Military Families Blog Archives
for November 2007

Welcome to our Military Families Blog.

Here we'll post current items of interest to military families, including financial tips to help you deal with the money problems that are unfortunately all-too-common for military members and their families.

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If you know of information that you believe should be added here, or if you would like to make comments regarding various entries, please feel free to send it to us using our contact form.

Blog Archives. Some items will remain at the bottom of the blog page for more than a month. That's because they're important enough that we want new readers to find them without having to search through archives.

Wounded Service Members Not Required
to Repay Enlistment Bonus

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2007 – If you are wounded in combat and discharged as a result, you will not have to pay back your enlistment bonus, Defense Department officials said here today.

"Bonuses are not recouped simply for one's inability to complete an enlistment or re-enlistment agreement through no fault of the military member," a policy statement said.

Pentagon officials re-stated their policy after a wounded soldier in Pennsylvania received a bill from the Army. Jordan Fox was a private first class in Baquba, Iraq, when he was wounded in the explosion of an improvised explosive device. Fox suffered vision troubles in his right eye and suffered a back injury when the bomb went off in May.

Fox was medically discharged and went home to his town near Pittsburgh. The Army sent him a letter asking him to repay $2,800 of his $7,500 enlistment bonus. He received a second letter telling him the Army would ...

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Giving Thanks:
Military Families Appreciation Week

U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Keith L. Darby

In a fitting tribute to kick off National Military Families Appreciation Week, children of deployed Navy sailors marched at the head of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, along with NBC weather anchor Al Roker, and Macy's executives. The children led this year's 81st anniversary holiday event and were cheered on by millions of supportive spectators from New York and around the country.

On this Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, we hope that you have much to be thankful for. Among our many blessings, we can count the good fortune to have been born in this great nation, where we enjoy freedoms that we sometimes take for granted, freedoms that many in the world long for, and for whom many died so that we might have them.

As we pause to reflect on our blessings, let us remember to express our thanks for those who were willing to give, and those who have given, their lives that we might enjoy our own, and for their families, who have endured tragic loss and grief.

One of those freedoms made possible by their sacrifices is that to freely express our thoughts and opinions, as we do on these pages and elsewhere. Let us not forget that it is only because of the sacrifices of those brave men and women that our freedom to do so is preserved.

Let us remember that there are millions of men and women living in oppressive societies around the world, where they do not enjoy the personal freedoms we have in America.

So let us remember to be grateful that we continue to have brave and heroic men and women who believe in something greater than themselves, and who are willing to volunteer their very lives if necessary, to protect and preserve the American way of life for their families, and for the rest of us. Let us remember that our way of life was won through the blood of men and women just like them, and that if it is to be preserved, it may be at the cost of even more lives lost.

"If the only prayer you say
in your life is
Thank You,
that would suffice."
Meister Eckhart

Let us be grateful that they have understanding and supportive families, who also understand the value and importance of their service, and who stand behind them and beside them through all their struggles and sacrifices, and deployments.

So please, make it a point, especially during this Military Families Appreciation Week, to thank a vet, or a current military member, and more specifically, to thank their families for supporting and encouraging them to be the heroes they are, and for enduring the hardships that are a normal part of military life.

Military Spouses are Heroes, too!

Military Families Appreciation message from Chairman JCS, Admiral Mike Mullen.

President Bush's Thanksgiving message.

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Your Credit Score Matters More Than You Think

You may be surprised to learn some of the ways your credit score can affect your life. Many of us naively believe the only time our credit score matters is when we apply for credit to make a purchase, or for a new credit card.

However, having a solid credit history can affect consumers in a surprising number of ways. Credit histories influence everything from renting an apartment and getting a mortgage to applying for ...

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Don't Throw Away Those Expired Coupons!

Wait! Before you toss those expired coupons, read this.

Did you know that military families overseas can still use coupons that have expired for six months after the stated expiration date?

This would be a great project for your school or church group, or Scout troop. It costs you nothing, except a little time and postage, and expired coupons that are useless to you can still help a military family stretch their budget a little farther.

What a great idea for a classroom or school project, to teach youngsters the rewards of giving, donating their time to help others, and supporting our

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Definition of Veteran

Thank You to All Our VeteransA veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve -is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" and its citizens, for an amount of "up to and including my life."

That is honor, and ...

There are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

-- Author unknown

Important Correction!

OOPS! Unfortunately, we passed along some bad info and we want to correct the error ASAP.

Several days ago, we encouraged you to send cards to recovering service members at Walter Reed Army Hospital and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland.

Since then, however, we've received word from Walter Reed that such cards will not be delivered, unless addressed to a specific individual. Apparently, that decision was made in response to the anthrax-by-mail scare a few years ago.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind you that Walter Reed cannot accept letters, cards, or packages addressed to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier,' or other similar addresses. This decision, by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy, was made in 2001 to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense. It applies at Bethesda as well.

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service will no longer accept "Any Service Member" or "A Recovering American Soldier" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.

The outpouring of encouragement from the general public, corporate America and civic groups throughout the past year has been incredible. Our Warriors in Transition (at Walter Reed) are amazed at the thanks and support they receive from their countrymen.

Instead of mailing an "Any Wounded Soldier" letter or package, please consider personally delivering them to your local VA Medical Center to be distributed by the volunteers there, or making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families, listed on the "America Supports You" website.

Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:

Your local VA Medical Center, military installation, the local National Guard or military reserve unit in your area may offer the best alternative to show your support to our returning troops and their families. To locate the VA Medical Center nearest you, click here.

Fisher House is an organization that builds "comfort homes," similar to Ronald McDonald Houses, on the grounds of military and VA hospitals to provide no-cost or low-cost temporary housing for families of recovering service members. It is totally privately funded. For the fascinating story behind Fisher Houses and those responsible for their creation, click here.

Donate frequent flyer miles to be used by military families traveling to be near loved ones recovering in military or VA medical facilities.

Please accept our apologies for passing along this bit of bad advice. We know you'd like to show your support, and we'll continue to highlight ways you can.

Veterans Day is NOT on Sale!

Tech Sgt. Phyllis Hanson

As a military journalist, I must inform readers of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday. What does it really mean?

I search the World Wide Web, just in case the reason behind paying homage to America's 24 million veterans has changed over the past 50+ years.

In seconds, 10 million links loom before me. I click on a few inspiring passages.

"It is essential that we preserve the integrity of November 11 as that one extra-special day for the American people to pause in silence or demonstrate public recognition," said George Lisicki, the Veterans of Foreign Wars commander-in-chief.

"Remembering gives true meaning to sacrifice and service," he continues. "Millions of Americans' lives were forever altered because they donned a uniform to protect the freedoms and rights we take for granted. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. Veterans Day is the time that debt comes due."

Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, signifying the end of World War I as "the war to end all wars." In 1918, a temporary cessation of hostilities (armistice), began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

In 1954, Congress made it "Veterans Day" rather than "Armistice Day." November 11th thus became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The day was intended as "...a tribute for the nobility of all soldiers who have fought for or who are fighting for the United States." It was created, "... that a grateful nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this nation," wrote President Eisenhower in his "Veterans Day Proclamation" of 1954.

Back to my search. I add the word "sale." Three million ads blanket my screen, shouting, "Veterans Day Sale!"

These sales "discount" the intention of this holiday.

The meaning behind Veterans Day and other holidays honoring those who have served our country seems to be forgotten as retailers use these sacred days for their "super sales" to clear out inventory to make room for the next "holiday" sale.

Is no holiday sacred? Are they just days off to shop?

I hope there are patriotic souls out there screaming, "No! That's not what these days of honor mean!"

The historical purpose of Veterans Day hasn't changed. Veterans Day is a day to honor those who are serving or who have served in the U.S. military.

There will be thousands of Veterans Day parades this weekend all across America. I urge you to go to one.

Go for those thousands of service members in harm’s way, or for veterans of the past who hold the day in their hearts with pride, but are unable to go because they are too old now and too weak to be there physically.

Cheer the veterans who will be marching, limping and riding in those parades. Give them all a wave of "thank you" for your freedom, from me, a veteran.

Celebrate Veterans Day

Nov. 11 -- Take a minute out of your activities today, and pause to offer a prayer of thanks for the American men and women who have served this nation with honor and pride.

Today is Veteran's Day, a special day set aside for the nation to recognize and celebrate their service. If you have friends who are veterans, thank them for their service to our country. If they happen to be Vietnam vets, you may just be the first person to ever thank them!

President Bush, in his weekly radio address yesterday, congratulated the US Marine Corps on its 232nd birthday on November 10, and reminded Americans of their debt to our nations veterans.

"This weekend, Americans mark two important dates in our Nation's history. On Saturday, we celebrate the 232nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps. And on Sunday, we celebrate Veterans Day -- and give thanks for all those who have worn the uniform of America's Armed Forces.

The Marine Corps was born in a Philadelphia tavern in 1775. Since then, the Marines have become one of the world's premier fighting forces. Their courage and valor in battle have earned them the respect of friend and foe alike. And today, a new generation of Marines is writing another chapter in that proud tradition. Young Marines are serving on the front lines in the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. As the Marines celebrate their birthday, we join them in recognizing what their sacrifice and service has meant for our freedom.

America owes a debt of gratitude to all those who have served in our Armed Forces. On Veterans Day, we remember those who have served in previous wars, those who are serving today, and those who did not live to become veterans.

On this Veterans Day, I urge every American to take time to thank one of our Nation's 24 million veterans. They come from different generations and different backgrounds. But they are united by a commitment to honor, duty, and love of country that has kept America free. They continue to strengthen and inspire our Nation. And we will never forget what we owe them."

As the old bumper sticker says:

"If you can read this, thank a teacher. And if you're reading it in English, thank a Vet!"

Final Day for $100 Special

Nov. 11 -- Today is the final day for the $100 "Days of the Dead" Special from SBI. It expires at midnight. If you've been considering your own web site, there's no better time to make your decision.

If you're like most military families, and need a way to provide a little extra "spending money," take a look at this page. It will give you some ideas for an excellent way to generate a little extra cash without leaving home, or having to pay for child care.

We know many of you might like to operate your own web sites, but are afraid the technical aspects of building a web site are just too complicated. We have GREAT news for you!

The company that enabled us to build this site has a fabulous $100 special in effect right now.

If you've already decided you're ready to build your own web site, there's no better time than RIGHT NOW to get started. Until midnight tonight, you can purchase one site, and get a second one for only $100! THAT's a bargain worthy of mention, especially on a web site devoted to wise use of your money.

What would you do with TWO web sites?

Well, you could:

  • Build two yourself. Once you get started with the first one, trust me, you'll start thinking of other topics you could build a site about. We've already got ideas for 3 or 4 more!

    And you have 8 months before you have to activate the second site, which is just enough time to get the first one off to a good start.

  • Make the second one a great Christmas present. Let that teenager who always has his (or her) hand out start learning how to generate his own "spending money." It's a great way to teach skills that will create financial independence.
  • Split the special with a friend. That will save each of you $100! Or, if you're not that fond of the friend, let him (or her) pay for the first site, and YOU keep the $100 one! (Good luck explaining that, by the way!)

If you already know you're ready to build your own web site, click on the graphic above for the special. If you want to learn more about how this company can help you Build a Website that Works, click here.

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Car Key Alarm Adds Peace of Mind

For those who feel they can't afford to install a security system in their home, here's a tip that will give you some added security and peace of mind.

You know the key fob that holds your car keys and unlocks the car doors? You can use it as an alarm when you're at home!

Here's how:

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Express Your Thanks this Thanksgiving

Update! This turned out to be bad advice. Please see "Important Correction" above.

Thanksgiving is just two weeks away. Why not set aside a few minutes to write some notes of thanksgiving, to let our returning wounded warriors know that you remember and appreciate their sacrifices?

Your notes don't have to be long or involved. In fact, you could just take a "Happy Thanksgiving" card you find in the store, and add a note that says something like this:

"Just wanted to let you know that we appreciate your service to our country, and your dedication to keeping us free. As we pause to give thanks this Thanksgiving, we are thankful that America has so many fine young men and women just like you, who are willing to make sacrifices so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms we hold so dear. May God bless you and speed your recovery."

You can send them to the National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda), and to Walter Reed Army Medical Center using the following addresses:

A Recovering American Hero
c/o N N M C
8901 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20889-5600


A Recovering American Hero
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include these addresses, and send as many cards as you have time to address. They will mean so much to these wounded American men and women who need to know that despite all the noise in the media, America supports them and appreciates their service.

And please consider passing this idea on. . . You can forward a link to this blog by copying and pasting this link in your e-mail:

Held Over by Popular Demand

If you missed the $100 Halloween Special we mentioned last time, don't despair. SBI has decided to extend the deadline, due to popular demand.

So, if you've been wanting to build your own web site, there's no better time. And if you're not sure yet, click on the link below to find out how SBI makes it easy for people with NO web site experience, like us, to build good-looking, well-ranking web sites.

If you have questions about how SBI can make it easier for you, or how we used SBI to build this site, please feel free to ask us, using our contact form.

We'd be delighted to help you get started on your way to generating a little extra cash for your family. Since we know most military families could use a little extra, we believe this is an excellent way for you to realize that goal. Ask away!

Click for more info

Don't Be Haunted by
Letting This Get Away!

If you're like most military families, and need a way to provide a little extra "spending money," take a look at this page. It will give you some ideas for an excellent way to generate a little extra cash without leaving home, or having to pay for child care.

We know some of you already operate your own web sites, and many more would like to, but are afraid the technical aspects of building a web site are just too complicated. We have GREAT news for you!

The company that helped us build this site has a fabulous $100 special in effect right now.

If you've already decided you're ready to build your own web site, there's no better time than RIGHT NOW to get started. Until the witching hour of midnight on Halloween, you can purchase one site, and get a second one for only $100! THAT's a bargain worthy of mention, especially on a web site devoted to wise use of your money.

What would you do with TWO web sites?

Well, you could:

  • Build two yourself. Once you get started with the first one, trust me, you'll start thinking of other topics you could build a site about. We've already got ideas for 3 or 4 more!

    And you have 8 months before you have to activate the second site, which is just enough time to get the first one off to a good start.

  • Make the second one a great Christmas present. Let that teenager who always has his (or her) hand out start learning how to generate his own "spending money."
  • Split the special with a friend. That will save each of you $100! Or, if you're not that fond of the friend, let him (or her) pay for the first site, and YOU keep the $100 one! (Good luck explaining that, by the way!)

If you already know you're ready to build your own web site, click on the graphic above for the special. If you want to learn more about how this company can help you Build a Website that Works, click here

Have a great weekend, and a Happy Halloween. And don't be haunted by letting this special get away from you!

Click for more info

Leadership and Courage
for More Than Forty Years

October 26, 2007 -- Forty years ago today, Arizona Senator and Presidential hopeful John McCain was shot down on a bombing mission over Hanoi. McCain had just released his bombs over the power plant when his A-4 was hit by a surface-to-air missile, ripping off one of the wings. As the jet spiraled out of control, McCain was forced to eject over downtown Hanoi. He broke both arms and one leg when the ejection seat fired, leaving him completely defenseless. He was lucky enough to land in a lake, and after sinking all the way to the bottom, was somehow able to inflate his life vest by pulling on the fitting with his teeth. He was immediately surrounded by Vietnamese, who inflicted bayonet wounds in addition to his other injuries before transporting him to Hao Lo Prison, the infamous "Hanoi Hilton."

After an unsuccessful attempt to reset his right arm, without benefit of anesthesia, McCain was fitted with a plaster cast from the waist up, holding his arm up at an awkward angle. Certain that McCain would not survive his injuries, prison officials placed him in the care of USAF Col. George (Bud) Day, a move which would allow them to say he died in American hands.

But McCain was determined not to die, and Bud Day was determined not to let him. Day nursed him back to health, at least as close as they could come, and as soon as McCain was able to walk on crutches, Day was removed from his cell. McCain would spend the next 31 months in solitary confinement. That gives a man plenty of time with his own thoughts, to learn who he really is. And John McCain was, and is, a man of faith, integrity, and courage.

When his captors learned that the 31-year-old McCain was the son of a high-ranking Navy Admiral, he became eligible for "special treatment." He was routinely tortured, brutally. The only time he was allowed out of his solitary cell was to attend a Christmas Eve service. After being ordered to participate, and despite the knowledge that it would result in a severe beating, McCain spoiled the service because he realized it would be used as propaganda, as "proof" of their humane treatment.

As a result of his father's rank, McCain was offered early release. Again, determined not to be a propaganda tool for the Communists, he refused to leave before the men who had been captured earlier than he was.

When he was shot down, McCain's mother and wife both believed he had died, because no one had seen a parachute. Roberta McCain, known as "Johnny's mother," says learning that her son was a prisoner of war was "the best news she'd ever received." (Video)

A stirring tribute by fellow POWs, including Medal of Honor recipient Bud Day.

Click for more info

President Bush Presents Medal of Honor
to Parents of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN

In an emotional ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President George W. Bush presented Maureen and Dan Murphy with the Medal of Honor awarded to their son, Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy.

Lt. Murphy was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005, when his four-man SEAL team, on a reconnaissance mission, was surrounded by Taliban fighters. After a two-hour firefight, Murphy and two others were dead, along with an estimated 35 enemy fighters.

The fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, made a heroic escape, evading enemy fighters and walking seven miles despite severe injuries. Local residents hid him from the Taliban, and delivered a note to nearby Marines with his location, leading to his dramatic rescue.

The Medal of Honor is the United States' highest military award. Murphy is the first U.S. service member to earn the MOH for combat action in Afghanistan in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). His award is the third MOH awarded since the GWOT began.

The President's Remarks

The Medal of Honor Citation

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Our Very First Award!

October 3, 2007 -- Imagine our delight to receive the following note in our e-mail this morning:

"Chief Boatswains Mate Dave Campbell, USN (Ret.), of '' is proud to present the Navy Bos'n Pipe Award to

The Pipe Award is presented to worthy web sites which show Excellence on a Naval Theme or Military Theme. Your web site has demonstrated Excellence in every way as it honors those who have served our Nation in the past, present and future.

The Navy Boatswain’s Mate keeps all hands posted on the Daily Routine of the Ship by the familiar 'Calls'.

We are proud to announce your selection, and to recognize your tireless efforts and hard work with this award. It will announce to all hands the distinction your web site has earned. You are hereby authorized to proudly display this award on your site."

Navy Bosn Award for Excellence

Wow! Although we've only been online for seven short months, we already have readers from around the world, and we're honored that our hard work has been noticed and recognized by Thanks, Chief! We appreciate your endorsement.

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Visitors from Around the Globe

We're delighted to be sharing our tips and techniques for reducing debt and creating wealth with readers around the world.

Although the site is written specifically for our U.S. military service members, the information is applicable to and useful for just about anyone.

Currently, we have visitors from at least 45 countries around the world. To check the list to make sure you're represented, click on the "PermaLink" below. If you don't see a listing that represents you, please let us know via our contact page, so we can add you to the list.

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Have You Discovered SpouseBUZZ?

SpouseBUZZSeptember 19, 2007 -- Today, SpouseBUZZ celebrates its first birthday. We'd like to congratulate the authors on the virtual support they've provided to the worldwide community of military spouses. They've created a real sense of community, where milspouses can find like-minded spirits who truly understand what you're going through, because they've either been there, or are there now.

They understand how frustrated you get with the constant upheaval of military life, and how totally clueless your civilian friends and neighbors really are about the life your family lives.

Whatever your current situation, there's likely to be someone there who's in a similar situation and can offer you support and helpful suggestions. You're not alone in your thoughts and feelings, and at SpouseBUZZ, you'll find support from others who truly understand.

They even have a live radio show, and host virtual Pajama Parties!

So, if you haven't discovered SpouseBUZZ yet, click on over and wish them all a Happy Birthday!

Click for more info

These Businesses Offer Military Discounts

In a recent post on SpouseBuzz, airforcewife was lamenting the fact that her local Home Depot store no longer honors a military discount (it's up to each individual store). After reading her post, we were inspired to begin this page, to list places where you can still find discounts offered to military members and military families.

As those who posted comments to airforcewife's post indicated, it's not the amount of the discount that matters, but rather just the fact that there IS a discount offered, an acknowledgment of the quiet sacrifices our military members and their families make on a daily basis.

Everyone likes to be appreciated, and our military spouses are no exception. They quietly go about their daily lives, and unless you're another military spouse, you're unlikely to ever hear . . . more

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Ten Tips to Help You Avoid Foreclosure

In many parts of the country, foreclosures are at an all-time high, following surges in the housing market and an epidemic of sub-prime adjustable loans allowing families who previously could not qualify for mortgages to do so. The result is that many families in recent years have bought homes that really were out of their reach, made possible only because the low interest rate kept the payments within the realm of the do-able. Unfortunately, as the adjustable-rate mortgages begin to adjust upwards, the families can no longer afford the payments, and they begin sliding down the slippery slope towards foreclosure.

If you are unable to make your mortgage payment: click here.

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Veterans Now Permitted to Salute the Flag!

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) recently praised the passage by unanimous consent of his bill (S.1877) clarifying U.S. law to allow veterans and servicemen not in uniform to salute the flag. Current law (US Code Title 4, Chapter 1) states that veterans and servicemen not in uniform should place their hand over their heart without clarifying whether they can or should salute the flag.

"The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one’s military service," Senator Inhofe said. "Veterans and service members continue representing the military services even when not in uniform.

"Unfortunately, current U.S. law leaves confusion as to whether veterans and service members out of uniform can or should salute the flag. My legislation will clarify this regulation, allowing veterans and servicemen alike to salute the flag, whether they are in uniform or not.

"I look forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades, and formal events. I believe this is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who have served in the military and remain as role models to other citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an inspiration to others."

Click for more info

Important Protection Against Identity Theft
for Deployed Service Members

Great News! Amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act have made it a little easier for deployed service members to protect themselves against possible identity theft while they are out of the country.

If you are on active duty and away from your usual duty station for an extended period, you can add an "active duty alert" to your credit reports with the major credit reporting agencies. This should help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are deployed, because when a business sees the alert on your credit report, it must verify your identity before issuing credit.

To learn how to place an “active duty” alert, or to have one removed, and for the toll-free fraud number of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, click here.

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Free Entrepreneurship Boot Camp
for Disabled Veterans

Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University has announced a new Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV). The program is designed to offer cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with disabilities. The goal of the EBV is to open the door to entrepreneurial opportunity for disabled veterans, by helping them develop competencies in the many steps and activities associated with creating and sustaining an entrepreneurial venture (and there are many - trust us), and also helping them to understand and coordinate with other programs and services for veterans and others with disabilities. For more information about the program, click on the link below.

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Free Legal Help for Veterans
Filing VA Disability Claims

Veterans needing help to file VA claims for disability can get free personalized legal help and review of their claims from attorneys at the law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, under their program "When Duty Calls." Womble Carlyle (WCSR) developed the program in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association.

A law enacted shortly after the Civil War (and still in effect) limits the amount a veteran can pay an attorney for assistance in filing a VA disability claim to $10 and thus effectively prevents them from hiring an attorney. Yet the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in a veteran’s initial disability claim are crucial to its success.

The "When Duty Calls" campaign has three goals:

* To provide pro bono assistance to as many veterans as possible through an ongoing series of clinics;

* To work with veterans and the VA to find ways to streamline and expedite the service connected disability application process; and

* To motivate attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to veterans.

The VA has provided strong support for this project. Womble Carlyle attorney Tim McClain, former General Counsel for the VA and now a member of WCSR's Washington, DC, office, led a recent training session.

Womble Carlyle hopes to replicate the program in all the states where it has offices. WCSR currently has offices in: Atlanta, GA; Greenville, SC; Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, and Winston-Salem, NC; Washington, DC; Tysons Corner, VA; Baltimore, MD; and, Wilmington, DE.

In the "small world" category, Tim McClain is a retired Navy Judge Advocate (JAG), and served as a well-respected military judge before whom we argued many Courts-Martial. We can assure you, if he is associated with the program, it is top notch.

If you live in a state in which WCSR has offices, and you need assistance in filing a claim for VA disability, go to their website to find the phone number of the office nearest you.

And if you live in a state without a WCSR office, call your local bar association and ask if there's a firm in your area with a similar pro bono program. If not, your call just might encourage one.

Click for more info

Do Not Open Bogus E-Mail
Purporting to be from FTC

Attachment Unleashes Malicious Spyware

Consumers, including corporate and banking executives, appear to be targets of a bogus e-mail supposedly sent by the Federal Trade Commission. In actuality, the e-mail was sent by third parties hoping to install spyware on computers.

The bogus e-mail poses as an acknowledgment of a complaint filed by the recipient, and includes an attachment. Consumers who open the attachment to this e-mail unleash malicious spyware onto their computer.

The FTC warns consumers who get this e-mail that appears to be from the agency:

  • Don’t open the attachment.
  • Delete the e-mail.
  • Empty the deleted items folder.

The hoax e-mail is personalized, and contains the name of the recipient and their business. The bogus message explains how the complaint will be used, who will have access to it and states, “Attached you will find a copy of your complaint. Please print a hard copy of the complaint for your records in the upcoming investigation.” Opening the attachment downloads the malicious spyware.

Consumers can learn more about protecting themselves from malicious spyware and bogus e-mails at, a Web site created by the FTC in partnership with other federal agencies and the technology industry to help consumers stay safe online. The site also features modules on spyware and phishing.

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Sponsor a Secure Website to Help a Military Family Stay in Touch

What an awesome idea! If you've been looking for a way to show your support for America's military families, here's a project worth supporting.

Your sponsorship of just $99 will provide a secure website to a military family for an entire year, giving them the ability to share (privately) those precious moments that would otherwise be missed, such as first steps, birthday parties, piano recitals, soccer goals, etc. The sites use multiple layers of security, so the families can safely post photos of children and talk about family activities without fear of the information falling into the wrong hands. This is a wonderful way of helping the families stay connected. is a nationwide service that helps America's troops stay connected with their families by providing them with free, secure interactive family websites. Launched in 2006, is a joint effort by two California patriots -- Terry Gniffke, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, and Michael Sawtell, CEO of DigitalPost Interactive, a provider of advanced family website technology -- to help military families maintain strong family bonds and to inspire hope during difficult times.

For further information or to sponsor a website for a military hero, please visit Websites for Heroes.

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