Veteran & MilFam eNewsletter
Hello, my brothers and sisters of other mothers – military, Veterans and their families, caregivers and survivors - and those who support or advocate for them.
Greetings from Annapolis where Morning Colours wafts over the water from the USNA and puts us in full stop during our humid morning walk with Ru Bader Ginsberg and “Woody” Williams, both of whom manage a respectful sit-stay in keeping with the somber tradition.
Welcome to the 100th (101st?) edition of the unofficial, sort-of-bi-monthly-but-quickly-becoming-quarterly e-newsletter of news from DoD, VA and the many great groups who support our milcomm.
This info is meant for you to share, share, share with your own coconut telegraphs, tribes, FRGs, networks, through social media, emails, e-newsletters, to whomever, wherever.
The usual housekeeping items:
· No last names to protect the innocent
· Please ignore typos and issues of grammar as I am in a mad dash
· GTK means Good to Know
The moment these missives are not helpful to you, please opt out. (My feelings will not be hurt, but we will miss you!)
Foam the runway…
VA assistance is available to Veterans and their families affected by wildfires in Hawaii. More here.
GTK: Team Rubicon and Project DYNAMO are among Veteran-led organizations contributing to relief operations in Hawaii. More here.
MIL/VET SPOUSE BIZ
SBA is offering a new training program for Veteran and military spouses, caregivers and survivors looking for path to economic opportunity and/or entrepreneurship, check it out.
GTK: This is powered by a White House executive order.
ENROLL BEFORE 30 SEPTEMBER
Veterans who deployed to a combat zone, never enrolled in VA healthcare, and left the military between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013, are eligible for VA health care through the PACT Act for Toxic Exposures, without going through the disability process first. Visit www.VA.gov/PACT or call 1-800-MYVA411 for info.
GTK: For data divas and geeks, check out VA’s PACT Act Dashboard.
SPEAKING OF TOXIC EXPOSURES…
Avoid PACT Act for Toxic Exposure scams – learn more here.
Joining us on this merry mission - Phyllis, Jennifer, Carol, Carla, Jaime, Emmalee, Bob, Phil, Brit, Melanie, Heidi, Lisa, Ryan. Thank you, Bonnie, for continuing to send senior spouses this way.
SPEAKING OF PHYLLIS…
Have you been to the Women in Military Service for America memorial? If not, you are truly missing out. And if you need a venue for an event, the space is terrific – especially the view which is essentially from the foot of Arlington National Cemetery towards the Lincoln Memorial. A moment. Phyllis and team are hard at it – check it out.
GTK: I represent VA on the federal advisory committee for Arlington National Cemetery, and the visits there never lessen in impact. Same, at VA national cemeteries. Also worth visits.
ICYMI, the Air Force’s “enlisted swap assignment program” gives senior master sergeants and below more control over their careers (and keep them in uniform longer) by letting them offer up their spot at a particular base by posting on Air Force’s internal MyVector talent management portal and chatting with others who show interest. Read about it here.
GTK: The initiative was first announced last fall.
301, and rising.
GTK: Here is recent coverage of Chairman Mark’s take.
WHAT ABOUT THAT NDAA
NMFA provides its POV on the current state of the NDAA with a letter to conferees as the House and Senate move to finalize it. As always, a must read.
What employer doesn’t want qualified, innovative, hard-charging employees who show initiative and are grateful for good work? (Not a real question.) DoD’s Military Spouse Career Accelerator is a potential game changer for the steady (and insane) 20-24% unemployment rate for milspouses. There is plenty of room for employers who want to take part. Don’t delay. Win-win.
GTK: To quote Lacey, “…companies can hire incredible talent for free, on DoD’s dime, for 3 months and forgo tens of thousands of dollars in talent acquisition costs.”
A BIT MORE…
Excerpts from Lacey’s remarks to the recent Hiring Our Heroes milspouse advisory council – worth the skim:
“Here’s the good news story—the market conditions to allow for us to change (the milspouse unemployment) trend line are better than ever before.;
1. Job market is hot: Even though layoffs in the tech and banking industries have stolen headlines, jobs in IT, STEM, and highly-skilled and credentialed job roles are in higher demand relative to the pace at which they can be filled.
2. We are starting to see an emphasis on skills-based hiring compared to certain college degrees—upskilling and reskilling are taking root at an unprecedented rate thanks to digital transformation (think AI, automation, focus on employee self-service).
3. The great resignation we saw manifest acutely during the pandemic is waning. In fact, voluntary attrition is at an all-time low.
What does this mean for us?
4. Companies are instituting more flexible and diverse retention practices, including remote and hybrid work roles.
5. Organizations across all industries are undergoing transformations, to include workforce, organization, digital, and business lines, to maintain market advantage. This is resulting in net-new jobs, “greening” of jobs, diverse talent models (traditional, vs contract/outsourcing).
Just like DoD brought us the internet (apologies, Al Gore), and powered by remarkable #SheBoss, Margaret, people will flock to the opportunity to serve and innovate at the same time, if/if we can get the word out (usual sigh…DoD, maybe now, digital marketing?). Nonetheless, support our national defense by spreading the word.
GTK: Federal agencies are slow to adopt basic digital marketing to get programs and info out of the Witness Protection Program. Barriers: it’s expensive…and there is that pesky 110 year-old law that the government cant hire PR firms to guard against propaganda.
And now back to your regular scheduled programming…
DATA DON’T LIE
FY 2023 showed that 15.52% of all Black Veterans who applied for physical/mental health benefits were denied by VA, compared to 10.6% of white Veterans. VA is hard at it to correct the issue. Here is one take, from Dallas Weekly News, reprinted in BlackPressUSA.
SPEAKING OF EQUITY…
VA and the NAACP have an agreement to advance and improve the quality of life for all Veterans, including minority Veterans. Goals: increase the number of Black Veterans enrolled in VA health care, increase awareness of VA benefits and services among Black Veterans, and increase recruitment of culturally-competent providers at VA. Win-win-win-win. Oh, and meet regularly to share expertise and knowledge, and coordinate on outreach to minority Veteran communities.
The DoD/VA Program Office is responsible for enhancing medical resource sharing across the Military Health System – and collaborating with VA, they are committed to identifying opportunities and creating partnerships to address them. More about DVPO here.
GTK: DoD does not actually allow the word “partner,” “partnership” or the verb, “partnering.” True story. They could do amazing work like VA if they did – especially at the installation level. Just sayin’
ONE MORE ABOUT THE “P” WORD…
Since 2014, the National Community Partnership Challenge (CPC) has recognized more than 600 exceptional partnerships that enhance the health and well-being of Veterans and their communities. The CPC is powered by VA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) on behalf of Shareef.
When it comes to health care costs, “copayment,” “cost-share,” and “deductible” are terms folks might hear a lot. But what do these terms actually mean, and how might they affect a person? Tricare’s article is here.
SPEAKING OF CLARITY…
Plain language is not “dumbing down” – it is as much science as art and necessary to fully engage and communicate. Here is the best tutorial, courtesy of your tax dollars and an Executive Order under President Obama.
Thanks to Ash, Jennifer and her team, DoD is offering milfams Flexible Spending Accounts. Spread the word
Not any one person’s fault, but DoD is still relying on 1980’s era methods to get the word out. For example, when I google “defense flexible spending account” the first post is from one of our beloved MSOs that states with confidence, “DoD does not provide Flexible Spending Accounts.” It was true when it was written. (And all together now, digital marketing…search engine optimization…)
BACK TO FINANCES FOR A SEC…
Alert from VA: To ensure uninterrupted stipend payments, Primary Family Caregivers receiving paper checks must complete the EFT enrollment ASAP, or before the 1 October deadline. Caregivers can enroll in direct deposit as a vendor through VA’s Customer Engagement Portal.
GTK: Caregiver or Veteran, don’t forget VA’s Veterans Benefit Banking Program, powered by Steve, Andia and the team at AMBA. Direct deposit saves time, energy and nerves.
Are still open.
As reported in this Forbes article, rising food prices around the globe are making it difficult for millions of families to afford nutritious meals – including military families and veterans, who have faced food insecurity at almost double the rate of the national average for decades. Patty, Ash and the Joining Forces team are working hard to find the right solutions. (Spoiler alert: most food insecurity in the military is not from lack of money).
GTK: Thank you to MFAN, Aid Societies, ASYMCA and other orgs who are taking their solutions directly to the problem areas.
We’ve seen him on Food Network and at several milfam and Veteran galas, but he is much more than a TV chef. Check out PolicyVets podcast from Lou and Dr. David on the Chef’s support for veterans “that might surprise you.”
Blue Star Welcome Week takes place every year during the last week of September. Simply put, for one week, communities help milfams feel welcome. A worthy event - check it out.
GTK: 72% of milfams and 68% of single servicemembers live outside the installation gates.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is the gift that keeps on giving. This time, helping MFAN advance research, program evaluation, emergency response in support of basic needs, their 2023 Military Family Support Programming Survey and MFAN’s role in leading the evaluation and impact efforts for the Hidden Helpers Coalition, led by Elizabeth Dole Foundation and WWP, and many other orgs that prove their worth.
GTK: WWP CEO Mike is retiring but beware those who are considering applying because it might be a cushy job. Always on the road, flying coach in double-digit plane seats, feeling every struggle of every warrior and family member all day, every day. More on Mike later.
NJ Governor Phil established strict requirements if someone is looking to get paid for assisting or advising veterans and their families with their veterans’ benefits.
GTK: Support for seeking benefits is free from registered Veteran Service Officers (think, DVA, AL, VFW and others or plain ‘ole VA). No lawyers needed. No need to pay anyone. Ever. Evvvverrrrrr.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
August is National Make-A-Will Month, (who knew?) and as a gift to your family, check out Dole Foundation’s free estate planning tool or VA’s Beneficiary Financial Counseling Service and Online Will Preparation. It’ll take less time than driving through Taco Bell at Noon on a Saturday.
GTK: All are free, or as they say in DoD, “at no cost.”
Check out PsychArmor’s newest course, Caring for Veterans Through the End of Life: Compassionate Communities. This course from Tina and team prepares you with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide compassionate, loving, and respectful care to Veterans in their final days, regardless of your background or profession.
GTK: PsychArmor also has remarkable online learning for your business or group’s cultural competency re: milfams and Veterans. Terrific resource for HR, service providers, name it.
Military Child Education Coalition brings us TedEd virtual learning opportunities that shares info and strategies for myriad issues facing our milkids including ensuring children graduate from high school successfully ready for college and careers, regardless of their transition status. Whether student, parent or professional, there is something for you there.
FOR NO REASON
A time-honored animal kicker for your own eNewsletter or to share with kids or grandkids: A gaggle, a confusion and a conspiracy - bizarre animal collective group names - BBC Newsround A Bloat of Hippos? Well, yeah.
GTK: Look at the Confusion of Lemurs and tell me you haven’t seen those facial expressions in a conference room at one time or another. “There are going to be limited lay-offs…”
SHIPMATES AND FRIENDS
Frank and the Navy Memorial team invite us all to hear the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, James in a virtual SITREP on 12 September, 1-2pm when the MCPON will talk about the Calls to Action sent to Chief Petty Officers and CPO Selectees throughout the fleet.
GTK: In the DC area Thursday night the next few weeks? Don’t miss the Memorial’s Navy-themed movie night under the stars. Hunt For Red October on 7 September. No need to register. Sked is here.
Check out this year’s art and essay winners, powered by Armed Services YMCA. This year’s theme, “Winds of Change.” Prepare to be dazzled.
TogetherWeServed.com can connect you to others who served in your units. After you enter the basic details of your military service, the site does the rest. More here.
GTK: Peer support can be the most impactful of all wellness initiatives.
Sign up for #VetResources for a great newsletter chockfull of info. Powered by those in the know – VA.
NATIONAL DAY OF SERVICE
VA's national cemeteries will host a national day of service on 11 September to honor our service members, police, firefighters and first responders during the 9/11 attacks. Volunteers are needed to clean headstones and take part in other activities. Click here to register.
GTK: Great event for the family or co-workers – if you enjoy Wreaths Across America, you will love this.
VA’s Million Veteran Project is fewer than 30,000 away from the historic 1M milestone so please share the info around this remarkable human genome project that will help cure illnesses for years – not just for Veterans but for the entire human race. The Million Veteran Program toolkit with social media posts and newsletter content.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Suicide Prevention Month is September. World Suicide Prevention Day is on the 10th.
TAPS 15th Annual National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp is now open for registration. Spend time connecting and healing with TAPS families who have experienced a loss by suicide this October 6 to 8, 2023 in Boston.
GTK: You can attend in-person or virtually.
SUICIDE PREVENTION SUPPORT
This Suicide Prevention Month, discover how human connections can reduce suicide and support resilience. Learn how to start vital conversations, offer support and guide loved ones toward expert help. All at Military OneSource.
GTK: Military OneSource eligibility includes military and their families up to one year after separating from service.
In the last issue I wrote about Memorial Day and the search for a song to commemorate the day. Dr. Mark, retired Airman and Super Doc sent this:
“Regarding a song—a story on NPR this morning reached out and grabbed me. It was a remembrance of a former Navy corpsman turned rapper who recently died of sudden cardiac death at age 38. His continued commitment to those who have served really struck me. I don’t listen to much rap music, but when I heard his song “You’re Not Alone,” I found it inspiring.
I believe this may be my Memorial Day song. Doc Todd has died — the hip-hop artist helped other veterans feel 'Not Alone' : NPR.”
That’s it for this edition of the Rosemary Report. Thank you for tuning in – be sure to share, share, share the info and keep me posted on what is new with you and your mission.
Yours in the fight for good,
RosemaryReport | 41 State Circle, Suite 6, Annapolis, MD 21401
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