Author : charlotte-webster
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“The President’s 2015 Budget will be released on March 4. Now that Congress has finished its work on this year’s appropriations, the Administration is able to finalize next year’s Budget. We are moving to complete the Budget as quickly as possible to help Congress return to regular order in the annual budget process,” Steve Posner, a spokesman for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in an email last week.
The Defense Department, which receives the most funding of any federal agency, plans to spend about $606 billion in fiscal 2014 and is also expected to release its budget request for fiscal 2015 on March 4.
We would be very surprised, though, if the 2015 budget becomes a settled matter so many months before it goes into effect. After all, the 2014 budget is still being “tweaked” by Congress to fix issues pertaining to COLA and veterans’ health benefits even though it was passed without the usual drama we’re accustomed to seeing in Washington.
The cap on COLA for working-age military retirees was just enacted by Congress last month in an effort to save $6 billion over the next 10 years as part of the bipartisan budget deal. But after military organizations decried the move as yet another broken promise to service members, Congress seems desperate to undo the cap before it becomes a larger political issue.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has introduced a mammoth 400+ page bill called the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014″ which ties the COLA cap to an overhaul of other veterans benefits. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) backs the bill, which seeks to strengthen more than 130 veterans programs of every kind.
The bill won’t sail through Congress as easily as the budget did, however. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) blocked a similar, but smaller, bill last month because the spending wasn’t paid for by other offsets. Coburn argued that the VA has increased spending 58% in the last five years while showing that it can’t effectively administer the benefits it already provides, so adding new health and education benefits cannot be justified.
#VeteransBenefits #2014COLA #2015Budget
Image source: omnilligence.net
Not everyone thinks that following a certain date on a calendar will lead to success, but there will be millions of people using January 1st as a day to kick-start some changes by setting at least one New Year’s resolution. Regardless of whether tomorrow is your starting date or if something like April 11th suits your fancy, here are 5 tips that will help you plan and achieve your goals in 2014.
1. Be honest. If you don’t abide by this rule, the next four won’t matter. The mistake many people make is using someone else’s resolutions. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor wants to quit smoking and asks you to join him. It isn’t important that your co-worker wants to drink less soda if you really like your daily fix. It isn’t helpful if your spouse wants you to lose those 10 pounds but you think you look and feel good enough. Be honest about whether a resolution is important to you, and not something you are doing to make someone else happy.
2. Make a list of WHY your resolutions are important. Most advice revolves around setting specific, smart goals. You know the drill: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound. What people usually forget is to write down why their goals are important to them. If you have something measurable written down, but then fail to meet the measurement you wanted, you can get discouraged and want to throw in the towel. But if you have a list of why your goal is important to you, it will encourage you not to give up.
3. Plan for failure. By this, I don’t mean failure in the big sense. I mean the little setbacks that will make you feel like you’re failing. If your resolution is to exercise 3 days a week, but you are busy, under the weather or work extra hours one week and only get in 2 workouts, you might feel like you have failed. That doesn’t mean you should give up, though. Sometimes life happens. Big changes doesn’t take place overnight. You will have setbacks. That’s a fact. So anticipate them, and have plans in reserve for how you will overcome them if they seem to happen more often than not.
Read the last 2 resolutions here.
Are you someone who sets New Year’s resolutions and starts working on them January 1st? If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments!
This poem comes via the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association. The credit reads: “A Military Christmas Poem as shared by Doug Davis“ and was posted by “LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN.”
Jeff concluded the poem with these words: “Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.”
A Different Christmas Poem
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, My daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep. In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near, But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear. Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow. My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold. Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
”What are you doing?” I asked without fear, “Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here! Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!” For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light. Then he sighed and he said “It’s really all right, I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.” It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line, That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me, I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me. My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,” Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.” My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam’, And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while, But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.” Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, The red, white, and blue… an American flag. “I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat. I can carry the weight of killing another, Or lay down my life with my sister and brother. Who stand at the front against any and all, To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”
”So go back inside” he said, “harbor no fright, Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.” “But isn’t there something I can do, at the least, “Give you money?” I asked, “or prepare you a feast? It seems all too little for all that you’ve done, For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, “Just tell us you love us, and never forget. To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone, To stand your own watch, no matter how long. For when we come home, either standing or dead, To know you remember we fought and we bled. Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”
#militarychristmas #usmilitary #militarythanks
WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2013) – Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”
For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. Until this year, that was required by law. Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.
For Veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp.
The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled Veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits.
Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits. The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.
In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million Veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 Veterans and survivors.
For Veterans and separating Servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits. Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.
For more information about VA benefits, visit www.benefits.va.gov, or call 1-800-827-1000.
#2014COLA #VAbenefits #veteransbenefits
We thought of you today, as we were cooking and cleaning, preparing to sit down for a hot, home-cooked meal with family and friends. We thought of so many empty chairs at so many tables across the country, so many post-turkey naps with your name on them.
We wondered what you’d think of the crazy holiday shopping frenzy – would you join the long lines to get deals or would you be a vocal protester of all those stores that are open on holidays? Then we realized you would probably laugh – because you’re where you are, without the day off, safeguarding our right to even have the debate.
When you’re thinking of us, wondering what we’re doing, know that we do the same. Know that we’re forever proud of you, praying for you, counting the days until you’re home.
We wouldn’t have nearly as much to be thankful for without you.
Photo credit: iloveusa.com via https://www.facebook.com/SgtDunson
Hopefully that made you smile. Enjoy your weekend and relax knowing we have three months before we go through this stress again.
With thousands of active duty servicemen and women depending on at-risk Tuition Assistance funding, some colleges are cutting them a break. Columbia College, in Columbia, Missouri, for example, has announced that it is deferring tuition costs for any servicemembers whose educational benefits are affected by the shutdown. Students can seek other means of paying their tuition. If students cannot find another way to pay their tuition, the college will allow students to withdraw with no penalty.
Grantham University, a prominent online university based in Kansas City, Missouri, has also committed to its military students that those relying on the Tuition Assistance program or other sources of federal funding can remain enrolled pending the resolution of the shutdown. The University has announced that it will work with each affected student on a case-by-case basis to discuss available funding options including scholarships, grants, VA benefits, corporate tuition reimbursement and financial aid.
Northeastern University, likewise, has announced it will not charge enlisted active-duty servicemembers for tuition “for the time being,” – a move that grants a reprieve to some dozens students who are relying on federal resources like the GI Bill and tuition assistance programs to attend school.
“Surely DoD has existing capacity during the government shutdown to review, process, and approve on a contingent basis pending TA applications that meet current program guidelines,” wrote Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. “This seems all the more likely in light of recent action by Congress to pay civilian employees retroactively—a measure President Obama has pledged to sign into law.“
Austin Peay State University, in Clarksville, Tennessee, serving the Fort Campbell and Middle Tennessee/Cumberland River Valley, has also announced that it will cover the tab for active duty servicemembers.
Because of the federal shutdown, the Department of Defense has announced that it is not funding applications for Tuition Assistance after the 1st of October. Furthermore, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that if the shutdown is not resolved, or funding is otherwise authorized by Congress and the President by November 1, VA educational benefits will quickly dry up. Secretary Shinseki testified this week that his department has some $6 billion in benefits due November 1, but only about $2 billion on hand to fund them.
Colleges don’t have to extend any such extension or tuition waiver – and many colleges have not done so. Every college is different, and some colleges do not have the financial resources to extend this benefit to military members.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that most non-essential government functions have shut down effective the start of the 2014 fiscal year, because Congress and the President were unable to agree on a budget.
I say “most” non-essential government functions, because this Administration obviously deems it critically important to its functioning that we pay a number of federal workers to erect barricades to the open-air WWII Memorial, wire them shut, and threaten our older veterans with arrest if they visit.
Commissary workers, however? They aren’t considered essential at all. At least not in the United States, though overseas commissaries will remain open.
Military pay for active duty troops will continue through the shutdown. Congress and the President agreed to fund salaries for uniformed military and selected civilian employees at the beginning of this week. However, the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, interpreted the Congressional bill to exclude members of the National Guard, including full-time military technicians. This news came as a surprise to some Congressional Republicans who passed the bill: “I believe along with many others that he has improperly furloughed the National Guard employees,” said Candice Miller, (R – Michigan). “That was certainly not the intent of the act that we passed. For them to be furloughed — I quite frankly was stunned when he did that after we passed that bill.
Is retiree pay affected?
Not directly by the shutdown. Retiree pay comes out of a different pot of money than the one Congress is fighting over now. However, even if a budget is approved, we have another Congressional battle looming over the debt limit. Unless Congress approves additional borrowing, the federal government will no longer have access to the 40 cents out of ever dollar it’s been borrowing to finance spending. At that point, all bets are off, and nearly everything goes on the table. Military retiree pay could be reduced or even eliminated under that scenario. However, our view is that the threat of such a shutdown will drive both sides in Congress to strike a deal of some sort to avoid it.
If you are distressed by money problems, or feeling depressed and suicidal, rest easy: The counselors at Military OneSource are still phoning it in. They will be happy to refer you to other federal agencies which are now closed.
If you’re stressed because you have small children and you need assistance with child care, again, all bets are off. The DoD has helpfully suggested you call your local child care activity on base for further guidance. Generally, federal Child Development Centers will remain open, according to the Military Family Association. However, school-aged care programs may be rolled back or eliminated in your area unless attached to a CDC.
DoD schools remain open.
The exchanges will be open for business. AAFES and the Navy-Marine Corps Exchange do not receive federal appropriations, so don’t rely on Congress for anything.
Tuition Assistance – the same TA benefit that the DoD tried to strangle last spring to save money, will grind to a halt. No benefits will be disbursed for new classes until further notice.
Education centers are closed. This includes computer labs and counseling centers.
MyCAA, or My Career Assistance Accounts, are closed to new requests until further notice. However, military spouses with benefits approved before October 1 are good to go. You can attend class. More information available at the SECO website here. Or call 800-342-9647.
You may see a reduction of hours at military clinics and hospitals. However, inpatient, emergency and dental care operations at TRICARE clinics will continue, as will TRICARE’s private sector operations. So you should still be able to see a non-military doctor if that provider is within the TRICARE system.
If you have an appointment you made before the shutdown, TRICARE officials encourage you to call to confirm it. Your clinic’s hours may have changed since the shutdown.
TRICARE cannot process travel claims under TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Combat-Related Specialty Care during the shutdown. You can still file, a claim, but new claims won’t be approved until the shutdown ends.
The government shutdown is still underway and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Even though military pay is safe, stress levels are still high. Commissaries are closed. Tuition assistance has been delayed.
So for today’s edition of Fun Friday, we decided to go all out for laughs. Here are a few of our favorite military photobombs from across the internet. We hope they make you smile. And if you have one you’d like to share, post it on our Facebook page for all to see!
First, the original military photobomb from the Civil War. Thanks to militaryfail.net for this classic. (It’s a fun site…spend some time there!)
Next, a lesson in why you shouldn’t leave your date out of your photos from photobombings.com.
Here’s proof from cheezburger.com that not all photos need a caption.
Another of our favorite sites, duffleblog.com, reported the frustration the Army’s Public Affairs Office has with photobombs in combat-related photos because they they render the photos unusable. We understand, but we can find a way to put them to use!
And finally, from funnyjunk.com, here’s a pilot who took photobombing into his own hands.
Happy Friday, everyone!