Happy Thursday! Did you know that October is Financial Planning Month? This is a great time to think about your finances – before diving headfirst into holiday spending. Need a head start? We talk about everything from getting out of crisis mode to investing on the MFAN blog.
Our researchers, Drs. Michele Kimball and Jennifer Hurwitz, are talking about “Food Insecurity Among Active Duty and Veteran Families” at the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology 2020 Conference this week.
And MFAN’s Executive Director Shannon Razsadin will be speaking about military housing at the 2020 Virtual Military Family Caucus Summit on Friday. This year’s theme is Military Families in the Time of COVID. You can register to attend this event here.
Speaking of housing, this week Senators Warner, Kaine, and Feinstein called on DoD to update them on the unmet requirements of the Tenant Bill of Rights and provisions of the Senators’ Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act. MFAN will be following this closely and will keep you in the know.

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

Photo by Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com

COVID financial assistance

Extensions of work-study programs and full housing stipends for students taking online classes because of campus closings are two of the protections included in the 9/30 continuing resolution that was signed into law. These GI Bill protections are now extended from December 2020 to December 2021. According to Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jerry Moran, this “helps these programs seamlessly continue into the next fiscal year to prevent disrupting veterans’ lives, especially during this global pandemic.”
In other news about additional pandemic support, the family separation allowance for sailors during at-sea quarantine time is being discussed.
Effective this week, new protocols are in place that require at least two weeks of a restriction-of-movement sequester ahead of naval deployments. Not only does this increase the time sailors are separated from their families, but they’re not eligible for a monthly $250 family separation allowance until they’ve been deployed away from homeport for 30 days. Navy leaders are trying to change this to allow quarantined time to count toward those 30 days.
Photo by Nik Shuliahin, Unsplash.com 

Productivity compromising care?

In a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, it warns that an emphasis on productivity could adversely impact the quality of mental health care provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
For every hour VA counselors provide direct service, they’re expected to achieve an average of 1.5 visits. This means they have to shorten how often and for how long they hold appointments and facilitate more group counseling sessions rather than individual appointments. In trying to meet productivity goals, they worry about compromised care for the veterans they serve.
But officials at the Readjustment Counseling Service don’t intend to evaluate the impact of these goals despite the fact they’re required to do so. And the GAO asserts that without such evaluation, it’ll be unable to identify and address any potentially negative consequences on both counselors and clients as a result of the implemented productivity expectations.
This balance, between being productive and providing quality mental health care, will be further impacted as the need for mental health services continues to increase among the veteran population.

Photo by Unsplash.com


Kids at home driving you crazy? Blame COVID. Eyes fatigued from being glued to Zoom calls all day? COVID. Hot pocket shortage? Yup – that’s COVID’s fault too.
Coronavirus supply chain issues now mean that some varieties of your favorite molten pockets of cheese are in short supply. To satisfy your cravings, the Defense Commissary Agency is working to provide alternative flavors and similar products – like one with cauliflower crusts and without meat. That is if no gluten, no meat can indeed satisfy your cravings.
Expect Hot Pocket shortages to continue into 2021. (They’re hoping you’ll be able to have a full assortment of Hot Pockets goodness by early next year.)