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Housing recovery funds available
Military DoD civilians who face financial losses due to the current housing downturn can find relief in the ARRA influx of funds to the Housing Assistance Program (HAP).
Active members, former members, and survivors of those who have died on deployment of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as DoD civilians, who have sold a primary residence for a loss, or are considering selling their home, may qualify for funds.
The Recovery Act appropriated $555 million in funds to the HAP, which DoD will use to temporarily expand this program in order to partially reimburse eligible members. applications.
To speak with a HAP representative, call (916) 557-6850 or 1-800-811-5532.

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Welcome Home PHIBRON 5
Makin Island ARG, 11th MEU

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Feb. 23, 2015) Sailors assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 are greeted by loved ones after returning home from a seven-month deployment with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group. U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Gerald Dudley Reynolds

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Feb. 23, 2015) Sailors assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 are greeted by loved ones after returning home from a seven-month deployment with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group. U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Gerald Dudley Reynolds

USS Makin Island ARG returns from deployment
2/25/2015
From Amphibious Squadron Five Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Nearly 4,500 Sailors and Marines with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) returned to San Diego Feb. 25, following a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.
Deployed since July 25, the Makin Island ARG and 11th MEU conducted a relocation of National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration researchers from Tropical Storm Iselle near Hawaii, conducted air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq, worked with British and Kuwaiti forces in Exercise Cougar Voyage 14, participated in Exercise Red Reef 15 with Saudi Arabian forces and performed Marine sustainment exercises in Kuwait and Djibouti.
"We've had a very intense deployment that required us to execute multiple mission sets simultaneously for long periods of time. The superb professionalism and work ethic of all members of the ARG/MEU team ensured we met and exceeded the mark every time," said Capt. Steve McKone, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5. "I know these Sailors and Marines are excited to be home."
The Makin Island ARG, led by PHIBRON 5, consists of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45), amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), PHIBRON 5 staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HSC-23) Detachment 2, scheduled to return to its home base on Naval Air Station North Island Feb. 24, Fleet Surgical Team 5, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Assault Craft Unit 5 and Beach Master Unit 1.
The 11th MEU is comprised of the 11th MEU Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines; and the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11.
"The Sailors and Marines on this ship performed exceptionally well during this deployment," said USS Makin Island Commanding Officer, Capt. Jon P. Rodgers. "This deployment marked the first for more than 65 percent of the crew. The teamwork was exceptional!"
During the deployment, the ARG transited nearly 35,000 nautical miles, flew approximately 3,100 sorties, and logged nearly 5,020 flight hours. Amphibious craft completed more than 4,000 passenger transfers and moved more than 90,000 tons of equipment to and from the shore.
"The Sailors of HSC-23 Detachment 2 provided support for all facets of aviation operations during deployment with the USS Makin Island ARG and the 11th MEU," said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Adams, HSC-23's officer-in-charge. "It was truly an honor to be a part of the exceptional effort, dedication, and professionalism displayed by the ARG/MEU team during this deployment."
This deployment was the first for San Diego and the second for Makin Island.
The Makin Island ARG conducted port visits in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Jordan, collectively. The visits provided an opportunity for the U.S. military forces to strengthen ties with the host nations and foster relationships.
The Iwo Jima ARG and 24th MEU relieved the Makin Island ARG in the 5th Fleet AOR in January.

YOUR MONEY
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Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49 holds change of command
2/27/2015
From Lt. j.g. Kylie Hahn, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49 Public Affairs Officer

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 held a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado Feb. 26.
At the ceremony, Cmdr. Bobby E. Brown relieved Cmdr. Jason E. Rimmer as the commanding officer of the "Scorpions" of HSL-49.
Rimmer, a native of Sherman, Texas, is a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. As commander of HSL-49, Rimmer led a squadron of more than 250 personnel and 12 SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopters. During his tenure, he deployed five detachments and led HSL-49 to complete more than 35,000 mishap-free flight hours.
"Serving as the 20th commanding officer of HSL-49 has been the honor of a lifetime," said Rimmer.
Brown, a native of Mobile, Alabama, is a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. At sea, his career as a naval aviator includes assignments with HSL-46 aboard USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). He also served as the training and education resource manager in the N1/ NT branch of the OPNAV staff, as the aircraft handling officer aboard the USS Wasp (LHD 1), as an officer-in-charge of an HSL-37 detachment aboard USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and as HSL-37's maintenance officer. Before reporting to HSL-49, Brown served as the Navy's military aide to the Vice President of the U.S. from 2010 to November 2013.
Upon assuming command of HSL-49, Brown addressed his Sailors.
"Scorpions, my commitment to you is simple... I will lead you," said Brown.
Cmdr. Robert Kimnach, a 1998 graduate of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, reported as HSL-49's executive officer.
The ceremony's guest speaker, Capt. Shawn P. Malone, commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike, Pacific, spoke to the pride and professionalism of the entire HSL-49 "Scorpion" team, expressing what an integral part the squadron plays in Naval Aviation.
Malone applauded the achievements of HSL-49 declaring, "Scorpions, what's the secret to your success? It's your leadership."
HSL-49 is scheduled to transition to the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter following the sundown of the SH-60B Sea Hawk in spring 2015.

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 17, 2015) Capt. Douglas Verissimo, commanding officer of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), delivers remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand re-opening of New Orleans' renovated mess decks. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Granger Jr.

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 17, 2015) Capt. Douglas Verissimo, commanding officer of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), delivers remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand re-opening of New Orleans' renovated mess decks. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Granger Jr.

USS New Orleans holds grand reopening of dining facilities
2/19/2015
by Ensign Chloe J. Morgan, USS New Orleans Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) participated in a Mardi Gras themed reopening of the newly refurbished dining facilities, Feb. 17.
The dining facilities underwent extensive renovations to incorporate the ship's namesake during New Orleans' planned maintenance availability.
"When I first arrived at the command, the ship still looked like the stock model after seven years and four deployments. Today, [the dining facilities] match the lively and colorful character of the crew," said Commanding Officer Capt. Douglas C. Verissimo.
The mess decks were renovated to look like the French Quarter, complete with a 35-foot long mural. Further incorporating the theme, the galley was renamed Cafe du Monde, the wardroom was remodeled after Arnaud's restaurant, and the chiefs' mess was renamed the Pelican Club, all after famous restaurants in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras coincided with the reopening of the dining facilities, and Sailors enjoyed a special meal with a presentation of foods commonly enjoyed in the city of New Orleans during the world renowned celebration. Chicken jambalaya, seafood boil, and Cajun spiced pork loin were some of the entrees offered to the crew.
"The food was amazing... I felt like I was at a restaurant. I'm really looking forward to eating here every day," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class (SW) Aaron Gonzales.
Chef Jeff Mora, owner of "Food Fleet", brought his team to assist with the relaunch of the galley. Mora used to work at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans under Chef Paul Pruthomme, and looked forward to bringing the flavor of Big Easy aboard New Orleans.
"It is important to bring a quality meal to all, especially to those who work tirelessly day-in and day-out. New Orleans is a very special place to me and I am glad to be able to bring the cuisine of New Orleans to this ship," said Mora.
Those in attendance included Capt. Edward Butzirus, President of the Supply Corps Association San Diego Chapter.
"When we get right down to it, this effort is all about supporting the operational warfighter and improving readiness and crew morale. The team that planned and executed this amazing renovation are top shelf and I commend you for your impressive team effort," said Butzirus.
For more information on New Orleans please visit www.facebook.com/BigEasy18.

Navy leaders talk resilience at NCCOSC
2/19/2015
by Jenny Collins,
Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Resilience programs director for the Navy's 21st Century Sailor office, Capt. Mike Smith, visited the Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC) in San Diego, Calif., Feb. 12. The purpose of the visit was to foster the relationship between the two programs and discuss how each is working to push the principles of operational stress control (OSC) and resilience to the fleet.
The hot topic of Smith's visit was building resilience in support of Total Sailor Fitness (TSF). NCCOSC staff informed Smith on the various studies, tools, and initiatives currently in use within the center's programs and research facilitation departments. These included the Stress Resilience Training System (SRTS), resilience training, and Servicemember Evaluation Tool (SET) pilots at Recruit Division Commander (RDC) School and Wounded Warrior Battalion.
NCCOSC Director Capt. Scott L. Johnston shared his reflections on the partnership between NCCOSC and 21st Century Sailor.
"NCCOSC appreciates the opportunity to work with [21st Century Sailor] and TSF. We have been collaborating for several years with the same goal to improve the well-being of Sailors and their families," said Johnston. "OSC as a part of TSF is critical. Resilience goes beyond preparing for and identifying stress associated with the military service."
Service members can build resilience through such tools as optimism, flexible thinking, and positive coping. These techniques can be applied to virtually any situation in life, improving an individual's ability to respond to and treat their stress, eventually leading to improved work performance, job satisfaction, and unit cohesion.
As the visit concluded, Smith revealed his own methods for staying resilient.
"If I get stressed out.... the first thing I will do is leave my desk and take a walk just to momentarily take my mind off of things. It helps to clear your mind to actually think about things better," said Smith. "I think the important thing for operational stress control is to inform people of these tools so they can know what works best for them."
Resilience remains a key initiative throughout the Navy Medicine enterprise. The 21st Century Sailor office will continue to utilize NCCOSC as a resource for the joint effort on OSC and resilience.
"The collaboration between [21st Century Sailor] and NCCOSC is critically important because NCCOSC and the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) organization as a whole are the subject-matter experts on psychological health and care," said Smith. "By having these conversations, it helps to better understand what OSC is and how we can best focus our training and tools."
For more news from NCCOSC, visit www.nccosc.navy.mil or www.navy.mil/local/nccosc, or connect with us on social media: www.facebook.com/nccosc and www.twitter.com/nccosc.

DoD 2015 military pay and compensation rates
by Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Department of Defense 2015 military pay and compensation rates for service members have most service members receiving a one percent increase in basic pay.
The new rates for basic pay, basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and the cost of living allowance rates for the contiguous United States will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Basic pay for service members will increase one percent, except for general and flag officers who will not see an increase in 2015. For example, an E-4 with 3 years of service will see an increase in basic pay of $22.20 per month, while an O-3 with 6 years of service will receive a basic pay increase of $54.30 per month in 2015.
Basic allowance for housing rates for service members in 2015 will increase on average $17 per month, or 0.5 percent. Rates are calculated using median current market rent and average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer) for each pay grade, both with and without dependents. Two changes were made to BAH rate computations for 2015: renter's insurance, which contributed an average of one percent to rates, was eliminated, and the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act reduced housing rates on average one percent for service members.
However, individual rate protection for service members remains an integral part of the BAH program. This means that even if BAH rates decline - including through the elimination of renter's insurance and the reduction in the calculated rate - a service member who maintains uninterrupted BAH eligibility in a given location will not see a rate decrease. This ensures that service members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if local housing costs decrease.
Service members can calculate their BAH payment by using the basic allowance for housing calculator here.
The 2015 basic allowance for subsistence rates for military members will increase by 2.9 percent over last year. The new rates are:
* $367.92 per month for enlisted members
* $253.38 per month for officers
The annual adjustments to basic allowance for subsistence -- a monthly nontaxable cash payment to military members intended to be used to buy food -- are linked to changes in food prices as measured by the annual change in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cost of Food at Home Index. From the beginning of October 2013 through the end of September 2014, the index rose by 2.9 percent, forming the basis for the increased BAS rates.
The Defense Department also released its 2015 contiguous United States cost of living allowance rates. Roughly 12,000 members will see a decrease in their CONUS COLA payments, while some 7,000 members will see an increase or no change, and 4,000 members will no longer receive a CONUS COLA payment.
CONUS COLA is a taxable supplemental allowance designed to help offset higher prices in high-cost locations, and rates vary based on location, pay grade, years of service and dependent status. Rates can increase or decrease depending on the prices in a specific duty location compared to prices in an average CONUS location. Service members can calculate their CONUS COLA rate here.

5 things you need to know about
flat rate per diem

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- To provide an incentive to Sailors and civilians on long-term temporary duty assignment (TDY) to seek out extended-stay lodgings, the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) was changed Nov. 1.
The change to a flat rate will help the Department of Defense (DoD) save more than $22 million a year and is in keeping with what many federal agencies already outline for reduced travel rates for longer stays.
Here are five things you need to know about flat rate per diem:
1. Long-term TDY is any temporary duty longer than 30 days. Travel from 31 to 180 days will receive a flat-rate per diem of 75 percent. For travel greater than 180 days, the flat-rate per diem will be at 55 percent. Flat rate will apply to all three parts of the per diem - lodging, meals and incidentals.
2. When staying in government lodging, a traveler will be reimbursed for actual lodging costs. The flat rate per diem does not apply when government lodging or contracted government lodging is available and directed, when contracted government lodging is provided at no cost, or if a traveler chooses to stay in government quarters.
3. Currently the Defense Travel System (DTS) does not automatically calculate the reduced per diem based on the length of the TDY. Travelers should follow their component guidelines for how to handle TDY in DTS.
4. Travelers may consider furnished apartments or similar types of lodging, which are typically cheaper than the standard room rate at commercial hotels. This policy change also simplifies travel expense management as you will not be required to submit lodging receipts or itemize utilities and furniture rental when renting a home, if receiving the flat rate per diem.
5. You still have options if you are unable to find extended-stay lodging within a reasonable distance of the duty location, or if additional costs arise. You may work with your approving official to do actual-expense authorizations, which may go above the flat-rate per diem to 100 percent, if needed. At no time should travelers end up paying out-of-pocket for authorized TDY expenses.
For further information visit www.defensetravel.dod.mil.

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