Homefront Help

April 21, 2011
By Rita Boland

Scheduled to open to the public in 2015, this facility located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, will be the U.S. Army's national landmark. The museum will feature exhibits to honor those who serve or have served in the Army, including the Reserve and National Guard; to preserve Army history; to educate the public about U.S. history; and to inspire future and current soldiers. In addition to the public access areas of the museum, plans include a Veterans Hall for use by veterans and their families; the VFW recently donated $500,000 to help construct this section. Activities in the hall will range from planned presentations to personal receptions.

April 14, 2011
By Rita Boland

Designed to educate people about and assist with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this virtual experience in Second Life offers access to several beneficial simulations. Visitors can learn how PTSD can be acquired as well as triggers and avoidance issues and why PTSD is a normal human response. Through interactive activities, the environment helps users learn how symptoms can manifest and provides information about how to diagnose the syndrome and access care resources.

April 7, 2011
By Rita Boland

This initiative launched by the U.S. Defense Department has several purposes to recognize the varied sacrifices and triumphs of the Vietnam War. The goals encompass thanking and honoring Vietnam veterans including those held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action; highlighting the service of the armed forces and other organizations and agencies who supported them; and paying tribute to contributions made on the homefront by the American people. In addition, organizers hope to draw attention to advances in technology, science and medicine because of research conducted during the conflict and to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of U.S. allies during the war.

March 31, 2011
By Rita Boland

When sick and wounded troops are evacuated out of war zones, they often arrive at military hospitals with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, and those are often damaged from battle or purposely cut to treat wounds. This leaves injured warfighters little recourse other than to use their own money to purchase the basic personal effects they require. Enter Jammies for GIs. Despite the name, the group does more than hand out nightwear. It works to provide a clean change of clothes, entertainment and other goods to those who came to harm fighting for their country.

March 24, 2011
By Rita Boland

AFCEA staff frequently participate in community and troop support activities, and in one such event AFCEA provided cards, postage, small gift and prepaid postcards--and a pizza lunch, during which AFCEA staff members hand wrote more than 100 "Get Well Soon" and "Thank You" cards to wounded warriors and the medical personnel who care for them. The prepaid postcard was self addressed to AFCEA so that the warfighters, nurses or doctors could write back if they wanted to.

March 17, 2011
By Rita Boland

Those still participating actively in TRICARE will be able to access new benefits soon. Beginning this spring, qualified, unmarried military dependents up to the age of 26 can purchase TRICARE coverage on a month-to-month basis as long as they are ineligible for their own employer-sponsored health coverage. Available through the TRICARE Young Adult Program (TYAP), the insurance extends coverage past the previous age 21 or age 23 (for full-time college students) limits. Premium costs for the program have not been finalized, but the National Defense Authorization Act specifies that rates must cover the full cost of the program. At first, TYAP will be a premium-based TRICARE Standard benefit.

March 10, 2011
By Rita Boland

Troops with lag time between the end of their military service and the beginning of their civilian careers can choose the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) for their medical insurance needs. The program offers temporary health coverage for 18 to 36 months after TRICARE eligibility ends. Those who qualify can purchase CHCBP coverage within 60 days of loss of eligibility for regular TRICARE or Transitional Assistance Management Program coverage.

March 3, 2011
By Rita Boland

The Employer Partnership (EP) of the Armed Forces exists to link U.S. employers with service members, veterans and their families. Through the initiative, the military community can receive help leveraging its military training and experience for civilian career opportunities with national, regional and local employer partners. The organization has program support managers in 25 locations who serve as liaisons with human resources departments at companies and agencies on behalf of the military. The managers also post information about job fairs and other events as well as work with service members to refine their applications, resume writing and interview skills.

February 3, 2011
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Defense Department has established a Wounded Warrior Task Force (WWTF) to assist and support the care, management and transition of recovering wounded, ill and injured members of the U.S. military. Areas the task force will examine include medical and nonmedical case management, staff of wounded-warrior units, performance and accountability systems, services for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and the effectiveness of various centers of excellence.

January 27, 2011
By Rita Boland

The mission of Honor and Remember is to create, establish and promote a nationally recognized flag to fly continually as a visible reminder of the lives lost in defense of the United States' national freedom since the country's founding. People who want to support the cause can sign the petition posted on the website and pass the word about the potential new symbol. Other goals of the group include building consensus among various parties to collectively solicit the U.S.

January 20, 2011
By Rita Boland

Operation Gratitude supports deployed warfighters by working to provide them with care packages and letters from groups and individuals back home. It sets itself apart from similar organizations by also bringing items to troops undergoing long-term rehabilitation at several military hospitals. To further the physical and mental well being of these warfighters, Operation Gratitude offers a service in which it sends packages from the injured to their unit members on the front lines. This has a two-fold result: those deployed know their wounded comrade is thinking about them, and the patients still feel they are contributing to the battlefield.

January 14, 2011
By Rita Boland

Two U.S. Army officers who recently returned from deployments to Iraq each have the same advice for industry members who want to help soldiers-hire troops when they separate from the military. In my article "Iraqis Advance Toward Self-Security," in this issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Maj. James Trimble, USA, signal officer of the Army's 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, describes the successes and challenges of his unit's year in Iraq. He also discusses his interest in the welfare of his soldiers and what happens when they leave military service.

December 30, 2010
By Rita Boland

Homefront Help has its own Facebook page and anyone interested in supporting the military community is invited to "like" the page and share thoughts and ideas. In addition to posting the items covered in this monthly column, the page includes time-sensitive announcements and information about upcoming events. All groups that offer assistance to the military community are encouraged to use the resource as a forum to pass the word about activities; more casual visitors can mention useful programs they know. Those who have received help from organizations are welcome to share their experiences so others can benefit as well.

December 16, 2010
By Rita Boland

Military members injured in combat who need reconstructive limb or face surgery, or help overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, can take advantage of Operation Mend's treatment and follow-up support to find the care they need. The partnership is an effort among the Ronald Reagan University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, the San Antonio Military Medical Center (formerly Brooke Army Medical Center) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

December 23, 2010
By Rita Boland

This nonprofit, nonpolitical organization is dedicated to providing professional development to women in all three of the U.S. maritime armed forces-the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Established in 1978, the Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA) offers networking, education and mentorship opportunities. The association holds various events throughout the year, including the Women's Leadership Symposium, which will take place on March 15 and 16 in San Diego. Attendees can register online until March 7, 2011. The theme is "Connect. Empower.

December 9, 2010
By Rita Boland

Entertainment, lodging and vehicles may seem like obvious choices for military discounts-but home power systems? Activity duty and retired military members in San Diego County, California, can enjoy price breaks on that, too, thanks to a deal by Stellar Solar. The company wants to show its appreciation for the sacrifices troops make by offering them between $1,000 and $2,000 off residential solar systems depending on the kilowatts needed. The company claims that by combining the discount with a 30 percent federal tax credit and the California rebate, users can have small or no electric bills.

December 2, 2010
By Rita Boland

Active duty, Reserve and Guard military members from any branch of service, including the Coast Guard, who want new wheels can take advantage of discounts on 2010 and 2011 Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles. Spouses also are eligible for the special pricing, which applies to the purchase or lease of up to two cars. In many cases, the military discount can be combined with other incentives for extra savings. Deals vary by location and model, but interested parties can gather some specifics on the website under the Regional Incentives tab.

November 18, 2010
By Rita Boland

Orlando is a fun-filled vacation destination and many of the theme parks and hotels in the city offer exclusive deals for the military community. Walt Disney World has discounts on tickets, hotel rooms and cruises. It even has a military-only hotel, Shades of Green, sitting on property close to the Magic Kingdom. Current specials are listed on a website for Disney World's military discounts.

November 16, 2010
By Rachel Eisenhower

An app created by the wife of a U.S. Marine provides handy tools to help military spouses cope with deployment stress. Compatible with the iPhone or iPod Touch, the Military Wife Deployment Survival Guide app by iCrysta features seven different sections with unique tools. Users can set a countdown clock that automatically tracks how long until their spouse returns. They also can post and share pictures of their spouse on a virtual corkboard. The app provides world clocks, which the user can set to track what time it is where their spouse is deployed. It can even show several time zones for people who are traveling.

November 4, 2010
By Rita Boland

This all-volunteer organization, more commonly referred to as SKIP, sends care packages to deployed service members. Though many groups across the country perform the same activity, SKIP also works to cooperate with other organizations to enhance the support troops receive. In addition, SKIP offers individually tailored support and guidance to military members and their families. Individuals and groups can assist and partner with the organization in several ways. More information about efforts is available on the website. SKIP accepts donations through igive.com and also raises funds through eBay partnerships and recycling.

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