DOD funding programs to ease 1st AD burden
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The Defense Department has approved a $36.2 million cash infusion into Army coffers in Europe to help support family members affected by the four-month extension of 1st Armored Division units in Iraq.
The cash, according the Army’s top personnel officer in Europe, Brig. Gen. Russell Frutiger, is being distributed for a slew of programs designed to ease the burden on families.
A total of “$2.6 million has already been distributed to the Area Support Groups,” said Frutiger. The rest is on the way, he said.
The lion’s share of the money — more than half — is going toward child- and youth-oriented programs, including expanded day care, summer schools, camps, new sports facilities and other services.
The balance is largely geared toward community improvements, morale boosters and family-focused support. Sure to be among the most popular for those living off-post is $3.6 million earmarked for free Armed Forces Radio and Television satellite decoders.
Here’s how the new programs will breakdown:
• Swiss Camp, $500,000 — seven-day residential camp for 300 children ages 13 to 18. Camp will offer “high adventure” programs and run 10 sessions from June 10 to August 30.
• Local Youth Services summer camps, $2.5 million — summer camp program.
• Summer-hire extension, $1 million — extension of more than 1,000 youth summer hires for affected families by an additional two weeks.
• CYS facilities enhancements, $4.1 million — flat screen TVs, Xboxes, games, computer labs, sound systems for eight base support battalions. Furniture packages for 32 child development services in 1st AD area.
• Youth center expanded hours, $250,000 — extended hours for 48 youth centers, including weekends and after hours. Gives needed support to family action groups and adult R&R.
• Laptop/camera kits, $110,000 — buys computers and digital cameras for Youth Services so kids can take pictures to send to deployed soldier-parents.
• Driver testing, $80,000 — subsidizes 2,000-euro cost for youths eligible to obtain driver’s license.
• Child Care Program extended hours, $1.5 million — hours at some 32 child development centers and 48 School Age Services centers will get boosted to include weekend support.
• Child care recruitment/retention bonuses, $500,000 — Bonus money for child care providers.
• Respite care, $100,000 — Expand current program for occasional free day care to all ranks.
• CDC fee reduction, $2.1 million — delays the planned 20 percent increase in Child Development Center fees by a year while decreasing fees this year by 10 percent.
• Child care stipends, $2.1 million — provides a stipend to 75 foster care providers and 450 CYS staff.
• Cleaning crews, $200,000 — Longer hours of operation at child care facilities means more mess. Helps fund cleaning crews freeing up staff for child care.
• Summer school, $230,000 — four-week summer school program — four hours per day, five days per week — for children in 1st AD communities.
• School enhancements, $1.4 million — provide cosmetic enhancements to Department of Defense Dependents Schools buildings, furniture and equipment that are easily noticed, easily accomplished and designed to boost morale.
• Telecast high school graduations, $93,000 — Provide video teleconference of graduation ceremonies to deployed parent-soldiers.
• Celebrity shows, $1 million — Officials have lined up David Copperfield, the Russian Circus, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin for family entertainment.
• Free movies, $500,000 — on-post movie theaters within 1st AD communities will remain free until Aug. 4.
• Army Community Services enhancements, $2.4 million — contract personnel to support ACS; Web cams, computers, furniture, communications. Provide wheelchair accessibility for wounded soldiers. New parent support and victim advocates.
• Post office overtime, $100,000 — funds to meet surge requirements in Army post offices within 1st AD area.
• Post office bonuses, $125,000 — cash incentives for 56 Army post office workers in the 104th Area Support Group.
• Commissary expanded hours, $629,000 — increased hours for seven commissaries, as well as updating décor and making repairs.
• Book-DVD-Video Mobile, $1.1 million — a mobile lending van will make daily rounds throughout the communities to provide easy access for families.
• Upgrade Kids Korner, $250,000 — interior improvements.
• New skateboard parks, $1 million — for Baumholder and Hanau communities, as well as build new basketball courts by family housing areas.
• Extended shuttle bus, $1 million — expanded transportation services for 1st AD families.
• AFRC vacation expansion, $3 million — Armed Forces Recreation Center deals for block leave expanded to include family members of soldiers still on deployment.
• AFN decoders, $3.4 million — purchase and installation of Armed Forces Radio and Television decoders for off-base households.
• Well-being retreats, $1.5 million — provides trips for spouses and children to various areas, including Polish pottery shopping, Disney Land Paris, Lego Land, Six Flags Holland and more.
• Spouse wellness program, $800,000 — provides intramural sports programs and entertainment such as golf, bowling, kids carnival and barbecues for 1st AD communities.
• Family support enhancement, $600,000 — purchase DVD players, projectors and plasma screens for the Army Community Services facilities. The idea is to allow spouses and/or children to watch movies together outside of individual homes.
• Auto maintenance, $500,000 — hands-on car maintenance assistance designed to help spouses help themselves.
• Contractors for Family Readiness Groups, $600,000 — Hired hands to conduct on-site FRG support.