Thursday Three Is Here!

October 22, 2020

Happy Thursday! We’ve got news to share and your “to do” list for the week ahead all right here.
Some important items to add to your “to do” list…
(1) Vote! (Read what Executive Director Shannon Razsadin shared with We Are The Mighty about the top issues facing military families this election and why your vote is so important here.) Still have questions about what voting looks like this year? We’ve got you covered with Pandemic Military Voting 101.
(2) Save the date! “Shop for Good” with Kendra Scott & the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN)! On November 4th and 5th, make plans to shop online or in-store at Kendra Scott and 20% of your purchase will help MFAN combat military family food insecurity in Texas. Simply enter the code GIVEBACK-001A in your cart or at checkout on or mention it at checkout at participating Kendra Scott locations in Texas. For a list of participating stores and to RSVP, click here.
(3) If you have children who utilize DoDEA schools, you have until November 6th to decide whether you plan to enroll them in the 2nd semester of DoDEA’s Virtual School or have them attend brick and mortar school. Need more information? Click here.
(4) TRICARE Open Season and TRICARE Select Group A Retirees (this one’s a two- parter)
Open season for TRICARE beneficiaries is from November 9th to December 14th.
Are you considering making changes to your current health, dental, or vision coverage? Register to attend an all-virtual TRICARE presentation and Q&A session on October 29th from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET.
Are you a Tricare Select Group A Retiree? There’s no need to wait for Open Season for you to set up monthly payments for 2021 enrollment fees. It’s important to act quickly or risk disenrollment from Tricare Select. Learn more here.
(5) For bonus points: Click here to see MFAN’s Senior director of research and program evaluation, Dr. Shelley Kimball, as a panelist at a National Digital Roundtable to discuss Veterans Health and Digital Innovations: Lessons from the Frontline that Apply to Every Patient.

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


Photo by Jared Rice,

Quality of life is top of mind

You have permission to seek (and hopefully find) work-life balance. Even the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, says so. He’s pushing back against the idea that everything is urgent and encourages the use of a framework that triages what’s most important when trying to successfully juggle work obligations and the needs of families.
And he isn’t just paying lip service to work-life balance; he’s modeling it with his own choices and how he encourages soldiers to prioritize their time. So much so, that he initially passed on an invitation from the Secretary of Defense to interview for his current position! Read more about his people-centric, quality of life perspective here.
Speaking of quality of life, that was a key talking point by senior leaders at last week’s virtual AUSA annual meeting and they’re investing the money to back those priorities. Increased spending earmarked for child care and housing are two of the primary areas identified for improvements.
According to General McConville, the resources available to soldiers and families need to take into account the sacrifices they make in order to serve. He and Army senior leaders are committed to ensuring all military families have a better quality of life.
Photo by Mary Davis, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz 

Suicide prevention initiatives

Two new bills signed into law last week aim to prevent veterans’ suicide. A dedicated three-digit crisis hotline number will be the universal telephone number for mental health crisis hotline services. That number, 988, while not exclusively intended for military personnel and veterans, will serve as an easy way for folks to reach out for help (and remember the number to do so). The number is expected to be active by fall of next year.
The second bill is the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. This measure will address hiring rules to expedite VA mental health staffing, emphasize collaborative community efforts to address suicide prevention, and do a better job of investigating and tracking potential causes of suicide.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says, “People in distress and in need of timely care should face the fewest obstacles possible to get help” and that these bills will facilitate that process. Veterans groups have also expressed support for these initiatives. You can learn more about both bills here.
Photo courtesy of Women in Military Service for America
Front and center
Visitors to Arlington National Cemetery will see “The Pledge” at the entrance, a new sculpture unveiled as part of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. The bronze sculpture, a striking representation of a female dog handler and her military working dog, is the work of sculptor Susan Bahary and was commissioned by the U.S. War Dogs Association National Headquarters.
Engraved on the monument is this quote:
“Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom. That our resolve was just as great as the brave men who stand among us. And with victory, our hearts were just as full and beat just as fast – that the tears fell just as hard for those we left behind.”
The words are attributed to Anne Sosh Brehm, a World War II Army nurse, but they resonate just as beautifully today. Learn more (and catch the video of the unveiling) here.