Homefront Help

September 15, 2010
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Connections

Homefront Help is SIGNAL Connections’ effort to support U.S. service members, veterans and their families. The column highlights programs that offer resources and assistance to the military community ranging from care packages to benefits and everything in between. In that same spirit, Homefront Help presents opportunities for readers to donate time, offer resources and send words of thanks to those who sacrifice for freedom. Programs that provide services are listed in red. Opportunities for the public to reach out to service members are listed in blue. Each program description includes a link to the organization's website, when available. Homefront Help also has a Facebook page where visitors can gather and share information.

KidsLink Downrange

This service project matches people who want to support military families with the military families who need a lift. Through the effort, volunteers create Card Kits that are supplied to military children with deployed parents. The children can mail the cards to help keep in touch with and boost the morale of the nation's overseas warfighters.

The project offers groups the flexibility to make or buy cards, though all must be able to ship for the cost of a first-class stamp. The kits are sent to specific locations and needed at certain times during the year. The website offers a wide range of information for interested visitors such as a picture of a typical Card Kit, instructions for participating and details about how the finished kits are distributed to military children.

To get involved, the most far-reaching approach is to become a KidsLink Project Coordinator and gather a group to create Card Kits. The KidsLink for Groups page has more information about that volunteer effort. It costs approximately $2.50 to coordinate supplying the Card Kits to families, and donations are accepted to help cover costs. Individuals can join the Community Forums to learn more about activities in their area, starting groups or sharing resources. Feedback is accepted through the site's contact form.


The U.S. Defense Department is resuming the military spouse career advancement accounts program (MyCAA) after a comprehensive review and restructuring. The benefits will be available for spouses of service members in ranks E1 to E5, W1 to W2 and O1 to O2 beginning on October 25. Eligible spouses will receive a total of $4,000 in department-funded financial aid, with an annual fiscal year limit of $2,000. Funding must be used to obtain an associate's degree, licensure or certification within three years of the start date of the first class. When license or certificate programs demand an up-front fee greater than the $2,000 limit, a waiver may be granted for funding up to the $4,000 limit.

MyCAA participants will receive broader support as well. Under the long-term guidelines for the program, career counselors will work with military spouses to develop career and education goals and plans and to assist them in finding and accessing other federal benefits.

ASMBA STAR Foundation

The Armed Services Mutual Benefit Association (ASMBA) STAR Foundation is a voluntary group that assists members of the military community by awarding funds to organizations that support them. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide services to troops, veterans and their families as well as their communities. The foundation especially emphasizes groups that provide for combat-wounded troops, military families, scholarships for the military community, veterans and patriotic activities. Requests for capital projects and general operating support will be considered.

The ASMBA STAR Foundation only funds individuals under specific criteria. It does not fund publications or religious organizations nor does it offer money for tickets to events or special events, political purposes, the retirement of debt, capital projects for educational institutions or multi-year grants for operating funds. Application instructions, information about the approval process and eligibility criteria are available on the website. Information about how to donate to the foundation also is listed online.

USO-Metro's Casino Night 2010

Get out your good luck charms and join the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) for its 7th Annual Casino Night on October 15th at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. All proceeds will benefit the USO-Metro’s programs for the capital area’s service members and their families. The event will include the opportunity to mingle with celebrities and wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Hospital. Table games include roulette, blackjack and poker, and the evening also features silent and live auctions and entertainment. One lucky person will even win a trip to Las Vegas. Only people 21 or older are eligible to participate. Attendees can register online and contact information to learn more about sponsorship opportunities is available on the website.


The SIGNAL Connections staff encourages readers to take advantage of the programs mentioned in this column and to pass along the information. In addition, if you know of a program that is helping service personnel, please let us know about it. Submit that information to SIGNAL's news editor.

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