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Blog post of Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
Image description. Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (MC&FP) End of image description.

"The Compact" is Making It Easier to Educate Our Military Children The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children ("the Compact") is one of the ways we are working to increase the resiliency of our military families and make our military children as successful as possible. When military families receive orders to relocate, there are a lot of things to consider. Finding a new home and settling into a new community are at the top of nearly every Service member's list. Military families with school-age children also need to figure out how best to make the transfer to the new school system as smooth as possible. In particular, they may be asking the following questions (and others): • • • Will my child be able to enroll in extra-curricular activities? Will my child's records transfer in time to get enrolled into the right classes? Will my child be able to get comparable special education services or accommodations in our new location without having to first be tested?

These concerns are exactly what the Compact strives to address. The Compact provides states with common guidelines to follow in handling issues that impact children of military families as they transition between school systems. These issues include records transfers, immunizations, class placements, extra-curricular activities, and graduation requirements among others. The goal of the Compact is to eliminate the confusion and struggle that often comes with relocation and to implement a uniform policy in every school district in every state that joins the Compact. We recognize that military families, like all families, want a quality education for their children, so it's important that relocation and deployment do not interfere with that goal. What does the Compact look like in action in states where it has been adopted? If your current state allows children to start kindergarten at age five, but your new state requires children to wait until six years of age, your child will still be able to continue in kindergarten. If your teenager has completed similar coursework in your current state, your new state can waive certain graduation requirements in order for your teen to graduate on time.
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If your child can't attend cheerleading tryouts because of your move, your new school must facilitate an alternative way to compete for the team. If your child is currently enrolled in special education services or a gifted program, your new school must accept the previous placement until they have enough time to do their own evaluation. As more and more states adopt the Compact, and as these states implement these changes at the school district level, the easier and smoother it will be for our children to transition between school systems. Forty states have already signed on to the Compact and we expect another five or six states to sign on this year. Already roughly 90 percent of our military children are covered under the Compact! As the remaining ten states sign on, we will continue to update you on the Compact's progress. You can find out which states have already signed by visiting http://www.mic3.net. If you have a comment, question, or story to share about the Compact and its impact on your family, please join our discussion. The DoD recognizes that military families also serve. We are committed to supporting you and want to ensure your children have high quality educational opportunities no matter where your next move takes you. Until next time, be well!

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Joining Forces
Joining Forces

Military Kids Can Apply for Scholarships The deadline is swiftly approaching for the Fisher House Foundation's 2012 Scholarships for Military Children Program, conducted at military commissaries worldwide. Applications must be completed and delivered - not postmarked, but delivered - to a commissary by close of business Feb. 24, according to an agency release. People can pick up applications at their local commissary or download it from the scholarship program's website. A minimum of one $1,500 scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location where applications are received. The Defense Commissary Agency operates nearly 250 commissaries on military installations around the world, according to its website. The program is open to currently enrolled or college-bound children of active duty, reserve or retired military commissary customers. The scholarships are primarily funded through the manufacturers and suppliers whose products are sold at military commissaries, according to the program's website. The scholarship provides for payment of tuition, books, lab fees and other related expenses. The program is in its 11th year. In its first 10 years, nearly 5,500 students have shared more than $8 million in scholarship grants. For more information on this and other scholarships, visit the Scholarship Programs of the Fisher House Foundation website.

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Weekly Tips
Military Community and Family Policy Weekly Tips

Nutrition Tip of the Week - Getting Your Dairy (Part I) Dairy is important to our diet as it provides calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein, and other nutrients needed for good health throughout life. The Dairy Group includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soymilk. Make your dairy choices low fat or fat-free to cut calories and saturated fat. But just how much dairy do we need? Older children, teens, and adults need 3 cups* a day, while children 4 to 8 years old need 2½ cups, and children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups. For some tips to help you eat and drink more fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, take a look below: • • • • • "Skim" the fat: Drink fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. If you currently drink whole milk, gradually switch to lower fat versions. This change cuts calories but doesn't reduce calcium or other essential nutrients. Boost potassium and vitamin D, and cut sodium: Choose fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese. Milk and yogurt have more potassium and less sodium than most cheeses. Also, almost all milk and many yogurts are fortified with vitamin D. Top off your meals: Use fat-free or low-fat milk on cereal and oatmeal. Top fruit salads and baked potatoes with low-fat yogurt instead of higher fat toppings such as sour cream. Choose cheeses with less fat: Many cheeses are high in saturated fat. Look for "reduced-fat" or "low-fat" on the label. Try different brands or types to find the one that you like. What about cream cheese?: Regular cream cheese, cream, and butter are not part of the dairy food group. They are high in saturated fat and have little or no calcium.

* What counts as a cup in the Dairy Group? 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese. Parenting Tip of the Week - Help Prevent Tooth Decay Valentine's Day is just around the corner and your house will probably be full of sweet treats. But did you know that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease? To help prevent tooth decay follow these simple tips: • • • Resume routine dental care after you PCS with your family. For children who are over age two, brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure to floss daily (as soon as two teeth begin touch). Limit sugary snacks and sweetened drinks.

Let's Move/Childhood Obesity Tip of the Week - Tips for Setting Good Examples Learn What You Currently Eat and Drink Did you know that • • The #1 source of calories in the American diet is dessert - like cakes and cookies? Americans get more calories from sugary drinks than any other beverage choice?

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If you want to make changes to improve the way you eat and your body weight, the first step is to identify what you do now. This includes becoming more aware of • • • what and how much you eat and drink how physically active you are your body weight

People who are most successful at losing weight and keeping it off track their intake regularly. Tracking physical activity and body weight can also help you reach your weight goals. Get started identifying what you eat and drink: • • • • Write down what and how much you eat and drink. Find a way that works for you. Use a journal, log your intake on your calendar, keep track on your phone, or use an online tool like the SuperTracker. Start by identifying what you've already eaten today. Be sure to include how much as well as what you ate. Don't forget to include drinks, sauces, spreads, and sides. It all counts. In addition, write down the physical activities you do, and how long you spend doing each one. Log each activity that you do for at least ten minutes at a time. Every bit adds up. Use the SuperTracker, a journal, a tracking form, or mark a calendar. Once you've identified what you are doing now, keep it up! Tracking what and how much you eat and drink, your body weight, and your physical activity can help you manage your body weight over the long-term.

Stumbling Blocks: Concerned about identifying what you eat and drink? Here are some common "stumbling blocks" and ideas to help you overcome these barriers: • "I'm interested in using an online tool, but I don't have Internet access every day." If you don't have regular access to a computer, you can begin by simply writing down what, when, and how much you eat in a journal. Just writing down what you eat and drink helps you become more aware. "It takes a lot of time to track my intake." The fact is that tracking works. Find a way that you can track your intake that works for you - writing what and how much you eat and drink in a journal, your day planner, or your calendar. "By the time I get to a computer, I've forgotten what I ate." For tracking to work, it needs to be complete. If necessary, carry a food journal or log your intake on your smart phone. Logging what you eat immediately will help your tracking to be more accurate. "I can identify what I ate, but have no idea of how to figure out how much I ate". Measure out foods you regularly eat (such as a bowl of cereal) once or twice, to get a sense of how big your typical portion is. Check the serving size information on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods. It describes what the "standard" serving size is, and how many are in the package. Use the grain, vegetable, fruit, dairy, and protein food galleries to see what sample portion sizes look like, and compare them to how much you ate.

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Go to the ChooseMyPlate website for more information. Financial Tip of the Week - Basic Strategies for Simplifying Your Financial Life (Part 1)

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Ways to eliminate clutter organize accounts and streamline how you manage your money. There are many reasons to organize and simplify your financial life. Eliminating clutter, saving time, and reducing stress are surely among them. And here's another motivating factor: Not keeping tabs on your finances can be costly if it results in fees or interest charges you could have avoided, investment losses, additional taxes, or other pitfalls. There is a checklist of nine basic things you can do to get your money matters in order...and keep them that way. 1. Use direct deposit. Ask to have your pay, pension, or Social Security benefits automatically deposited into your bank account. Direct deposit is safer, easier, and more convenient than getting a paper check in the mail and then having to deposit it into your bank account. It may even help you avoid bank fees. Direct deposit also gives you access to your money sooner than with a paper check. Automate recurring bills. Many merchants, such as insurance companies or utilities, will allow you to pay recurring bills with an automatic withdrawal from your checking account or through a charge to your credit card. However, be sure to record these transactions in your check register to avoid overdrawing your account. And if you charge the bills to a credit card, pay the balance in full by the due date to avoid interest charges. Many banks also offer online bill-paying services that allow you to pay bills quickly and easily. These programs generally allow you to sign up on your bank's website to receive bills electronically from companies you do business with. Then you can review the bill and pay it using that same website. Explore online banking. This service lets you review deposits and withdrawals, keep track of your balance, and move funds between, say, your checking and savings accounts - at your convenience. For example, with online banking you can quickly review your account and make sure you didn't forget to record any debit or ATM card transactions in your check register. You can get an update on whether funds from recent deposits are available for withdrawal. You might even be able to receive your bank statements online instead of in the mail. Put some savings on autopilot. Arrange with your bank or employer to automatically transfer a certain amount into savings accounts or investments on a regular schedule. Automatic savings programs can make it easy to build an emergency fund or save for the future. Also, if you invest in stocks, mutual funds, or other non-federally insured assets, it has been documented that making investments on a regular basis can result in a higher return over time than trying to time the market. Consider consolidating accounts. Think about how many different financial institutions you use and how many accounts (savings, checking and investments) and credit cards you have. You may be able to simplify your finances, reduce mail and paperwork, avoid certain fees and even get better deals by consolidating multiple accounts. Consolidating accounts also can make it easier to monitor your entire portfolio and ensure that your money is properly diversified.

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Spouse Tip of the Week - AcademyWomen and United States Chamber of Commerce Launch eMentoring Program for Military Spouses - GET CONNECTED TODAY! Unemployment among military spouses is at an unacceptable rate of 26%, largely due to their frequent relocations and lack of traditional career networks. But with the help of the White House "Joining Forces" Initiative (which helps connect veterans and military spouses with employers who want to hire them), AcademyWomen has partnered with the United States Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes Program to help fill these gaps. AcademyWomen and the Chamber are successfully bringing people together to address the career and employment barriers military spouses face by launching the MilSpouse eMentor Program, the nation's premiere virtual career-building network designed specifically for military spouses.

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Now, mentors and military spouses are able to register and connect with each other online at the MilSpouse eMentor Program website, and thereby create a national and international support pipeline that extends far beyond the spouse's current duty station. Just think about it: At the click of the mouse, spouses can now meet other military spouses and corporate leaders from military friendly employers who are able to help them establish and pursue their portable career dreams. Through important connections with a diverse pool of mentors, the eMentor program allows spouses to increase their job opportunities, continuity, stability, and upward mobility -the most challenging employment issues facing military spouses today. Everyone in the network is dedicated to leveling the playing field and "opening doors" for military spouses seeking portable careers and employment. What does the MilSpouse eMentoring program offer? The MilSpouse eMentor program is a dynamic online community where military spouses can receive personalized career guidance, advice, support, and inspiration from more experienced military spouses who share a special bond through their common experience. Representatives of military-spouse friendly firms also participate as "corporate mentors" who can assist spouses seeking stable employment with an opportunity for upward mobility. • The MilSpouse eMentoring program offers military spouse protégés three types of mentors: ◦ Corporate Mentors from military spouse-friendly employers ◦ Career Mentors representing various industries or career fields ◦ Peer Mentors who can advise fellow military spouses on professional and personal issues relevant to military families The innovative web-based MilSpouse eMentor platform is designed to afford flexibility to both mentors and protégés while enabling meaningful day-to-day dialog and exchange of career advice. A wide range of participation levels is offered, from forming one-on-one ongoing mentoring relationships to simply posting and responding to questions in group discussion forums.

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Who is eligible to participate in the MilSpouse eMentor program? • • • all spouses of military members in uniform or veterans, living or deceased divorced spouses representatives of military spouse-friendly firms may participate as Corporate Mentors

To register for the MilSpouse eMentor Program, visit the MilSpouse eMentor website. Take the simple steps described below to connect yourself with a new, expanding professional network: • • • • At the bottom of the page, click "Join Today." Check the "MilSpouse eMentor Leadership Program" box. Select either "Mentor" or "Protégé" as the way you'd like to participate in the program. Provide basic contact and profile information and submit your registration request.

Be sure to share this information with your family, friends and colleagues. AcademyWomen is a global leadership organization of current and former women military officers, cadets, midshipmen, candidates, and individuals committed to the success of AcademyWomen's mission. Their members are the world's outstanding leaders, including: military officers, astronauts,
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pilots, combat leaders, ship commanding officers, business executives, diplomats, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, and homemakers. Their members are the pioneers who bravely sought military training and now represent a new and outstanding paradigm of leadership. Through a group of like-minded women and men, they are helping fill existing gaps of support by creating and leveraging global professional networks; inspiring their member's ideas and actions; and equipping their members for leadership impact. Thank you, AcademyWomen and the United States Chamber of Commerce, for reaching out to support, embrace, and connect military spouses seeking portable careers and employment! Relocation Tip of the Week - Stay Organized! Create a personal moving calendar with checklists, phone lists, to-do lists, and links to critical moving processes and information. Use Plan My Move to get organized!

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In the News
We've captured the latest Quality of Life (QOL) information, as well as recent additions to the Military Community & Family Policy (MC&FP) collection of websites, including MilitaryHOMEFRONT. All in one location! For a complete listing of QOL topic areas and information, please return to the MilitaryHOMEFRONT homepage. In the News Notable Quality of Life developments and Department of Defense announcements and alerts. Webinar: February 22 at 1:00 PM EST Choosing an Exceptional Life: Introduction to Government Benefits & Services Visit Military OneSource to register for the February 22, 2012 webinar to learn about government benefits and services available to Exceptional Family Members. Technology Brings Family Closer Together Service members and their families often miss important moments in each other's lives during deployments, but technology such as video chat makes it possible to share some of those special moments, even when they can't be together physically. New Major Depressive Disorder Toolkit Available Online The Major Depressive Disorder Toolkit is available online from DCoE - Defense Centers of Excellence! This toolkit is a compilation of paper-based tools to help screen, manage symptoms & refer patients with major depressive disorder. Compact Eases School Transitions for Military Children With the addition of Pennsylvania, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children now encompasses nearly 90 percent of school-age military children scattered across the nation, said Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. Healthy Living Tips February is American Heart Month! Learn what the risk factors are for heart disease and how you can improve your heart health in this month's healthy living tips from TRICARE. Officials: Women Can Suffer Same Deployment Ills as Men It once was thought that servicewomen neither were exposed to the same combat situations as men nor developed the same psychological injuries. But officials now recognize otherwise. Voting Assistance The election season is underway. Of all the activities associated with the election season, the most critical one is the right to vote. Go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program website to register and request your ballot. If you need in person help, you can also go to your voting assistance officer or a local recruiting office. First Lady, Dr. Biden Laud Community Challenge Finalists Noting their contributions to military families' lives, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, announced the 20 finalists that will compete for top honors in the Joining Forces Community Challenge.
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Guard and Reserve
Image description. Two National Guard service members End of image description.

Feb. 17-18 - 116th Refueling Squadron - Moses Lake, WA Mar. 3-4 - Guard and Reserve - Charleston, WV Mar. 9-10 - Army National Guard - Walla-Walla, WA

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