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Welcome Home...
For those that just arrived, Welcome home! For those that have been here before welcome back. We are your hosts, BJ 'n Cindy. We own and operate this site as well as the sister sites.

As a retired Marine couple, we know just how new and puzzling, and sometimes how lonely or difficult it can be to find what you need. That is why we created this network and filled it with all kinds of resources to help you find whatever you may need... and to find one another.

So once again Welcome Home...

 


By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
December 29, 2016

ARLINGTON, Va. -- A recently signed law gives official veteran status to National Guard members who served 20 years or more. Previously, Guard members were considered veterans only if they served 180 days or more in a federal status outside of training.

"As long as you were deployed on active duty for at least 180 days and you didn't get a dishonorable discharge or a bad conduct discharge coming off those orders, then you could be considered a veteran," said Army Sgt. Maj. Matthew Krenz, a legislative liaison at the National Guard Bureau who provided background information to Congressional members working on the bill.

By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
December 27, 2016

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is making available to military amputees the first production versions of a groundbreaking upper-limb prosthesis, according to a DARPA press release.

Dr. Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA's Biological Technologies Office, delivered the first two advanced "LUKE" arms from a new production line during a ceremony Thursday -- evidence that the fast-track DARPA research effort has completed its transition into a commercial enterprise, DARPA officials said.

By Spc. Tynisha Daniel
December 23, 2016

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Every year U.S. and international service members conduct a joint airborne operation that provides toys to children who might otherwise not have any waiting for them under their tree on Christmas morning.

Founded by Sgt. 1st Class Randy Oler in 1998, the Operation Toy Drop is also an annual training exercise that prepares Soldiers to support the military in theaters of operation around the world. Each December at Fort Bragg, U.S. and foreign paratroopers gather to conduct the charitable training and airborne operation.

By Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Today, the Navy released an update to the Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB) award plan for active component (AC) and full time support (FTS) Sailors in NAVADMIN 212/16.

This update, NAVADMIN 284/16, increases 16 SRB award levels, decreases 49 awards, adds 49 new eligible skills and removes seven skills eligible to receive bonuses from the Navy's most recent SRB NAVADMIN released this past October.

From Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) has announced the Navy's 2017 Installation Excellence Award Winners.

This installation excellence award program recognizes the Navy's top three large and small installations, and rewards installation performance in accordance with the command's strategic goals and Office of the Secretary of Defense criteria for the DoD-wide Commander-in-Chief Installation Excellence Awards. 

From Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- On Dec. 21, the Navy announced that effective immediately, Sailors may continue to be addressed by their Rating Titles.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson, with the support of Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Steve Giordano, made the announcement in NAVADMIN 283/16. 

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2016 — Vietnam veteran and former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel returned to the Pentagon today to join Defense Secretary Ash Carter in officially opening an exhibit honoring the estimated 9 million Americans who served in the Vietnam War.

A two-time Purple Heart recipient, Hagel joined Carter and other Pentagon officials for the official ribbon cutting of the display, which spans a swath of a third-floor corridor.

By U.S. Army
December 21, 2016

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- For 60 years, North American Aerospace Defense Command, otherwise known as NORAD, and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa's flight.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put children through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The director of operations at the time, Col. Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

December 20, 2016

In December, families often take time to come together and celebrate the holidays. Whether you are taking part in traditions that have been in your family for generations or creating new ones with your own kids, the holiday season is a perfect time to reinforce the values of charity and generosity. It’s easy for kids to become wrapped up in getting presents, but during the holidays, you can show them that spending time giving back to others can be just as fun and much more rewarding!

Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to talk to them about what it means to give back to the community and why it is so important. Remind them that it is not the amount you give or even giving money at all. Time and effort can make all the difference. PBS Parents recommends framing this conversation around how your kids’ actions will affect others, since children often operate from a center of self. Similarly, the Family Dinner Project (link is external) suggests starting out by asking kids, “What can you give or do for someone that doesn’t cost any money?” Or, for older kids, “Invent a superhero who protects something you care about. What is s/he fighting for? How does s/he create change?”

WASHINGTON- The Department of Veteran Affairs cut the ribbon today for its new Veteran Crisis Line (VCL) satellite office in Atlanta allowing the life-saving hotline to expand capacity by nearly 600 Veterans each day essentially doubling VA’s ability to help Veterans in need.

As a part of the MyVA initiative, the largest restructuring in the Department’s history, improvements of the VCL are a key priority, with the goal of providing 24/7, world-class suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to Veterans, servicemembers and their family members across the globe.

December 19, 2016

Today HHS’ Administration for Children and Families announced a new rule to make state child support enforcement programs more effective, flexible, and family-friendly.

The rule requires state child support agencies to increase their case investigative efforts to ensure that child support orders – the amount noncustodial parents are required to pay each month – reflect the parent’s ability to pay. Taking a more realistic approach to calculating child support payments, the rule requires states to consider a low-income noncustodial parent’s specific circumstances when the order is set, rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach. And the rule requires that states take the investigative steps necessary to ensure that all relevant information about the noncustodial parent’s circumstances are collected and verified.

By C. Todd Lopez
December 19, 2016

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- The still relatively short-staffed Joint Task Force-National Capital Region hosted a rehearsal of concept drill Wednesday to demonstrate the roles the members will perform Jan. 20 during the 58th presidential inauguration.

Using a 60-by-40-foot map of the nation's capital, spread out on the floor of the D.C. Armory, Army Master Sgt. Aaron Lovely walked journalists and other guests through the plans for the inauguration, detailing the various roles military elements would play during the event.

By Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced today that Sailors should expect to receive orders with approximately two months lead time for permanent change of station (PCS) moves following passage of a second Continuing Resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year 17 that will fund the government through April 28, of next year. 

"The Navy fully realizes that these shortened lead times limit Sailors' time to prepare for moves, and burdens them and their families," said Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Robert Burke. "Going forward, we remain committed to providing Sailors with as much information and lead time as we can. Our goal remains to mitigate the CR's impact on Sailors and their families, to the best of our ability. We ask for your patience as we work through the funding challenges."

By James Magdalenski,
Director Naval OPSEC Support Team (NOST) Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus just issued ALNAV 072/16 to accompany the Department's new Operations Security (OPSEC) policy, which was released May 5. 

The ALNAV is intended to spread the broad-reaching implications of the new policy to the widest possible operational audience and communicated the provisions to personnel outside the traditional information warfare community. 

By Maj. Ethan Stoker, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs 
Published December 12, 2016;

Washington (AFNS) -- Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James held a Facebook town hall to address concerns from Airmen and their family members Dec. 12.;

The town hall meeting provided an update to concerns and issues brought to her attention during the Air Force Spouse and Family Forum in October.;

"I told you we would make best efforts to identify some areas where we can make immediate impact and others where we would get the ball rolling for long-term impact," James said.;

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2016 - Defense Department officials announced today the release of the "DoD Plan to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Assault of Military Men," designed to enhance outreach to military men and increase efforts to help them recover.

Army Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, director of the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said sexual assault destroys unit cohesion and threatens force readiness by eroding bonds of trust that make the military strong and effective. The DoD plan, she added, outlines the need to help all service members better understand the unique aspects of assaults against men and how to prevent them.

By Air Force Marathon Office, /
Published December 14, 2016

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- Registration for the 2017 Air Force Marathon will begin Jan. 2 at 9 a.m. EST. 

Registration will open with special New Year’s resolution discounts, and participants who register Jan. 2 will receive $10 off the full or half-marathon and $5 off the 10K or 5K.

By Master Sgt. Gary Qualls Jr.
December 14, 2016

For many Soldiers, the prospect of working at NFL headquarters -- planning and setting up exciting events, bumping into famous personalities, and enjoying every minute of the journey along the way --- would seem like a distant dream.

For Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson, it's a reality; he is serving an internship with the National Football League at NFL Headquarters in New York, and he still finds it hard to believe.

The U.S. Coast Guard Band is scheduled to perform four free holiday concerts in the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia with each concert being a different ensemble of instruments and musical styles.

All concerts are free and open to the public.

December 14, 2016
Ed. Note: This post first appeared on the CASA FamilyDay blog.

Learn more tips on how fathers can share stories about their family history with their children to help them to value both their heritage and who they are as individuals. With our NRFC Spotlight on Dads Forever Family: Ancestors Who Shaped Our Lives, available in English and Spanish.

Knowing their family's history can be a source of strength for your kids. Research has found that kids who know more about their parents' and their ancestors' lives are more resilient. Sharing the family's history, including traditions, also encourages bonding.

By John Budnik (USACE)
December 13, 2016

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The black, coiled-haired puppy released a deep bellow while napping under a conference table at the feet of his new owner.

"Oh man, he is feeling it now," joked Erik Babb, procurement technician with the Army Corps of Engineers - Alaska District's Contracting Division, while telling the story of how he acquired his new service dog and best friend.

A native of Mountain Pine, Arkansas, Babb received Matai (mah-TIE'), a Portuguese water dog, at no cost from 832 K9's Deputy Dogs, a Florida-based nonprofit group. The organization specializes in providing law enforcement agencies across the nation and Europe with trained bloodhounds to assist in searching for missing persons and other life-saving events. 

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins,
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- More than 100 Sailors participated in a 'Jingle Bell' 5K on the flight deck of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Dec. 11.

The race kicked off with Master Chief Petty Officer Christopher Martin, from Silverdale, Washington, a member of supply department, dressed in full Santa Clause attire, bringing runners to their mark and then starting the race with the jingling of a hand bell.

Runners completed 10 laps around a marked track on the flight deck to make the 5K distance. 

By C. Todd Lopez December 12, 2016

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning believes the Army needs to change how it provides support to Soldiers and their families.

Speaking at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. Thursday before representatives and members of the Blue Star Families, an organization founded in 2009 that performs one of the largest surveys of military families and directs them to sources of support, Fanning noted the number of military families with stay-at-home spouses is shrinking.

"The Army needs to recognize that more military spouses are working now," Fanning said. "We must adjust to a reality where it's no longer expected that married Soldiers will have a stay-at-home spouse who takes care of the family and homestead and does volunteer work on the side."

Washington – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulation on copayments for Veterans’ outpatient medications for non-service connected conditions. VA currently charges non-exempt Veterans either $8 or $9 for each 30-day or less supply of outpatient medication, and under current regulations, a calculation based on the medication of the Medical Consumer Price Index (CPI-P) would be used to determine the copayment amount in future years. 

“Switching to a tiered system continues to keep outpatient medication costs low for Veterans,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David J. Shulkin. “Reducing their out-of-pocket costs encourages greater adherence to prescribed outpatient medications and reduces the risk of fragmented care that results when multiple pharmacies are used; another way that VA is providing better service to Veterans.”   

By Sean Kimmons December 12, 2016

BALTIMORE, Md. (Army News Service) -- Wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt in the frigid cold with his face painted black and gold, the cadet joined other West Point classmates in taunting their rival midshipmen Saturday before the Army-Navy game.

"We beat Temple! We beat Temple!" they belted, referring to the Army's first win of the season to the Temple Owls, a team that managed to beat Navy in the American Athletic Conference championship game a week before.

By Lance Cpl. Jake McClung,
Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- More than 600 Marines with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and 1st Marine Division conducted exercise Seahorse Wind at Marine Corps Bases in Southern California and Arizona, Dec. 4 - 9. 

Seahorse Wind is a long-range raid exercise where assault-support aircraft transport ground units from one location to a simulated combat zone. Exercise Seahorse Wind is a crucial component to exercise Steel Knight, a larger exercise meant to test the capabilities of Marines and sailors.

HUD Awards $2.5 Million To Help Youth Living In Public Housing Afford College And Continue Education

"Education Navigators" will help students and their families apply for federal student aid

WASHINGTON - To help low-income youthand their families apply for federal student aid for college and other post-secondary educational opportunities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded approximately $2.5 million to nine Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to hire "Education Navigators" to guide them through the application process.

WAILUKU, Maui - Coast Guard Station Maui partnered with the Salvation Army to deliver toys to the children of Molokai, Friday.

A Coast Guard 45-foot Motor Lifeboat crew loaded and delivered 800 toys and clothes to the Salvation Army on Molokai to be given out to the children through the Salvation Army. 

Lt. Romelia Howard, the Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division Kahului corps officer, reached out to the Coast Guard as the Molokai ferry used in previous years was unavailable. Howard and her crew rode along with Coast Guard members for the delivery. The division seeks to help over 600 families throughout Maui County, including the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. 

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany, Dec. 8, 2016 - It is ironic that the final stop in the Chairman's 2016 USO Holiday Tour is at this major training base in the heart of Bavaria.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and his senior enlisted advisor, Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, chose Grafenwoehr as one of the stops on the USO Tour this year because they wanted to go to bases that are doing important work and "are kind of hard to get to."

December 8, 2016, 02:09:00 PM

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced it now provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery.

"MyVA is about looking at VA from the Veterans' perspective, and then doing everything we can to make the Veteran Experience effective and seamless," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. "This new program reaffirms our commitment to providing a lifetime of benefits and services for Veterans and their families."

CAPE MAY, N.J. - Coast Guardsmen received a delivery of 50 donated Christmas trees from the Trees for Troops program at Training Center Cape May, Thursday.

The trees were distributed to junior-ranking service members on the base including crewmembers of the tenant commands stationed aboard the TRACEN.

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2016 — First Lady Michelle Obama and military families joined at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling here today to sort toys for the Marine Corps Reserve’s “Toys for Tots” program 

Obama has participated in the program each year since her husband took office in 2009.

During the event, the first lady also acknowledged today’s 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. “When we acknowledge the sacrifice of so many, I want to say a very special thank you to our service members who are here today,” she said.

VA is First US Government Agency to Meet "Level of Assurance 3" IT Standard

WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that, with help from Veteran-run small business ID.me, Veterans will now be able to manage their own health care and benefits online more simply and safely. Vets.gov now meets the "Level of Assurance 3" (LOA3) information assurance standard, which will allow VA to offer Veterans more features on a single convenient site. This is the highest level of security used to protect user data and privacy, and VA is a leader in both the government and private sectors with an LOA3 logon account.

After a year of beta testing, VA launched Vets.gov, where Veterans can now use a single account to access services that were previously spread across numerous websites requiring multiple usernames and passwords. Because of security improvements enabled by ID.me's tools, Veterans can now use Vets.gov to:

By Sgt. David Bedard
December 7, 2016

AKIACHAK, Alaska, - Santa Claus traded his sleigh and eight magically motivated reindeer for an Alaska Air National Guard C-130 Hercules during a Dec. 3, 2016, visit to Akiachak.

Saint Nick's journey to the Western Alaska village marked 59 years for Operation Santa Claus, an Alaska National Guard community-outreach effort dependent upon a legion of elfin volunteers and donations from Alaska businesses and individuals.

By Courtesy Story, Marine Corps Installations Pacific

KAPOLEI, Hawaii - Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii, wasn’t a desirable duty station in 1941. It was a hot, barren field. Marines slept in a tent city for nearly a year before a permanent barracks was constructed. Then, just a week after personnel moved into their quarters, this scorpion-infested air strip and the Marines who served there would be some of the first to suffer from the Japanese attack on Oahu, Dec. 7, 1941. 

Marines from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific presented a wreath to pay their respects to their fallen brethren as part of the greater 75th commemoration of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 6, 2016. 

By Seaman Jessica Dowell,
Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Service members of the Hampton Roads community participated in an orientation session Dec. 6 for Onward to Opportunity (O2O), a no-cost training and certification program for service member transitioning to civilian careers.

The program is offered through the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, in partnership with the Schultz Family Foundation and Hire Heroes USA.

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, Dec. 6, 2016 - The joint was rocking today as the Chairman's 2016 USO Holiday Tour arrived to entertain and thank service members based here.

The air base is a hub for U.S. efforts in the U.S. Central Command region and hosts about 10,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Aircraft based here provide close-air support to indigenous forces taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

By Senior Airman Alexa Ann Henderson, 36th Wing Public Affairs / December 06, 2016

Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (AFNS) -- Military members from the U.S. Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy, with international support from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force are joining forces to airdrop and deliver donated toys, clothes, food items and other necessities to remote islands across the Pacific Ocean as part of Operation Christmas Drop 2016.

The annual training mission officially kicked off during a ceremony Dec. 6 at Andersen Air Force Base, where military leaders across the island pushed the first pallet of donated goods into a C-130 Hercules.

By Bob Kramer December 6, 2016

FORT MEADE, Md. (Defense Media Activity) -- Some taxpayers plan their holiday shopping and other purchases on the assumption they will get their tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service in January.

In 2017, that may no longer be the case.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH Act, signed into law December 2015, requires the IRS to hold tax refunds that include earned-income tax credit and additional child tax credit until Feb. 15, 2017.

By National Guard Bureau Historical Services December 6, 2016

ARLINGTON, Va. - We recognize Dec. 7 as the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and the beginning, for the United States, of a long and hard military struggle against the Axis powers.

More than 3,400 military personnel and civilians were killed and wounded that day, with significant damage inflicted upon the Pacific Fleet and to the Army Air Corps squadrons stationed in Hawaii. At this uncertain time, Americans came together in a common cause to prevail in an unwanted war.

Coast Guard To Host Tours Aboard Cutters At Aloha Tower, Honolulu, As Part Of Pearl Harbor 75th

HONOLULU - The Coast Guard is offering free public tours of two cutters as part of the observance of the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor at Aloha Tower in Honolulu Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Wednesday the Coast Guard Silent Drill Team will also perform in front of the cutter at Aloha Tower at 2 p.m. 

Story Number: NNS161206-19Release Date: 12/6/2016 
By Kristine M. Sturkie, Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy Exchange Service Command's (NEXCOM) Uniform Support Center supports the U.S. Navy in a variety of ways, including ensuring a proper burial for some of the nation's war heroes.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) laboratory in Hawaii continues to work to identify the remains of Sailors and Marines who were killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. At that time, many service members' remains were buried together because they couldn't be identified. However, as technology has improved over the years and family DNA can be used to identify remains, DPAA is now able to return service members back to their loved ones for burial. 

Fm The Family Room Blog / Administration for Children and Families

As the days and nights start to get colder, there are steps you and your family can take to ensure a safer winter.

Keep Temperatures Consistent

Home energy studies show that keeping homes a constant temperature of at least 68 degrees can prevent health and safety-related crises, such as asthma or hypothermia, that may result in hospital visits. It's also more efficient to keep the thermostat at the same temperature overnight to avoid having to "re-warm" your home the next morning.

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2016 - Holly Petraeus from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau today discussed how service members and their families can help protect their finances.

Petraeus briefed very-senior-level noncommissioned officers attending an annual conference at the Pentagon.

"Protecting your finances and the finances of your troops is important," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and host of the conference. "Having financial problems isn't just bad; it could lead to suicidal thoughts or cause a problem with security clearances."

New collaboration approaches in Child Support and Fatherhood Programs
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse November 29, 2016

August 2016 celebrated the 21st anniversary of National Child Support Awareness Month. On August 5, 1995, President William J. Clinton signed Proclamation 6814 highlighting the importance of providing for our children as the “sum of our past and the promise of our future,” and acknowledging the role of all child support programs to ensuring children receive the necessary financial support to “lead secure and healthy lives.”

Today, state and local child support offices are scheduling special events to focus on the importance of providing child support for children and highlight services available to help both custodial and noncustodial parents provide for their children on a regular basis. As previously discussed in our March 2013 and April 2015 NRFC webinars, child support programs are evolving at the national and state levels and moving away from “welfare cost recovery” models to “family centered practices” that emphasize accurate child support orders based on actual income, family distribution, debt prevention, and services to help noncustodial parents who need help obtaining steady employment.

By Kristine M. Sturkie,
Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- This holiday season, the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) is again giving away free $10 phone cards to Sailors and Marines away from their homeports and those forward deployed to overseas ports during the holiday season.

"NEXCOM is honored to be giving free phone cards to Sailors and Marines deployed and away from home this holiday season," said Thomas Harris, program manager in NEXCOM's Telecommunications Program Office. "NEXCOM has been giving away free phone cards over the holidays for many, many years. This is our way of thanking our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make while in service to our country."

By Jessica Marie Ryan, FMWRC
December 1, 2016

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Tex. -- Army Installation Management Command is hosting its annual Digital Photography Contest to showcase the creative and artistic talents of the military community.

The contest, which is run by IMCOM's G9 Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate, is open to active-duty military members and MWR-authorized patrons, including Families, retirees and Department of the Army civilians. Contest entries are being accepted through Jan. 31, 2017.

By By Keith R. Boydston,
Fort Benning Public Affairs December 1, 2016

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Capping off 19 weeks of intense training on tank platoon weapon systems, combined arms maneuver and security tactics, 65 officers, including the first 13 women, graduated Thursday from the Army Armor Basic Officer Leader Course.

"Today's gender-integrated graduation represents an important personal and organizational milestone," said Brig. Gen. John Kolasheski, chief of Armor and Armor School commandant. "[But] it also demonstrates our unwavering commitment to train and educate the right Soldiers for the right job so they and their organization can fight and win anytime, anywhere, and under any conditions of battle."

The Exceptional Advocate - MilitaryOneSource Newsletter

The holidays are supposed to be a time for fun, but for those caring for a family member with special needs, stress can sometimes derail us. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help keep you on track. Follow these 10 practical tips to experience the holidays in a more positive and healthy way.

1. Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t get hung up on what the holidays are supposed to be like and how you’re supposed to feel. If you’re comparing your holidays to some ideal, you may be disappointed. So don’t stress about holiday spirit — take the holidays as they come.

The Exceptional Advocate - MilitaryOneSource Newsletter

A popular song describes the holidays as “the most wonderful time of the year.” But the holidays can also add an extra layer of stress on families. If you have a child with special needs, the unfamiliar sounds, smells and visitors can be disruptive. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the stress and make the holidays more enjoyable for you and your children. The key is preparation.

First, find calm. Find ways to reduce the stress of holiday preparations. Children are good at picking up on your stress level, so it can be helpful to take steps to lower it. Schedule quiet times during the day — short periods when you can give your child your full attention and tune in to their needs. You can even have a “code word” for your child to say when they feel overwhelmed. Promise that if they use the word, you will respond right away. Giving children some control during activities can help reduce their anxiety.

From MilitaryOneSource Monthly Newsletter

A new tax law could make it tricky for military members to file their 2016 taxes using an individual taxpayer identification number, instead of a Social Security Number. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or PATH Act, requires taxpayers to renew their identification number if the one they have is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

Failure to renew your individual taxpayer identification number prior to the expiration date could potentially cause a delay in processing your tax return. The delay could result in a reduced refund or additional penalties and interest if you owe tax.

From MilitaryOneSource Monthly Newsletter

The holidays are a great time of year, especially if you’re a kid, but they can be hectic too. Here are 10 ideas to help make the holidays more relaxed and enjoyable for you and your children.

1. Spread holiday rituals out over several weeks to create a slow and pleasant build-up, such as decorating, trimming the tree, writing holiday cards and baking cookies.