3.30.2006

MAKE. IT. STOP.

It's official - we have now reached 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Yippee. We got a bit of a tease this AM - the clouds were breaking and the sun was peeking through. It was breezy and cool but pretty. I had taken the kids and was heading down to the Discovery Center for the day (I knew there was more rain coming) and by the time we were done there, the rain was back full force. Complete with lightning and thunder.

I am so absolutely sick of rain. SICK OF IT!!!!! Everything is damp. My clothes are damp. My car smells like mold (there's a bad seal on the hatchback so it leaks). MacGyver's issue smells like mold (which he tried to cover up with Fabreeze and now it smells like floral mold...blech). The a/c compressor in Stanley (my car) doesn't work so I have no defroster. It's been raining so much that I can't roll the windows down, even a smidge, because rain pours in so the windows fog up horribly which makes driving treacherous. Add to that the fact that poor Stanley needs new tires so I don't drive much when it's raining like this.

My children are tired of being cooped up in the house. I thought taking them to the Discovery Center today would help but 2/3 of the other parents on this island had the same idea along with 2 schools so it was a bit crowded. And Princess Trouble kept disappearing on me so we wound up leaving early. By the time we got home, the thunder was such that Little Man would not be left alone in a room by himself, let alone take a nap so both kids are cranky as well as tired of the rain.

Canals and rivers on the island have been turned into open sewers because they have had sewer main breaks. You can't go to the beach because the brown water attracts sharks, not to mention the bacteria from said sewer main breaks that lurk in the waters. Not that you'd want to go to the beach when it's POURING RAIN.

I have ZERO motivation and even less patience. I can't sleep. My appetite is so off it's not even funny. I just want to be somewhere dry. Preferably by my self.


Someone make it STOP. Please? Ugh.




Pau.




- hfs

Who is your 80's teen movie persona

You are Ferris Bueller





Bueller... Bueller... You are the coolest kid in high school and you have all the connections. You are able to lie your way into anything and get away with it… although people are very jealous of your gifts.


Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com




Definitely.




Pau.




- hfs

I guess that's another use for them...

MacGyver got his issue the other day and brought it home to sort it out (read: to play with it all). Little Man got ahold of his magazines and put them to good use...


Image hosting by Photobucket

I guess that's one way of using them. Probably not what the Army had in mind though...




Pau.




- hfs

3.27.2006

Good news and sad news

First, the good news:


BIL(K) is home from Afghanistan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He had QUITE the busy/adventurous year. IED encounters, raids on Taliban strongholds, etc. kept him on the go (and most of us worried) for most of his time over there. But he's home, safe and sound. THANK GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

And, the rain has stopped...for the time being. We're due to get another round either this evening or tomorrow which is supposed to last into Wednesday but RIGHT NOW I can look out my kitchen window and see BLUE SKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And yesterday was my dad's 78th birthday!! Happy birthday dad!


As for the sad news, there was a soldier from the aviation community killed here last night in an automobile accident. The investigation is still underway and his name has not been released publicly yet so I will not post it here. But I am sure his family could use some prayers.




I am going to go sit outside and soak up the bit of sun showing through the clouds.




Pau.




- hfs

3.25.2006

Rain, rain, go away

I think I'm going to start building an ark in my backyard. This is something like the 30th day of rain here. I thought we lived in HAWAII, not frickin Seattle.


Rest of Tonight
Partly cloudy with numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may be severe in the evening. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Lows 63 to 68. Light winds. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Saturday
Partly cloudy with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Highs 73 to 80. Southeast winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent.

Saturday Night
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Lows 63 to 68. Light winds. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Sunday
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers. Highs 73 to 80. Southeast winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Sunday Night
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers. Lows 63 to 68. Light winds. Chance of rain 70 percent.

Monday
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers. Highs 73 to 80. Southeast winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 70 percent.

Monday Night
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers. Lows 63 to 68. South winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Tuesday
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers. Highs 73 to 80. Southwest winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Tuesday Night
Partly cloudy with scattered showers. Lows 63 to 68. Light winds. Chance of rain 50 percent.

Wednesday
Mostly cloudy with scattered showers. Highs 73 to 80. Southeast winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent.

Wednesday Night
Mostly cloudy with numerous showers. Lows 63 to 68. Light winds. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Thursday
Partly cloudy with scattered showers. Highs 73 to 80. Southeast winds around 10 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent.

Thursday Night
Partly cloudy with scattered showers. Lows 63 to 68. Light winds. Chance of rain 40 percent.

Friday
Partly cloudy with scattered showers. Highs 73 to 80. Light winds. Chance of rain 40 percent.



Somebody shoot me.




Pau.




- hfs

3.23.2006

Time for a little distraction

It's raining yet again so we are cooped up here in the house. To keep from going crazy, I thought I'd post a few funny memes that I received this week. I'm not tagging anyone but feel free to steal the idea - just leave a comment or trackback!


YOUR FIRST TIME
1. Who was your first prom date? Actual PROM? James. I was so excited to go to the PROM that it didn't matter who I went with. Had a good time though.

2. Who was your first roommate? Maura. I wasn't there a whole lot - spent a lot of time commuting back and forth between college and home. That was an awful, awful year.

3. What alcoholic beverage did you drink when you got drunk the first time? Wine coolers. It doesn't take much to get me drunk - MacGyver calls me a "cheap date".

4. What was your first job? Working for a hot dog joint near my house.

5. What was your first car? 1965 Ford Mustang automatic with a 289 V8 engine. She was my mom's before she was mine. I had a lot of fun in that car (and no, I don't mean it *that* way...get your minds out of the gutter!).

6. When did you go to your first funeral? high school (I think...can't say I remember going to any when I was younger)

7. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown? 18 - freshman year in college though I think I was home more than I was away. I left for good when I was 21.

8. Who was your first grade teacher? Ms. Slausson. Loved her!

9. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane? Mississippi when my Grama fell and broke her hip.

10. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with? Becky and Roland

11. Who was your first Best Friend and are you still friends with them? Michelle H and no. We haven't spoken since 8th grade.

12. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parents home? the dorm at college

13. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day? MacGyver. He's quite good at making me feel better. If not him, then my mom or W.

14. Who's wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or a groomsmen? My brother's wedding.

15. What is the first thing you do in the morning? Pray for 5 more minutes of sleep.

16. What was the first concert you ever went to? Bruce Springsteen at the LA Coliseum when I was 14 with my MOM.

17. First tattoo or piercing? ears - when I was very young

18. First celebrity crush? Don Johnson from "Miami Vice"

19. Age of first kiss? 10- Geoff Harvey but it was just a peck on the lips

20. First crush? Greg Lampson in 1st grade




> A Fun Survey!! Place an X by all the things you've done, or remove the x
> from the ones you have not, and send it to all of your friends (including
> me).
>
> This is for your entire life:
>
> (x) Drank so much you threw up - THERE'S A PIANO BAR IN LONG BEACH THAT I CAN NO LONGER SHOW MY FACE IN.
> ( ) Crashed a friend's car
> ( ) Stolen a car
> (x) Been in love (over & over & over) - WE WON'T GO THERE...SUFFICE IT TO SAY I'M IN LOVE NOW!
> (x) Been dumped - YEP. OUCH.
> (x) Shoplifted - NOT PROUD OF THIS ONE. I WAS YOUNG.
> (x) Been laid off/fired
> (x) Quit your job
> (x) Been in a fist fight - AND WON.
> (x) Snuck out of your parents' house
> (x) Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back
> (x) Been arrested - DOES BEING DETAINED BY THE COPS BUT NOT
CHARGED COUNT?
> ( ) Gone on a blind date
> (x) Lied to a friend - NOT PROUD OF THIS EITHER
> (x) Skipped school - OFTEN
> ( ) Seen someone die
> (x) Been to Canada - MORE LIKE "THROUGH" CANADA
> ( ) Been to Mexico
> (x) Been on a plane
> (x) Been lost
> (x) Been on the opposite side of the country - OPPOSITE FROM WHERE???
> (x) Gone to Washington, DC - GOING AGAIN IN A FEW WEEKS!
> (x) Swam in the ocean - UM, I CURRENTLY LIVE ON AN ISLAND...
> (x) Felt like dying
> (x) Cried yourself to sleep
> (x) Played cops and robbers - I WAS A DAMN GOOD COP TOO
> ( ) Had sex with a donkey - ?????????
> (x) Recently colored with crayons - UM, I AM THE PARENT OF A 4
YEAR OLD AND A 2 YEAR OLD...
> ( ) Sang karaoke - NOT ON YOUR LIFE
> (x) Paid for a meal with only coins - PENNIES, EVEN
> (x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't - MORE OFTEN THAN I CARE TO ADMIT
> (x) Made prank phone calls
> (x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose - SNORKING COKE HURTS
> (x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue - LIVING IN ALASKA FOR 3 YEARS PRETTY MUCH COVERS THIS.
> (x) Danced in the rain - IT HAS BEEN RAINING HERE, ALMOST NON-STOP, FOR A MONTH
> (x) Written a letter to Santa Claus
> (x) Been kissed under the mistletoe
> (x) Watched the sun rise with someone you care about
> (x) Blown bubbles
> (x) Made a bonfire on the beach - AGAIN, I LIVE IN HAWAII
> (x) Crashed a party
> (x) Gone roller-skating - RECENTLY TOO!
> (x) Ice-skating
>
> Mother's name: MOM
> How much do you love your job?: THE JOB IS GREAT BUT THE PAY IS LACKING...(unless you count the hugs and kisses!)
> Birthplace: SoCAL
> Favorite vacation spot?: ANYWHERE IN COLORADO
> Ever steal any traffic signs?: YES
> Ever been in a car accident?: YES
> 2 Door or 4 Door?: DEPENDS ON WHICH CAR I'M DRIVING
> Salad dressing?: RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE
> Favorite pie??: CREAM CHEESE PIE FROM MARIE CALLENDAR'S
> Favorite Number?: 24
> Favorite movie?: TOO MANY TO LIST
> Holiday?: CHRISTMAS
> Favorite food?: TOO MANY TO LIST BUT IF IT HAS CHOCOLATE IN/ON IT THEN YOU CAN BET I'LL LIKE IT
> Favorite day of the week?: SUNDAYS AND THURSDAYS
> Favorite brand of body soap?: DOVE
> Favorite brand of toothpaste?: CREST
> Favorite smell?: THE KIDS AFTER THEIR BATHS OR DH WHEN HE'S BEEN GONE FOR A BIT
> What do you do to relax?: READ
> How do you see yourself in 10 years?: DON'T KNOW
> Do you enjoy receiving letters/cards from friends and family?: UM, MOST OF THE TIME...



That about does it. I'm sure that's more about me than most of you ever wanted to know. I'm going back to building the ark in the backyard before the rain starts again.




Pau.




- hfs

House hunting sucks

What is it with people? We live in the age of technology where digital cameras are almost as commonplace as cell phones. Yet property managers and homeowners who are listing homes for rent seem to be UNABLE to take pictures of the property they are listing. Why?!? How HARD is it?

If they DO manage to post pictures of the property, they include pictures of the sunset, the trees in the front yard, and other worthless things like that. Why?!? I don't CARE what the trees in the front yard look like and (having lived here for over a year) I KNOW what the sunset looks like! I want to know what the KITCHEN looks like or the LIVING ROOM or the CLOSETS.


HOW HARD IS THAT?!?


/rant


We took a look at the house that is just down the street from us. The current tenants hope to be gone by the middle of June. It's a 3BR/3BA like what we are in now but it is a 2 story and the kitchen is only about 2/3 the size of our kitchen. There is no central a/c but that's ok. And there are no ceiling fans but MacGyver has already proven his skill at installing them. It looks like this house has a smidge more closet space than our current house.

The current tenants will let their property management company know they are vacating sometime in April. Hopefully (PLEASE GOD!!!) the property management company will be willing to rent directly to us without listing the house for rent elsewhere.

So in a month or so we *should* have a better idea of where things stand. Then it will be a matter of coming up with the deposit money and moving our stuff. Lots of pizza and beer will be offered to anyone with muscles and/or a truck.




Pau.




- hfs

3.21.2006

Government and You E-News - March 21, 2006

HERE'S THE NEWS:

1. NMFA Helps You Contact Your Members of Congress on Important Issues: This week, NMFA launched its Advocacy tool to give military families the opportunity to quickly and easily share their opinion about pending or current legislation with elected officials. From the NMFA “Action Alert” page, military families will find information about the current issue under discussions and instructions on how to add personal comments to an NMFA-composed letter and then send it by e-mail to their elected officials. To access the Advocacy tool, go to: www.nmfa.org/action.

NMFA’s first alert asks families to let their Members of Congress know their concern over adequate funding for military health care. As we have stated in previous publications this year, for the FY 2007 and 2008 budget years, the Administration has proposed instituting a tiered system of health care fee increases for military retirees under age 65, their families, and survivors. NMFA—and the many military beneficiaries who have contacted us—finds these fees for TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard deductibles to be arbitrary and exorbitant. We are especially opposed to the proposal by the Department of Defense (DoD) for a first-time ever TRICARE Standard enrollment fee for military retirees. TRICARE Standard must not be transformed from the basic military health care entitlement to simply another insurance plan!

Because DoD estimated its fee increases would result in $735 million in savings, it cut its health care budget proposal accordingly. NMFA is skeptical of this estimate. We are concerned that without Congressional action to increase the DoD health care budget, beneficiaries could find access to care diminished in the coming years. The DoD leadership has already instructed the TRICARE contractors to begin working on a plan to implement the increased TRICARE Prime enrollment fees on October 1, 2006. NMFA believes Congress needs time to review DoD’s plans before they are implemented, as well as to ensure adequate funding is included in the FY 2007 budget resolution. Military families who share that concern are urged to contact their elected representatives using the NMFA Advocacy tool and ask them to review these proposals carefully. Members of Congress must also be asked to make sure military health care is fully funded. Failure to do so would deny military families access to robust health care benefit.

The NMFA action alerts are designed to be taken using a physical address within the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. If you are assigned overseas or would like to contact the elected officials where you vote, we provide instructions on how to find your Senator or Member of the House of Representatives and send a letter using their web form. If you have questions or comments about the new NMFA Advocacy tool, please send them to: families@nmfa.org.

2. Dash to Your Computer to Comment on Proposed Drug Changes! The Department of Defense Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee has forwarded its recommendations on which drugs in certain classes should be the next to move to the third tier (non formulary) to the Beneficiary Advisory Panel (BAP). The Panel will review and comment on these recommendations during their open meeting on March 30, 2006 at the Naval Heritage Museum in Washington, DC (Navy Memorial metro stop) starting at 8 am.

Up to twelve individuals may address the Panel for five minutes each between 8:30 and 9:30 am. Sign ups to address the Panel will be on a first come basis the day of the meeting. However, if you move quickly you may send your concerns to the BAP electronically by sending them to: Richard.Martel.ctr@tricare.osd.mil Submissions must be made by March 23, 2006. The Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee has made the following recommendations for drugs to move to the third tier (non formulary):
  • Overactive Bladder Drugs: Detrol, Oxytrol, Sanctura
  • Miscellaneous Anti-hypertensive Drugs: Lexxel, Tarka
  • GABA Analog Drugs (used for adjunctive therapy in the treatment of partial seizures and the treatment of various types of neuropathic pain): Lyrica

Additional information should be posted on the BAP webpage shortly: www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/bap

3. HASC Hearing Emphasizes Importance of Commissaries, Exchanges, MWR: On March 15, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) held a hearing on military resale (commissaries and exchanges) and Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. Testifying on panel one were the Honorable Leslye A. Arsht, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, and the senior leadership of the commissary, service exchanges and military family service programs The focus of the testimony centered on the successes and challenges currently facing resale and MWR activities. As always, this hearing covered a broad range of issues, including the unified exchange task force study, funding for second destination transportation fees, privatized Army lodging, self storage facilities on military installations, and how to sustain funding of MWR programs in the wake of transformation and base realignment and closure (BRAC).

In her opening statement, Secretary Arsht vowed to preserve and improve features of resale and MWR benefits that are essential to quality of life. Challenges would certainly be present in the face of BRAC and global repositioning requirements, but she stated she was committed to “seeking the levels of funding to fully fund these benefits and to maintain the balance between taxpayer and service member contributions.” Concern was voiced by Chairman John McHugh(R-NY 23rd) about the economic impact redeploying 70,000 troops out of the European theater would have on MWR programs since half of that income comes from the resale systems in Europe. Secretary Arsht reassured Congressman McHugh that savings from the closure of commissaries at closing installations would follow the troops to the installations that are enlarging. She also mentioned that continued work with community and industry partners in providing quality of life programs both inside and outside the gate as well as a careful review to ensure that “DoD programs are funded with BRAC savings” are all part of the overall plan”. NMFA hopes that in addition, DoD will look closely at how to best market the benefit to the military family who, because of housing shortages, may live 30 minutes to one hour away from the installation and not necessarily want to drive in to use the exchange or commissary, given high gasoline prices and other retail options in the surrounding communities.

Testifying in the second panel were various representatives of companies that do business with commissaries and exchanges, as well as two representatives of The Military Coalition (TMC), of which NMFA is a member. Renè Campos, Deputy Director, Government Relations, of the Military Officers Association of America and Joe Barnes, National Executive Secretary of the Fleet Reserve Association, testified on behalf of the Coalition. Commander (Ret.) Campos raised the issue of how MWR, exchanges and other quality-of-life support programs will fare during implementation of global re-basing and BRAC: “Already we are hearing about a lack of resources and infrastructure in implementing Army modularity." She went on to voice the Coalition’s concerns regarding DoD’s proposal to consolidate exchange operations: “We question the $17 million that DoD has spent on the consolidation shared services study and whether that money wouldn’t have been better spent on funding more urgent MWR activities”. Mr. Barnes raised the issue of a $15 million budget shortage and a $30 million proposed cut in the FY 2007 budget for DeCA: “Our members are concerned about continuing pressure to cut spending and squeeze efficiencies from DeCA…the Coalition ...urges authorization of funding necessary to sustain the commissary benefit.”

For complete copies of written statements provided by the witnesses go to: http://armedservices.house.gov/schedules/.

4. DoD States More Families Taking Advantage of Counseling Services: With high operational tempos and multiple deployments increasingly becoming the norm, DoD finds more service members and their families are seeking counseling services. DoD started expanding its array of counseling services shortly after September 11, 2001, to help counter the stress military service places on service members and their families, particularly during wartime. NMFA strongly encouraged these efforts based on input the Association has received from families. The result of these efforts is a vast family-assistance counseling network that emphasizes problem solving and communications skills to help individuals and families get through difficult times.

The National Mental Health Association identified symptoms affected people may experience:
  • Difficulty completing tasks,
  • Trouble concentrating,
  • Fear and anxiety about the future,
  • Apathy and emotional numbing,
  • Irritability and anger,
  • Sadness and depression,
  • Feeling powerless,
  • Extreme hunger or lack of appetite,
  • Difficulty making decisions,
  • Crying for no apparent reason,
  • Headaches or stomach problems,
  • Difficulty sleeping,
  • Excessive drinking or drug use, and
  • Feeling withdrawn.

Everyone experiences stress differently, and these and other symptoms aren't unusual for people who have undergone deployments or had a loved one deploy, say DoD officials. They also stress these are normal reactions to difficult circumstances. The goal of DoD-sponsored counseling programs is to address these issues before they escalate.

The National Mental Health Association recommends tips for coping during difficult times. They range from avoiding excessive exposure to news and talking with others to exercising, eating right and taking part in relaxing, soothing activities. The group urges people who can't seem to shake these feelings to seek treatment. Nearly every military installation has a family service or support center, chaplain, child-development center or other service where families can get help, from crisis intervention to counseling, depending on their need. In many cases, non-medical counseling—educational and outreach sessions as well as individual, group and marriage counseling—is the best medicine. Services extend beyond active-duty troops and their families to include two groups not always included in military programs: National Guard and reserve members not on active duty, and DoD civilian employees who have deployed overseas.

Educational sessions, the broadest form of counseling provided, focus on basic life skills, such as stress and anger management, communications, decision making and financial stability. Outreach sessions are a bit more targeted, with counselors or social workers attending town hall meetings and greeting troops arriving from deployments to ensure they know counseling services are available if they need them. Counselors also present briefings before, during, or after deployments and offer group coaching. In addition, trained social workers and counselors offer private counseling to help people who request it work through troubling issues. These issues can run the gamut, from deployment-related anxiety and family conflicts to emotional or financial difficulties. Such programs augment rather than replace the military's network of unit leaders, chaplains, child-development center staffs, and family centers that have traditionally offered the first step in crisis intervention.

Troops or family members interested in these programs can get a referral from these base service providers. They can also request help directly by calling Military OneSource, toll-free from the states at (800) 342-9647 or overseas at 800-3429-6477.

Officials believe it is a positive sign that several thousand service members and families have taken advantage of the non-medical counseling services offered and expressed hope others will follow their lead. NMFA has also found that families are willing to take advantage of counseling services if needed or that they have already done so. An important result of last year’s NMFA Cycles of Deployment Survey was that families wanted increased access to counselors and believed that more counseling resources should be made available to family readiness groups and volunteers. (Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2006/20060314_4482.html)

5. National Conference Focuses on Behavioral Health Needs of Returning Service Members and Families: The Department of Heath and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Therapeutic Communities of America (TCA) recently conducted a symposium in Washington, DC, aimed at identifying mental health needs of the military population, in particular veterans who have been deployed to a combat zone.

NMFA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations, Debbie Fryar, attended the conference with approximately 1,100 other individuals. Participants came from communities across the country, non-profits, Mental Health Providers, and military representatives. The overall theme of the conference was: “Restoring Hope and Building Resiliency.” A strong emphasis was placed on families and involvement of families in the overall mental health and reintegration process. As veterans return from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of the men and women, and their families may need help re-establishing their lives and re-connecting with their communities. This conference helped draw attention to how local community substance abuse and mental health service providers could address the complex needs of the diverse military population.

The conference provided information and models on helping veterans and their families build resiliency and prevention of complex problems such as mental health problems (including PTSD), substance use disorders, suicide, homelessness, sexual abuse, and co-occurring disorders that can occur after serving in active combat or under other dangerous conditions. Read more about the conference’s agenda click at http://www.samhsa.gov/.

6. Navy to Delay Some PCS Moves: Navy officials recently announced they would delay until October 2006 Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders for this fiscal year for approximately 3,800 Navy personnel. Deferring PCS moves has been used in past years by the Services, most frequently the Navy, as a way to save money during a period of tight budgets. The Navy normally moves approximately 75,000 Sailors and their families each year. The impact will only be to Priority 4 moves. Both officer and enlisted personnel who do not have written PCS orders in hand within the FY06 PCS transfer window may be impacted.

Sailors who fall into high-priority billets, such as those to forward deployed naval forces, currently deployed units, recruiting duty, Joint combatant command support, and senior leadership (CO/XO/DH/CMC/COB/RTC), will rotate as scheduled. The anticipated impact will delay lower-priority moves, including shore to shore and some sea to shore moves, beginning in March for personnel not in receipt of PCS orders. These PCS moves will be moved to October (FY 2007).Once Sailors have been issued PCS orders, even if the move is not taking place until FY 2007, they may make arrangements to move household goods and their families in advance of their actual departure from their current command. Families who need to relocate in the summer for school or other issues may still move before October 1. Detailers at the Navy Bureau of Personnel (BUPERS) will call each of the Sailors impacted by the PCS delay and ensure any issues with families, schools and careers are fully addressed. (Source: http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=22730)

7. Moving to Fort Knox? Innovative new Website Can Help You! Military families who are relocating to the Fort Knox and the Lincoln Trail Region in Central Kentucky now have a resource that will make it easier to find a home, job, church, or school. The Lincoln Trail Area Development District, working with the Lincoln Trail Workforce Investment Board has launched the website http://www.oneknox.com/ to help families relocating to the region as a result of recommendations from the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.

Paid for with federal funds, OneKnox.com allows families to search within categories, such as government, employment, housing, religion, or resources specifically relating to service members, government civilian employees, and their families. For those who may be unfamiliar with the region, general information on the region and each county is also available. While the site is still building its resource list, it already contains links to useful information for families contemplating a move. One Knox.com will serve as the resource for promoting all the communities in the Lincoln Trail and Greater Louisville area. Officials state people are already accessing the site from Alexandria, Virginia; St. Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Monroe, Virginia; and Fort McCoy Wisconsin.

Members of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and the newly created One Knox organization will also be traveling to locations around Kentucky that have units that are relocating to Fort Knox, providing information on the region. Potential future residents and other interested parties can sign up for an electronic monthly newsletter at http://www.oneknox.com/ that will provide updated news and relevant information. NMFA did note that the site did not have a direct link to the official Fort Knox website (http://www.knox.army.mil/) and encourages both sites to link to each other. The OneKnox website, however, can be a model for other installations and communities who are expecting an influx of population as part of Service transformation, global rebasing, or BRAC.

8. Indiana is Latest State to Set Up Military Family Fund: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) signed a bill into law Friday that creates a military relief fund to provide grants to families of Indiana National Guard or reserve personnel on active duty since September 11, 2001. Money for the grants will come from the sale of Hoosier Veteran and Support Our Troops license plates. Drivers will pay an additional $15 annual fee for the veterans’ plate and $20 more for the troops’ plate. The relief fund is designed to provide grants to families for utilities, clothing, food, transportation, and other basic needs. The new law allows the Veterans’ Affairs Commission to establish the grant amount, the eligibility criteria, and selection procedures.

Senate Bill 75 was modeled after the Illinois Family Relief Trust Fund, a similar program that took effect in 2003. Several other states have or are considering similar legislation. The Illinois program provides $500 to $2,000 grants to families, depending on their needs and whether the soldier was injured during service. (Source: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060317/NEWS02/60317013)

9. What’s New in the TRICARE Dental Program? The TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) is the military dental insurance program for active duty families, members of the Selected Reserve, and their families. In January, United Concordia (UCCI), the TRICARE contractor that administers the program, launched a new website for TDP enrollees. The site offers users access to answers about their dental benefit. From the home page, beneficiaries can click to two main areas of the site: enrollee information and dental health information. Check out the TDP website at: http://www.tricaredentalprogram.com/tdptws/home.jsp.

10. What is Freedom Team Salute? The Freedom Team Salute (FTS) is a recognition program that gives active, National Guard, and Reserve Soldiers an opportunity to recognize parents, spouses and employers for the support and strength they provide. FTS is an official program sponsored and funded through the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (M&RA). The program is intended to honor those who support U.S. Army service members, as well as to honor U.S. Army veterans who have served this nation, including those who served in the National Guard or Reserve. All material is provided at no cost to either the nominator or the recipient. Nominees receive an Army lapel pin, an Army decal, a certificate and letter signed by the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army thanking them for their support.

To learn more about the program go to http://www.freedomteamsalute.com/.

11. Show Your Appreciation for a Special Military Family You Know: Nominate them for the NMFA Family Award! Military families know military service is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. While this lifestyle provides endless opportunities for adventure and learning, at the same time families are subject to unique challenges. The NMFA Family Award provides an opportunity to recognize those families who have made the most of the adventure and conquered the challenges.

The NMFA Family Award is given to 12 families who exemplify the best of the military family lifestyle. Each winning family will receive $500 and a $250 donation will be made to a charity of their choosing. Additionally, one winning family will be chosen as the NMFA Family of the Year and will receive $1000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., where they will be honored at a reception with key military leaders and the program sponsors. They will also have the opportunity to present a check in the amount of $500 to the charity of their choice.

Any active duty, reserve component, or retired family of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or commissioned corps of NOAA or the Public Health Service, are eligible, as well as the families of fallen service members, or families of wounded service members who were injured in the line of duty within the past three years and have since been discharged. Nominations will only be accepted online at www.nmfa.org/familyaward.

Sad

Like I posted over in the kids' blog, some good friends of ours left the island today. Yes, it is part of military life (and life in general) but that doesn't make it any easier. While I am thrilled FOR them, I am sad to see them go.

The reality of the deployment keeps pushing its way back into my life no matter how hard I try to push it away. MacGyver has a day off coming up and we need to get to Legal to take care of a few things. I need a new Power of Attorney. Our wills need to be executed here in Hawaii and updated. And we need to set up a family care plan in case both of us are incapacitated to the extent that we are unable to care for our children.

On one of the boards I frequent, there are about three dozen of us that are staring a deployment in the face or currently in the middle of one. Talk has turned to "legacy books" and who should be a pallbearer if the need arises. Things that make your stomach turn but need to be discussed, nonetheless.

Everyone has a protection mechanism in their brain. It's human nature. We all have ways of protecting ourselves from the pain of life. I've always been a believer that luck favors the prepared. My theory is that the more prepared you are for an event, the less likely said event is to occur. My diaper bag is always well-stocked. I do not leave the house without plenty of diapers, changes of clothes, wipes, and anything else I might possibly need while I'm out. Which explains why my diaper bag weighs more than my son.

I'm the same way with this deployment. I want all contingencies planned and prepared for so that THEY WON'T HAPPEN. Yes, part of it is about control. I admit that freely. But part of it is the irrational belief that if I PLAN for it, IT WON'T HAPPEN.


What is "IT"?


"IT" is the worst possible possibility. And if I do my best to prepare for it, IT WON'T HAPPEN.


Or, at least that is what I tell myself.


Because to consider the alternative just isn't something I am prepared to do. It's amazing the things we tell ourselves to protect ourselves. Perspective is everything, isn't it...?




Pau.




- hfs

3.17.2006

Maybe it isn't the teachers; maybe it's you

Maybe it isn't the teachers; maybe it's you

How are teachers supposed to do the job they are being paid to do? A teacher with 25 students in a class who has 45 minutes to teach geography, or arithmetic, or reading and who routinely has to contend with even a small handful of students whose antics eat up five or ten or fifteen minutes of that class time is hard pressed to meet his or her obligations to the students who are not causing problems. Add to that the pressures of “teaching to tests” (as teachers refer to the obligations imposed by “No Child Left Behind” and other well-intentioned legislation), and one can begin to understand the teachers’ plight.





I can't begin to say how much I agree with this article. If I had the inclination to videoptape myself clapping, applauding, and jumping up and down because I was so excited, I would upload it as evidence of how much I agree with this article.

Holding PARENTS accountable for their childrens' problems and letting the teachers TEACH.




WHAT. A. CONCEPT.




Pau.




- hfs

Happy St. Patty's Day!

In honor of my Irish ancestors, I am dressed in both green and orange (it's a sight to see...let me tell you!) and am enjoying the fact that it is not raining at the moment!

I'll be indulging later this evening...maybe with a Guinness or two...




Guinness

(66% dark & bitter, 100% working class, 100% genuine)




Okay, we all know Guinness is the best possible score on any "What Kind Of Beer Are You" test, so you can just go on and pat yourself on the back now. Like the world's most famous brew, you're genuine, you've got good taste, and you're sophisticated. What else can I say, except congratulations?


If your friends didn't score the same way, get ready for them to say: Guinness is too heavy; it's an acquired taste; it's too serious--and they probably think those things about you at times. But just brush 'em off. Everybody knows Guinness is the best. Cheers.





My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 34% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on workingclass
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 74% on genuine
Link: The If You Were A Beer Test written by gwendolynbooks on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test





Pau.




- hfs

3.16.2006

March Hooker Pr0n

Got this from a friend who is with 101st. They're a little...BUSY right now...


Image hosting by Photobucket

God, I love hookers!




Pau.




- hfs

3.15.2006

And the debate continues...

Ry, over at The Castle has said that he agrees with BCR in that small children should not fly on airplanes.

But loud kids kicking your seat is the worst, especially when the parents are incapable or uncaring to get them under control.
So I'm with BCR. If you have to go to your parents funeral but your kids aren't old enough to behave you should leave them with the sig oth and go solo. People used to do that all the time. Or skip it. Like my mother had to do for many a family funeral because she couldn't trundle a five year old back to Wisconsin from CA without screwing over a room full of people along the way.



This is really bugging me. I agree with him in terms of the beginning of his comment - that used to be, children could be admonished by the adults around them and it was the norm and that there was a higher level of expecation in terms of public behavior. Not anymore.

However, I do not agree that I should have to miss a family funeral or other family gathering just because I have small children. That is neither realiztic nor fair. And as a military family in this day and age, leaving the kids with my husband and going solo is a pipe dream. Between training schedules and deployments, that just is not possible. Boy, do I wish!

Besides, since when are SMALL children the only ones to act up on an airplane? Last time we flew, it was the pre-teens that were the bigger disturbance than my 2 and 4 year olds.

I think, instead of barring families with small children from ever leaving their homes with said children until they are 18, society needs to get its act together and raise the level of expectation as it pertains to public behavior. And we need to start holding parents strictly accountable for their childrens' behavior. But forcing them to stay home will not teach the child how to behave in public.




Pau.




- hfs

Oceanfront Property in Arizona...

We might just have some oceanfront property here if the rain doesn't let up. It hasn't been a very good day in the rainbow state. Two Marines - one FROM Hawaii and one STATIONED in Hawaii have died. And this afternoon an earthen dam broke on Kaua'i leaving one person dead, two homes swept away, and seven other people missing.

MacGyver's unit was running up birds to fly over and assist in the search and recovery effort this evening.

There is more rain forecast throughout the week. There's more HERE.

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Took the kids to get portraits done today. I'm going to try posting them on their blog in a few moments. Go HERE to check them out.

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A few prayer requests for those of you willing...

A good friend of mine's mother has been diagnosed with Stage IV Renal Cell Carcinoma. It's already metastisized to her lungs and lymph nodes. This is sudden and invasive and very bad news.

Another friend of mine who was already facing some financial issues due to a job loss in her family has now added some cardiological concerns regarding her baby boy to that list. Not a great week for them.

And FbL has had a lousy week, to say the least and could use all of the positive energy that we can send. It seems to be working just a wee bit but she could still use the support.

Lastly, my mom, dad, and grama could use some too. Grama moved up to live with mom and dad after Katrina rolled through and has been having some health issues (she's 92 years old...kind of to be expected). Dad is too and mom is left to deal with both of them.

Thanks everyone.

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As for us, not a whole lot to report. Still no solid news on our housing situation. We are definitely moving though we don't know when or where. The lead that I have on the house a few blocks down is tenuous at best. The current tenants don't have orders yet and I'm not even sure if their property manager will rent to us outright or put the house up for viewing and make us apply like everyone else. Our timeframe is still tight and I do not forsee it opening up.

My ace in the hole (kind of...) is that Actus is hurting and offering the incentives for people to move on post. We'll see.



Ok, I'm off to try to upload these pictures.




Pau.




- hfs

3.14.2006

Kids and Airplanes - someone shoot me

John, over at Castle Argghhh! posted a story about Northwest Airlines' tactics to prop up revenue by charging a la carte prices for things such as meals and leg room. While agree with the post itself, Bad Cat Robot of Snark Patrol suggested adding a "screaming children fee" - a bond of sorts for families travelling with small children.

BCR says, " If children were well-behaved the bond would be refunded, but if not would be disbursed amongst the passengers for earplugs, Valium, and/or alcoholic beverages."

I am the first to admit I do not like to fly with small children - even my own. And I HATE flying with small children who misbehave, ESPECIALLY my own. However...like I said in the comments, airlines are not like movies and sometimes families cannot avoid flying with small children. Driving is not always an option (they have yet to finish that bridge between Hawaii and the mainland...) and sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it.

And I am the first to find fault with the parent(s) if children are misbehaving. Parents are the first line of defense in the war on bad behavior and often times that first line of defense is woefully inadequate. But children are CHILDREN and sometimes they misbehave. Sometimes they get tired or bored or don't feel good. It happens.

Does that mean that I would have to forfeit my "screaming children fee"? At what point does the forfeiture kick in? Case in point: We were on our way from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii on official Permanent Change of Station orders. Can't drive from SoCal to Hawaii so we had to fly. The kids were well-rested, well-fed, well-prepared. We had plenty of toys, movies, and other items designed to keep the children occupied and under control during the 6 hour flight to Hawaii.

We boarded and as Little Man and I are turning into our row to sit down, the "lady" in front of us makes a wonderful comment that was *just* loud enough for me to hear. Her comment was "Oh, GREAT. Just what I wanted on a 6 hour flight to Hawaii. I swear, there should be a separate flight..." Now, mind you, my son had not made a PEEP. We hadn't even sat DOWN at that point! I wanted to crack her on the back of the head with his car seat.

Little Man was PERFECT during that flight. I could not have asked for a better experience. But what if he had fussed? He was 12 months old at the time. What if he had experienced ear pain from the pressure changes? Should he have been able to sit there and not make a sound? How would the airline have known WHY he was fussing? It's not like he would have been able to articulate WHY he was crying. What if he had only fussed for 30 seconds? 5 minutes? 30? Where is the line drawn?

An Albequerque, NM movie theatre has implemented a ban on babies in R rated movies after 6 pm. While I agree with this in theory, my gut reaction is "Where the hell does this theatre get off?" It's a slippery slope to walk and the gray area is vast.


I didn't intend to pick a fight with BCR and I hope I didn't. Maybe I'm a little testy on this subject due to my upcoming (and unassisted) flight with my children across the Pacific here in a few weeks. Who knows? It just hit a nerve...




Pau.




- hfs

3.13.2006

Gates of Fire

Just finished reading "Gates of Fire". Incredible book. I'm not usually one for this genre but I had heard so many others speak highly of it and I have enjoyed Mr. Pressfield's other works so I sought it out at the library. If you have the chance, please do read it.

There were a few passages that hit me and I wanted to share them...

Answer concisely:
Can you envision a world without war?
Can you imagine clemency from an enemy?
Describe the condition of Lakedaemon without her army, without her warriors, to defend her.
Which is better, victory or defeat?
To rule or be ruled?
To make widow of the enemy's wife or to have one's own wife widowed?
What is the supreme virtue of a man? Why? Whom of all in the city do you admire most? Why?
Define the word "mercy". Define "compassion". Are these the virtues of war or of peace? Or men or of women? Are they virtues at all?



And another...

"Mankind as it is constituted," Polynikes said, "is as a boil and a canker. Observe the specimens in any nation other than Lakedaemon. Man is weak, greedy, craven, lustful, prey to every species of vice and depravity. He will lie, steal, cheat, murder, melt down the very statues of the gods and coin their gold as money for whores. This is man. This is his nature, as all the poets attest.

Fortunately God in his mercy has provided a counterpoise to our specoes' innate depravity. That gift, my young friend is war.

War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in a man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder the meanest of men may seek and find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, my young friend, nor delude yourself that mercy and compassion are virtuessuperior to andreia, to manly valor.



And lastly...

Man's courage, to give his life for his country, is great but unextraordinary. Is it not intrinsic to the nature of the male, beasts as well as men, to fight and to contend? It's what we were born to do, it's in our blood. Watch any boy. Before he can even speak, he reaches, impelled by instinct, for the staff and the sword - while his sisters unprompted shun these implements of contention and instead cuddle to their bosom the kitten and the doll.

What is more natural to a man than to fight, or a woman to love? Is this not the imperative of a mother's blood, to give and to nuture, above all the produce of her own womb, the children she has borne in pain? We know that a lioness or she-wolf will cast away her life without hesitation to preserve her cubs or pups. Women the same. Now consider, friends, that which we call women's courage:

What could be more contrary to female nature, to motherhood, than to stand unmoved and unmoving as her sons march off to death? Must not every sinew of the mother's flesh call out in agony and affront at such an outrage? Must not her heart seek to cry in its passion, 'No! Not my son! Spare him!' That women, from some source unknown to us, summon the will to conquer this their own deepest nature is, I believe, the reason we stand in awy of our mothers and sisters, and wives. This, I believe, Dienekes, is the essence of women's courage and why it, as you suggested, is superior to men's.





Like I said, a good book.




Pau.




- hfs

3.09.2006

Some Sunnis Targeting al-Qeada in Iraq

Yahoo! Story

Residents reported curious declarations hanging from mosque walls and market stalls recently in Ramadi, the Sunni Muslim insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad. The fliers said Iraqi militants had turned on and were killing foreign al-Qaida fighters, their one-time allies.
ADVERTISEMENT


A local tribal leader and
Iraq's Defense Ministry have said followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, have begun fleeing Anbar province and Ramadi, its capital, to cities and mountain ranges near the Iranian border.



It's about damn time. There might be hope after all.

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IN OTHER NEWS...

Housing update: We're still being evicted. The homeowner doesn't seem to have a problem booting us out in the face of an upcoming deployment so we're on the hunt for a new place. We are limited by time and the fact that MacGyver will be heading to Fort Irwin, CA for NTC time (National Training Center) sometime during April and May. So we're looking to move sometime in June. JUST what I wanted to be doing right before sending my husband off to war. (*can you tell I'm still pissy about this one?*)

We do have a lead on a house just 2 blocks away in the same little subdivision. The current tenants are military as well and are most likely moving off the island in June so the timing is perfect. They don't have orders yet but I've talked to her and she's going to keep us posted. The house is about the same size as what we are in right now (if not slightly bigger) and would keep Princess Trouble at the same school. We're still keeping our eyes open for other options as well.

Housing on post is also still an option, especially with the incentive package Actus (the company that manages on-post housing) just came out with : free yard maintenance, free child care hours, free "handyman" services each quarter, 1 month free rent for anyone moving form off-post to on-post housing, and cash bonuses for on-post residents who refer off-post residents to on-post housing. Actus is HURTING. Last deployment, they lost buckets of money because a LOT of families left the island during the deployment. Looks like they are trying to counter that this time around. They weren't very helpful when we went in last month but I'm thinking they might be more willing to give me what I ask for now. That is our last resort though.

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Deployment news: We had our first FRG deployment briefing last night. Not a lot of new information - deployment dates are still classified but the timeframe hasn't changed. Training calendar was handed out which was nice though, again, a lot of the dates can, and will, change. Really, all of the information presented last night could have been sent out in an e-mail. I do have a few suggestions for our FRG leader and unit commander though...

1. if you are going to insist on the soldier AND the spouse being present at these briefings, MAKE CHILDCARE AVAILABLE. There is this WONDERFUL thing called STACC: Short Term Alternative Child Care. The CDC will send a child care worker and materials (i.e. toys!) to your location for unit-related events such as FRG meetings. That way, moms and dads do not have to spend 2/3 of the briefing chasing after or "shhsh"ing their children so that others can hear the information being presented.

2. microphones are a MUST. PERIOD. Especially for the psychoanalyst lady from Soldier and Family Life Services that speaks in a voice that only dogs can hear.

3. If you state that the meeting will take 1 hour, BE DONE IN 1 HOUR. Don't go over because you want to stand up there and yak about stuff that doesn't pertain to the deployment.

4. Don't rehash previous deployment stories during the meeting. Those stories are best left to bars and gatherings other than a pre-deployment briefing.

5. There are 4 things I, as a spouse, want to learn from these meetings: WHEN will my husband be leaving? WHEN will my husband be returning? WHO do I call if there is an emergency? And WHAT do I need to do before the deployment to cover my ass for whatever is going to hit the fan while he's gone? That about covers it.



That's about all I have right now. Those of you watching CNN, no...we are not in the midst of the flooding that is happening in certain parts of the island. We live pretty much in the dead center of the island and flooding isn't really an issue here. Although I am going to start architectural drawings for my ark if the rain doesn't let up soon...




Pau.




- hfs

3.07.2006

Testing...


Just testing a new image hosting option. Posted by Picasa

Pictures...

PhotoBucket has decided to change their terms of service.

"Terms of Service

* Updated 03/02/06

Before you use this site, please read these Terms of Service carefully as they govern your use of the services provided at Photobucket.com (the "Services"). By using the Services you agree to the Terms of Service set forth below as they may be updated from time to time by Photobucket.com, Inc. ("Photobucket.com"). Photobucket.com may modify or terminate the Services from time to time, for any reason, and without notice, including the right to terminate with or without notice, without liability to you, any other user or any third party, provided that when Photobucket.com does so, it will update these Terms of Service. You are advised to periodically check the website for changes in the Terms of Service.

"User Content" means any videos, photographs, images text, graphics, news articles, charts, presentations, communications photographs, illustrations text, graphics, news articles, charts, presentations or other materials provided by you to Photobucket.com. Photobucket.com does not claim ownership rights in any User Content. In order for Photobucket.com to permit you to use the Services, you grant to Photobucket.com a perpetual, universal, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, license to use, copy, distribute, modify, print, display and otherwise exploit in any manner any User Content and to enable third parties to use the Services to do the same."
(emphasis mine)


So...I'm in the process of finding another site to host photos and will then need to re-add them to the blog (and the kids' blog). Please bear with me on this one. It may take me a few days to upload everything - my photobucket account is kind of large.

And when I'm done, I will be writing a letter to PhotoBucket asking them what in the world makes them think that they, or anyone else, is entitled to the use of MY photos. Bad business move on their part...idiots.


UPDATE: I am only going to swap the pictures from the latest post over to a new image hosting site. It's entirely too big of a hassle to sit and swap them all over and then go through and edit each post to add in the new pictures.




Pau.




- hfs

3.06.2006

Anti-Social

Ever have one of those days/weeks/months where you really don't want to BE around anyone? Or TALK to anyone? That's how I've been feeling lately.


I hate it.


I tried to snap out of my funk today by going to Starbucks with some friends but had to leave early as Little Man isn't feeling well (still). I don't want to answer my phone. I don't want to talk to anyone or even GO anywhere (except maybe the bookstore or the library).


At first, I thought it was the weather. It's been rainy and gloomy for about the past 2 weeks. But today is BEAUTIFUL and I STILL don't want to do anything. There is a pile of laundry waiting for me, a list of things that need to be done before we move, and other things that need to be done and I just cannot motivate myself to get to it.


AARRGGHH!!!


There, I feel better. Kind of.




Pau.




- hfs

3.04.2006

Government and You E-News - February 28, 2006

Here’s the News!

1. Speak Out About Health Care!! Military families rate health care as one of their most important benefits. How satisfied are you with your TRICARE benefit? Which TRICARE option do you use? Where do you obtain your medications? What are your concerns about the future of this benefit? Go to: www.nmfa.org/health to take the new NMFA Health Care survey.

2. Sound Off About Your Pharmacy Benefit! March 30, 2006 is the next meeting of the Uniform Formulary Beneficiary Advisory Panel (BAP). The Panel will review and comment on the Department of Defense’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee’s recommendations on drugs that should be retained at Tier 1 or 2 co-payment levels (formulary) or move to the Tier 3 co-payment level (non formulary). The drug classes to be reviewed include Overactive Bladder agents, GABA-nergic Anticonvulsants, and miscellaneous Hypertension agents.

Any private citizen may communicate with the Panel electronically by sending their statement to richard.martel.ctr@tma.osd.mil by March 23. In addition, the first twelve private citizens who sign up the day of the meeting may address the panel in person. It is an open meeting and anyone can attend. The meeting will be held at the Naval Heritage Center Theater, 701 Pennsylvania, Ave, NW, Washington DC (the Navy Memorial metro stop) starting at 8 am. The specific recommendations of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee are usually posted on the Beneficiary Advisory Panel’s web page (www.TRICARE.osd.mil/pharmacy/BAP) approximately two weeks before the Panel’s meeting. The final decision on which drugs are retained at the Tier 1 and 2 levels and which move to Tier 3 is made by the Director of the TRICARE Management Activity.

Tier 1 co-payments are for generic drugs and are $3 for a 30 day supply at a retail network pharmacy (TRRx) and $3 for 90 days at the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP).Tier 2 co-payments are for brand name drugs and are $9 at TRRx for a 30 day supply and $9 for 90 days at the TMOP. Tier 3 co-payments are $22 for a 30 day supply at TRRx and $22 for 90 days at the TMOP. If beneficiaries and their providers can establish medical necessity for a Tier 3 drug, they may purchase it at the Tier 1 or Tier 2 co-payment levels. Military Treatment Facility (MTF) pharmacies are not allowed to carry Tier 3 drugs unless medical necessity is established and the prescription is written by an MTF provider.

3. Parents as Teachers Helps Military Families: More military families across the country will have access to the Parents as Teachers (PAT) childhood education program, thanks to $1 million in federal funding for the program’s expansion. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) recently highlighted this program, saying that military families with young children are often most impacted by the stress of military life. Currently, four installations operate the Parents as Teachers program called “Heroes at Home”. These are: Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas; and Fort Hood, Texas. The federal funding, which was included in the FY 2006 Defense Appropriations Act, will enhance those programs already in place and expand pilot programs to five more installations: Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Stewart, GA; Fort Campbell, KY; Fort Lewis, WA and Fort Wainwright, AK. NMFA looks forward to seeing this program expand to include even more military families and will monitor the progress of this program.

Parents as Teachers is an international early childhood parent education and family support program serving families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten, usually age five. It has 3,000 programs in all 50 states and abroad. The program was developed in the 1970s when Missouri educators noted that children were beginning kindergarten with varying levels of learning readiness. It is designed to enhance child development and school achievement through parent education accessible to all families. It is a universal access model. The program is adaptable to fit community needs. It is a national model, but a local program. Family participation is voluntary. For more information, go to: http://www.parentsasteachers.org/.

4. Virginia is Latest State to Consider Military Family Emergency Fund: The Commonwealth of Virginia joins several other states in trying to establish a state Military Relief Fund. The purpose of these funds is primarily to give financial assistance to National Guard and Reserve members who are called to active duty and provide living expenses for their families facing a financial emergency. Senate Bill 139 would set up such a fund in Virginia to offset part of the financial stress placed on the servicemembers and their families. There is a companion bill in the House of Delegates and $500,000 has been allocated in the state budget for the start-up. The bill also allows for individuals to support the fund by donating part or all of their income tax refunds. Action on the bill should take place in this legislative session.

Twenty-two states have a Military Family Relief Fund and thirteen other states, including Maryland, are considering creating such a fund for their military families. For more information about these funds go to http://www.operationhomefront.org/ or check your own state website to see if your state has established this fund.

5. Fight Continues to Eliminate DIC Offset to SBP: Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) is preparing a letter to be delivered to the Senate Budget Committee asking the Committee to include funding in the FY 2007 Budget Resolution to end the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset to the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and to move up the date for paid-up SBP to 1 October 2006. The absence of budget authority has been a major obstacle to the passage of legislation to end this offset in the past. Last year, Senator Nelson’s amendment to the FY2006 Defense Authorization Bill concerning this issue was voted in by a 92-6 margin in the Senate but did not survive the Conference proceedings. Inclusion in this year’s Budget Resolution would go a long way toward the passage of S. 185, Senator Nelson’s bill to end the offset and speed up the implementation of the paid-up SBP. The Senate Budget Committee is chaired by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND).

NMFA believes that ending the DIC offset to SBP will provide the most significant long-term protection to the surviving family’s financial security. DIC is a special indemnity (compensation or insurance) payment that is paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the survivor when the servicemember's death is attributed to military service. It is a flat rate payment, which for 2006 is $1,033 for the surviving spouse and $257 for each surviving child. The SPB annuity, paid by the Department of Defense (DoD) reflects the longevity of the service of the military member. It is ordinarily calculated at 55% of retired pay. If a retiree dies due to a service- connected disability, their survivor is also eligible for DIC. Currently SBP payments to survivors are decreased by the amount of DIC paid to the surviving spouse. Ending the offset would recognize the length of commitment and service of the career servicemember and spouse and provide support for the surviving spouse in the long term.

For more information on how the DIC offset to SBP works or on the range of benefits available for survivors, go to the NMFA fact sheet “Benefits for Survivors of Active Duty Deaths,” at: http://www.nmfa.org/site/DocServer/Survivor_Benefits_Fact_Sheet_2-06.pdf?docID=4541.

6. Military Spouses: NMFA Scholarships are for You! The National Military Family Association is now accepting applications for the NMFA Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program. Any uniformed service spouse—active, retired, National Guard, Reserve or survivor—studying toward professional certification or attending post-secondary or graduate school is encouraged to apply. Scholarships are normally in the amount of $1,000, and the number awarded each year varies depending on funding. Scholarship funds may be used for tuition, fees, books, and school room and board. Applications can be found at www.nmfa.org/scholarships2006.

Scholarship selection is based on completion of some survey questions that will help NMFA advocate for education changes on your behalf, short-answer questions, and an essay question. Applications will only be accepted online and must be submitted by midnight April 15, 2006.

3.02.2006

Hickam AFB close to F-22 Deal

Honolulu Advertiser article


I don't think the F-22 is actually a "stealth fighter" but I may be wrong (not that that EVER happens...) but it looks like Hickam AFB will be getting the new F-22 as it replaces the F-15. Woohoo!


"Basing the F-22s at Hickam is contingent on the successful completion and approval of all environmental studies required under the National Environmental Policy Act," Inouye said in the release." Air Force officials have made it clear to me that they definitely favor Hickam as an operational base for this new generation of high-tech jet fighters.





Pau.




- hfs

3.01.2006

$1.14! Woohoo!!!

I've made $1.14 in two days with my wonderful Google AdSense button to your left. Not bad for 5 minutes of work (applying for an account, cutting, and pasting code). Maybe I can put that money toward hiring MOVERS!?!


If you get a chance, scroll ALL the way down, just below the section on "Net Rings and Links" and you'll see a handy-dandy Google search window. Same idea as the AdSense button on the left - you click, I earn.

Works for me! I may move it up closer to the top so people actually SEE it. In the meantime, if you need to Google something, feel free to scroll down and use MINE!!! Takes less time than either typing in the www.google.com or opening up another window!


Thanks!




Pau.




- hfs