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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


Blue Star Families Weekly News Round-Up for August 11

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

All the Latest in Everything Blue Star Families

What a week!  From invitations by national and local news, talk shows and The Military Channel to tell our military family stories, to being recognized by Senator Warner of Virginia with a Senate Resolution, to free ACT/SAT study guides, this week’s news round-up is chalk full of useful info.  Be sure to check it ALL out!

Blue Star FamiliesWe are working hard on the creation of our new Blue Star Families website and online community which is expected to launch this month.  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.

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 all types of military family members from all ranks and services (and our supporters!) to Support, Connect 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

Senator Warner Recognizes Blue Star Families with a Senate Resolution

We are THRILLED to have Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduce a Senate Resolution commending Blue Star Families for supporting military families and increasing awareness of the unique challenges of military life.  Read the full text of Senate Resolution 237 and more about the honor on the Blue Star Families blog.  Also, check out a great blog about our meeting with Senator Warner from the perspective of a BSF daughter, Sophie.

Want to be Featured on National and Local News, Talk Shows or The Military Channel?

Blue Star Families is THE place for military families and folks in the national media are coming to us to help them tell our stories.  Here are two exciting opportunities, but you must email us NOW if you are interested!

A national, non-profit group in California, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, is looking for real-life stories that would be fabulous for news or talk shows, both national and local stations.  These stories would be distributed among the news media for possible use during a week in October when the entertainment and news industry will highlight the issue of service.  The real-life stories should feature individuals who would be comfortable speaking about their service experiences.

Interested?  Here are more details-

These stories should be about current or recent service experience and there should be a person or persons who could be interviewed.  Stories can focus on a person whose service has had a profound effect on them, individuals or groups who have overcome barriers to service, people or programs that include particularly creative or interesting service activities, or service efforts that have had an extraordinary impact.  The story may be about a single person’s service or the efforts of a large group. It may feature an organized program or an informal action that has had a big impact.

For more information, email Rosemary BY AUGUST 15 at rosemaryjfreitas@aol.com


The Military Channel’s “Return Salute” is like Make-A-Wish for service members and their families. The show will tell the human side of the current conflicts and will profile service members who have returned from deployment within in the past year, or have a very compelling story.  We are looking for stories along the lines of multiple deployments, missing births, or similar moving scenarios. Each service member profiled would be granted a wish at the end of each episode.

For more information, email AnnaMaria TODAY at amwhite@bluestarfam.org

Encourage All Your Friends & Family to Join BSF with Our New Video

Blue Star Families is about Supporting, Connecting and Empowering military families. Take a look at this moving video, pass it along to all your friends and family and ask them to join us TODAY!

BSF Fayetteville NC Chapter Hosting Books on Bases and Needs YOUR Help!

Our Fayetteville NC Chapter will proudly be presenting Books on Bases, Smiles On Faces, presented by Blue Star Families and K.I.D.S. on September 10.  This important event will be the kick-off for our national effort to host similar events with chapters EVERY quarter.

Here’s how YOU can get involved:

If you live in or around Fayeteville and want to help plan the event, can lend space to store the 4,000 books we’ll be giving away in the weeks leading up to the event and/or be on hand to help the day of the event, just shoot a note to Brittany TODAY at brittanyawilliams@gmail.com.

If you’re not close to the Fayetteville area and want more information about hosting your own event, send Casey an email at programs@bluestarfam.org

UPDATE: BSF’s Michelle Galvez’s Blog Hits PBS’ Patchwork Nation Home Page & Check Out BSF’s Vivian Greentree’s Military Spouse Magazine Article

Last week, we highlighted the First Lady’s visit to Norfolk and her mention of BSF and our Military Families Lifestyle Survey.  Our own Michelle Galvez wrote an amazing blog post about her meeting with Mrs. Obama, which we are THRILLED to report, was highlighted on PBS’ Patchwork Nation home page.  Awesome job Michelle!

We’re also excited to have BSF’s Director of Membership Vivian Greentree share her experiences at the event in a terrific article in Military Spouse Magazine

Military Spouse Residency Relief Act Coalition Update

The folks at the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act Coalition are excited to pass along the great news regarding the progress of the S475 and HR1182, The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.  Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) offered the MSRRA as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill currently under consideration in the Senate.  The amendment, which was approved by voice on the Senate floor, would allow military spouses to maintain residency in their home state regardless of military placement of their families.

For more information, check out the press release on the Senator’s website and the MSRRA Facebook page.

FREE ACT/SAT Study Materials for Military Families!

YES, you read that right!  Check out our blog for more details!  And while you’re there, see what Michelle Gross writes about Flexible Spending Accounts

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

Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Means Up To $6,000 of Financial Assistance!

The Department of Defense is expanding the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts – MyCAA – for military spouses of active duty and activated Guard and Reserve Service members worldwide.

MyCAA is currently completing an extensive testing period with the help of volunteer spouses, schools and other payees. Final administrative processes are now being put into place. MyCAA is preparing to officially open its doors for eligible military spouses worldwide to receive up to $6,000 of financial assistance to help pay for licenses, certifications and education in high growth, high demand portable career fields.

Check out the Military One Source website for more details.

We Want to Hear About the Ups & Downs of Your Military Marriage

Has your marriage made it through PCS’s, ETS’s, deployments, cruises, financial hardships and the other struggles that go with military life? Share your success story with others. Send an email to rebekahsanderlin@hotmail.com and you could be featured on the Blue Star Families website.

CA Looking for Women Veteran of the Year Nominations

Beginning with the September 2009 CalVet Women Veterans Conference, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) will recognize two women veterans, one from Northern and one from Southern California, during its annual CalVet Women Veterans Conferences.

The California Woman Veteran of the Year Awards recognizes women veterans who have compiled a record of exemplary service as a military service member, as veterans, and as outstanding members of the community.  Nominate your favorite California Woman Veteran here

400 Days Featured in Chicago’s Daily Herald

The buzz is growing about BSF National Guard Director Danette Hayes’ new book, 400 Days.  Check out this great article in the  Daily Herald

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 in 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

Hail to the Chief, Navy Chief that is

Navy ChiefBravo Zulu to our many Navy Chief Selects that have begun their initiation process. This is a proud moment for you and your families.

Being the wife of a Chief Select myself, I’m pretty proud of my husband. He’s put in a lot of hard work, dedication and time away to achieve this goal. He’s a very humble man and is saying that I’m making too much of it, but I’ve seen him work hard to better himself in his rate and “sharpen the saw” for being a good leader.

We should all be proud of our Chief Selects and continue to support them in from what I’ve heard will be a very interesting initiation. There is a long and proud tradition of being a Chief from the history of the Charge Log to the reciting of the Chief’s creed and I’m sure that our Chief Selects will continue that tradition with honor. Bravo Zulu to you all and we’ll see you at the pinning…………..Dora

Manhattan’s Army Wife by Chloe Karmarck

BSF Executive Assistant Chloe Karmarck has written an amazing piece featured on Vogue.com. Chloe writes about her journey from Park Avenue to military fiance and why military service is so important.

Manhattan’s Army Wife by Chloe Karmarck for

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.

I went on.  He’s stationed in Alabama, and will be in the army for at least six years.  But here’s the real kicker: After the wedding, I’m moving to Daleville, Alabama—population 4,653.  Not accustomed to finding herself at a loss for words, this very polite young woman (and wife of a hedge-fund manager) finally rattled off a series of less-cheery questions. “But, why?” was followed by “So he supports the war?” and then she got to her point: “Is he a Republican?”

Had I said that my fiancé was joining Teach for America, I suspect my friend would have admired his decision and assumed his politics didn’t need inspecting.  At a time when “service” is as chic a concept as Michelle Obama’s J. Crew sensibility, organizations like the above and the Peace Corps have skyrocketed in both applications and prestige. Apparently, however, serving in the military still suffers from the negative image it was burdened with 40 years ago during the Vietnam War.  Kathy Roth-Douquet, who met her husband—a Marine One pilot—while serving in the Clinton White House, wrote a book in 2006 with Frank Schaeffer called AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from the Military and How It Hurts Our Country.  In it they noted that “not too long ago the sons of presidents, bankers, and oilmen regularly served. This was even true for members of powerful dynasties such as the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, the Sulzbergers (owners and publishers of the New York Times), and the Bushes. Now, however, not one grandchild from those powerful dynasties serves.”

After growing up on Park Avenue, I had always imagined…

Continue reading Manhattan’s Army Wife on Vogue.com.

Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program: New York Army National Guard Has One

Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program: New York Army National Guard Has One

In New York, the NY National Guard, NY Army National Guard, NY Air National Guard, the New York Guard, and NY Naval Militia report to The New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs (http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/index.php).

Conceived in 2007 and implemented in April 2008 by Major General Joseph Taluto, the adjutant general and commander of the New York National Guard, the New York Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program aims to make it easier for National Guard combat veterans to transition from full-time Soldier to Citizen Soldier again (http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/family/reintegration.php).

Under this program, Soldiers are required to attend paid-assemblies 30 and 60 days after their return from a combat zone. Their families are encouraged to attend as well. The sessions are held in a non-threatening, non-military environment – a really nice hotel – to provide Soldiers and families with the opportunity to share experiences and talk frankly with each other and counselors about their experiences. These Soldiers are put back in touch with people who understand their experiences at about the time the “honeymoon phase” of their homecoming starts to fade.

At two months, there are briefings on anger management, substance abuse, gambling, financial management and other topics. Ever Soldier sits down one-on-one with a VA-certified counselor during the 60-Day sessions. This enables the soldier to get help for whatever issues or problems they have identified. The state Department of Labor has begun conducting career fairs at the 60-day reintegration events as well. The goal is to help Soldiers find new jobs, if needed.

At the 90-day interval the Soldiers return to regular drilling status and report to their Armory for medical checks and additional briefings.

While many states are putting together reintegration programs, New York also focuses on the process of helping a unit get back into the rhythm of National Guard duty. The training schedule for the first year after return from a combat zone is provided to the unit, making it easier for the leadership to hit the ground running.

If your state doesn’t provide such a comprehensive program, tell them about what New York is doing.

Remember… “Let No Veteran Ever Stand Alone!”

— Regards, Walt Schmidt, VSO

Something Needs Be First Why Not A Poll

About DoD Transition Clerks

— Regards, Walt Schmidt VSO

Returning troops getting tested for brain injuries

Here are some highlights of the article … please see link at bottom or click on article title. My comments are in red.


Returning troops getting tested for brain injuries

By KRISTIN M. HALL Associated Press Writer | Apr 9, 2009 |

The Department of Defense is also deploying some unusual weapons for treating the injuries, including paint guns and motion-sensitive video games integrated into therapy at new trauma centers around the country. [I am going to post about this over the next few days…future treatments/therapies]

Funding for the treatment of these injuries is expected to increase under President Barack Obama, who said Thursday his new military and veterans affairs budget will focus on diagnosing brain injuries and psychological disabilities that have gone untreated.

More than 150,000 service members from the Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy have undergone the testing that became mandatory last year. Those who suffer a concussion or similar head injury will get a follow-up test. **the 82nd ABN paratroopers were tested when they returned from Iraq / last deployment (2006-07) …had to think about the dates…:-)

The 101st Airborne Division is the only division going a step further and testing all soldiers again over the last few months as they have been returning to Fort Campbell from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. **should be the case for all of them (who were in combat).

Military doctors estimate that 10 percent to 20 percent of soldiers sent to Iraq or Afghanistan suffer a TBI. Symptoms can range from minor headaches or dizziness to memory loss or vision problems. And it can take some soldiers a while to realize how severely they’ve been affected. **not just the immediate future …

The military also is establishing new traumatic brain injury clinics at bases across the country to give soldiers better access to treatment. Six are already running and several more are coming with a goal to have a brain injury specialist at every military installation in the country, said Army Col. Rachel Armstrong, who oversees the testing program. Excellent!!

Please read the entire article.

http://www.mywire.com/a/AP/Returning-troops-getting-tested-brain/9813563?page=1 [accessed 09APR2009]