May 12, 2009
1. Chairman Recognizes National Military Appreciation Month:America's gratitude inspires the members of its Armed Forces, thechairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a message he issued tocommemorate May as National Military Appreciation Month.
Here is Navy ADM Mike Mullen's message:
Despite the challenges of two wars and numerous other engagementsaround the globe, America's military is stronger than ever. Ourmilitary is strong because our Nation stands behind them. Whether theyare your neighbors, friends, or family members, all make life-changingsacrifices, and all are worthy of our eternal thanks.
Gratitude from an appreciative Nation - not just during this month,but always inspires courage and peace of mind for those whose charge itis to keep the peace. Remembering those who sacrificed everything - aswell as their families and continuing to thank and support our veteransand wounded warriors is crucial to the health of our Armed Forces, andtruly, essential to the health of our Nation.
Throughout this month of May, please take time to thank all those ineach Service branch, the National Guard, and Reserves, as well asDefense civilians, retirees, veterans, and their families. They aremaking a difference - and so can you.
The Joint Chiefs and I are proud to salute the men, women andfamilies of America's Armed Forces - this month, as well as every dayof the year.
M.G. MULLEN Admiral, U.S. Navy
2. AWAG Holds 53rd Annual Conference: Over300 community leaders from military communities in Germany, Italy,England, and Spain gathered together May 3 - 7, 2009 for the annualAmerican Women Activities Germany (AWAG) conference held at theEdelweiss Resort in Garmisch, Germany. The volunteers, mostly womenwith a few men attending, were offered 3 days of leadership, selfimprovement and resiliency workshops, addressing their roles asorganization officers, family readiness group leaders and staffmembers, and community leaders. While many of the attendees hadparticipated in regional training conferences, for some it was theirfirst exposure to this focused volunteer training which addresses theunique situations that many find themselves in as volunteers in foreigncountries, governed by military regulations and Status of Forcesagreements. Break out sessions were offered on protocol, foreigncustoms, and fundraising. The stresses that these volunteers facesupporting communities experiencing multiple deployments were alsoaddressed with workshops on active listening, care for the caregiver,and holistic approaches to self care. Military leadership including theleadership of Africa Command, United States Air Force Europe (USAFE),United States Army Europe (USAREUR) and Allied Forces Command addressedthe group and reinforced the importance of their roles as volunteers incommunity support.
The National Military Family Association appreciated anotheropportunity to take part in this conference. We have been participatingperiodically since the early 1980s and annually since the early 1990sand recognize the importance of this training and reinforcement tosustaining volunteers for military installations in Europe. Theimportance of gathering these volunteers together to share bestpractices and search for solutions to common problems cannot beunderstated. We echo the theme for the 2009 event - AWAG Community Strong!For more information on AWAG including leadership opportunities,regional conference dates, and next year's conference visit the websitehttp://www.awagonline.org/.
3. Money Available for School and Portable Careers:The Department of Defense is expanding the Military Spouse CareerAdvancement Accounts (MyCAA) for military spouses of active duty andactivated Guard and Reserve service members worldwide beginning in May2009. In mid-May, MyCAA will officially open its doors for eligiblemilitary spousesto receive up to $6,000 of financial assistance tohelp pay for licenses, certification, and education in high growth,high demand portable career fields. For more information or to applyfor this exciting program, go to http://www.militaryonesource.com/ or call a Military OneSource Career/Education Consultant at 1-800-342-9647.
4. VA Budget Released: TheDepartment of Veterans Affairs (VA) released their budget for FiscalYear 2010 (FY10), which is a 15.5 percent increase over their FY09budget. According to the VA, it is the largest percentage increase forthe VA requested by a president in more than 30 years. The budget willfocus on transformation, transparency, flexibility, and accountability.
The majority of the budget increase will go to mandatory programs($9.6 billion) and there is an 11 percent increase targeted towardhealth care. The additional funding will allow the VA to: expand healthcare eligibility to more than 500,000 new enrollees by 2013; developand implement a joint lifetime electronic record with the Department ofDefense; maintain current and activate three new national cemeteries;and build seven medical facilities and state extended care facilitiesand provide for renovation and expansion of existing medicalfacilities. To view the VA budget and for additional information, go to:www.va.gov/budget/products.htm.
National Military Family Association is please with the FY10 budgetsubmission for the VA. As more and more service members transfer intoveteran status, funding will be needed to support additional programsand services. However, an adequately funded budget is only half of thesolution. It will now be up to Members of Congress to make sure the VAreceives its funding in a timely manner.
5. Two More States Adopt Compact: Texas and Washington both joined the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children lastweek. With 17 States now members of the Compact, 58% of active dutymilitary children (357,639) are covered by this important legislation.In addition, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maryland have bills awaiting theirrespective Governor's signature, and 12 other States are still workingactive legislation.
The National Military Family Association continues to activelychampion the Compact and will keep you updated on its progress. Forfurther information, go to the Children's Education section of ourwebsite at http://www.militaryfamily.org/.
(Source: This Week in Military Community and Family Policy (02-08), May 2009)
6. TRICARE Publishes New Behavioral Health Resource Guide:No one questions the need for medical care when someone is physicallyinjured but, when people experience emotional problems, they may feelembarrassed and afraid to seek help when the troubling signs firstsurface.During Mental Health Month in May, TRICARE would liketo remind beneficiaries about the recently published "A TRICARE Guide:Understanding Behavioral Health." The 80-page resourceis availableonline to all TRICARE beneficiaries at the TRICARE Smart Site at: www.tricare.mil/tricaresmart/. "ATRICARE Guide: Understanding Behavioral Health" corresponds with twoDepartment of Defense initiatives. The first promotes awareness aboutpost-traumatic stress disorder treatment and the other is an effort tohelp returning service members by providing expanded counselingservices.The guide provides information on seven main topics:TRICARE and Your Behavioral Health; Understanding Behavioral Health;Covered Services, Limitations and Exclusions; Who to See for Care;Getting Care; Your Right to Privacy; and For Information andAssistance. "A TRICARE Guide: Understanding Behavioral Health" isavailable at www.tricare.mil/tricaresmart/product.aspx?id=712&CID=87&RID=3.
For a free, anonymous mental health self-assessment, go to http://www.militarymentalhealth.org/ or call 1-877-877-3647.
7. H1N1 (Swine) Flu Update:The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center reported a total of 24confirmed H1N1 cases in the U.S. military, including 13 military familymembers, 10 active duty service members and one Marine recruit. Thecases occurred in Texas and California.
As of May 8th, there are 642 laboratory-confirmed cases of humanH1N1 virus infection in 41 states in the United States, according tothe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC officialsalso said there are another 845 probable human cases reported from 42states and the District of Columbia. This means there are a total of1,487 confirmed and probable cases in 44 states. Two people in theUnited States have died from the H1N1 virus. The World HealthOrganization said the virus has been reported in 22 other countries.The CDC recently noted the virus's spread has seemed to have slowed,and that its effects, for the most part, have been relatively mild.
Although the CDC indicates antiviral medications such as Tamiflu orRelenza can be effective, the Department of Defense Department does notrecommend their use unless prescribed by a physician.
Service members and their families should look for the latest news about the H1N1 virus at the Pandemic Influenza Watchboard at www.dod.mil/pandemicflu, along with http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu. For VA related information, go to: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/ or http://www.pandemicflu.va.gov/. (Source: http://www.health.mil/Press/Release.aspx?ID=692)
8. Old Navy Offers Military Appreciation Discount:The first of every month is Military AppreciationDay at Old Navy. Allactive duty, reserve component, and retired U.S. military personnel andtheir families will receive a ten percent discount at checkout with avalid military ID.