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NDAA 8 Things to know

8 Ways the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Will Affect Your Military Family

December 7, 2016

**The FY17 NDAA has passed the House and the Senate. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.** On December 2, Congress unveiled the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the massive piece of legislation that sets policies and funding levels for the Department of Defense. Tucked in its more than 1,000 pages are changes to pay, parental leave, commissary operations and more – some good, some not so much. How will your military family be affected? Here are eight important things that you need to know:…

Hey, Congress! Don’t Forget about Military Kids this Holiday Season

November 30, 2016

Congress is getting ready to leave town for the holidays, but they are giving a big lump of coal to public schools educating military-connected kids. Leaders in the House and Senate have decided to put off passing Appropriations, or spending bills for Fiscal Year 2017, which started back in October. Instead, they will most likely pass a Continuing Resolution that will extend until the end of March. A Continuing Resolution would be harmful for all federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, because it prevents them from entering into…

Military Kids Health Care

Defense Health Board Seeks Comments on Pediatric Care

November 30, 2016

Have you faced problems getting your child an appointment at your military clinic? Had TRICARE deny a claim for services your child’s doctor ordered? Faced obstacles in finding pediatric specialty care providers who take TRICARE patients? Now is your chance to provide feedback to the Defense Health Board! The Defense Health Board (DHB) is a Federal Advisory Committee charged with providing independent advice to the Military Health System. The DHB just announced a December 14 meeting where they will collect public comments regarding pedia…

Unfinished Business: The FY16 NDAA

November 15, 2016

With all the focus recently on the election and the new Administration taking over in January, 2017, it’s easy to overlook an important piece of unfinished business from 2016--the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The House and Senate each passed versions of the bill, which sets policies and funding levels for the Department of Defense, earlier this year. However, they were unable to agree to a compromise version before leaving town in October for the campaign. Now that the election is over, Congress will be returning to Washi…

President Trump

Dear President Donald Trump,

November 9, 2016

Now that you're the new Commander-in-Chief, military families have a few things they’d like to tell you, our new leader. Military families are tired of the uncertainty, and worried about more unfulfilled promises from leaders who have their loved one’s life in their hands. Nearly 300,000 service members are currently deployed, many still fighting a war that’s lasted more than 15 years. In that time, benefits for service members dwindled, sequestration became an unavoidable reality, and military families began to wonder if th…

Treatment or Hospice

Fix the Gap: Terminally Ill Military Kids Must Forego Treatment to Receive Hospice Care

November 8, 2016

Your family sacrifices 365 days a year. You endure multiple moves, silently serve during repeated deployments, and patiently wait through the dreaded appointment line to receive care at your Military Treatment Facility. You expect your TRICARE benefit to be there for you when you need it most. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, our Association has worked to ensure TRICARE policies are on par with coverage mandated by the ACA. Given the sacrifices service members and their families make, shouldn’t military families expect h…

kids at desk

School Transition Roadblocks and Who’s Fixing Them

November 7, 2016

Do you have a school-aged child? A high schooler who’s nearing graduation? Do you worry about problems your kids may face if they have to change schools due to a PCS move? If you are a military family with kids in school, chances are you may have heard about the Interstate Compact, an agreement created to smooth the transition for military kids as they move between school districts and states. All 50 states and Washington D.C. are part of the Interstate Compact agreement. A huge milestone for military families, the Interstate Compact…

Military Family

This Month, Thank the Force Behind our Force

November 2, 2016

The silent service of more than 2.9 million military family members around the world is truly the force behind our force. While we honor our military families every day of the year, Military Family Month is when our President asks all Americans to pay tribute to the extraordinary ways our nation’s families continue to support our military. Military kids deal with stressors that other children don’t understand—like a deployed, or injured parent. Military spouses put their career ambitions on hold support their service member…

Trump and Clinton Campaigns Visit NMFA Office to Discuss Military Families

October 14, 2016

Military and veteran policy advisors from the campaigns of both major presidential nominees were in the NMFA office on October 13 to hear from organizations who fight for our nation’s families. As a member of The Military Coalition (TMC)—which is comprised of 33 organizations representing the 5.5 million uniformed service members and their families—NMFA hosted both campaigns at our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia to share the questions and concerns military and veteran families want our next Commander in Chief to know …

General Dunford Gets Personal—Focusing on Military Families, Including His Own—at 2016 NMFA Leadership Luncheon

October 12, 2016

Military families are often in the shadows of the spotlight put on our nation’s service members. But at our 2016 Leadership Luncheon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. made sure military families, and their unique sacrifices, were the star of the show. During his keynote speech October 11 in Arlington, Virginia, General Dunford spoke about how our military force has fared during these last 15 years of war. But his focus remained on military families--the key to our military’s lasting strength. &l…

Thank Congress! Law Passed Authorizing VA to Cover IVF

October 6, 2016

Veterans hoping to start or grow their families now have a chance thanks to legislation that was passed by Congress, and signed by the President, in September. This bill includes a provision authorizing the Veterans Administration (VA) to cover fertility treatment, including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), to veterans who lost their fertility due to illness or injury connected to their service. For years, the Department of Defense provided coverage for fertility treatment for military members who need it due to service-connected injuries. Howeve…

Tricare Pharmacy

Filling TRICARE Prescriptions: CVS and Target are Out, Walgreens is In

October 5, 2016

Forget about picking up your prescriptions during that Target run. CVS is out, too. Starting December 1, 2016, CVS pharmacies, including those in Target stores, will no longer be part of the TRICARE network. In their place, Walgreens joins the network and can begin filling scripts that same day. Some of us can hear our wallets thanking us now (who else can’t get past the $1 section of Target without picking something up?!), but rest assured, filling prescriptions won’t be as burdensome as it may seem. Please keep in mind, you won…

Thank You for Your Service—and Now We’re Done with You

September 22, 2016

Kenny Toone is a Marine veteran who lost everything—family, purpose, religion— after returning from Iraq in 2003. “I really didn’t know who I was,” he said, recounting his attempted suicide. “It would make me upset when people would come up to me and say ‘oh thank you for your service, welcome home. What do you know about living with these memories?'” The documentary, “Thank You for Your Service,” which premiered on Capitol Hill this week, shows how each veteran has his or her own me…

little girl sitting on books

Why Impact Aid Matters? A Superintendent’s View on Funding for Military Kids

September 21, 2016

Military families with kids in public school know the drill: sometime during the first two or three months of the school year, a form will appear in their child’s backpack or homework folder – the Impact Aid form. The form will include questions about your family’s connection to the military, and will usually be accompanied by a request from the school to complete and return it as soon as possible. Understandably, this leaves many military families confused. What is Impact Aid and why do schools need this information? And w…

children walking

3 Easy Steps to Ace Your Child’s School Transition

September 14, 2016

As we reach the end of another summer PCS season, many military children are, once again, the new kid in school. Starting over in a new school is nothing new to most military kids, and usually the transition goes smoothly. Too often, however, military kids and their families run into road blocks as they try to settle into their new schools. In most instances, the culprit is policies and procedures in their new school district that are different from their old one. What can you do if you find yourself and your child in this situation? Step One:…

9/11 Video

Together We Remember, Proudly We Serve

September 11, 2016

girl that's upset

Suicide and the Military Family: Could Your Loved One be at Risk?

September 8, 2016

The statistics are sobering. Every day, an active duty service member takes his or her own life. Twenty veterans per day do the same. The Department of Defense (DoD) doesn’t track suicides in military family members, but we know they happen far too often. But what can we do to make sure our loved one isn’t next? This Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we want to remind you to be keenly aware of the risk factors and warning signs. How would you know your loved one is struggling? It begins by knowing the risk factors. There…

dollar bill and text

Borrowing Money? The Military Lending Act Protects You.

September 6, 2016

Military life can be full of financial hurdles. Consider military families who experience the combined triple whammy: spouse unemployment, out-of-pocket PCS expenses and stretching an already thin military paycheck to make ends meet. This trifecta of hurdles has lead military families down a financial rabbit-hole that often takes years to dig themselves out of- only to find themselves there again the next time the PCS to another duty station! Many military families find themselves looking for the quick and easy way to get them from the 1st or…

Find Your Niche: Career Groups for Military Spouses

August 25, 2016

Being a career-minded spouse isn’t so bad when you’re stationed in some parts of the world, but what does a military spouse do after landing in more remote locations like Fort Leonard Wood, in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, or Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska? Trying to continue a career path alongside a life filled with military moves to out-of-the-way installations can make spouses feel like they’re the only other ones in the career game. What if you could find a group of like-minded career spouses to hang on to th…

SCRA and Credit Card Benefits

August 23, 2016

Did you know credit card companies will refund interest and fees paid on credit cards opened prior to going on active duty? In 2003, Congress enacted the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. The federal law provides a variety of financial protections for service members during periods of military service. It’s been updated a few times since then, but while many know the SCRA protects them when breaking a lease with military orders, they aren’t aware of e…

Back to School Resources

5 back-to-school resources to have on your radar

August 22, 2016

“This school year is going to be different,” you tell yourself. You’re going to be organized, pack healthier lunches and get the kids involved in every extracurricular under the sun. Or so you think. Life can get in the way of even the best laid back-to-school plans. That’s especially true if your military family moved over the summer and once again your little ones are the new kids in school. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re in new surroundings. Luckily, there are resources to help military kids …

Political Activity

Political Activity and Military Families – It’s a Balancing Act

August 19, 2016

With the general election less than 90 days away, both presidential and congressional campaigns are starting to heat up. Military families might start to feel the need to speak up or get involved in their local campaigns. As with all things in the military, though, there are rules. While these rules only dictate what a service member can and cannot do when it comes to political participation, it is important for families to be aware of them as well. Service members are encouraged to vote and express their own personal views. They are even al…

kids in a classroom

What’s the Big Deal About Impact Aid?

August 16, 2016

When your military kid comes home with the Parent Pupil Survey this year it might be easy for the voluntary information card to get lost in piles of paperwork. After all, it isn’t mandatory, so what’s the big deal? That piece of paper collects vital demographic information used in securing federal impact aid, a type of school funding, at districts all across the country. It is a big deal! Schools typically rely on property tax revenue to educate students. School districts can lose that money due to the presence of a tax-exempt fe…

Case for Military Spouses

Change the Conversation and Hire Spouses

August 15, 2016

You’ve lived everywhere, huh? Tell me about yourself. What (really) brings you to the area? There’s not a career-minded military spouse in existence that hasn’t been asked some form of these questions during a job interview. The poorly veiled attempts at determining military affiliation can be harmless for a run-of-the-mill interviewee but the ultimate nail in the coffin to a military spouse’s job search. With only two choices, tip toe around the answers or be upfront about your situation, we wondered—are these …

Operation Purple Chronicles: Observations from an MFLC

August 12, 2016

Divorce. It’s a word not brought up in military kid counseling sessions as often as deployments, but if Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) Melissa Testerman had her way, it would be. We talk about deployments, trainings and other separations, she says of her military counseling sessions, but not about what these kids bring up most often—divorce is the elephant in the room. Testerman first heard about becoming an MFLC with a few years under her belt at a private counseling practice. She found working with children was a bet…

Gold Star families

We Can Do More for Our Gold Star Families

August 11, 2016

With both sides of the aisle recently throwing military families into the political crosshairs, many Americans, and maybe even some military families, are hearing about Gold Star Families for the first time. The Gold Star designation, given to the surviving loved ones of service members killed in the line of duty, comes from a World War I tradition of flying a flag embroidered with a blue star for each immediate member of the family serving in the military. If the service member passed away that blue star would be replaced with a gold one. Whi…

9 Facts about TRICARE’s Urgent Care Pilot

August 10, 2016

For military family members using TRICARE Prime, the Urgent Care Pilot now covers two visits to a civilian urgent care provider without having to get a referral from a primary care manager. This means when you've got a non-emergency illness or injury, like a high fever or a sprained ankle, you've now got more options when your primary care manager is booked. And the good news is they shouldn’t include an emergency room. Sounds easy enough, right? Lately, we have noticed on social media that some military families may still have questio…

kids at operation purple camp

Operation Purple Chronicles: Military Kids Serve, Too

August 9, 2016

“How have you guys served?" That was the question asked to a group of Operation Purple® Camp kids in Nashville, Tennessee. Familiar with deployments, trainings and reintegration, about 100 military kids of all ages, genders and races gathered in the dining hall of Camp Widjiwagan to listen to National Guard Cpt. Tiffany Vaughan and Staff Sgt. Tre Trotter. Although different, everyone in the room shared one big thing in common—the bond of their family’s military service. Army values, Vaughan explained, can be defined b…

Military Spouse Guide to Federal Employment

A Quick Guide to Federal Employment

August 8, 2016

Military spouses can be attracted to federal employment for several reasons. Many find the mission of federal agencies aligns with their professional calling and want to be public servants. Other spouses know there are few jobs in overseas and remote locations and hope securing a federal job at one duty station will lead to a possible job transfer at the next. But how do you get these elusive federal jobs? There are resources out there if you know where to look.Not going to lie—it’s a tough field to crack but once you’re in…

OP Camp Nashville

Operation Purple Chronicles: Sophia's Story

August 5, 2016

Nine-year-old Sophia came back from Operation Purple® Camp in Nashville with a few lessons for her family. “She’s already made two or three meals since she’s been home,” Sophia’s mom Shelene says. “She wants to make me guacamole, and she made a stool that she sits on.” And although Mom was apprehensive at first about sending her daughter to sleepaway camp for seven whole days, when she heard NMFA’s summer enrichment program was fully vetted by her friends, and that at least eight other frie…

NDAA Health Care

How the NDAA Could Impact Your Health Care

August 2, 2016

For months we’ve been hearing from Congress that 2016 will be the year of military health system reform. We’ve given our testimony on the Hill, attended dozens of meetings and sat on panel discussions with members of Congress, all to make sure that military families’ concerns about cost, quality and access to care were heard. Congress’ plans for military health reform are included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The massive piece of legislation sets policies and funding levels for the Department of D…

Twitter Chat August

Find Your Next Job as a Military Spouse

August 2, 2016

It’s just past peak PCS season and this time of year, we often receive phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts asking for help on the job hunting front. From resume questions to tips for getting your foot in the door, an already challenging process can be especially daunting for military spouses after a move. So without those professional network connections at a new duty station where do you turn? Start with these resources. Employment Readiness Specialists: If you live near an installation, your installation’s employment re…

When Blue Stars Turn Gold

August 2, 2016

I became a Gold Star Mom in July 2013, but I’m still trying to figure out this journey of what that means to be a mother who has lost her child. My son Justin was a calm baby in the womb, usually perfectly happy to just sleep calmly close to my heart. That all changed when he was born six and a half weeks premature, and spent his first weeks in the NICU. That’s when we knew he was a fighter. Growing up, Justin would always zero in on one particular thing in life, and be so passionate about that one thing. First, it was dinosaurs. …

Government Travel Credit Card

For Better or Worse, the Government Travel Credit Card is Here to Stay

July 26, 2016

PCS moves are about to get a little more interesting thanks to the newest form of plastic your service member will be bringing home—a Government Travel Credit Card (GTCC). But not all who have relocated with their GTCC say the card actually made things easier, as it was intended to do. How does it work? Upon receiving orders, your service member will find out if they need a GTCC for your upcoming move. Each Service has a different process for card activation, but the Agency Program Coordinator (APC), generally available through a financ…

Special Education and Kids Rights

Know Your Rights: Special Education and Military Kids

July 25, 2016

As every military family knows, Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves are a time of stress and anxiety. Along with dealing with movers, finding a new home and adjusting to a new home town, military families with a special needs child have an additional worry: the fear that the programs and services their child relies on will not be available at their new location. The services’ Exceptional Family Member Programs (EFMP) are charged with ensuring special needs families are sent to locations where their family member can receive the medic…

Kids Nutrition -

No Child Should Ever Go Hungry—Nutrition Assistance Programs For Military Families

July 24, 2016

Military life often comes with frequent deployments, long separations, and regular moves. And for many military families—especially young ones—you can add money problems to the list of challenges. A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows between 2014 and 2015, service members and their families received more than $21 million in food stamps, also known as SNAP benefits. And according to that same report, the Department of Defense (DoD) has no good way to track just how many military families need or are eligible f…

Marriage Satisfaction Shows Slight Improvement

July 21, 2016

When Monique Fernandez met her husband in Texas, she was already well on her way to an established career as an elementary and middle school teacher. "That summer I got the job at the school district I wanted. I worked there two years.” So when the couple received orders to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Monique says she was sad to leave. Once in Florida, it took more than three months for Monique to get a teaching job where she wasn’t even assigned her own classroom. At first, having to take a step down on the career ladder caused…

NMFA Conferee Letter-360

Stop Cutting Costs at Service Members’ Expense

July 21, 2016

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sets funding guidelines for the Department of Defense (DoD) each year that directly impacts the lives of our service members and their families. Both the House and the Senate have passed their versions of the 2017 budget, and the legislation now moves into conference committee to hammer out the differences. Last week, the National Military Family Association sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees showing our support as well as expressing …

Buying a house

To Rent or to Buy

July 19, 2016

Maybe you’ve heard the stories—a National Guard family purchases a home in Alaska, sight unseen. An Army couple looks at 11 properties in a day and closes on the 11th from across the country just 30 days later. Or the couple who buys a house while Facetiming from Germany, using a realtor recommended on Facebook. It seems frequent moves make military families rush some pretty crazy life decisions. Home buying might top that list, but should you follow suit? Although active-duty families are only a small percentage of total home bu…

Terry's Retirement

An NMFA Legacy: Thank You from 60,000 Military Family Members

July 15, 2016

Retiring NMFA Youth Initiatives Director Terry Buchanan was what one might call a reluctant camper growing up. She enjoyed her years with the Girl Scouts, hawking cookies door to door, but the experience-based trips to earn badges are what weaved themselves into her memories. So it’s no surprise that under her guidance, the Operation Purple® Program—National Military Family Association’s tailor-made enrichment camps for military children and their families—has grown and flourished. NMFA started offering summer cam…

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