SpouseBuzz

Government and You E-News - March 6, 2007

Topics in This Weeks News Include:

1. NMFA Asserts Problems at Walter Reed Part of Systemwide Access to Care Challenges

2. DoD Stands Alone as Model for Quality Child Care

3. NMFA on Capitol Hill 

4. Enterprise High School Tornado Affects Military Families

5. Spouses to Teachers Available in the Pacific

6. AMTRAK offers Free Companion Tickets

7. NMFA Now Accepting Applications for Military Spouse Fellowship Program

8. Deadline for NMFA Scholarship Approaching on March 15

Here's the News!!!

1. NMFA Asserts Problems at Walter Reed Part of Systemwide Access to Care Challenges:NMFA was dismayed, but unfortunately not surprised, by the recent pressreports highlighting the problems wounded service members face inaccessing care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Revelations bywounded service members unable to obtain needed care in a timely mannerwhile in out-patient status or in medical hold situations when waitingfor the review board process to run its course have cropped up severaltimes since the beginning of the war on terror. We have not beensurprised at these stories because we so often hear from militaryfamilies who cite problems accessing care at military treatmentfacilities. What is particularly disturbing to us every time we hear ofwounded or injured service members' difficulties in obtaining care isthat we know families have often waited longer than they should forcare so service members can receive first priority. Families have everyright to be horrified, therefore, when they find those who bear thescars of battle are having the same or worse access issues. NMFA ispleased with how DoD officials have reacted so far in response to thissituation. We hope this is a wake up call to correct theselong-standing issues of access, staffing and funding. NMFA encouragesCongress to address these problems as part of an overall systemicapproach to improve military health care.

Many of the allegations that have surfaced are not new. Problemswith the Physical and Medical Evaluation Processes and facilities forthose on Medical Hold have surfaced in Congressional Hearings and othermeetings that NMFA attends. NMFA will continue to follow the reports onconditions at Walter Reed and will monitor Congressional hearings andbriefings relating to this topic. We are concerned about issues raisedby these recent reports and will work to make sure service members andtheir families' voices are being heard during these debates. NMFAfirmly believes that behind every wounded servicemember is a woundedfamily and will continue to work for support services for those familymembers who have left everything to join their wounded service memberand aid in his/her recovery.

2.  DoD Stands Alone as Model for Quality Child Care:On March 1, 2007, the National Association of Child Care Resource andReferral Agencies (NACCRRA) presented Congress with their ranking ofstate child care centers and oversight report.  The Department ofDefense (DoD) had the distinction of being ranked No. 1 on the list ofstates with the best child care center standards and oversightpractices.

According to the American Forces Press Service, "the report laudedDoD for requiring child care center directors to have a bachelor'sdegree or higher; training child care staff in first aid, CPR and otherhealth and safety issues; and requiring staff to pursue furthertraining. The report also highlighted the fact that DoD conductscriminal history record checks, child abuse and neglect registrychecks, and state, federal and fingerprint checks. DoD's health andsafety requirements for child care address nine of the 10 basicstandards, such as immunization, fire drills and emergencypreparedness".

NMFA congratulates DoD on their continued and excellent efforts toprovide the highest quality child care available to our militarychildren. Military life is unique. Military families count on thequality care provided by those who not only understand the uniquenature of the military lifestyle, but learn and develop techniques thatbest address those challenges. (Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=3226 )

3. NMFA on Capitol Hill: OnMarch 1, 2007, Joyce Wessel Raezer, NMFA's Chief  Operating Officer(COO) testified before the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of theHouse Armed Services Committee as part of a group of panelistsrepresenting The Military Coalition (TMC).  In their opening remarks,the panelists voiced concerns over compensation, housing, commissarybenefits, healthcare, retirement, disability, and Guard and Reserve.In her testimony, Ms. Raezer thanked the Subcommittee for last year'slegislative provisions to increase DoD supplement to Impact Aid,improve casualty assistance, and support of wounded military members.She also raised concerns regarding family readiness, mental health,family health, families in transition, compensation and benefits, andfamilies and community.  Due to time constraints, the hearing wasadjourned and will be rescheduled later this month to allow foradequate time and attention for inquiries and further discussion.  Tosee the full written testimony visit: http://www.nmfa.org/site/DocServer/NMFA_HAC-MilitaryQofLife__3-1-06.pdf?docID=4701.

As part of its mission to "educate, advocate and inform", NMFA hasbegun a series of visits with the newly elected members of 110thCongress. NMFA is aiming to provide new members with resources andinformation regarding issues affecting military families. NMFA is alsohoping to answer any questions the new members have about militaryfamilies and to find out what issues are in the forefront of themembers concerns. NMFA is initially focusing congressional visits onthe new members from the Veterans Affairs and Armed ServicesCommittees. NMFA hopes to meet with all new members of the 110thCongress in the upcoming months. Thus far, NMFA has met withlegislative and defense staff of Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT2nd), Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ, 8th), RepresentativeBrad Ellsworth (D-IN, 8th), and Representative Nancy Boyda (D-KA,2nd).  Representatives Boyda and Ellsworth were also available topersonally meet with NMFA.  Every congressional office NMFA has visitedexpressed an interest in the welfare of military families. NMFA hopesthese visits will be successful in building ongoing relationships withthe new members of Congress and that we will be able to provideinformation which will ultimately result in improving the lives ofmilitary families.

4. Enterprise High School Tornado Affects Military Families: OnThursday, March 2, 2007 a devastating tornado touched down inEnterprise, Alabama and destroyed Enterprise High School. NMFA extendsits sincerest condolences to the families of the EHS community. NMFAespecially mourns the loss of a military student from the Fort Ruckercommunity and expresses our deepest sympathy.

As we experience the unpredictable nature of severe weather in manyparts of the United States, NMFA recommends that military familiesreview their personal emergency preparedness plans and re-stockemergency supplies.  For additional help in creating family plansand/or review of what to do in case of an emergency, please connect tothe following links:

5. Spouses to Teachers Available in the Pacific:Effective February 1, 2007, the Spouses to Teachers program is nowavailable to military spouses stationed in the Pacific. This popularprogram is a Department of Defense project designed to assist spousesof active duty and reserve component members to become public schoolteachers and was originally piloted in: California, Colorado, Florida,Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, NorthCarolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The programprovides counseling and guidance on state specific certificationrequirements, certification options, scholarships available, and stateemployment resources. Up to $600 is also available via a voucherprocess to reimburse the cost of testing fees associated with teachercertification/licensure.

This is the second expansion overseas following a successful launchin Europe in 2006 where 100 spouses are currently registered andworking on degree completion and teacher certification requirements.Spousesto Teachers is managed by the Defense activity for Non-TraditionalEducation Support (DANTES). For more information visit the web site at:http://www.spousestoteachers.com/.(Source: http://www.military.com/spouse)

6. AMTRAK offers Free Companion Tickets:AMTRAK is offering free companion tickets to parents of high schoolstudents visiting college campuses. To qualify you must meet thefollowing criteria:

  • Travel must be booked through the Campus Visit website at http://www.campusvisit.com/amtrak/.
  • Student must be a high school junior or senior accompanied by a parent
  • Student will be required to present a valid high school identification card
  • Tickets must be booked at least seven days prior to travel

Complete details are available on the Campus Visit website, http://www.campusvisit.com/. The site also provides destination information and hotel discount links to families planning college visits.

7. NMFA Now Accepting Applications for Military Spouse Fellowship Program:NMFA is currently accepting applications for the Military SpouseFellowship for Accredited Financial Counselor Program. This program isoffered in association with the Association for Financial Counselingand Planning Education® (AFCPE®) through the generosity of the NASDInvestor Education Foundation. The fellowship covers the costsassociated with completing the Associated Financial Counselor (AFC)training and testing. Upon successful completion of the program andrequired practicum, the participant will be awarded the AccreditedFinancial Counselor designation from AFCPE. Apply now. Applications areonly accepted online, www.nmfa.org/fellowship, and must be submitted by midnight March 31, 2007.

8. Deadline for NMFA Scholarship Approaching on March 15:The National Military Family Association's Joanne Holbrook PattonMilitary Spouse Scholarships are awarded to spouses of UniformedServices members (active duty, National Guard and Reserve, retirees,and survivors) to obtain professional certification or to attend postsecondary or graduate school. Scholarships range in amount from $500 to$1,000.00, and the number awarded each year varies depending onfunding. Scholarship funds may be used for tuition, fees, and schoolroom and board.  Scholarship selection is based on your completion ofsome survey questions that will help NMFA advocate for educationchanges on your behalf, short-answer questions, and an essay questionthat will help us get to know you better.  To be considered, yourapplication must be completed by midnight March 15, 2007.

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