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

vote04Frustrated 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 help.

It will take fewer than 10 minutes for you to complete the online survey.  PLEASE DO IT TODAY!

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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
Vogue.com

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.

The Importance of Volunteerism

As military family members, we understand how important service to your country is. We send loved ones off to defend our country, but we also volunteer in our communities and raise our children to give back to their communities and their countries as well.

When we ran across this amazing video on Serve.gov, we couldn’t help but be moved. Every living U.S. president talks about the importance of volunteering in your community, of working to make a difference, and I think that’s part of what makes the video so special. Helping your fellow man isn’t about party affiliation or politics. It’s about doing the right thing.

Go to www.Serve.gov for more information on how you can make a difference.

Gold Star Mother Raises Money for Postage for Troops

by Jan Zabel

BSF Parent Programming Coordinator

Military families in Hernando County Florida are banging their drums in support of a Marine Gold Star Mother, Dee Mills.  Dee is a very special mother, working daily to raise funds to pay for postage for packages  going to our troops.  Local organizations in the surrounding area know that Dee will be there to help them when postage is needed.

Dee’s son, Marine Sgt. Lea Mills. was killed in action in Iraq in 2006.  Dee knew that her son Lea would not want his brothers and sisters in arms forgotten.  In lieu of flowers she requested friends and family to send money to her new organization “Lea’s Prayers and Postage.”  As of today, she has raised over $100,000.00 for postage for packages for our troops.  Many of these packages are mailed out from the post office named after Sgt. Lea Mills.

Today you have the opportunity to help Dee Mills continue her work.  Please vote daily for Dee in the Energizer Hall of Fame contest.

As a Blue Star Mother I had the heartbreaking honour of presenting Dee with the Gold Star Banner on November 11th, 2007, at the VFW Post 9236 at Hernando Beach, Florida.  Today, I am asking my Blue Star Families to stand beside me and vote for this outstanding mother. Please take a moment to vote for Dee today, and also read the write up from The St. Petersburg Times.

Nominating Dee was easy, now I need your help to get those votes.  Together we can help other servicemen and women receive another package from home.

Vote for Dee.

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?

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!

Beyond Tribute Launches!


Many moons ago I thought my first BSF post would be about my hysterically funny misadventure at the Fredricksburg, VA pre-election Obama/Biden Rally. But that post will have to be patient. It’s been waiting a few months, so what’s a little longer?

Yesterday I had the distinct honor of being in attendance at the launch of Beyond Tribute. As I walked into the room, I was happy to see a familiar face, Sue Hoppin, immediate Past President of the Bolling OWC. Score! I had someone to sit with, which was important since Stephanie’s car was rear-ended on I-95 and she was unable to meet me at the event as planned. (Stephanie is okay! Thankfully no one was seriously injured!)

One thing you must know about me, is I am no fan of formality. I understand it and respect it, but if faced with the knowledge of a receiving line, I will hide in the ladies room until it is over. My avoidant behavior didn’t begin with my husband’s military career, it began at weddings. I just never know quite what to say in that 5 second spurt of handshaking. So as I looked around at the folks in the room, I contemplated whether I needed to go hide out for a bit, but decided to risk remaining seated. Turned out to be the right decision.

Thankfully there wasn’t a receiving line, but that isn’t to say I did not experience a 5 second handshake which I found to be thoroughly engaging.
As I was awaiting the start of the program, a blond woman sat down in the row in front of me. She immediately turned around, stuck out her hand and smiled at me as she enthusiastically said, “Hi! I’m Jill Biden!” Yes, that Jill Biden, AKA Dr. Biden. And because I didn’t feel the pressure to perform in a receiving line, I was actually able to tell her my name and organization with comfort and ease. We didn’t have time for me to gush and act the fool much else, because the program was seconds away from beginning and the once empty chair to her left, directly in front of me, now was chock full of, none other than,General Wesley Clark.  Yes, that Wesley Clark.   Lucky me, being all of Not Even 5 Feet, Gen Clark isn’t freakishly tall and  didn’t block my view.  Although I do wonder what would have happened had I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to “scrunch down.”  Instead I found my self somewhat fixated on the back of his head. It’s nicely shaped, his haircut was very even, although I momentarily wondered if he uses hairspray or gel to keep his coif. (BTW,Congratulations, you are now just as distracted as me from the purpose of this post)

The launch of “Beyond Tribute”. What a fabulous concept  that American’s can still shop the Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day sales and at the same time be supporting Veteran’s Service organizations.  I think Bob Balaban put it just the right way when he said, “This isn’t just a call to action, it’s a call to conscience.”  And yeah, it’s a wonderful way to remind retailers and the public that the best way to capitalize on these holidays is to pay back the veterans for everything they have done for our country.

So in the words of Pamela Eggleston, go “hit the sales, shop at the stores” which have taken the pledge, take the pledge yourself and have safe holiday weekend.   Particularly as we go into the 101 Critical Days.