From D-Day to Thanksgiving

Top Military Stories

From D-Day to Thanksgiving

On the evening of D-Day + 1, the men of the 175th Infantry Regiment, Maryland Army National Guard, landed at Omaha Beach to behold the reality of what they knew their brothers of the 29th Infantry Division encountered the day before.

And the dangers were still waiting for them even in the aftermath of the invasion’s first day. The men’s landing craft first had to avoid mines in the water while German shells still sought out marks. The boats were knocked by rounds
and bumped by the bodies of those who never made it out of the water on June 6th. As they disembarked, the Soldiers waded through waters rife with jellyfish and the previous day’s carnage as they made their way onto the beaches and bluffs.

Among these men was Technical Sergeant Joseph A. Farinholt, an anti-tank platoon leader from Catonsville, Md., who would become one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II . . . [ Read More . . . ]

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Military e-Briefs: Military News You Need to Read

 

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.

 
 
 
 

Sesame Street/USO Experience Kicks Off 2014 Tour 

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families – the USO's longest running, free traveling tour based on Sesame Street's military family initiative is celebrating five years of touring the globe. The 2014 tour kicks off at Scott AFB in Illinois on April 4 and will be traveling to installations all across the U.S.

The tour features several of your favorite Sesame Street characters along with Katie, who was created exclusively for this tour and was first introduced to military families in April 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at a Joining Forces rally in Columbus, Ohio.  Katie is a military child who must confront her fears about moving to a new base again.  

Visit www.uso.org/Sesame/Tour-Schedule for the full tour schedule.

 
 
 
 

Sesame Street Friends Help Military Children Move

Children in military families move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school, and a mobile app launched in December can help them cope with leaving a familiar place for the unknown.

The Big Moving Adventure app lets children create a Muppet friend to help them through the moving process.

Developed for the Defense Department in partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the mobile app is available for download from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon for Kindle Fire.

"Moving can be stressful, and kids need to express feelings and say goodbye to people and things," said Dr. Kelly Blasko, psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. "The Muppet characters in this app help make the move a fun experience."

Children can use the app to help their Muppet friend make decisions on a variety of move-related issues, such as which toys to pack in a box and which to take along in their backpack. Children watch the Muppet say goodbye to their house, their military base and their classroom and playground friends. At the new house, children help their Muppet unpack, settle into the home and make new friends.

Military parents face unique challenges during a move, and the app helps their young children through the experience. A separate parents section contains additional move-related topics and tips.

The Big Moving Adventure mobile app is the newest addition to a portfolio of multimedia resources developed by Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with the Defense Department, to help military families with deployments and life transitions.

While developed specifically for military families with children 3 to 5 years old, it is useful for all families with young children experiencing a move, officials said.

 
 
 
 

Family Readiness Family Forum at AUSA LANPAC Conference

Do you live in Hawaii and want to learn more about employment strategies and resources? Sign up to attend our educational Family Forum at AUSA'S LANPAC conference in April!

Spouse employment has long been a hot-button issue in the military community. Constant relocation, difficulty continuing education, securing and maintaining licenses, and juggling responsibilities are just a few of the concerns we hear about. Couple that with more online resources and platforms than you might know how to handle, and finding employment might seem even more daunting! In an effort to join the conversation and provide resources wherever you might be in your career, we are having a Family Forum at AUSA's LANPAC meeting in Honolulu this spring.

The forum will feature keynote presentations from representatives from Military.com and Military Spouse Corporate Career Network, and will also include a panel discussion and Q & A session. The conference is free to attend, but seating is limited, so register below!

http://ausameetings.org/lanpac/military-family-forum/

 
 
 
 

AAFMAA Celebrates 135 Years of Service

On 13 January 2014, AAFMAA (American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association) celebrated 135 years of dedicated service to military families.  Established in 1879, as a result of Custer’s Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, AAFMAA’s purpose was to aid the families of deceased members in a prompt, simple and substantial manner.  Over 135 years later, this purpose remains the core of AAFMAA’s focus.  Today, service members in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard around the world, on active duty, Retired, Guard, Reserves, those currently attending one of the service academies, ROTC contract/scholarship cadets and Honorably Discharged Veterans (residing in AZ, CT, FL, HI, MD, NC, OK, RI, SC and VA) are eligible for membership.

AAFMAA is a not-for-profit, membership association offering a variety of low-cost life insurance products, Survivor Assistance Services, Financial Planning, Investment  Management & Trust Administration Services to all military families.  You can find out more about AAFMAA at www.aafmaa.com or by calling 1-800-522-5221.

 
 
 
 

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.

 
 
 
 

Get Involved!
The 2014 Council of College and Military Educators
Professional Development Symposium is Coming!

The upcoming 2014 CCME Professional Development Symposium is fast approaching. We are truly at a Crossroads in Military Education..., which is the theme for this year. There will be 60 distinct sessions and over 80 total sessions (over 25 percent more than last year). Expect to learn about the President's Executive Order 13607 on Establishing Principles of Excellence, Public Law 112-249 on Comprehensive Veterans Education Information, student outcome measures, complaint systems and many other important topics.

CCME will be sponsoring a "Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair" in conjunction with our symposium on Wednesday February 12.

Early Bird pricing through 15 January 2014.

To learn more visit http://ccmeonline.org/.

 
 
 
 

Army to Restructure Warrior Transition Units

The Army announced it will restructure its warrior transition units as the service prepares for a scheduled withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and a continued decline in the number of combat wounded.

Warrior transition units are located at major military treatment facilities and provide support to wounded, ill and injured soldiers who require at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management. 

According to Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander of Warrior Transition Command and the Army's assistant surgeon general for warrior care and transition, "These changes will improve the care and transition of soldiers through increased standardization, increased cadre-to-soldier ratios, improved access to resources on installations, and reduced delays in care. They are not related to budget cuts, sequestration or furloughs."

As part of the restructuring, the Army will inactivate five WTUs and establish more than a dozen community care units across 11 installations by Sept. 30. The transition will include inactivating nine community-based warrior transition units, which currently provide outpatient care and services for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers who do not require day-to-day care, allowing soldiers to continue their recovery closer to home.

After the transition, those soldiers will be assigned to community care units located on Army installations. Soldiers will not have to move or change their care plans, officials said. 

Community care units will stand up at the following Army installations: Fort Carson, Colo.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Forts Hood and Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Forts Benning, Stewart, and Gordon, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Belvoir, Va.

     — From a Defense Department News Release

 
 
 
 

DARPA's 'Bionic' Upper Limb Enhances Life for Amputees

It's metal, sleek and precise. It pivots and flexes like a real hand, or at least one from a science-fiction movie.

But with no Hollywood special effects involved, brain research experts at yesterday's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Congressional Tech Showcase here demonstrated an artificial arm and hand that can do everything from picking up cups to playing the piano, powered by the user's brain.

Mike McLoughlin, chief engineer for research and exploratory development at Johns Hopkins University's applied physics laboratory, said DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program developed the device over about five years to improve the quality of life for service members who suffered the loss of an upper extremity.

"Five, six years ago [an amputee's] option was essentially a hook," McLoughlin said. "We want to give them a much greater level of functionality, because what they really want to do is go back and contribute to society."

The demo also featured an excerpt from a 60 Minutes episode that aired in 2013 showing Jan, a patient suffering from a neurological condition, with two electrode chips, each about the size of a fingernail, in her brain.

Even simple tasks such as picking up a cup of coffee are the result of a complex series of commands and information "behind the scenes" in the brain, McLoughlin explained. "We're able to take those complex things and reduce them down to simple thoughts."

With the help of the arm and hand, Jan moved, interacted and grasped objects in a more natural way, McLoughlin said, adding that the arm also can function with information gleaned from a computer script.

He described the arm's future and range of potential applications as "exciting" for service members and civilians alike.

     — Amaani Lyle, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

'No Room for Error,' Hagel Tells Troops

The nation depends on the professionalism of service members like the airmen of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today on a visit to the base.

"We have all the great technology in the world -- and we have better technology than anyone -- and we are the strongest country on Earth ... but it takes people, it takes leadership, it takes commitment," Hagel told the airmen.

Through investments in modernization and by focusing on reducing the nuclear stockpile under the START II treaty, the United States is demonstrating its commitment to maintaining a capable and safe nuclear deterrent, he said.

"It's clearly in our national security interests," Hagel said.

"And as I had an opportunity to view some of this today to get down really where the operational dynamics are real, and not just theory or in PowerPoint presentations, but it's clear that we've got some work to do on modernization," the defense secretary said.

Hagel told the airmen that the American people have great confidence in their ability to perform under extraordinary conditions.

"You've also chosen a profession where there's no room for error. In what you do every day, there is no room for error, none," he said.

Under such conditions, Hagel said, it's important to constantly hone and develop personal, professional and institutional skills. Because even though the nation doesn't go to war every day, the defense secretary said, "every day we help prevent war. That's what we are about. And we do that better than anyone else."

"How you do the job is really as important as the job itself, because it sets a standard of expectation for yourselves and for everybody around you," Hagel said. "You're all leaders. You're all role models. And that's a heavy burden to carry."

The defense secretary was on the final stop of a two-day trip to bases in Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas.

     — Claudette Roulo, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Fox Nominated as New Deputy Secretary

President Barack Obama has nominated Christine H. Fox to serve as acting deputy defense secretary, announced Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter departed Dec. 4, and Fox is to assume her duties Dec. 5, making her the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the Defense Department. Until June she served as the director of DOD's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

"Over the last five years, Christine has played a key role in helping shape solutions to the core challenges facing the Department of Defense," a senior defense official said.

Secretary Hagel relied on Fox's judgment and deep analytical expertise during the Strategic Choices and Management Review earlier this year, the official said.

"As a key leader of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, she helped identify the challenges, choices, and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty," Hagel said.

Claudette Roulo, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Dempsey Praises Veterans' Rehabilitation Program

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today praised the members the Veterans Treatment Court Convention for their work in developing the innovative program designed to help veterans get their lives back on track.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the program, which grew out of a grass-roots effort in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2008, is especially needed for a generation of service members that has lived through 12 years of repeated deployments into intense combat.

One of Dempsey's focus areas as chairman is to find ways to integrate these veterans back into their communities. The vast majority of vets do so with few problems, but some have severe problems stemming from their service.

In 2008, Buffalo Judge Robert Russell noticed an increasing number of veterans coming to his court for drug and alcohol offenses who were clearly suffering from mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. The courts work with the local VA to get these men and women the help they need. The most important part of the program is the mentoring that other veterans provide.

The idea has grown. Currently, there are 130 veterans treatment courts in the United States with many more planned, officials said. The convention here in Washington was the first where officials from around the country could meet to share experiences and best practices.

Dempsey said all those involved with dealing with veterans need to remind the communities of what the veterans bring back to their towns and cities.

"There are stereotypes that somehow always emerge after a conflict," the chairman said. "It does them a great disservice if we brand them with stereotypes."

Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Support military youth in 2014! It's easy! Purchase a Portfolio Book...

Help support free writing and photography workshops for military youth in 2014! Purchase a Backpack Journalist Educational Portfolio Books created from summer workshops. Nature Storytelling with Fossils (Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument) & History Comes Alive at Cantigny (Freedom Express & First Division Museum). Each book contains articles, interviews with museum curators and park rangers, lesson plans and educational projects for grade 3 and up! Makes a great Holiday gift, plus supports military youth workshops. For each book sold, $5.00 is donated to each foundation at the venue by A Backpack Journalist.

http://www.abackpackjournalist.com (Click online store for the details)

 
 
 
 

University of Phoenix Supports the Military Community

University of Phoenix is proud to offer the military community a wide range of degree programs designed to connect their education to civilian careers that fit them best. Servicemembers have the opportunity to take one or two courses at a time, and still be full-time students. Online or on-campus, they can achieve their academic and professional goals no matter where they serve. Courses are conveniently accessible yet academically rigorous and applicable to today’s workplace. And our dedicated military advisors help military students navigate their financial options and support them throughout their degree program. Learn more at phoenix.edu/mil.

 
 
 
 

Combined Federal Campaign Placed on Hold

The Combined Federal Campaign has been placed on hold while the federal government shutdown continues, according to a Pentagon memo.

Susan A. Yarwood, the human resources director with Washington Headquarters Services, announced that CFC activities in the continental United States, apart from on-going employee contributions, are indefinitely suspended.

The campaign is a one-stop shop for federal employees to make donations to thousands of charities through automatic payroll deductions. Last year, federal workers contributed $258 million via the CFC.

The 2013 CFC campaign started September 5. When the partial government shutdown hit on October 1, officials determined that the program would have to be suspended.

"Upon legal review, these activities are not excepted from furlough nor are they appropriate activities under the Pay Our Military Act," Yarwood wrote in the memo dated Oct. 9. "Until such time as we have a continuing resolution or congressionally approved appropriation, please postpone all CFC events, training, and fund-raisers."

During the hiatus, military and civilian members can still donate to the charities of their choice via the MyPay option.

Officials say the campaign is prepared to restart quickly once the shutdown is over.

— Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Weekend Training Postponed Again for Wisconsin National Guard

For the second straight week, the Wisconsin National Guard has postponed all unit training activities scheduled for this weekend due to the ongoing federal government shutdown.

Soldiers and Airmen scheduled to report for training Oct. 11-13 should remain home and are advised to check with their commanders for guidance on how and when this weekend's training will be rescheduled.

Funds for annual training days have been approved — with strict guidelines concerning what activities qualify as annual training — but traditional weekend training will remain postponed as long as the federal government shutdown continues. According to Maj. Gen. Donald P. Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, postponing scheduled training raises serious concerns about troop readiness and certification.

"The National Guard only has so many training resources available for each training period," Dunbar said. "To maximize those opportunities, we plan our training up to three years out. Some resources for required training, such as firing ranges or military lodging, are in high demand and may not be available when we reschedule training."

While Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel authorized recalling most furloughed military technicians to work earlier this week, the continued absence of an approved federal funding measure means there are no funds to pay for National Guard training.

This weekend's training is postponed, not cancelled. In the event of a state emergency, the Wisconsin National Guard remains fully available to the governor for state active duty.

Several financial institutions are offering low or zero percent interest rate loans to National Guard members impacted by the federal government shutdown. The Family Assistance Specialists (FACs) at 1-800-292-9464 Option 3, or the Wing Airman and Family Readiness Program Managers, can assist National Guard members with locating financial assistance resources. Military OneSource (800-342-9647) continues to be available to service members and their families during the shutdown.

— Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs
 
 
 
 

Update: TRICARE Statement About Government Shutdown

"We know that those who rely on the Military Health System (MHS) are concerned about how the government shutdown might impact their health care and are taking appropriate actions to assure that our beneficiaries are cared for.

TRICARE beneficiaries using providers in the private sector should feel no effects at this time.

The Defense Health Agency has authorized its managed care support contractors to continue to administer their contracts and deliver health care. The Contractors expect to receive claims from providers, which will ultimately be reimbursed by the DHA. If the shutdown continues, DHA leadership will look at the best way to support our contractors and beneficiaries.

The MHS leadership — comprised of the assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, the director of the Defense Health Agency, and the surgeons general of the military departments — are closely monitoring the impact of a government shutdown on the health services provided to our 9.6 million beneficiaries."

Please also be aware that during the government shutdown, TRICARE will not be able to process or pay TRICARE travel claims for the TRICARE Prime or the Combat-Related Specialty Care travel benefits. You may still file your travel claim. TRICARE will review claims for eligibility and process them once the government shutdown ends.

TRICARE for Life, funded by a separate annuity account, is currently unaffected by the government shutdown.

If you have questions about your benefits, please contact your regional contractor or the appropriate contractor (i.e. pharmacy, dental, etc.). Visit www.tricare.mil for a complete list of toll-free numbers.

To get the latest information by email about any change in the effect of the government shutdown on TRICARE, subscribe to benefit updates and get email alerts at www.tricare.mil/subscriptions.

 
 
 
  University of Phoenix Collaborates with National Guard Association of the United States to Offer Scholarship Program

University of Phoenix® and National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) awarded three full-tuition scholarships to Guardsmen to complete a master’s degree program at University of Phoenix. The scholarships were awarded to Army and Air National Guardsmen and NGAUS members ranked Lieutenant Colonel (O-5) and below. The 2013 University of Phoenix NGAUS Scholarship recipients are:

  • Jason Lefton, New York National Guard, Clifton Park, N.Y
  • Timothy Ames, Hawaii National Guard, Waipahu, Hawaii
  • James Driscolli, Connecticut Air National Guard, West Hartford, Conn.
 
 
 
 

Memo Prepares DOD Employees for Government Shutdown

Although Defense Department officials believe a government shutdown can be avoided when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, they want DOD employees to be prepared for the possibility, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a memo issued to the workforce today.

The fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Congress has not passed a budget. If Congress does not approve a budget or pass a continuing resolution, the portions of the government funded via appropriated funds will be forced to close.

Congress still can prevent a lapse in appropriations, but "prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month," the deputy secretary wrote.

The absence of funding would mean a number of government activities would cease. "While military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed," Carter said. "To prepare for this possibility, we are updating our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations."

—Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Same-Sex Spouses are Eligible for TRICARE Benefits

Spouses, including same-sex spouses, of service members (active duty, retired or Guard/Reserve) are now eligible for TRICARE. Coverage for same-sex spouses is retroactive to June 26, 2013. For full information on enrolling a spouse in TRICARE, visit the getting married page at www.tricare.mil/LifeEvents/Marriage.

For more information on filing claims with your managed care support contractor, visit the claims page at www.tricare.mil/GettingCare/Claims/HowtoFile.

—from TRICARE

 
 
 
 

DOD Reviews Suicide Prevention Efforts

The Defense Department has more than 900 different suicide prevention initiatives. Officials have been working to identify which ones reflect the federal government’s new national strategy for reducing suicide.

The Defense Suicide Prevention Office started its review last fall, and an interim report of their findings is expected to be shared with key military leaders in October.

“What we have been doing is looking at efficiency and effectiveness,” said Jacqueline Garrick, head of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. “We have started to look at costs associated with these programs and then looking to measure whether or not they are effective.”

—Dana Crudo,  Health.mil

 
 
 
 

2013 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition
Walter E. Washington Convention Center | Washington, DC

October 21 – 23

Held every October in Washington D.C., the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition is one of the largest land warfare expositions and professional development forums in the world. The AUSA Annual Meeting consists of informative presentations, panel discussions on pertinent military and national security subjects, workshops and important business meetings.

This year we are expecting over 25,000 people from around the world, including key leaders from the Army, DoD and Congress. This three day event also includes over 500 industry and military exhibits featuring the latest technology and services for the Army. Presentations on the state of the Army and related defense subjects are given by the Secretary of the Army, the Army Chief of Staff and other senior Army and Department of Defense representatives.

For more information, please visit our website, www.ausaannualmeeting.org.

 
 
 
 

The Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) MILITARY FAMILY FORUMS will be held during the 2013 Annual Meeting October 21-23, 2013

Walter E. Washington Convention Center 801 Mt. Vernon Pl. NW, Washington, DC 20001

Can’t attend in person? Don’t worry- you won’t miss out on any of the
important resources or discussions by joining us online! All four forums will
stream live from www.ausa.org/family, and you can access the feed from home, or contact your local Army Community Services, State National Guard Family Assistance Center, Army Strong Community Center, or local AUSA chapter for information about local viewing events.

Visit the Annual Meeting Registration page to sign up, and be sure to follow Family Programs on Facebook and Twitter for updates and information. We look forward to seeing you in October!

 
 
 
 

AmeriForce is Growing Again...and Hiring!

AmeriForce Publishing, Inc., a leading provider of information to military personnel and their families is seeking a motivated advertising sales representative. Ideal candidate will have prior sales experience, knowledge of military life, and be capable of working from a home office.  Clients will include colleges, major national consumer companies, insurance companies and government agencies. Occasional travel required. Compensation consists of a base salary, commissions, bonuses and a comprehensive benefits package.  Forward resume with cover letter to: JMiller@AmeriForce.net.

 
 
 
 

Join us at the Northern California Renaissance Faire, Weekends Sept 14-Oct 13

Behold! The village of Willingtown opens to its 2013 season, bringing to life a rich and vibrant 16th century Elizabethan era town. Showcasing the finest artisans, actors and vendors ever seen in an environment filled with music, laughter, food and entertainment of all kinds. Romance is inevitable as knights in armor joust for the Queen's honor while ale and ciders flow freely. With an extensive cast of colorful characters, the village provides entertainment and amusement for all ages. For more information go to www.norcalrenfaire.com.

 
 
 
 

Military Spouses Choir to Perform on 'America's Got Talent'

A group that got its start in Army Entertainment is the driving force behind the American Military Spouses Choir, an "America's Got Talent" quarterfinalist scheduled to perform tonight, August 6, at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The show will be televised live on NBC at 9 p.m. EDT.

The competing choir consists of 37 spouses of active-duty military personnel, including 10 Army wives whose husbands range in rank from sergeant to major general. All told, there are 50 military spouses in the choir, ranging in age from 19 to 54, whose husbands range in rank from corporal to two-star general.

The group is the brainchild of Victor Hurtado, an Army Entertainment veteran who has performed in and directed programs such as the U.S. Army Soldier Show, Operation Rising Star, Military Idol and Stars of Tomorrow, among others, for nearly three decades. Hurtado also founded CAMMO, a nonprofit Center for American Military Music Opportunities, which supports the military wives choir.

— Tim Hipps, U.S. Army Installation Management Command

 
 
 
 

Hagel Announces Reduction in Civilian Furlough Days

Hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees who have had to take a weekly unpaid day off from work since July 8 are getting some relief, as the total number of furlough days has been reduced from 11 to six, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today.

“As a result of … management initiatives, reduced costs, and reprogramming from Congress, we have determined that we can make some improvements in training and readiness and still meet the sequestration cuts,” said Hagel. “The Air Force has begun flying again in key squadrons, the Army has increased funding for organizational training at selected units, and the Navy has restarted some maintenance and ordered deployments that otherwise would not have happened. While we are still depending on furlough savings, we will be able to make up our budgetary shortfall in this fiscal year with fewer furlough days than initially announced.”

Financial uncertainty still looms for fiscal year 2014, he said. “If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DoD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on October 1. This represents 40 percent more than this year's sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs.”

— American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

American Military University Remains Top School Serving TA Students for 2013

American Military University was again ranked the top school for 2013 serving military students using tuition assistance. While AMU retained its overall leadership position, it also ascended to the #1 school serving the Army, making it the leading school serving all five branches of the military.

 
 
 
 

Gimbal’s Fine Candies Makes a Sweet Donation to U.S. Forces Serving Overseas

Gimbal’s Fine Candies® recently showed their support for active military members by donating thousands of bags of candy to U.S. Troops serving overseas.

The 4th generation family-owned company, in partnership with the National Confectioners Association and Operation Interdependence®, donated more than 2,076 bags of candy to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Germany and Japan.

All products offered by Gimbal's are made with pride in the U.S.A and are free of the "Major 8" ingredients that are responsible for 90% of food allergies.

The candies are available at most Army and Air Force Exchange Service Outlets and online at www.gimbalscandy.com

 
 
 
 

MBA Offers New Low-Cost Insurance Option

The Military Benefit Association (MBA), recently launched Term 90 Plus Life Insurance, a low-premium option for active duty military personnel and their families.

Term 90 Plus starts at just $2.50 per month per $50,000 in coverage — up to $1 million — and can supplement existing SGLI coverage.

The option is also portable, so military personnel can continue coverage at special rates after they leave the service.

For those personnel already retired, they can get low-cost coverage in addition to or in place of VGLI.

Visit www.militarybenefit.org for more information on this and other offerings from MBA.

 
 
 
 

AAFMAA Changes Name

AAFMAA officially became the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association on June 12, 2013 to reflect its expanded eligibility for membership.

The organization started in 1879 as the Army Mutual Aid Association (AMAA) — admitting only Army officers for membership — and changed its name to AAFMAA (which then stood for the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association) in 1987 to reflect its acceptance of Air Force personnel.

AAFMAA welcomed service members from all of the U.S. Armed Forces — active duty, retired, Guard and reserve —in September 2011, and chose to change it official name to reflect this inclusion.

Visit www.aafmaa.com for more information.

 
 
 
 

Revision Batlskin Viper: The Ultimate Head & Face Protection

The Revision Batlskin Viper Head Protection System is a fully modular, scalable and tailorable suite of integrated head protection components providing ballistic, blast, and blunt force protection.

Revision’s Batlskin Viper A1 Helmet, built in the ACH shape and to exacting military and NIJ IIIA specifications, delivers ballistic and impact head protection and serves as the foundation for all Batlskin modular components, including the Front Mount, Mandible Guard, and Visor.

Helmets are available in a full range of cuts, sizes, and colors.

Learn more at www.revisionmilitary.com.

 
 
 
 

DOD Establishes First Brain Tissue Bank to Study Traumatic Brain Injury in Service Members

The Department of Defense has established the world's first brain tissue repository to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in service members.

The Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine Brain Tissue Repository for Traumatic Brain Injury was established at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Md., with a multi-year grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, to advance the understanding and treatment of TBI in service members.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, is a neurodegenerative disorder that involves the progressive accumulation of the protein tau in nerve cells within certain regions of the brain. As the tau protein accumulates, it disturbs function and appears to lead to symptoms seen in affected patients such as boxers and, more recently, football players with multiple head trauma.

DoD researchers will look at the brain tissue samples to characterize the neuropathologic features of TBI in service members. Important questions to be addressed include "What does blast exposure do to the brain?" and "Do the different forms of brain injury experienced in the military lead to CTE?"

For further information on donation to the brain tissue repository for traumatic brain injury, please contact the Repository team at CNRM-TBI@usuhs.eduor 855-DON-8TBI (855-366-8824).

 
 
 
 

Pentagon Announces Progress in Opening Jobs to Women

The services and U.S. Special Operations Command have completed plans to gradually open jobs to female service members that used to be closed to them, senior Pentagon officials announced today.

In January, then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rescinded the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule. That policy barred women from jobs — such as tank mechanic and field artillery radar operator — performed near combat units. It also prohibited women in jobs such as intelligence, communications and logistics from assignment at units smaller than a brigade.

This year, the services and SOCOM have worked diligently to plan two lines of effort aimed at integrating women:

  • Currently open occupations that were restricted: for example, administrative clerk in a tank battalion or truck driver in an artillery battery; and
  • Currently closed occupations that require review and validation of occupational standards: for example, infantry, armor and combat engineer.

Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Wireless Spectrum Essential to Defense Operations, Official Says

The Defense Department depends on the wireless spectrum for nearly all of its activities, the DOD chief information officer said here today.

Essentially, everything at the Defense Department is connected to the network, Teri Takai told attendees at a Washington Post forum.

In an effort to ensure commanders are fully informed of activities in and around the battle space, the department has moved beyond just wireless voice and data transmission, Takai said. Video now is part of many military platforms, she explained, and that is just one sign of the department's growing need for wireless spectrum.

The civilian market is increasingly reliant on wireless communications as well. Many countries, including the United States, already have more wireless connection points — phones, tablets, hotspots, etc. — than they have people, according to CTIA, one of the forum's sponsors. As of December 2012, nearly 36 percent of U.S. households were wireless-only, compared to just 15.8 percent in 2007.

The explosive growth of wireless communications has resulted in a shortage of available spectrum for both federal and civilian uses. In response, President Barack Obama last week issued a memorandum establishing a spectrum policy team that will monitor and support spectrum-sharing technologies in concert with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In the memo, federal agencies are tasked with finding ways to enhance spectrum efficiency and free up more spectrum for consumer services and applications.

Defense activities also are becoming heavily dependent on commercial wireless providers, Takai said, so the department naturally is concerned about its spectrum capacity.

Claudette Roulo, American Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

AAFMAA Launches New Website, SpouseLink.org

AAFMAA recently launched a new website, SpouseLink.org. SpouseLink.org is a free website that supports, informs and inspires military spouses with daily pop culture and important military information.

Spouses of AAFMAA directors and members suggested that AAFMAA create a website just for military spouses as a way to further support the military community.

AAFMAA is a non-profit, membership association that supports the American Armed Forces community with affordable insurance, financial planning and Survivor Assistance Services for widows and widowers. Visit www.SpouseLink.org or www.aaffmaa.com for more information.

 
 
 
  Guard Service May Boost Employment Opportunities

Serving in the National Guard and Reserve may be one way to improve employment opportunities, according to a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

The report, released by this country’s definitive authority on employment issues, stated that Gulf War II-era veterans “who were current or past members of the Reserve and National Guard had an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent.” Those vets not affiliated with the Reserve components, the report added, experienced a 13.7 percent unemployment rate. The national average stands at 7.6 percent.

For more information, please visit: www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.t08.htm.

 
 
 
 

Dempsey: Crisis in the Military

Sexual assault in the force constitutes a crisis in the military, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“We’re losing the confidence of the women who serve that we can solve this problem,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told reporters as he returned from NATO meetings in Brussels. “That’s a crisis.”

All of the Joint Chiefs share his concern, Dempsey said, which was why the chiefs issued direction to the Joint Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response in May 2012.

Dempsey said the Joint Chiefs of Staff will work with all parties to find solutions to this crisis.

“But we also are trying to look at this in the broader context of what we’ve asked this all-volunteer force to do,” he said. We’ve asked this all-volunteer force to fight a decade-long conflict, and we’ve asked them to deploy repeatedly. We need to understand the effect on the health of the force.”

—Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
 
 
 
 

National Guard Military Technicians, Civilians Face Furloughs

Most National Guard military technicians and civilian employees can expect 11 furlough days before the end of the fiscal year, according to National Guard Bureau officials.

The move comes after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave official notice to begin furloughing Defense Department civilians starting July 8. The furloughs affect the entire Defense Department, including every branch and component of the armed forces.

The National Guard is the only part of the uniformed Army and Air Force in which Soldiers and Airmen are directly affected, because of the inclusion of military technicians in the furlough.

Because of other efforts to deal with budget cuts, only half of the 22 days originally envisioned as temporary layoffs will now be necessary, defense officials said. In a memo, Hagel said that he strongly prefers to end the furloughs early if the budget situation allows.

Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill, NGB

 
 
 
 

Event Helps Army Reserve Couples Connect

More than a dozen military couples attended the Strong Bonds event hosted by the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command May 3 to 4 in Boston, Mass.

The chaplain-led Strong Bonds program is designed to help soldiers and their families build relationship resiliency and readiness through education and skills training that enhance communication and offer constructive ways to handle stress.

Strong Bonds started in 1997 with a program for couples called Building Strong and Ready Families. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of Soldiers and their family members have attended Strong Bonds events throughout the nation.

Strong Bonds offers events for couples, singles and families. For more information, visit www.cvent.com/d/ccq3gj/6T.

Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris, 99th Regional Support Command

 
 
 
 

Injured AR Soldier Competes in Warrior Games

For Army Reserve Spc. Quintarious Almon, the realities of serving in the face of adversity and the challenges of adapting to injury are a matter of daily life. The Anniston, Ala., native and member of the 143rd Sustainment Command headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is competing in the 2013 Warrior Games to show fellow service members that injury is a conquerable adversary.
Injured in a vehicle accident while on leave from his Afghanistan deployment in 2010, Almon suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in vision and memory loss, and an anxiety disorder. He was cleared to return to his unit in Afghanistan, where he served another six months. After it was discovered he suffered vision and memory loss, he was given light duty and was later evaluated by a neurologist who ordered him returned to the United States for treatment.

He was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit on Fort Benning, Ga., for treatment of his head injury from 2010 to 2011. At the WTU, Almon was introduced to the therapeutic power of competition and adaptive sports. He says he was inspired by a fellow Soldier who was involved in adaptive sports. It was here Almon was introduced to the Warrior Games, which were established to represent the valuable Warrior Care and Transition Program that heals and transitions Soldiers back into the Army or their communities with dignity and self-determination.

—By Sgt. Victor J. Ayala, 210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 
 
 
 

National Guard troops participating in Ardent Sentry disaster drills

A perfect storm of simulated disasters continues unfolding in parts of the United States as National Guard Soldiers join other military and Defense Department members in tuning disaster-response processes ahead of hurricanes and wildfires.

Ardent Sentry, an annual exercise run by the U.S. Northern Command, puts participants in increasingly complex scenarios, said Joe Bonnet, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northcom training and exercises director. He spoke earlier this month with American Forces Press Service.

Ardent Sentry is one of the dual commands’ three “Tier 1” exercises, designed to train the command headquarters and its components for their mission of providing defense support of civil authorities, on request, Bonnet explained.

—Donna Miles, Armed Forces Press Service

 
 
 
 

Social media users should practice operational security

It's as easy as a click of a mouse or a tap on a smartphone, and in a few seconds sensitive Army information might be shared that could get Soldiers killed.

With the ease of social media, in any part of the globe, at any time, a Soldier, Army civilian or family member can post pictures from a deployment or talk about an Army mission.

But these seemingly innocent posts could actually contain sensitive information that endangers Soldiers by revealing locations, security measures, mission operations or troop movements, said the Army's social media experts.

Soldiers, Army civilians and family members need to be mindful of what they put online, with operations security at the forefront of their considerations, said Staff Sgt. Dale Sweetnam, with the Online and Social Media Division, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.

He said this applies to whether the person is a Soldier or Army civilian communicating as an organization or as an individual on social media sites.

—Lisa Ferdinando, Army News Service

 

 

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