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Veterans Serving in New Ways

Veterans Serving in New Ways

A strong resume and good interview skills are important, but The Mission Continues, a veteran-founded nonprofit, believes community service is the key to veterans making a good transition into civilian life.  “In the military, it doesn’t matter the job, we knew we were contributing to a larger mission...” Read More!


Combined Federal Campaign Past and Present

Combined Federal Campaign History

CFC is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with almost 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and overseas raising millions of dollars each year. Pledges made by Federal civilian, postal and military donors during the campaign season (September 1st to December 15th) support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world... Read More!


Take Advantage of Discount Travel Program!

Government Vacation Rewards is a travel discount program specifically designed for government employees and military personnel to save money on their vacations. Consumers will have access to the savings online at GovVacationRewards.com or by calling one of our experienced vacation consultants. Government Vacation Rewards offers over 40 cruise lines, more than 4,000 different resort properties to all major destinations worldwide with no blackout dates. Every booking comes with a Best Price Guarantee and even friends and family members can take advantage of the prices! Learn more at www.govvacationrewards.com/ameriforce



America’s veterans should get what they were promised.

DAV helps veterans and their families get the health, disability and financial benefits they earned. And we connect them to vital services like claims assistance, medical transportation and employment.

Our professional team of advocates, all veterans themselves, provides free counseling and represents veterans with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and other government agencies. We help veterans and their families successfully file claims for VA disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs, pensions, death benefits, employment and training programs. In 2013 alone, DAV helped veterans and family members obtain more than $4.3 billion in new and retroactive benefits. Learn more at www.DAV.org.


A Hotel that Truly Understands the Military Lifestyle

Much is asked of our military personnel and their families every day - especially when it comes to TDY and PCS travel. And traditionally, hotels simply didn’t understand the unique needs of military travelers. But IHG Army Hotels is changing all that. Created with the military traveler in mind, IHG Army Hotels provides each guest with clean, comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfast and free WiFi* - all with the convenience of being on post.

Visit IHG.com/OfficialTravel or call 877.711.8326 to make your reservation or to learn more about all 39 IHG Army Hotels on-post locations.

Volunteer Jam A Great Success

The Charlie Daniels 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam raised more than $300,000 for The Journey Home Project, an organization co-founded by Daniels and his manager David Corlew that seeks to connect donors with veterans’ organizations that do the most good in meeting the health care, education and career needs of military servicemen and women and their families.

“Before we all continue on with our hectic lives, it’s important to stop and reflect on the fact that freedom is not free,” said Mercedez Longever, managing director of The Journey Home Project. “We are so grateful to Charlie Daniels, his team, all of the phenomenal artists who donated their time and talent, and fans who came out to support The Journey Home Project.”

The proceeds raised were due to the effort of Charlie Daniels, who brought his 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam back to Tennessee in order to give back to the military. “It was good to see an old Tennessee Tradition come back to life, all for this great cause,” Daniels said.

“We hope this event can continue for years to come and become the premiere event for our great city to display pride and patriotism for our U.S. military and all who have served,” added Corlew.

Surprise guests Eric Church, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jamey Johnson and Blackberry Smoke joined billed acts that included The Charlie Daniels Band, Ted Nugent, Trace Adkins, Alabama, Terri Clark, Billy Ray Cyrus, Colt Ford, The Grascals, Lee Greenwood, The Kentucky Headhunters, Tracy Lawrence, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ryan Weaver, Wynonna, Craig Morgan, Lee Roy Parnell, Billy Dean, Michael W. Smith, Travis Tritt, Phil Vassar, Montgomery Gentry, Bonnie Bramlett, Jimmy Hall, Tucker Yochim, Jeannie Seely, Billy Crain, Natalie Stovall.

For more information on The Journey Home Project, please visit www.thejourneyhomeproject.org



MilSpouses – Unemployment Benefits May Apply to YOU! 

Have you ever had to quit a job because your spouse’s new assignment moved you too far away to commute to work? If so, you have options.

Forty-six states have passed laws that may qualify you for unemployment insurance (UI) when you resign from your position to move with your service member. Each state determines the amount of compensation you can receive, length of time, and criteria for eligibility. UI is often substantially less than your previous earnings and isn’t a replacement for earned income, but it could provide some assistance while you are searching for a new job.

If you think you might qualify for unemployment benefits, here is what you need to know:

If you quit your job in Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, or Ohio, you need to contact all of the State Legislators and tell them to change the rules! These are the ONLY states who still consider your resignation as ‘voluntary,’ and do not provide an exception for good cause. This means military spouses do NOT qualify for unemployment compensation in Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, or Ohio due to a PCS (though you may still be eligible if you meet other criteria, like a layoff).

If you will quit (or recently quit) your job in any of the other 46 states, you must go to the state agency which distributes unemployment benefits and find out how to apply. You should have a copy of your service member’s PCS orders (which must cover dependents) available when you apply.

Pay special attention to requirements, like making sure you’ve worked the minimum amount of time to qualify. For example, if it’s required to work in the job for at least 12 months to qualify, and you only started working 8 months ago, you wouldn’t qualify under that condition.

You should also make sure to familiarize yourself with any rules that may disqualify you based on the time you quit. If orders were dated for October 1, and you quit on July 1 because you needed to take a vacation and visit the new duty station, you may have a harder time convincing the unemployment agency you quit primarily because of the PCS. Are there criteria for a reasonable length of time to quit before a move? That depends; there may or may not be guidelines for a reasonable quit time frame. In fact, the clerk helping you may have no idea. It is up to you to make sure you’ve done everything possible to protect your access to this benefit.

Lastly, the Department of Labor wants to get you back in the workforce at your new location ASAP, and has programs ready to help!

Check out www.dol.gov/dol/topic/training/dislocatedworkers.htm for more information. Also, don’t forget the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Employment Portal at https://msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil to find private employers interested in hiring military spouses.

— The Military Family Association



US-Based Service Members No Longer Eligible to Stay at Edelweiss AFRC 

A recent internal review of the Status of Forces Agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany determined that rules regarding patronage at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch were not being met. According to the regulation that defines eligibility for AFRC Resort patronage in Europe (AER600–700), retirees residing in Germany are authorized to utilize the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort once they have the proper tax authorizations from the German government.

Retirees or active-duty personnel who do not live in Germany must spend at least 30 days in Europe and have verification of eligibility from the German customs office before they may stay at the resort.

“It is an unfortunate development and we’re so sorry this may limit lodging options for service members and retirees visiting Europe” said Clesson D. Allman, General Manager of the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, “but we must comply with the SOFA agreement.”

Reservations made prior to June 10, 2015, will be honored. Effective immediately, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort can no longer accept new reservations from CONUS-based active duty and retired personnel. CONUS-based military ID card holders (including retirees) travelling with an authorized sponsor who has been stationed or TDY for more than 30 days in Europe may stay at the resort. Eligible patrons are able to sponsor up to three rooms and must be present during their sponsored guests’ stay. 

— from Edelweiss AFRC 



DoD sends blended military retirement proposal to Congress 

A Defense Department proposal submitted to Congress this summer would create what Pentagon officials called a “blended defined benefit and defined contribution” military retirement system.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters that the proposal includes elements the department believes are necessary to promote retention, to maintain the all-volunteer force and to protect service members who retire due to disability.

“The department carefully reviewed proposals offered by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission as well as Congress,” Warren said. “And in crafting its final recommendation, the department considered all elements of current and potential retirement plans and built a blended system that — in the military judgment of the Department of Defense — best enables us to maintain the readiness of the all volunteer force.”

Officials believe the proposal will help to give the department the flexibility it needs to manage the force into the future, the colonel said, while helping to ensure that 85 percent of service members will start long-term retirement savings.

Highlights of the proposal include:

-Creating a defined contribution element through the Thrift Savings Plan for service members;

-DoD automatically contributing an amount equal to 1 percent of a service member’s basic pay to the Thrift Savings Plan account from entry into service through separation or retirement, with vesting after completion of two years of service and additional matching contributions of up to 5 percent of basic pay starting after completion of four years of service and continuing through separation or retirement; and

-Each service having the ability to offer a bonus, called Continuation Pay, to members with eight to 16 years of service, with each service setting the rate of Continuation Pay.

“This change to a blended retirement system is a key step in modernizing the department’s ability to recruit, retain and maintain the talent we require of our future force,” Warren said. “We know that future service members will require more choice and flexibility in compensation and retirement.”

The proposal also provides additional options for attracting and managing a military force that requires ever-increasing, diverse and technical skill sets in an evolving global economy, he added.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman, said that under the plan, about 85 percent of service members who enter the force will receive some form of a portable retirement benefit.

Future service members would receive 80 percent of the current defined benefit - retirement pay, which effectively is a pension — if they serve for 20 years, and would have the opportunity to achieve nearly equivalent or better retirement benefits when they reach retirement age, he added.

“This plan enables us to recruit and retain our superb all-volunteer force in the 21st century,” Christensen said.

John D. Banusiewicz, DoD News, Defense Media Activity



Phoenix Career Services for Military Students

At University of Phoenix, our goal is to help connect our students’ education to meaningful careers with real opportunities. We believe students stand a greater likelihood of success when their skills and education are developed around the needs of employers.

That’s why we developed Phoenix Career Services as a comprehensive career-planning resource. It integrates career tools and guidance into your education to help identify the skills needed for your career of interest.

Whether you’re a veteran, active-duty service member or spouse, Phoenix Career Services offers online tools and resources that can help you discover career opportunities. Learn more at phoenix.edu/pcs-military



Army National Guard announces data breach; establishes call center 

Former and current members of the Army National Guard could be affected by a breach of personal information, Guard officials said in July.

“All current and former Army National Guard members since 2004 could be affected by this breach because files containing personal information was inadvertently transferred to a non-DoD-accredited data center by a contract employee,” said Maj. Earl Brown, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau. The data includes the Soldiers’ names, full Social Security numbers, dates of birth and home addresses.

“The issue was identified and promptly reported, and we do not believe the data will be used unlawfully,” Brown said. “This was not a hacking incident, in which the intent was to use data for financial gain. Nonetheless, the Guard believes that individuals potentially affected need to know about the breach and what actions they can take to protect themselves from potential identity theft.”

The National Guard Bureau has set up a Web page at www.nationalguard.mil/Features/IdentityTheft.aspx and a toll-free call center available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, which began June 10. The number is 877-276-4729. The Web page provides steps on how to check credit reports, how to guard against identity theft and whom to call if Guard members believe any fraudulent activity has occurred with their personal information. The call center provides information on what to do to prevent, or react to, potential identify theft.

— from NGB 



Reserve Component Beefs Up Security in Wake of Tragedy 

In response to the July 16th armed assault on military personnel at two facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., that killed four Marines and a Sailor, states are taking steps to better secure their recruiting and National Guard and reserve facilities — including some states granting those service members authorization to carry a firearm.

As of press time, governors in at least seven states — including Florida, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin — have authorized their National Guardsmen to carry weapons on duty. Several other state governors are considering following suit.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved immediate force-protection steps in the wake of the Chattanooga shooting incidents, and has directed the services to examine additional steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of service members and civilians at military installations. Federal military recruiting centers and reserve centers have increased security, but have not gone so far as to authorize weapons. Members of the National Guard are the rare exception of military personnel who can be armed off-base.

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command and nominee to become the next Army chief of staff, recently told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that force protection is a key task for commanders at all levels and steps should be taken to defend personnel. He noted that guidance on a variety of active and passive measures has been put out by U.S. Northern Command, but added that the details are sensitive and he could not go into them during an open hearing.

When asked about allowing recruiters and other personnel to carry weapons, Milley said it’s a complicated legal issue, but “under certain conditions, both on military installations and recruiting stations, we should seriously consider it, and, in some cases I think it’s important.”

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott instructed the Florida Adjutant General to relocate all Florida National Guard personnel at the state’s six storefront recruitment centers to the nearest Florida National Guard Armory until there are recommendations made to improve the security of store-front recruitment centers, and to ensure that all qualified fulltime guardsmen are adequately armed for their personal protection. 

In Ohio, Gov. John R. Kasich asked Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman to update policies and training requirements for personnel at Ohio National Guard recruitment offices and reviewing all security measures at these facilities. Some of the state’s recruiting centers were relocated to nearby armories.

“We are ... strengthening small firearm training so that those men and women staffing our recruitment offices may protect themselves in the event of a threat,” said Bartman.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has directed Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar to arm certain members of the Wisconsin National Guard while on duty. The initial plan is to place specific security forces personnel at the four Wisconsin National Guard recruiting storefront locations throughout the state.

“Safety must be our top priority, especially in light of the horrific attack in Chattanooga,” Walker said. “Allowing our National Guard troops to carry weapons while on duty gives them the tools they need to serve and protect our citizens, as well as themselves.”

— from various DOD and state news reports



Guard/Reserve Units Aid in Wildfire Containment 

California Air National Guardsmen and Air Force Reservists are the latest reserve personnel assisting first responders in fighting wildfires this summer.

As of press time, the August blaze was ravaging the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco and had expanded to cover about 84 square miles and 56,000 acres. Authorities ordered more than 12,000 people to evacuate their homes.

“Nearly 1,100 California Guard soldiers and airmen on a state active-duty status, along with 11 Guard helicopters, are supporting [The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection] and the California Office of Emergency Management at fires in the northern part of the state,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon’s press operations chief during a press briefing Aug. 3.

Additionally, the California Air National Guard deployed two C-130 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems, or MAFFS, to McClellan Airfield outside of Sacramento so they can assist first responders with the Rocky Fire, he said.

Further efforts, according to Davis, include the activation of two Air Force Reserve MAFFS aircraft from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and aircrews from the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, were also quite busy these past few months, fighting fires all across Alaska’s challenging terrain.

The Alaska Army National Guard has 19 Black Hawks that are shared among aviation units in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel, Nome and Juneau.

“We swap crews out once they’ve worked three consecutive days, and we swap aircraft out as needed for unscheduled or routine maintenance,” said Lt. Col. Robert Kurtz, the Alaska Army National Guard state aviation officer.

Per their agreement with the Alaska Division of Forestry, the National Guard provides stand-by availability seven days a week for a 12-hour work day, when there is a current request for assistance.

— Amaani Lyle, DoD News and Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs 



Recognizing the Sacrifice of Unsung Heroes 

Honoring the sacrifices of our troops is nothing new for members of the military. The sacrifices made by the children of service members do not often receive the same attention.

The Army Reserve’s 81st Regional Support Command Family Programs staff and two 81st Soldiers out of Fort Jackson paid a visit to Round Top Elementary School near Columbia, S.C., to show appreciation to the children of deployed service members. Officials presented children of deployed service members with special backpacks known as ‘Hero Packs.” The event took place during the student- run televised morning announcements.

Operation Military Kids (OMK) provided backpacks with several items, including wellness kits, pens and a journal, and a letter of encouragement from another child whose parent deployed.

“I’m really surprised. It feels good. My dad’s brave and kind. It really feels good to know that people care,” said Krista Edwards, a recipient of a Hero Pack.

Her dad, Christopher, is deployed to the Middle East. 

On-post schools offer lots of programs for military children, but the experience for families living off-post and attending local schools can be different. They don’t always have the same support system. These military children—especially children of Reservists and National Guardsmen—often feel isolated. 

Since Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base are in the area, there is greater support at several area schools, and children often find some of their peers are in the same boat.

Sharri Edwards, Krista’s mother and an Army veteran herself, said the Family Programs have been very supportive during this difficult time for the family. Sharri’s husband is assigned to an out-of- state unit, but living in the Columbia area provides some opportunities.

“It was really neat. We are really fortunate that there is a military base right here in the community. This event is really important and to have this happen at her elementary school is great because my kids don’t go to school on post. This is a wonderful way to show her she’s connected to a family and to the community, so this is really special.”

Following the ceremony in which 10 kids received Hero Packs and dog tags, Krista received a special call from her Dad, Christopher. He is thankful Family Programs provided support.

“I was very pleased to find out about this presentation. It helps my daughter just to see that people appreciate the sacrifices that she has made and this is a great way to honor her.”

— Michael Mascari, 81st Regional Support Command



Join WWFS’s Marine Corps Marathon Team 

The 40th Marine Corps Marathon, set for Oct. 25 in Washington, D.C., sold out months ago, but Wounded Warriors Family Support still has slots on its team for runners to participate in the race, all while benefitting the organization’s mission.

Runners can still be part of the event by joining Wounded Warriors Family Support’s running team with a pledge of $500, in addition to the race registration of $129.50. Rated a four-star nonprofit by Charity Navigator, Wounded Warriors Family Support aids veterans and their families in healing the wounds that medicine cannot. Pledges will support the organization’s programs, which enhance the lives of military families through respite and reconnection services.

To join Wounded Warriors Family Support’s Marine Corps Marathon team, call 402-502-7557 or e-mail ashlie.congdon@wwfs.org or kate@wwfs.org.

—Courtesy Wounded Warriors Family Support

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