Course Provides Path to Creating a More Inclusive Culture Within MWR Programs and Services

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Your goal as a morale, welfare and recreation professional, service provider or leader is to create and maintain programs and services that meet the needs of as many people as possible.

A new MilLife Learning course titled, “Operating in an Inclusive Culture,” can help you do just that by addressing the needs and challenges faced by people with disabilities, and showing you how to provide opportunities for individuals with varying abilities and skills to participate together.

MilLife Learning Course on Inclusiveness

Take this course to learn the importance and benefits of reaching individuals with disabilities.

This course examines the barriers these individuals face and their specific needs across a wide range of disabilities. It also explains the benefits and incentives for including those customers. These may include:

  • Involving more community members in social and recreational activities, which among other benefits may result in a reduced demand for medical and psychological services
  • Fostering more community acceptance of individuals with disabilities
  • Ensuring that your programs are in compliance with the laws of the land
  • Enriching the culture of your programs with personalities and experiences of people who could not participate previously

There also could be a financial gain through increasing the numbers of people participating in recreational activities.

The course also:

  • Provides supplemental resource documents, including a broad list of links to contact information, samples of more inclusive registration forms and a sample of an inclusive welcoming document for MWR programs
  • Offers guidance on ways to feel more comfortable talking to individuals about their disabilities
  • Outlines disability-related legislation and requirements for providing inclusive MWR programs and services
  • Contains details about the Department of Defense’s goals for serving participants with differing abilities

Additional course details

This 2½-hour course employs an interactive audio and video multimedia approach and includes six units, designed to be taken sequentially, with each unit building on the previous one. Transcripts are also available. Certification requires the completion of all six units.

You will learn about the wide spectrum of disabilities, including a focus on:

  • Amputees
  • Brain injuries
  • Visual or hearing impairments
  • Spinal cord injuries

You will also hear about some of the myths and truths surrounding people with disabilities and learn what language to avoid when interacting with those individuals.

You don’t have to be an MWR professional, service provider or leader to take this course. It can also be of value to service members wanting to learn more about inclusiveness and the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities.

Areas of focus that may be of interest to all service-connected individuals include the risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder, how it affects a person and the challenges it may bring. The use of and need for service animals is also discussed.

Take the course today

Make yourself better informed and ensure that your program staff is prepared to meet the needs of all participants by signing up for this free course. Click on “Create an Account” if you are a new user; no common access card or External Certification Authorities are needed.

Once you are registered, or if you are a returning user, log in and click “Launch Course” to begin.

Increase Your Skills and Education From Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Current as of Jan. 6, 2021


Make the most of the unexpected time you have at home because of coronavirus disease 2019. Explore the wide range of education resources the Department of Defense offers for service members and their families. They include:

If you need help navigating opportunities that are available to you, Military OneSource education consultants can help. They can answer questions about financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and college information. Call 800-342-9647. You can also use OCONUS dialing options or  schedule a live chat.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program

A cadet with the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program

Since 1993, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program has given teenagers a second chance by teaching them self-discipline, leadership and responsibility as they work toward a high school diploma or equivalency.

To date, more than 185,000 young men and women have graduated from the program, which is offered free to eligible candidates ages 16-18 in 31 states, districts and territories.

About the NGYCP

The NGYCP is a voluntary 5½-month residential program followed by a year-long mentorship. Its goal is to get teenagers on track toward graduating from high school and on to a promising future. The NGYCP is a Department of Defense program administered by the National Guard Bureau.

During the residential phase of the program, cadets are immersed in a military training environment, which emphasizes discipline, consistency and structure. Cadets attend classes daily to prepare them to return to high school or complete General Education Development testing. The program focuses on the social, emotional and academic development of cadets by teaching them:

  • Academic excellence
  • Life-coping skills
  • Service to the community
  • Health and hygiene
  • Job skills
  • Leadership/followership
  • Physical fitness
  • Responsible citizenship

Cadets choose a mentor from their community who is specially trained to work with them for the 12 months following the residential portion of the NGYCP. Mentors help the youth apply their new skills to real-life situations and continue progressing toward their goals.

Who is eligible for the NGYCP?

The NGYCP is open to young men and women who will be 16-18 years old when they enter the program. Additionally, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident of the United States
  • Be significantly behind or no longer working toward a high school diploma or the equivalent
  • Be unemployed or underemployed
  • Be willing to be free from illegal drug and substance use, alcohol and tobacco
  • Not have a felony charge or conviction
  • Be physically and mentally capable of fully participating in the program; reasonable accommodations will be made for physical or other disabilities

For more information or to find out if the NGYCP is available in your community, visit the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe website.

MilFam 101 Courses Help Improve Military Family Readiness

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The MilFam 101 online courses have been updated to improve the user training experience. Content and delivery are now more interactive, providing tools to help continue learning beyond the courses. Users can go at their own pace and select courses that best fit their needs.

MilFam 101 primarily focuses on supporting new military family readiness service providers but can also be a great refresher for seasoned team members. The courses complement existing training by providing a high-level overview of how integrated programs and services contribute to the Military Family Readiness System. Command teams, to include leaders, their spouses and unit family readiness volunteers, can also benefit from completing the courses.

Course content is applicable across services and installations. It helps explain:

  • How military family readiness programs address identified needs of service members and their families
  • Programs and services available within the Military Family Readiness System
  • The role of military family readiness service providers in building resilience and readiness in our military community
  • The new Training Action Plan tool helps users chart a course for continued professional development. Training Action Plans can also be shared with supervisors, trainers or peers to enhance existing training plans. Sign-up is easy and secure through MilLife Learning, and courses are available at no cost.

For more information about each module, see the overview of MilFam 101 courses on Military OneSource.

Deployment Basics By Service Branch

Service members walk towards their next location.

At some point in your loved one’s military service, you’ll probably hear the words, “I’m deploying.” What does that really mean, and how can you support your service member?

The word deployment can mean different things, depending on your service member’s job, and their unit and service branch, but it generally means a scheduled time away from the usual duty station, and usually outside of the United States. It may mean seven months on a Navy ship, 12 months at a forward operating base or three months in a town with restaurants and shops you’d recognize back home. Sometimes, your service member may serve in dangerous situations, but they have intense training and are well prepared for the challenges they may face in their specific mission.

The deployment cycle is the period of time from the notification of a deployment, through predeployment training, through the deployment and immediately after deployment. Every deployment cycle is different, but here are some general things to know:

Army deployment

Soldiers can deploy in large or small groups, or even individually. Many soldiers will do predeployment training at large training centers such as the National Training Center, the Joint Readiness Training Center, or at specific training centers located at bases across the country. An average deployment cycle will include months of training at their home base and at these specialized courses.

Soldiers with specific skills may go individually or in smaller units. They will have different types of training requirements based on the job, their prior preparation and the location of the deployment.

Learn more about Army deployments »

Marine Corps deployment

Many Marine Corps deployments happen on Navy ships, or they may fly to their deployment location. The majority of Marine Corps deployments include approximately one year of training followed by six to seven months of actual deployment time. However, a significant number of Marine Corps deployments may be scheduled for one year or more.

The Marine Corps prepares to support a wide variety of missions, often on short notice. Deployment types include training exercises, force readiness, supporting ongoing missions and humanitarian support.

Learn more about Marine Corps deployments »

Navy deployment

Many Navy deployments are on ships or submarines. Whether your service member is permanently assigned to the ship or sub, or joining the vessel as part of a separate unit such as an aircraft squadron, they’ll spend many months before the deployment participating in a wide variety of training both on and off the ship or sub. Ship or sub-based deployments typically last six or seven months, though occasionally, they will go longer. The time at sea may be broken up by port calls, where the ship pulls into a town and the sailors are permitted to go ashore and enjoy some time off.

Sailors who deploy without a ship or sub may go to a variety of locations to perform a wide range of jobs. Their predeployment training may be part of their regular job, so there may not be much disruption to their regular schedule, or they may need to learn entirely new skills for the deployment. These deployments may be with Navy units, joint units or they may be assigned to a unit of a different branch of the military. The latter is usually called an individual augmentee job. Sailors deployed without a ship or a sub may go for as little as 30 days or for more than a year.

Learn more about Navy deployments »

Air Force deployment

Airmen participate in many different types of deployments. Most Air Force deployments involve flying to another location, often an overseas Air Force base, a joint base or the base of another service. Airmen may live on those bases or stay in hotels.

Some Air Force units have a faster deployment cycle, with shorter deployments and shorter times between deployments. While they still may follow the six to 12-month average of the other branches, they may also do a series of two to three-month deployments in quick succession. Differences in deployment tempo are usually based upon job and unit.

Learn more about Air Force deployments »

How You Can Support Your Service Member

Deployment can bring about a wide range of emotions for both the service member and the family at home. They may be excited to do the job for which they’ve trained, sad to be apart from their family and perhaps nervous about how the deployment will unfold. It’s natural to feel all these things, sometimes all at the same time.

Realistic expectations are an important part of making it through the deployment cycle. Three key things to remember throughout the process:

  1. Your service member has been training to use their skills during a deployment. They are well prepared to do this job and may be very focused on the mission they’re doing.
  2. Things can, and will, change frequently. Trainings and deployments can be moved up, delayed or cancelled altogether. Departure and return dates will shift. Communication may be limited. The more understanding you are, the more your service member will feel supported.
  3. Your service member will not be able to answer all your questions. Your loved one may not know the answer to your question, or they may not be able to tell you the things they do know.

You can help your service member by asking what they want and how you can help. For example, they may want you to come to homecoming for one deployment but not for another, based upon a wide variety of factors including location, likelihood of date changes and post-deployment requirements. They may need help with things like paying bills or storing their car.

It’s also smart to talk through a couple of “what-if” scenarios and to get some basic information. Be sure you know the specific name of their unit and at least one phone number to call if there is an emergency back home.

Whether you are a parent, sibling or friend, you probably have a lot of questions about your loved one’s deployment. Feel more prepared with Military OneSource’s Plan My Deployment and the predeployment checklist.

VISIT PLAN MY DEPLOYMENT

Check out the rest of the Friends & Extended Family content on Military OneSource to keep connected with your service member’s military life.

Understanding the Roles of Military Officers and Enlisted Service Members

an officer is saluted by enlisted service members

More than 80% of the U.S. military is made up of enlisted members, with officers making up the rest of the military population of the armed forces. Officers are trained to be managers and leaders. They plan missions, provide orders and assign tasks, while enlisted members are technical experts and leaders that hold the specific skills necessary to complete the mission.

Both of these roles are essential to the military and offer rewarding careers. A first step toward becoming an enlisted service member or an officer is to work with a military recruiter. Your recruiter will help you determine which path is best given your level of education, goals and qualifications.

Joining the military as an enlisted member

To enlist in the armed forces, you must:

  • Have a high school diploma. In some cases, a general equivalency diploma will be accepted.
  • Be at least 17 years old. The maximum age to enlist in the military varies according to branch of service, from 28 years old for the Marine Corps, to 39 for the Navy and the Air Force. The maximum age to enlist in the Army is 34. But these are subject to change so check with your recruiter.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
  • Speak, read and write English fluently.
  • Achieve the minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test for your branch of service.
  • Pass a physical and meet weight requirements. Fitness standards vary by service.

After meeting with a recruiter, you will report to a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS. There you will:

  • Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Your overall score on the ASVAB’s 10 subtests will help determine what jobs you are qualified for in the armed forces. You may be required to take additional special purpose tests to help determine the best career for you.
  • Undergo a complete physical exam, which includes hearing and vision tests as well as drug and alcohol testing.
  • Meet with a service liaison to learn about available jobs in your service. Some services assign a job at this time while others wait until after basic training or later. Your job will depend on your preferences and where your skills are most needed at the time of your enlistment.
  • Be fingerprinted for background checks and security clearances.
  • Take the Oath of Enlistment in which you vow to defend the U.S. Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Serving as an enlisted member

As a recruit, you will attend basic training to prepare physically and mentally to become a member of your branch of service. Basic training typically spans seven to 12 weeks depending on your branch of service. After graduation from basic training, you will attend advanced training and in some cases, additional training to learn your job.

Enlisted members start their careers as junior enlisted personnel, called privates in the Army and Marine Corps, airman basic in the Air Force and seaman recruit in the Navy. Though military titles and rank can differ by service, pay grade rankings are standardized across the military. These are designated as E-1 through E-9. Pay and responsibilities increase as you rise through the enlisted ranks. An enlistee may rise through the lower ranks fairly quickly, although promotions tend to happen less frequently after the rank of E-4 because the number of these positions are limited by Congress.

Becoming a noncommissioned officer

A service member reaches the rank of noncommissioned officer at the rank of E-4 or E-5, depending on their branch of service and military title. Noncommissioned officers are high-ranking enlisted members who have been given leadership authority.

Becoming a commissioned officer in the military

A commissioned military officer holds a four-year college degree or higher and has undergone officer training. There are several paths to earning an officer commission in the armed forces.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

Some 1,700 colleges and universities nationwide offer ROTC. This military training program grants scholarships to help pay for college in exchange for military service after graduation. Students enrolled in ROTC attend training and take specialized classes alongside their regular academic classes.

Learn more about the ROTC program at each service branch:

Military service academies

Each service branch has its own undergraduate institution that educates and trains its future leaders. Admission to military academies is highly competitive. Students should begin preparing during high school to ensure they meet the high standards and strict requirements for acceptance. Military academies offer free tuition and room and board in exchange for a commitment to serve as an active- duty officer for a period of time after graduation, usually at least five years.

Learn more about each military academy:

Officer school

College graduates who want to serve as military officers can apply to Officer Candidate School (called Officer Training School in the Air Force). This intensive program spans between 9 1/2 to 12 weeks, depending on the service, and prepares candidates to become officers.

Learn more about Officer Training School and Officer Candidate School by service branch.

Direct commission

Direct commissions may be available to civilians with certain highly-specialized professional degrees that are in demand in the services. Doctors, lawyers, clergy and engineers are among the professionals who are most in demand and therefore most likely to receive a direct commission. Professionals who receive a direct commission receive officer training to help them transition from civilian to military life and learn leadership skills.

Transitioning from enlisted to commissioned officer

Though less common, enlisted members may apply to become a commissioned officer. If you are well-qualified and hold a bachelor’s degree, you may be nominated by a commanding officer to attend officer candidate or officer training school. Some branches of service offer programs in which an enlistee earns a college degree and attends officer school while serving in the military.

Warrant officers

It is also possible to become a warrant officer — a technical and tactical leader — without holding a four-year college degree. Warrant officer pay grades are designated W-1 through W-5 (W-2 through W-4 in the Navy). The Air Force is the only service that does not have the rank of warrant officer.

Serving as a commissioned officer in the military

Officers have significant responsibility as managers and leaders. A newly minted officer typically starts their career as a second lieutenant (ensign in the Navy). Officer grades are designated O-1 through O-10. Promotions bring an increase in pay and responsibility, but happen only if there is a requirement. That’s because, as with enlisted ranks E-5 and above, the number of officer positions is limited by Congress. Officers may spend several years at each rank before rising to the next, though promotions tends to happen faster in the lower ranks.

Whichever path you choose, a career in the military as either an enlisted service member or as an officer offers both tangible benefits, such as a steady income, paid leave and health care benefits; and intangible benefits, such as the pride of service, being part of a community like no other and knowing that you are serving a vital role in protecting your country.

To learn more about being a part of the military, contact your service branch recruiter or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

Joining the Military as a Reservist: Eligibility, Obligation and Benefits

Two service members speak with a woman

Joining the Reserve Component of the military is a great way to serve your country. You will also earn valuable benefits without giving up your civilian employment or schooling.

New to the Military

Military OneSource has the information, tools and resources you’ll need to transition smoothly and quickly to military life.

Many people transfer to the reserves from the Active Component. But you can join the National Guard or military reserves without prior military experience. There are small differences among the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. But most have the same requirements, obligations and federal benefits. National Guard members who perform state active duty are eligible for state benefits.

Am I eligible to join the National Guard or military reserves?

You must meet these minimum requirements to join the National Guard or military reserves:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 42 (general requirement range; age varies by branch).
  • Pass an armed forces physical exam.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
  • Meet the minimum ASVAB eligibility standard. You must receive a sufficient score on the ASVAB composite called the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Each branch or specific job may have other requirements in addition to those listed above.

How do I join the National Guard or military reserves?

The first step is to contact a recruiter. Your recruiter will explain the process and available opportunities. Speaking with recruiters from different branches can help you get an idea of which branch you would like to join. You can also find out more information at the recruiting websites for each branch:

The process could go quickly or slowly, depending on different factors. Sometimes you can get through the requirements very quickly. It can also take weeks or months from when you first contact a recruiter to when you leave for your military training.

What’s my obligation if I join the National Guard or military reserves?

Joining the military reserves or National Guard is a significant time commitment. This is true, especially at the beginning. You will get settled in your permanent unit. Then, you can expect to attend unit assembly, known as “drill,” one weekend per month. You will also participate in a two-week annual training each year.

  • Initial training: As a new military member, you will attend your branch’s basic military training. That may last from eight to 12 weeks. Depending on your job, you may also attend an advanced training course.
  • Monthly drill: You’ll need to drill for 48 periods or units per year. Most units drill one weekend per month. A typical weekend drill has four periods. Some military units have additional drilling requirements, which may include the weekday.
  • Annual training: You’ll also need to participate in annual training for two weeks per year.
  • Activations: You may be activated to full-time service in a voluntary or involuntary status. This can be with your unit or individually. These activations may vary in length and location. They may include 30 days in a unit near your hometown. Or up to a year supporting a mission outside of the United States. Generally, you cannot opt out of involuntary action. This is because the military has ordered you to active service.
  • Length of commitment: Your total contract may range from three to eight years. This depends on the branch of service and your specific occupation/job.

What kind of benefits will I earn?

For your commitment to the National Guard or military reserves, you’ll receive many benefits including:

  • Part-time pay: Reserve Component pay is based on rank and service time. Bonuses are sometimes available for high-demand and low-density skills. Your pay will be based upon the Active Duty Pay Table during full-time and annual training, and active duty. You will receive prorated payment while on partial month duty. This will be calculated using the daily rate. Learn more about Basic Pay, the fundamental component of military pay.
  • Skills training: You’ll be trained for your Reserve Component job. The selection of jobs available will depend on the needs of the military and your ASVAB scores.
  • Health care coverage: TRICARE Reserve Select is subsidized, fee-based health care coverage. It is for reservists and their families when the military member is not on active-duty orders. Reservists on active duty for more than 30 days receive comprehensive medical and dental care at no cost. While their service member is activated for more than 30 days, family members receive health care coverage.
  • Education: Selected Reserve or National Guard members who have signed up for at least six years, can access up to three years of educational assistance. This benefit is available through the Montgomery GI Bill® for Selected Reserve. Additional funding may be available for certain high-demand fields. Reservists may also earn Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, which may be transferred to eligible dependents when certain eligibility criteria are met.
  • Commissary and exchange privileges: Reserve Component members and their eligible dependents have full-time access to on-base shopping. This includes the discounted food and department stores.
  • Retirement: Service in the Reserve Component earns points toward a reserve retirement.

Joining the National Guard or military reserves can be a great way to serve your country without leaving your full-time job. Once you decide to join, you can learn more about your new community. See Military OneSource’s New to the Military resources. Military OneSource can answer your questions about military life. Call 800-342-9647 or connect via Live Chat 24/7/365. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.