December 2008      

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A Message from Your MFN Team

Can you believe it's the Holiday Season again already? It has been quite a busy year here at the Military Family Network, and we are quite proud of the efforts we have made on behalf of our military families, service members, and veterans. We are looking forward to the New Year with great anticpation.

While we are all impacted by the current economic situation, we also have an opportunity to do even more for those in need around us. Giving during difficult times like this not only means much more to those who receive the gift, but also enriches the live of the giver. So let's all keep those less fortunate in mind during this season.

Happy Holidays from the MFN Team!

The Military Family Network has sponsored several give-aways of its 650-page resource book for military families. The below lucky recipients met up with MFN at the Association of the US Army Annual Meeting in October. Click here to learn more about this fantastic resource.

Congratulations to Your Military Family Network Book Winners!

  • Bianca A., Fort Hood, Texas
  • Alexia R., Heidelberg, Germany
  • Melissa D., Fort Meyer, VA
  • Joanne C., Fayetteville, NC

News You Can Use

Google NewsGet The Military Family Network News delivered right to your email with Google News Alerts: Click here to subscribe

Story of the Week: When Enemies Become Friends

A patriotic young man joins the U.S. Army, pledging to protect America from enemies both foreign and domestic. Half a world away, another patriotic young man joins another army - the Czechoslovak Army, taking his oath behind the Iron Curtain, promising to advance the cause of communism and defeat its detractors - namely, the United States of America. Both loyal to their countries, supportive of their causes - enemies by birth and politics. Read More

Music Industry Sings Military's Praises for Second Year

Just in time for Thanksgiving, 14 musical acts are showing just how thankful they are for what the military does for everyone back home. Led by John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting, the musicians lent their hit talents to “For the Troops II,” a CD featuring 14 hit singles covering the spectrum of musical genres. Read More

What Else? The Economy
Source: News

You may not want to read or hear anymore about the economy, but if you’re worried about the safety of your bank account balances or insurance policies, you may want to check out these web sites.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s site is the place to go for information on the state of the banking industry. Its Quick Links for Consumers & Communities page has a failed bank list and a tool to check if your bank is insured. The agency’s latest consumer publication, “Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Rest Assured, Your Money is Safe in an FDIC-insured Account,” answers questions about how FDIC coverage works, what is not covered, and what happens if a bank fails.

If your money is in a credit union, check the National Credit Union Administration site. The NCUA is the federal agency that administers the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which insures member savings in federally insured credit unions. You can check online to see if your credit union is insured.

In light of the near-collapse of the American International Group, you may want to read What Happens if Your Insurance Company Goes Bust?

For investors thinking about their portfolios, check out Ten Things to Consider Before You Make Investing Decisions from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

And don’t miss the information on the U.S. Financial Crisis on . It links to the web site of the $700 billion bailout bill passed by Congress, the resume and remarks of the Treasury official overseeing the program, and the testimony of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox and others during recent House committee hearings.

On a bright note, the Internal Revenue Service is trying to return $266 million in undeliverable refunds and rebates to taxpayers. If you think you are missing a payment, check it out.

Officials Urge TSP Participants to Stay Calm amid Market Turbulence

Defense Department civilians and military members who participate in the Thrift Savings Plan should try to stay calm after recent stock market gyrations have reduced many retirement account balances. Read more...

Social Security's New Retirement Estimator Rated the Federal Government's Best Online Service

The new Retirement Estimator gives the public the opportunity to run accurate, personalized scenarios for Social Security retirement benefits in a user-friendly way. Read More

Nervous? Time to Reassess – or Make – a Financial Plan
Source: The Financial Planning Association® (FPA®)

The last month has been unprecedented in the history of the U.S. economy. It’s featured the biggest bank failure in American history, Dow swings of nearly 800 points to the downside and upside swings of more than 600, a dry-up in the nation’s consumer and business credit markets, and world governments still trying to calm the waters.

How did you handle this? Did you sit dumbfounded in front of the TV? Did you strap on the iPod and vow not to turn it off until the crisis passed? Or did you check your financial plan to make sure you were positioned well for when the storm finally clears? Read More

Gold Medal of Remembrance

The Gold Medal of Remembrance is a very special memento that recognizes and honors the children who have recently lost a parent in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom. Read More or to apply, visit this link.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Road

Hitting the road with young kids this holiday season? Before you go, make sure they’re in the right type of safety seats. And some other things to think about for a safe and speedy trip: Read More

"Worry is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere."-Unknown
Source: Valerie Scardino, M.P.A - Communications Director, Office on Women's Health, HHS

With all of the news coverage of the economy, it's hard to let a day go by without a little bit of worry. From the stock market to housing prices to the job market and the cost of gas, most of us can't get a break from hearing about-and worrying about-financial stressors. Read More

Health Care Update

Preventing Seasonal Flu

Need we say more? Read on to keep you at your best…

TRICARE Encourages Beneficiaries to Give Flu Vaccines a Shot

TRICARE officials urge uniformed service families to be prepared for this year’s flu season – and an important step to do so is receive a flu vaccine. Read More

Monthly Premiums Decrease for TRICARE Reserve Select

Effective Jan. 1, 2009, TRICARE will reduce the rates for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS). Monthly premiums for TRS individual coverage will drop 44% from $81.00 to $47.51, and TRS family coverage will drop 29% from $253.00 to $180.17. Read More

Reimbursement Rate Increase Gives TRICARE Mental Health Benefit Users Peace of Mind

TRICARE has increased mental health reimbursement rates by 5 percent for 24 mental health services. Read More

Don't Lose Your TRICARE Benefits

Wounded, ill or injured service members: Don't throw away mail marked "Medicare"! You may need it in order to keep your TRICARE benefit! See video here.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Overseas

The Department of Defense (DoD) offers the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Overseas nutrition program to eligible participants located overseas. Read More

Walgreens No Longer a TRICARE Network Pharmacy
Courtesy of Association of the US Army Family Programs

As of January 1, 2009, Walgreens will no longer be in the network used by the TRICARE pharmacy plan. If you fill a prescription at Walgreens after December 31, 2008, you will pay 100% of the cost and will be required to file a paper claim for non-network benefit reimbursement. If you have any questions regarding your prescriptions, please call Express Scripts anytime at 1-877-425-1139 or visit this link.

Veterans Corner

DoD Joins With VA to Resolve Gulf War Veterans’ Health Issues

The Defense Department continues to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to resolve veterans’ health issues, including maladies associated with the Gulf War…Read More

Healing the Invisible Wounds of War: Diagnosis PTSD, Symptoms, Prevalence

Most people's stress response system acts like a home heating thermostat: it responds appropriately to environmental cues, such as wind or snow, by kicking up the heat.

But after a life-threatening experience, some people's physiological thermostats recalibrate to a lower threshold. This heightened sensitivity is a hallmark symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety condition that manifests itself as a range of emotional and behavioral changes aimed at coping with the trauma. Read More

Healing the Invisible Wounds of War: Military Chiefs Shrinking the Stigma

A chorus of voices in the Defense Department has underscored the need to remove the stigma attached to military people seeking mental health care.

With as many as one-fifth of the more than 1.7 million servicemembers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, countering troops' aversion to treatment is a chief concern. More info...

Non-Profit Organization Offers Free PTSD Webcasts for Survivors and Caregivers

Gift From Within ( offers valuable insights into PTSD and hope for survivors of trauma. These short webcasts have in depth information for anyone who is in need of more understanding about PTSD.

Transition from Military to Civilian Life - In this webcast, Dr. Frank Ochberg discusses the veteran’s transition from military life to civilian life and provides guidelines for families and loved ones on how to gauge the normal transition period.

Nightmares versus Flashbacks - In this webcast, Dr. Frank Ochberg talks about PTSD and the differences between flashbacks and memories.

Non-Lethal Triggers for PTSD - In this webcast, Dr. Frank Ochberg discusses how non-lethal events can trigger PTSD.

About Gift from : Gift from Within is a non-profit organization dedicated to those who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those at risk for PTSD, and those who care for traumatized individuals; develops and disseminates educational material, including videotapes, articles, books, and other resources through its website; maintains a roster of survivors who are willing to participate in an international network of peer support; is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) public charity, eligible to receive tax-exempt grants, gifts, and donations.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury

General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), offers an introduction to TBI, a health issue affecting at least 1.4 million Americans each year. It features the recovery journeys of several service personnel and their families. Read more...

National Resource Directory Helps Wounded Warriors

A Web-based network of support for wounded warriors, veterans and their families, as well as the families of the fallen, has sprung from a collaborative effort by the departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs. Read More

Staying Power: Marine Corps' Call Center Contacts, Assists Wounded Warriors

Wounded warriors who call into the Marine Wounded Warrior Call Center near Quantico, Va., find truth in the motto, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” The center’s mission is to seek out and assist discharged Marines and sailors injured during service in the global war on terrorism…Read more

Compensation, Benefits Handbook Consolidates Warrior Care Information

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates calls a new handbook that compiles the myriad information seriously wounded, ill or injured service members and their families need in one succinct, easy-to-read publication another step in improving the care and support they deserve. Read More

Vets, Troops Not in Uniform Now Can Salute Flag

A change to federal law allows U.S. veterans and military personnel not in uniform to render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem. Read More

Military Searching for Camp Lejeune Marines Due to Health Risk
Courtesy of the Association of the US Army Family Programs

The Marine Corps says that at least 500,000 people who have visited Camp Lejeune, NC could be at risk for health problems due to the drinking water on base. Chemicals, originated from a building used to wash clothes for dry cleaning and de-greasing, were found in the water system. The Marine Corps is now conducting a water study to pinpoint potential health risks. More than 80,000 have registered, which is only a fraction of the veterans who could be affected. Those who have visited or lived on the base prior to 1987 should register. If you or someone you know could be part of the group at risk, the Marine Corps is asking you register their information by visiting their website or by calling (877)261-9782. To read the full article, click here.

Organization in the Spotlight

Nominate Your Employer for the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, is seeking nominations of employers who support their military employers. Nominations for the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award are being accepted now through Jan. 21 at

National Guard and Reserve members and their families are eligible—and encouraged—to nominate their employers.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. The award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the National Guard and Reserve. The Department of Defense shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

Past recipients of the award range from a small family-owned transportation business in Utah to large businesses, including Chrysler and Dominion Resources, to the City of Austin, Texas, a public sector employer. Past recipients have provided full salary, continuation of benefits, care packages and even family support to employees fulfilling their military obligation.

The 2009 recipients will be announced in the spring and honored on September 17, 2009, at the 14th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. Recipients of the 2008 award met with President George W. Bush and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, and received their awards from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. David Chu, at a ceremony attended by members of Congress and senior government and military officials.

Click here to submit a nomination.


Business Feature

FEELING TIRED AND STRESSED? Detoxify your body with Arbonne’s NEW SeaSource Detox Spa™ products.

Arbonne’s SeaSource Detox Spa™ is a comprehensive new line of products that stimulate, strengthen and support beauty, health and well-being from the inside out.

Arbonne’s SeaSource Detox Spa™ products tap into the nutrients of the sea to support the body’s natural ability to regenerate and purify itself, by ridding your body of internal and external toxins ingested through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. So, when your energy level is low, your body aches and your mind is drained, it’s time to detoxify your body. Enjoy these products as they purify the body, clear the mind and invigorate the spirit!

Arbonne’s SeaSource Detox Spa™ Products include:

  • Foaming Sea Salt Scrub
  • Detoxifying Rescue Wash
  • Sea Mud Face & Body Mask
  • 5-in-1 Essential Massage Oil
  • Purifying Sea Soak
  • Fortifying Hair Mask
  • Re-Mineralizing Body Lotion 24H
  • Renewing Body Gelée
  • 7-Day Body Cleanse Dietary Supplement
  • SeaSource Detox Spa- Set Special

Contact to order any of these new products and receive a special military discount -a 15% Savings!

To learn about Arbonne’s many other botanically based products click onto These products may only be purchased from an Arbonne independent consultant.

MFN Book Club

Your Military Family Network is Here! Order Your Copy Now!

The Military Family Network and Capital Books in Washington DC have published Your Military Family Network - the Nation's first military family resource guide! This 650-page book covers all major military support topics from enlistment to retirement! Learn how to create your own personal support network so you have what you need when you need it. Find chapters on money management, TRICARE, relocation, deployment, employment and education as well as military and veterans benefits, PTSD and much, much more. The book also features a compilation of state and local resources available to military families - for the first time in a comprehensive and easy format.

Retailing for $24.95, The Military Family Network is offering this valuable, must-have resource at $14.95+s/h. Buy it for yourself, your family, a friend or loved one – MFN guarantees best price on the web! To order your copy of Your Military Family Network or copies for your organization, please visit Your Military Family Network online or call 1-866-205-2850 for more information. Group discounts available – call or email for details.

This Month's Focus

"Day of Infamy" Remembered: Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941

The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. Read More

Charitable Donations: Give or Take?

Your charity dollars are an investment in your community, the nation, and the world. It’s wise to use just as much caution when making your charitable giving decisions as you do when making other decisions affecting your overall financial picture. Read More Provides 31-Days of Giving Calendar
Source: CarePages

You don’t have to change the world to brighten a corner. Hang this printer-friendly calendar nearby to remind you to make room for a little giving in each day in December.

Support our Military Troops and Their Families

Hundreds of thousands of men and women from all over America are serving in our armed forces and away from their homes. While they serve our country, those of us “on the homefront” can be making a difference too. Read More ...

Holiday Shopping Savvy

With the soured economy stretching everyone’s budget thin, now more than ever calls for smart holiday shopping strategies. You can start by setting up a spending plan. Then, follow these 2008 Holiday Shopping Tips to find the good deals, and make sure you can return them if necessary. If you plan to do your shopping from the comfort of your home, see these Safe On-Line Shopping Guidelines. And be sure to review these Before You Buy tips.

NORAD tracking Santa around the world

Santa maintains a long list of children who have been good throughout the year. His list gets bigger each year by virtue of the world's increasing population. As a result, Santa has had to deliver more toys in the same amount of time. His Christmas Eve trip may seem to take around 24 hours, but to Santa it may last days, weeks or even months in standard time. All the preparations for this year are in place! Return on Christmas Eve to track St. Nick on his magical flight around the world!

Until then, come back each day to receive updates from the North Pole and to discover new surprises in the Kids' Countdown.

Support the Troops with Timely Holiday Mailings

If you have a loved one in the armed forces overseas, you’ll want to make sure your cards and packages arrive in time for the holidays. Follow this worldwide holiday mailing guide to make sure they are postmarked for timely delivery. For guidelines on packing and addressing your gifts for overseas delivery, see these U.S. Postal Service tips.

Holiday shipping deadlines released for Virtual Commissary

The Defense Commissary Agency's Virtual Commissary currently has 53 items available for purchase including seasonal holiday packages. For more information including cut-off dates, visit this link.

Gifts from Government Stores

Having trouble deciding what to buy that special someone in your life? Or searching for a present for that ‘hard-to-buy-for’ friend? Or maybe, you just want to help Uncle Sam out of this economic jam. Well, try something different and see if you can find some unexpected gifts from government stores. The government actually sells an interesting range of items, from collectible coins and ornaments to uncut currency and flags flown over the U.S. Capitol. So, try buying a gift or souvenir from the government this holiday season. You can be sure your loved one won’t receive another like it!

FREE Annual Credit Reports

One way to help protect your identity is to check your credit reports on a regular basis. By doing so, you can ensure that there are no loans, credit cards, or other financial obligations that have been fraudulently initiated in your name. By law, you are entitled to three free credit reports every 12 months—one each from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the national consumer credit reporting agencies. If you haven’t requested free credit reports in more than 12 months, it’s time.

Holidays are for Feasting

Send your guests home with leftovers—not food poisoning—after the holiday feast. Check out the new, 48-page Kitchen Companion handbook for guidelines on everything from egg storage to food thermometers to food safety in a power outage or flood. You’ll find sections on shopping for food, storing food, cooking, serving and transporting food safely. The charts on turkey thawing and turkey roasting should come in handy soon.

Looking forward to the parties but not the holiday weight gain? Find common-sense advice and strategies to avoid overeating in Sensible Eating Over the Holidays.

Of course, getting some exercise will help offset the pumpkin pie, eggnog and other treats we can’t resist-not to mention doing our hearts and lungs some good. According to the newly released Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults will benefit from a very attainable 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking briskly and gardening. Kids should get one hour of aerobic activity daily.

Great Holiday Recipes at Mrs. Claus' Kitchen

For great recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, candy, fudge, bread and much more, be sure to visit Mrs. Claus' Cookbook.

Mission Critical Information

Defense Department Plans Travel Charge Card Switchover November 30

The government-issued Bank of America official travel charge card that’s been used for years by Defense Department military and civilian employees will be deactivated effective Nov. 30, Defense Travel Management Office officials said. Read More

Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance

Section 644 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008 created the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA). This allowance is payable to all Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuitants whose annuity has been offset for receipt of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Read More

Pay & COLA Raises for 2009
Courtesy of the Association of the US Army Family Programs

Military pay raises are based on private sector pay growth to ensure military pay is kept reasonably comparable to private sector payMilitary pay raise:

  • 3.9%, effective 1 Jan Civil service pay raise: 3.9%, effective 1 Jan (not including locality pay)
  • Military retirees COLA: 5.8%, effective 1 Dec (those who retired 2008 receive partial COLA)
  • VA disability and pensions: 5.8%, effective 1 Dec
  • Social Security COLA: 5.8%, effective 1 Dec
  • SBP annuities COLA: 5.8%, effective 1 Dec

For more information on COLA, please visit the Social Security’s website.

Changes to Leave Act Benefit Wounded Warriors, Families Recent changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act will extend the period of unpaid, job-protected leave that eligible family members can take to care for wounded warrior spouses, Labor Department officials said. Read More

Post Allowance Falls as Dollar Rises
Courtesy of the Association of the US Army Family Programs

Post allowances given to American civilians on mainland Europe dropped as much as 30% this month. The drop is in response to the dollar’s recent rise against the euro. Post allowances typically fall as the dollar rises. For more information, click here.

'Sex Signals' tour teaches awareness, prevention

Soldiers filed into Howze Theater Nov. 6 for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training expecting a slide presentation. Read More

MFN Military Friendly Deals

Trees for Troops at Fort Bragg
Courtesy of the Association of the US Army

A partnership between FedEx and the National Christmas Tree Association’s Christmas Spirit Foundation will distribute over 850 free, live pine trees for Christmas. The trees will be distributed on post to active duty Soldiers and families on December 4 at noon from the NCO Club parking lot on Reilly Road. Trees will be given on a first come, first serve basis. Read the full article here.

Order Your Free 2009 Women's Health Calendar

The 2009 calendar is now available to order! The calendar offers information about common health problems, including important symptoms to watch out for. There are charts that describe the screenings and immunizations that you need and tips on how to get a second opinion from a doctor, read a drug label, and more.

Reserve your copy today by calling us at 1-800-994-9662 (TDD: 1-888-220-5446).

Hey Military Sweethearts! Want to Get Married in Pittsburgh, PA?

If you are planning a military wedding early next year, and the color white suits you, The Priory’s Grand Hall on Pittsburgh’s North Side is giving away a free Winter White Wedding reception in its restored former Catholic Church, a wedding cake from Priory Fine Pastries and guest rooms in the adjacent Priory Hotel in gratitude for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. The entry deadline is December 15, 2008. Priory owners John and Suzanne Graf will choose the winners in a random drawing on December 17, 2008. More information here.

Operation Love Reunited
Courtesy of the Association of the US Army Family Programs

Operation Love Reunited is a photography organization offering free photography sessions to deploying, deployed and reuniting military families. Each family gets 2 free sessions. The photographers have agreed to send albums to deployed Service members at no cost with the option to buy prints if desired. There is no obligation to purchase. For more information please visit their website at

Community Connections Update

Help Needed this Holiday Season!

Although The Military Family Network knows that the downturn in the US economy has been hard on all of us, we are asking individuals to especially remember others this holiday season. Sometimes helping another reminds us that things are not as bad as we might believe and gives us comfort in knowing that we can make a difference for somebody else. MFN is receiving requests for assistance much earlier this year – a telltale sign that there is, indeed, a need out there for your kindness and generosity. As you take time during this holiday time to express gratitude and thanksgiving, to celebrate the joy of the season and hope for a New Year of health, happiness and prosperity, MFN asks you to share some blessings with others. If you are able to help, please contact MFN at We’ll help to connect your gift with those who need it.

OTA has a unique program where you can Adopt a Soldier or Adopt a Unit

Kristen Holloway – Executive Director of Operation Troop Appreciation, writes: “Imagine spending Christmas and the holidays away from your family, in a harsh environment during a war... This is how 150,000 of our American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines will spend yet another Christmas. For many, this will be the second, third, or even fourth Christmas away from loved ones.

We at Operation Troop Appreciation (OTA) cannot give them what they want most - to be home with loved ones for the holidays. But we can do something that will deliver the spirit of Christmas and let them know they are loved, appreciated, supported and not forgotten. You can help us do that.

OTA has a unique program where you can Adopt a Soldier or Adopt a Unit and help us provide needed "wish list" items to our troops this holiday season. By making a singular donation, or enlisting those in your neighborhood, church, school, office or civic group to Adopt a Unit, you can bring the spirit of Christmas to our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and other remote and dangerous places in the world.

Donations of all sizes are welcome -- no contribution is too big or too small! You can impact a soldier this Christmas for just a few dollars. The link below explains our program and showcases some of the units available for adoption."

© 2008, The Military Family Network
The Military Family Network - P.O. Box 16366 - Pittsburgh , PA 15242
Email: - Web:
Phone: 866-205-2850 or 412-531-1970 | Fax: 866-226-2859 or 412-531-1978

We welcome and appreciate forwarding of our newsletters in their entirety or in part with proper attribution. If you are currently not subscribed to our newsletter and would like to, click here. If you are a member of the media and would like to receive timely updates from The Military Family Network or help with a current story, please send an email to Luis Trevino , Vice President of Media and Communications at