The Tennessee National Guard Family Program
E-News 2 February 2001
The purpose of Family Program E-News is to provide a source of Family Readiness information for the military chain of command and the family member chain of concern. Please post it on your unit bulletin boards or forward it to your unit members and their families. You can also "cut and paste" any of the articles into your unit or Family Readiness Group newsletters.
E News Topics
Dates to Remember
Program Workshop, Memphis, TN
Year of the Employer
The Year 2001 has been designated as the "Year of the Employers" to recognize those employers who support Guard members across the nation. It also includes opportunities for employers and communities to get "reconnected" to their Guard units nationwide.
"On behalf of the National Guard -- 457,000 strong -- I declare the year 2001 to be the Year of the Employer," said Lt. Gen. Russell C. Davis, Chief, National Guard Bureau, to more than 1,500 Air Guard officers, noncommissioned officers and state adjutants general gathered at the ANG Senior Leadership Conference in San Antonio.
Joining Davis as he initiated the program was Charles L. Cragin, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs; Brian Sharratt, executive director, National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, ANG director and Command Chief Master Sgt. Gary Broadbent, ANG senior enlisted advisor.
Program goals include increasing recognition for employers of Guard members, and to include assistance and active partnership with the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to strengthen processes and relationships that reach out to employers. Even though this theme was an Air Guard initiative, LTG Davis also made the Army National Guard a full partner in the celebration which supports Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen's initiative to reconnect America with its military.
Activities set for the coming year include a strong public information effort, meeting with employers, arranging employer visits to Guard missions, expanding employer awards and educating Guard members and employers about their responsibilities to each other, said Davis.
The Year of the Employer is one of many themes that the ANG has established since 1998 to emphasize significant aspects of National Guard service. This follows the 2000 theme of recognizing military families. The Year of Diversity will follow in 2002.
Recent Unit Mobilizations
Fifteen (15) members of the 168th Military Police Battalion volunteered to support the 223rd MP Co, Louisville, KY, in their forthcoming deployment to Bosnia where they will be stationed for approximately 270 days. The unit members completed the Mobilization Readiness Exercise (MRE) at Ft. Polk, LA. They will proceed to Ft. Benning, GA, on 4 February for final processing before departing for Bosnia later in the month.
Thirty-seven members of Detachment 1, 155th Engineer Company (Asphalt Platoon), Erin, TN, have been identified for deployment to Kosovo. Soldier Readiness Processing (SRP) was conducted by the Tennessee National Guard Mobilization Readiness Branch on 6-7 January in Erin, TN. The unit will depart for Kosovo on or about 11 March after a short processing period at Ft. Benning, GA.
Extensive briefings were conducted for the service members and families of both units. These sessions included information on changes in benefits and entitlements, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), TRICARE medical benefits, Red Cross emergencies, dealing with the media, and Family Readiness Group communications networking.
FRG Activities - What's Going On Across the State
Since the National Guard is such an important part of our communities, it is only natural for the Family Readiness Groups (FRG) of these units to also involve themselves in helpful community activities. This month we highlight two of those very special units and their Family Readiness Groups and say "THANK YOU" for your positive efforts in our communities. We also want to say "thanks" to MSgt Steve Latham and SGT Norman M. Mullen, Military POCs for these units, for supplying information on these events. Please continue to send us information on what YOU are doing out there.
134th Air Refueling Wing, McGhee-Tyson Airbase
Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing and its Family Readiness Group took part in a Christmas "Angel Tree" this year. They collected over 75 gifts for under privileged foster children in the area and then delivered these gifts to a local church. The Angel Tree event culminated with a visit from Santa Clause. The unit members and FRG members were on hand to enjoy the children's smiles as they received their presents.
Detachment 1, Battery C, 1/115th Field Artillery, Fayetteville, TN
(Article obtained from Vanderbilt Medical News)
The members of this unit and its Family Readiness Group will be out in force in Lincoln County to help raise money for the 77th Annual Vanderbilt Children's Hospital Paper Sale.
Fayetteville guard members and their families will be raising money on 31 March - 1 April 2001 through road blocks and at retail outlets. They will also be placing collection jars at retail outlets throughout the month of March.
"Their involvement is crucial to our fundraising efforts," said Shannon Johnson, coordinator of the event for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. "All of the money raised goes directly into the Children's Fund and is used entirely for the benefit of the patients of Children's Hospital."
Johnson said recent funds had gone towards obtaining advanced medical equipment and establishing special laboratories to promote ongoing research into childhood diseases. Each year the not-for-profit Vanderbilt Children's Hospital treats over 8,500 children on an inpatient basis and sees over 170,000 outpatient visits.
Once again....thank you for the time and effort you have spent on these worthwhile causes.
Army Family Action Plan Issues - General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC)
The Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) is a grassroots system developed to ensure issues pertaining to Family Readiness and Support are identified and addressed throughout the Chain of Command. The General Officer Steering Committee oversees this process. Listed below are a few of the issues identified and discussed at the last Committee Conference.
Issue 459: OCONUS Retiree and DOD Civilian Dental Care
Issue 474: Shortage of Professional Marriage and Family Counselors (CONUS)
"Why Guard Families Matter to America" Winning National Essays
"Why Guard Families Matter to America" was the theme for the Year of the Family Essay contest, sponsored by the National Guard Bureau Air Guard Family Enrichment Team.
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Aislinn Joy Peck, age 14 from Essex Junction, Vermont was the Army National Guard winner. Her essay is below:
"Momma, whereís Daddy going? Inquires the little girl as she watched her dad board a plane wearing the green suit he usually did one weekend a month. Alligator tears start to spill out of her clear, usually sparkly eyes and roll down over her chin.
"Honey, heís going to Bosnia for six months. You know that daddyís been in the National Guard for three years, and he has to go over seas." Replies the heartbroken mother.
Like most Guard families, this mom is important to America because during times of anxiety, the Guard families know how to deal with separation, the heartbroken mom calls other family members whose soldiers have gone to Bosnia. Some of the women are newly married, pregnant, or already dealing with several children. Together these ladies set up their own support group to help the families of soldiers get through the time when their loved ones are gone. The little girl also feels the need to help other people to understand how lonely the soldiers and their families feel when they are apart. Because it will soon be Christmas, the little girl is able to convince her second grade teacher to let the children in her class write notes to her dad and the other soldiers of the unit. Writing notes to a soldier in a foreign country really caught on in the little girlís class, especially with the little boys. Now, parents of the children in the lonely little girlís class are bringing in boxes of non-perishables, small presents, and pix to accompany the childrenís letters.
The mother, also imagining how it would feel if her husband was injured while over seas, starts going to the Red Cross and volunteering one or two days a week. This action of concern also takes off. Soon the other mothers and wives are wanting to help out in any way they can. Some add care packages to those of the little girl; others, like the girlís mom, volunteer at the Red Cross. This same kind of volunteerism broke out during WWII. The people left at home while a loved one was away at war turned all their worry and concern into work that would really help the soldiers over seas as well as the ones that came home wounded or sick.
Guard families are very important to America and the people who protect her, because without them, there would be on one to boost the soldiersí spirits when they arenít able to be home at Christmas, and no one to turn anxiety into an organized effort to help the protectors of our country. The definition of a Guard family is community, volunteerism, and strength. These are qualities that make America Great.
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The Air Guard winner was TSgt Scott G. Malin, 152nd Intelligence Squadron, Reno, Nevada. His essay follows:
A guard member raises his or her right hand, swears to support and defend the constitution, to obey the orders of the President. On the surface this is a simple, ceremonial act, significant only to those directly involved. In the same city, in a different city, in a different state, sometimes in a different country other lives are also changed. The lives of mothers, fathers, children, spouses, uncles, aunts, ex wives, ex husbands, stepchildren will never be the same. These people donít raise their right hand, but their love and support is as essential to the successful completion of a mission as the job of any guard member.
These "mission essential" elements we call our dependents arenít really dependent on us; we are dependent on them. They must live with the fact that one of the most important people in their life may be asked to pay the ultimate price for the freedom we all hold dear. Most likely we will not be asked to give our life during our career, but the possibility is always there, hanging in the air as we tuck our children in bed every night. No, perhaps the ultimate sacrifice isnít something our loved ones will have to deal with, but what about the real sacrifice we depend on them to make throughout our career. As the years go on and the separations, moves, long distance phone calls, short notice deployments, postponed vacations, and nighttime exercises begin to accumulate, the people that love us come to know the meaning of the word sacrifice. They do it because they love us; they love our country, and they respect the profession of which they are such an integral part. The honor we feel in doing this job rubs off on them and we draw strength from their support.
So when we raise our right hand we are also raising the right hand of the people who love us. Often they are not given a choice. They support our decision to bring them into this life; they trust our judgement. Itís what love is all about. Freedom is bought and paid for with this love. We love our country, our family loves us. Itís a simple chain, but it has got to be strong. If itís weak, if it breaks down, there are always consequences: a deadline is missed, a classified document is misplaced, a shot is fired in error. Without support at home the mission suffers.
It is no coincidence that there is now a mandate to create family support programs on every military installation in this country. It should have happened long ago. Every year should be Year Of The Family, every day should be Day Of The Family. This concept isnít quite as dramatic as it would seem. To keep our military families strong they need to be considered in all we do each and every day. Anything mission essential should be protected, preserved, and nurtured.
Enacting Wills Made Easier
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
A little known provision of the 2001 Defense Authorization Act will make it easier for the last wishes of service members to be carried out. "This new federal law recognizes a special, uniform way to prove an individual's testamentary intent," said Col. George Hancock, chief of the Army's legal assistance division.
At the heart of the change to "military testamentary instruments"-or wills-is a standard "self-proving affidavit" at the end of the will. The affidavit contains the service member's acknowledgment of the will and affidavits of the witnesses to the will. "The affidavit indicates that the will was signed in accordance with the required formalities," Hancock said. Before this legislation, there was no uniform Federal self-proving affidavit. Instead, legal assistance attorneys searched for appropriate state provisions for the client. "Today's reality is that military legal assistance attorneys are frequently expected to rapidly prepare wills for many deploying service members," Hancock said. "Adequate time to research State procedural law, then add that to the will, and execute the will according to the varying procedural requirements of each state or territory is seldom available." This new law will establish a single self-proving affidavit for legal assistance clients' wills. It is a special alternative to different State requirements and should better assure the client that a probate court will accept his will. Also, this should reduce the likelihood that the surviving family member would experience difficulties probating the will. This is one less problem to deal with while grieving. Under the new law, a military testamentary instrument should be admitted to probate in state court proceedings without additional witnesses or affidavits. This is important since, by our very nature, military members are mobile, and it may be difficult to find the witnesses when the testator dies. The self-proving affidavit ensures the will is probated without such hassles.
This does not mean a will cannot be challenged. "It is still subject to contest on grounds such as undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity or prior revocation," Hancock said. Military legal assistance offices may begin using the new provision later this year after DoD issues a directive that is now circulating among the services. Existing wills are not affected by this change - a will already valid remains valid. Hancock stresses that it is important for service members to not wait until they are deploying to make decisions on their estate plan. Soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen should discuss their estates with their families and visit installation legal assistance officers for help.
For more information on the Tennessee National Guard Family Program and how YOU can help, contact:
LTC, State Family Program Coordinator
Tennessee National Guard
(615) 313-0541 or DSN 683-0541
FAX: (615) 313-0525 or DSN 683-0525
Toll Free: 1-877-311-3264