TREA: The ENLISTED ASSN
NEWS FOR THE ENLISTED
FOR AUGUST 31, 2012
Happy Labor Day!!!
The end of summer is fast approaching. Many Children across the country are already back in school; the rest will be soon. But in Washington it is still hot and fairly quiet. This week the political news was all about the Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida. And the rest of the news was about Hurricane Isaac drenching much of the country. Next week the political news will all be the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. And the rest of the news will be…..who knows.
But in the meantime relax and enjoy a good long weekend. We have it on good authority that Congress intends to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) and little else when they return and then go back to their districts and states by the end of September to campaign.
The Veterans Affairs Department (VA) announced, in a press release this past Monday, it has filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings available in 2012 for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), a new training and education program for unemployed veterans to upgrade their skills for in-demand jobs. VA expects to have every slot filled by September 30.
An additional 54,000 openings will be available at the start of the new fiscal year, October 1. VRAP provides up to 12 months of full-time Montgomery GI Bill benefits at the active duty rate, currently $1,473 per month, for veterans to take vocational training classes.
VRAP is part of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which was passed by Congress and signed by the President in November 2011. The VRAP portion was shepherded out of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL). The goal of VRAP is to train a total of 99,000 veterans over the next two years in more than 200 job skills that DOL has determined are the most sought-after by employers. The program is fully paid for.
From the Press Release:
To be eligible for the program, a Veteran must:
• Be 35-60 years old, unemployed on the day of application, and not dishonorably discharged;
• Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment;
• Not be enrolled in a federal or state job-training program within the last 180 days; and
• Not receive VA compensation at the 100% rate due to individual unemployability (IU).
Veterans who have been approved for VRAP are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible to start training full-time in a VA-approved program of study offered by a community college or technical school. The program of study must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by DOL.
Applicants approved for the 2013 phase should enroll full-time in an approved program and start training by April 2013 in order to take full advantage of this benefit before its termination March 31, 2014.
Potential applicants can learn more about VRAP and apply online at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW, or call VA toll-free at 1-800-827-1000. Information about the Department of Labor’s programs for Veterans is available at www.dol.gov/vets. Veterans can also visit the nearly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers across the nation, listed at www.servicelocator.org, for in-person assistance.
Earlier this month eight members of Congress sent a letter to the Defense Department’s Inspector General requesting an audit of the TRICARE mail order pharmacy program. Among those signing the bi-partisan letter were Rep. Walter Jones (R- N.C.) and Michael Michaud (D-Maine).
The members are asking that the following questions be answered by the audit:
According to the letter the audit is being requested because of TRICARE’s emphasis on getting more beneficiaries to use the mail order pharmacy program. The Congressional members want to make sure the mail order program can generate the savings that DOD has said it will.
Auditing a program for effectiveness is always a good thing and since DOD has no idea where it spends all of its money TREA believes that if the entire DOD budget could be audited millions, if not billions, of dollars could be found that could be used to fund DOD health care programs without having to force military beneficiaries to pay more.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has appointed Barbara Ward to the Senior Executive Service and assigned her as the Director of the VA’s Center for Minority Veterans.
“Barbara Ward is an outstanding fit in her new job and will provide a fresh perspective on women and minority issues,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “She possesses a unique blend of administrative and leadership skills that will greatly benefit all Veterans. We are lucky to have her.”
Ward previously served as Deputy Secretary for Women and Minority Veterans Affairs, California Department of Veterans Affairs from 2007-2011. She is a United States Air Force, and Vietnam-Era Veteran, who served as a commissioned officer in the Air Force Nurse Corps from 1972-1974. In her new position, she will serve as the principal adviser to the Secretary on the adoption and implementation of policies and programs affecting minority Veterans.
For more information about the Center for Minority Veterans, please visit: http://www.va.gov/centerforminorityveterans.
On Thursday afternoon, Marilee Fitzgerald, the Director of DoD Educational Activity (DODEA) held a briefing at the Pentagon to outline what was happening in the DoD school system at the start of the new school year. There are 194 DODEA schools this year located in 22 countries, 7 states and 2 territories. They are going to teach 87,000 children from preschool through 12th grade. (There are an additional 1.2 million military kids going to public schools around the country as well this year.)
Ms. Fitzgerald explained and praised these children by saying: “And our students have one bond that unites them all: They are all part of a military community. And I'd like to refer to this group of military children as ambassadors of our U.S. military core values. They are -- they bring a lifestyle, a commitment and a sense of purpose.
They -- their values are rooted in honor, courage, selfless sacrifice, loyalty, respect, integrity and excellence -- just like the families in which they live, just like their mothers and fathers who have made a commitment to our nation. That's what makes these children so very special for us.”
She noted that many military children will attend 6-9 schools before they graduate from high school. In DODEA schools has a 35% mobility rate.
We also learned that the DODEA schools have 8,000 teachers and support staff in the 194 schools.
70% of the DODEA schools’ physical plants have been found to be in “poor or failing condition”. (which fortunately does not mean unsafe but does mean unacceptable.) After much urging DoD has provided $3.7 billion over 5 years to get these 134 schools back into proper shape. 49 schools are in design stage and 7 new schools are under construction.
In addition there is an ongoing pilot project providing laptops in 14 middle and high schools. DODEA plans to expand this pilot into all their schools. It was also announced that there are additions to the present curriculum. Along with financial literacy DOD has added 8 new courses eight new courses in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- robotics engineering, green technology engineering, biotechnology engineering, and applied mathematics. So all told it sounds like an exciting year.
DODEA schools continue to be among the highest ranked schools throughout the nation. It is a benefit that TREA continues to watch closely.
On September 11, the DC VA Medical Center is planning a birthday celebration for one of their residents. Alyce Dixon will be turning 105 years old!!!!!
In their announcement of this event the VA Wrote: “Veteran Alyce Dixon was among the first African-American women to serve in the Army. She joined at age 31 in 1944 and was stationed in both England and France. Ms. Dixon was in the 6888th Battalion, a postal service division. She has lived in the VA’s Community Living Center for over 10 years and is an active member of the Residents’ Council. “
This is quite an event. They are hoping that veterans (and others) will send Ms. Dixon birthday greeting either by going on the Washington DC VA Medical Center’s FACEBOOK page or by mailing her cards and congratulations to her at: Washington DC VA Medical Center, Community Living Center (Building 6), 50 Irving Street, NW, Washington, DC 20422
For more information you can also go to: www.washingtondc.va.gov.
We are going to send her a card and hope some of you will also do so.
If you need to change the email address that receives the Legislative Update, go to: http://www.capwiz.com/trea/mlm/verify/
At the bottom of the page, enter the email address that currently receives the update, verify who you are, and change your email address. If you have any problems email firstname.lastname@example.org
Continue to send emails to your Senators and Representatives about the bills that are of interest to you. Remember we have prepared emails available for you.
If you do not receive the Legislative Update delivered to your email box, click the above link, and sign up!
Don’t forget to "Tell A Friend” about our Legislative Updates, GoodSearch & GoodShop.