April 28, 2009
1. Association Testifies at Appropriation Hearing:The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee of theHouse Appropriations Committee, chaired by Representative Chet Edwards(D-17th/TX), held a hearing on Thursday, April 23rd to listen toseveral agencies and organizations. The subcommittee regularly holdshearings to listen to groups that want to support certainappropriations for the 2010 appropriations process. Barbara Cohoon,Deputy Director of Government Relations for the National MilitaryFamily Association joined other organizations such as Friends ofVeterans Affairs (FOVA), National Association for Uniformed Services(NAUS), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to testifyon behalf of service members of all components, retirees, theirfamilies, and survivors.
Dr. Cohoon highlighted several of the Association's top priorities:increased funding for childcare services, alternative housingarrangements for veterans, and new or expanded Commissaries in areasexperiencing growth due to BRAC. In her statement, she stressed theneed for Congress to fully fund the effort of Veterans Affairs and theDepartment of Defense to make medical records easier to transferbetween the two agencies. Additionally, Ms. Cohoon asked thesubcommittee to appropriate 100 million in funding to upgrade schoolsin overseas locations. Other issues were included in the full writtentestimony which can be found on our website at www.nmfa.org/testimonies.
Representative Zach Wamp (R-3rd/TN) raised a question from hisconstituents about assisting military families. He extended aninvitation to the National Military Family Association to visit hisoffice to discuss why people may be prohibited from helping militaryfamilies and what to do about it. Ms. Cohoon spoke of programs and waysthat people can get in contact with organizations that support servicemembers and their families. Representative Wamp also inquired about thestate of military families related to the economy and whether thiscould be related to the increase in suicide rates in service members.Ms. Cohoon made the point that if a service member is thinking aboutmoney problems back home, he or she may not be fully focused on doingtheir job. In response to the question about suicide rates, Ms. Cohoonexpressed the importance of the community being educated on signs andsymptoms of mental health problems. She also stated that there is ashortage of mental health providers that could address these issuesearly on.
National Military Family Association thanks the Subcommittee for theopportunity to testify at the hearing and for their constant attentionto the well-being of military families.
2. Five States Pass Compact in the Month of the Military Child!: Alaska,Indiana, Maryland, Texas, and Washington all found a great way to say"thank you" to military children in the Month of the Military Child.Each State passed the Interstate Compacton Educational Opportunityfor Military Children andhas sent the legislation to their respective Governors. IndianaGovernor Mitch Daniels is the first from these States to sign the billinto law, making Indiana the 15th State to enact the Compact. Alabamaand Hawaii are close to passing the legislation as well. This istremendous news for our military families!
National Military Family Association has worked hard to help movethe Compact forward in these States. In addition to submittingtestimony and writing letters of support, Candace Wheeler, DeputyDirector for Government Relations, served as the Chair of the MarylandTask Force for the Compact and testified in support of both the Houseand Senate bills. Liz Larson, our new Western Region Field Coordinator,testified twice in Texas. Dick Loney, a volunteer for our Association,helped push the bill forward in Indiana by briefing the Governor'sChief of Staff and his State Senator on the Compact, contacting membersof the committees, and testifying in support of the bill. He waspresent when Governor Daniels signed the legislation. Our AssociationRepresentative Paula Pawlowski helped support the bill in Alaska byeducating her Congressman and others on the Compact.
We are proud of our contribution to the Compact's progress in theseStates. Wecongratulate the Department of Defense Regional StateLiaisons for all of their hard work, as well as others who havecontributed to this success. Together, we are truly making a differencein the lives of our military families!
3. Military OneSource Expands Counseling Sessions:Military OneSource announced an increase in the number of nonmedicalcounseling sessions it will now offer to service members, Guard andReserve members, and their families. As of April 1, 2009, eligibleservice members and their families may now receive 12 sessions perperson, per issue, and per counselor within 120 days. The new12-session limit applies to face-to-face, short-term solution-focusedtelephonic consultations, and online consultations. Previously MilitaryOneSource allowed 6 sessions. For those who are currently enrolled, butbegan Military OneSource nonmedical counseling sessions prior to April1st, your counselor must contact Military OneSource to request theadditional 6 sessions. If you have finished the 6 sessions, you maycontact Military OneSource to get reassessed for the additional 6sessions.
According to Military OneSource, additional sessions will be grantedon a case-by-case basis by them. If you need counseling for a differentissue, you must call Military OneSource and speak with a consultant toget another referral for a different counselor. You can only see acounselor for a maximum number of 12 sessions.
For more information, call (800) 342-9647 or go to: www.militaryonesource.com/skins/MOS/home.aspx.
4. Post 9/11 GI Bill Applications Accepted:Starting May 1, 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) willbegin accepting applications for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The applicationform is available online.
The form requires that individuals currently eligible for anothereducation benefit make an irrevocable election from their existingprogram to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Typically individuals who areeligible for more than one benefit may use a combined total of 48months of entitlement. Therefore, for those individuals eligible forthe Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) program, please be advised that if youhave entitlement remaining under the MGIB, the number of months ofPost-9/11 GI Bill entitlement you will be eligible for will be equal tothe number of months remaining under MGIB. However, if you exhaust allof your MGIB entitlement, then you may be entitled to a maximum of 12additional months of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Starting May 1, 2009 VA will begin processing applications forPost-9/11 GI Bill benefits and you will receive a letter explainingVA's decision regarding your eligibility for the program. Payments forthe Post-9/11 GI Bill will not be processed until August 1, 2009.
Go to www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-22-1990-ARE.pdf to access the application form which includes instructions for submitting completed applications.
5. New VA and SG Positions:The U.S. Senate confirmed Ladda Tammy Duckworth to be AssistantSecretary of Veterans Affairs on April 22, 2009. She will direct theDepartment of Veterans Affairs' Office of Public Affairs andIntergovernmental Communications, oversee their public affairsoperations, and homeless veterans' programs. She is the former Directorof the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and serves as a Major inthe Illinois Army National Guard. She was injured in 2004 while servingin Iraq as a helicopter pilot.
President Barack Obama nominated Major General (Dr.) Charles BruceGreen to become the 20th Air Force Surgeon General. Maj Gen Green iscurrently the Air Force Deputy Surgeon General. His appointment ispending approval by the U.S. Senate. For Maj Gen Green's biography, goto: www.af.mil/bios/bio.asp?bioID=5613.
6. Swine Flu Information for Military Families:National Military Family Association, along with other Associations,received an advisory from the Under Secretary of Health for theDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Michael J. Kussman, MD, which containedimportant information about the swine flu. For full details, see www.nmfa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=swine_flu.
7. Scholarships for Military Children and Spouses:ThanksUSA is planning to give 500 deserving military dependents(children age 24 and under or spouses) $3,000 scholarships to attendschool this fall. Scholarship recipients will be selected on the basisof financial need, academic record, demonstrated leadership,participation in school and community activities, and a goal statement.Preference will be given to children or spouses of service personnelkilled or injured during active duty.
To be eligible for these scholarships you must be a dependent childor spouse of an active-duty service member (Army, Navy, Air Force,Marine Corps or Coast Guard). Visit the ThanksUSA Scholarship website for further eligibility details.
The scholarship application deadline for the 2009 fall-term is May15, 2009, or until 10,000 applications are received (whichever occursfirst). If 10,000 applications are received before May 15, 2009, then anotice will be posted on the ThanksUSA home page.
8. Last Week to Apply for Free Training in the Personal Finance Profession: NationalMilitary Family Association, in association with the Association forFinancial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE) and FinancialIndustry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation isaccepting applications for the FINRA Foundation Military SpouseAccredited Financial Counselor® Fellowship. This program will provideup to 200 military spouses with the education necessary to enter thefinancial counseling career field.
The fellowship covers the costs associated with completingAccredited Financial Counselor® training and testing. Upon successfulcompletion of the program and required practicum, the participant willbe awarded the Accredited Financial Counselor® designation from AFCPE®.
Many employers such as credit unions, financial aid offices, andcommunity housing agencies need well-trained, ethical, and caringfinancial counselors to meet the increasing demand for financialcounseling services. Military spouses can fill this need while buildinga rewarding career that is flexible to the demands of the militaryfamily lifestyle.
Applications are only accepted online at www.nmfa.org/fellowship and must be received by midnight EDT April 30, 2009.