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Identity Theft

5 PCS Identity Theft Tips

July 15, 2016

What do PCS season and a shopping spree at Nordstrom have in common? Unfortunately, not much in our experience but frequent moves do make military families particularly vulnerable to identity theft. To make sure someone else isn’t using your hard-earned money to treat themselves to some Manolos here are some tips to protect yourself and family while on the move. 1. Order your credit report- it won’t hurt your score! Military or not, federal law allows everyone access to a totally free credit report every 12 months from each of the …

Veterans Charity Challenge Thank you

Cocktails + Spicy Chicken + WalMart = $19,000 for Military Families

July 12, 2016

For the first time ever, NMFA placed in the top 5 of the 58 organizations competing in the annual Veterans Charity Challenge. The Challenge is put on by Craigslist founder and NMFA Board of Advisors member, Craig Newmark, and is designed with incentives for teams to raise more money for their perspective charities. NMFA placed 4th overall plus won a weekly challenge giving us an extra $3,000 to put toward our mission of helping military families. “We make it a competition to make it fun but the real point is to help these important nonpr…

Is Military Life Better

DoD Survey Finds Troops and Spouses Doing Slightly Better

July 11, 2016

The overall satisfaction, finances and marriages of our troops are generally better off now than during the height of the wars, according to Department of Defense survey findings released last week. Analysts from the Defense Manpower Data Center and the Defense Research, Surveys and Statistics Center presented the 2015 Survey of Active Duty Spouses and the 2013-14 Status of Forces Survey of Active Duty Members July 7. The Department of Defense (DoD) surveyed 45,000 spouses in 2015 and 135,000 active duty service members in 2013 and 2014 from …

Dad throwing kid into the air

Military Health Care Reform: Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water!

June 28, 2016

This year both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are working to enact a series of significant reforms to the Military Health System and to the nature of the health care benefit for military beneficiaries. We will not know the final results of these efforts until this fall, but there are several noteworthy provisions in both the House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The House bill would vest primary responsibility for the operation of on base Military Treatment Facilities in the Defen…

Changes to BAH will Penalize Married Couples & Smart Money Choices

June 21, 2016

Recently, the Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the massive piece of legislation that sets policies and funding levels for the Department of Defense (DoD). Tucked away in the 1600-page bill is a set of proposals that — if signed into law — will significantly change the way service members receive their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). And here’s what we think you need to know about it: Instead of a flat rate based on rank, location, and dependency status, service members would …

The In’s and Out’s of Unemployment Compensation for MilSpouses

June 16, 2016

Did you know if you have to quit a job because of your spouse’s new assignment, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation? Forty-six states have laws or regulations that may qualify you for unemployment insurance (UI) when you resign from your position to move with your service member. Each state determines the amount of compensation you can receive, how long you will receive it, and criteria for eligibility. Although UI is often substantially less than your previous earnings, it can help provide some financial stability while y…

Commissary Benefits

Buyer Beware? Big Changes May be Coming to the Commissary

June 15, 2016

In recent years, as budgets have gotten tighter, the commissary—and the $1.4 billion it receives each year—has become a favorite target of officials in Congress and at the Pentagon. Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) are convinced that changing the way the commissary does business will allow them to reduce commissary funding while still delivering savings to military families. Are they right? It looks like we’ll find out…starting next year. At DoD’s request, both the House and the Senate included lang…

SASC image

More Fees With No Real Improvement: The Ongoing Theme for Military Health Care Reform

June 8, 2016

One thing is clear: Congress listened to military families as they developed their Military Health System (MHS) Reform proposals. Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) plans attempt to address access, quality, and safety issues. Exciting news, right? Sort of. While we’re glad Congress used the feedback from military families, we’re not convinced the proposals in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) are enough to effectively address the problems families encounter with…

Piggy bank with glasses and Paying for College

Paying for College: What are the Options for Military Families?

June 2, 2016

Paying for College: What Military Families Need to Know: It’s the moment every high school senior waits for: the arrival of that fat envelope from a college or university letting them know they’ve been accepted. For parents, however, that magic moment comes with mixed emotions. Happy, proud, excited – and terrified. Hooray, Junior is going to college. Now how are we going to pay for it? While college is almost always going to come with a hefty price tag, luckily there are policies in place to lessen the burden for military f…

Professionals

Can Employed Military Spouses Improve Military Retention Rates?

May 26, 2016

It’s no big secret military spouses struggle to find meaningful employment. Between frequent moves, child care costs, and job expectations, finding and keeping a job can feel near impossible—especially when trying to balance employment with the long hours of their service member spouse. On May 26 on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Veterans Job Caucus held a panel to shed light on military spouse career struggle. NMFA Executive Director Joyce Raezer participated on the panel and offered some actionable solutions. Times have change…

What Proposed Updates to the Military Lending Act Mean for You

May 25, 2016

Predatory lenders have always had their sights set on service members and their families, but the Military Lending Act (MLA) shields military families from these practices by expanding the financial protections provided to service members, and helping ensure military families receive the consumer protections they deserve. In an effort to continually assess the safeguards provided by the MLA, the Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the act. What Recent Ch…

Mental Health Pipeline Event

New Initiative to Strengthen the Health of MilFams

May 25, 2016

We have exciting news to share! NMFA has teamed up with two other charity organizations to work on the serious issue of strengthening the mental health of military families. At an event on Capitol Hill, NMFA, Give an Hour and United Health Foundation launched the Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network. The Network will lessen the nationwide shortage of mental health providers, which is even more of a problem in the military community, by supporting professionals seeking licensure, funding for continuing education, and referring serv…

HASC Provisions

Defense Budget Battle Begins with the HASC Mark

May 16, 2016

It’s an annual Washington ritual: waiting to see what will be included in the year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the legislation that sets policies and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense (DoD). The Administration released its budget request in February; now the ball is in Congress’ court. The legislation needs to pass through both houses of Congress and go to the President for his signature before becoming law. While we’re still waiting for the details of the Senate plan, we’ve had a c…

Couple with a baby looking at their home

SCRA Relief Extended for Veteran Homeowners

May 13, 2016

In 2012, Congress extended the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protection against foreclosure for service members from 3 months to 1 year post-military service. Under this SCRA extension, veterans and their families are given additional time to transition from active duty to civilian life and delay eviction or foreclosure proceedings. The SCRA foreclosure relief was set to expire on December 31, 2015. Congress recently approved another extension through December 31, 2017 for a one year period after a service member’s service…

Spouse Education and Spouse Employment

Spouse Education + Professional Support=Strong Military Families

May 4, 2016

May 6th is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. At the National Military Family Association we work hard every day to support military spouses. It’s no secret that spouse education and employment go hand-in-hand. Earlier this year we submitted testimony and offered recommendations to Congress on how to support spouse education and employment efforts. Spouse employment and education support is a critical component of military family readiness. Much like their civilian counterparts, many military families rely on two incomes in order to he…

quote on budget

Care Not Cost: Why is this So Hard to Understand?

April 29, 2016

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) sent military families some disappointing news this week when they adopted their version of Military Health System (MHS) reform. Like the Department of Defense (DoD), the HASC seems focused on out-of-pocket fee structure changes, instead of making more dramatic improvements needed to access and quality of care. Our Association’s message to Congress: Don’t shift the cost burden onto currently serving families with a reform plan that consists primarily of wishful thinking. Here’s the …

Switching Schools Again? Here’s Your Best Asset

April 26, 2016

As we celebrate the Month of the Military Child, it’s important to acknowledge one of the landmark achievements benefiting military kids and their families: the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The Compact is an agreement between all 50 states and the District of Columbia designed to smooth the transition for military-connected kids as they move between school districts and states. It’s a vital tool helping military kids succeed in spite of challenges, such as frequent moves and repeated deplo…

Couple at an Infertility Clinic

Infertility Treatment Options for Military Families

April 25, 2016

Our Association frequently gets questions about military family options for infertility treatment. At this time, TRICARE offers limited infertility coverage and does NOT cover assistive reproductive technology (ART) such as artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Although it is not a TRICARE-covered benefit, ART services are offered at six military treatment facilities (MTFs) in collaboration with civilian partners (i.e., civilian IVF centers and/or contracted laboratory services.) A recent report to Congress, Efforts to Trea…

TRICARE Denies Coverage for Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests

April 20, 2016

TRICARE Denies Coverage for Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests: Are you aware TRICARE no longer covers non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT)? With NIPT, your blood is drawn and tested for indications that your baby might have a genetic disorder. It can be done as early as 9 weeks into your pregnancy and reduces the need for more invasive prenatal testing such as amniocentesis. Here’s the problem with TRICARE and NIPT: If you are seen at a Military Treatment Facility, the Department of Defense (DoD) will pay for the NIPT your doctor recommen…

military family

Wide Awake: Here’s our Stance on the Post-9/11 GI Bill

April 19, 2016

The Post-9/11 GI Bill has recently become a fiery topic of discussion in military communities, support organizations, and among lawmakers. Proposed legislation would cut in half the housing stipend for dependent children using the transferred benefit, and some organizations are taking a strong stance against the proposal. Others say the cuts are valid, calling parts of the Post-9/11 GI Bill “overly generous.” At the National Military Family Association, we are personally invested in the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the ability of service…

Occupational Therapy - Therapist, mom, and child

Professional Funding: Certifications + Licensing Scholarships

April 18, 2016

When you hear the word scholarship, you probably think about money awarded to help pay for a college degree. At the National Military Family Association, we know that education is far more than just a college degree. And scholarships should cover far more, too. Military spouses are pursuing education and career goals ranging from G.E.D.’s to Ph.D’s, and everything in between. As vast as a military spouse’s dreams can be, they often come with financial obligations that can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s a way fo…

The Common Core: What Do Military Families Need to Know?

April 15, 2016

If you are a military family with school-age children, chances are you’ve heard something about the Common Core State Standards. Either you are in one of the 42 states that has adopted the standards, or you face the prospect of moving to one of those states during your service member’s military career. But what exactly is the Common Core and what does it mean for military families? So what the heck is the Common Core, anyway? The Common Core is a set of standards that outline what skills and concepts students should master in mat…

Nurse giving a shot

Nurse Licensure Compact for Military Spouses

April 7, 2016

Are you a military spouse and registered nurse? If you are, you’ll know how much stress comes with each PCS move because of the difficulties you’ll encounter transferring your registered nursing license from one state to the next. We know it’s annoying. Every state, except New York, has some type of legislation to make it easier for a military spouse to transfer a professional license from one state to another, but oftentimes, health care professions are excluded from this legislation. That’s annoying, too, isn’…

Debunking the Myth

Fact or Fiction: Are You Overusing Military Health Care?

April 5, 2016

Military families, we need your help. Congress believes your access to “free” health care leads you to overuse it. You can hardly blame them. The idea that military families flock to Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) for free, but unnecessary appointments has been repeated so many times and in so many venues, it has become an urban myth. NMFA believes it is critical to challenge this urban myth NOW. Why? Four words: Military Health System Reform. Capitol Hill’s heightened concern about overuse of military health car…

PURPLE UP to Celebrate the Month of the Military Child

April 1, 2016

Ever wondered why our Operation Purple Program was named with the color purple? Why not Operation Green? Operation Camouflage? It’s because purple symbolizes all branches of the military – including their colors: Coast Guard blue, Army green, Navy blue, Marine red, and Air Force blue. We believe that when a military member serves, their whole family serves, too. That includes the littlest heroes – military kids. Each year, we host thousands of military kids at Operation Purple camps around the nation to give these kids a…

Children cleaning up at daycare

Improving Child Care for Military Families: Our Recommendations

March 28, 2016

When Executive Director Joyce Raezer testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, she was pleasantly surprised to be questioned by the Senators about child care for military families. We’ve said for a long time that access to quality, affordable child care is vital for military families; it’s good to see our elected officials have been listening and recognize the importance of this issue. The Department of Defense (DoD), in recent years, has taken steps to help families find and afford quality care, however we know more sti…

Tax Form

Filing Taxes as a Military Family

March 21, 2016

It’s tax-filing season – everyone’s favorite time of year. Time to sit down with some forms, receipts, and probably some chocolate and hope a nice refund is coming your way – or at least you don’t owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) too much money. As a military family you have several resources to help you with your annual tax filing. A first stop for many military families is Military OneSource. Military OneSource offers service members and eligible family members access to free financial counseling, tax con…

What Does The Department Of Defense Budget Have To Do With Military Health System Reform?

March 18, 2016

Please note: As you read on about DoD’s health care budget, it is important to remember the DoD budget is just a proposal. These changes will not become law unless passed by Congress. The Department of Defense (DoD) recently released the Fiscal Year 17 (FY17) budget proposal including their plans for the Military Health System (MHS.) This is the first MHS reform proposal to be released since Congress stated MHS reform is a top priority. Given the widespread and clearly-stated interest in Congress for MHS reform, our Association had hoped…

Care Not Cost Campaign

What’s This I Hear About Military Health Care Reform?

March 15, 2016

You’ve probably heard rumblings about potential changes coming down the pike for the Military Health System (MHS) and you may have questions about what exactly MHS reform will mean for your family. The answer is nobody knows yet what shape MHS reform will take, but our Association’s top priority this year is ensuring that military family needs are part of the MHS reform process. A little background… The recent MHS reform discussions were kicked off last year with the release of the Military Compensation and Retirement Moder…

Proposed DoD Budget Falls Short for Military Families

March 8, 2016

Military benefits took center stage on the Hill March 8, and NMFA was there to make sure families weren’t left out of the conversation. The Senate Armed Services Committee Personnel Subcommittee held a hearing to consider changes suggested in the Department of Defense (DoD) budget proposal. There are several areas of the budget that would never get military families’ stamp of approval—but our Association’s Executive Director, Joyce Raezer, took on the top 2: pay and military health system reform. For the fourth year in…

NEW Retirement Plan: Will Your Military Family Opt-In?

March 3, 2016

Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a provision that significantly impacts thousands of military families’ financial plans. This law replaces the traditional military retirement with a new “blended” retirement plan. While current retirees, and anyone who entered the military before January 1, 2006, will be grandfathered into the current system, service members who have been in the military less than 12 years when the new plan is implemented on January 1, 2018 will have a choice: opt in to the…

Here’s What NMFA is Fighting for in 2016

February 29, 2016

Military families, like yours, have been the pillar of strength for our nation during these last 15 years of war. You have sacrificed, and we recognize that. NMFA has spent the last 46 years demanding policymakers raise the bar in support of military families—speaking up when lawmakers introduce bills that prove they’re out of touch with what families need. Service members and their families have kept trust with America, even after multiple deployments and separations. Unfortunately, that trust is being tested. This year, we&rsquo…

Military Saves week

What Your Service Member Should Know About the Thrift Saving Plan

February 23, 2016

The recently announced changes to the military retirement system have drawn increased attention to the military’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). While the TSP is an important element of retirement planning – and will be even more so when the new “blended” retirement system is implemented in 2018 – many military families aren’t familiar with the plan or how it works. What is the TSP and what can it do for your military family? Read on to learn more. The Thrift Savings Plan is a government-sponsored program prov…

Female army holding baby

Defense Budget Proposals for Military Families in FY 2017

February 19, 2016

The President and Department of Defense (DoD) released the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense budget proposal requesting $582.7 billion dollars from Congress. The release of the Defense budget kicks off the legislative process for Congress to consider as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 is developed. Keep in mind – these are proposals and we’ll keep you updated as the process unfolds. What’s in the budget proposal for service members and their families? Pay Raise – The Defense budget proposes a 1.6% pa…

Air Force Family

Force of the Future – Family Friendly

January 28, 2016

Helping service members balance the demands of military service and the commitments of family life is essential to recruiting and retaining a high-quality, ready force. Our Association has made this argument for years. Now it seems as though our voice and the voices of thousands of military families have finally been heard. On January 28, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening comprehensive family benefits as part of his efforts to create the Force of the Future. The new initiatives include…

Nurse with service member

Verifying Health Care Coverage as a Military Family

January 27, 2016

This year, there are new requirements military families should be aware of when filing taxes. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring some changes to the 2015 federal income tax returns individuals file in 2016. ACA requires all Americans to have qualifying health care coverage, called minimum essential coverage, or pay a penalty. Most federally provided health care plans, including TRICARE, meet the minimum essential coverage requirement of the law. Taxpayers will need to verify insurance coverage on their 2015 federal income tax returns. Ho…

Man Saluting with family in background

Military Retirement: What Do Families Need to Know?

January 25, 2016

Over the past year, proposed changes to the military retirement system seemed to take center stage. The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) released a report last January suggesting changes to the traditional 20 year retirement system. As the year progressed, the Department of Defense (DoD), the House of Representatives, and the Senate each weighed in with their own versions of the plan. While the basic outline of each proposed plan was the same, there were differences in the details. It was clear a compromise …

Commissary Testimony

Grocery Shopping Shouldn’t be Stressful: Saving the Benefit for Military Families

January 13, 2016

Commissaries are, once again, in the hot seat and NMFA took to the Hill January 13 to plead the case for military families. The Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to consider changes that would save money. The Department of Defense (DoD) has been struggling to make budget cuts, and the commissary continuously comes up as an option for reform. Some ideas being considered include increasing prices, private label products, and cutting store hours. NMFA Government Relations Deputy Director Eileen Huck testi…

Dad throwing kid into the air

2015 A Year in Review for Military Families

January 5, 2016

What a year 2015 was for military families! Congress struggled with the budget, and we did our part to send a strong message that sequestration must end. The families who protect our nation were plagued with uncertainty—and not the kind they signed up for. Besides worrying about a deployed loved one, these military families didn’t know if the programs they relied on would be available to them in the coming years. But among the uncertainty were some pretty awesome wins for military families. 2015 started with the unveiling of the l…

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