News From Our Blog

Sending Care Packages to Our Troops Overseas

Being away from home or loved ones is a sacrifice for thousands of men and women working overseas in the United States military. That’s why our care packages to the troops help them feel our support while they are in duty:

Send a care package to a loved one in the military using the United States Postal Service (USPS)

  1. Check out the guidelines for international shipping and make sure the items you’re sending are permitted in the destination country.
  2. Follow the instructions to send packages to military and diplomatic personnel. Include the recipient’s full name, unit number and military mail address with the Army or Air Force Post Office (APO), Fleet for Navy and Marines Post Office (FPO), or Diplomatic Post Office (DPO).
  3. Use the internet to fill out a Customs Form to attach to the package.

Note: USPS doesn’t accept packages that are over 70 pounds. You can also check the country’s package weight limits.

For additional information about sending mail contact USPS at 1-800-275-8777.

Show your support through United Service Organizations (USO)

The USO is a nonprofit organization through which you can buy care packages of items (comfort foods, books, movies, etc.) or services such as phone calls home for troops overseas. You can also make tax-deductible donations to send the troops holiday gifts or to honor a loved military member.

Note: These packages and services are sent to troops in general rather than to individual service members.

If you have additional questions about the USO, contact the organization at 1-888-484-3876.

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Tax Relief for Survivors of Terrorist Attacks

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tax relief to survivors and some dependents of those killed during the following terrorist attacks:

  • Oklahoma City bombing, 1995
  • September 11, 2001 (attacks in New York, Washington, DC and United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania)
  • Anthrax attacks, 2001

Tax relief for eligible individuals

  • Disability payments to survivors. These payments, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), are not subject to income tax if the disability occurred as a direct result from a terrorist attack.
  • Tax forgiveness for the deceased as a result of any of the attacks listed above. Tax relief is available retroactively to one year before the attack.

    For joint tax returns, only the tax liability of the deceased is eligible for tax forgiveness. If both spouses are eligible, the amount of relief is determined separately.
  • Assistance for personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred because of a terrorist attack. The IRS grants at least $10,000, either as credit or refund, if the deceased’s total tax relief is less than this amount.

Forms to apply for tax relief

There aren’t specific tax relief forms for survivors of terrorist attacks. Download Adobe Reader and choose the appropriate tax form for your situation:

  • The 1040 or 1040NR (nonresident alien) form is for claiming tax forgiveness for someone who is dead or for requesting a refund for taxes withheld from disability payments. Complete 1040X if you have already filed your return.
  • W-4 form to stop withholding tax payments declared on a W-2 form. Present the W-4 form to your employer.
  • W-4P form to stop withholding taxes on pension or annuity payments declared on a 1099-R form. Show this form to your company or pension agency.
  • W-4V to stop withholding SSDI payments. Show this form to your local Social Security Administration office.

For more information contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 or refer to Publication 3920.

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Raising Non-Violent Kids

Your child’s environment – whether at home, at school or socially – can greatly influence how they may behave in the future.

FindYouthInfo.gov, a government website focused on youth issues, found that in 2012, more than 630,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 were admitted to the hospital due to violence-related injuries.

If you’re worried that your child is at risk for violent behavior, there are some factors that may indicate a problem.

Risk factors for violent youth

During their teen years, some kids may behave violently because of some risk factors found in their environment.

Note: Some of these risk factors may be out of your control. However, it is recommended that you keep them under consideration.

At home

From an early age, young people could be exposed to:

  • Violent behavior between parents
  • Severe punishments
  • Parents who are frequently absent or don’t pay attention to their children
  • Rejection or emotional distance from parents
  • A broken home

At school

Youth may exhibit behavioral problems such as:

  • Teasing or bullying other students
  • Skipping class
  • Exhibiting either aggressive or introverted behavior
  • Difficulty concentrating or exhibiting hyperactive behavior
  • Developing learning issues or failing classes

In society

Young people could be considered violent if they:

  • Harass or provoke kids that are their same age or younger
  • Have been arrested before age 14 for committing a crime
  • Belong to a gang or other violent group
  • Take drugs or drink alcohol
  • Have been treated for psychological or emotional issues

Tips to prevent youth violence

You can help prevent violent behavior in your child by following these recommendations:

  • Spend more time with your child and include everyone in family activities.
  • Don’t argue with your spouse in front of your child.
  • Form a bond with your son or daughter. Communicate with your children if they have any problems or issues.
  • Make respect and open communication a priority in your home.
  • Do not give out severe or violent punishment.
  • Be aware of your child’s friends, but do not be overprotective.

Resources

STRYVE is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national initiative helping families and communities prevent youth violence.

FindYouthInfo.gov is a collaboration among 18 government agencies that supports programs and services for the prevention of youth violence.

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A Helpful Guide to Quit Smoking or Drinking

Smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol can cause addiction and other serious health issues.

The risk of diseases associated with tobacco and alcohol increase for those who drink and smoke.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 443,000 people in the United States die of illnesses caused by tobacco each year. Meanwhile, about 88,000 die from alcohol-related illnesses.

Diseases caused by smoking tobacco

Smoking cigarettes can cause various types of cancer and chronic illnesses, including:

  • Strokes
  • Cataracts and blindness
  • Periodontitis (gum disease)
  • Chronic heart disease (high blood pressure)
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (difficulty breathing)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer of the larynx, stomach, trachea, lung, esophagus and others

Note: Even those who do not smoke, but are exposed to cigarettes and tobacco, can develop health problems caused by second-hand smoke.

Free resources and help centers to quit smoking

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good resource for smokers, offering plans to quit smoking, self-help materials, and a helpline at 1-800-784-8669, or 1-800-332-8615 (TTY for the hearing impaired).
  • Smokefree.gov offers tips on how to quit smoking as well as pamphlets, information about medications and other advice. You can also subscribe to SmokefreeTXT to receive helpful messages on your phone.
  • The CDC also has information about community tobacco control programs, campaigns and events in your state.

Diseases caused by alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can cause:

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Cardiomyopathy (stretching of the heart muscle)
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol-induced hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreatic blood vessels)
  • A weak immune system
  • Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast

Free resources and help centers to stop drinking

SMART Recovery helps young people and adults with alcohol or other addiction through group therapy sessions. You can attend in person or seek an online support group.

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Child Nutrition Programs for the New School Year

Healthy eating habits and a nutritious diet can help children do better in school.

The federal government provides free or low-cost Child Nutrition Programs in more than 100,000 public schools, nonprofit private schools, kindergartens and preschools.

These programs, provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, are aimed at school-aged children from low-income families.

1. National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

Through this program children may receive breakfast and lunch for free or at a reduced cost. The price you pay for meals depends on which state you live in and your income level.

If your children attend a school that’s enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, they are eligible to receive breakfast and lunch daily throughout the academic year.

Note: Some schools also provide free snacks to children who attend certain after-school programs.

Program features

  • It’s available for children and students under 18.
  • It’s offered throughout the school year at public schools, nonprofit private schools, and preschools.
  • The breakfast and lunch menu is the same for every student.
  • Everyone receives equal portions that meet USDA nutritional requirements.

How to enroll

Contact or visit your child’s school to find about the program requirements and application process. Enrollment procedures may vary depending on the school.

2. Special Milk Program

Milk is provided free or at a reduced cost to children who are not already enrolled in any other USDA program. The price of milk depends on which state you live in and your income level.

Program features

  • Milk is available throughout the year at schools, nurseries, half-day pre-kindergartens and kindergartens.
  • The milk contains vitamins A and D, is low in fat and meets the standards of the USDA.
  • Every student receives the same kind of milk and quantity, one cup or ¼-liter.

How to enroll

To participate in the Special Milk Program, contact or visit your child’s school and ask about the program requirements and application process.

Contact your USDA state agency for more information about child nutrition programs.

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