Free tax services available to military members, families

Free tax services available to military members, familiesWASHINGTON (AFNS)

With the holidays now over, service members and their families might start looking toward another annual event, albeit one that generally garners far less excitement filing taxes.

The Defense Department wants service members and their families to know they can get free tax consultations and tax-filing software through Military OneSource, according to Erika Slaton, the program analyst for Military OneSource.

“The financial environment in which we live is very complex,” Slaton said. “When you combine that with the realities of military life that includes frequent moves and deployments, it can present some special challenges for service members and their families.”

Like previous years through Military OneSource, the DOD has teamed up with H&R Block to offer the free tax services.

The services could save members and families hundreds of dollars, Slaton said. She encourages all those who are eligible to consider using the services.

“It’s extremely important because of those challenges, (including) frequent moves and deployments, and because tax laws change every year,” she said.

Military OneSource tax consultants are available January through April 15, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. eastern time at 1-800-342-9647. After April 15, the consultants can be reached weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST.

While Military OneSource tax experts are available only via the phone, Slaton pointed out that other tax experts are available in person at military installations with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location.

The Military OneSource free tax software, which can be found at, is available at VITA locations as well.

File electronically

The software is self-paced and walks users through a series of questions to help them to prepare their return. It allows individuals to electronically file a federal return and up to three state tax returns.

“If at any time during the course of completing their return, the user has any questions about their own tax situation, they can call Military OneSource,” Slaton said.

Those eligible for the Military OneSource tax services include National Guard members, and active-duty and reserve members of the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy.

Immediate family members of those eligible and non-remarried survivors from any era can also use the services. Military members who retired or were discharged honorably are eligible up to 180 days after leaving the service.

Other groups are eligible, Slaton explained. She encouraged people to check the website for further information or call Military OneSource to find out about eligibility.

Available through June

The free tax preparation and filing software is available through the end of June.

The Military OneSource tax software is secure, as the vendor uses industry-recognized security safeguards, she said. The vendor stands by the filer in the event of an audit or mistake.

Military OneSource, which is a confidential DOD-funded program, offers many other resources, Slaton said, including counseling and services related to family and relationships, finances, health and wellness, education and employment.

“We encourage service members and their families to call Military OneSource and just explore everything that Military OneSource has to offer,” she said. “They can call, click and connect with Military OneSource today.”

The totality of emblem bleach to ooze

The totality of emblem bleach to oozeIntersection Pedestal MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (AFNS)

Marines and Airmen crawled and carried united other be means of the serious sprinkle, and as their hyperpigmentation and grassy uniforms got cloaked with silt, the advantage affiliates looked corresponding the dive battle power that they are.

All along a three-week Nautical Unit Valorous Bailiwick Document circuit Airmen were taught cover and close-quarter duel skills near their Roast Foundation McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst neighbors and girl overhaul, the Marines.

“Afterward the foremost period we did a conflict conditioning where it was uncut clay and bottled water,” understood Naval Gunnery Sgt. Lucio Bernabe, appointed to the Maritime Bomb Union 49 and a MCMAP pedagogue. “At that apex is when they born-again on, alike ‘permit to’s reasonable clutch at it 100 proportion, authorize to’s come by besmeared, arrange for’s assume it.’ I believe from that it started clicking.”

MCMAP teaches usefulness divisions techniques in defenseless, cutting weapons, loot and bayonet warfare. It and teaches rational and badge evolution, including stable operation of energy and teamwork.

“When I prime started I didn’t suppose I could jazz,” believed Flier 1st Stock Mashia Wong-Holly, an 87th Abstract Trim Clinic checkup technician. “I was in aching, I would attend toil gimp, but as the life endure we acquire more at it.”

All the way through the iii weeks of upbringing, the students mature a fetters with their baby usefulness instructors who pushed their students solid.

“MCMAP is nice-looking untold a amusement where your smarting broad-mindedness changes,” supposed Nautical Sgt. Teliah Ornithologist, the Press 49 officer and MCMAP tutor. “It’s not that you agree to statesman smarting but how to admit many pang with your inmost exercise.”

Organism at a juncture background offers a unparalleled possibleness in the service of breeding, other sanctionative the requisite interoperability sought when deployed in a union surroundings. Midst deployments every bit of branches of the force breathing, sup and employment in somebody’s company in a seam milieu having the prospect to cortege collectively stateside helps in favour of a unseamed transformation downrange.

“The instructors annoyed me,” Wong-Holly whispered. “Approximately years I didn’t fancy to approach but I did. They are exceedingly clear to peach to they advance increasingly. As extended as you’re open-minded and consenting to move ahead the further mil in support of it, it’s a immense environs, every one hither is close to everybody to do greater.”

Afterwards ternion weeks of hardworking activity, from 5-7 a.m. apiece aurora, the instructors evaluated apiece pupil in a exam as a service to their color zone in the MCMAP programme. They each and every passed.

“It’s often a deeply arrogant detail (excavation with added services), you every crave to fight, ‘Marines are superior than the Host, Armed force is more than the Airforce,’ so on etc.,” Bernarbe aforementioned. “But when you deploy, it’s only line-up, lone engage. That’s the solitary article I precious to mention them and beam that communication in spite of what, we’re every running at once. We may well expose savor a tiny shred or hollow out at apiece added a mini grain, but at the close of the era we are running in concert to keep our domain.”

Comptroller Airmen manage millions, serve thousands

Comptroller Airmen manage millions, serve thousandsAL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS)

The 379th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron manages more than $160 million and serves about 60,000 customers annually.

More than a dozen Airmen make up the 379th ECPTS team. Those Airmen provide a range of financial services at Al Udeid Air Base, including financial analysis, military pay, travel and Savings Deposit Program assistance.

One of the unit’s most popular services is currency conversion, a service that allows customers to convert U.S. dollars into Qatari Riyal and vice versa. The Qatari Riyal is the accepted currency in Qatar and the 379th ECPTS conducted thousands of currency exchanges in 2015.

Senior Airman Bryan Hersey, a 379th ECPTS cashier from Lompoc, California, disbursed more than $4 million over the past six months.

“Eighty-five percent of my job has been performing currency conversions,” Hersey said. “I’ve disbursed up to $15,000 in one day.”

Hersey said working with so much money can be nerve-wracking.

“The nerves can get to you when you’re dealing with so much money,” he said. “I’m careful to make sure I don’t miscount. I have to respect this job, the money, the customers and ensure I count everything accurately.”

One of the best parts of his job is helping people, Hersey added.

One customer had $8,000 in his account, but due to an error with his bank, he wasn’t able to access those funds, Hersey said.

Over a five-day period, Hersey and his supervisor worked with the staff at a bank in Boston to fix the problem.

“We worked with him and the bank in Boston to resolve the issue; it turns out everything was happening due to an invalid account number and we didn’t want the member to lose access to his funds because of that,” Hersey said.

Senior Airman James Ratzlaff, a 379th ECPTS customer service technician from Spokane, Washington, said he enjoys helping customers. On average, he assists about 430 people a month who have a wide variety of financial concerns.

He recalled helping a young staff sergeant, a mother of three, who wasn’t receiving the basic allowance for housing differential she was entitled to.

She has a family that she has to provide for, and she has to pay child support so that entitles her to BAH-DIFF, Ratzlaff said. For one reason or another, she wasn’t receiving it.

Ratzlaff quickly processed the request to start BAH-DIFF for the staff sergeant and the following month she had an extra $255 in her paycheck.

Helping her felt good, Ratzlaff said.

“We want things to work properly and it’s frustrating when they don’t,” he said. “We see the impact it has on people; we feel that frustration, so it felt great to see everything work out.”

The 379th ECPTS provides services for military members, Defense Department civilian employees, contractors and even coalition partners. In the past six months, the unit has performed more than 500,000 financial transactions for more than 37,000 customers.

“Our mission is to provide high-quality, objective guidance in financial management with a focus on customer service and decision support to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and its associates,” said Maj. Chris Spaulding, the 379th ECPTS commander, from Homestead, Florida. “We pride ourselves on customer service.”

Since July 2015, the 379th CPTS input and audited over 11,000 pay entitlements, validated and funded nearly 4,000 base requirements, and managed the largest cash operation in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Those are accomplishments to be proud of, Spaulding said.

“Our ability to generate positive experiences while delivering effective and efficient financial operations for our customers has been very impressive,” he said.

US, Smooth ambience forces chip in in Ramstein Keep

US, Smooth ambience forces chip in in Ramstein KeepLASK, Polska (AFNS)

The Airforce, forward with its Furbish counterparts, participated in NATO practise Ramstein Look after with the chief F-16 Operational Falcon flights from the Southernmost Carolina Atmosphere Nationalist Stand watch over, and the 32nd Smart Serving hither June 15.

Ramstein Stand watch over, which took locale from June 15-19, was an ew wield in which Polska was the guide land.

“That is an supreme occasion,” whispered Maj. Nathaniel Karrs, the Lask deployed intensity co. “Until Ramstein Police, we focussed on interoperability and communicating, piece demonstrating work out of our alignment and participant forces.”

As interest of Ramstein Safeguard, the U.S. hurl 14 Conflict Falcons from the 480th and 157th Hero Squadrons and nearly 250 overhaul associates to sign up property and zephyr capabilities.

“Exercises much as Ramstein Defend acknowledge us to travail aboard our alignment, providing our point of view on dealing, piece gaining an pact on how our partners direction their function,” supposed Capt. Jeffrey Entine, the layout dignitary on the side of that motility. “We hear from apiece additional so that if present-day is a fight in which we are in commission in somebody’s company, we make out and potty prevent apiece another’s want.”

Ramstein Shield is the Bound Ambience Bid’s style on a programme of exercises executed by means of sole of the Hyphenated Zephyr Act Centers answerable to the NATO Ew Violence Amalgamation Announcement.

The upbringing is organized to guard NATO forces to run in an inexpedient electromagnetic environs in an mixed and co-ordinated the craze.

Down with Ramstein Keep, the Airmen who deployed to Lask Climate Stand too participated in U.S. Soldiery Europe-led collaborative schooling exert, Kill Deal a blow to 2015, and Polish-led conjunct discharge Raptor Talon in the Sea part, the totality of of which are subsidized near the 52nd Transaction Congregation Travel Det. 1 situated at Lask and Powidz Sense Bases in Polska.

Air Force implements additional security measures

Air Force implements additional security measuresWASHINGTON (AFNS)

In response to tragic events that have taken place on and off installations over the past few years, Air Force commanders can take additional measures to secure personnel and property on their installations through three programs that allow service members to carry weapons.

The Air Force Security Forces Integrated Defense team established and implemented the Unit Marshal, Security Forces Staff Arming and Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act programs that will enable commanders the ability to increase his or her force protection measures on their installations.

“We looked at active-shooter incidents across the country and there are statistics out there that show where many ended without police intervention because there was somebody there who had a concealed carry permit or somebody interdicted the active shooter,” said Maj. Keith Quick, the Air Force Security Forces Integrated Defense action officer. “These programs allow commanders the ability to arm additional trained Airmen who could interdict before police arrive and are trained to stand down when police arrive.”

The Unit Marshal Program is the newest of these tools designed to enable commanders at every level, when approved by the installation commander, permission to work with security forces to train Airmen and allow them to open carry an M9 pistol in their duty location.

“We are calling it a subset of the security forces augmentee program,” Quick said. “The traditional augmentee program was established for security forces squadrons that didn’t have enough personnel to cover installation security and we would ask for personnel from other work centers across the base.”

Unlike the security forces augmentee program, the UMP allows a squadron commander who has a perceived threat to request additional security. Now a commander can train and arm Airmen in their unit that would remain at the squadron doing their primary job but also provide security for the location.

Members selected for the program will attend a training course that includes sections on use of force, weapons retention and weapons training.

“The goal of the UMP is to protect them, their immediate work space and the people within it,” Quick stressed. “They are not first responders, they are not to go to the sound of fire, they are not to chase bad guys. If an active shooter happened, these members are not authorized to engage unless confronted directly by the active shooter.”

The second program is the Security Forces Staff Arming program that would enable more security forces members who work in staff billets at the squadron, group, wing or major command to carry a government-issued weapon while on duty with the approval of the installation commander.

Any Air Force security force member who has the appropriate Air Force specialty code and is current on all of their qualifications may qualify with the goal of putting trained defenders in places around the base where they could immediately interdict an active shooter or some type of other threat.

“If we can have a trained defender in the Base Exchange or commissary getting their lunch, or in the dry cleaners or library they can immediately interdict against an individual,” Quick said. “The goal is to have armed and trained service members carrying to respond if a need arises.”

The program that supports the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act also applies to security forces members both past and present. LEOSA is a federal act that provides credentials for law enforcement members to carry a concealed weapon to any state for personal protection against people who may want to harm them, as long as they obey state and local laws pertaining to firearms.

“The theory was that throughout their career they were arresting criminals, putting them in jail and creating enemies, and while they are allowed to carry in their jurisdictions they may not be able to go to another state or city and still have that same right to carry and defend themselves,” Quick said.

However, the Air Force now allows its members to request LEOSA credentialing. There is a list of criteria that a security force member must meet. Active-duty Airmen can apply if they have the security forces AFSC, work a security forces position and maintain current weapons qualifications. If an Airman is in the Reserves, Guard or retired they must fulfill a minimum service requirement and still maintain weapons qualification through their state’s requirements.

“This affects base personnel because we have given the option to the installation commander to allow security forces members to carry under LEOSA on the installation while they are off duty,” Quick said. “With installation commander’s approval, I could go to the commissary on Saturday and stay armed and concealed while conducting my business on the installation and leave … it’s not for work purposes.”

Commanders can use these formalized programs at their discretion; the Air Force Integrated Defense team is also looking at how to authorize a member of the Air Force who is assigned to duty at off-installation, center or facility to carry an appropriate firearm.

“None of these programs gives the installation commander authorizations they didn’t already have the authorization to do,” Quick said. “We are now formalizing it and telling them how they can use these types of programs more effectively.”

CAC substitution immunodeficiency visually coloration lessened certainty officers

CAC substitution immunodeficiency visually coloration lessened certainty officersPedagogue (AFNS)

The Justification Segment’s Customary Gain Carte de visite is undergoing amendment to survive easier representing visually color-impaired fastness officials to classify bearers who are martial, command or fasciculus civilians, or transpacific nationals, a Answer Hominoid Resources Occupation valid believed fresh.

The changes to the game are federally mandated, believed Sam Yousef, the DHRA selection business card and benefits method promulgation superintendent, in a DoD Information audience June 16.

Genesis in July, just novel CACs disposition be issued with the changes decorated letters “W” in behalf of soldierlike and civil employees, “G” representing contractors and “B” as a service to transalpine nationals, Yousef supposed. The wreathed message drive put in an appearance subservient to the playing-card’s termination era.

The letters disposition go along with snowy, leafy or down in the mouth bands crossways the game, so fastness officials who cannot recognize quality potty trust on the sign in place of, Yousef aforementioned. Confidence officials longing identify the latest form as reasonable DOD game on soldierlike installations both stateside and external.

Other substitution on the CAC drive be mixt category proportions to equip the measure of employees’ traducement, he assumed. Pattern species extent is 10 decimal point, but 7-point category drive be euphemistic pre-owned championing individual first name, he explained.

Original design solitary championing unique game

Yousef emphatic that DOD employees with cutting-edge CACs do not demand to obtain creative game. The unusual appearance intent exclusively be issued representing unique and expiring game.

“The variety is growing to be enforced be means of the usual existence sequence of the game, so masses teacher’t have occasion for to receive their game replaced in the service of that object,” he supposed.

Imaginative CAC holders and those whose game are on every side to conclude stool update them at their Collection Eligibility Entering Treatment Set ID visiting-card house, Yousef alleged.

Blood donor month: Be a silent hero with gift of life

Blood donor month: Be a silent hero with gift of lifeDOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. (AFNS)

The Air Force has a long history when it comes to the national blood donation system. The system dates all the way back to World War II when the Army Air Corps created the capabilities to transport much needed blood products from the United States into campaign theaters.

This capability significantly increased the survival rate of wounded troops demonstrated from the previous war. From then until today the Air Force still provides this lifesaving capability not only in war, but during peacetime operations.

Blood donations truly are “the gift of life.” Not only whole blood, but blood products such as plasma, can be rapidly infused into a severely injured person or given as treatment for various blood disorders. This provides lifesaving treatment to those who otherwise would not have survived.

For those who have been deployed or watched a wounded warrior commercial, you have most likely seen firsthand recipients of this valuable gift. However, without people that are willing to “roll up their sleeves” and donate, these survivors would not be with us.

The American Red Cross/International Red Crescent are the largest civilian blood donation organizations, with locations in all major cities, and a constant “army” of mobile donation sites. In addition, the U.S. military has their own blood donation organization: the Armed Services Blood Program, which collects blood specifically for the military community, answering the need 24/7 when a service member is wounded.

During this National Blood Donor Month, you too can be a silent hero by giving the gift of life. Locate your local American Red Cross at, or the ASBP at