The Blue Star Families Blog has Moved!

Blue Star FamiliesWe’ve rolled out the new website for Blue Star Families!  We’ve created a new site with a place for every active duty, reserve or national guard military family member to Support, Connect and Empower.

The new site features a new Blue Star Voices blog and posts on a wide variety of topics.  If you’re new to the military life or a seasoned pro, struggling to balance military life and a career or military life and children, a veteran or a military parent, we have a blog for you!

Check out the new site and JOIN.

If you’ve already registered with BSF, no need to join again. Just click on the LOG IN button on the top of the page and click request a password.  Enter the email you used when you first joined BSF and we’ll send you a password out to you right away.

Once you’ve joined or registered on  the new site, find a BSF Chapter near you and join.  We’ll make sure you find out about BSF and other military family events in your area.  Group Forums for each chapter are also on the new website and you won’t want to miss out all the fun!

Click here to JOIN now!

Sheila Casey on Finding Balance in the Military

Military spousePlease welcome guest blogger, veteran military spouse and BSF Advisory Board member, Sheila Casey.

I have been a military spouse for 39 years. During that time I have experienced all the same things each one of you have…raising a family, moving, deployments, reintegration, children changing schools, volunteering and making lifelong friendships. It has not always been easy but I would not change a moment of it. I say that now although there were days when I thought differently. When military life became difficult it was easy to think “enough” but then I would figure my way through it and get on with life.

What I realized is that I needed something that was mine. I could not live my life through my husband and I needed something in addition to the Army. I knew that one day my husband would retire and that the military part of my life would end. I needed something that would continue. The big question was what. Continue reading

Work Life vs. Marine Wife

Balance

Please welcome Anna Maria Manino, a marine wife and full time working woman.  She’s also the BSF Co-Director of Communications.

I’m sitting at my desk on a Thursday afternoon, trying to ignore the snail’s pace of the clock. Suddenly my cellphone rings and it’s my White Knight. My excitement at a break from the boredom quickly fades. Since it’s a holiday on Monday, he explains, his unit is now off for the weekend and they are celebrating with a barbeque – at our house. Can I leave early today, he asks, and can I take the rest of the week off.

The answer, of course, is no, I can’t. And no matter how many times he calls and asks similar questions, the answer is always the same – I have a job, which means I can’t be on hand to play hostess any time of day. And this was not the only time having my own source of income seemed more annoying that it’s worth.
Ignoring the hassle of figuring out where I should claim residency on our taxes (a rant in and of itself), there are dozens of reccurring times when my job gets in the way. There’s the award ceremony that I’m almost late to because a work meeting ran long (“If you’re late, you’re f. . . .” as the saying goes in the USMC.). There’s the Hail and Farewell I have to leave early to go back to my office, and while making my apologies to the CO, his wife good-naturedly teases me about having to return to work.
But more than that, there’s also all the “me” activities that I just can’t seem to find time for. Like going to the gym, keeping in touch with my oft-missed friends from life before “Marine wife,” the dozens of unfinished craft projects that I used to love, and even just sitting around by myself doing nothing.
I can totally see how many women choose to not work outside the home. I have spent lots of time daydreaming about having hours upon hours to myself, to fill with errands and leisure in whatever order I decide.
However, there’s also a certain amount of fulfillment I get from having a job, doing it well and contributing financially to our lifestyle. And for all of the military wife-related duties, I am fortunate that my work is very understanding. So for now, I guess I’ll just keep saying “no” to skipping out of work early, keep showing up just in time for those award ceremonies, and keep finding time for “me” whenever I can.

The Home Sweet Home Campaign

T-Shirts 4 SoldiersPlease welcome guest poster Beth VanHoose from the Home Sweet Home Campaign. Be sure to read below the fold for a special discount for military families!

The Home Sweet Home Campaign was born from a genuine motivation, inspired by Tim and Nicole Little, who reside in Queen Creek AZ.  Tim, an Army reservist, has served two tours in this war, touring in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Like many soldiers returning home, he found himself unable to return to his pre-deployment job, due to his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

These injuries are the ones we cannot see, but are very real and are affecting thousands of our soldiers who have served in the Iraq war.  For months Tim and his wife struggled, working their way through the VA system to get the appropriate help. It took over a year for Tim to be evaluated and rated for his disability. Enduring countless doctor’s visits and forms, this became a full time job without pay.

As a reservist, Tim was no longer receiving an income from the military and they had to rely on Nicole, who is a full time student at Arizona State University.  Needless to say, they had to make some tough financial decisions on how to pay their monthly bills; they fell 4 months behind in their mortgage.  Desperate to not lose their home, they looked for other avenues to help them get by.  They found USA Cares, a nonprofit organization that provided them with a grant to cover their past due mortgage payments.  Helping them to keep their home and focus on the future. Continue reading

A New Home for Blue Star Families!

Blue Star FamiliesWe’re rolling out the new website for Blue Star Families today!  We’ve created a new site with a place for every active duty, reserve or national guard military family member to Support, Connect and Empower.

The new site features a new Blue Star Voices blog and posts on a wide variety of topics.  If you’re new to the military life or a seasoned pro, struggling to balance military life and a career or military life and children, a veteran or a military parent, we have a blog for you!

Check out the new site and JOIN.

If you’ve already registered with BSF, no need to join again. Just click on the LOG IN button on the top of the page, enter the email you used to register, and request a password.  We’ll send it out to you right away.

Once you’ve joined or registered on  the new site, find a BSF Chapter near you and join.  We’ll make sure you find out about BSF and other military family events in your area.  Group Forums will be coming to the website soon and you won’t want to miss out all the fun!

Click here to JOIN now!

BSF Weekly News Round-Up for September 1

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BSF-logoFINAL71509.jpg

Weekly News Round-Up

All the Latest in Everything Blue Star Families

Welcome!  Things are buzzing in North Carolina as we, along with K.I.D.S., prepare to welcome Governor Perdue to help us donate more than 4,000 children’s books to 37 DODEA and military impacted schools on September 10th.  Read all about it, and many other cool things happening in the BSF world below.

We are working hard on the creation of our new Blue Star Families website and online community which will be launching very soon!  Check out below how YOU can help make connecting together even easier and more exciting.

Remember, if you want BSF info and links to articles and events more than once a week, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our Blue Star Families Blog.

If you received our Weekly News Round-Up from a friend or co-worker, please join us today.  Blue Star Families is an exciting new way for military family members from all ranks and services (and our supporters!) to Connect, Support, and Empower one another.  Just go to the JOIN US page on our site www.BlueStarFam.org.

There’s a lot of excitement about Blue Star Families and the best way to make sure you are in the middle of it all is to join your local chapter.  Just shoot Vivian a note at members@bluestarfam.org, and she’ll get you connected.

Enjoy! Heidi & the Blue Star Families Team


NC Governor Beverly Perdue to Help BSF Kick-off Books on Bases

Blue Star Families and our program partner, K.I.D.S. believe in the healing power of books and are excited to kick off our national Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces literacy event for military children at Ft. Bragg on September 10th.  We are especially honored to have North Carolina Governor, Beverly Perdue joining us and we’d like to invite BSF members too!

This event will include the distribution of approximately 4,000 children’s books to all 17 DODEA schools in the state of NC and 20 military impacted public schools in the local area. Children with parents serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will benefit from this significant donation to their schools and libraries. Base libraries from Camp Lejeune, Pope Air Force Base, and Ft. Bragg will also be included.

Please check out the details here and be sure to RSVP to programs@bluestarfam.org by September 7.  We will have approximately 100 seats reserved for BSF members so RSVP TODAY!

Priority will be given to event volunteers, and we still need plenty of them!  If you are interested in helping before and/or during the event, please contact us at programs@bluestarfam.org today.


DOD’s First Joint Family Readiness Conference in a Decade & BSF Will Be There!

The Defense Department’s first joint family readiness conference in nearly a decade will take place next week in Chicago, and Danette Hayes, BSF’s Director of National Guard and Reserve Programs and Pamela Stokes-Eggleston, BSF’s Director of Development will be on hand to spread the word about Blue Star Families’ mission to Support, Connect and Empower military families.

The conference is expected to draw about 1,500 helping professionals from throughout the world and will offer information and resources as well as the latest research affecting military family care.  Read more about the conference here.


Frustrated by Having to Register to VOTE Every Time You Move?  Tell Us All About It!

Blue Star Families wants to identify the special challenges that military members and their families face when struggling to vote and fully participate in our government. Help us by completing the BSF Voter Registration survey. We are interested in knowing:

  • How often you have had to register to vote?
  • What kinds of problems you have had voting – either in person or via absentee?
  • Why aren’t you registered to vote?

We want to share our military family stories with key policy makers and we need your assistance. It will take fewer than 10 minutes for you to complete the online survey TODAY!

DOD Announces New Suicide Prevention Task Force

The Department of Defense will launch a 14-member Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces. The congressionally directed task force will address trends and causal factors, methods to update prevention and education programs, suicide assessment by occupation, suicide incident investigations, and protective measures for confidential information derived from investigations for the department.  Read more about the task force here.


Think You Have To Pay To Check Your Bags? Check This List Before You Fly

Most airlines are now charging to check bags these days, but before you take off on your next flight, check out this list to see your carriers’ policies regarding military personnel.  Most exceptions are for those traveling on orders, but it’s worth a look!


VA Playwright Needs Military Family Stories

Virginia Stage Company has hired a playwright to write a play to be produced locally about military families. If you would be interested in helping her shape this play – she is in the research stage – about military families, please contact Barbara Lipskis, Director Development, at blipskis@vastage.com. The playwright will be in town for chats with families on Sept 19-21. Please be sure to let he know you’re a Blue Star Families member!

Great Article about Military Children by BSF Member

The concerns about the effect of deployments on our military children are real and gaining more and more attention in local media.  If you have a piece pertaining to military families published, like our own Jennifer Taylor’s The Effects of Deployment Stress in Military Children published in The Flagship, please be sure to let us know!  We’ll help spread the word!


Free Tickets for Vets, Active Duty & Their Families

Veterans Tickets Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to saying thanks to veterans, active duty service members and their families by giving tickets to concerts and sporting events as a tangible way of saying thanks.  Check out their website for more info.

Great Information on the Emotional Aspects of Deployment

Need a good pre-deployment check list and some tips to help your kids cope with Dad’s or Mom’s separation?  Check out the great information available on the Families tab at Real Warriors , an initiative launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.

There’s also an insightful article about the Emotional Cycle of Deployment that’s worth checking out!

Free Grills from ConAgra & AAFES

Just in time for football season, ConAgra and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service have cooked up plans to give away nearly $25,000 in grills before the end of September.  Now through Sept. 18, approximately 236 exchanges are giving shoppers a chance to win a grill valued up to $100 as part of the ConAgra Free Grill Sweepstakes. For more info, check out their press release

Check Out MSCCN’s Latest Newsletter

If you’re getting back into the work force, or interested in changing careers, take a minute and check out the Military Spouse Career Corporate Network’s latest newsletter. It’s full of great tips and encouragement!

Calling All Professional and Serious Amateur Photographers

Blue Star Families is an amazing group created BY military families FOR military families.  So, who better to take fabulous photos of all aspects of military family life than our members?

If you are a professional or serious amateur photographer, we’d love to have you capture some great images of the military family experience (homecomings, send-offs, weddings, graduations, BSF events, parades etc.) and we’ll give you photo credit on our new site.  If you are interested and want more information email Stephanie at stephanie@bluestarfam.org

EXCITING NEWS! New BSF Website and On-Line Community in the Works

We’ve been busy behind the scenes creating a new on-line community for BSF members and we expect to have it up shortly.  But to build the best site we can, we need YOUR help!

VIDEOS: We want to hear AND see all our fantastic BSF members and give families with deployed service members a chance to shout out a special greeting to their loved one. Grab your video camera and record a 30 second max video, and get it ready to upload to YouTube.  We really want to hear how BSF connects, supports and empowers you as a military family.  For more details, email stephanie@bluestarfam.org.

PHOTOS: Send us 3 or 4 photos of you and your family at key military lifestyle points ~ weddings, deployments, homecomings etc…, and you might see them up on the new site.  High resolution is always best and no camera phone photos please (except iPhones).  Send your photos to
stephanie@bluestarfam.org today!

BLOGGERS & WRITERS We’re going to be highlighting all the great stuff the BSF family does everyday, both as local chapters and as individuals.  Here’s your chance to jump in and help share these stories, both as a blogger and as an interviewer.  If you would like to be a guest blogger and can write from your own experience about the following lifestyles, please let Stephanie know by emailing her at stephanie@bluestarfam.org.

  • National Guard & Reserve
  • New to Military Life
  • Little Ones In Tow
  • In the Work Force
  • In For The Long Haul (military spouses of about 10 years or more)
  • When HE is the Spouse
  • Military Moms, Dads & Family
  • Veterans & Mentor Spouses
  • Civilians Who Support Us

This Newsletter contains links to other sites and references to third party service providers, resources or similar entities. These links and references are provided to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest. These other sites were independently developed by parties other than Blue Star Families, Inc. and Blue Star Families, Inc. does not assume responsibility for the accuracy or appropriateness of the information contained at, or endorse the viewpoints expressed at, such sites. In providing links to other sites, Blue Star Families is in no way acting as a publisher of the material contained on those other sites and does not seek to control the content of, or maintain any type of editorial control over such sites. A link to another site should not be construed to imply that Blue Star Families, Inc. is affiliated or associated with, or is legally authorized to use any trade mark, trade name, logo or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the link or the description of the link to such other sites. The mention of another party or its product or service in the Newsletter should not be construed as an endorsement of that party or its product or service.


Join BSF & NC Gov. Perdue in Fayetteville NC Sept. 10 for Books On Bases

We are thrilled to announce the national launch of

Books On Bases logo

Presented by

Blue Star Families

and our program partner

KIDS-Logo

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue will join us in presenting the healing power of books to military children.

At WT Brown Elementary School in Fayetteville, NC on September 10th at 1 pm, Blue Star Families, along with out program partner K.I.D.S. in Distress will launch the National Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces literacy program for military children.  We have reserved approximately 100 seats for Blue Star Families members.    Light refreshments will be served.  Please RSVP to programs@bluestarfam.org by September 7th.  Please include your name and phone number and note that you are a BSF member.  You will receive an email confirmation and your name will be on a list at the door.  Priority will be given to event volunteers.

North Carolina’s Governor Beverly Perdue will share a book with the children, and will join us in distributing books to the selected schools. A Nascar driver will also be on hand to bring a smile to our military children.

This event will include the distribution of approximately 4,000 children’s books to all 17 DODEA schools in the state of NC and 20 military impacted public schools in the local area.  Children with parents serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will benefit from this significant donation to their schools and libraries.  Base libraries from Camp Lejeune, Pope Air Force Base, and Ft. Bragg will also be included.

The educational impact of library donation is far greater than direct donation of books to children.  These books will provide on-going support in the effort to promote literacy in America’s children, and provide the healing power of books to our smallest heroes.  We look forward to seeing you!

Where:

WT Brown Elementary

When:

Thursday, September 10th at 1pm

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