Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Army.mil Article: Experts provide answers for military retirees

 

Experts provide answers for military retirees

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Michael McChesney reads from a sight card during his optometry checkup with Sgt. Nicky Granados at the Wiesbaden Health Clinic for Retiree Appreciation Day May 12.

<div id="others"> <ul> <li> <a href="/media/198175/"><img src="http://www.army.mil/content/images/2011/05/26/198175/size3.jpg" width="150" alt="Experts provide answers for military retirees" /></a> <div class="title" style = "font-weight:bold;"></div> <div class="caption">Retired Sgt. 1st Class Michael McChesney reads from a sight card during his optometry checkup with Sgt. Nicky Granados at the Wiesbaden Health Clinic for Retiree Appreciation Day May 12.</div> </li> </ul> </div>

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WIESBADEN, Germany -- Questions come easy when you’re a military retiree.
When do I qualify for Social Security benefits? How do I straighten out my Veterans Affairs paperwork? What about my spouse; does she qualify for anything?
The answers, at least for retirees living overseas, are harder to come by.
“It’s really about being able to speak to an expert for what they (as retirees) want to know,” said John Herron, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s retirement services program manager, speaking about the garrison’s May 12 Retiree Appreciation Day.
From Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits to health care and taxes, subject matter experts were on hand for the Retiree Appreciation Day. Most of the experts were hosted at the Wiesbaden Health Clinic.
“I was here to see Tricare,” said Frank Bowman, a retired staff sergeant living in Bad Krueznach. “I’m turning 65 in less than a year. I need to know what to do.”
The 20-year military veteran is one of thousands of military retirees and one of 40,000 U.S. federal beneficiaries living in Germany.
“Most of the time (retirees) want to know about Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits,” said Ralf Fischer, a claims representative with the Social Security Administration Federal Beneficiary Unit in Frankfurt.
And most military retirees don’t know that they need to enroll in Medicare Plan B in order to continue receiving Tricare coverage after turning 65, said Fischer.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Chandler smiled as he walked down the front entrance hallway of the Wiesbaden Health Clinic. After a doctor’s appointment that checked his health " from vision and blood pressure to prescription renewals, Chandler said the appreciation day was “very helpful.”
“The one-stop shop (set-up) is great,” said Chandler. “It’s the best thing the garrison can do. But the health clinic really is the best part.”
For retirees living overseas, medical appointments with military clinics are difficult to obtain " active duty Soldiers and their family members are given first priority.
The inclusion of available medical appointments for retirees is a big draw for the garrison’s annual Retiree Appreciation Day.
“It feels good because we don’t get to see retired Soldiers that often,” said Spc. Jordan Moore of the Wiesbaden Health Clinic. “They drive from miles away just to get here. From a health clinic point of view it is important to them in to check their lab work and their vision.”
“Patients do appreciate what we’re doing for them,” said Moore.
For more information on Social Security benefits, call the FBU in Frankfurt at (069) 9055 51201 or visit www.usembassy.de.

Army.mil Article: Experts provide answers for military retirees

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kaiserslautern MP dares to make a difference

Kaiserslautern MP dares to make a difference

Apr 7, 2011
ByRick Scavetta (U.S. Army Garrison - Kaiserslautern)

Sgt. Mark Arnett and Spc. Kathy Ogburn
 Photo credit Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison - Kaiserslautern
Sgt. Mark Arnett and Spc. Kathy Ogburn, military police officers from U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, look over a lesson plan for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. National DARE Day was April 7.

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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- As Sgt. Mark Arnett wraps up his tenure teaching kids about the effects of drugs and alcohol, he can look back knowing he made an impact on children's lives. For the past two years, Arnett has taught the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in the Kaiserslautern Military Community's fours elementary schools. "It's been great for me to see the difference DARE is making in kids' lives," Arnett said. "The light bulb goes on and the wheels are turning." Since 1983, DARE has taught millions of students worldwide about the effects of alcohol and drugs. Each April, "National DARE Day" is commemorated in the United States by a presidential proclamation, community events and activities. This year, President Barrack Obama declared April 7 as National D.A.R.E. Day. It's been a few weeks since Arnett, wrapped up his final class. Still, when kids see him in the community, they ask Arnett to come back. "That's rewarding, to know that they learned and that it was a fun experience for them," Arnett said. While at Fort Meyer, Va., Arnett shook hands with kids as "McGruff the Crime Dog." But he'd never been in front of a classroom. In becoming Kaiserslautern's DARE instructor, Arnett learned the subtleties of teaching. "As a Soldier, you instruct your peers," Arnett said. "It's totally different in front of fifth graders, trying to get them to listen to you." Department of Defense Dependents Schools students complete 10 lessons over several weeks, working from DARE planners, Arnett said. Weekly lessons often include acting out skits on peer pressure and watching videos about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. In Europe, where beer and wine are often part of the local culture, alcohol is easier to obtain at a younger age. Children living overseas know about that, Arnett said. "We stress the impacts alcohol has on young bodies, the adverse effects that it can have," Arnett said. "Kids are pretty smart," Arnett said. "They know it's bad for you, just not how bad it can be." What kids learn in DARE can have a ripple effect within their families. One Kaiserslautern fifth-grader recently brought her lessons home and helped her mother quit smoking, Arnett said. Staffing a DARE officer for Kaiserslautern Military Community schools make sense, as police in military communities mirror the work of their civilian counterparts, said Master Sgt. Kenneth Pryor, the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern provost sergeant. "It gives us an opportunity to have an officer go into the classroom, so the kids don't just see a police officer as a cop," Pryor said. "It humanizes the individual." In February, Lt. Col. Kevin Hutchison, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, spoke at the graduation of Kaiserslautern Elementary School's class. He thanked Arnett for his efforts in making the DARE program successful in the KMC. "He is the face of DARE in our community," Hutchison said. Arnett departs Kaiserslautern soon for Fort Knox, Ky., where he will serve with the 1st Infantry Division. He'll now pass the reigns to Spc. Kathy Ogburn. In less than four years as a military police officer, has already served on patrol at Fort Hood, Tex., and helped train local police in Afghanistan's Panjshir valley. She's excited about taking on a new challenge, she said. "I've worked the road and I've deployed," Ogburn said. "Now, I get a chance to do something completely different."
Kaiserslautern MP dares to make a difference

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hohenfels Soldier wins GEICO award

 

Hohenfels Soldier wins GEICO award

Mar 8, 2011

By Mark Iacampo (USAG Hohenfels Public Affairs)

Story Highlights
  • "I'm very grateful that I get to represent the Hohenfels community and receive this honor."

Cpl. Timothy M. Wells
Photo credit Author
U.S. Army's 2010 GEIKO Military Service Award winner, Cpl. Timothy M. Wells

HOHENFELS, Germany -- A Hohenfels soldier has been chosen as the Army's 2010 recipient of the GEICO Military Service Award.
Cpl. Timothy M. Wells, a military police desk sergeant and DARE officer with U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Headquarters Detachment will be honored at a special awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. this April.
"I'm very grateful that I get to represent the Hohenfels community and receive this honor, showing that we not only put as much time and effort into our training mission, but also into our community to make it a better place to live for us and our families," said Wells.
Wells said he is especially honored to be recognized by a civilian firm.
"A lot of outside companies don't really look at the military, they don't really understand what we do here," he said. "They say they support the military but you really don't see it, especially here in Europe."
Now in its 23rd year, The GEICO Military Service Awards Program selects one member from each Military service branch as well as one member from the reserve/national guard to recognize for contributions made in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse prevention, fire safety and fire prevention, and traffic safety and accident prevention. Nominees are judged on how their career (on duty) or non-career (off-duty) related activities contribute to their community and the extent these activities serve to inspire other Military or civilian personnel.
As the community's DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) representative, Wells spends most days at the Elementary school conducting classes on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
"I try to get to the school as much as I can," Wells said. "Early education is really important. If we make them aware of what drugs and alcohol and other harmful chemicals can do to their system at a young age, then they are less likely to do it when they get older. They understand the effects of it now, before it's too late."
Beginning with kindergartners, Wells said he works up to a full 10 week program for 5th and 6th graders. In addition, he volunteers at the school's outreach programs, like the Kinderfest and ice cream socials, by setting up a DARE booth and talking with children and parents.
"It's important to get it (drug and alcohol abuse information) out to the parents as well, so they understand what their kids are doing" he said.
In addition to his work for DARE, Wells' nomination cited his many hours devoted to traffic section, ensuring that all traffic cases and citations were handled in a timely manner. Wells also logged significant volunteer hours with the Outdoor Recreation Department, providing route recon for the new ATV course, and he has been instrumental in the development of a new indoor paintball facility.
In addition to a plaque and a $2,500 cash honorarium, GEICO will provide roundtrip transportation and lodging for Wells and his wife Luann in Washington, D.C. to attend the presentation ceremony.
"Luann was extremely excited and proud of me," Wells said. "We have been married for almost 9 years now and she is the true hero in this. She has stood by me and pushed me this whole time. Many times I have missed out on birthday parties and wedding anniversaries but she understands that my mission is just as important when I am home as when I am deployed."

Hohenfels Soldier wins GEICO award

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Army recognizes families of fallen with vehicle decal, easier installation access

 

Army recognizes families of fallen with vehicle decal, easier installation access

Jan 27, 2011

By William Bradner (Family and MWR Command)

Sample SOS decal
Photo credit U.S. Army

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SAN ANTONIO -- During a Survivor Outreach Services working group meeting last year, several participants expressed difficulty in gaining access to military installations to take part in SOS programs and support services. Survivors, including parents of fallen Soldiers, do not always have a DoD identification card, and are frequently required to obtain a visitor or temporary vehicle pass to enter garrisons.
Soon survivors will be able apply for a Survivor Decal, much like the standard installation access decal-for their vehicle, greatly improving their ability to access the programs designed to support them.
"My intent is to implement access control procedures making it easier for survivors to enter Army garrisons," said Lt. Gen. Rick D. Lynch, commander of the Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
"I want all security personnel manning our entrance gates to recognize these very special Army families and welcome them with special respect for their sacrifice and service," he continued.
IMCOM Protection Services Division, along with the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command SOS and Marketing Offices, created the decal and application, usage and implementation guidance for Army garrisons.
According to Maj. Gen. Jones, commanding general, FMWRC, this new initiative underscores the Army's commitment to providing support services to the survivors of fallen Soldiers, for as long as they need or desire.
"Families of the fallen deserve our respect, gratitude and the very best support, and services that we can provide," said Jones.
Each garrison SOS Support Coordinator or equivalent Army Community Service staff member has the responsibility of working directly with survivors to assist them in the application process, which includes registering with the installation's vehicle registration system.
Current DoD Physical Access Control policy requires everyone seeking entrance to a military installation to stop at the gate and present government-issued, photo identification. Acceptable forms of identification include a state issued driver's license or state ID card. Survivors must still follow that policy, but once they have obtained a decal, they will no longer be required to apply for a visitor's pass each time they enter an installation.
Judy, a survivor who frequently visits a media/game room dedicated to her son in the Fort Sam Houston Family Center, is very grateful that the decals will soon be available.
"I hate having to go through the 'survivor' and 'are you military?' explanations over and over" she said. "I reply with 'My son was in the army but ...' It brings me to tears every time I have to have that conversation."
The decal is only valid on Army Garrisons.
This is just one of the many ways the Army "will reassure survivors that they are forever members of the Army family," Lynch said.
Survivor Outreach Services is an Army-wide program designed to provide dedicated and comprehensive support to survivors of deceased Soldiers. It includes a comprehensive survivor services program designed specifically to meet the needs of our survivor population-with dedicated resources, and a commitment to providing first class service-for as long as the family desires.
For more information about the decals or SOS in general, visit www.MyArmyOneSource.com or the garrison Army Community Services office.

Army recognizes families of fallen with vehicle decal, easier installation access

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Women in Combat

 

A commission of current and retired officers, senior noncommissioned officers and civilians charged with evaluating Defense Department policies to ensure they promote equal opportunity plans to recommend lifting the ban on women in combat.

Commission to recommend lifting ban on women in combat

A commission of current and retired officers, senior noncommissioned officers and civilians charged with evaluating Defense Department policies to ensure they promote equal opportunity plans to recommend lifting the ban on women in combat....READ MORE

The United States Army