BSF Weekly Round-up for July 28, 2009

Blue Star FamiliesBlue Star Families Weekly News Round-Up

All the Latest in Everything Blue Star Families

Welcome, especially to those who receive our Weekly News Round-Up from a friend or co-worker!  Blue Star Families is an exciting new way for all types of military family members from all ranks and services (and our supporters!) to Connect, Support, and Empower one another.  If you aren’t already a member, please join us TODAY by going to the JOIN US page on our site www.BlueStarFam.org.

We are working hard on the creation of our new Blue Star Families website and online community which is expected to launch in early August.  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 with our Weekly News & Info Roundup, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our Blue Star Families Blog.

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


Attention Central Texas Blue Star Families ~ TODAY is House Party Time!

Reminder: The Central Texas chapter of Blue Star Families will be getting together TODAY Tuesday, July 28 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm to meet new friends and talk about issues affecting military families and how we can serve as ambassadors within our communities, as well as make plans for some exciting events later this year.

To RSVP and for more info, contact Andrea at texascentral@bluestarfam.org

Show Your BSF Pride!

The new Blue Star Families store is up and running!  Check it out and pick up your very own BSF t-shirt, hoodie, hat, mug, and more!

The Gratitude Campaign

The movie says it all.  Check it out.  Also, you can read more about it on our blog!

That DoD Survey in your Servicemember’s Email In-Box ISN’T SPAM!

DoD officials have been working hard to establish standards for all the services and their morale, welfare, and recreation programs.  Now they want to hear from service members how they are doing.  The office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy is teaming up with CFI Group, an international customer-satisfaction consulting firm to administer the survey.  It will be e-mailed July 27 to about 600,000 randomly selected servicemembers and will appear as being from CFI Group on behald of DoD.

Please make sure your service member knows if they receive the email, it’s NOT SPAM!

Read more about the survey here.

Homecoming Photos Needed

We want to include YOUR homecoming photos in a BSF sideshow.  Send your favorites to stephanie@bluestarfam.org TODAY!

Officials Seek to Raise Awareness of Special Needs Programs

Pentagon officials are working to change the common perception that registering in the Exceptional Family Member program can be a limiting factor in the service person’s assignment possibilities.  Rather, by registering with the EFMP, service members are told  “If we know about you ahead of time, then they’ll take that into consideration and try to find an assignment that has your [specialty], but also where they can meet your needs.’”  Read more about the program and how it can help here.

Nominate Your Favorite Hard Working Blue Star Family Member for a Free Vacation & More

Surprise Vacations with Karen Duffy on the Fine Living Network wants to know about someone you know who is always putting others before him or herself and never asking for anything in return.  Do you know someone who spends much of his or her time active supporting military families and the military community?   Nominate this deserving person (and be sure to mention Blue Star Families) to win the vacation of their dreams, a new vacation wardrobe, or new luggage. Three separate winners will be chosen: a Grand Prize winner, First Prize winner, and Second Prize winner.  Please be sure to let us know if your nominee wins!

Old Navy Offers Military Discount

On the first day of each month, to show their appreciation for military personnel for their sacrifices, dedication, and service to our country, Old Navy offers a 10% discount to active and veteran military ID card holders.

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 the first part of August.  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

BSF Weekly Round-Up for July 21, 2009

Blue Star Families, Blue Star VoicesBlue Star Families Weekly News Round-Up

All the Latest in Everything Blue Star Families

Welcome!   It’s been another busy week with Blue Star Families and we are proud to announce that Wanda Castellaw and Janet Breslin-Smith will be joining Sheila Casey on our Advisory Board.  We’re also incredibly proud of our own Chloe Karmarck and her Vouge.com article titled “Manhattan’s Army Wife”.  Check out the link and the ton of other news in this week’s roundup.

BSF-logo FINAL 71509We are working hard on the creation of our new Blue Star Families website and on-line community we expect to launch in early August.  Check out below how YOU can help make connecting together even easier and more exiting.

If you would like to subscribe to this weekly newsletter, just visit our Join Us page at http://www.BlueStarFam.org.  If you want BSF info and links to articles and events more than once a week with our Weekly News & Info Roundup, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check out our Blue Star Families Blog

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


Attention Central Texas Blue Star Families ~ It’s House Party Time!

Mark your calendar and RSVP today!  The Central Texas chapter of Blue Star Families will be getting together Tuesday, July 28 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm to meet new friends and talk about issues affecting military families and how we can serve as ambassadors within our communities, as well as make plans for some exciting events later this year.

To RSVP and for more info, shoot Andrea an email at texascentral@bluestarfam.org no later than July 26.

BSF Welcomes Wanda Castellaw and Janet Breslin-Smith to Our Advisory Board

BSF proudly welcomes Wanda Castellaw to our advisory board.  Mrs. Castellaw is a policy analyst for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where she has done critical work for the Army’s Strong Bonds marital retreat program.  She is the wife of Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (ret.)

We are also very happy to announce that Janet Breslin-Smith will be joining our advisory board.  Mrs. Breslin-Smith is an instructor at the National War College, has extensive congressional experience, and is currently consulting with the U.S. State Department.  She is the wife of Brig. Gen. James Smith, USAF (ret.)

BSF’s Own Chloe Karmarck Writes Terrific Article for VOUGE.Com

In her article, “Manhattan’s Army Wife”, Chloe writes about her journey from Park Avenue to military fiance and why military service is so important:

“One recent morning, as I rode the elevator up to my office, a colleague noticed the diamond ring on my finger and proceeded to excitedly ask all the standard wedding questions: When? Labor Day weekend. Where? Cape Cod. Who? An Army officer. Suddenly, it was as if a cartoon thought bubble popped into the air above her head that read, “#!?*” She shifted slightly on her four-inch heels, and someone in the back of the crowded elevator coughed….”

Check out our blog or to read the whole article, go to Vouge.com

Homecoming Photos Needed

We want to include YOUR homecoming photos in a BSF sideshow.  Send your favorites to stephanie@bluestarfam.org TODAY!

Talk to an Army Astronaut While He’s In Space

The Army is giving folks the chance to ask astronaut Col. Timothy Kopra questions during his six months as a flight engineer for Expedition 20.  For more info, check out the whole story here.

Tricare Beneficiary Podcasts & New Managed Care Support Contractors

For all the latest news about Tricare benefits, check out their Tricare Press Room It’s an easy way to keep up on what’s new, including Friday’s announcement of the selection of new managed care support contractors for the north, south and west regions in the US.  There’s also a library of back podcasts you can check out at any time.

Free Welcome Home Banner or Jumbo Card Offer from BuildASign.com

Check out this generous offer from the folks at Build A Sign.  They are planning to give away 20,000 banners and jumbo cards to military families this year!  For more details check out the site.


Discounted and Free Night at Hotels Across the Country for Volunteering (& 1/2 Price for Military!)

Sage Hospitality, one of the largest hotel development and management companies in the country, is saying thanks by offering 50% off the published room rate or maybe a complimentary night (limited availability) at one of their more than 50 hotels nation wide.  All you have to do is complete 8 hours of volunteer service to a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization to qualify.  For more info, check out their site.

Sage Hospitality also offers 1/2 price rates for active duty and retired military and first responders.  Check out the Half Price for Heroes page for more info.

Military Families Can Test Pilot Autism e-News at Two Naval Medical Centers

The Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., and Naval Medical Center San Diego are pilot sites for a new e-mail-based communication service for military families that have a member with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For more information, check out the full story here.

Job Placement Success Stories from MSCCN

There is a great organization called the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network that EVERYONE looking to change jobs or jump back into the paid and volunteer working world should know about.  MSCCN is a non-profit corporate direct hire program that provides a whole host of job opportunities and networking programs for military families.  Check out a few of their recent success stories and check out the rest of their site to get going on your job search if that’s the road you are headed down.

Yellow Ribbon Program Helps Reintegration

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration program was established under the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act . The program’s goal is to prepare service members and their families for deployment, sustain the family and service member through deployment and help reintegrate them back into their civilian communities when they return.  Read more about this fantastic program on our blog.

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 August 1st.  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 engages 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

Great Washington Post Article: “A Soldier’s Wife” by Georgie Hanlin

momA beautifully written op-ed, A Soldier’s Wife, appeared in the Washington Post on Independence Day.  It’s about love, honor and military service – perfect for the holiday.

Washington Post
July 4, 2009, Pg. 17

A Soldier’s Wife

By Georgie Hanlin

My childhood friend of 31 years visited my home on base, in Quantico, a few months after I gave birth to my first baby. As we took a leisurely stroll one evening through the lingering humidity of early September, I explained to her how different military life is from the world in which we grew up in San Francisco. We passed rows of colorful houses on the tree-lined, manicured blocks and gazed at the playgrounds around the neighborhood, ready to welcome the children of the officers who live there. American flags hung from virtually every front door. The occasional “My daddy fights for your freedom” bumper sticker adorned some vehicles. As we looped around the bend toward my house, my friend turned to me and asked, “How do you accept what your husband does for a living?”

Read more of “A Soldier’s Wife” on the Washington Post online….

BSF, Bi-Coastal by Anna Maria White

filmJune has been a great month for Blue Star Families, and chock full of events for military families. Last week was the pinnacle, with three exciting happenings at once! Claire, Vivian, and Casey kicked off the action with the kid-friendly, mom-approved Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces fair in Virginia Beach. Claire and Stephanie both gave great recaps.

While BSF-East Coast was making a difference through face-paint and story times, BSF-West Coast attended the ServiceNation lunch at the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco. With a key note address by none other than the First Lady herself, this conference was incredibly inspiring. And let me tell you, as military family members, we’re pretty popular at events like this.

The ServiceNation lunch brought together some heavy hitters from the entertainment, business, government and service sectors who are all focused on making service part of our nation’s culture. The overall affect of service and how it benefits all involved was a big topic of discussion at the lunch. One of the speakers told a story about her five year old daughter who was dragged along to help out at a shelter, only to later that day volunteer to donate all of her birthday presents to the little girl whose whole birthday was one cupcake.

As a BSF member and military spouse, I’m already a part of the culture of service, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that and to remember that I’m not alone in this life. Being surrounded by so many people whose lives are dedicated to service was a great reminder though, and a truly great experience. One of the best parts about it was that they all wanted to know how they can help military families. Thanks in no small part to the attention the First Lady has given military families, and to the efforts of BSF members nationwide, the challenges of military family life are becoming better known and our civilian neighbors are looking to help.

The ServiceNation lunch was the most recent step in an ongoing effort to bring service to pop culture. Over the next few months, BSF will be taking part in that effort, and working with many different organizations, including the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) toward an unprecedented event this fall. Led by the EIF in October, all Americans will be asked to donate their service to a cause important to them. The EIF will also focus on the great service and sacrifice of our service members and their families.

As a BSF member, you are a vital part of this effort. The EIF is counting on BSF to help them develop story lines and ideas that will effectively communicate the impact of service, not just on the people being served, but on the ones who are serving. And who better to talk about the positive impacts of service on those who serve than military family members?

BSF Newsletter for June 2, 2009

blue-star-family-logo3

Blue Star Families Weekly News Round-Up

All the Latest in Everything Blue Star Families

It’s been another busy week for BSF! The highlight was having the honor of being invited to The White House for an amazing meeting with the First Lady and others about military family issues.  More on that below.

If you want your BSF info and links to articles and events  emailed directly to you each Tuesday, JOIN US today!  If you want your info more often than once a week with our Weekly News & Info Roundup, join is on Facebook, follow us on twitter and check out our Blue Star Families Blog

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

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BSF Meets with The First Lady and Others to Discuss Military Families

Last week, BSF Founder and President Kathy Roth-Douquet, and Executive Director, Claire Woodward hit the pavement in DC again to make and strengthen Blue Star Families’ relationships with some amazing folks.

Read all about it on Kathy’s blog posting, “The First Lady Quotes BSF Survey (again!) & more from Kathy’s recent trip to DC”.

It’s all VERY exciting!

TODAY Show Scheduled to Feature Blue Star Families Wednesday, June 3

Blue Star Families is scheduled to be featured on the TODAY Show this Wednesday! Our segment in the “Call To Action” series is scheduled to air June 3 between 7:00 and 9:00, most likely in the 8:00 hour. TODAY’s “Call to Action” series aims to get Americans to step up their support for service members and military families. Check out the TODAY Show website (where we are linked!) for more information.

The TODAY Show also wants you to send in a photo of your loved ones in the military. Be sure to mention Blue Star Families in your caption!

Have You Experienced Dramatic Career Changes as a Result of Being a Military Spouse?

If so, you might have the chance to take part in a radio show about dramatic career changes. As military spouses, many of us have followed different career paths than we expected. Did you leave a safe job to persue your dream? If you would like to talk about your experience as a part of a live radio show (June 12 from 9-10 am EST) email AMWhite@BlueStarFam.org.

Institute of Medicine to Start Comprehensive Study of the Needs of All OIF/OEF Vets & their Families ~ Calling for Interested BSF Members in NORTH CAROLINA!

The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies, is carrying out this important study and they are asking for Blue Star Families’ help. The IOM committee that’s carrying out the study will be in North Carolina from June 2-4 — around Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. If you are interested in potentially participating in town hall meetings in both communities, please let Vivian know by emailing her at members@BlueStarFam.org

Want to be featured on our Blue Star Families Website?

Why is Blue Star Families important to you? What is YOUR military family story? Let us know by sending your story and photo of you (and your military family if you like) to Rebekah at rebekahsanderlin@hotmail.com and you just might see yourself on the Blue Star Families website!

Reassuring Op-Ed Piece in The Flagship

Our own Casey Spurr penned a touching op-ed called Duty on the Homefront in a recent edition of Hampton Roads’ “The Flagship”. Casey, who is Blue Star Families’ Director of Programs, puts an eloquent voice to the internal struggle most of us feel as military spouses from time to time ~ and comes to a reassuring conclusion that ties us all together. Enjoy!

Touching Piece on Parenting.com

Be sure to check out Anita Tedali’s poignant piece titled The Children of Military Families on Parenting.com. She shares so wonderfully with other parents not so familiar with the military family lifestyle, the perspective of our little ones’ during deployments. Great work Anita!

Military Moms Hit NPR’s Tell Me More

‘For Family, for Country’ Military Moms Do It All For moms who are on active duty, meeting professional obligations while raising a family can be a tricky and challenging balance. Lt. Carey Lohrenz (ret.), Lt. Cmdr. Lina Maloney (ret.) and Pilar Artega, a petty officer first class in the Navy, discuss parenting in the military.

New Independent Documentary ~ Follow the Film’s Progress and Meet the Participants & Crew

Operation Ultimate Goal is film about honor, courage and commitment – core values of The US Marine Corps. The title story is from Iraq’s al Anbar province where in 2008, Marines created a soccer league for Iraqi children. The film follows such stories through interviews and live action video shot on location. Check out the website for more info.

In the News:

Homeowners Assistance Program Expanded for some Servicemembers

Congress has included $555 million in the economic stimulus package under a temporarily expanded Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) to provide eligible military and DoD civilians some reimbursement for losses they may incur on the sale of their primary residence in conjunction with certain types of moves.

There are three groups affected by the expansion of the HAP: 1. Warriors in Transition with a 30% or greater disability (i.e. wounded service members relocating for treatment or medical retirement), and the survivors of fallen service members killed in the line of duty or who have died on deployment on or after September 11, 2001, 2. Service members and DoD civilians affected by the BRAC05, and 3. Service members and DoD civilians suffering a loss on the sale of their home as a result of a permanent change of station (PCS). For categories 2 and 3, the expansion of the program will expire by September 20, 2012 (or at an earlier date designated by the Secretary of Defense). For category 1, eligibility for the expanded HAP is not temporary.

For more information on the HAP, list of FAQ’s or to apply, visit the HAP web site at http://www.facebook.com/l/;http://hap.usace.army.mil/

Spouse Career Program Expanded Nationwide

Beginning mid-May 2009, DoD is expanding the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA).

Though the pilot program was available to E1 to E5 and 0-1 to 0-3 spouses in eight states and 18 installations, the expanded program will allow eligible military spouses of active duty and activated Guard and Reserve servicemembers in all ranks — and worldwide — to receive up to $6,000 of financial assistance, paid directly to their school, to help pay for expenses associated with pursuing a portable career, including tuition, fees, books, and equipment.

Originally limited to only E1 to E5 and 0-1 to 0-3 spouses, military spouses of active duty and activated Guard and Reserve service members in all ranks now will be able to apply for MyCAAs. For more information, visit Military OneSource http://www.facebook.com/l/;(www.militaryonesource.com).

Thanks to MOAA’s Sue Hoppin (& BSF Member!) for this great info!

First Lady Quotes BSF Survey (again!) & more from Kathy Roth-Douquet’s recent trip to DC

How exciting to be invited to the White House to meet with the First Lady about military family issues!  The First Lady’s office, specifically Trooper Sanders, had put a great deal of thought and consideration into the meeting, and dedicated an almost unbelievably impressive amount of talent to the afternoon.  This is already the White House the first identified military families even as an issue – but they really went above and beyond with this day.

We had three and a half hours of peoples time at this gathering.  Extremely busy and consequential people – of course the First Lady, but also Dr. Biden.  It reminds me of the song we sing on Passover – Diyanu (die-yai-new), which means ‘enough’.  We say, if you had freed us from Egypt and not parted the Red Sea, it would have been enough.  If you had parted the Red Sea but not sustained us in the desert, Diyanu.  If you had sustained us in the desert but not given the Ten Commandments, Diyanu.  You get the idea.  Well – if they had invited us to the White House, Diyanu!  Brought the First Lady but not the National Security Advisor, Diyanu!  Brought General Jones but not the Vice Chariman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Director of OMB (the adorable Peter Orzag), or the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, or the Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama, and on, and on, and on – Diyanu!

The ambitious program included about thirty of us representing or serving military families.  The connections began even before we walked in the door.  Kristy Kaufman Turner, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about the struggles so many Army families have with underfunded FRGs during deployment, and I met before-hand at Teaism, just around the corner from the Old Executive Office Building, and had a lovely, very non-Beaufort-SC lunch of vegetarian bento box and iced green tea (no one asked ‘sweet or unsweet’!).  Then in the first security screening post before we entered, I met the director of the Purdue Military Family Research Institute, which I’d heard so much about.  I’m going to try to visit them this summer when I drive my children cross country to see their cousins in Indiana.

Sherri Brown from the Red Cross was there – we are great fans of hers, and her interest and help with our survey. We certainly hope to do more projects with them.  Frank Gallo, another of our partners from our survey, the director of the Armed Services YMCA. I had been lucky enough to see him a couple weeks prior when my daughter won an award from them for a poster she drew (look for it in November – month of the military family!)  Ross Cohen, who we are partnering with was there, he runs a service program called Be The Change you will be hearing more about soon.  Holly Petraes, the general’s wife, was there, she is a director for the Better Business Bureau – shows the range of things we military wives may do.  The passionate Ken Fisher of Fisher House was a great addition.  Barbara van Dahlen Romberg, a psychologist who founded Give an Hour, who Laura Dempsey has been in touch with was there, also very articulate and focused on her issue of mental health.  I met the outgoing national president of Gold Star Mothers – her son was a Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam – its impossible not to be moved by a story like that. She sat next to me.  On the other side was Phil Riley of the American Legion, a real gentleman, who asked to see more about our survey, so I will send that to him.  Claire and I had just met the elegant and gracious Patty Shinseki the day prior, along with the president of Military Child Education Coalition Mary Keller, who is so smart and focused.  I have admired them from afar for awhile, and am very excited at the prospect of partnering with them for some projects – particularly for ways that we may be able to take advantage of the incredible work they’ve done, and work on getting it out to the bases.  Joyce Raezer was there of course, with NMFA, our unofficial godmother we think of her.  It was particularly terrific to meet Brittany McKee, the military representative from Sierra Club who wants to get more involved with us, and the Operation Homefront Rep, Nancy Tarr, who we expect to enjoy good partnerships from as well.  Finally, I spoke briefly with Sloan Gibson of the USO, another of our survey partners, and a very charismatic guy.

The afternoon was set up as a series of briefings, with opportunities for questions.  We were welcomed, got an overview of the stimulus package, the President’s budget, how the White House works.  We heard specifically about education, youth, and communities in one session, about veterans, wounded warriors and disability policy in another, about economic affairs in a third, and about White House engagement and public service in the last session.

The highlight of course was the First Lady.  In a letter included in our packet she said, “…this Administration is committed to reducing the stress on servicemembers and their families.   I truly believe that this is a cause that calls each of us to serve…  It is my great hope that all Americans will honor our men and women in uniform by never taking the blessings of freedom for granted and by doing our part to support the families of our military.”

When she spoke, she said she was committed to making sure that military families have a home in the White House no matter who is president.  She quoted the ‘survey by Blue Star Families’ saying that 94% of military families feel disconnected from the larger society.  She said that figure shocked her, and she says, if we do nothing else, she wants to lower that percentage.  How amazing and gratifying it was to hear that our voices reached her, and made a difference. In fact Patty Shinseki and others have told us they have heard her say this all over town.  So for all of you who participated in the survey, please feel that you have made a difference, and thank you.

There is certainly opportunity for follow up, and more work with them.  This meeting was a great start, and Trooper and the others who worked on it deserve a lot of credit.  We will continue to ask for input from Blue Star Families folks around the country for what we can do to help keep them up to date about our issues, challenges, and great ideas.

Kathy Roth-Douquet

Founder and President

Blue Star Families

Notes from our meeting with the First Lady

Blue Star Families joined representatives from about 30 other organizations in meeting with the First Lady about Military Families. Here’s the latest from Kathy Roth-Douquet, who was there for Blue Star Families:

“Meeting with the First Lady was GREAT! She quoted our poll “Blue Star Families poll says 94 percent feel disconnected” – and I’ve been hearing all over town that this is the line she keeps referencing! Its amazingly gratifying to have been useful to the dialogue and to be able to aggregate the experience of so many real families on the ground in a way that is heard by the First Lady. But there’s more – she said that if she could accomplish one thing in her tenure, she would just want to lower that number! She really listened to a broad range of groups – VSOs, NMFA, Operation Homecoming, American Legion, Sierra Club, Delaware Boots on the ground, etc. There were about thirty participants. They let us ask questions of administration officials, and asked for more input. I’m following up with more white house meetings today. I asked for a copy of her remarks for us to post – Gen Jones’ and Dr. Biden’s too – they were all fantastic! Dashing to more meetings now but I’ll write more.”

Thanks Kathy!

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