Army grooming standards in effect

The Army’s top noncommissioned officer officially rolled out the service’s new grooming standards Monday through the Center for the Army Professional and Ethic website.

The regulations outline everything from tattoos to umbrella use to hairstyles.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler released a YouTube video to compliment the release of the updated Army Regulation 670-1, which governs appearance standards for soldiers.

“Each of us must ensure we not only know the regulations but also the underlying reasons for their implementation,” Chandler said in the video. “By doing so we can better understand why they play such an important part in our Army profession.” The center’s website has further information to help soldiers know what’s included in the regulation.

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Rose L. Thayer

Troops return from Afghanistan

More than 60 soldiers returned to Fort Hood Monday, finishing a year-long deployment to Afghanistan with the 306th Military Intelligence Battalion, 407th Military Intelligence Brigade.

The 66 battalion soldiers are part of Task Force ODIN (Observe, Detect, Identify and Neutralize), which provides intelligence for forces in Afghanistan. The task force has consecutively rotated soldiers to the country since 2008.

Brigade commander Col. Timothy Chafos said soldiers completed about 20,000 missions and logged 90,000 flight hours downrange while supporting multiple ground forces and Afghan coalition partners during the yearlong deployment.

“They delivered advance intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance from the air to support our troops (in every regional command in Afghanistan),” Chafos said. “They helped protect our troops and keep them out of contact and they helped assist our troops directly in engaging, destroying or capturing the enemy.”

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Sarah Rafique

Army leaders battle budget cuts

The military’s future budget must allow for readiness, while balancing compensation and benefits for troops and their families, top military leadership said during congressional testimony last week.

In the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget, service members’ benefits are reduced, but some benefits are necessary to keep forces ready for mission, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno and Secretary of the Army John McHugh in a statement to the House Armed Services Committee on March 25.

“After 13 years of war, the manner in which we treat our soldiers and families will set the conditions for our ability to recruit in the future,” according to the statement.

The Army faces budget cuts of $7.7 billion this year and an additional $12.7 billion in the next, when compared to the president’s 2014 budget request.

“The Army isn’t pulling punches. ... They are defining the risk associated with sequestration ... and articulating to Congress the decisions they will make if things don’t change,” said retired Col. Bill Parry, executive director of the Killeen-based Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.

Rose L. Thayer

Warfare museum gets $100,000

COPPERAS COVE — The National Mounted Warfare Foundation project to bring a state-of-the-art museum to Fort Hood received a large boost Friday when the Copperas Cove Industrial Foundation pledged the second half of a $100,000 check to the project.

The foundation has raised funds for three years and hopes to begin construction in 2017 and open in 2019, said Shannan Shipman, business manager.

“Fort Hood gave us 68 acres located just outside the post between the visitors center and the horse cavalry detachment,” she said. “It will be a world-class, 21st century, technologically advanced interactive museum that will tell soldiers’ stories. There will iPad interfaces, touch screens and simulators where you can be immersed in a battle of your own choosing, for example.”

The two museums on post will roll into this larger museum and the keys will be handed over to the Army once it’s complete, Shipman said.

In January, officials said about $2.5 million was raised for the museum. The foundation hopes to raise $7 million this year to keep it on target to break ground on phase one in 2017. The entire first phase is projected to cost $27.7 million. There are two additional phases, including a park and storage facility.

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Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro

Vietnam memorial monument unveiled in Austin

AUSTIN — A contingent of residents from the Fort Hood area made the trek to Austin to join more than 3,000 people Saturday to witness the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Monument.

The monument honors the half-million Texans who served and the 3,417 who died in the Vietnam War. After being approved in 2005 by the 79th Texas Legislature, the $2.2 million monument was produced at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop. More than 600 individuals, organizations, corporations, and foundations donated to build it.

III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley attended the event.

“Vietnam vets have always been supportive in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so I wanted to come and express my thanks (and) greet them with the honor and dignity they deserve,” Milley said.

Entombed inside the monument are 3,417 personalized dog tags honoring each Texan who died or is missing.

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Bob Massey

VA officials remove annual income-reporting requirement

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs is eliminating the annual requirement for most veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system to report income information beginning last month. Instead, VA will automatically match income information obtained from the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration.

“Eliminating the requirement for annual income reporting makes our health care benefits easier for veterans to obtain,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

“This change will reduce the burden on veterans, improve customer service and make it much easier for veterans to keep their health care eligibility up-to-date.”

VA encourages veterans to continue to use the health benefits renewal form to report changes in their personal information, such as address, phone numbers, dependents, next of kin, income and health insurance.

For more information, visit or call VA toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

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