Military tuition assistance to be cut

Oregon National Guard affected

Oregon Military Department – In response to a call for cuts due to federal sequestration, the Department of Defense has suspended its federal tuition assistance program for all military members.

The move also affects members of the Oregon National Guard.

The Secretary of the Army approved the suspension of tuition assistance on March 8, and the Secretary of the Air Force has approved the suspension on March 11. Military members enrolled in the system prior to March 5 were covered, but no new applicants for tuition assistance are being taken or considered.

This suspension is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration.

The Army and Air Force continue to value education as a force multiplier, and soldiers and airmen should take advantage of educational opportunities making them more proficient in their profession, setting them up for success in their career. Furthermore, both agencies understand the impacts of this action and will re-evaluate should the budgetary situation improve.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Diane Beach, education services officer for the Oregon Military Department, 47 soldiers were approved tuition assistance for spring term since the program was suspended. However, most of Oregon’s soldiers were not registered for classes yet. There were approximately 350 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who were unable to request tuition assistance for the spring term.

Soldiers and airmen should contact their local education centers with questions and to get updates. Updated information for soldiers will be posted to Airmen who have questions should go to the Air Force Virtual Education Center tab located on the Air Force Portal home page at

Students can take advantage of other options, such as student loans, scholarships and federal student assistance programs such as Pell grants and other aid, Bomar said.

“There is still the GI Bill for those who qualify, and other military-related scholarships” Bomar added.

In fiscal year 2012, 201,000 soldiers across the entire Army used tuition assistance, which provided $373 million to soldiers pursuing their educational goals to take 620,000 courses. With that money, 2,831 soldiers earned associates, 4,495 earned baccalaureates and 1946 received graduate degrees.

During that same time frame, 104,422 airmen throughout the Air Force used tuition assistance, which provided $194 million to airmen pursuing their educational goals to take 277,255 courses. With that money, airmen earned 26,611 associate degrees, 2,405 baccalaureate degrees and 3,356 graduate degrees.

The Air Force, through its many programs, promotes life-long learning opportunities for airmen.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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