Benefit News



HooahMail continues to grow in popularity

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 22, 2009) -- Since the start of HooahMail just 21 days ago, more than 3,540 accounts have been set up by families and friends of Soldiers in Afghanistan, and some 1,690 letters delivered.


Recognizing problem biggest step toward fixing suicides

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 18, 2009) -- In 2008, the Army experienced for the first time, suicide rates higher than the civilian population. In the same year, the Army entered an agreement with the National Institute of Mental Health to find out why.


New Army retention standards take effect, more to follow

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - New changes to the Army's retention program will affect not only how the Army operates, but also who will be allowed to stay in the Army.


Military housing allowance rates set for 2010

WASHINGTON (Dec. 16, 2009) -- Military members will see an average raise of 2.5 percent in housing allowance rates in 2010, a BAH program analyst for the Defense Department said today.


Military Family Life Consultants: easing transitions for Soldiers and Families

FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (Dec. 17, 2009)-Soldiers and Family members at brigades within U.S. Army Forces Command now have more access to mental and emotional help.


'Stop Loss' payments on way

ASHINGTON (Dec. 11, 2009) -- After an initial delay caused by software and manpower issues, the first retroactive payments will be disbursed next week to Soldiers who were retained on active duty involuntarily under the so-called "Stop Loss" program.


Spouse Describes Impact of Post-traumatic Stress

ETHESDA, Dec. 11, 2009 – Sheri Hall knew her husband, Army Maj. Jeff Hall, was having emotional issues after two tours in Iraq, but she didn’t grasp just how bad it was until one day when he went for a run.


Families Can See Off, Greet Troops at Airport Gates

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2009 – It’s a scene that’s played out in airports across the country numerous times in the past eight years: Families and servicemembers clinging to each other, either sad to leave or happy and vowing to never let go again.


Army Updates Health Promotion Regulations

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 1, 2009) -- The Army has revised its regulations on health promotion and suicide prevention to provide an improved, comprehensive "how to" guide for commanders and Soldiers.

Army provides easier base access to families of fallen

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Aug. 19, 2011 -- 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 get a visitor or temporary vehicle pass to enter garrisons. Survivors are now able to 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. Each garrison SOS support coordinator 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.

TRICARE's at-home counseling program reaches nearly 3,000 calls

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 1, 2010) -- With proactive behavioral health care for servicemembers a priority, a top military health care leader stressed the merits of the TRICARE Assistance Program Monday. Navy Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy chief of TRICARE Management Activity, spoke about the benefit that servicemembers have in the form of at-home help. "We want to make getting help as easy as possible," Hunter explained. In existence since 2009, the TRICARE Assistance Program, or TRIAP, offers 24-hour confidential counseling for those needing immediate help, or those who may not want to visit a behavioral health practitioner in person. "We all are concerned about how our servicemembers are coping given everything that's asked of them, every single day," Hunter said. Active-duty members and their families, reserve-component Soldiers using TRICARE Reserve Select, and those coming off of a deployment are eligible to use TRIAP. Servicemembers simply need Internet access, a webcam and Skype software to use TRIAP. If troops don't have access to the technology, they can also connect with a counselor via phone or chat.

DoD officials: 'Don't Ask' repeal plan progressing quickly

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2011 -- The plan to end the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military is progressing quickly, senior Defense Department officials said here today. Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to Pentagon reporters in the first of a series of briefings that will chart the department's progress in implementing the repeal of the law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "My sense is [we have a] really good working relationship with the services as we do this, not only the service chiefs, but the senior enlisted," Stanley said. "You get good vibes about where we are in terms of cooperation [and] information coming forth." President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law Dec. 22, with provisions ensuring the repeal will not take place until 60 days after he, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, certify the military services are ready. As part of today's briefing, officials distributed copies of two memos containing the department's guidance on repeal implementation. The first, signed by Gates, sets a planning deadline of Feb. 4. The second, which Stanley signed, outlines policy changes. "Strong, engaged and informed leadership will be required at every level to implement the repeal properly, effectively, and in a deliberate and careful manner," Gates' memo read in part. "This is not, however, a change that should be done incrementally. The steps leading to certification and the actual repeal must be accomplished across the entire department at the same time," the memo continued.

Gold Star Wives finally get their day

ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Dec. 15, 2010) -- The Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., has been going to Capitol Hill since December of 1945, when 23-year-old Marie Jordan invited women over for coffee after she read in the obituaries that their husbands had died. Her husband, Edward, had recently died in Germany. "The women just wanted to talk," said Marie Jordan Speer, in a Washington Post article five years ago. Now 88, the founder of the organization said the women "wanted the companionship of others who knew what they were going through." As a long-awaited Christmas present, U.S. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina introduced legislation to make their day a reality. He recently announced that Dec. 18 will be known as Gold Star Wives Day.

Most housing rates dip for 2011 as pay, subsistence increase

WASHINGTON (Dec. 15, 2010) -- Most military housing allowance rates will decrease slightly for 2011, but servicemembers will receive, on average, as much or slightly more money than they did this year, Defense Department officials said today. Cheryl Anne Woehr, housing allowance program analyst, said overall rates are fairly stable. "On average, they'll decrease about six tenths of a percent," she said. The 2011 Basic Allowance for Housing rates take effect Jan. 1. A provision ensuring against rate decreases for servicemembers already stationed at a location means Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines will receive an average 1.1 percent increase, Woehr said. That overall increase is "because of the effects of individual rate protection and the distribution of servicemembers throughout the [United States]," she explained.