and an alert is sent out each time there is activity, so pharmacists can keep track of each individual patient. To learn more about this medication management assistant, go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10140413&m=1062742&u=AUSA&s=http://www.pentagonchannel.mil?fr_story=bd0d0ed139ac8c04d2fd9e2e6a09a87e9a5fd68a&rf=rss

Health Net Extends Partnership with Text4Baby to Military Communities

Health Net Federal Services has broadened their partnership with text4baby to include access to Servicemembers. Text4Baby is a new, free mobile information service that provides timely health information to pregnant women and new moms from pregnancy through a baby’s first year.  Women can sign up by texting BABY to 511411 and they will begin receiving three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth.  The text4baby program is supported by numerous businesses throughout the country.  U.S. government partners include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services.  To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10140415&m=1062742&u=AUSA&s=http://www.tricare.mil/mediacenter/contractornews.aspx?fid=109








Resolution Increases Awareness of PTSD

The Senate has passed a resolution designating June 27 as National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day. The resolution was authored by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. Conrad said the stress of war might create wounds for Soldiers that are less visible than others but are no less real. PTSD symptoms include anxiety, anger and depression. Conrad said more must be done to educate troops, veterans, families and communities about the disorder and the resources and treatments available. For more information, please click here: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/06/ap_ptsd_awareness_day_062510/

Dogs Help Battle PTSD

The Army is using dogs to help Soldiers recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to the Army Surgeon General's special assistant for mental health, Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., who spoke at the annual convention of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The effectiveness of man's best friend and other animals, such as horses for equine therapy, as part of mental health care is anecdotal, Ritchie said, but it is being taken seriously and researched. The findings of a NAMI report released last year, Depression: Gaps and Guideposts, found that about 20 percent of people living with depression have used animal therapy in treatment, with 54 percent finding it "extremely" or "quite a bit" helpful. To learn more, go to: http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=press_room&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=102344

Study Reveals Chronic Pain Affects Returning Soldiers

About nine in 10 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who registered for care with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are experiencing pain, and more than half have significant pain, according to a study presented at the American Pain Society's annual meeting. Significant pain is a 4 or greater on a scale of 1 to 10. Sources of pain include combat injuries, including burns and post-amputation, said lead study author Michael Clark, clinical director of the VA's Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program in Tampa, Fl. With 90 percent of those who are injured in battle surviving -- compared to 40 percent during the Vietnam War -- vets are coming home with complex conditions that require extensive need for rehabilitation and pain management. About half of returning vets register for care with the VA. The study included 239 vets being seen at two VA hospitals in Minneapolis. For more information, please go to: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/640265.html

New TRICARE Formulary Search Tool

Beneficiaries and providers can use the new TRICARE formulary search tool to find the most up-to-date information about prescription medications. Located at http://pec.ha.osd.mil/formulary_search.php, the new formulary search tool allows beneficiaries to easily find which medicines are in the uniform formulary.  These are available at all full-service military treatment facilities and covered by TRICARE.  Once a user has identified if a drug is available, they can use the search tool to get information on the drug, such as restriction on use.  The tool also shows if the medication is Tier One (with a $3 co-pay,) Tier Two (with a $9 co-pay) or non-formulary (requiring a $22 co-pay.)  It also shows when a generic equivalent is required. To read this release, please visit: http://www.tricare.mil/mediacenter/news.aspx?fid=641

TRICARE Enrollment Updates a Click Away

When transferring to a new duty station, Dr. Charles Rice, who is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, is encouraging active duty Servicemembers and their families to head to the internet.  Dr. Rice has asked that permanent change of station (PCS) orders include information about transferring TRICARE enrollment online to ease the PCS process for families and ensure continuity of health care.  Depending on beneficiary status and circumstances, the Beneficiary Web Enrollment (BWE) website may allow enrollment changes.  TRICARE beneficiaries can learn more about the features of BWE and gain access to BWE through the links at http://www.tricare.mil/bwe.








Data Collected on Military Prescription Drug Use

A reporting requirement was inserted into the 2011 defense spending bill requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to keep records detailing the prescription and use of pharmaceuticals among deployed Servicemembers. To find out more, please click here: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850273&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://hamptonroads.com/2010/06/webb-seeks-data-military-prescription-drug-use

No More Waiting, TRICARE Podcasts Delivered Weekly

Waiting for the latest TRICARE news to show up in the mailbox is one way to stay up-to-date about health care.  Another way, a faster way, is to subscribe to the TRICARE Beneficiary Bulletin podcast for the latest in TRICARE news and updates every week.  Subscribe to the podcast at http://www.tricare.mil/iTunes, or search the Apple iTunes Store for ‘TRICARE’.  Get e-alerts for new podcasts and subscribe to other TRICARE benefit news at http://www.tricare.mil/subscriptions.











 Military Improves Do-it-Yourself Moves

After extensive testing and evaluation, the military has launched an improved system to better compensate Servicemembers who personally move their household goods on military orders.  Personally Procured Move, or PPM, gives Servicemembers a choice.  They may elect to personally move some or even all of their personal property and receive an incentive for doing so.  PPM replaces Do it Yourself, or DITY, moves.  To find out more, please go to: http://www.military.com/news/article/army-news/military-improves-doityourself-moves






New Centers to Help with Blast Injuries

The Army surgeon general told members of Congress that the Defense Centers of Excellence, especially for psychological health and traumatic brain injury, provide great promise for Wounded Warriors.  The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, the first of five medical entities stood up as a result of the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, is already contributing to the treatment of battlefield injuries.  The center has a 24-hour hotline available to Servicemembers and their families to help with suicide prevention, brain injuries and other problems.  Trained consultants staff the line 365 days a year at 1-866-966-1020 and also respond via e-mail to mailto:Resources@DCoEOutreach.org.  For further information please visit: http://www.dcoe.health.mil.  To read this article in its entirety, please go to: http://www.military.com/news/article/army-news/new-centers-to-help-with-blast-injuries.html







Army Working to Stop All Sexual Assault

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army Chief of Staff, launched the I. A.M. STRONG campaign in 2008, which allows Soldiers to Intervene, Act, and Motivate.  The sexual assault awareness program was developed in 2004 and 2005.  Fort Sill started its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program in 2005.  Domestic abuse, sexual abuse, violence and assault are all related.  Seeking out programs to help any one of these things can reduce the risk for all to occur.  To learn more, please click on the following link: http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/04/23/37911-army-working-to-stop-all-sexual-assault/







Defense Readies System to Treat PTSD, Brain Injuries Remotely

Thousands of miles and the lack of facilities have kept the Army from providing treatment to Soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The Defense Department (DoD) plans to deploy a solution soon that relies on a transportable telehealth system that will virtually bring doctors to patients. Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, has pushed the service to consider using technology to provide much-needed treatment for PTSD. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology, which is part of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, took delivery of its first transportable unit. It marks a first step in meeting Schoomaker's challenge to use technology to replace face-to-face sessions between clinicians and Soldiers. The center is also developing other programs to treat the invisible wounds of war, including one that will use virtual reality to treat PTSD, a website to help troops and their families deal with issues that arise after they return from combat, and an iPhone application for clinicians to use when treating PTSD patients. To read more on this topic, please go to: http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20100322_5628.php

Proof of Army Family Covenant Success Found Among Facts, Figures

Proof of Army Family Covenant Success Found Among Facts, Figures
Two years ago, former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren joined Fort Monroe leaders here for the signing of the Army Family Covenant.  The covenant is the Army’s promise to military families.  A specific promise was  a commitment to “create a quality of life in the military community that is commensurate with the value of the American Soldier.”  Thus far, the outcome has been impressive.  The covenant has focused attention on the military family experience as well.  New community support programs have been established to address the hardships of lengthy deployments and the harsh realities of having loved ones in harm’s way.  To read this article in full, please go to:







National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide hotline.  The hotline is available to anyone experiencing a suicidal crisis.  When an individual calls in, they will be able to speak with a professional who will refer the caller to the nearest crisis center and other mental health services.  Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.




 Want to know more about the American Legion?  Visit Post 649's website!



 Compact to Ease Transitions for Military Children

Last week in Washington, legislators unanimously approved the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, an agreement that standardizes how states deal with record transfers, enrollment, graduation requirements, extra curricular activities as well as a host of other related issues. Virginia, which has the country’s second-largest military population, is the 12th state to sign the bill. To learn more about this legislation and funding follow the link http://hamptonroads.com/2009/03/compact-ease-transitions-military-children.

 Fisher Houses Help Vets' Families Cope

The Fisher House Foundation has opened its 43rd guest house next to the Veterans Administration’s West Los Angeles Medical Center.  City officials are already pressing for a second home.  The foundation has broken ground on six additions houses and is developing plans for eight or nine more.  The free lodging and plane tickets provided by the Fisher House Foundation has saved more than 11,000 families upward of $100 million.  To learn more about this foundation visit their website at http://www.fisherhouse.org/


 Handy "Contact Us" Page at TRICARE.mil

Since TRICARE uses several different contractors to administer healthcare, pharmacy and dental benefits around the world, it often becomes difficult for beneficiaries to find the contact information needed.  In addition to telephone numbers, the contact page provides links to locate the nearest military treatment facilities, beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinators, and debt collection assistance officers.  The contact information can be found at http://www.tricare.mil/contactus.







Subject:  Looking for Military Families to Help
 Should you have any questions or need any assistance please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Andrew Tramontana
The American Legion
National VA&R Commission
Assistant Director of DoD Outreach
Heroes to Hometowns Program Coordinator
Office:  (202) 861-2700, ext. 1408
Mobile:  (202) 631-9924

Hello, As you may be aware, Rebuilding Together and Sears Holdings have for combined forces to assist veterans and military families in need with free home repairs and modifications through the Heroes at Home program. I am hoping you can let these heroes in need know that help is available and direct them to their local Rebuilding Together affiliate.

We are actively seeking more veterans to assist.  The program is open to low-income and disabled veterans of various military backgrounds, military widows and active duty military families.  We are writing today because we need your help in spreading the word about our services.

Please ask veterans in need to contact their nearest Rebuilding Together affiliate as soon as possible. Affiliates can be easily found at

Since the inception of Heroes at Home in 2007,  we have completed nearly 300 projects across the country with a combined market value of over 3.8 million dollars.  In 2009, we plan to complete hundreds more projects and we need your help to find more veterans who need assistance.  If you would like to learn more about our program, or if you have a veteran to recommend for our services, please contact any one of Rebuilding Together¢s Veterans Housing team,


Vanessa Georgeson mailto:vgeorgeson@rebuildingtogether.org> ,

Hyewon Kim <mailto:hkim@rebuildingtogether.org> ,

or T.J. Cantwell <mailto:tcantwell@rebuildingtogether.org> ,

who will be happy to assist you. Also, feel free to visit our website at www.rebuildingtogether.org/heroesathome


With the assistance of people like you, we will continue to help our veterans and service members remain comfortable and safe in their homes and give back to those who have given us so much





Education Information for Service Members and Families!

 Physical Education and Athletics Benefit Students with Disabilities

Research has established that physical activity and participation in athletics provides important health and social benefits for children.  Certain federal laws help ensure that kindergarten – 12th grade schools provide opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in physical education (PE) and extracurricular athletics equal to those of their peers.  Regarding students with disabilities, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyzed federal survey data, reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations, and interviewed state, district, and school officials in selected states, as well as parents and disability association officials. The report found that students with disabilities participated in athletics at consistently lower rates than students without disabilities.  Some schools or districts provide opportunities by partnering with community programs or offering athletics designed specifically for students with disabilities, such as wheelchair basketball.  School officials also indicated a lack of information on ways to expand athletic opportunities, lack of clarity regarding schools’ responsibilities, and budget constraints as key challenges.  The report makes recommendations on actions that the U.S. Department of Education should take to improve access to PE and extracurricular athletics for students with disabilities.  For more information, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191n full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10018475&m=1052445&u=AUSA&s=http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=59774


Guide to Getting Credit for Military Service

The American Council of Education (ACE) has produced a new publication, A Transfer Guide:  Understanding Your Military Transcript and ACE Credit Recommendations.  This new publication will assist Servicemembers and veterans in understanding academic credit and how it can be awarded by institutions of higher education for military training and occupational experiences.  The publication is available in PDF at http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/MilitaryPrograms/Transfer_Guide.htm

Other Organizations to Assist Families of Deployed Soldiers

The National Military Family Association http://www.nmfa.org/   Salute Our
Services runs a mentor program for parents going through a deployment
for the first time, at http://www.saluteourservices.org/   The USO maintains a
list of resources on the "Family and Friends" page of its website  http://www.uso.org/   

Honor and Remember - Mission: To create, establish and promote a nationally recognized flag that would fly continuously as a visible reminder to all Americans of the lives lost in defense of our national freedoms. All Military lives lost not only in action but also in service, from our nation's inception.  http://www.honorandremember.org/

Defenders Own: A site exclusvely for military family and friends to connect and share. Weekly blog forums and discussions. http://www.defendersown.com/

 Swords to Plowshares  Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, employment and training, housing, and legal assistance to more than 1500 homeless and low-income veterans annually in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. We promote and protect the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state, and national entities.  http://www.swords-to-plowshares.org/


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