Sunday, February 28, 2010

In a Money Bind? Consider Army Emergency Relief

I love to read about programs the directly impact Soldiers and their Families in a positive way. It's often too easy to see only the struggles that come along with being an Army Family, so encountering programs that make life easier is always welcomed.

One such program is the Army Emergency Relief fund. Wow; what a great idea! This program uses it's funds to help Soldiers in need. Simple concept, but a true lifesaver for anyone who finds themselves in need.

In a recent Army News Service article, the program announced that it's 2010 campaign begins this week.

From the AER Website:
AER is a private nonprofit organization incorporated in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Army Chief of Staff. AER's sole mission is to help soldiers and their dependents.

AER is the Army's own emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to "Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own". AER provides commanders a valuable asset in accomplishing their basic command responsibility for the morale and welfare of soldiers.

AER funds are made available to commanders having AER Sections to provide emergency financial assistance to soldiers - active & retired - and their dependents when there is a valid need.

AER funds made available to commanders are not limited and are constrained only by the requirement of valid need.

For these reasons, the AER assistance program is conducted within the Army structure by major commanders and their installation/organization commanders through AER sections and other related organizations.

Typically, it seems that AER loans (which are always interest free!) have been under $1,000 and granted for terms between 12 and 24 months.

Some information from Andrew H. Cohen, AER deputy director for finance, found in the online article:

"Not only are extensions possible, but if repaying a loan creates an undue hardship, a Soldier can convert the loan to a grant," Cohen said. "There's no boiler plate solution to take care of a Soldier and his Family."

Cohen said the loan process has become easier for requests under $1,000 due to the command referral program whereby company commanders and first sergeants have the authority to approve a loan. Local installation AER sections can approve cases up to $3,500. For more than $3,500 in emergency funds, the local AER will forward the case to AER headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

It's not uncommon for an emergency fund request to be dropped off at the local base AER office in the morning, then return at lunch to pick up their assistance checks. Cohen said it's much quicker and easier than going outside the gate and having to pay a huge interest rate.

Read the full article and get the details here:

Army Emergency Relief Campaign Begins March 1

During the Army Emergency Relief campaign this year, AER officials want to promote awareness to Soldiers and their Families that donations generate interest-free loans to fellow Soldiers and Families in times of need.

Founded in 1942, the AER has provided more than $1.2 billion in assistance, and in the last five years alone has distributed nearly $300 million to more than 280,000 Soldiers and Families for unforeseen cash flow problems.

For more information, visit Army Well-Being: Your Financial Life

Also, participate in our Quick Poll: Where is your family financially?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Need to Feel that Rush? Check out Warrior Adventure Quest!

Every now and then I run across something that just makes me proud (all over again!) to be an Army wife. I just posted the article "Warrior Adventure Quest Helps Soldiers" on the Army Well-Being homepage and am so impressed with this program.

If your Soldier has deployed to combat, you have likely seen a slightly different person return from war than the one who left. This may or may not be drastic, and may or may not be negative. It would be very difficult to live 12+ months away from home, experiencing high-stress, life-or-death situations regularly, and not be affected by it at all.

Sometimes this can manifest itself in a good way. My husband and I have talked about the fact that it seems easier for us to keep the "small things" small after 24 months of deployment during the past four years. Who really cares if the socks make it into the laundry hamper or if the dishes are left overnight? His socks are HERE, not in Iraq, and the dishes just means we enjoyed a meal ... together!

It's not always that simple, of course, but deployment can have a way of bringing things into perspective for you. Another possible effect of combat deployments is the Soldiers' need to "feel that rush." True, IED explosions and small arms fire are likely not anybody's idea of a good time, but they do produce an adrenaline rush that is difficult to replicate. Enough high-stress events like these, and a Soldier could begin to feel a 'need' for the same reaction he/she gets in combat situations. Sometimes, this can play out in other high-risk behaviors, like driving too fast, unsafe motorcycle drives, or physcial aggression.

Enter: Warrior Adventure Quest (WAQ). This program is designed to assist Soldiers in dealing with just this issue. A quote from the article says:
Through WAQ, Soldiers are exposed to healthy alternative high-adrenaline activities in a safe, controlled environment. These types of activities have proven to mitigate boredom and high-risk behavior.
It is such an impressive program to me because it is so real. It directly addresses a real need of our Soldiers today. Take a moment to read the entire article and see this video from the Fort Benning MWR for more information on the program.

We welcome your comments!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How 'Social' Are You?

Social media is all the rage these days and new options seem to pop up overnight.  With so many choices, how do you decide what to use?  Why jump on the bandwagon at all?  Or, if you've decided to join the social networking ranks, where should you begin? 

Well, we're not sure we have all of the answers for you -- sorry! -- but here are some things to consider ...

  1. What do you want to accomplish through social networking?  Are you looking to connect with old friends or new colleagues?  Will you try to promote your site, business, or favorite charity?  Knowing what goals you seek to achieve will help you determine what networking sites will be best for you.
  2. How much time will you have to commit to social networking?  The social media world can be somewhat demanding.  With instant access to so many different people, waiting days for a response from you can make your followers or friends a little impatient.  You'll want to be able to spend a reasonable amount of time each week on updating your networks.
  3. What is your plan for connecting with people?  Like most things, social networking sites have become victim to scammers, spammers, and more.  Knowing ahead of time who you'll follow/friend/connect with may save you some time and trouble in the long run.
There is some great information out there on social networking and on each individual forum.  One of our favorites is Mashable ... found at ... it's labeled the "Social Media Guide" and is full of tips, tricks, and information for you.

A few of our favorite social media sites (and our links so you can visit and check them out for yourself) are:

  • Facebook (see our favorite pages for some great military pages to visit)
  • Twitter (see our Twitter lists ... we've collected the best Twitter accounts there!)
  • Delicious (we're bookmarking great military and informational sites)
  • Digg (always looking for new articles and news for Soldiers and Families)
  • StumbleUpon (great websites, videos, photos, blogs and more — all tailored to your personal interests
Plus ... here are some recent articles about social networking we wanted to share with you, too. 

Think ‘Social’ When Using Social Media

As social media has become more prevalent, it seems to have become more confounding. More people means more potential advances in technology, but also means more questions about how to best use social tools in personal and professional business.

What Would You Tell a General Officer About Social Media?
Teaching our leadership about the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr is pretty common place in the Army. Education is at the core of our social media strategy ... But, what do you think? If it were your job to educate military leadership on social media, what would you be telling them?

Please let us know YOUR favorites ... and share any tips you have discovered, too!

Monday, February 08, 2010

For the Love of Army Kids

As Valentine's Day draws near, parents will be searching for just the right goody for their little sweethearts.  Chocolates, stuffed bears, and frilly heart-shaped cards will be greeted with big smiles on the 14th of February.

At Army Well-Being, we're continuously looking for the best news, tips, resources, and ideas to serve our Soldiers and their Families.  Because we know just how precious your little 'valentines' are to you, here are some of the latest and greatest posts especially for our Army parents.

Please comment to add your own ideas; we'd love to hear from you!

Military Families Get Free Access to Caregiver Network

Did you know?  Military Families now have free access to an online network of quality caregivers who can assist with everything from babysitting to dog walking!  Sittercity is the nation’s largest online source for local babysitters, nannies, elder care providers, dog walkers, housekeepers, and tutors, and contains more than a million caregiver profiles.  The Sittercity Corporate Program, funded by the Defense Department, offers military Families — including active duty, Guard, and Reserve — with a paid membership to the site.

Protect the Ones You Love: Prevent Road Traffic Injuries

The CDC gives us a startling statistic:  Every hour, 150 children between ages 0 and 19 are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes. More children ages 5 to 19 die from crash-related injuries than from any other type of injury.  Read more on how parents can ensure the safety of their children on the road.

Patriotic, Active Kids Suffer Less Deployment Stress

Adolescents who believe that America supports the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and that Soldiers are making a difference in the world are less likely to suffer from anxiety and stress when their parent deploys.  The research -- conducted by Army War College researcher Leonard Wong -- revealed that strong Army Families and increased activity by children also reduced the level of stress.

10 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids During Deployment

Most of us don't want to think about deployment and time away from the Family, especially at Valentine's.  But, deployment can be tough on important relationships if you aren't prepared.  Read these 10 great tips that can help you and your Family to make it through deployment.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Soldiers and Super Bowl Sunday

Soon it will be Super Bowl Sunday! We've been collecting some fun information for you about this near-holiday in the United States. We hope you're planning a fun time with friends to watch the big game.

First, and most importantly, who will you be rooting for on Sunday?  Take our quick poll and let us know where your loyalties lie: 

Next on the list?  Get your snack on!  Enjoy these tips and recipes from your DeCA Dietitian: 

According to food industry surveys, along with chips and dips, one of the most popular foods for a Super Bowl party is pizza. Yes, you can always order in, but it will cost you. So, check out the easy pizza recipes featured this week from your DeCA Dietitian – you might decide to make it at home so you can “have it your way” and save lots of dough at the same time.

We're glad to know that many of our deployed troops will get to watch, too! 

When millions of Americans gather around their TV sets this weekend for Super Bowl XLIV, they’ll have lots of company from U.S. forces around the world and at sea, thanks to the American Forces Radio and Television Service.  AFRTS has been delivering the game live for the past 43 years.

The full game, including the pre-game show, will be beamed by satellite to American Forces Network viewers and American Forces Radio listeners in 175 countries and aboard Navy ships at sea!
Another great story about how the NFL and the US Army are working together to raise awareness about PTSD, depression, and TBI: 

US Army and the NFL: A Winning Team

When thinking about comparisons, it is rare one would think to compare the National Football League to the U.S. Army. One provides entertainment on Sundays, Mondays (and a few Thursdays) while one provides national security and protection seven days a week.

Nevertheless, there is one issue they have in common that affects both in very serious way-tramatic brain injuries. And although the injuries occur in extremely different situations, they are equally serious and important. This is why the NFL is teaming up with the U.S. Army to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and brain injuries in servicemembers.

There are some great video clips of NLF heroes on DoDvClips showing their appreciation to our troops!  Over and over, you'll hear "You are the true heroes" from these players to our troops.  Good stuff here:

NFL Shout-Out Videos on DoDvClips!

Other than one slightly misguided NFL player who said "Go Navy, Beat Army" (we're sure that's not really what he meant), this is a great video with the two Super Bowl competitors giving thanks to our troops.  Enjoy!