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POSTED: March 13, 2007 5:15 a.m.
The Department of Defense has a wealth of information to help not only active duty military and their families but also retirees. Here are few nuggets of information:

Military Saves Week
With just under two months left to file income taxes, DOD has designated Feb. 25 through March 4 as Military Saves Week to encourage soldiers and their families to establish positive fiscal management habits through savings and financial planning. DOD has teamed with the Consumer Federation of America to provide tools, resources and financial counseling to service members through the Military Saves Website. You can find more information online at www.armymwr.com and at Fort Stewart’s Army Community Service Center.

Surviving Iraq
The Department of the Army has a new handbook online on how soldiers can survive their first 100 days in Iraq. Log on at http://call2.army.mil/new/toc.asp?document=2393 to view “Soldier Handbook: Surviving Iraq.”
The handbook was developed especially for soldiers during the first 100 days of a unit’s deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The handbook educates soldiers on how not to become complacent to potential dangers in the war zone.
It also stresses soldiers to be mindful of resourceful enemies who closely observe U.S. tactics to adapt their attack strategies.

Free SAT-ACT software
The Department of Defense has created a secure Web site to quickly confirm a person’s military status and eligibility to receive free SAT and ACT test prep programs. For the second year, a group of NFL, NFL Europe, AFL and CFL football players have sponsored the program to allow any military person, active or retired, to request as many programs as they need for the students in their lives.
Personnel can access the confirmation and request pages through several military related associations and organizations, including Military Home Front Web site. The sponsorship covers the regular purchase price of $199 and the family pays only the shipping and handling. To learn more visit http://sat.eknowledge.com/military.asp.

Troops to Teachers
Troops to Teachers, the program helping former military members become public school teachers, has broken the 9,500 mark in hires.
Data shows that 9,502 teachers have been hired through the program since 1994, with Troops to Teachers represented in more than 3,000 school districts across the country.
The program helps eligible military personnel begin second careers as public school teachers by providing referral assistance, placement services, and — for those electing to teach at high-need schools — financial stipends and bonuses.
In addition to providing more teachers, the program is also providing the types of teachers that are in highest demand:
• 82 percent of teachers entering through Troops to Teachers are male, compared to 18 percent of all teachers.
• 37 percent of Troops’ teachers are persons of color, compared to 15 percent overall.
• 46 percent of Troops’ teachers teach sciences (biology, geology, physics, and chemistry), versus 18 percent overall.
• 27 percent are teaching math, versus 7 percent overall.
• 44 percent of Troops’ teachers are teaching special education classes, compared to 19 percent overall.

Grants for volunteers
Newman’s Own, the Fisher House Foundation, and the Military Times Media Group are inviting volunteer organizations that serve military families to compete for a share of $75,000 in grants.
The volunteer organizations are asked to present an innovative plan to support military families. The plan getting the most votes from judges will earn $15,000 to put that plan into action. Judges will divide the remaining $60,000 among as many groups as they like.
Nominations must be postmarked by May 18. Instructions for nominating a group, as well as full rules and eligibility requirements, can be found on the foundation’s Web site at www.fisherhouse.org. The Pentagon is the site for award presentations in August.

Referral bonus raised
Retired soldiers referring someone with no prior military experience to the Army’s Referral Bonus Pilot Program can now earn even more money.
Bonuses have doubled to $2,000. The bonus increase is not retroactive and retirees who made referrals before Nov. 13, 2006, are eligible only for the $1K bonus.
Bonuses are paid in two sums. The first is paid when the enlistee begins basic training and the second half is paid after the soldier graduates from One-Station Unit Training or Advanced Individual Training.
Immediate family members, including stepparents and siblings are not eligible for referral.
Retirees with an Army Knowledge Online account can make referrals on line at http://www.usarec.army.mil/smart. Retirees can also make referrals by calling 1-800-223-3735, ext. 6-0473.  

— Daisy Pleasant Jones
 

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