[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                               February 25, 2011    

Army team at Fort McCoy March 17 to brief Soldiers, Families about benefits

Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

In addition to pay for their duty in uniform, Soldiers earn a long list of financial, health-care and other benefits that enhance their quality of life.

But some of those earned benefits go unclaimed, according to Kevin Herman, Mobilization/Deployment program manager at Fort McCoy’s Army Community Service (ACS) Center.

Herman equated the situation with an employer laying several $100 bills on a table in front of a Soldier, telling the Soldier this is what they earned. “Does the Soldier pick up the money and take it with them, or do they leave it on the table?”

“Many Soldiers leave it on the table,” Herman said. “They leave a lot of money (benefits) unclaimed.”

Soldiers can learn more about their benefits at either of two presentations Thursday, March 17 at the 88th Regional Support Command Headquarters auditorium, building 60.

The identical presentations will be from 9 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m.

The Department of Army Headquarters Deployment Cycle Support Office will conduct the briefings, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Herman emphasized the program is for all Soldiers — active-duty, Reserve and National Guard — and their Families, and attendance at one of the presentations is highly encouraged.

Herman said Army benefits programs are dynamic, with new benefits being added, others discontinued, and many changing their parameters. Herman said this scenario also pertains to spouses and children as many programs and benefits are made for the Soldier’s entire Family.

“Attendees will gain knowledge to allow them to make better-informed decisions about very important aspects of their lives and the lives of their Families,” Herman said. “That can make the Army experience a better experience for the entire Family.”

“There is so much available through the briefing that I guarantee there is something for every attendee — a new Soldier to the retired Soldier. It’s really a briefing to help keep them up to date with all of the changes in Army life and those benefits. Soldiers will be better able to control their destiny with the knowledge they gain here.”

Herman said the briefing will introduce the official Army Benefits website, http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil.

A Soldier may browse more than 150 fact sheets regarding benefit eligibility and highlights; calculate estimates of survivor and survivor education benefits; forecast retirement benefits; and learn about major property tax relief, education benefits, hunting and fishing privileges; and access special information for severely injured Soldiers and their Families in the Wounded Warrior section of the site. Department of Veterans Affairs information also is included.

The website provides a link to each state that details the benefits in that state, as they vary considerably from one to another, and frequently change.

A mouse click will display the entire website in Spanish.

Herman said the website is updated constantly and also is tied into the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System. A Soldier may access the website, input their information, and the website will detail all of the specific entitlements for that Soldier.

“My question is, ‘How much money would have been left on the table if the Soldier and their Family had known about these benefits?’” Herman said.

Information is available by calling the ACS at 608-388-3540/3505.

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