Print & Post: Week of September 29, 2014


American Legion to Conduct Outreach in D.C.

The American Legion-sponsored town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the Freedom Auditorium of the Washington DC VA Medical Center on 50 Irving St. NW, Washington, D.C. The meeting is open to the public and veterans are encouraged to attend. The American Legion will also conduct a Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the VA medical center on Irving St. in Conference Room 4-C. Hours of operation for the center are noon to 8 p.m. on Sept. 30 and 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Oct. 1-2. Services provided will include assistance with scheduling VA medical appointments, filing benefits claims and help with enrollment into VA health care.

For more veterans benefits info and updates, visit the (http://militaryadvantage.military.com) Military Advantage blog.



DoD to Improve Financial Protection Rules

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a proposal that would expand the types of credit products that are covered by the 36-percent rate cap and other military-specific protections under the Military Lending Act. The proposal would close loopholes that have led to lenders skirting the law with products that fall outside the scope of existing regulations. According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the DoD's proposal would shut down the predatory lending to the military and enable the CFPB to stop lenders from harming servicemembers as the law was originally intended.

For more on credit and debt, and personal finance tips, visit the (http://www.military.com/money) Military.com Money section.



Citizen Honor Program

The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation sponsors the Citizen Honor Program. To be considered for this rare civilian honor, nominees must have made a difference in the lives of others through a singular act of extraordinary heroism, or through their continued commitment to putting others first. For Americans, this is an opportunity to nominate fellow citizens, neighbors and co-workers -- the heroes all around you. Three remarkable citizens will be chosen to receive the Citizen Honors on March 25, 2015 in conjunction with National Medal of Honor Day. Nominations for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation's Citizen Honors are accepted beginning Oct. 1. To nominate someone or learn more about the program, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation website at (http://www.cmohfoundation.org/citizen-honors) www.cmohfoundation.org/citizen-honors.



VA Albany, Ga. Clinic Moves

The final move of VA health care services from the VA clinic previously located in downtown Albany, Ga. to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. VA community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) primary care and ancillary services (audiology, podiatry and optometry) are now co-located within Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany's 22,179-square-foot building at MCLB Albany. Additional VA specialty care services, including mental health, are provided at Bldg. 7200, which is adjacent to NBHC Albany. To make appointments, eligible veterans can call 800-595-5229, ext. 2711. Care is provided on an appointment basis only, with same-day appointments available for urgent care. The VA's CBOC hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. To 4:30 p.m. Due to security requirements for base access, veterans without military identification cards should contact the MCLB Pass and ID Office at 229-639-5100.

For more veterans benefits info and updates, visit the (http://militaryadvantage.military.com) Military Advantage blog.



AAFES 'Military Brat-Approved' Toys

Military shoppers hunting for the hottest holiday toys can turn to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service as special Toyland sections launched on Sept. 17 worldwide. This year, shoppers can look for the Military Brat-Approved logo on shelves to find the hottest kid-tested toys. From Sept. 19 to Oct. 2, MILITARY STAR(R) cardholders will pay no interest and make no payments until May 2015 with a minimum purchase of $299*. Shoppers can also use the Exchange's fee-free holiday layaway through December. Contact your Exchange Customer Service for more information. The Exchange's website at (http://www.shopmyexchange.com) shopmyexchange.com is loaded with this season's best toys, too. Online purchases ship for free when paying with a MILITARY STAR(R) card.

For more discounts for military families, visit the (http://www.military.com/discounts/) Military.com Discount Center.



Navy Announces Holiday Mailing Deadlines

The Naval Supply Systems Command's (NAVSUP) has released the mail-by dates for pre-Dec. 25 deliveries of holiday cards, letters, and packages. A list of the dates is available on the (http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=83297) U.S. Navy website. Customers should check with their local civilian or military post offices for information regarding size restrictions, mailing restrictions, non-mailable items, and customs declaration form requirements. Customers should ensure articles are packaged properly for mailing and packages do not display markings related to any type of hazardous material.

For more Navy news updates, visit the (http://www.military.com/daily-news) Military.com News Center.



Two VA Scientists Honored

In the past, spinal cord injuries often meant a death sentence for patients. But thanks to the work of two Veterans Affairs scientists and researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many paralyzed Veterans now have a reason for hope. VA researchers William A. Bauman, M.D., and Ann M. Spungen, Ph.D were recently awarded the Samuel J. Heyman Science and Environment Medal, which is awarded to federal employees who have made a significant contribution to the nation. Spungen most recently tested a new bionic walking assistance system that enables individuals with paralysis to stand, walk, and climb stairs. The research by the two physicians is relevant not only to people with spinal cord injury, but to a larger population who are immobilized, from those with ALS to cancers, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, dementia or Parkinson's disease.

For more veterans benefits info and updates, visit the (http://militaryadvantage.military.com) Military Advantage blog.



AF Professional Military Education

The U.S. Air Force has released the latest installment of Roll Call, which outlines the way forward for enlisted professional military education. The Air Force has begun to use the blended learning approach -- combining distance and in-residence learning. The Air Force Senior NCO Academy adopted the blended learning approach earlier this year, and the NCO academy will transition to the blended approach during the coming year. This month's Roll Call is available (http://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/rollcall/22SeptRollCallPME.pdf?timestamp=1411153137099) online.

For more on military education benefits, visit the (http://www.military.com/education) Military.com Education section.



Navy Explains Vehicle Shipment Issues

Peak moving season, a contract protest, litigation and insufficient transition time all have played a part in challenges to the Defense Department's program to ship privately owned vehicles overseas and back to the United States under a new contract. However, the new contract moves more responsibility for performance within established timelines to the contractor, IAL. IAL must reimburse the government and servicemembers for damages, rental cars, and on a case-by-case basis for inconvenience. For claims information for IAL, call 1-855-389-9499, Option 3, or email (mailto:claims@ialpov.us) claims@ialpov.us. The email address for the TRANSCOM inspector general's privately owned vehicles customer support team is (mailto:usarmy.scott.sddc.mbx.pov-ig-response@mail.mil) usarmy.scott.sddc.mbx.pov-ig-response@mail.mil.

For more on the military's vehicle shipping program, see this (http://www.military.com/off-duty/autos/shipping-car-overseas.html) Military.com overview.



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Yoga May Help Vets with PTSD

A new study has found that yoga may help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The new study is the first of its kind to provide scientific support for the benefits of yoga's breathing techniques for PTSD patients in a randomized and controlled (though small) long-term study which monitored effects of yoga over the course of the year. The study focused on the effects of sudarshan kriya yoga, a practice of (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573542/) breathing-based meditation which has a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system. An abstract of the report is available on the (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jts.21936/abstract) Journal of Traumatic Stress website.

For more mental health guides and tips, visit the (http://www.military.com/benefits/veterans-health-care/mental-health-and-wellness) Military.com Mental Health and Wellness section.



AF Changes Performance Reports

Airmen asked the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James A. Cody, about the new EPR format. Cody explained Airmen can expect the elimination of the numbered EPR. Another significant change is the limit of top-rated EPRs, which will more effectively identify top-performing Airmen. The chief emphasized the new EPR system will not change the number of people that will be promoted; however, it will change the order they will be promoted, since Airmen will be rated by their overall performance. The chief also reported that Air Force leadership has been working to reach proper manning levels so that more Airmen in Air Force specialties can be nominated for developmental special duty assignments.

For more Air Force news updates, visit the (http://www.military.com/daily-news) Military.com News Center.



Air Reserve Pay Process Change

Effective immediately, the responsibility for processing Air Force Reserve Incapacitation Pay requests is being transferred from Promotion, Retentions and Customer Service Branch, HQ AFRC/A1KP to the Special Pay & Incentives Branch, HQ ARPC/DPAA. It is now mandatory to submit all Incapacitation Pay requests via the Task Management Tool, routed to HQ ARPC/DPAA - Special Pay and Incentives workflow taskers box. Information on incapacitation pay can be found on (https://mypers.af.mil) myPers under the Benefits and Entitlements link. For more information, call the Total Force Service Center - Denver at DSN 665-0102 or 210-565-0102.

For more on military pay benefits, visit the (http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/) Military.com Pay section.



Air Reserve BAH Deadline Approaching

The recertification deadline for Individual Reservists who receive the basic allowance for housing (with dependent rate) is Oct. 31. Members must provide their servicing finance office with documentation for all of their dependents. For those Reservists receiving BAH (without dependent rate), no action is required. Reservists affected by this requirement must provide the document -- marriage license and birth certificate(s) -- that is the basis for their BAH entitlement. They must also complete an (http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/saf_fm/form/af594/af594.xfdl) Air Force Form 594, Application and Authorization to Start, Stop or Change Basic Allowance for Quarters or Dependency Redetermination. This form must be printed and signed. A digital signature is not acceptable.

For more on BAH, visit the (http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/basic-allowance-for-housing/basic-allowance-for-housing-rates.html) Military.com Pay section.



'Ready Navy' Emergency Prep Website

(https://www.ready.navy.mil/) Ready Navy is becoming the Navy's "Go-To" resource for emergency preparedness. Personnel and family members of all ages are able to link to a wide array of hazard information and resources to help guide family emergency plans that take into account individual needs. The Ready Navy Emergency Preparedness Course is also an annual training requirement and is now available through Navy E-Learning CNIC-RNEP-0001. For a consolidated list of resources, view (https://www.ready.navy.mil/stay_informed/resources.html) Ready Navy's resource page. For more information, visit the Ready Navy website at (https://www.ready.navy.mil/) www.Ready.Navy.mil, or contact Ready Navy by e-mail at (mailto:ready.navy@navy.mil) ready.navy@navy.mil or by telephone at (202)433-9348, DSN 288-9348. Follow Ready Navy on Facebook ( (http://www.Facebook.com/ReadyNavy) www.Facebook.com/ReadyNavy), Twitter ( (https://twitter.com/ReadyNavy) @ReadyNavy), (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCFbs4uTxiM92rw52rZcxiw) YouTube, and (http://instagram.com/ready_navy) Instagram.

For more Navy news updates, visit the (http://www.military.com/daily-news) Military.com News Center.



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Proposed Pay Increase for VA Docs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it will publish a notification in the Federal Register which increases the maximum rates of annual pay for in-coming Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physicians and dentists as part of VA Secretary Robert McDonald's nation-wide recruitment initiative to hire more clinicians and expand Veterans' access to care. The updated pay tables propose an increase in pay of $20,000 to $35,000 annually for physicians and dentists who are providing care for Veterans. There will be no change to the pay tables for physicians who serve in leadership roles. Information on VA's current recruitment initiative is available on the VA website at (http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2616) www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2616.

For more veterans benefits info and updates, visit the (http://militaryadvantage.military.com) Military Advantage blog.



TRICARE and Current Disaster Alerts

Disaster alerts are currently in effect in several states including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Nevada. Specific information on the current TRICARE emergency procedures underway in those states is available on the TRICARE (http://www.tricare.mil/Home/Resources/DisasterInfo.aspx) website. Emergency prescription refill procedures may be in-place. To obtain an emergency refill, take your prescription bottle to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. To find a network pharmacy, call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303 or search the (http://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE/pharmacy/) network pharmacy locator. If you use a retail chain, you can fill your prescription at another store in that chain. If your provider is available, he or she may call in a new prescription to any network pharmacy. You can request assistance at another pharmacy, but it is at that pharmacy's discretion to help you.

For more on TRICARE, visit the (http://www.military.com/benefits/tricare) Military.com TRICARE section.



VA Lays Groundwork for Private Health Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to outsource issuance and administration of the "Veteran's Choice Card," which will allow veterans to seek health care from private providers outside the Veterans Health Administration network of 950-plus hospitals and clinics. A third-party administrator will manage the creation and distribution of the Veteran's Choice Card, which vets can use to obtain services from private sector clinicians and hospitals. The card will contain the veteran's name, an identifying number that is not a Social Security number, and VA provider contact information. Veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA health facility will be allowed to seek private care.

For more veterans benefits info and updates, visit the (http://militaryadvantage.military.com) Military Advantage blog.



Women in the Air Force

As the Air Force recently celebrated its 67th birthday on September 18, 2014, the story of women in the Air Force parallels that of the Air Force itself. In fact, for women pilots and early women Airmen, their history dates back five years before the Air Force officially became a separate service. In 1942, a unit of flight nurses who had not yet quite finished their training was sent into North Africa on Christmas Day following the Allied invasion in November of that year. The U.S. Army Air Corps was forced to radically change military medical care, and the development of air evacuation and the training of flight nurses were advanced to meet this need. Finally, in February 1943, the first class of Army Nurse Corps flight nurses graduated. More history of women in the Air Force is available on the (http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/497548/womens-legacy-parallels-air-force-history.aspx) Air Force website.

For more Air Force news updates, visit the (http://www.military.com/daily-news) Military.com News Center.



Match Your Skills with Jobs at Capital One

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Airmen of the Year Named

The U. S. Air Force recognized its 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. The award recognizes 12 outstanding enlisted servicemembers who demonstrate superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements. The (http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a1/publication/afi36-2805/afi36-2805.pdf) Air Force instruction 36-2805, Special Trophies and Awards, outlines the guidelines for submissions. The 12 Outstanding Airmen earn the Outstanding Airman ribbon with the bronze service star device and wear the Outstanding Airman badge for one year. A list of the 12 outstanding airmen is available on the (http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/497464/air-force-association-honors-12-outstanding-airmen-of-the-year.aspx) Air Force website.

For more Air Force news updates, visit the (http://www.military.com/daily-news) Military.com News Center.



Navy Authorizes Hardship Duty Pay

To compensate Sailors and Marines for extended deployments, Hardship Duty Pay - Tempo (HDP-T) will be paid to Sailors and Marines, active duty and reserve, deployed beyond 220 consecutive days, effective Sept. 17, 2014. The Department of the Navy HDP-T proposal was authorized for two years. Sailors and Marines will receive HDP-T on a prorated daily basis of $16.50, not to exceed a monthly rate of $495, when they are operationally deployed beyond 220 consecutive days. For units currently deployed, consecutive days prior to Sept. 17 will count when determining eligibility for payment. Additional details will be provided in coming weeks.

For more on military pay benefits, visit the (http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/) Military.com Pay section.



Riverine Force Opportunity for Navy Women

The U.S. Navy has announced that women can now be assigned to the Coastal Riverine Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller (CRF JTAC) training and positions. This decision is part of the Department of Defense's rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule. JTAC is a Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) in the Riverine Squadrons. There are 21 billets available in the CRF. CRF operates maritime security operations in harbors, rivers, bays, across the littorals and ashore. The only remaining community that is still closed to women is Special Warfare.

For more Navy news updates, visit the (http://www.military.com/daily-news) Military.com News Center.



House Passes Veteran Bills

The U.S. House of Representatives passed four veterans related bills: (1) (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:h.r.3593:) H.R 3593 would direct the inclusion of an outside entity to assist in the management of VA's major facility construction efforts; (2) (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.113hr5404) H.R. 5404 would extend a number of expiring current authorities and critical programs at both VA and the Department of Labor; (3) (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.113hr4276) H.R. 4276 would require VA to provide reports to Congress on the pilot program for assisted living services for veterans with traumatic brain injury; and (4) (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.113s2258) S. 2258 would authorize a cost-of-living adjustment for disabled veterans receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. S. 2258 will be sent to the president to be signed into law.

For more veterans benefits info and updates, visit the (http://militaryadvantage.military.com) Military Advantage blog.



IG Now Says Waitlist Led to Vets Deaths

In a stunning reversal, the Department of Veterans Affairs' acting inspector general now says that long wait times at VA health care facilities in Phoenix did contribute to a number of veterans' deaths. Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin made the statement Sept. 17 in a hearing before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Testimonies from and an archived webcast of the hearing are available on the (http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/scheduling-manipulation-and-veteran-deaths-in-phoenix-examination-of-the-oig%E2%80%99s-final-report) House Committee on Veterans Affairs website. An additional oral statement by Inspector General Griffin is available on the Department of Veterans' Affairs (http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/statements/VAOIG-statement-20140917-oralgriffin.pdf) Office of Inspector General website. The OIG's final report, 'Review of Alleged Patient Deaths, Patient Wait Times, and Scheduling Practices at the Phoenix VA Health Care System' is available (http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-14-02603-267.pdf) online. A statement by Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs is available (http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/chairman-miller-statement-on-new-revelations-regarding-va-oig-review-of-phoenix-va) online.



Hispanic Heritage Month

Since 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, America has observed National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to celebrate the contributions and culture of citizens of Latin American descent. Servicemembers  are encouraged to join celebrations at bases and installations and to reach out to Hispanics to learn about their stories. For more information, visit the National Hispanic Heritage Month website at (http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/) hispanicheritagemonth.gov, the Hispanic Heritage Month website at (http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.org/) www.hispanicheritagemonth.org, the Hispanic Heritage in the U.S. Army webpage at (http://www.army.mil/hispanicamericans/english/about/about.html) www.army.mil/hispanicamericans/english/about/about.html, and the Department of Defense National Hispanic Heritage Month 2014 webpage at (http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2014/0914_hispanic-heritage/) www.defense.gov/home/features/2014/0914_hispanic-heritage.



2014 Tax Break, No PMI, $0 Down VA Loan

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VA Develops Mobile App for TBI

To better meet the needs of Veterans and others who have suffered mild to moderate concussion associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the Department of Veterans Affairs has developed "Concussion Coach," a mobile application that is designed to educate users about concussions, related symptoms, treatments and to enable users to recognize and assess symptoms. It also provides access to crisis resources. Concussion Coach is available for mobile Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, and IPod Touch) from the App Store and will be available to Google Play for Android devices later in 2014. For more information, visit VA's Polytrauma/TBI System of Care website at (http://www.polytrauma.va.gov) www.polytrauma.va.gov.

For more news on military apps, visit the (http://www.military.com/topics/best-apps) Military.com App page.



VA Caregiver Program Excludes Many

The unprecedented package of caregiver benefits includes training to help to ensure patient safety; cash stipends to partially compensate for caregiver time and effort; caregiver health coverage if they have none, and guaranteed periods of respite to protect against burn out. However, most family members who are primary caregivers to severely ill and injured veterans are excluded.

(http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2014/09/hobbled-va-caregiver-program-dims-chance-of-expansion/) Read the entire 'Military Update' story on the Military Advantage.



Senator Supports Full MilPay Raise

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment to the Senate version of the defense authorization bill to support a (http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2014/09/service-organization-pushes-back-on-pay-cap/) 1.8 percent pay raise for those in uniform. In late August the President exercised his executive authority to notify Congress of an alternative pay adjustment affecting active duty military pay. The President is able to exercise this option if he considers the adjustment necessary due to national emergency or economic concerns. (http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/charts/military-pay-charts.html) See the proposed 2015 pay charts.

(http://www.moaa.org/MRPayRaiseChampion/) Get the full story at Military Officers Association of America.



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DoD Recognizes POWs/MIAs

Nearly 1,500 Airmen are still missing and unaccounted-for from various conflicts and there are more than 83,000 Americans still unaccounted-for across the Department of Defense (DoD). Every year, the nation pauses on the third Friday of September to Commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day. This year the observance was Sept. 19. Many organizations reach out to the military services' respective casualty affairs offices for help locating family members of those still unaccounted-for from past conflicts. Personnel Center's Missing Persons Branch, within the Airman and Family Care Directorate. For more information on attempts to find POWs/MIAs, visit the (http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/) National League of POW/MIA Families website, the (http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/) Defense Prisoner of War-Missing Personnel Office website, the (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pow/powhome.html) Library of Congress Vietnam-Era POW/MIA Database, and the (http://www.afpc.af.mil/library/airforcepowmias.asp) Air Force Personnel Center's Missing Person's Branch webpage.

For videos relating to prisoners of war, visit the (http://www.military.com/video/specialties-and-personnel/prisoners-of-war/) Military.com Video section.



AF Makes Part of Oath Option

The Air Force has instructed force support offices across the service to allow both enlisted members and officers to omit the words "So help me God" from enlistment and officer appointment oaths if an Airman chooses. The Air Force will be updating the instructions in the coming weeks, but the policy change is effective now. A legal opinion by Department of Defense General Counsel made the change possible.

(http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/09/18/air-force-so-help-me-god-in-oath-is-optional.html) Read the full article on Military.com.



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