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Posts Tagged ‘Military Families’

Finding Consensus on Best Approach to Reforming Commissary Benefit Proves Elusive

  • February 22, 2015
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Neither the Pentagon’s plan for slashing the federal subsidy for military grocery stores nor a congressional commission’s recommendations for gaining efficiencies in the commissary system will prove successful, according to two recent analyses. Last month, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission called for consolidating DOD’s three exchange services with the Defense Commissary Agency as a way to maintain the benefits of all base stores. Consolidating those four organizations into a new Defense Resale Activity, though, would cost $466 million and take from six to nine years to carry out, according to a position paper from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The upfront costs wouldn’t be recouped through efficiencies for 85 years, AAFES concluded …

Post-9/11 Veterans in the O.C. Unprepared for Transition

  • February 22, 2015
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A new survey of post-9/11 veterans in Orange County, Calif., revealed a population that is not prepared for life after the military, with health issues, and problems finding a job and housing all contributing to that assessment. Sixty-one percent of post-9/11 veterans are having difficulties adjusting to civilian life, according to the survey of 1,227 veterans conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research. Forty-four percent of post-9/11 respondents screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder …

DOE Initiative Preparing Service Members for Solar Industry Jobs prior to Separation

  • February 19, 2015
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Transitioning service members at three military installations are receiving training for jobs in the solar industry through a pilot program run by the Department of Energy (DOE). This pilot is enabled by DOD’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships and internships up to six months prior to their separation date. Service members who graduate from the solar training program will gain the skills to size and install solar panels, safely connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes …

New Rules to Streamline Procedures for Support Organizations to Gain Access to Installations

  • February 18, 2015
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The Army plans to issue new rules shortly to streamline the process for nonprofits providing support to military personnel and their families to gain access to its installations. The executive order the Army plans to release stems from two memos recently issued by the defense secretary directing senior military leaders and installation commanders to implement uniform procedures to ease access for military support organizations and veterans service organizations. The new rules will expedite much of the paperwork that accompanies a written request from military support organizations for access to an installation, said Carla Coulson, director of Army Installation Services …

Maryland Governor Proposes Exempting Military Pensions from Income Tax

  • February 18, 2015
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In an effort to make Maryland more welcoming to veterans, new Gov. Larry Hogan (R) wants to fully exempt military pensions from state income tax.
Currently the state exempts only the first $5,000 of military pensions from taxation. About 53,000 retirees in Maryland receive military pensions, which average $28,000 a year, reported the Baltimore Sun. “People who put their lives on the line every day kind of earned a tax break,” Hogan told reporters last week after addressing a crowd of veterans at an American Legion post. The governor acknowledged, however, that getting the General Assembly to approve his legislative proposal would be challenging …

Cost of Veterans Tuition Benefit in Texas Balloons following Court Decision

  • February 8, 2015
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The cost of a program providing veterans and family members free tuition and fees to public universities in Texas could approach $2 billion annually under one estimate after a federal court ruled in January it was unconstitutional for the state to limit the benefit to veterans who joined the military while living in Texas. The short-term impact of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. could be a sharp rise in the program’s annual cost to $750 million, but if veterans start moving to Texas to take advantage of the decision, it could cost universities $2 billion annually in tuition, reported the Houston Chronicle. The decision makes the program financially unsustainable, state Sen. Jane Nelson said last week. “We’ve created a monster,” said state Sen. Charles Schwertner …

New Orleans Considered Model for Ending Veteran Homelessness

  • February 5, 2015
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New Orleans appears to have set a high bar for eliminating homelessness among veterans when it announced last month that it had gone a step beyond ending chronic homelessness. The city said it had reached a point at which it could ensure “every homeless veteran who can be located is placed in permanent housing or in temporary housing with an identified permanent housing placement” within 30 days. It achieved a “zero” level of veteran homelessness by relying on a “housing first” approach, which emphasizes moving the homeless into permanent housing quickly even if it means lowering the barriers to entry …

DOD Budget Looks for Savings in Quality-of-Life Benefits

  • February 3, 2015
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The president’s fiscal 2016 budget request released Monday reprises cost-savings reforms to commissary benefits and the basic allowance for housing (BAH) from the previous year’s request, with some tweaks. The proposal would continue the Pentagon’s effort to slow the growth in BAH by requiring service members to pay an additional 4 percent in out-of-pocket costs over the next two to three years. The change, which comes on top of a 1 percent reduction in BAH approved by Congress for FY 2015, would save DOD $400 million in FY 2016 and $3.9 billion over the next five years …

Joints Chiefs Urge New Veterans to Support Their Communities

  • February 3, 2015
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Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with the remainder of the Joint Chiefs yesterday signed a letter urging separating personnel to continue serving the nation as civilians in their communities and in their new careers. “We trust that you will accept this challenge and join ranks with the business leaders, volunteers, and public servants in your communities. You have made your mark in uniform and represent the strength of our nation,” said the letter, which will go to all transitioning service members …

California Schools Left behind in Effort to Upgrade Facilities at Military Bases

  • February 1, 2015
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California has more schools than any other state on the Pentagon’s list of on-base public schools most in need of repair, but in most cases the local school districts lack the matching funds to take advantage of congressional funding intended to address the problem. Congress has allocated almost a billion dollars in recent years to upgrade facilities or expand capacity at public schools on military installations, reported the Los Angeles Times. The grants, however, require school systems or their states to fund 20 percent of the projects’ cost. The Muroc Joint Unified School District would like to make a variety of repairs to its elementary school on Edwards AFB costing $27.8 million but so far hasn’t been able to raise the matching funds …

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