Spouse and Family Action Update
Fall is my (Kelly) favorite time of the year. I love the cool air, changing of the leaves, and the initiation into the upcoming Holiday season of carving pumpkins, giving thanks for freedom, family, and friends, and (just as my kids do) wishing for snow by early December.
Fall is also an opportunity for us to vote. Service members and their families should visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) to determine if they are eligible to vote absentee. If you are, be sure to request your absentee ballot as soon as possible. With three weeks until Election Day on November 2, there is no time to waste in requesting your ballot and getting it completed and returned. In a pinch you can send in a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Visit www.fvap.gov to learn more about absentee voting.
Working at MOAA has prompted a much needed refresher in understanding how government works and what responsibilities I have in our system…yes, it was awhile ago when I had high school and college government courses.
Here are some basics: This is the second session of the 111th Congress, and each Representative in the House is faced with an election. A third of the Senate is also facing an election at this time. To find more information on the candidate races in your area, check the 'Election Guide' on MOAA's Web site, which provides profiles of every candidate running. You might also want to check out the summary of your legislators' record of support for MOAA's key issues.
Congress is currently out of session (after adjourning a week earlier than expected) and on the campaign trail. But there is much in store for the Lame Duck session, including passing the Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate. The NDAA specifies the Department of Defense's budget and expenses, and as it relates to us as military spouses, the requirements of the DoD on Military Family Readiness matters. Examples of such matters at the federal level could include:
- Amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Responsibilities of the Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs (did you know there was such an office?)
An assessment and report of the impact of deployment on military children.
To learn more about proposed bills and legislative issues that impact the military lifestyle, sign up for our weekly Legislative Update -- after all, knowledge is power!
Kelly recently attended the Blue Star Families 2010 Military Family Lifestyle Survey results presentation. I found the results on Spouse Employment to be particularly significant given the response by military spouses to the MyCAA restructure. Of those military spouses who completed the survey, 55 percent would like to use MyCAA -- or would have liked to if they weren't barred by the new eligibility rules. Post Graduate education (which is no longer allowed under the program) was the top choice for using the Career Advancement Account, and 2-year community college was the least preferred choice—which is the only college program MyCAA now covers.
MOAA will continue to work with Congress and the Defense Department on restoring MyCAA access for those spouses who have sacrificed careers due to PCS moves. We'll be pushing for an amendment to the NDAA to do that during the lame duck session, but we need your help. You can weigh in on the issue at our MyCAA action center.
In other legislative news, MOAA members responded in droves to our alert urging congressional support to allow continued TRICARE coverage of military children up to age 26. The alert generated more than 17,000 messages to Congress in support of the proposed bills (S. 3846 and H.R. 6627). Unfortunately, Congress did not vote on the bills before adjourning. Rest assured, MOAA will continue to push both bills when Congress returns in November.
The MOAA Scholarship program application period opens the first week of November. If you know a military child under age 24 who is a child of a former, active or retired officer or active or retired enlisted personnel, let them know about this fantastic opportunity. Students are selected based on their academic ability, activities and financial need. They must also hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. This year MOAA gave away more than $8.5 million in education assistance to 1,600 students! Visit www.moaa.org/education for more information.
Spouse Council Member
Meet Spouse Council Member Karen Agoulnik!
Karin Agoulnik graduated with a B.A. in French Literature and Studio Art from Hamilton College. After working for an advertising agency, Lou Beres & Associates, in Chicago, IL, she relocated to Washington, DC to manage external affairs and fundraising campaigns for the Gettysburg National Battlefield Foundation and a think tank, Resources for the Future. Subsequently, she led the sales and marketing team with the San Diego Padres baseball club. While with the Padres, she created and managed "Host Our Heroes", a military marketing/corporate sponsorship program. As part of the program, she worked closely with leading defense companies in San Diego, Navy and USMC military commands, veterans, government agencies, DoD, and the media.
Having moved back to the Washington, DC area with her active duty husband, Captain Artem Agoulnik (USMC), she recently accepted a corporate development position with the National Law Journal. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, where she heads up its fundraising efforts. In addition, she is continuing work on her art portfolio - acrylic painting, pen & ink, and sculpture.
In closing, we wish the United States Navy a Happy 235th Birthday, and we hope you enjoy a very colorful autumn wherever you are!
Deputy Director, Govt Relations (Military Family Issues)
Military Officers Association of Ameria (MOAA)
Deputy Director, Spouse Programs
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
**This is a reprint of the October electronic Spouse and Family Update.