supporting military families

September 18, 2012
Rachel Eisenhower

The free Sesame Street for Military Families app gives service members and their loved ones the resources they need to handle challenging situations, such as deployments and homecomings. The program, developed by Sesame Street for the iPhone and iPad, features videos, articles and parent guides in both English and Spanish. Download it from the iTunes App Store. An Android version is expected in the coming weeks.

August 23, 2012
By Rita Boland

This first WonWorld campaign is nothing if not ambitious. Honor our Heroes aims to raise $300 million for the military relief societies that provide direct assistance to military families. The organization further expects to create an ongoing revenue stream of up to $120 million for those groups. To raise all that money, WonWorld plans to sell 60 million armbands for $5 each. Relief funds and their corporate supporters will help sell the items, or people can order packs containing between two and 100 bands. Each military service has a band designed specifically for it.

August 21, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

This free iPhone app helps service members and their families take control of their personal finances. The program from McGraw-Hill and the Better Business Bureau includes training videos, articles and interactive tools to help manage money. From instructions on managing credit and paying off debt to calculators that establish savings goals, the app has a variety of tools to overcome financial challenges. In addition, users can set monthly savings reminders and find tips on a range of situations, including retirement, deployment and purchasing a home.

August 16, 2012
By Rita Boland is the brainchild of Wolfgang Ward, a combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart who got fed up trying to track down all the benefits available to him from different groups. So he decided to create a resource to help anyone in the military community, from spouses to wounded veterans, find the help they need in one place. Visitors to the site answer questions explaining their current status, then they receive an email with a secure password so they can download their free customized report.

July 25, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

A new app from the Defense Department could help military members and their families tackle the mental health challenges they face in everyday life. The free LifeArmor app, available for iOS and Android, covers a variety of behavior topics with information, assessments and videos of personal stories, and it develops coping skills through interactive exercises. Developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, the program aims to assist members of the military community as they deal with common mental health concerns.

July 26, 2012
By Rita Boland

Summertime is prime PCS time, and as military families across the country relocate, the Defense Department is hoping to ease at least one common burden-finding child care providers. The department has funded free memberships to Sittercity so troops can find the right people to watch their children, whether they are moving to a new post or are requiring services at a current one. After filling out the fields necessary to create an account, applicants will be asked to provide certain pieces of information verifying eligibility.

June 14, 2012
By Rita Boland

Through its America the Beautiful program, the National Park Service is offering free passes to military members and their dependents. The passes grant no-cost admission to federal recreation sites. Depending on how admission is charged at various facilities, the benefit allows pass owners and accompanying passengers in a single, noncommerical vehicle to enter the sites for free or for the pass owner and three persons age 16 and older to enter without paying a fee. No entry fee is charged for children under 15.

September 13, 2012
By Rita Boland

Hotels for Heroes offers free hotel rooms to wounded, injured and ill service members who are undergoing treatment at military or Veterans Affairs medical centers or who need to attend certain events. Administered by the Fisher House Foundation—an organization long known for providing accommodations and support to military families—the program provides its rooms through hotel-point donations from individuals. It's the perfect opportunity to combine point numbers too small for a free stay with donations from others. All requests for rooms received by Hotels for Heroes are vetted through authorized officials.

April 19, 2012
By Rita Boland

Just when you think Disney can't get any better, it goes and announces the Heroes Work Here initiative. Over the next three years, the company has pledged to provide at least 1,000 jobs and career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans. It also will support troops and their families as they transition to civilian life and will launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage job opportunities for veterans.

April 5, 2012
By Rita Boland

The 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas this month includes an extra-special event-a concert to honor the U.S. military featuring Rodney Atkins and Lucas Hoge. The show will raise funds for ThanksUSA, which provides need-based scholarships to the children and spouses of active-duty troops. ThanksUSA is inviting 400 families from nearby Nellis Air Force Base to attend. NAB Show registrants can pick up tickets at the door for a charitable donation of $20. The program begins at 7:30 p.m.

March 22, 2012
By Rita Boland

It's no secret that military life can be hard on families. Children of service members deal not only with the deployment of parents to dangerous places but also with regular relocations that require a transferring of records between school districts, which often have different standards. The Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3) aims to replace these widely varying policies that affect transitioning military students with a comprehensive approach every school district can use if their state chooses to take part. Issues addressed include enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility and graduation.

March 15, 2012
By Rita Boland

Catastrophically wounded or ill service members and people involved in their care can access the Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) calculator to determine the amount of stipend they can receive to help cover nonmedical expenses. Authorized under the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, SCAADL is a monthly compensation for eligible service members who require assistance with daily living or who are at high risk for personal safety and cannot live independently.

March 6, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

A new app from the U.S. Defense Department provides wounded warriors with a comprehensive mobile resource guide. The Compensation and Benefits Handbook for Wounded, Ill and Injured Members of the Armed Forces is available for Android and iOS devices. The application allows service members and their families to access information at any time about benefits available to them upon separation or retirement as a result of a serious injury or illness. It includes resources for recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, including chapters on medical care, Defense Department pay and allowances, the Disability Evaluation System and returning to civilian life.

March 1, 2012
By Rita Boland

Homes on the Homefront is more than just a catchy name. This partnership between Operation Homefront and Chase Bank will give at least 100 wounded-warrior, military and veterans' families their own permanent homes this year. In addition, selectees will receive financial counseling. First priority will go to families currently living in Operation Homefront Village.

February 9, 2012
By Rita Boland

The hard-and-fast, no-exceptions deadline to apply for the Scholarships for Military Children Program is fast approaching. All applications must be received at eligible military commissaries by February 24. At least one $1,500 scholarship will be awarded at each commissary location where qualified applications are received. More than one scholarship may be handed out depending on response and funding. Recipients can use the awards for tuition, books, lab fees and other education-related expenses. 

February 2, 2012
By Rita Boland

Promoting the idea that "Kids Deploy Too!" when they see parents go to battle overseas, Military Kids Connect offers children of the armed forces an online forum to network with others in the same situation. Users can participate on message boards, take part in activities and games or watch videos of children who have experienced a parent's deployment. Monitored social networking features allow military dependents to share their struggles and experiences in a secure environment. Resources are divided by age groups: 6 to 8 years; 9 to 12 years; and 13 to 17 years. Developers of the site hope it eases the pain children go through during a deployment.

January 12, 2012
By Rita Boland

Military families are enjoying a little extra financial support thanks to Troopons, a joint venture between Support Our Troops and CouponCabin. The program asks people to send in manufacturers' coupons (and only manufacturers' coupons) from any source except the Internet, and the deals will be sent to those who need them. Troopons even accepts expired coupons, which can be used on military bases for up to six months past their expiration dates.

January 5, 2012
By Rita Boland

Operation Homefront is accepting nominations for the Military Child of the Year Award through January 15. Ideal candidates demonstrate resilience, strength of character and the ability to thrive in the face of the challenges of military life. They also should demonstrate leadership within their families and communities.

December 22, 2011
By Rita Boland

During a horrific battle in Afghanistan, Sgt. Dakota Meyer, USMC, saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers and 23 Afghans, enduring injuries to himself in the process; he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor. Sgt. Meyer showed more dedication to others in that single firefight than most will do in their entire lives, but instead of resting on his laurels, he has embarked on a new venture to help his fellow Marines. The hero has partnered with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation to create the Sergeant Dakota Meyer Scholarship for the children of wounded Marines and Navy Corpsmen.