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Deployed Service Members Receive Free Calls Home during Holidays

From Kristine M. Sturkie, Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

Virginia Beach, Va. (NNS) -- As part of the Navy Exchange Service Command's (NEXCOM) We Believe! holiday events, more than 30,000 deployed and forward-deployed Sailors and Marines will receive either a free $10 prepaid card or virtual calling minutes using a virtual personal identification number (VPIN).

Both the card and VPIN can be used aboard U.S. Navy ships or via shore-based telephone systems in the US and overseas.

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Wreaths Across America: How one tribute started a movement

By Katie Lange, Defense.gov

ARLINGTON, Va. -- National Wreaths Across America Day has become such a big tradition that it's hard to believe it began from just one personal tribute.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Worcester family of Harrington, Maine, owns their own tree farm. In 1992, they had a surplus of wreaths during the holiday season, so the family patriarch, Morrill -- who had long felt indebted to our fallen veterans -- got help from a Maine politician to have those spare wreaths placed beside graves in Arlington National Cemetery in areas that received fewer visitors each year.

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Resource Guide for Keeping Students, Teachers Safe at School

Federal Commission on School Safety Releases Comprehensive Resource Guide for Keeping Students, Teachers Safe at School

WASHINGTON—After months of research, visiting successful programs around the nation, and receiving testimony from experts and concerned citizens, today the Federal Commission on School Safety (Commission) released a 177-page report detailing 93 best practices and policy recommendations for improving safety at schools across the country.

Utilizing the information gathered, the Commission report offers a holistic approach to improving school safety, ranging from supporting the social and emotional well-being of students to enhancing physical building security. Acknowledging there can be no one-size-fits-all solution to this complex problem, the final report serves as a resource guide for families, educators, law enforcement officers, health professionals, and elected leaders to use as they consider the best ways to prevent, mitigate, and recover from acts of violence in schools. The recommendations are based on efforts that are already working in states and local communities.

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DOD Releases 2019 Basic Allowance for Housing Rates

The Department of Defense released the 2019 Basic Allowance for Housing rates today. BAH rates will increase an average of 2.55 percent when the new rates take effect on January 1, 2019. An estimated $21 billion will be paid to approximately one million service members.

The 2019 BAH program expands the member cost-sharing element (out-of-pocket expense) while continuing to balance the growth in compensation costs. Based on the authority provided in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the cost-sharing element was increased to five percent. For 2019, a typical member will need to absorb five percent of the national average housing cost by pay grade. The out-of-pocket amounts incorporated in the 2019 BAH rates vary by grade and dependency status and range from $66 to $149 monthly. This rate computation change balances the growth of certain military pay and benefits in a fair, responsible, and sustainable way. Even with these nominal changes, the overall military pay and benefits package remains robust and healthy.

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