MACOM S1 BENEFITS LETTER – JULY 2009 As members of the Florida National Guard, we are eligible for many benefits as a result of our service. I have included in this newsletter several well know and some not so well know programs available to many National Guard Soldiers. It is our responsibility to get the word out to the Soldier and to educate everyone on the available programs. Each month over the next year, I will publish a newsletter and highlight various programs and benefits available to the men, women and families of the Florida National Guard. I encourage all leaders at all levels to make this information available for your Soldiers via email, unit web sites and brief your Soldiers at the beginning and at the conclusion of each UTA weekend on these benefits and encourage them to take advantage of the available programs. TAX BENEFITS Business Expense Deduction: Provides eligible Reservists an above-the-line deduction for transportation, meals and lodging expenses (not reimbursed) incurred when traveling more than 100 miles away from home and staying overnight to attend meetings. The deduction amount will be calculated at the maximum travel-rate expense allowed for federal government employees. This deduction benefits all applicable Reservists regardless of whether they itemize on their income tax returns. To receive the deduction, you must complete Form 2106, Employee Business Expenses, or Form 2106-EZ, Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses. Be sure to include the amount from Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ on line 24 of Form 1040. Write “RC” and the amount of expense in the space to the left of line 24 on Form 1040. Reservist Deductions: Subject to 2 Percent Limitation: Unreimbursed military or National Guard travel expenses (if location is fewer than 100 miles away); commuting to temporary drill site; expenses in excess of Travel Code 3 reimbursements; transportation expense calculation (mileage or actual vehicle operating expenses); lodging not furnished by the military or Guard; out of pocket meals (reduced by 50 percent); uniforms, uniform accessories, and maintenance of uniforms; dues to professional societies; subscriptions to related periodicals; computer expense (subject to limitations); and expenses of representing a national or local military or Guard organization or chapter at meeting(s). http://www.irs.gov/publications/p3/ar02.html#en_US_publink100096028 MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING Veterans Project of South Florida Here is a referral source I have been in contact with for South Florida Service Members in need of Mental Health treatment. The group is called the Veterans Project of South Florida (SOFAR). It is a group of Licensed Mental Health Practitioners (Counselors, Psychologists and Psychiatrists) that provide Pro Bono services for Service members. If you have a service member who lives in South Florida who is in need of outpatient medical mental health services a that service member does not have insurance or cannot afford to pay their copay, etc. this would be a great referral source for them. They can call the number below to see if there is a provider in their area. SOFAR Contact Person: Cathy Stamm-Kaufman, MSW, Telephone: 1-877-783-2748. Military One Source Education, relocation, parenting, stress - you name it - Military OneSource is here to help you with just about any need. Available by phone or online, our free service is provided by the Department of Defense for active-duty, Guard, and Reserve service members and their families. The service is completely private and confidential, with few exceptions. 24/7 Free support for military members and their families: Military One Source 1-800- 342-9647 , email: www.militaryonesource.com COLLEGE BENEFITS Tuition Assistance The Florida Army National Guard funds up to 100% of tuition costs, up to $4,500 per person, per fiscal year. Tuition Assistance may be used in addition to the Montgomery G.I. Bill, Army National Guard G.I. Bill Kicker, Active Duty Montgomery G.I. Bill and Pell Grants. Montgomery GI Bill The Army National Guard offers the Selective Reserve Montgomery G.I. Bill to help with college expenses. This benefit pays you a monthly stipend, while attending college (or other approved technical school). The Montgomery G.I. Bill may be used in addition to the 100% Federal Tuition Assistance and the Army National Guard G.I. Bill Kicker. Prior service members may also be entitled to the Selective Reserve Montgomery G.I. Bill. Upon application to the Veterans Administration, you will be certified as a full-time, three-quarter time or half- time student. GI Bill Kicker The Army National Guard G.I. Bill Kicker pays up to $200 a month while attending college (or other approved technical school). Paid as a stipend, this incentive pays up to $7,200 over a period of 36 months for a full-time student. The GI Bill Kicker is available only if you choose to enlist into a critical skill. The GI Bill Kicker is non-taxable. Student Loan Repayment This program allows individuals who are eligible to earn up to $20,000 student loan repayment. Non-prior service and prior service applicants may have past school loans taken care of by the Army National Guard. Members can use the Student Loan Repayment Program, in addition to Tuition Assistance and GI Bill Kicker; i.e. get student loans for living expenses, travel expenses, etc. and then have the ARNG pay off these loans through the SLRP. Thus, use all three programs. SLRP is one of the least used benefits, yet one of the easiest to qualify for and receive. Visit the National Guard Virtual Armory ( http://www.virtualarmory.com ) website where you can get the latest information on Education Benefits for Citizen Soldiers. VETERANS UPWARD BOUND Like many Veterans, you have probably avoided going to college because you feel you lack the needed academic skills. After all, it's been years since you went to school. Thanks to the Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program you don't have to let your rusty academic skills keep you from getting your degree and pursuing the career of your dreams. Veterans Upward Bound is a free U.S. Department of Education program designed to help you refresh your academic skills and give you the confidence you need to successfully complete your choice of college degrees. The VUB program services include: Basic skills development to help Veterans successfully complete a high school equivalency program and gain admission to college education programs. Short-term remedial or refresher classes for high school graduates that have put off pursuing a college education. Assistance with applications to the college or university of choice. Assistance with applying for financial aid. Personalized counseling. Academic advice and assistance. Career counseling. Assistance in getting Veteran services from other available resources. Exposure to cultural events, academic programs, and other educational activities not usually available to disadvantaged people. The VUB program can help you improve your skills in: Mathematics Foreign Language Composition Laboratory Science Reading Literature Computer Basics Any other subjects you may need for success in education beyond high school. Tutorial and Study Skills Assistance. To be eligible for VUB you must: Be a U.S. Military Veteran with 181 or more days active-duty service and discharged on/after Jan. 31, 1955, under conditions other than dishonorable. Meet the criteria for Low-income according to guidelines published annually by the U.S. Department of Education, and/or a first-generation potential college graduate. Demonstrate academic need for Veterans Upward Bound according. Meet other local eligibility criteria as noted in the local VUB project's Approved Grant Proposal, such as county of residence. The next step: Your next step should be to contact your local VUB program. Visit the National Veterans Upward Bound Program ( http://navub.org/ ) website to find a program near you. VA PROGRAMS VA is ready to provide health care and more to our newest veterans returning from activation. Here are some of the benefits VA provides that you need to know about: Health Care Eligibility for 5 years — Enroll for health care at any VA Medical Center or clinic for 5 years following your military separation date. When you enroll, you may start receiving your health care at the VA right away, or not - the choice is yours! Once you enroll, the VA will be available to help serve your health care needs for years to come - but you must enroll within 5 years from separation! Dental Benefits — VA will provide dental examinations and benefits to veterans with service related dental conditions. You may be eligible for one-time dental care but you must apply for a dental exam within the first 180 days of your separation date. Visit the Office of Dentistry (http://www.va.gov/dental/infoforpts.asp) for more information. OEF/OIF Programs — every VA Medical Center has a team ready to welcome OEF/OIF service members and help coordinate their care. Visit How Do I Get Help? ( http://www.oefoif.va.gov/HowDoIGetHelp.asp ) for more information. Federal Recovery Coordination Program — assists severely wounded, ill or injured recovering service members, veterans, and their families in accessing the care, services, and benefits provided through the various programs in the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, other federal agencies, states, as well as the private sector. Visit How Do I Get Help? (http://www.oefoif.va.gov/HowDoIGetHelp.asp )for more information. Primary Health Care for Veterans — We provide general and specialized health care (http://www.oefoif.va.gov/primarycareservices.asp) to meet veterans' needs. Additional Benefits — We provide additional, non-health related benefits which may include: financial benefits, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, education, and more. Visit the Veterans Benefits Administration (http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/) for more information. HEALTH INSURANCE TRICARE Reserve Select TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) offers comprehensive health care coverage including prescription medications. When enrolled in TRS you receive care from any TRICARE- authorized provider. You should receive (or may already have received) TRS wallet card that contains important phone numbers and other information regarding your health plan. You should present this card whenever you receive care. Each enrolled family member will receive their own card. If you have not received this card or need a replacement, contact your regional contractor. Key Things to Remember: TRS is available worldwide to most Selected Reserve members (and families) when not on active duty orders or covered under the Transitional Assistance Management Program. When enrolled, you must pay monthly premiums (as little as $50.00 a month). Pay your monthly premiums on time. If you don't, you'll be disenrolled and and may be "locked-out" from re-enrolling You manage your own health care: o No assigned primary care manager. o Visit any TRICARE-authorized provider (or qualified host nation provider if located overseas). o Pay fewer out-of-pocket costs when choosing a provider in the TRICARE network. o Network providers not available overseas. o No referrals required, but some care may require prior authorization. o May have to pay for services when they are received and then seek reimbursement. o May have to submit health care claims. o May receive care in a military treatment facility on a space-available basis only. For additional information and program costs, please visit the web site at: http://tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/overview/Plans/ReserveSelect JOBS Visit the Florda Guard Online website at: http://www.floridaguard.army.mil/default.aspx and go to the careers tab for a current listing of AGR , Technician, Counterdrug and DMA State jobs throughout Florida. In addition, you will find several other job portals and tools for employees (Resume Services, Job Fairs, Etc). OUTREACH AND ASSISTANCE The Department of Military Affairs and the National Guard offer a variety of outreach programs that give direction, inspiration and support to Florida’s citizens. Whether providing guidance to Florida’s “at-risk” youth, training to law enforcement and public safety officers, or military funeral honors for veterans and their families, these programs are important outreach opportunities for our communities throughout the state. In addition to our public outreach programs, we provide assistance to our Soldiers, Airmen and their families through a number of specific service-based programs and organizations. http://www.floridaguard.army.mil/programs/default.aspx VEHICLE LICENSE PLATE Active members of the Florida National Guard are eligible to one free license tag each year (new tag or renewal). Visit the website to learn more or see your chain of command. http://flhsmv.gov/specialtytags/miltags.html NGAFL CONFERENCE The NGAFL Annual State Conference 16-19 July 2009 will be held at the Rosen Plaza, Orlando. For hotel reservations, call 1-800-627-8258. Registration information for the conference can be found at: http://www.floridaguard.org/stateConference.html . The National Guard Association of Florida exists for you; the men and women of the Florida National Guard. The merger of the Enlisted and Officers Associations has significantly strengthened our membership and communications. It will also help our educational and awards programs and develop a better financial strategy. One of the main reasons for the merger is to have a stronger voice in congress and as an Association to help strengthen the Florida National Guard through improved personnel benefits, better equipment, modern facilities and increased relevance. Our organization includes, Officers, Enlisted, Warrant Officers, Retirees and the Florida National Guard Auxiliary of the Army and Air National Guard. Working together our achievements will grow by the day. To learn more about NGAFL go to: http://www.floridaguard.org/index.html .