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

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

Free ACT/SAT Study Materials

TestLike most of us who are gearing up for the start of another school year, and also cleaning out all the grime and such that seems to find its way into the house via the mailbox, the sand from the beach, dirt from the garden, and the occasional dust bunny I found a true gem in a magazine I was about to throw away.

Just as I’m thumbing through the EDGE magazine insert of the Army Times piled high in the corner of the office I found this great opportunity I couldn’t wait to share.

For those of you with children in high school, the almighty ACT and SAT has been looming over my teen this summer. We’ve discussed the many opportunities to increase her score with tutoring etc – and lo and behold page six jumped at me with FREE ACT/SAT STUDY MATERIALS to children of military and veteran families.

I stopped everything and immediately flew to the laptop to place our order for our free CD or DVD (both are offered) and order additional study guide enhancements offered at discounted prices.

Since I had already taken a break from the never ending purge of all things dirty and grimy in the house, I couldn’t wait to share this fabulous opportunity with our Blue Star Family members.

If you find yourself in need of ACT/SAT enhancements visit http://www.eknowledge.com/military to order your free study guides for the above tests.

The Power Prep programs come on a single DVD or two CD-ROMs that include 11 hours of classroom video instruction and additional opportunity for interactive learning, according to a news release. The company has already donated free software to more than 95,000 military families.

eKnowledge has partnered with NFL Players to bring this great program to military families. After you sign up for your free copy don’t forget to say THANKS and fill out their survey so they can keep this valuable program moving forward.

HAPPY SCHOOL DAYS to all in the next few weeks.

Calculate Your Benefits with New GI BIll

PhotobucketBeginning August 1, the new GI Bill benefits are in effect, so now’s the time to take advantage of this remarkable program!

IAVA is out with a helpful online resource that helps veterans and their dependents calculate their benefits under the new GI Bill. The GI Bill calculator and website provides comprehensive information to help you and yours figure out what you are entitled to in your education pursuits.

Undoubtedly, the transition process for the VA and schools will be daunting, and beneficiaries may find it arduous. The VA has its own website for the new GI Bill, but as Paul Reickhoff, President and Founder of IAVA says in a recent Huffington Post article:

With a complicated and dense application process the new GI Bill is less than user friendly. And with the VA consistently coming up short in its embrace of Web 2.0 and new media, veterans looking for answers on their website are often left with more questions.

So if you run into problems and complications with getting the benefits of the new GI Bill, keep your chin up and pursue what you are entitled to! For those of us, myself included, who are not yet entitled to share in these benefits, keep in mind that Congress has passed legislation providing for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities in the state where they reside or are permanently stationed for periods of enrollment that begin after July 1, 2009, active duty military members, their spouses, and their dependent children.

Books on Bases Event in Wilmington, NC

Books on Bases, Blue Star FamiliesWelcome guest blogger, Gabrielle Lowe.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of being invited to Wilmington’s National Guard base to meet with guard families. I was joined by the Gabriel family and Claire Woodward, our BSF Executive Director. We passed out books from our “Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces” program to all the children in attendance.

We met with the spouses of guard members and told them about Blue Star Families. We put temporary tattoos on the kids, passed out books, and even got to dance to a live bluegrass band during lunch. I almost forgot, we even got to meet with the McGruff crime dog in the flesh …err fur?

While the children were there they also learned about what the Army National Guard is and what their parents do in the guard. There were mini classes given to each age group to explain what different jobs there are and to explain military life. We got the pleasure of meeting each child and give them a book from their age group. We also got a chance to talk to them and tell them a little about us and who we are.

Blue Star Families in conjunction K.I.D.S., United Concordia, and Lifetime Television’s Army Wives gives books to children of military parents. We also provide books to DoD schools, libraries, and public schools that have military children in attendance. We’re always looking for volunteers and we have many events coming soon. We encourage you to go to www.BlueStarFam.org to join us. It’s completely free and a great way to help better the lives of military families.

Cheers,

Gaby

Post 911 GI Bill

book spiralWell everyone, it’s finally really here. The Post 9/11 GI Bill and I am more than happy to say that I will definitely be taking advantage of it. Since my husband intends on completing his course work while he’s active, this gives me the opportunity to (finally) finish my degree. Although he’s still on sea duty(Navy), I’ll be working on my classes one at a time.  It’s great to have a program that applies to the families as well as those that serve in uniform because we aspire to greater things as well.

A little bit of history because I’m a history buff. The original GI Bill was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on June 22, 1944 and 49% of all college graduates were returning soldiers from World War II.  49%! That’s a huge number, isn’t it? They went on to accomplish wonderful things and truly be the Greatest Generation.

So sign up for the Post 911 GI Bill and go or go back to school. Realize your dreams and do what truly makes you happy. I will be the absolute last person to tell you that it will be easy but, as my sister, Toni, who is Air Force said, “One class at a time”.

We have inspiration everywhere. Surround yourself with those who will lift you up and go for it. I’ll need that reminder myself everyone now and then, but if I can make it through deployments, 2 kids, a full time job, finances to handle and a home, what can’t I do? Whether it’s online or in class, our opportunities are endless.

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.  ~G.K. Chesterton

Let us be that next generation……..

Dora

Military Families Now Guaranteed In-State Tuition

schoolWe got this great information from Thanks USA today that we wanted to pass on to our readers:

As of July 1, military members, spouses and their college-aged youth are now guaranteed in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in the state where they reside or are permanently stationed. A MOAA-backed initiative, the in-state tuition directive, was approved by Congress as part of the Higher Education Act and became effective for enrollments after July 1, 2009.

Most states already offered military families in-state tuition, but many did not allow for continuation of the in-state tuition rates once the military member relocated. This change takes care of that. Military families should no longer be subject to rate hikes if the military member PCSes from that state. If they have enrolled at a public college or university, then they will be able to pay in-state tuition rates as long as they remain continuously enrolled, even if the military member moves.

It’s possible though that some institutions may not be aware of the change. Service men and women who have questions should see the institution’s registrar or the campus-based Veterans Affairs office, if there is one. Servicemembers may also contact the Department of Education’s Ombudsman’s office (toll-free at 877 557-2575).

If you’d like more information about military family higher education, visit ThanksUSA.org.

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