Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red Cross

Armed Forces Emergency Services of the American Red Cross provides a vital link to home for those serving in remote areas. Emergency messages can be initiated by service members or their families for quick relay by the Red Cross to almost any community or military installation, even to ships at sea. Some local Red Cross chapters may be able to provide links to assistance for families, including parents of service members, and others who may not live near a military installation.

Contact: (877) 272-7337;

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Operation Homefront

This network, with 26 chapters nationwide, offers help with day-to-day issues for families of deployed troops. Services include food needs; critical car, home and appliance repair; refurbishing computers; moving and transportation; and furniture needs.

Contact: Go to for links to local chapters and phone numbers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Defense and service officials aim to help troops and families adjust to being uprooted every few years to move to a new community. Many spiritual, legal, financial, employment and other resources are available to help military personnel and their families round out their lives.

Military chaplains are clergy, endorsed by national religious groups, who are qualified to serve as officers on active duty.

Chaplains can perform the same services as civilian ministers — baptisms, weddings, bar mitzvahs — but they also often deploy with the troops. They conduct religious services, offer instruction and counseling, and minister to those of other faiths as well.

As senior members of the commander’s staff, chaplains influence nonspiritual matters affecting morale and welfare, morals, ethics and quality of life. They are obligated to hold in confidence any disclosures service members and their families make in counseling.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Family resources: Child Care

The Defense Department Child Development Program is the largest employer-sponsored child care program in the country, serving some 200,000 children from newborn to age 12. It includes child development centers, family child care homes and school-age care programs on and off installations.

The Defense Department and services are working to expand existing facilities at locations with long waiting lists and high deployment rates.

In support of the war effort, the services have extended hours of operation and, in some cases, paid for extra child care for members who work extended hours, have shifts changes or have child care emergencies.

Child development centers:
Centers generally are open 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Many offer hourly care for medical appointments and other needs, but space is limited and reservations are usually required.

Each center must meet standards for curriculum, safety and health.

Fees are calculated on a sliding scale based on total family income. The Defense Department sets a minimum and maximum fee range, and individual installations can set their fees anywhere within those ranges.

For the current school year, families in the lowest annual income category, up to $28,000, pay $43 to $62 a week, regardless of the child’s age. The highest range, for those with total family income of $70,001 or more, is $107 to $129 a week.

In-home care:
Spouses can become licensed to provide child care in their homes. In-home providers set their own fees. In some cases, installation commanders subsidize in-home providers so military families pay fees in line with those charged in centers. Most, but not all, providers live on base.

School-age care:
These programs for children ages 6 to 12 are held before and/or after school, during holidays and over summer breaks in youth centers, child-development centers and in-home child care. The Defense Department sets fee guidelines for this care.

Youth programs:
The military offers youth programs that focus on alternative activities during out-of-school hours. More than 350 programs exist worldwide, many in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, 4-H and other organizations.

Programs usually include physical fitness and sports; arts; recreation; training in leadership, life skills and career/volunteer opportunities; mentoring, intervention and support services. Some programs offer help in finding summer jobs.

Fees are charged to offset the cost of activities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To be a fly on the wall...

I was reading through a post on a mommy forum I'm a member of, I happened upon this thread. I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard, and I simply had to join the fun. Sometimes I just have to wonder what on earth someone would think if they bugged my house... Or just my child for that matter, and had a voice recording of the things that come out of my mouth each day. I mean, what would you think? I've been trying to keep a tally of a few things over the past couple days and here are some of the phrases I've caught myself saying:

"Put that drill down this instant!"

"Get your hand out of your pants!"

"How do you think it made him feel when you kicked him in the head like that?"

"Why is there urine in this?"

"Quit ringing the bloody doorbell, I told you you need to stay outside!"

"I hope for your sake this is Gatorade"

"Would you like it if I poured water all over your face? Then don't do it to him!"

"I really think a total stranger could care less about your bowl movements."

"What are my tampons doing in there?!?"

"Too bad that's not legal in the state of Virginia. No not because they're three, because they're both girls. Sorry, you might want to consider moving to Vermont. Yeah Vermont, I hear they have good maple syrup. No, I'm not making you pancakes at 9pm."

"Where on earth did your pants and underwear go?"

"If you're going to eat dirt just don't use the stick."

"Why don't you sit on the toilet and see if you can squeeze something out."

"Do your ears work?"

"Just because he did it, doesn't mean it's ok to pee on the step"

"He really doesn't need to know where your nibble is"

"Please don't put your hand down my shirt like that."

"Put that knife down very slowly and don't ever, ever touch it again."

"No, those are Mommies. Just leave them alone! No you do not have a boo-boo. No just drop it, that's NOT what they're used for."

"Pull down your dress, the neighborhood doesn't need to see that."

"Please don't eat the grass. Because it's not food! Okay, because it's not people food. I know he did, but that still doesn't make it okay for you."

"Because it isn't polite to answer the door with no clothes on, that's why."

"Would you stop calling her an old lady, she's 10!"

"Stop using that finger. No you're not, it means something totally different!"

"I don't care if the dog does it! Stop sniffing my butt!"

What about you? What crazy things have you heard coming out of your own mouth?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FREE Museum day

Enjoy FREE museum admissions across the United States during Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day on September 26th, 2009.

Enjoy FREE admission for you and a guest to hundreds of museums and cultural venues nationwide. Click here for a complete list of participating venues! To participate, just present the Museum Day Admission Card to receive free general admission at participating Museum Day locations. Here is the link to download and print the admission card.

The venues and museums participating in Virginia that kids will enjoy include:

  • Amazement Square – Lynchburg
  • National Civl War Life Museum – Fredericksburg
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum – Alexandria
  • Nauticus – Norfolk
  • Old Stone Jail Museum and Holland Page Place Log Cabin – Palmyra
  • Science Museum of Western Virginia – Roanoke
  • Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum – Winchester
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest – Forest
  • Virginia Discovery Museum – Charlottesville
  • Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum – Portsmouth
  • Virginia Museum of Natural History – Martinsville

Monday, September 14, 2009

Relief Societies

Private military relief societies can help service members solve emergency financial problems.

There are four private, nonprofit societies: Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. Each has local representatives on military installations, usually in family centers, and operates under different policies and procedures.

They offer education assistance programs for spouses and children and can help service members and families with debt management.

The societies rely solely on donations for their support and do not charge for their services.

Anyone seeking aid should bring a military ID, leave papers, leave and earnings statement, and other information or documents that show an emergency financial need. Some aid comes through direct grants, but most is in the form of interest-free loans.

Typical clients include active-duty members and family members. Retirees and their families facing short-term financial problems may qualify for assistance, as well as surviving spouses of active-duty and retired service personnel.

Contact: Army Emergency Relief,; Air Force Aid Society,; Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society,; Coast Guard Mutual Assistance,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spouse Clubs

Spouses clubs, found at most military installations, help spouses get acquainted with new communities, make friends and find support. The clubs are chartered and registered with the local installations.

These groups are not formal entities of the Defense Department but follow department guidelines for private organizations. Most clubs are involved in a variety of charitable and self-help efforts.

For years, Defense Department regulations expressly prohibited service members from exerting pressure on those in their chain of command, or their spouses, to join or donate time to such a club. The regulations also stated that a spouse’s decision not to participate could not affect the member’s promotion or assignment opportunities. That regulation was deleted in 2006.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Barocky Road

My grandmother sent this to me... I'm usually not one to share forwards, but I thought this was cute...

In honor of the 44th President of the United States , Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream has introduced a new flavor: " Barocky Road ."

Barocky Road is a blend of half vanilla, half chocolate, and surrounded by nuts and flakes. The vanilla portion of the mix is not openly advertised and usually denied as an ingredient. The nuts and flakes are all very bitter and hard to swallow.

The cost is $100..00 per scoop.

When purchased it will be presented to you in a large beautiful cone, but then the ice cream is taken away and given to the person in line behind you.

You are left with an empty wallet and no change, holding an empty cone with no hope of getting any ice cream.

Are you stimulated?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Financial help

Defense officials have embarked on a financial readiness campaign in an effort to educate service members and family members about wise financial decisions that can help them build wealth. Part of that campaign is the Military Saves Web site,, which features tips on getting out of debt, saving for emergencies, saving for a car and other milestones.

The NASD Investor Education Foundation also has a military education campaign, aimed at helping service members make wise investment decisions. Among their offerings are a Web site,, which offers information and tips. The Web site lists their upcoming free financial education forums held throughout the year at military installations, with information about how to register. In 2007, the foundation is expanding its education program to provide some programs specifically tailored to military spouses and injured or wounded service members.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's School Speech Explained

Here's an exert from Rush Limbaugh's radio show... I thought he said this all, so much better then I could. I had to share.

I had an opportunity here to listen to a little of Obama's cheerleader speech to America's young skulls full of mush; and I am here to tell you that he didn't believe a word of what he said, at least what I heard him say. This was an inspiring, motivational speech. "You gotta rely on yourself! Don't let your failures define you. Nobody is born great." That's not true, by the way. There are people who are born good at what they do. I am doing what I was born to do, and I knew at eight I wanted to do it. Champions sometimes are born. You might want to be the greatest baseball player in the world and you might want to be the greatest golfer but you just don't have what it takes to be great. No matter what how hard you work, no matter how hard you work at it.

You have to find what you really love and what you're really good at then work hard at that. But that's splitting peas. He just gave a speech that he doesn't believe a word of. If he believed anything he said today then he would not be trying to accomplish one item in his agenda. His agenda is based on the fact that you can't take care of yourself. His agenda is based on the fact that you are incompetent to make the right decisions. His agenda is that you need guidance and you need leadership and you need somebody making decisions for you and you need a big government nanny because you're incompetent and incapable. He goes out and tells these students, "It's all up to you. The country needs you. I want you to work hard." He used the word "I." It's the middle of the day so I couldn't do a drinking game, but if this speech were given at night and I took a drink for every time he said the word "I" I would be inebriated.

"I this. I that. I'm doing my best to get you textbooks. I'm doing my best to get you a good environment. You gotta do the work." He doesn't believe a word of this. So why do this? Why do this speech to the nation's skulls full of mush? There are three reasons. One: He's got to get those poll numbers up. Let's go to the poll, the Pew poll that shows him losing vast amounts of support from white voters, particularly independents -- the precious independents! The second reason, it's actually tied. The last two of the three are tied together. It's to set up health care tomorrow night. Set up the health care speech. So here's a guy goes out... Remember, now, the Alinsky rule: "You speak within the realm of your audience's experience." The American people want to hear children motivated to be good, to do the best they can, to work hard.

Okay, so go out and use the language and use the philosophy that makes your audience comfortable with you when your objective is the exact opposite of what you say. Barack Obama wants as many of these kids in school to grow up needing government services as he can. He's going to put tax increases on these kids to the point that their hard work is going to be pointless! It's just absurd. But he goes out and he makes this speech which was unlike any speech I've ever heard him give. Again, I only heard probably a grand total of three minutes of it, but it's in direct contradiction to everything he believes. It's in direct contradiction to everything in his agenda. So he sets up things. He's got this big health care speech before a joint session of Congress tomorrow night -- which is a sure sign of panic, by the way.

He's got this joint speech, and it's going to come after this wonderful, inspiring, motivational speech to America's young skulls full of mush. So the State-Controlled Media after this speech tomorrow night, "How can anybody disagree with this president? How can anybody say that this man does not want the best for his country?" after this speech to the young skulls full of mush. The young skulls full of mush... Obama did do one right thing. He kept it short here. His speech was shorter than my opening monologue. Well, no. I actually took a break before he did. But most of these kids probably just want to get to lunch and so forth. But, remember, what he was originally going to do was tell them, "Write letters about what you can do to help me." That was his original intent. Somebody had to dial him back in, somebody reined him in. Somebody had to protect him from his own instincts.

So they got the teleprompter up there. The teleprompter put the right words. I'm telling you, he didn't believe a word of it. He wouldn't have guys like Van Jones in his administration if he believed this stuff. He wouldn't be talking about "green jobs" and all this garbage not gonna matter a hill of beans. He would not be talking about nationalizing health care and trying to nationalize as much of the US economy as he can. He wouldn't have taken over General Motors. He wouldn't be shutting down almost 90% of the Cadillac dealerships in the country. He wouldn't be doing any of this stuff. If he would leave us alone... You wait 'til you hear highlights of this speech. We'll play some for you here before the program closes today, and you tell me when you hear it why he doesn't just get out of the way and tell us this? Why doesn't he give a speech to the American people? "We expect great things from you. Your country depends on you." He doesn't say that, does he? He says the country depends on him; the country depends on government. The country depends on "working together with our enemies." He apologizes for the United States. I'm telling you, this is a feint, a fake, and it's on to set up health care tomorrow night and get the poll numbers up because he does not believe a thing that he said to America's skulls full of mush mere moments ago.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Armed Services YMCA

The Armed Services YMCA is a social services agency with branches and affiliates at many major installations in the U.S. Most services are offered free or for a nominal fee with a valid military identification card.

Recreational, educational, social and religious programs include child care, mentoring, computer learning centers for children, single service members’ centers, hospital assistance, transportation, adult classes, aerobics and classes in English as a second language.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The End Of An Era

House vs. Senate: Lawmakers debate your 2010 pay and benefits
By Rick Maze - Staff writer

The 2010 military pay and benefits package taking shape in Congress is fairly meager compared with previous years — and may end up being the last time service members get a pay raise that is bigger than the average private-sector increase. Military advocates said the House and Senate Armed Services committees found themselves unable to do much in terms of improving military compensation in their versions of the 2010 defense authorization bill.

The Senate bill is S 1390. The House bill is HR 2647. Once negotiators work out differences, the final bill should be ready for President Barack Obama’s signature by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. “By and large, it was a tough year for the Armed Services committees,” said retired Col. Steve Strobridge of the Military Officers Association of America, a former director of compensation for the Air Force. When negotiators meet next month to reconcile differences on specific proposals, one thing not in question is a 3.4 percent pay raise, which is larger than the 2.9 percent average private-sector increase in 2008. This will be the 11th consecutive year that Congress will provide a bigger military raise — but it could be the last, Strobridge warns, because one thing negotiators are considering is a study to compare military and civilian wages. This would not be the first such study, but the results, due next year, would come at a time when Congress will be pressed to further cut overall government costs and the military budget.

Associations representing troops and their families do not like the idea of a pay review, Strobridge said, because it would put a price tag on military benefits. Advocates feel that’s an unfair comparison because many of the benefits are intended to offset the great sacrifices of military life, Strobridge said. Here are some of the major pay-and-benefits issues on the table for 2010, with predictions of the outcome of negotiations: Pay and allowances [and] Pay raise

What: A 3.4 percent across-the-board raise in basic pay and drill pay is included in the House and Senate bills, half a percentage point greater than the hike proposed by the Obama administration.

If enacted, the increase would reduce the perceived gap between military and private-sector pay —calculated by comparing pay raises since 1981 — to just 2.4 percent, the lowest level since 1982, according to the Military Officers Association of America. At its peak in the late 1990s, the gap stood at 13.5 percent.

• When: The raise would take effect Jan. 1, and first appear in mid-January checks.

• Prediction: A sure thing.
Pay assessment

• What: A study comparing military and private-sector pay, intended to put to rest disputes about the existence of the pay gap, is ordered by the Senate bill. The House did not pass a similar provision.

The study, to be done by the U.S. Comptroller General, would compare military pay and benefits, including fringe benefits and tax advantages, with the pay, bonuses and benefits of civilians of similar age, education, experience and occupation.

• When: The study would be completed by April 1, 2010, in time to influence the 2011 defense budget.

• Prediction: A sure thing.
Basic Allowance for Housing

• What: The 2010 budget assumes an average 5 percent increase in housing allowances, although rates, which vary by rank, location and family status, won’t be determined until later this year.

Nothing that would interfere with the 2010 increase is included in either version of the defense policy bill, but the House bill contains a provision that might change payments for senior enlisted members starting in 2011.

It would require a Pentagon report by July 1, 2010, to review the standards on which housing allowances are based. It would look specifically at whether the type of housing covered by the monthly pay meets the needs and expectations of service members.

This provision is a response to complaints that current payments assume that E-9s are the only enlisted paygrade to merit a single-family home. The Defense Department housing standard assumes other enlisted grades are living in apartments, town houses or duplexes.

• When: The 2010 increase takes effect Jan. 1, with rates to be announced in December.

• Prediction: The 2010 increase is a sure thing, but the budgeted 5 percent average increase might be high considering falling housing prices in many regions of the U.S. As to future hikes in housing allowances for enlisted members, the requested study does not resolve the biggest hurdle: allocating more money.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence

• What: The 2010 budget assumes a 3.8 percent increase in Basic Allowance for Subsistence, but the actual rate increase — based on Agriculture Department reports on food prices — won’t be determined until later this year. Neither the House bill nor Senate bill contains provisions changing the fixed formula for increases.

• When: Effective Jan. 1.

• Prediction: A sure thing.
Benefits statement

• What: Service members would get comprehensive statements at certain points in their careers explaining all of the pay and benefits they have earned, under a provision of the Senate bill. The goal is to ensure people who are getting out of the service, especially for medical reasons, know what benefits they have available. That emphasis would set these statements apart from the annual pay and benefits statements now provided, which are intended to show military people the full value of military compensation — to encourage staying in, not getting out.

No similar proposal is in the House version.

• When: Effective when the bill is signed into law. The statements would be issued every two years and upon separation or retirement.

• Prediction: Details about the statements and when they would be issued might change, but there is a good chance of approval.
Supplemental subsistence

• What: The current $500 monthly maximum supplemental subsistence allowance would increase to $1,100 under the Senate bill. The allowance is paid to service members whose families otherwise would be eligible for food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Families receive just enough in allowance so they do not fall below SNAP income caps.

Fewer than 400 families are expected to qualify.

• When: Payments would increase effective Oct. 1.

• Prediction: A good chance, but not a sure thing. The biggest thing in its favor is the support of first lady Michelle Obama.
Bonuses and special pays

Stop-loss allowance

• What: Two provisions involving the $500 monthly stop-loss allowance are included in the Senate bill. First, the Sept. 30 expiration date for the allowance would be extended to July 1, 2011. Second, National Guard and reserve members would be eligible for stop-loss payments for pre-deployment and post-deployment duties, an expansion of current law that covers only months in which a person is on active duty.

• When: Both provisions would apply to time spent under stop-loss orders beginning Oct. 1, 2008.

• Prediction: Neither provision is a sure thing, but there is a chance they could pass only because the Pentagon says it is phasing out stop-loss — so no one would receive the extra payments.
Prorated special/incentive pays

• What: Monthly payment of hostile fire pay, imminent danger pay, hazardous duty pay, assignment pay and special duty pay could be prorated to reflect the actual time that active-duty members performed qualifying service during the month, under a provision of the House bill.

The provision also would clarify that Guard or reserve members be paid a skill incentive bonus in the same manner as active-duty members and that the monthly payment of the bonus may be prorated to reflect actual time served in a critical skill. The Senate bill has no similar provision.

• When: Effective three months after the bill becomes law.

• Prediction: A 50-50 chance.
Catastrophic injury pay

• What: A new special pay for catastrophically injured or ill service members would be created under the Senate bill. This pay would go to members with combat-related injuries who need help with everyday tasks and are expected to be retired or separated from the military because of their disability.

The amount of pay is not set by the provision; that would be left to the Defense Department and could vary based on the amount of assistance needed. The amount could not exceed the so-called aid and attendance allowance paid by the Veterans Affairs Department, which is as much as $1,400 a month in some cases.

An unusual feature of the pay is that it would continue for up to 90 days after separation or retirement from the military, allowing time for veterans’ disability benefits to kick in.

• When: While authorized as soon as the bill is signed into law, the Defense Department would decide when and if any payments would occur.

• Prediction: A sure thing to become law, but payments may not start until 2011.
Afghanistan extension pay

• What: Service members who agree to serve six years in Afghanistan or for the duration of the U.S. operations there, whichever is less, would be eligible for up to $1,000 a month in special pay under a pilot program included in the House bill. Who would be eligible and the conditions of payment would be determined by the Defense Department, but the provision specifically mentions service members proficient in the languages of Pashto and Dari. No similar provision was approved by the Senate.

• When: Authorized when the bill is signed, but any payments would begin only if the Defense Department chooses to establish the program. The benefit would expire at the end of 2012.

• Prediction: Unlikely.
Recruit referral bonuses

• What: Both the House and Senate bills would extend the $2,000 recruit referral bonus paid for having a non-family member enlist in the military, a program due to expire at the end of 2009. The Senate bill allows payments to continue into 2010 for referrals made before the cutoff date. The House bill extends the bonus program for three years, until the end of 2012.

• When: Applies to payments made beginning Jan. 1.

• Prediction: The Senate provision that ensures payments are made appears likely.
Travel allowances

Specialty care reimbursement

• What: Travel reimbursement for people receiving specialty care from the military health system would be available for distances of 50 miles or more, under the Senate bill. Under current law, at least 100 miles must be traveled before reimbursement begins. The House bill does not address the issue.

• When: Applies to appointments kept based on referrals given after the bill becomes law.

• Prediction: A good chance, but not a sure thing.
Auto shipment

• What: Service members with at least one family member who is eligible to drive could ship two privately owned vehicles at government expense, rather than the current one, if they are moving to nonforeign-duty stations outside the continental U.S. under the House bill. This would include assignments to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. territories and possessions. There is no similar provision in the Senate bill.

• When: Would apply to orders issued after the bill is signed.

• Prediction: Unlikely.
Travel for family and friends of wounded service members

• What: Two new benefits are proposed. Under the first, up to three family or non-family members who have a personal relationship could get military travel and transportation benefits to visit a hospitalized wounded, ill or injured service member, under a provision of the House bill. A service member undergoing inpatient treatment could designate which three people would be eligible for up to three round trips to the hospital in a 60-day period. The designee also could be another service member. The Senate bill has no similar proposal.

Under the second provision, also in the House bill, travel and transportation allowances could be provided for nonmedical attendants of seriously wounded, ill or injured service members if medical authorities determine that having someone present would benefit the patient.

• When: Both travel benefits would be authorized when the bill is signed, but the Defense Department would decide whether to use them.

• Prediction: A 50-50 chance.
Survivors’ travel for memorials

• What: The federal government already reimburses travel and transportation for immediate survivors to travel to the funeral of a person who dies on active duty. The Senate bill includes a provision that would also cover travel expenses for a memorial ceremony held on behalf of the deceased service member.

• When: Applies to memorial ceremonies that take place after the bill becomes law.

• Prediction: A sure thing.
Retired pay

Reserve retired pay

• What: About 600,000 National Guard and reserve members mobilized between Sept. 10, 2001, and Jan. 27, 2008, would get credit toward receiving earlier retirement checks, under a Senate provision that would make retroactive a 2008 revision allowing reservists to draw retirement checks 90 days earlier for every 90 days of active duty.

The 90-for-90 rule allows checks to be received before age 60, when traditional retired pay begins for Guard and reserve members. The House bill has no similar provision.

• When: Effective to payments after the bill becomes law. Only the mobilization credit is retroactive, not any payments.

• Prediction: A 50-50 chance.
Concurrent receipt

• What: A temporary increase in retired pay for severely disabled veterans who could not complete 20 years of service was approved by the House. About 121,000 people with disability ratings of 90 percent or greater who are eligible for both military disability retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation would receive both full payments.

The Senate bill has no similar provision.

• When: Payments would begin Jan. 1, 2010, and end on Oct. 1, 2010.

• Prediction: A good chance of approval, but not a sure thing.
The end of bigger military pay raises?

For next year, Congress — as has been its practice for more than a decade — has beefed up military pay raises. For 2010, raises will be 3.4 percent, half a percentage point above the increase in private-sector wages, as part of an ongoing bid to close a perceived gap between what troops earn and what civilians are paid.

But the end may be near for that practice.

The Senate version of the 2010 defense authorization bill calls for a study comparing military and private-sector pay. It is intended to put to rest disputes about the existence of the pay gap that for 11 years has prompted Congress to authorize annual pay raises for the military that outpace civilian wage growth.

At its peak in the late 1990s, the gap — measured by comparing military and private-sector pay raises since 1982 — stood at 13.5 percent. Military associations that track the gap say the proposed 2010 pay raise would cut the gap to 2.4 percent. But some, including Pentagon pay experts, say that when the total military compensation package is considered, there is no pay gap.

The Senate study, which would be done by the U.S. comptroller general, would compare military pay and benefits, including fringe benefits and tax advantages, with the pay, bonuses and benefits of civilians of similar age, education, experience and jobs. The study is to be completed by April 1, in time to influence the 2011 defense budget.

Associations representing troops and their families do not like the idea of a pay review, said retired Air Force Col. Steve Strobridge of the Military Officers Association of America.

The study would put a price tag on military benefits, he said. Advocates feel that’s an unfair comparison because many of the benefits are intended to offset the great sacrifices of military life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Office of stupid rules...

Online Tools to Help You Save Money

There are so many tools today in the web 2.0 era to help geeky moms save money. Many of us though are too busy to sit down and find all the sites and apps and take advantage of them. So we've done the hard work for you and listed the best ones here.

Tools That Help You Get Organized

Being a mom you probably know organization accounts for 50% of household management and budgeting. The most common tool is a pen and a notebook, but you will be excited to know the Internet offers more fun when it comes to organizing yourself.

Online shopping lists can be a great way to organize your past and future purchases, whereas online to-do lists will help you manage your household duties. By using web-based tools to get organized you can:

  • Access your lists from anywhere on the planet (no more risks of leaving your notebook at home)
  • Enjoy all the benefits of semi-automated tools (e.g. receive your daily alerts to your email or phone!)

Tools That Help You Save

Online coupon tools and directories offer plenty of opportunities to spot a great deal and save. The only disadvantage to these is there are too many to sort through. It is too easy to get lost. Finding just a few you love and learning to use them well is the secret. Here's how to choose:

  • A coupon site should be clean and spam-free.
  • No obscenity or trolling please.
  • The community should be active.
  • The site should be updated daily to always have something new for your weekly shopping.

One of the sites I love is Buxr which meets my criteria above. Besides, it offers affiliate widgets and daily contests to help you earn a bit of money (if you are geeky enough).