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Sep 26

FRA NewsBytes September 26, 2014

In this issue:
DoD Adds Long-Deployment Pay
DFAS Direct Deposit Now Required, Debit Card Option Available
Ask for Absentee Ballots NOW!
September 27th is Medication Take-Back Day

DoD Adds Long-Deployment Pay
The Department of Defense (DoD) recently approved a bonus for sailors and Marines deployed longer than 220 consecutive days. For each day they are deployed beyond that threshold, service members will receive an additional $16.50 per day. Despite across-the-board cuts in the Defense budget, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus authorized the long-deployment bonus for two years. Sailors and Marines will see the extra money in their checks by the end of the year, as soon as Navy pay systems are updated.  All active-duty and Reserve sailors and Marines are eligible, regardless of rank.

The Navy advocated the bonus as part of a plan to fill thousands of open sea jobs by better compensating sailors for the hardships of long deployments. Earlier this year, the Navy also approved a 25-percent increase in sea pay, a separate incentive that goes to sailors assigned to ships.

Besides boosting these special pays, the Navy has been working to entice sailors into hard-to-fill sea jobs by making deployments more predictable. Under old standards, aircraft carriers generally went overseas once every 32 months, on cruises intended to last six to seven months. In recent years, global demands have often stretched those tours to nine or 10 months. The new plan calls for standardized eight-month deployments once every 36 months.

DFAS Direct Deposit Now Required, Debit Card Option Available
A Treasury mandate requires Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to pay its military, civilian and retired customers by electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Beneficiaries who receive a paper check began receiving notifications months ago that they must deposit their pay directly to a savings or checking account. Customers will continue to receive these notifications until they sign up for EFT, sign up for the debit card solution the Department of the Treasury has made available, or receive a waiver from the Department of the Treasury mandate. If you want to continue receiving paper checks, you must apply for a waiver.

Direct Deposit allows payments to go straight into customers bank accounts and gives immediate access to money the day payment is made. It also eliminates the risk of lost or stolen checks, forged signatures and identity theft.

How to Start Direct Deposit:
For those customers with a myPay account, simply log into myPay at https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx and enter your bank routing and account numbers. DFAS will require about a week before pay begins to be deposited in your checking or savings account.

Military retirees and annuitants without a myPay account can find the Fast Start Direct Deposit form here http://www.dfas.mil/dfas/retiredmilitary/forms.html. They can then complete it and send it to DFAS, U.S. Military Retired Pay, P.O. Box 7130, London, KY 40742-7130.

Those needing additional assistance can call DFAS customer service at 1-800-321-1080 (for retirees and annuitants) or 1-888-332-7411 (for military and civilian employees)

Debit Card Option Now Available:
If you don’t have a bank account or do not wish to open one, DFAS created a debit card option similar to the one the Treasury is offering for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Social Security payment recipients. You can find out more details about this option at the following link: http://www.dfas.mil/mandatoryeft/debitcard.html.

Ask for Absentee Ballots NOW!
The Federal Voter Assistance Program (FVAP) wants deployed service members to know that now is the time to apply for an absentee ballot for the 2014 General Election.  Most states require deployed service members to complete an absentee ballot application to start the absentee voting process. FVAP encourages the use of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to start the absentee voting process as it is standardized for use across all states and will extend their eligibility to receive a ballot for all Federal elections for at least one calendar year. The FPCA acts as both a registration and absentee ballot request form. Overseas citizen voters should submit a new FPCA every year and when they move. The FPCA can be easily completed by using the online assistant at: http://www.fvap.gov/citizen-voter/registration-ballots

It only takes a few quick steps to make sure a deployed service member’s vote is counted, no matter where they are in the world. For additional information on absentee voting go to:
http://www.fvap.gov/citizen-voter/overview 

September 27th is Medication Take-Back Day
On Saturday, September 27, TRICARE beneficiaries can safely and responsibly dispose of unused, expired or unwanted prescription medications. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA’s) National Prescription Drug Take-back Day will have sites around the country open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The DEA event allows people to turn in excess prescription drugs that otherwise could be abused or contaminate the environment.

Prescription and over-the-counter “solid dosage” drugs–tablets and capsules–are accepted, but intravenous solutions, injectable medications and needles are not.

A 2011 national survey on drug use found that Americans are twice as likely to abuse prescription drugs regularly, as they are to regularly use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined. The same study found more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives, often without their knowledge.

During DEA’s last take-back day in April 2014, Americans disposed of more than 780,158 pounds of unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs. The last seven take-back days have removed more than 4.1 million pounds of unused medications from American homes.

To find a collection site near you, click “Locate Collection Sites” at: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

Many military installations participate in the event, including; the Pentagon; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; the Naval Medical Center in San Diego; and Fort Hood, Texas.