Veterans day events raised more than $840 for programs

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I want to thank all those people who helped make the Veterans Day observances a great success this past weekend.

That includes the staff at Craig Middle School and Moffat County High School, the audio/visual crews at both schools, the Moffat County Sheriff's Office for the hot coffee, cider and snacks, the Elk's Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265, American Legion Post 62, the Sons of the American Legion attachment Post 62, the Rotary Club for lining U.S. Highway 40 with flags, the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, KRAI, both local newspapers and all those folks who contributed to the Buddy Poppy drive. More than $840 was collected to assist with local needy veteran programs.

The Moffat County Vete--rans Service Office will be closed Nov. 22 to 26 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

It will reopen on Nov. 27, unless weather causes travel delays returning to Craig. Just as others are traveling to see families away from Craig, so am I. I wish all of you a safe trip to wherever you're sharing the turkey and gravy, and Happy Thanksgiving.

The deadline for sending holiday packages to troops stationed overseas using Parcel Post to all Air/Army Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) zip codes was Nov. 13.

Deadlines for Space Available Mail and Parcel Airlift Mail are Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, respectively. The U.S. Postal Service encourages early deadlines to make sure that packages reach their destination in time for the holidays. The U.S. Postal Service introduced a free Military Care Kit, or "Mili-kit" in 2004 to make it easier for military families and friends to send care packages overseas.

Each kit contains four Priority Mail boxes, six Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, 10 Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and 10 customs forms with envelopes. This kit may be ordered by calling the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734.

The U.S. Postal Service has shipped more than 150,000 kits during the past two years. The Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes included in the kit can be shipped to any APO/FPO in the world, regardless of weight, for $8.10.

All packages and mail must be addressed to individual service members, as required by U.S. Defense Department regulations. A complete APO/FPO holiday mailing deadline matrix and additional information are available at the Web site, www.usps.com/communications/news/press/2006/pr06_067.htm.

The federal government offers several Financial Student Aid programs, which can be reviewed at http://education.military.com/money-for-school/federal-student-aid. These programs offer low-interest loans and grants (free money). Every accredited school that is recognized by the Education Department will be eligible for some form of FSA.

Unlike the GI Bill, these programs are paid through the school; however, like the GI Bill, Federal Student Aid is designed to assist you in meeting the cost of tuition, books, fees and living expenses while you go to school. That means that once the school has taken its share, the remaining loan or grant balance goes to you. Federal Student Aid and military education benefits can work together.

You are eligible for aid if you are all of the following:

n A high school graduate, or have a General Education Development (GED) certificate;

n Working toward a degree or certificate;

n Enrolled in an eligible school or program;

n A U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (must have a valid Social Security Number);

n Registered with the Selective Service if required (you can use the paper or electronic FAFSA to register)

It does not matter whether you are active duty, reserve, veteran, retiree, on MGIB, or not, you can take advantage of these programs. Once you have enrolled in college, you need to start the application process.

You can apply for all of the available FSA by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form online. Once you have submitted the FAFSA, your school will notify you which types of loans, grants and the total amounts you are qualified to receive.

When you get this notification from the school, simply select the loans and grants you want and the school will finish the loan process. Applying for FSA is easy if you use the FAFSA pre-application worksheet available at www.fafsa.ed.gov/worksheet.htm to guide you. The FAFSA form only takes a relatively short time to complete.

Without the worksheet the FAFSA process can be complicated. You will need to gather your tax forms from previous years, including W-2s, bank statements and investment statements to complete the form.

Though the FAFSA is free, there are some websites that offer to complete the FAFSA for you, for around $50. "Military Friendly" schools that are eager to send you free information on how to get the funding you need to cover your education goals can be located at http://schools.military.com/schoolfinder/search-for-schools.do.

For information on these programs or other veterans benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St., west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot. Call 824-3246 or use the fax (970) 824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only.

Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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