Thursday Three Is Here!

September 10, 2020

It may not feel like Thursday, especially with the long weekend that just passed, but here we are again. This week starts an exciting (and perhaps challenging) shift for most folks as we transition into new schedules and routines. We’ll continue to share information and resources to make those transitions easier.
Speaking of resources, in last week’s Thursday Three (and across our social media channels) we talked about the payroll tax deferral and the impact it could have on your family. DFAS now has a PDF dedicated to answering your questions about the Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral and what it means for your LES. Take the time to become informed so you don’t find yourself in a financial bind later.
And on the MFAN blog, you’ll find a new post about finances and Getting Out of Crisis Mode.

Here’s what we’re hearing about this week:

Courtesy Photo: Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ 

Innovative uniforms

In the spirit of creating a culture of diversity, inclusion, and innovation, airmen are invited to give their two cents on everything from beards to maternity uniforms to badges to PT gear, and more. And while this is an exciting opportunity for folks to have a say in what they wear, it’s more than that. This is also an opportunity to ensure that the future dress code of the service is inclusive of the needs and experiences of ALL service members.
Speaking of uniforms…
There’s a new Army Green Service Uniform expected to arrive at most stateside Army Military Clothing stores near the end of this year.
For the first time since 1979, the Military Star card program is raising credit limits to provide service members with some flexibility to cover the costs of the new uniforms (and other allowable expenses). The line of credit is available to soldiers, airmen, Marines, and National Guard and Reserve members and approximately 474,000 troops are already enrolled.
The zero-interest Military Clothing Plan credit limit will increase from $500 to $1,000. In addition, the payment period is being extended from nine months to 12 months. Learn more here.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Skiver, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit 

An enemy you can’t see

It has been a long time since war looked like two lines of soldiers advancing toward each other with rifles. As the threats have changed, so too has the way we’ve prepared our forces for battle.
COVID-19, initially a challenge in terms of protecting service members and their families from contracting the virus, now also demonstrates a potential cause for concern in terms of threats facing our military, according to scientists.
Our armed forces have responded quickly and effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting as necessary when information or guidance changes.
But we’ve also seen how easily a biological substance can impact readiness (like stop movement orders during PCS season or the need for the USS Theodore Roosevelt to address the pandemic mid-deployment). Add to that the widespread fear, constantly changing restrictions, and economic impacts already in evidence, and it’s a recipe for potential disaster.
The potential for harm from biological events is not news – the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been talking about it for more than a decade – but COVID-19 has made a hypothetical situation into a reality. And advances in biological technology make it possible to make vaccines for a virus, but they also make it possible to create bioweapons that can be used against us.
So, what is the plan to address this new threat? Dr. Peter Emanuel, senior research scientist for bioengineering at Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Chemical Biological Center said, “You can’t just throw money at this particular problem; it’s a combination of three things. It’s a combination of guided intent, money … and science making some specific advances on fundamental problems.”

All female space crew!

Say what you will about the cool name or the science fiction feel – Space Force is already doing something right. The military’s newest service aims to prioritize diversity right out of the gate.
The 2nd Space Operations Squadron, located at Schriever Air Force Base, is America’s first all-female space operations crew and showing everyone that women belong in STEM and space! (And they’ve already promoted their first female three-star general, Nina Armagno.)
Carrie Baker, Space Forces Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, said that a clean slate means a zero tolerance for bias can be built into the very foundation of the service. Other initiatives include recruiting women and people of color, a focus on mentorship to support retention and advancement, training on unconscious bias, and a culture of being able to address concerns without adverse consequences.