In this issue:
  News You Can Use
Organization Spotlight
This Month's Focus
Family Support
Money & More
Mission Critical
Veterans Corner
Book Club

Military Family Network News   ·   March 2010 


"Snowmageddon", "The Big Dig", or whatever you want to call it, Jack Frost chilled a lot of people last month with history breaking, record snowfalls. In fact, in much of the Northeast, if you even mention snow, you're likely to be accused of using a four-letter word and slapped in the mouth with a bar of soap! And PETA has issued a new protective campaign warning against the possible abuse of one, seriously disturbed and hibernating groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, who predicted that another six weeks of winter was upon us. With frozen brains in the new tundra, killing the messenger seems a lot like justice. You'll notice from the picture, Phil's gotten wind of the mob.

So, if you're wondering why a February newsletter never made it to your inbox, then you're going to be pleased to learn that it had nothing to do with your computer freezing up. MFN just did! With over 50 inches of snow in February, our fingers were so shoveled-out that we couldn't land an accurate keystroke if we tried! Maybe there's something to this global-thermal-thingamabob, after all. You be the judge. At least, everyone had some one-on-one time with their TV to enjoy the Winter Olympics.Go USA!

Anyway, we hope that you had a wonderful time with your Sweetie and loved ones on Valentine's Day, that you learned something appreciative in honor of National African American History Month, sang "Happy Birthday" to a couple of past Presidents as well as yours truly, Johnny Cash and Buffalo Bill!

But don't think that MFN rested on its laurels! While we admit that much of our month was spent digging out our front door, neighbors and cars and swatting down icicles and defending off snowballs (in that order), we did manage to serve up some pretty neat accomplishments (along with some mean hot chocolate!) supporting our military families and received a Certificate of Appreciation for our efforts from the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General George Casey and Secretary of the Army, John McHugh. So, while we may be quietly in the background, we are never silent. In fact, we hope you know we've got your back!

Now, we'd like to invite everyone to T-H-I-N-K S-P-R-I-N-G!!! So, join our countdown.March 20 is only a stone's throw away!

And you can start by turning your clocks forward this month on March 14th and by making plans for a warm and wonderful Spring Break - even if it simply means taking a few moments out of the day to do something kind for yourself. Now that's what we're talking about.

For your viewing pleasure, sit back, relax and enjoy MFN's March newsletter where once more, you will meet some wonderful organizations, experts, programs, services and helpful advice - all for free!

By the way, if you haven't checked for any unclaimed property lately, now's a good chance to visit this link to see if any of the States owe you some money. In this economy, we could all use some cash!

Until Next Month (or you can email us at if you just can't wait!),

Megan, Luis and Darrell


Spring Already? Not a Minute Too Soon!

Don't forget to set your clocks forward one hour on Sunday, March 14. The transition officially happens at 2:00 a.m. local standard time, which becomes 3:00 a.m. local daylight time. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe Daylight Saving Time (DST), and about 70 other countries have their own version of DST. Visit to learn more.

Laws Change for Military, Overseas Voters

Servicemembers and overseas voters shouldn't assume they automatically will receive ballots for the 2010 elections just because they have in the past. Read More...

Army Guard Asks States to Validate Eligibility for Post Deployment Mobilization Respite Absence

At the request of the Army National Guard, states are determining if thousands of Soldiers are entitled to receive extra money for serving long overseas deployments. Read More...

First Lady Announces Family Program Budget Boost

President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request calls for a record $8.8 billion for military family support programs, First Lady Michelle Obama told military spouses today at Bolling Air Force Base here. Read More...

Updated Web Site Helps Wounded Warriors, Families

Defense Department officials have updated and improved access to the National Resource Directory, a Web site for wounded, ill and injured servicemembers, veterans, their families and those who support them. Read More...



A Baby's First Picture can be a Powerful Tool for Doctors

The ultrasound image of a baby is more and more often the very first picture new parents have of their child. Along with giving parents a picture of the growing fetus, these popular ultrasound images are also an important tool for the obstetrician caring for mother and baby. Read More...

TRICARE Newsletters Get the Word Out Electronically

With a few clicks of a mouse, TRICARE beneficiaries can sign up at to have the latest TRICARE benefit news sent to them electronically. Read More...



Five Tips for Taxpayers Making a Move

The IRS offers five tips for taxpayers who have moved or are about to move. If you've changed your home or business address, make sure you update that information with the IRS to ensure you receive any refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Read More...



In Memory: Military Community Loses Pioneer

The first woman appointed to the rank of major general in the Air Force and the Department of Defense passed away Feb. 15. Read More...

Secretary Shinseki Announces Gulf War Task Force Report

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced that the department's Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Task Force has nearly completed a comprehensive report that will redefine how VA addresses the pain and suffering of ill Veterans who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. Read More...

VA Begins Nationwide GI Bill Advertising Campaign to Reach Student Veterans and Schools

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced a two-month, nationwide advertising campaign to assist student Veterans and servicemembers applying for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Read More...



"Wow, you really drew that?"
The Wounded Artist Project

The Wounded Artist Project is sending art kits (currently our Beginner kits) to war wounded, ill and injured, and their caregivers (parents, spouses, etc.), recovering in military medical facilities or at home across the US.  This includes also PTSD and TBI.

While art is recognized as a good method to pull out trauma in a person's life, we will be focusing on having the wounded develop art skills that may lead them to deciding on a college major or career.  We have a YouTube channel with introductory art instruction videos for anyone to access. 

We imagine that someone who does a lot of perspective drawing may decide to become an architect or urban planner; those drawing the human body (especially after following their own charts and operations) may become a medical or scientific illustrator, a nurse or even a physiologist;  those drawing cars and mechanical stuff may go into product design. We stress that the kits alone don't make someone become an architect or an MD; they still face a lot of work ahead of them. 

We are sure that someone, someday will look over the shoulder a wounded GI sitting in a hospital bed using one of our kits, and ask, "Wow, you really drew that?"

Contact for more details and to volunteer.

How You Can Help: The Wounded Artist Project is a Michigan-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that sends art kits to war wounded recovering in military hospitals. We are in start-up mode and need funding and/or donations. They are tax-deductible.  It costs us approximately $25 to produce one BEGINNER's kit. Visit The Wounded Artist Project website to support our wounded service members or to request additional information about how you can help: this link is just a click away!



Robin is MFN's Military Family Specialist. She is a regular feature to our monthly newsletter to help connect you with solutions to challenges in your military life. So, please meet Robin, a soldier of eighteen years and a family programs specialist. She will be your guide to keeping informed, being prepared and, well, mopping up messes if that's what it takes! You can reach her by emailing for some good old Q&A or you can sit back and keep reading as we introduce some of her fine work right here in MFN's monthly newsletter. So, as they say, "On with the show!"

This month, Ace asks: I'm in the Marines and I'm going to be deployed soon. I am not married and do not have any children. Also, because of my duties, I rarely use my Commissary benefit. Can I assign my eligibility to my parents?

And, Robin replies:

Hi Ace!

The commissary cannot determine eligibility. You will need to contact "personnel in the Pass and ID Office on the military installation closest to where you live and ask that these folks assess your situation to determine whether or not you have entitlement to commissary privileges. If these installation personnel determine that you are entitled to commissary privileges, they will issue you a Department of Defense ID that will authorize you to shop in commissaries."* While you are already aware of your eligibility, this same office may be able to assist you with a determination for your parents.

If your parents are not eligible as authorized individuals, you still may be able to appoint agency to them – but this will require approval and a review of your circumstances: "An agent does not have to be an authorized commissary shopper, but only an installation commander can authorize agent privileges. We recommend that you contact the commissary store director closest to you and request contact information for the installation office that prepares agent authorizations. A list of commissaries can be found on this website and their e-mail addresses are listed on the commissaries' "Locations/Phones" pages. It might also be helpful to ask what documents an agent needs to gain access to the installation."*

*Quotes from Commissary website

Here are some official resources for you:

  1. DoD Regulation 1330.17, Armed Service Commissary Regulations, Enclosure 4 2.j, governs the program.
  2. Commissary Authorized Shopping
  3. Commissary Authorized Agent

We hope that this information is useful to you and we wish you a safe and successful deployment.

Peace out, Robin

And Barb writes:

Hello - I hope that you can help me. I am trying to find the proper procedures for removing someone from an FRG Leadership position. Our commander has recently "fired" all of the FRG volunteers except for the leader (who is his wife). His reason is because he states that they do not cooperate with him. The commander never called a meeting about releasing anyone, never asked for a vote. He simply emailed everyone and told them that they were no longer to be involved. From my understanding there is supposed to be certain steps that are to be taken in order to release anyone, but I am having a difficult time finding anything. Can you help?

And, Robin replies:

Hi Barb,

I'm sorry to learn of the difficulties that you are experiencing and certainly, from first impression, it appears that this situation may have been handled more considerately. It's never good to have something as vital as an FRG not functioning to the best of its ability for you, Command, Soldiers and the other families that may be affected.

To help you, I am posting the regulations for both active and Reserve Army since you didn't mention which may apply. (Review the table of contents for keyword "FRG".)

While MFN is providing you with a link to Army regulations, you should always refer to the military about its official policy and/or interpretation. We wish you and your unit all the best and hope that this situation improves for all involved.

Peace out, Robin



Your Military Family Network

Order Your Copy Now!

"Your Military Family Network reference book is the most complete source of information for the active military, veterans and their families that I have seen. At first I just skimmed through it, but when I read the contents and your instructions on how to use this book, I realize this book was worth much more than the purchase price. Thank you for providing a helping hand for our military who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Your book it is a treasure for me and for all military personnel." - Curt M., WWII veteran



Singing Army Wife Meets Leno Between Recording Sessions

Army Capt. Matt Pratt and his songstress wife, Lisa, lived the dream in southern California Feb. 1, thanks to an Army morale and recreation program that supports soldiers and their families. Read More...




Roll Those Cameras!
Enter's video contest for a chance to win $2,500.

Submit an informative, creative, and entertaining video of 30-90 seconds, showing how you use the information you find on to improve your life. The creator of the winning video will receive $2,500. Read the requirements, fill out and submit the online entry form, and upload your video to YouTube up until 1:00pm (EST) on April 2, 2010.

New EPA video contest: share your environmental justice stories!

Awards will be given to the winning submissions in each category. The videos will also be featured on EPA's Web site and may be used as public service announcements. Win up to $2,500! For more information, visit this link.



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Mona Rabin Welcomes You to Anderson Creek Realty!
Military Relocation Broker Near Ft. Bragg

"Professionalism, Respect, and Honesty" are characteristics I strive to live by, both as a realtor and as an individual.  I have worked in sales for over 30 years and recently found my niche in real estate.  Fortunately, I both live and work in a beautiful gated community called Anderson Creek Club, just minutes from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I am committed to giving you the best possible advice that I can.

I grew up in a military family, and my spouse is a retired colonel of the United States Army; therefore, I have a special affection for our entire military community. I remember the security I felt living on military posts and have found the same support system at Anderson Creek Club. It is for that reason I decided to go to real estate school two years ago and began working in the best community in the Fort Bragg area.

The advice that I give to my home buyers is to get a pre-approval letter first before beginning the buying process to see what price range is best for your budget. Then, take your time in choosing the home that is perfect for your situation. To home sellers, my advice is to make sure your home shows in the best possible way, inside and out, because the first impression starts at the curb.

I invite everyone relocating to Fort Bragg or Pope Air Force Base, or even if you are not relocating but know someone who is, to please call me. Come take a look at Anderson Creek Club and make sure to ask for Mona! I would consider it an honor to take you on a tour and even treat you to lunch in our beautiful bar and grill. Because of men and women like you serving our country, I am very proud to be an American. In my opinion, YOU ARE THE BEST and you deserve the best possible service. Please visit our website then contact me, Mona Rabin at

Thank you,

Mona Rabin, Broker Associate
910-814-4835 · Cell: 910-489-5579


What's On Our Mind? K12's Corner!
Family & Student Spotlights

Each month, the Military Family Network sends you a newsletter stoked with valuable information that you can use in your military life. We strive to discover beneficial relationships offering expert and trusted services that work for you throughout your career. These partnerships measure their success by your success. All of our partnerships are designed to support you and the well being of your family.

That's why we're proud to bring you an exciting New Educational Feature called "K12's Corner"!

K12 is the largest provider of online education in America for grades K through 12. We all know how often many of our military families are required to move. K12 is a way for those families to have a consistent educational experience, year after year. In fact, no matter where you are in the world, as long as you have an internet connection, K12 can give your children a high quality, American education.

So, what can you expect to greet you in "K12's Corner"?

  • "Meet K12" and their effective, inspiring online learning courses and programs;
  • Discover "What's New" in K12's curriculum with services that include teacher support, daily lesson plans, and a vibrant, global online community;
  • Take advantage of K12's patented, award-winning curriculum for virtual schooling combining dynamic, online lessons with a rich array of offline materials, books and resources to make learning come alive with K12 "Military Discounts, Special Deals and Offers";
  • Explore "K12's Calendar" of events and happenings to find activities - both online and off- like information events and live, online seminars that use K12's Elluminate forums to connect, inform and support the K12 community;
  • Get "Helpful Advice" about online education and how your children can excel with engaging, individualized, self-paced learning. Children blossom when they're immersed in the right blend of online and offline content and tools, and can work at the pace that's right for them;
  • Visit K12's "Think Tank" to blog with Alan Reyes, a K12 employee currently deployed onboard the USNS Comfort, providing emergency relief to the citizens of Haiti. Check it out!
  • And much, much more!

Military families make great sacrifices. With K12, education doesn't have to be one of them.

K12's Corner - Look for it each month!



Play it Again, Dot Mil Docs!

You are probably recognizing Dot Mil Docs as a "regular" in MFN's newsletter. That's because each month, we try to highlight an episode that we believe might be useful to you. This month, MFN showcases Preventing Obesity in Teenage Girls. This episode discusses psychotherapy for the prevention of excessive weight gain in teenage girls deemed at risk for obesity. So, check it out and while you are there, take a few minutes to look around. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the information that is available and amazed by what you can learn in a few short minutes.

About: Dot Mil Docs is the product of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Military Health System and is the official podcast of the Military Health System. America's Military Health System (MHS) is a unique partnership of medical educators, medical researchers, and healthcare providers and their support personnel worldwide. This DoD enterprise consists of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; the medical departments of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Combatant Command surgeons; and TRICARE providers (including private sector healthcare providers, hospitals and pharmacies). On DotMilDocs, military doctors and health care experts discuss a new topic each week. You can find more information here or the main web page for MHS at

Military Families Get Free Access to Caregiver Network

Military families now have free access to an online network of quality caregivers who can assist with everything from babysitting to dog walking. Read More...

An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

March is National Nutrition Month, making it the perfect time to re-evaluate your eating habits. One thing that seems to be true for most of us is that we don't get enough fruits and vegetables, which are so important to good health.

Learn about the benefits of fruits and veggies; find out how much you need based on personal factors; and find out how to measure a "cup" of a fruit and/or vegetable.

¿Cuántas frutas y verduras necesita?

STOMP ... Specialized Training of Military Parents
Source: Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)

Specialized Training of Military Parents,, is a federally funded Parent Training and Information Center established to assist military families who have children with special education or health needs. The staff at STOMP are parents of children who have disabilities and have experience in raising their children in military communities and traveling with their spouses to different locations.

STOMP serves families in four main ways:

  • By providing information and training about laws, regulations and resources for military families of children with disabilities
  • By connecting families to other families
  • By assisting parents and professionals in developing their own community parent education/support group
  • By providing a voice to raise awareness of issues faced by military families of children with disabilities

Acquaintance Rape: A Matter of Consent
Courtesy of Dr. Amy Menna & Gift From Within

The term Date Rape was coined to describe non-consensual sexual contact between two or more people on a "date." This term, however, does not encompass what many women and men experience. In fact, over 80% of survivors know their assailant and may or may not be on a date. As such, this article will not only refer to date rape, but will also include acquaintance rape. Read More...

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.

Mullen's Blog: My View on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

"Over these last two months, the Chiefs and I have reviewed the fundamental premises behind 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' as well as its application in practice over the last 16 years. We understand perfectly the President's desire to see the law repealed and we owe him our best military advice about the impact this change in policy would have on the military. Read More...

Admiral Mullen cites importance of families, leadership during Southwest Asia visit

During a week-long tour through Southwest Asia, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spent time focusing on what he calls his No. 1 priority, servicemembers and their families. Read More...

Consultants Offer Support to Off-base Schools

Most military children attend non-Defense Department schools, but military officials are determined not to allow their unique needs to slip through the cracks. Read More...

A Survivor's Guide to Benefits: Taking Care of Our Own

This guide is intended to aid you as you work through the difficulty and pain of losing a loved one who was serving in the military. Please visit this link to connect with the support you need.




Approved Spouses Unaffected by Career Program Pause

A week after announcing the temporary halt of the Defense Department's Military Spouse Career Advancement Account operations, the head of the program assures participants with approved financial assistance that their enrollment will be unaffected. Read More...
Finally, New Credit Card Rules

The Federal Reserve has come up with new credit card rules to help protect consumers.

There are several changes, but a few include requiring the credit card companies to:

  • Send you a notice 45 days before increasing rates or other fees.
  • Keep your interest rate the same for the first 12 months of opening an account.
  • Let you know how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you make minimum payments.
  • Provide protections for underage consumers.

There are exceptions to these rules, so read the new rules carefully to see how they can help you.

Nueva ley de tarjetas de crédito protege al consumidor
Free Tax Help for Eligible Taxpayers

The IRS offers free tax help to people with low to moderate income, senior citizens, and military personnel and their families.

Programs for eligible taxpayers include:

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) – Certified volunteers help prepare basic r eturns for those with an income of approximately $49,000 or less. Call 1-800-829-1040 to locate the nearest VITA site.
  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) – Trained volunteers provide free tax counseling and basic income tax return preparation for those who are aged 60 and older. As part of the TCE program, AARP offers Tax-Aide counseling to help people of low-to-middle income. For more information about TCE, call 1-800-829-1040.
  • Military Personnel – Military personnel and their families are eligible for free tax preparation assistance at offices within their installations. Volunteers at these VITA sites are trained to address military-specific tax issues.

Know Your Benefits! Social Security Q&A
Yolanda York, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration

I recently received my annual Social Security Statement in the mail, and I noticed my taxes are only "estimated". How did you calculate the amount?

The Internal Revenue Service collects your Social Security and Medicare taxes. At Social Security, we do not keep a record of those taxes; we record only your earnings because your earnings are what we use to calculate your benefits. To estimate the total tax amounts we show on your Statement, we multiplied your reported earnings for each year that you worked by the tax rate for that year. We then added all the years together. If you had both wages and self-employment earnings in the same year, we estimated the taxes for that year as if the total amount was wages. If you had both Social Security earnings and government earnings that qualified for Medicare in the same year, we estimated the combined Medicare taxes you paid. To learn more, visit the Statement Page.

Note: While you are preparing your taxes this year, take an additional step to make sure that your Social Security earnings are accurate by checking your statement. This ensures that you will receive your rightful benefit. For more information, visit this link.

My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits for himself, his wife, and daughter. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter he had by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to some benefits as well?

Even though your brother wasn't married to the second child's mother, the child may qualify for Social Security benefits. Someone should file an application on the child's behalf. If she is found to be eligible, both children would receive equal benefits. Learn more by reading our online publication, Disability Benefits.

I understand that to get Social Security disability benefits, my disability must be expected to last at least a year. So do I have to wait a year before I can apply for benefits?

No. If you believe that your disability will last a year or longer, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It can take about three to five months to process an application for disability benefits. If your application is approved, your first Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For example, if it is determined that your disability began on January 15, your first disability benefit will be paid for the month of July. However, Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due, so you will receive your July benefit in August. For more information about Social Security disability benefits, refer to Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029) at this link.

Military OneSource Offers Free Tax Filing

Defense officials encourage military families to once again take advantage of the free electronic tax filing services offered through Military OneSource. Read More...

Cost-of-living Allowance Depends on Unpredictable Factors

Because unpredictable factors can affect the cost-of-living allowance many servicemembers stationed overseas receive as a supplement to their normal pay, Defense Department officials want servicemembers to be aware the allowance can fluctuate rapidly and without warning. Read More...

Military Families Gain Access to Free, Online Tutoring

The Defense Department has launched a free, online tutoring service for servicemembers and their families. Read More...



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Get Seen! Get Heard! Join MFN's Referral Network!

The Military Family Network™ has connected and worked with media outfits of all kinds including ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Montel Williams, Dr. Phil Show, Sesame Street, AARP, Newsweek, Army Times, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, Social Security, Department of Labor, Military OneSource, Reader's Digest, VFW, United Press International, Lifetime, etc. and countless newspapers around the world. These organizations contact MFN for a variety of reasons, but in each case, they want to hear from the military community.

If you are a service member, military family member or veteran and would like to be included in MFN's referral network for media opportunities, please email with your interest and contact information and Lou will be glad to include you for future opportunities.

Privacy Notice: The Military Family Network™ is committed to ensuring the privacy of our military community according to the Department of Defense and MFN does not release or sell information about individuals. In the event that you participate in MFN's referral network, you will be contacted by MFN about the opportunity first and if you are interested, you will be given the choice to provide MFN with permission to release your contact information (name, email or phone only) or be given the contact information to make the connection yourself. If you are an active member of the Armed Forces, it is always advisable to contact PAO for guidelines, permission, etc., before participating in public media opportunities.


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