Reflections of 9/11

Our work in the Military Families Learning Network is to link extension and research to the work of military families services professionals–the ones in the military and in government and non-government agencies who are called upon to help military families.

Brent Elrod, of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and United States Department of Agriculture, sent us, in the Extension-Military Partnership, the following email to reflect on 9/11 and remind us of why there is an Extension-Military partnership and why we are developing a Military Families Learning Network.

He challenges us to continue our personal, professional, and collective commitments to help strengthen and support individuals, families, and communities, particularly those in the military.

Reflections of 9/11 (email sent September 9, 2011)

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 upon us, our thoughts return to the events of the day: where we were, who we were with, and the range of emotions we felt.

The magnitude of the loss, the vulnerability, and the search for meaning were immediate, collective – and continue to reverberate to this day.

Glued to our tvs, tears running down our faces, we sought comfort in the knowledge our loved ones were safe. We exchanged greetings with strangers, and noticed the absence of planes in the sky.

I recall renewing my vow to return to Washington, D.C. that day. A personal pledge to do what I could – on a grander scale – to demonstrate that  good ultimately trumps evil.

I know that others – I expect many of you – made personal promises of your own.

We pause to honor those who lost their lives (or had lives altered) in the terror attacks, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, as well as those who have sacrificed to protect the homeland since.

We recommit to strengthen and support individuals, families, and communities through our research, extension and academic programs. Our efforts help ensure that 9/11’s lasting legacy includes the very clear message that hope will not – cannot – be denied.

V/r,

Brent Elrod
Acting Division Director – Family and Consumer Sciences
National Program Leader – Military and Veteran’s Programs
Division of Family and Consumer Sciences
Strengthening Families, Farms, Communities and the Economy
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
www.nifa.usda.gov/military

Safe Online Banking for Military Families

Online banking may be recently growing in popularity among civilians, but it is a process many service members have been using for years.

Reconciliation of shared checking accounts can be near impossible when a family member is away; online banking helps by making transaction history available from anywhere in the world.

Many online banking programs are now designed to offer online bill pay, a service that allows customers to set up regularly occurring debits from their account to pay cell phone, car payments and other monthly bills. A tutorial of this process is at www.bankofamerica.com/onlinebanking/learning-center.go

As a PFM, you are probably used to encouraging service members to do their research before opening an account. Bankrate.com is a good resource that lets users comparison shop for bank services, interest rates and check locations before opening an account.

Military-affiliated credit unions or banks are financial institutions that understand the military lifestyle. Military credit unions also offer a bevy of services, and are always located on or near military bases. Member-owned credit unions also usually offer higher interest rates on savings accounts and lower rates on loans than shareholder-owned banks. And the Navy Federal Credit Union serves all four branches of the military and offers specialized accounts. Large national bank with locations around the country can also a good strategy, as military families relocate frequently.

Online banking does require vigilance to protect user’s account numbers and personal information. Here are 7 steps you can suggest to military families so they may conduct online banking, safely:

  1. Make sure computers used for online banking have updated operating systems, web browsers and security features like anti-spyware, anti-malware and firewalls that update automatically.
  2. Try not to do online banking in open access wifi spots where Internet access is shared among users. Ask if the network is secure and what security measures are in place.
  3. Look at the URL and note the ‘s’. Banking sites should begin with “https” as the “s” stands for “secure.”
  4. Use strong, unique passwords with a combination of lower case and upper case letters,  numbers and special characters and keep passwords hidden.  Do not use any part or combination of your name, birth date, or, common words. Change passwords often and use different passwords for different accounts.
  5. Log out after completing online banking and clear the Internet history.
  6. Keep account numbers and banking information in a safe, secure location, in the event that passwords are forgotten or online access is otherwise denied.
  7. If you get an email from your bank – or from any other company- requesting account numbers or passwords., do not reply. Call the bank for confirmation. A reputable bank will never ask for this information through an email.

Get more tips at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/online-security