Category Archives: Uncategorized

Got $10? That’s All You Need to Help Military Families!

soldier-hugging-dadThere’s a quote that we like to refer to at the National Military Family Association:

“The strength of our Soldiers is our Families.”
-General Raymond T. Odierno, General and 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army

Our Association serves the family- and you can too!

This week only, we need as many people as possible to donate just $10 towards our Crowdrise Veteran’s Charity Challenge 2 fundraiser!

The charity that gets the most individual donations wins $2,500—putting us that much closer to the grand prize of $20,000.

Here’s what $20,000 would do for military families:

  • Fund the education and career path for 20 military spouses
  • Send 40 children to an Operation Purple camp, or
  • Host 10 families at a Family Retreat!

Tell your friends, share it on Facebook, and help us win this week’s challenge!

Click here to donate!

Thanks for your support – we couldn’t do it without you!

carolinePosted by Caroline Rasmus, Development and Membership Manager

DIY PCS Moves: A Just-Do-It Story!

AZ-sunsetWhen my coworkers found out my husband and I decided to do a personal procured moved (PPM) – or “a FULL DITY” move for you old school folks – from Northern Virginia all the way to southern Arizona, their reactions ranged from a simple, “Wow, good luck!” to speechless laughter (think: the ‘you have got to be kidding me… you must be insane!’).

We were fortunate this time around. This PCS didn’t come as a shock to us. We practically knew when it was coming. And we knew exactly where we were heading for our next career course: good ol’ Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

I started organizing way before we started packing, cleaning out junk drawers, purging closets, and things of that nature. Being organized really helped when we started filling the boxes. I scored free boxes from Craigslist, and made several runs to Home Depot for packing supplies like tape, packing paper, and bubble wrap because they have a 10% military discount!

Moving along, (get it? The pun was totally intended) we notified landlords, canceled utilities, submitted change of address, and requested necessary medical records, including our dog’s. A tip to remember: a month after the move, check back with the old utilities companies and make sure your accounts are closed out and have no remaining balance.

Once our cars were weighed, sans stuff, we convinced a few friends to help us load everything onto the trailer we purchased for the move. Our awesome crew happily accepted payment in the form of pizza and smiles!

All packed and ready to go, we stopped at the weigh station outside of town to get our full weight (loaded cars and trailer), and then we were off! The first leg of the trip was drama free. We stayed at a LaQuinta Inn in Nashville – they are inexpensive, super dog and pet friendly, and have military discounts! Score!

puppyThen, our truck lost its brakes between Memphis and Dallas. Try driving through downtown Dallas without brakes… actually, no, don’t try it! My husband managed to make it, thanks to the trailer hand brake.

We stopped in Dallas for a few days, stayed with family, fixed the truck and hit the road, again. Our poor pup was sick of the car by this point. I swear he rolled his eyes whenever it was time to go.

We crossed into Arizona as the sun was setting – a terrific way to welcome us to our new state. A few days of permissive temporary duty (TDY) was all it took for us to find a house to rent. The bonus was that we didn’t have to wait for any household goods to arrive! With keys in hand, we unloaded our boxes, filled the fridge and poured the wine.

Doing a PPM is not for everyone. But it can be done, and it can be worth it. We had it EASY, with only one furry ‘kid’ in tow.

Most people are weary of a PPM move because of the cost. Not every service member will receive the same amount money for moving expenses, which can end up costing a substantial amount upfront, and this may not work for your family.

We chose to put the expenses on a credit card with reward points, and paid it off along the way. In some branches, service members are able to get a cash advance from the military. So, don’t write the PPM option off immediately!

Here’s a glance at our breakdown of expenses:

Total Out of Pocket Expenses: $7,180

  • Trailer (we bought instead of renting): $5,000
  • Moving Supply Expenses: Roughly $200
  • Total fuel for two cars (one hybrid SUV, one diesel truck hauling a trailer): $1,100
  • Food for the trip: Roughly $350
  • Fix for truck brakes: $50 – an inexpensive fix thanks to a savvy father-in-law
  • Lodging while traveling: $80, LaQuinta Inn Nashville
  • Lodging during permissive TDY: $400, Holiday Inn Express Sierra Vista

Total Amount Collected + sale of trailer: $18,000 (after Taxes)

  • Trailer (sold it for the purchase cost): $5,000
  • Per Diem Pay, Dislocation Allowance, Mileage: $5,700
  • Pay per weight of move: $7,300

Total Profit: $10,820

This move ended up being a win for us, and a win for the Army, since they only pay us 95% of what they would pay professional movers.

So, would I do it again? Let me get back to you on that…

Has your family ever done a PPM (fully DITY) move? What were some of the challenges you faced?

alliePosted by Allie Jones, Program Manager, Spouse Education + Professional Support

Looking for a Few Good AmeriCorps Members!

americorps-logoAre you a military spouse or recent college graduate looking for a service opportunity in the National Capital Region? The National Military Family Association is looking for candidates to serve for a one-year term as an AmeriCorps member at our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

For 3 years, our Association has reaped the benefits of hosting AmeriCorps members through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps AmeriCorps Project. Our AmeriCorps members have helped boost our Association’s capacity to serve military families by working primarily with our Government Relations staff, while providing assistance to other departments, such as Volunteer Services, Youth Initiatives, and our Scholarship program.

We are pleased to announce we are accepting applications for AmeriCorps members for the coming year, beginning immediately.

As an AmeriCorps member with our Association, you can expect your work to be ever changing as needs arise. You may be researching changes to TRICARE in the morning, analyzing survey results at lunch, writing a blog about your help at one of our Operation Purple camps in the afternoon, and attending a gala for service members and their families in the evening.

We try to tailor our projects for our AmeriCorps members based upon their skills and interests, and our Association’s needs.

Due to AmeriCorps regulations, our AmeriCorps members can’t lobby the government in any way, so if you’re hoping to storm Capitol Hill to end sequestration, or convince Department of Defense officials to save the commissary, AmeriCorps might not be the position for you.

If you’ve got the tenacity and drive to storm Capitol Hill, and fight for military families, KUDOS! We love your spirit, and still want you to join us!

While not a purely volunteer position, the stipend is around $12,000 a year. The job is 40 hours a week, and considered full-time. Which means we’ll see your smiling face Monday through Friday in our offices in Alexandria, Virginia. There are healthcare and scholarship aspects to the position, too!

Still want to learn more? We’ve got AmeriCorps members who have served in our office previously, and would be happy to talk to you about their experiences. And just like we mentioned, they write blog posts for us, too! Read why Nate loves military families, and find out why he refused to say ‘good bye’ to us!

If you want to provide support to military families of the seven Uniformed Services in a welcoming office environment, while improving your professional expertise, apply today! You can reach us at Info@MilitaryFamily.org.

kathyPosted by Kathy Moakler, Government Relations Director

I Just Don’t Get…the Ever-Complaining Military Spouse

i-just-dont-get“Ugh! Just had to wait for 30 minutes to get a prescription from the MTF!”

“Seriously, I am so tired of ‘mandatory fun’ – what’s fun about it?”

“I can’t wait for us to get out of the military! If I have to deal with one more holiday alone…”

Do you know a fellow military spouse who’s a constant flow of negativity—always complaining about military life and everything that goes with it? From their spouse’s duty weekend to the terrible selection of ketchup at the Commissary – nothing is off limits. And it all gets aired on social media.

I just don’t get it.

Military life isn’t always sunshine and unicorns (can it be, please?), but it is something special. We have a secret weapon most civilian spouses don’t: a built-in community of support…each other.

No matter where you PCS, there’s a neighbor in base housing who understands the frustration of raising toddlers, a FRG leader who knows the perfect dentist out in town, or a spouse in your command who loves wine as much as you do.

So why is nothing ever good enough for that ever-complaining milspouse?

What I love so much about this military community is the camaraderie and pride we all seem to share. Maybe the ever-complaining milspouse hasn’t had a chance to see how supportive we can be. I have to think that if they did, they’d see how important it is to be that pillar of strength for someone else. It’s our duty as military spouses to pay it forward. Be supportive. Share resources. Do for others.

That’s the only way we can ensure the complainers become extinct – by doing our part to make the camaraderie live on.

Maybe then, there might not be as much to complain about.

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Preparing to Return to Civilian Life: A spouse’s perspective

crossroads-sign2With small budgets and shifting priorities, the mission for the U.S. military is changing. An estimated 123,900 service members will leave the Services within the next five years. Some folks signed up for one tour and only intended to stay in for that enlistment. Others joined knowing they wanted to make this a career. Regardless of the reasons for separating from the military, a significant number of current service members will not make the military a career.

When I read articles about downsizing, I immediately think about how this would impact our family; specifically what happens to our pay and benefits. Any entitlement to pay and benefits after your service member leaves the service will depend on the circumstances of separation.

For example, if the service member retires; he or she is eligible for retirement benefits. Unfortunately, most folks who are separating due to the drawdown are not eligible for retirement benefits. If you fall into the later category, here are some tips to help you prepare for life outside the gates:

Pay: This is a big one. You and your service member will need to decide how you will earn an income. It may be helpful to consider the following:

  • Your taxable and nontaxable income (i.e. allowances such as a housing allowance (BAH) are not taxable)
  • Your current and estimated expenses (i.e. if you are living on the installation now and will move back to your home town, check out the local rental rates, property values, utility costs, etc.)
  • The cost of living in your projected job market
  • Your estimated income needed to meet or exceed your current standard of living

Health Care: Health care is the largest non-monetary part of the service member’s benefit package. While the service member may be eligible for service-connect health care for life through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), your family generally loses coverage once the service member separates from the Service.

You may be able to receive health care coverage in the individual market, a health care exchange, or through an employer’s plan. Your family may be eligible to participate in TRICARE’s Transitional Assistance Management Program for 180 days of premium-free transitional health care benefits after regular TRICARE benefits end. After this coverage ends, your family may be eligible for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).

CHCBP is a premium-based program offering temporary transitional heath coverage from 18-36 months after TRICARE eligibility ends. A family premium for 2013 is $2,555 per quarter.

Life Insurance: Whether you are separating from military service or retiring, you will need to decide what to do with your Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage. SGLI stays with you for an additional 120 days after you leave the service, and then it stops for good. You need to decide to either take Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or get your own individual life insurance.

For those who sustained injury or have chronic conditions, it is imperative to look at whether or not outside insurers will cover you. You can convert to VGLI in the specified time period without proof of good health. After that time period, you will have to prove you are in good health.

Keep in mind that Family Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) provides coverage for your spouse and children. It may be converted to an individual policy, but not to VGLI. Companies listed on the VA website will convert spouse health coverage without proof of good health during a specified time period.

Ancillary benefits: Ancillary benefits may include the Commissary, Exchange, reduced child care fees, or discounts in your local community – all part of the overall military lifestyle and some elements of the military compensation package.

In most cases, you will not be able to continue to access these privileges; however, some communities may provide benefits for veterans. It is recommended you ask each establishment to determine what type of documentation you need to show if you are eligible to participate. You may find there is another type of discount, such as a community membership, for folks who live in a specific neighborhood, which is available to you instead of a military discount.

This is the first of a blog series discussing transition from military life to civilian life. What other transition topics would you like to see? Leave a comment below!

KatiePosted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Information Manager

Robert Griffin III Shows His Military Appreciation On and Off the Field

We’re getting into the thick of NFL football season, and while my hometown team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is leading the competition for number of losses, I still faithfully wear all the jaguar-print clothing I own to show my support. I’m used to waving at the bandwagon while it rolls off into the sunset. Now that’s loyalty!

USAA and the NFL are showing their loyalty and support of our Nation’s military service members and veterans in the month of November. Join them, along with fans in stadiums across the country, by participating in the Million Fan Salute. Choose your favorite team and click “Salute,” it’s as simple as that! Every salute will earn rewards for your local military community.

NFL Quarterback and military brat, Robert Griffin III, sat down with USAA to share some of the military values he learned from his parents, who both served in the Army. Check out the video below:


Are you a military brat? What values did you learn growing up?

Shannon-SebastianPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Get the Facts on the 2013 Government Shutdown

do-not-disturb-congress

Our Association has been tirelessly demanding Congress does its job. As part of our #EndSequestration campaign, we stormed Capitol Hill and took your concerns to the ears of our Nation’s lawmakers.

At 12:00am on October 1, 2013, those very same lawmakers shut it down.

No deal. The government shut down.

What does this mean for you and your military family?

Our Association is bringing all the facts to you on our website. While information is always changing, and new information is coming to the surface, we are working around the clock to make sure your questions, comments, Facebook messages, and tweets are answered!

If you want to know how the government shutdown will affect you, and get the most up-to-date information, visit our government shutdown page or join in the conversation on our Facebook page.