Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.
DOD works to ensure access for special needs families
Defense Department officials are working to standardize a program designed to help service members get care for family members with chronic health issues or special needs who otherwise might face forgoing an assignment or having to cut short a deployment because of an inability to find such care.The Exceptional Family Member Program supports military families with special medical and educational needs, and the program is now in the process of being standardized across the force to make it easier for such families as they move from one assignment to another, regardless of location or military affiliation.”Right now, each service has its own program, so by having one policy and one set of procedures, it’s going to make it much easier for families,” Ed Tyner, DOD’s acting deputy director of community support for families with special needs, told American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.DOD officials say the goal is to make sure no service member’s career is negatively affected by having a family member who requires special care.
SecDef says furlough days reduced for civilians
The Defense Department has revised from 22 to 14 the number of days hundreds of thousands of civilian employees could be furloughed this year because of the budget sequester, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced March 29.
In addition, a senior Defense Department official speaking on background told reporters the start of the furloughs will be delayed until mid-to-late June, after more than 700,000 department employees receive furlough notices now set to go out in early May. Furloughs would happen over seven two-week pay periods until the end of September, when the current fiscal year ends, the senior official said, with employees likely to be told not to come to work for two days during each of those pay periods.
Department officials say they are still working to determine which employees might be exempted.
Hagel characterized the reduced furloughs as well as a revised estimate of sequestration’s impact on the defense budget as good news. The changes follow Congressional approval last week of a defense appropriations bill that prevented an additional six billion dollars in cuts, ordered under sequestration, from taking effect.
“It reduces a shortfall at least in the operations budget,” the secretary told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. “We came out better than we went in under the sequester, where it looks like our number is $41 billion [in cuts] now versus the $46 billion.”
Not too soon for spouse’s job hunt before moving
As service members start to receive their orders for summer moves, it’s time for working spouses to update resumes, start networking for job opportunities and contact career counselors at their new locations, a Pentagon official recommends.
In an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Meg O’Grady, program manager for the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program, said Defense Department officials are “absolutely dedicated” to helping military spouses overcome challenges they face in looking for education and career opportunities.
“We encourage all military spouses, throughout their service members’ careers, to continue gathering the tools and resources they need for their career path,” said O’Grady, a former military spouse. “At this time of year, we find spouses are thinking about packing their houses and moving their families, but this is the perfect time to start preparing to make that move in their career.”
The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program, which spouses can access through the Military OneSource website, can be a valuable resource, she said. Program counselors will assist spouses throughout their employment lifecycle, she added, whether it’s finding a new opportunity or preparing for a job search.
Reservists, retirees eligible for healthcare programs
TRICARE has affordable healthcare programs available for all Air Force Reserve retirees – including “gray-area retirees” and actively-participating Air Force reservists, no matter what orders they are on.
Reservists who retire before age 60 are eligible for TRICARE Retired Reserve coverage while they are in the “gray area.” This is the waiting period between retiring from active service and collecting their Air Force Reserve retirement pay at age 60.