Scholarships Available for H&R Block Income Tax Course

H&R BlockFull scholarships are available to military spouses for the H&R Block Income Tax Course at no charge. Learn how to prepare taxes now. Upon successful completion of the course, you could potentially become a tax professional and earn extra income.

Flexible course times and convenient locations fit your schedule. Bilingual courses are available.

Contact Debra Jefferson, Employment Readiness Program, Army Community Service at 256-876-5397 or email her at debra.d.jefferson.civ@mail.mil. Information is also available at ACS, Bldg 3443, Aerobee Road, Redstone Arsenal Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Enroll now by calling 800-472-5625 or visit their website at www.hrblock.com/class . Use the coupon code 94B25D when you enroll online or by telephone.

Classes available in Huntsville, Decatur, and Cullman starting in August. For more information, the local H&R Block office is at 4710 University Drive, Huntsville, AL 35816 or call 800-472-5625.

Red Cross Support Request

PURPOSE: Fox Army Health Center (FAHC) has a significant gap in services with respect to the Information Desk/reception area. This is a critical function across Army Medical Treatment Facilities and most definitely with FAHC. The Information Desk is usually run by Red Cross volunteers. It is so vital to the mission, it is often staffed with their best and brightest volunteers.

REQUEST: FAHC is requesting volunteers for its Information Desk operation. We would eventually like coverage M-F from 0730-1600. However, we will certainly take any assistance until volunteers can be identified, processed, and properly trained. The front desk operation is not like the pharmacy where there is a significant train up period and need for longevity. These volunteers would be useful for a few months as much as they would for a few years.

DUTIES: Red Cross Volunteers serving at the Information Desk will often serve as the first point of contact with Fox Army Health Center customers. Volunteers will be expected to:

  • Intake and greet customers who walk-in
  • Provide information about FAHC either in person or via telephone
  • Answer routine inquiries and/or direct phones calls to the appropriate department or person
  • Provide directions to customers
  • Provide paging services
  • Provide escort services as needed
  • Sign in and out wheelchairs for patient use

QUALIFICATIONS: Must have the ability to deal tactfully and diplomatically with visitors. Must be well groomed and dressed in accordance with Red Cross and FAHC dress standards.

TO VOLUNTEER: The local Red Cross Office is the start point for volunteering. The Red Cross POC is Ms. Charmaine Winston at (256) 536-0084 ext 210. For other questions about this initiative, volunteers can also contact Brian T. Freidline at (256) 955-8888 ext 1180.

Thank you for your offer to assist!!!!

Community Resource Spotlight: Priority Veteran

Priority Veteran

Priority Veteran provides intensive one-on-one assistance to help veterans locate stable permanent housing and link them to resources to gain the skills and knowledge to help them remain financially stable. Case Managers help veterans create a Housing Stability Plan as well as access medical or mental health services, veteran’s benefits enrollment, job search assistance, financial coaching and more.

In partnership with United Way of Central Alabama, Priority Veteran provides veterans across Alabama with federal, state and local resources; linking veterans to hope. Priority Veteran began offering services to veterans in October 2013 with a $2 million Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

What is Priority Veteran?

It is a service coordination program for homeless veterans and their families to help them secure permanent, sustainable housing and provide access to resources such as medical or mental health services, benefits enrollment, job search assistance, financial coaching, etc.

Who qualifies for Priority Veteran?

  • Veterans and their family members who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • Very low income veterans based on area income standards
  • Veterans discharged other than dishonorable
  • Veterans with 24 months of service or with a VA Medical Card

What does ‘homeless’ mean?

The veteran (and family) does not have fixed, regular and adequate nighttime shelter or will lose nighttime shelter within a short period of time.

What are some of the services Veterans can receive from Priority Veteran?

Priority Veteran offers can assist low-income, homeless or at-risk veteran families with:

  • obtaining permanent, stable housing
  • obtaining VA benefits
  • obtaining federal and/or state benefits
  • accessing community-based resources
  • obtaining/completing employment training
  • obtaining employment
  • Advocacy in landlord/tenant disputes
  • Advocacy in rent/utility arrearages
  • Temporary Financial Assistance
    • Deposits
    • Rent assistance
    • Moving costs
    • General housing supplies
    • Utility assistance

Can families get help for a veteran?

Yes, services are for veterans and their families.  Veterans have to voluntarily agree to a Housing Stability Plan.  Families can call Priority Veteran and encourage veterans to enroll.

Can veterans get financial assistance from Priority Veteran?

Priority Veteran can assist with the cost of some service(s) in the Housing Stability Plan if the veteran will be homeless if that service is not provided.  This decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

 

Find out more about Priority Veteran and how to contact them by visiting their website: http://priorityveteran.org/priorityveteran/

Mr. and Mrs. Letson’s Story

Mr. and Mrs. Letson originally came to Still Serving Veterans to find out what, if any, VA benefits they were eligible for. After speaking with them for some time Laura, one of SSV’s Veteran Benefit Specialists recognized that they needed more than what the VA would be willing to offer them. The tornadoes of years past had taken a toll on the Madison couple’s home and on top of that, the home was no longer suitable for Mrs. Letson who was now confined to a motorized wheelchair.

The Letson’s were connected to SSV’s Community Integration Program counselors who helped the Letsons apply for a home renovation grant from Reliance Bank. Soon after, the process of renovations had begun and the couple was notified of the work planned for their home: a reconfigured bathroomthat would be handicap accessible, widened door frames, new sheet rock to replaced the damaged portions, relocation of the bedroom door, and new carpeting in the bedroom. The couple was astonished at the amount of work planned for their home and anxious for the results.

While their home was undergoing renovations, SSV also connected the Letson’s with The Madison Record in which both were highlighted as “Veteran of the Week.” Mrs. Virginia Letson spoke of how she twisted her father’s arm to sign the papers so she could join the Navy. Eight months later she had risen to the rank of Seaman Apprentice. Meanwhile, Mr. Charles Letson fought in the first attacks against North Vietnam in 1964 and rose to Petty Officer Third Class during his service. Soon after, Virginia met Charles Letson through a blind date at the drive-in. “I told her I’d give her 5 minutes to decide whether she wanted to marry me ,” Mr. Letson said. “And she said yes.” After 52 years of marriage, moving from city to city, and raising three kids, the Letson’s have finally begun to slow down but continue to be active in the Veteran community, including Still Serving Veterans. “Those people are all outstanding people,” Mr. Letson said of SSV’s staff.

Two months after initiating the renovations with SSV and Reliance Bank, the work was done. The Letson’s were incredibly thankful and had fallen in love with their home all over again. See some before and after shots below. For more pictures, visit Still Serving Veteran’s Facebook Page.

Letsons reliance Reno 2014 (1)

Letsons Reliance Reno 2014 (5)

Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship Information

This nationally renowned program was created by Act 633 and approved October 1947 by the Alabama Legislature. It is administered by the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and is governed by the Code of Alabama 1975, Section 31-6-1. The veteran must meet the following qualifications to establish eligibility of his/her dependents. A dependent is defined as a child, stepchild, spouse or the un-remarried widow (er) of the veteran.

Military Service:

The veteran must have honorably served at least 90 days of continuous active federal military service or honorably discharged by reason of service-connected disability after serving less than 90 days of continuous active federal military service.

Disability Requirements:

The veteran must be rated 20% or more due to service-connected disabilities or have held the qualifying rating at the time of death, a former prisoner of war (POW), declared missing in action (MIA), died as the result of a service-connected disability, or died while on active military service in the line of duty.

Residency Requirements:

The veteran must have been a permanent civilian resident of the State of Alabama for at least one year immediately prior to (a) the initial entry into active military service or (b) any subsequent period of military service in which a break (1 year or more) in service occurred and the Alabama civilian residency was established. Permanently service-connected veterans rated at 100% who did not enter service from Alabama, may qualify after establishing at least five years of permanent residency in Alabama immediately prior to the filing of an application or immediately prior to death, if deceased.

Student Entitlement:

As of Fall 2009, children and stepchildren of qualified veterans may receive five standard academic years (10 semesters) at any Alabama state-supported institution of higher learning or a prescribed course of study at any state-supported technical school without payment of any tuition, mandatory textbooks or instructional fees.

Additionally, eligible spouses and un-remarried widow(er)s of a qualified veteran rated as 100% permanently and totally disabled may also receive five standard academic years (10 semesters) at any Alabama state-supported institution of higher learning or a prescribed course of study at any state-supported technical school without payment of any tuition, mandatory textbooks or instructional fees.

Exception: As of Fall 2009, a spouse or un-remarried widow (er) of a veteran rated 20% to 90% disabled is entitled to three standard academic years (6 semesters) without payment of tuition, mandatory textbooks, and instructional fees or completion of the duration of one prescribed technical course not to exceed 18 months.

Participants in the program prior to Fall 2009 are eligible for four standard academic years (8 semesters) or two standard academic years (4 semesters), respectively.

Note: Applicants applying for benefits under the scholarship program beginning on or after Fall 2014 (August 1, 2014) will be eligible for benefits at the in-state and undergraduate tuition rate.

Note: Applicants who were previously denied benefits based solely on the veteran’s peacetime status may re-apply and receive benefits under the scholarship program at the out-of-state and graduate rate if applicable. Applications for previously denied applicants must be resubmitted and received at ADVA Headquarters prior to August 1, 2015 in order to receive benefits at this capacity.

Number of Awards:

There is no restriction on the number of eligible dependents under the veteran; however, each dependent may only receive the benefit once, regardless of changes in their future dependency status.

Age Deadline:

The child or stepchild must initiate training under our program prior to his/her 26th birthday. In certain situations, a child or stepchild may be eligible for our program up to the age of 30.

Note: This deadline may be extended for previously denied applicants who were denied based solely on the veteran’s peacetime status. In order to receive this extension, applications must be resubmitted and received at ADVA Headquarters prior to August 1, 2015.

Unauthorized Courses:

Our program does not pay for noncredit courses, remedial courses, placement testing, GED preparation, continuing educational courses, pre-technical courses, or state board examinations.

Supplies:

Our scholarship program does not pay for supplies such as pens, paper, notebooks, tools, art supplies, uniforms, computer software products, etc.

Book Purchases:

The G.I. Dependent Scholarship Program will only pay for those textbooks that are required for the courses in which the student is officially enrolled. Our program does not pay for the purchase of reference manuals, access codes, suggested reading materials, study guides, or recommended workbooks, etc. Reimbursement will not be made.

Alabama State Supported Schools:

Alabama A & M University – Normal
Alabama Southern Community College – Monroeville and Thomasville
Alabama State University – Montgomery
Athens State College – Athens
Auburn University – Auburn, and Montgomery
Bevill State Community College – Fayette, Hamilton, Sumiton, and Jasper
Bishop State Community College – Main, Carver, and Southwest
Central Alabama Community College – Alexander City and Childersburg
Chattahoochee Valley Community College – Phenix City
Enterprise State Community College – Albertville, Andalusia, Decatur, Enterprise, Fort Rucker, Mobile, and Ozark
Gadsden State Community College – Gadsden, Anniston, and Centre
George C. Wallace Community College – Selma, Dothan, Sparks, and Hanceville
J.F. Drake State Technical College – Huntsville
Jacksonville State University – Jacksonville
James H. Faulkner State Community College – Bay Minette, Fairhope, and Gulf
Shores
Jefferson Davis Community College – Brewton
Jefferson State Community College – Birmingham, Pell City, and Clanton
John C. Calhoun Community College – Decatur, and Huntsville
Lawson State Community College – Birmingham and Bessemer
Lurleen B. Wallace State Jr. College – Andalusia, Greenville, Luverne, and Opp
Marion Military Institute – Marion
Northeast Alabama State Jr. College – Rainsville
Northwest Shoals Community College – Muscle Shoals and Phil Campbell
Reid State Technical College – Evergreen
Shelton State Community College – Tuscaloosa
Snead State Jr. College – Boaz
Southern Union Community College – Wadley and Opelika
Trenholm State Technical College – Montgomery
Troy University – Troy, Montgomery, Dothan, and Phenix City
University of Alabama – Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa
University of Montevallo – Montevallo
University of North Alabama – Florence
University of South Alabama – Mobile
University of West Alabama – Livingston
*Online courses are covered under this program if offered through the schools listed above.

Eligibility Limitations & Terminations:

Dependents are eligible to participate in the program only as long as they remain the legal dependent of the veteran from which they derive their eligibility. In the event of a divorce action, the former spouse or stepchild will be ineligible to participate effective the date of the divorce. Any educational financial obligations entered into after the divorce date will be the responsibility of the former spouse or stepchild.

Widow(er) forfeits all entitlements upon remarriage without further consideration of reinstatement.

Application Assistance:

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs maintains offices throughout the state which can furnish information and assist you in filing your application. To find your nearest Veterans Service Office, visit the Veterans Service Office Locator Page for contact options.

Out-of-state applicants may receive additional information by contacting:

Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs
Alabama G.I. Dependents Scholarship Program
P.O. Box 1509
Montgomery, AL 36102-1509

Phone: (334) 242-5077

Links:

State Supported Schools

Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship Pamphlet

During Transition, Find Strength in Serving Others

(Original article: http://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/career-advice/military-transition/during-transition-find-strength-in-serving-others.html)

Marines undergo water survival instructor test.

When the going gets tough, we have a saying in the Marine Corps: don’t go internal. When you’re in an uncomfortable or painful situation, it’s only natural to focus internally on the discomfort you’re experiencing instead of staying focused externally on the mission at hand.

Much like your time in service, your military transition isn’t going to be a rose garden. In fact at times it’s going to be very unpleasant. What got us through the hard times during our service was our commitment to putting the welfare of others ahead of ourselves. Think about it: whenever we go internal, whenever we start thinking about ourselves, we become weaker. When we think about the mission and focus our thoughts on serving and supporting others, we become stronger – and when that happens, nothing can stop us.

The U.S. military is perhaps the most diverse organization on the planet. It’s the ability to harness this diversity and channel it towards a common goal that makes us the greatest fighting force on earth. There’s one common principle that every individual service member shares: a desire to serve something greater than him or herself. This is our strength!

It’s extremely easy to go internal when making your transition. Trying to figure out what career to pursue or what you want to do with your life is a daunting task. It’s overwhelming and it’s exacerbated by the fact that you no longer have your buddies around to kick you in the butt when you start to feel sorry for yourself.

When you start to get discouraged and frustrated during your transition, and you can begin to feel yourself going internal, draw strength and direction from your inherent desire to serve something greater than yourself. Ask yourself:

  • How can I make a positive difference in the lives of others?
  • What kind of service can I provide to my community?
  • What can I do to make the people around me better?

Service is your guiding principle throughout your transition. When you joined the military, you raised your right hand and swore to serve the nation. When you left, no one told you to put your hand back down. You never stop serving; you’re just choosing to serve in another capacity.

When the going gets tough, don’t go internal. Focus your energy on becoming an asset to your community and you will find your way.

About the Author:

Michael Abrams is an Afghanistan veteran and Founder of Four Block, a veteran career development program based in New York.  He is the author of Business Networking for Veterans as well as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University.

Why You Should Start Saving Yesterday

Start Saving

We live in a society of instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it now. The practice of saving and waiting can be an unnatural and difficult process; however, it important to establish a consistent savings habit. Stop putting it off and start saving for unexpected expenses and future goals. It is the foundation of good money management and a stress eliminator.

Save for an Emergency

Unfortunately emergencies happen. Cars break down, pipes burst, or other unexpected expenses can occur. Instead of waiting for these bad things to happen, prepare yourself so that you are ready when these bad things inevitable happen. Set up a emergency fund account and contribute a small amount each month until you have at least $1000 saved up. Ideally you should save at least three to six month of expenses.

Save for Retirement

Having insufficient savings for retirement may force to work longer than you want to. In order to be able to enjoy your golden years, put money aside each month for retirement. A lot of employers offer matching funds, so you should at least contribute the minimum amount to be eligible for matching. Ideally, you should contribute 10 to 15% of your monthly income, but even a small amount each month can really add up over a 20 to 40 year career.

Save for “Wants”

If you plan on getting married, going on vacation, or making a “big” purchase like furniture or electronics you should save up the purchase amount rather than paying interest to a credit card company. You are also in a better position to negotiate if you have cash saved up. Additionally, saving up for a down payment for a car or a home can help you getter better interest rates.

Build Your Savings

One way to make saving easier is to have a portion of every paycheck automatically transferred or direct deposited into a savings account so you do not have to think about it. Another way to build savings is to add extra money, such as tax refunds, reimbursements, raises, and bonuses, to your savings account rather than spending it right away. Starting a consistent savings habit is not easy, but it is important to ensuring financial security in the future

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