November 2008      

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A Message from Your MFN Team

November is a busy month! In addition to Thanksgiving and beginning to prepare for Christmas, we have Veterans' Day on Nov. 11 and several other things happening this month..

As we think about all we have to be thankful for this month, we should all take to the time to personally thank a Veteran for their service to our country.

Additionally, November is Military Family Month, a subject certainly close to our hearts here at MFN! Read more below about all the things going on this month.

November is Military Family Month

Each November, the Armed Services YMCA celebrates Military Family Month to demonstrate the nation's support and commitment to the Families of military personnel. With many Soldiers deployed overseas, recognizing the daily sacrifices made by military Families has never been more important. ASYMCA mailed Military Family Month packets to installations in mid October. If you have not received a packet of information to assist in celebrating this great month, you can download it at The packet contains: a Military Family Month Poster; a Message from President Bush; a letter from the National Executive Director of the ASYMCA; Military Family Month Program Suggestions; and Guidelines for the annual art and essay contests.

November is Warrior Care Month
U.S. Department of Defense - Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

The Secretary of Defense Robert F. Gates announced that November is Warrior Care Month today. Warrior Care Month is a DoD wide effort aimed at increasing awareness of programs and resources available to wounded, ill, and injured service members, their families, and those who care about them.

"I am pleased we have made significant strides to improve treatment for our service members. But frankly, much work remains to be done. We need to make it easier for our troops and their families to take advantage of all the assistance now available to them," said Gates.

The department offers myriad resources to service members and their families, from prevention to injury-specific treatments, to ensure military well-being.

In addition, each military service has instituted programs to provide personalized medical and non-medical assistance to wounded, ill and injured service members and their families. These include:

  • U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition Program and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2)
  • U.S. Navy Safe Harbor
  • U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment
  • U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior

To simplify access to care the department has created to serve as a portal to all warrior care resources. This site describes available resources and links users to the correct sources for additional information. Through it, service members, their families, and those who care about them can easily identify and access care.

Throughout November numerous events and educational activities will focus on educating the military community about the different aspects of the continuum of care provided to service members during the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration process.

National Family Caregivers Month, 2008

Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

During National Family Caregivers Month we recognize and celebrate the many individuals throughout our country who work each day to ensure a better quality of life for their family members. Through their selfless action, these caregivers provide their loved ones support and comfort as they age, combat illness, or suffer from disability.

Our Nation is compassionate, and we believe in the sanctity of life at all stages. Through tireless efforts and inspiring deeds, many Americans care for loved ones in need. By acting as in-home care providers, people across our Nation are helping to ensure that their family members are provided with love, comfort, and security. My Administration has worked to offer caregivers support and training. In 2006, I signed the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006, which established a program to help family caregivers get access to affordable and high-quality respite care. In addition, the National Family Caregiver Support Program encourages cooperation among government agencies and other organizations that support and work with family caregivers.

National Family Caregivers Month is an opportunity to recognize those who serve a cause greater than self and contribute to the well-being of their loved ones. Family caregivers are soldiers in America's armies of compassion and set an inspiring example for their fellow citizens.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2008 as National Family Caregivers Month. I encourage all Americans to honor the selfless service of caregivers who support their loved ones in need.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


This observance recognizes the many Americans who support and care for loved ones as they age, battle illness, or suffer from disabilities.

Visit’s Caregivers’ Resources page to:

  • Find help providing care.
  • Search for government benefits.
  • Look up legal matters and end-of-life issues.
  • Get information on long-distance caregiving.
  • Find support services.

10th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 Courtesy of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

On Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, AFSP will sponsor its 10th annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, reaching out to thousands of people who have lost a loved one to suicide. The day of conferences connects survivors of suicide loss through a 90-minute broadcast, allowing them to share their experiences of loss. The broadcast features a panel of experienced survivors and mental health professionals and offers emotional support and information about resources for healing after the loss of a loved one to suicide. Read more at .

What is National Survivors of Suicide Day?
National Survivors of Suicide Day was created by U.S. Senate resolution, through the efforts of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who lost his father to suicide. Every year, AFSP sponsors an event to provide an opportunity for the survivor community to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment.

AFSP's National Survivors of Suicide Day links simultaneous survivor conferences throughout the country and internationally -- each local conference site is organized independently, but they're all connected through a 90-minute broadcast. This unique network of healing conferences helps survivors connect with others who have survived the tragedy of suicide loss, and express and understand the powerful emotions they experience.

When is National Survivors of Suicide Day?
It's always the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The 10th annual conference will be held on Nov. 22, 2008. The broadcast runs from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. Some conference sites also choose to add local programming before and/or after the broadcast.

Which cities participate?
A continually updated list of participating conference sites can be found here. If there isn't a site in your area, please consider organizing one. All of the information you need to get started is right here. And if there is already a site in your community, just send an email to the contact person listed -- they can always use more help.

How can I watch the 2008 broadcast on my own computer?
The 90-minute program will be available as a free webcast from 1-2:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 22, 2008. Click here to register.

November is American Diabetes Month

Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, blindness and amputations, and a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, and about one quarter (or 5.7 million) of them don’t know that they have the disease. Millions more are at risk of developing diabetes. Read more on how you can stay healthy at .

Take this test to see if you are at risk for having or developing type 2 diabetes:


November Is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. In 2004,* lung cancer accounted for more deaths than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. The most important thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking or to quit if you currently smoke. Read more on what you can do to stay healthy .

Mark Your calendar—November 20 is the Great American Smokeout!

News You Can Use

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

Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays

Parties, family dinners, and other gatherings where food is served are all part of the holiday cheer. But the merriment can change to misery if food makes you or others ill. Visit this link to keep your family and friends healthy and your holidays happy.

Watching Your Weight This Holiday Season
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Many of us have a hard time sticking to our diet and exercise goals during the holidays. This year, make a promise to eat well, move more, and get support from family and friends.

Visit the Quick Guide to Healthy Living to learn how to stay at a healthy weight.

- The Basics—The secret to losing weight—and keeping it off—is energy balance. To stay at a healthy weight, you need to balance the calories you eat with the calories you use up (or burn) by being active. To lose weight, you need to use more calories than you take in.

- The Benefits—Maintaining a healthy weight can help lower your blood pressure and blood sugar and raise your “good” cholesterol. It can also help prevent heart and blood flow problems.

- Take Action—If you need to lose weight, do it slowly over time. Try losing 1 pound a week. A healthy diet and exercise can help you reach your goal. Remember, eating healthy food is important. But you also need to pay attention to how much food you eat. Visit the Quick Guide to Healthy Living for simple portion control tips.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: the Quiet Killer

Getting ready for winter doesn’t just mean covering your head with a scarf and buttoning up a warm coat. It’s also time to take a moment to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by having your fuel-burning appliances serviced annually and by installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Check or change its batteries each time you change your clocks. Download a video that shows where exposures can occur in your home. For more information, visit this link.

Compensation Change Puts More Money in Injured Service members' Pockets

A military compensation policy change provides more money for service members injured during service in the global war on terrorism. The new initiative enables wounded service members undergoing medical treatment to continue to receive overseas-related per diem and hazardous and hardship duty pays, as well as other special-incentive monies such as special assignment and parachute, or "jump," pay during hospitalization and recovery. The Pay and Allowance Continuation program, known by the acronym PAC, is authorized by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. For more information, go to

Army Child and Youth Services (CYS) Changes its Name
Courtesy of Association of US Army Family Programs

Because of re-focusing efforts at every level to help support schools serving Army children, CYS will now be Army Child, Youth and School Services (CYS Services). To learn more, please visit

More documentation necessary to replace, renew ID cards

Homeland Security Directive 12 now requires retirees and family members seeking to renew or replace a military identification card to provide two types of ID. More information here.

Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS) Pay Slip

On March 1 2009, the Army is implementing the new Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS), a pay and personnel system designed to streamline Defense Department Human Resources (HR) processes. See what this change means to you. Visit this link for more information.

Soldiers Must Update Personnel Information to Ensure Accurate Pay

It is important that all Soldiers check their Personnel and Pay records in anticipation of the implementation of DIMHRS. Read more here, and also view these fact sheets about DIMHRS here and here .

Law Grants Special Allowance to Certain Survivors
Courtesy of Association of US Army Family Programs

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (110-181) established a special payment for surviving spouses who are Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) beneficiaries, but whose SBP annuity is reduced by their Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). The 2009 National Defense Authorization Act added survivors of members who died on active duty to those eligible. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service- Cleveland (DFAS-CL) will automatically pay Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) to surviving spouses whose SBP accounts show a DIC offset beginning October 2008. Surviving spouses entitled to SSIA can update their bank account information by contacting DFAS-CL at 1-800-321-1080 or by calling your Retirement Services Officer. For the full article, please visit page eight in Army Echoes:

Survivor Benefit Plan’s “Paid Up” Status Began October 1st
Courtesy of Association of US Army Family Programs

Retirees who have paid as least 360 Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) premiums and are at least 70 years old were considered “paid-up” as of October 1st. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will stop the payments automatically. For more information, please visit page eight in Army Echoes:

Financial Aid for Surviving Spouses and Spouses of Retired Soldiers Courtesy of Association of US Army Family Programs

Army Emergency Relief’s (AER) Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program is now available to surviving spouses and spouses of retired soldiers living stateside. The program does not include students pursuing a second undergraduate or graduate degree. Financial assistance is awarded based on financial need. Scholarships are awarded annually for up to four academic years. Students must re-apply every year and be registered in DEERS. For DEERS registration verification call 1-800-538-9552. Applications for financial aid will be available at from Nov. 1, 2008 to Mar. 1, 2009.

Executive order eases federal employment for military spouses

President Bush signed an executive order this week that will make it easier for spouses of service members to get federal jobs. The order authorizes noncompetitive hiring of spouses and should make the hiring process easier and faster for those in this category. To be eligible, individuals have to be the spouse of an active-duty member or of a reservist on active duty called on to relocate. Also eligible are the spouses of service members listed as 100 percent disabled and separated or retired, as well as widows or widowers of service members who died on active duty and who have not remarried. For more information go to

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.

Your guide to making important decisions
Courtesy of

In life, we all have to make big decisions about family, career and personal happiness, but nobody really teaches us how. Instead, we rely on experience to give us cues. Here are some tools to help you feel good about the choices you make. Visit this link for more decision-making help.

About CarePages is an online community of millions of people coming together to share the challenges, hopes and triumphs of anyone facing a life-changing health event. Through personalized websites, members can relate their stories, post photos and update friends and family instantly. In turn, people who care can send messages of love and encouragement. The CarePages website also provides unique resources (discussion forums, blogs, articles and more) to educate and guide members through their health journey, as well as give loved ones the tools to offer hope and emotional support when they're needed most. Our mission is simple: to ensure that no one goes through a health challenge alone.

Red Cross Offering Free Class to Help Military Families Cope with Deployments

The American Red Cross today announced a new course, Coping With Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families, is now available. The course, offered free of charge, is open to military family members of active duty, Reserve and National Guard forces, as well as veterans and their families. Presently, the course is offered in sixteen states (Ala., Ark., Calif., Colo., Fla., Hawaii, Ind., Minn., Neb., N.H., Ohio, Ore., Pa., Tenn., Texas, and W.Va.) and Washington, D.C. However, the Red Cross plans to make the course available across the country in the summer of 2009. Get more information about this course at


Overseas Troops’ Pay Fluctuates Due to COLA
Courtesy Association of US Army Family Programs

Many overseas troops have seen their paychecks swing every two weeks based on the overseas Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in place. The overseas COLA aims to maintain the purchasing power of troops in places where the cost of living is higher than in the United States. The Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee oversees COLA and makes adjustments every two weeks according to the currency exchange rate. In other words, COLA moves in the opposite direction of the dollar allowing for appropriate compensation to overseas troops. To read the full article, please go here.

AAFES Gift Cards Deliver Targeted Support and Reduced Shipping Costs

By simply logging on to or calling a toll free number, any American can now leverage the exchange benefit on behalf of military families across the globe as the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is making AAFES gift cards available to the general public. To learn how you can help, visit

Health Care Update

TRICARE Offers Respite for Caregivers of Severely Injured Service Members

TRICARE now offers primary caregivers of Active Duty Service Members (ADSMs) much needed rest, relief and reprieve thanks to section 1633 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The respite benefit specifically helps homebound ADSMs who need frequent help from their primary caregiver. To provide the best possible help and respite for caregivers, this benefit will provide a maximum of eight hours of respite per day, five days per week. For more information, visit

TRICARE Retiree Dental Benefit Available Overseas

Retired TRICARE beneficiaries living overseas may enroll in the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP). Effective Oct. 1, the Enhanced-Overseas TRDP is available for eligible Uniformed Services retirees and their families. Learn more at

More $22 Drugs
Courtesy of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)

On September 17, a DoD pharmacy panel proposed moving certain blood glucose test strips and overactive bladder medications to the third tier, or $22 copay level.

Those include 24 name-brand blood glucose test strips, including One Touch, True Track, Accu-Check Comfort Curve and a number of private label strips. But Accu-Check Aviva, Ascencia Contour, Freestyle Lite, and Precision Xtra, which account for about 75% of users, will still be available at the lower copay. DoD is working with the manufacturers to provide new matching meters at no cost for beneficiaries who need to switch.

Overactive bladder medications Detrol and Trospium IR will be moved to the higher $22 copay. Enablex, Ditropan, Ditropan XL, Oxytrol, Vesicare, Detrol LA, and Sanctura XR will continue to be available at the normal copays.

In addition, the antidepressant drug Pristiq will move to the third tier, along with Sular Geomatrix, used to treat hypertension. These medications were only recently introduced, so relatively few beneficiaries are taking them.

The recommendations will be submitted to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) for final decision. DoD will notify all beneficiaries currently taking the medications being moved to the third tier so they and their doctors can consider alternative medications available at the lower copay. Information on alternative medications can be found via TRICARE’s Formulary Search Tool.

A doctor who believes it is important for a patient to take the third-tier medication can provide “medical necessity” justification to TRICARE. If approved, the patient will continue receiving the medication at the lower copay.

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 Brings Reforms to Health Plans for Mental Health or Substance Use Disorder Benefits

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 became Public Law 110-343 on October 3, 2008 and included the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This new law amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code requiring group health plans that provide both medical and surgical benefits and mental health or substance use disorder benefits to ensure that:

  1. the financial requirements, such as deductibles and copayments, applicable to mental health or substance use disorder benefits are no more restrictive than financial requirements applied to medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan;
  2. there are no separate cost sharing requirements that are applicable only to mental health or substance use disorder benefits;
  3. the treatment limitations for mental health or substance use disorders are no more restrictive than the treatment limitations for medical and surgical benefits covered by the plan; and
  4. there are no separate treatment limitations that are applicable only to mental health or substance use disorder benefits.

In addition, the law requires the plan administrator to have on hand and available the criteria used to determine the provision or denial of care and the law requires the plan to provide out-of network coverage for mental health or substance use disorder benefits if the plan provides coverage for medical or surgical benefits provided by out-of network providers.

For more information regarding public law 110-343, visit this link or for a Washington Post article on this topic, please visit:

Timely New Resource for Military Youth

Research has shown that large numbers of our troops are facing traumatic events while deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. We know that when one family member experiences trauma, everyone in the family is affected. Almost two million children have one or both parents in the military, and it's essential that we understand and support these young people.

Everyday life in families affected by trauma can be confusing and frightening. The parent is so different from before the deployment. Nothing feels the same as it was before. Many youth live every day with uncertainty, embarrassment, anger, shame, sadness, guilt, and fear. The children don't understand the service member's angry rages, refusals to attend family gatherings and sporting events, and withdrawal. The kids may ask:

  • What is this all about?
  • Why is it happening to me?
  • How do I survive amid this confusion?
  • What do I tell my friends?
  • How can I make my parent better?

Michelle Sherman, a psychologist at the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City VA hospital, and her mother (DeAnne Sherman, a teacher), have written an interactive, unique, award-winning workbook specifically for these TEENAGERS titled: Finding My Way: A Teen's Guide to Living with a Parent Who Has Experienced Trauma

The mission of their work is to empower families who are dealing with parental trauma or PTSD by:

  • Providing essential information
  • Normalizing a variety of reactions
  • Encouraging open communication
  • Supporting healthy coping
  • Offering comfort and hope

The resource is highly interactive, containing numerous activities, open-ended sentences, short stories depicting healthy coping, and opportunities for reflection. Finding My Way is being used by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) in their Living in the New Normal curriculum.

To learn more about the book and to see sample pages, please see this website: "Finding My Way" can ONLY be purchased through this secure website or through their distributor at 1-800-901-3480.

Although there are a few books on the market written for young children dealing with parental trauma/PTSD/mental illness the literature is almost barren for teenagers. Thus, Finding My Way fills a major gap. The Shermans hope teenagers find information, comfort, and hope in working through this unique resource.

Raytheon “Thanks” Military Children with a Free Book
Courtesy of Association of the US Army Family Programs

To thank the children of the military for their daily sacrifices in the name of protecting America’s freedom, Raytheon Company is sponsoring the distribution of the holiday book, It’s a Family Thanksgiving! A Celebration of an American Tradition for Children and Their Families. This educational gift will be donated to military families upon request through AUSA Family Programs. To receive your free copy, please send an email to with your mailing address. The copies will be given out on a first come, first serve basis. Due to overwhelming demand, please limit your request to one book per request.

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 just released 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 at $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.

Mission Critical Information

USPS Holiday Mailing Deadlines

Support the Troops with Timely Holiday Mailing Discount on Largest Flat-Rate Priority Mail Box to APO/FPO Addresses – USPS News Release

Holiday gifts from home are a big morale boost for military service members stationed around the world. To help the families and friends of military personnel, the Postal Service is offering a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat-Rate box.

Mail sent to overseas military addresses is charged only domestic mail prices. The domestic mail price for the largest Flat-Rate Priority Mail box is $12.95, but for packages to APO/FPO addresses overseas the price is reduced to only $10.95. Flat-Rate boxes are free at any Post Office, or can be ordered online at Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online any time using Click-N-Ship at

“Flat-Rate Priority Mail boxes offer the best bargain in holiday shipping,” says Paul Vogel, managing director, Global Business and senior vice president. “The contents can be any weight for one low rate. If it fits, it ships.”

The Postal Service continues to show its support by offering free Military Care Kits, designed specifically for military families sending packages overseas. The mailing kits can be ordered by phone by calling 1-800-610-8734 and asking for the Care Kit. Each kit includes two Priority Mail boxes, six Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes, eight Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and eight customs forms with envelopes.

“The best support for the troops this holiday season is a gift that’s on time, so mail before the deadline,” Vogel advises.

To ensure delivery of holiday cards and packages by Dec. 25 to military APO/FPO addresses overseas, the Postal Service recommends that mail for service members be entered no later than the mailing dates listed below. Mail addressed to military post offices overseas is subject to certain conditions or restrictions regarding content, preparation and handling. APO/FPO addresses generally require customs forms. To see a table of active APO and FPO addresses and mailing restrictions by individual APO/FPO ZIP Codes, go to and click “Postal Bulletins” in the left column. Select the current issue and look for the heading “Overseas Military Mail.”

Want it delivered by December 25? Find shipping and mailing deadlines for your military and international cards and packages here:

President Signs into Law Debt Relief for National Guard and Reservists on October 20, 2008

Public law, 110-438 also called the “National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Act of 2008” was sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to amend federal bankruptcy law to prohibit the bankruptcy court from dismissing or converting a case based on means testing while the debtor: (1) is either on active duty in the military service of the United States or performing a homeland defense activity for at least 90 days, and during the 540 days following the end of such period; and (3) was called to such active duty or performed such homeland defense activity after September 11, 2001, as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces or the National Guard.

The new law directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on whether and to what degree members of reserve components of the Armed Forces and the National Guard: (1) avail themselves of the benefits of this Act; (2) are debtors in federal bankruptcy cases substantially related to service that qualifies such members for such benefits of this Act; and (3) are debtors in federal bankruptcy cases materially related to such service.

Public law 110-438 also requires such study to include the effects that the use by such members of this Act has upon: (1) the bankruptcy system; (2) creditors; and (3) the debt-incurrence practices of such members.

Congressional Budget Office memorandum of 9/23/08 states: “Under current law, a debtor’s income, less certain expenses, must fall below a certain threshold relative to the outstanding debt to qualify for protection under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. (Those who do not qualify can file under Chapter 13.)” The new law would ease bankruptcy rules to prohibit the bankruptcy court from dismissing cases based on means testing. The law was drafted from complaints by guardsmen and reservists whose small businesses and personal finances dwindled due to recurring combat deployments. For more information, visit

DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook Available Online

DoD announced today it has developed a comprehensive handbook describing compensation and other benefits service members and their families would be entitled to upon separation or retirement as a result of serious injury or illness.

The Compensation and Benefits Handbook is the one source of information that covers everything a seriously ill and injured service member will need during his or her recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. The electronic version of the handbook will be updated frequently and the hard copy will be updated annually. The electronic version can be found on these five Web sites:

For more information, see

Military Health System (MHS) Extends Questionnaire Deadline

Military Health System officials want wounded, ill or injured service members and their families to respond to a new pair of questionnaires designed to help them better understand the needs and expectations of the warriors in their care.

The questionnaires -- one for wounded, ill or injured service members and one for their family members -- are available on the Military Health System Web site. Due to overwhelming response, the deadline for completing these questionnaires has been extended to November 28, 2008.

Both questionnaires ask for feedback concerning a service member’s experience and satisfaction with the care he or she has received since becoming wounded, ill or injured. To encourage honest and specific answers that will lead to positive changes in how the MHS handles care for wounded, ill or injured service members, all questionnaire responses are anonymous. To read more, visit here and here . To complete the questionnaire, go to

MFN Military Friendly Deals

2009 Scholarships for Military Children Program opens Nov. 3

November is a great time of year for many reasons – cool, crisp weather, tailgating at football games, Thanksgiving and fall colors, to name just a few. If you're a high school or college student and the child of a military family, you might want to add free college money to your list of favorite things because the 2009 Scholarships for Military Children Program opens Nov. 3. Go to for more information.

Free YMCA Membership for Some Active, Guard and Reserve Families

The Defense Department signed a new contract with the National YMCA that will provide free family YMCA memberships to families of National Guard or reserve members at the more than 2,000 participating centers in local communities. Beginning in October, free family memberships will be available for 18 months -- while the service member-spouse is deployed -- and for three months before and after the deployment. YMCAs offer fitness centers with free child-watch while the parent works out, as well as family and youth programs, swim lessons, personal development classes and more. Signing up for the program requires a YMCA/DoD eligibility form, a copy of deployment orders and military ID. The YMCA/DoD eligibility form is available at A completed eligibility form, a copy of deployment orders (where applicable) and the military ID are all that are needed for the local YMCA to process memberships.

Read more at .

Your Holiday Message, Delivered by Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes has launched its annual "Stripes Holiday Messages" program online. People are invited to send messages of love and support to their men and women stationed overseas. These Free messages will be printed in the European, Pacific and Middle East editions of Stars and Stripes on December 20 as long as they are received by the November 28 deadline.

Free Military Handbooks and Guides

Download free copies of military handbooks outlining pay, benefits, retirement planning, education benefits, career decisions, and much more! Visit for such titles as:

  • 2008 Base Installation Directory
  • 2008 U.S. Military Retired Handbook
  • 2008 Getting Uncle Sam to Pay for Your College Degree
  • 2008 Benefits for Veterans & Dependents
  • 2008 Children's Scholarship Handbook
  • 2008 United States Military Handbook
  • 2008 Veterans Healthcare Handbook
  • 2008 After the Military Handbook

Military Child & Youth Deployment Support Video Program

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers Free videos for support of Military Children & Adolescents. The videos are entitled, “Military Youth Coping with Separation: When Family Members Deploy” and “Mr. Poe and Friends Discuss Reunion After Deployment.”You can visit their website at to see the videos or you can request a copy of Military Youth Coping with Separation or Mr. Poe and Friends from Military One Source by clicking on their titles or calling 1-800-342-9647.

AAFES Gives Troops Shot at More Than $8,500 in LCD HDTVs
Army & Air Force Exchange Service Corporate Communications

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and Serta Mattresses are teaming up to give military shoppers an opportunity to revolutionize their television viewing by giving away nearly $10,000 in high definition televisions. Read more here .

Golden Corral Restaurants Salute America’s Heroes
Courtesy Association of US Army Family Programs

On Monday, November 17, from 5 to 9pm, all 485 Golden Corral restaurants across America will offer any person who has served in the United States Military a free “thank you” dinner buffet and beverage (no identification is required). This is the eighth year Golden Corral restaurants have honored Service members. In addition to the dinner, now until November 17th, Golden Corral’s guest may send a personal greeting to America’s military personnel on active duty overseas by filling out a postcard available at all Golden Corral restaurants. The postcards will be delivered to the troops prior to the holidays. To find a Golden Corral near you, go to

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 this Thanksgiving to express gratitude for your own blessings, MFN asks you to share some blessings with others. Below are a few requests that we have received. If you are able to help, please contact MFN at We’ll help to connect your gift with those who need it.

D.D. writes: “This is an email from my daughter. If anyone is willing and/or able to ship a care package, believe me, it will be very much appreciated.”

C.M. writes: “We are a military family. My husband is in the navy. I was trying to find Christmas assistance for my family this year. We have nine kids 12-3 weeks old. We are struggling like most families are with paying rent, bills, buying food, paying for gas. Plus others things that have come our way. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.” (VA area)

S.H. writes: “We are a team of about 20 men and 3 women, including myself. The morale has been very low these past few weeks. The best part of a deployment is walking into work and seeing a letter with my name on it. It's a constant reminder to us that all our efforts are not going down for nothing. And the Americans that we so proudly fight for are stepping up and showing their own gratitude with a reminder to the soldiers and airman overseas. I will never be able to say thank you enough for all your efforts. It sounds silly, but it's pretty boring here, and video games are what we have that will help the time go by faster. And by playing together we can get the other Airman that don't have many friends in there and become a better 'family.' Because that's all we have over here are the people we work with. Families back in the states are living their lives, and it seems like we are all on pause. Last year when I got back from Balad, Iraq, it was a whole different place coming home. It's hard to explain but I know with these letters and thoughts coming from the Americans back home, all will pay off in the end.

We love current magazines, video games, new books, and DVD's, music, board games, new comfy blankets and pillows, clean sheets, mattress pad for a twin size (foam/air), healthy snacks. We have a lot of general male care packages, but for the 3 of us girls here, can there be put together some girly stuff? Things that pamper us, hygiene products, med/sm black underwear, smell good things, women's books/magazines small white ankle socks, and also I'm looking for a size 8 pair of running shoes (women's) if at all possible.”

B.L. writes: “I am looking for some assistance during my husband’s deployment. We have 5 children that are all still living at home, 2 of which are in college. After all the basic bills and college and the basic necessities for the kids it does not leave much for groceries. If by chance this organization can help our family just to help us with the holidays or even just with groceries, it sure would relieve so much stress for me.”

OTA 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. Please “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. “ (PA area)

Veterans Corner

President Proclaims Nov. 11 Veterans Day
American Forces Press Service

President Bush issued a proclamation to honor all who are serving or have served in the U.S. armed forces. Bush issued his Veterans Day proclamation Oct. 31.

The proclamation reads:

"On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn the uniform of the United States.

"From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our nation's ideals, rescued millions from tyranny and helped spread freedom around the globe. America's veterans answered the call when asked to protect our nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.

"Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom's defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

"With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America's veterans.

"Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2008, as Veterans Day and urge all Americans to observe November 9 through November 15, 2008, as National Veterans Awareness Week. I encourage all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers. I call upon federal, state, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to support and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions and the media to support this national observance with commemorative expressions and programs."

VA Announces Changes to the Disability Rating Schedule for Traumatic Brain Injuries and Burn Scars

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced changes in the way VA will evaluate traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and burn scars for purposes of determining the appropriate level of compensation veterans receive for these injuries. Two groups of veterans may be affected by these changes. The first group includes veterans who will be awarded disability compensation for TBI and burn injuries in the future. The second group includes veterans already receiving compensation for these injuries whose disabilities are reevaluated under the new criteria. Read more at

Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 Becomes Law

The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 has become public law 110-389. The law deals with a variety of issues ranging from compensation, pension, housing, labor and education matters to insurance, burial markers and more. To read the law, go to

U.S. Labor Department Supports Employment Success of Veterans with TBI and PTSD

U.S. Labor Department officials have launched a Web site called "America's Heroes at Work" to help veterans afflicted with traumatic-brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder succeed in the workplace. Chocked full of resources, it’s a great place to learn more about TBI, PTSD and concerns about employment. See story at or for more details, visit

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) finds that “healthcare needs of Veterans will be a continuing challenge for the mental health care system for years to come.”

Recent research indicates that an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of a mental disorder or cognitive condition. Untreated mental health problems can result in long-term negative consequences for the affected individuals, their families, their communities, and our Nation as a whole. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) includes questions about military veteran status, major depressive episode (MDE), and treatment for depression. This issue of The NSDUH Report ( examines data from veterans aged 21 to 39, an age group that includes veterans with relatively recent service. The report provides data on the prevalence of past year MDE, levels of impairment resulting from MDE as measured by the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), average number of days of the inability to carry out normal activities due to MDE, and past year treatment for MDE. It should be noted that the NSDUH does not collect data to determine whether or not veterans served in combat or in which conflicts they served. All findings presented in this report are based on combined 2004 to 2007 NSDUH data.

Some of the findings from the study are:

  • An estimated 9.3 percent of veterans aged 21 to 39 (312,000 persons) experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year
  • Among veterans aged 21 to 39 with past year MDE, over half (51.7 percent) reported severe impairment in at least one of four role domains (i.e., home management, work, close relationships with others, and social life), and nearly one quarter (23.5 percent) reported very severe impairment in at least one of the domains
  • More than half (59.6 percent) of veterans aged 21 to 39 who experienced past year MDE received treatment for depression in the past year

With the recent combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, treating the mental health care needs of veterans will be a continuing challenge for the mental health care system for years to come. Identifying and understanding the mental health service needs of service men and women, including the need for appropriate medical and therapeutic services, are a critical part of facilitating veterans' successful re-entry into civilian life and to reducing the long-term negative consequences of depression and other mental and emotional problems for veterans, their families, and their communities.

Enhanced VA mortgage options now available for Veterans

Veterans with conventional home loans now have new options for refinancing to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guaranteed home loan. These new options are available as a result of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008, which the President signed into law on October 10, 2008. VA has never guaranteed subprime loans. However, as a result of the new law VA can now help many more veterans who currently have subprime loans. Read more at

New Law Authorizes Veterans’ Salutes During National Anthem

Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month. Read more at

Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD)

In an ongoing effort to improve services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has implemented a program for transitioning military personnel to promote the development of claims and the conduct of physical rating examinations prior to separation from active military service. This program will enable VA representatives to begin the processing of disability claims from military personnel prior to their separation/retirement from active duty. The Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) Program allows a service member to apply for disability compensation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prior to retirement or separation from military service. To see more information, visit

5.8% COLA Increase Applies to Veterans and Survivors

S. 2617, enacted as Public Law 110-324, will increase the amounts paid to veterans for disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency and indemnity compensation by the same cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) payable to Social Security recipients. The increase will take effect on December 1, 2008, and the results of the adjustment will be rounded to the next lower dollar. S. 2617 also codifies the rates of disability compensation as adjusted by the 2007 COLA. The COLA authorized by the act is assumed in CBO’s baseline, pursuant to section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, and savings from rounding it down were achieved by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-33) and extended to 2013 by the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183). Thus, for Congressional scorekeeping purposes, no cost is ascribed to S. 2617. The Social Security Administration has announced that the COLA increase for 2009 will be 5.8 percent. Though the increase takes effect on December 1st, it will first appear in January’s checks. For more information on how the COLA affects veteran’s benefits, go to

© 2008, The Military Family Network
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