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               NEWSLETTER                                                                           December 2009

                                                   Gary Westrack, Director

                      Robert Lindley, Carol Furlong Editors

                               WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA
          As Christmas nears, so, too, does the 15 th Annual Wreaths Across America tribute to veterans. At nearly
350 locations across the country, wreaths will be placed at veterans’ gravesites in remembrance of sacrifices freely
given to preserve our freedom.
          For as little as $15 you can sponsor a wreath.
          The wreaths will be laid simultaneously all across the nation on Saturday, 12 Dec, at 12:00 noon EST.
Check out their awesome website!!!!! It has beautiful video, tells you how to donate, how to have a wreath delivered to
an individual, and sign up for a newsletter.
WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA                                                  General inquiries regarding the Wreath Projects:
P O BOX 256                                                                                             Major Wayne Merritt
HARRINGTON, ME 04643                                                                                         207-483-2039

                                                   THANK YOU
       We’d like to extend a large, heart-felt thank you to all the people who participated in this years’ Retiree Activities
Day, 21 Nov.
       Thank you to Col. Weed, Col. Holland, Maj. Blower, Mr. Edwards and all the help they provided in setting up
and dismantling our facilities.
       Thank you to all the sponsors and service organizations that provided support and information to the retirees
who attended.
       Thank you to all the retirees who took the time out of their Saturday morning to attend. We are glad to hear
they enjoyed the magnificent music, had many of their questions and concerns answered and got their flu shots.
        The volunteers of the Retiree Activities Office enjoy hosting this event every year and look forward to seeing all
of you again next year.

Gary Westrack, Director
        The Department of Defense (DoD) began the process of removing Social Security
numbers from issued identification (ID) cards in an effort to prevent identity theft. The exception
to this applies to Geneva Convention cardholders whose last four numbers of their Social
Security number will remain on their cards. All ID card holders should wait until their cards
are in need of renewal before replacing their cards with ones devoid of a Social Security
number. The DoD instructed retirees with indefinite expiration dates on their cards to start
replacing them in January 2010. Cardholders whose card has expired may contact the nearest
Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System site. If the cardholder does not know
where their local RAPIDS site is located, they can visit the Rapids Site Locator to find a location
( 30 Mar 09)

        In November, President Barack Obama signed an executive order aimed at hiring more
veterans to work in the federal government.
Under the executive order, twenty-three Cabinet level and lower departments and agencies will
band together to form the Council on Veterans Employment. The main purposes of the Council
will be to advise and assist the President and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management
in establishing a coordinated Government-wide effort to increase the number of veterans
employed by the Federal Government. They will advise on how to enhance recruitment and
training; serve as a national forum for promoting veterans employment opportunities and
establish performance measures to assess the effectiveness of the Council.
(NAUS Weekly Update 20 Nov 09)

      The Department of Defense (DoD) notifies VA when service members are released from
active duty. VA then sends a letter with information about VA benefits and assistance to aid the
former service members’ transition to civilian life. You can find additional information to help
with personal and family concerns, and community readjustment issues at XXXXXX There are
also toll-free numbers, VA Web sites and brochures to help you get the information you need. If
you or someone you know needs this information please pass on these toll-free numbers:
Benefits Information: 1-800-827-1000
HealthCare Eligibility Info: 1-877-222-8387

  “If you could sum up your life over the past year, what would you say?”

       The DoD recently sent out this guidance for those wanting to send goodies from home to
their deployed service members:
       Citizens desiring to send care packages, cards and letters to deployed service members are
encouraged to identify troops through family and friends. Individuals may also partner with
some of the “America Supports You” home front groups listed at They have direct contact with many of the service
members and units and can tell you about desired items and shipping frequency.
      Safety and security reasons no longer allow packages to be addressed to “Any Soldier” or
to an entire base in general. The American Red Cross is sponsoring a national “Holiday Mail for
Heroes” campaign to receive and distribute holiday cards to service members, veterans and their
families in the United States and abroad. The card campaign includes those working and
receiving care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Cards must be postmarked no later than 7

                          NEW AMC WEB SITE FOR SPACE-A TRAVEL
   Air Mobility Command’s new travel web site at offers space-
available travelers a wealth of information, including an updated AMC passenger terminal contact list
(complete with phone, e-mail and web links), and more than a dozen travel documents, example letters and
brochures. Hundreds of military and contracted commercial aircraft travel the world daily, delivering
troops and cargo. On many of them, military personnel, retirees, and family members go along, courtesy of
the AMC space-available travel program. Also known as “military hops”, unused seats are made available
once space-required passengers and cargo have been accommodated.

   “The web site was created to provide our customers the most accurate and up-to-date travel information
available,” said TSgt Steve Katsonis of the AMC passenger policy branch. Additionally, trained passenger
service agents at AMC terminals worldwide can assist. “AMC never guarantees travel, and passengers need
to be prepared for their (space-available) trip to take more time than it would were they traveling
commercial,” Sgt. Katsonis said. “Some bases are not able to provide facilities for lodging for passengers
stranded by a broken or rerouted aircraft,” he added. “When traveling space-A, be prepared to fly
commercial if problems are encountered. Have enough money for all contingencies, and be mentally
prepared for disappointment when plans don’t come together.”

Did you hear that the world’s tallest man got fired from the circus?
Yeah, he was concerned about his cholesterol, so he switched from
butter to Crisco. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize it was shortening!

To our retirees:
          We have been receiving emails from retirees with information from various
military/retiree sites. The information is valid and we've been happy to forward these along to
you, but the volume is becoming increasingly greater, the information sometimes requiring
verification, etc. We're grateful to those who pass along this info to help their fellow retirees, but
a more direct way to do so would be for those who are interested in this kind of info to subscribe
          The Afterburner, an excellent source of information, is now back in business. Receiving
that info in your email is the most direct way to have access to it, and retirees are encouraged to
subscribe electronically and discontinue receiving hard copy. This will obviously save money
and hopefully keep the publication in operation.
          Another excellent source of info is
          Both of these sources provide vital and up-to-date information affecting military retirees
and come well recommended.
          Thanks again to everyone who has sent along the info from these sources. We hope you
will utilize the following web sites and stay up to date.

                                    SHOW OLD GLORY
                                      PROPER RESPECT
     We all know how to fly the flag at half-staff, but what is the correct way to show
 respect when the flag is attached to a pole or hung on a wall?
      When your flag is attached to a pole and cannot be lowered or raised, the proper thing to
 do is fix a long black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag. It should be the same width as
 a stripe on the flag and should be the same length as the flag.
    If the flag is hanging on the wall, make black bows and place one at each of the mounting


VA recently launched a bit website renovation project that will better serve our nation’s veterans. The
conversion began 8 Nov and was completed by Veterans Day, 11 Nov. VA asks visitors to the website to
understand that as the new design is implemented across more than 500 VA websites there may be minor
errors on some of the 80,000 pages. VA will monitor its web pages after the conversion and make
appropriate corrections.


  Volunteers are needed on Saturdays and Sundays at the State Veteran home to cover the Front
desk from 0800 until 1700 hrs. A larger pool of volunteers is needed. Please spread the word.
Consider taking a shift such as a morning shift or an afternoon shift, etc. Most of us can spare a
couple of hours.
   Contact Ms. Candy Covarrubiaz at the AZ State Veteran Home at
or 602-351-6879

                                         TWEET RETIRED
   The Air Force T-37 twin-engine trainer aircraft has been retired. Since 1957, more than 78,000
pilots trained in the Tweet. Final flights were made at Sheppard AFB, Tex., in its Euro-NATO
Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. Last year, the Air Force began using the T-6 Texan II for
specialized undergraduate pilot training. Four T-37’s were flown to the Aerospace Maintenance
and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for placement in storage.

After a long career of being blasted into a net, the human cannonball was tired. He told the
circus owner he was going to retire.
“But you can’t!” protested the boss. “Where am I going to find another man of your

                                   „SHOP NOW, PAY LATER‟
   Visit your exchange and it soon becomes apparent that reports of layaway’s demise have been
greatly exaggerated.

   In fact, Army & Air Force Exchange Service BXs and PXs are reintroducing and, in some cases,
expanding layaway options.
   “Clothing, handbags and shoes are still eligible for 30-day layaway, but full payment on many
other categories can be put off for up to 60 days when shopping at the exchange,” said AAFES’
Chief Operating Officer Mike Howard.
   Military shoppers whose families’ holiday wish list including something that sparkles or
shines were able to begin making arrangements as far out as September as fine jewelry can be put
on layaway for up to 120 days at AAFES.
  Delaying full payment might even be mom and dad’s secret weapon in keeping presents
under wraps this year as toys can be put on layaway up until Christmas Eve.
   “Let the kids look in the attic, under the tree or even your car trunk,” said Howard. “Keeping
the toys on layaway, and in the exchange’s back room, can really take a lot of stress out of the
   Any purchase of $25 or more is eligible for layaway at AAFES. A 15 percent deposit on the
total purchase price is required to hold a product.

                            ACADEMY UPDATES CIRRICULUM
  The Air Force Academy has added Unmanned Aircraft Systems to the school’s curriculum.
   “The Air Force has made unmanned aircraft systems a priority for our service, and value of
these capabilities is evidenced on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lt. Gen. Michael C.
Gould, school superintendent. “It is only fitting that our cadets have a keen understanding of
this vital piece of our national security.”
    The Academy’s UAS program is designed to interest cadets to serve as future UAS leaders.
Four cadets are the first cadre in the program. They spent time at Creech AFB, Nev., home to the
MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft that flies daily in Southwest Asia. At Randolph AFB, Tex., the
first class of airmen basics to train as unmanned aircraft system sensor operators completed the
21-day technical schooling. Graduates will be certified as sensor operators but will require
specialized follow-on training before being fully mission-capable.

                         Merry Christmas
                       and happy New Year


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