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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Weekly News Round-Up for August 18

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. smallestbluestarfamilylogo.jpgBlue Star Families Weekly News Round-Up

All the Latest in Everything Blue Star Families

Summer is wrapping up, but the opportunities for Blue Star Families members to get more involved in their local chapter are ramping up!   It’s also a great time to start brushing up on professional skills to take advantage of the recent news of preferential hiring of military spouses for federal jobs.  Read all about these opportunities and much more below.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. BSF-logoFINAL71509.jpgWe 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


Federal Jobs Preference for Military Spouses

Federal agencies will soon have the option to hire military spouses without having them compete through traditional hiring methods. Under new guidelines issued by the Office of Professional Management (OPM), military spouses will be able to request that recruiters use non-traditional hiring methods in reviewing their applications.

These new guidelines affect military spouses who move because of a new assignment, some physically disabled spouses, and widows and widowers whose spouses were killed in the line of duty and remain unmarried. The guidelines become effective September 11, 2009.  Read more about it on our blog.


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 Fayetteville 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 Vivian TODAY at vgreentree@bluestarfam.org.

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

Want to be Featured on The Military Channel or The Virginian Pilot?

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!

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

**********************

Make Room for Baby: What’s involved, challenges, best tips, your experience, etc. We want to hear YOUR story if you live in Southeastern Virginia and are expecting or recently had a little one. Tell us about your experience–from challenges and 
anticipation to failures and/or successes along the way. Are you a professional or seasoned military parent who may have something to contribute?  If so, email AnnaMaria TODAY at amwhite@bluestarfam.org

Touching Story about the Effect of Multiple Deployments on Kids

Blue Star Families’ Allison Buckholtz is the author of Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War, proud mother of Ethan (6) and concerned about the effect of multiple deployments on our military kids.  Check out her blog “A Peace Sign”

“What are you drawing?” I asked my son Ethan, as he swirled paint on paper one quiet afternoon at our house.

“A welcome home sign,” he answered.

“For who?”

“For Daddy.”

Ethan is 6 years old, and though he has a sly sense of humor, he doesn’t yet appreciate irony. So I couldn’t laugh, even though my husband Scott, an active-duty Navy pilot, left for a year-long assignment in Iraq just two days ago. With training and travel, Scott will be away close to 14 months, so Ethan’s welcome home sign comes about 410 days too early. I didn’t tell him that, of course. If he can find solace through art, or anything constructive, I’m thrilled. It’s better than crying for four hours straight, as he did the night Scott left.

Read the rest of her touching story on our blog. Originally published at Alison’s Deployment Diary on Double X.

Free Virtual Job Training Series for Military Spouses & Vets

Military Spouse Career Corporate Network, a non-profit corporate direct hire program, is offering a free virtual job training series starting with Tuesday, September 1 with “Developing your Elevator Speech and Networking”, and then followed on Tuesday, September 15 with “Desperate is NOT a Job Title”.  If you would like more info or to sign up for either or both of the seminars, check out this flyer or MSCCN’s website.


Pentagon Says: “We Want to Hear From You” & Launches http://www.Defense.gov

The Defense Department is proud to announce the launch of  www.Defense.gov , the redesigned the Defense Department Web site which now uses social networking tools to engage the American public — particularly 18- to 24-year-olds. To read the whole story, check out this DefenseLink News article.

Special Invitation for BSF Members around Ft.Knox & Louisville, Kentucky

The American Legion is hosting a Military Families Forum, a Town Hall style even near Ft. Knox.  They and other Military Family advocates, want to hear from YOU and your family about what military families are going through and how they can help.

They are also looking for a military family member near Louisville to speak briefly to their new team of AmeriCorps VISTA members on August 24 at 10:00 am

If you would like more info or are interested in attending, please email Vivian at vgreentree@bluestarfam.org today!

VFW Free Calls Home Surpasses 3 Million!

Veterans of Foreign Wars provides free calls home from deployed service members via their “VFW Operation Uplink” Free Call Days.  To read more about this terrific program, check out their website.

Elmo to the Rescue!

Sesame Workshop is thrilled to announce the launch Sesame Rooms, their latest effort to help military families in ways that only Muppets can.   The campaign is designed to brighten up military spaces for kids with Sesame cheer.  The flagship Sesame Room makeover was at the PAX Family Lounge at McGuire Air Force Base.  Check out the before and after photos and more info about this terrific program here.

Yellow Ribbon Program Helps Reintegration

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration program was established under the 2008 National Defense Authorization . 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 and in a recent DefenseLink News article.

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 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

BSF Member Pamela McBride’s “The Mocha Manual to Military Life” Book Signings

mochamilitaryPB_r3From Pamela McBride, BSF member and seasoned military wife, and Kimberly Seals-Allers, the creator of the Mocha Manual, comes the ultimate guide to life, love, and logistics for military spouses, girlfriends, and female service members. Whether you’re just beginning a relationship with a military personnel and are pondering the ins and outs of a long distance relationship as he moves from base to base, are a newlywed military wife, or a fully immersed on a base, The Mocha Manual to Military Life (Amistad, $14.99 trade paperback), offers a host of tips and insights to manage your expectations and optimizing your dealings with the military.

Co-author and BSF member Pamela McBride has served military families personally and professionally for over 20 years. Presently, she serves as a Well-Being Program Specialist for the Department of the Army and is a writer for www.homefrontonline.com and www.military.com. She is co-author of Work It, Girl! The Black Woman’s Guide to Professional Success, and has been a frequent contributor to Essence, Black Collegian, Upscale, and Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Times supplements. She serves as a consulting and guest speaker on military life and professional development topics. For more information about Pamela, visit www.pamelamcbride.net.

DougandPamelaMcBride1Pamela will be signing her books on Saturday, August 8, 2009 from 3pm to 5pm at the Barnes and Noble near Fort McPherson, 3685 Market Place Boulevard, Camp Creek Market Place, East Point, GA (just outside of Atlanta, GA) and on Saturday, August 15, 2009 from 11am to 1pm at the Main PX, Building 8-5050, Second and Butner Road, Fort Bragg, NC. Please visit www.pamelamcbride.net for more information.

The Maine Greeters

GreetersIf your service member has deployed, I’ll bet that they told you about a great group of people – The Maine Greeters. When my husband returned after the first deployment to the Sand – he called me from Bangor, and told me about the group of (mostly) elderly men and women who shoved a cell phone into his hand, told him welcome home, shook his hand and said go call home. I have a picture of him from their website, him on the phone sitting in the parking lot (with a cigar) talking to me..

When I asked him about these wonderful people, in preparation for writing about them, he said

Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Constantly pushing cell phones at the troops, for that last call before leaving CONUS, or the first call back in the states.  I remember talking to them, theirs is a well organized group, always willing to be there regardless of the time of day or night, just to make sure the troops get whatever they might need as they pass through.  Plus they usually have the great big sugar cookies with the half inch of psychedelic frosting on top.

There have been stories about the Greeters, they show up no matter what time it is, no matter what the weather (and in Maine, they get WEATHER!). If they are coming home, every service member gets a hand shake, a “welcome home”,  a hug, a smile.   If they are outbound to deploy, they get a “good luck”, “be safe”,  “we’re proud of you”, a smile, a handshake or a hug.

Now – there is a movie about three of these wonderful people,  The Way We Get By .  For those of you in New York, it opens at the IFC Center on July 17th.   I would LOVE to be there, but life and R&R are getting priority.  For those of you who DO go – please write us up a review!

The Way We Get By – Trailer from The Way We Get By on Vimeo.

On their website (here’s the link again ) there are times and dates of the various showings. I’m hoping we can get the word out everywhere.

BSF on the Hill

Blue Star Families storm the hill.

Blue Star Families storm the hill.

This is going to be a quick report – because I have so many notes, and so much to say, it’s going to take me hours to put together something good enough to tell YOU all how incredible our round table discussion with members of Congress and other military family support groups was.

A group of BSF members met at a local coffee shop and walked up to the Hill. Nerves? definitely! After going through security, and finding our way through the maze (thanks to the young page who herded us through!), we reached a very large room. The usual confusion of who sits where, except the chair labeled Speaker Pelosi, ensued. Then suddenly, the room filled with aides, the cameras set at one end of the room switched on, and the Speaker started the meeting.

The next report will give you more “meat” on these bones. But I want you all to know that Pamela Stokes Eggleston gave a great presentation, as did Claire Woodward. The more intense discussions began after the press was asked to leave. BSF and NMFA members were asked to tell their own stories and we heard from various members of Congress. The overwhelming theme from the military spouses was, at least to me and some of the others I spoke to, “we don’t want your pity, we want you to understand what our lives are like, and that we need some of the help we were promised”.

The great need for health care providers, especially counselors for family members was a dominant theme; the need for funding for ombudsmen/FRG representatives; funding for the Beyond a Yellow Ribbon program and others for National Guard service members and their families. The members of Congress were “discouraged” and surprised by the leading survey result – that over 94% of military families feel disconnected from the American public. There was a great deal packed into the hour and a half (and we went over the allotted time as well, thanks to the Speaker’s permission). As you can tell, there is SO much to talk about, I must make sure that it is properly presented.

Press Release

MSRRA – The Hearing

surge-on-msrraIn an impressive chamber in the Dirksen Building, Senator Akaka of Hawaii gaveled the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs into session. A group of men and women, wearing buttons saying – Military Spouses, We deserve a Home State Too – sat and waited. A Director in the VA and others from his office went first, discussing a wide array of VA Compensation and Benefit bills. Then, the second panel began. AmVets, The American Legion, The VFW spoke first, on Vets issues. And all three gave their support for Senate Bill 475. Then a Legislative Attorney, American Law Division, in the Congressional Law Service gave an opinion on the MSRRA – and brought up constitutional questions. The last line in his written presentation concerning exemption of spouses from taxation in the jurisdiction the service member is stationed in resonated with all of the spouses there –

Any inquiry on the constitutionality of the question would likely hinge on whether exempting the spouse from taxation outside of his or her home state assists the servicemember to “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation?”

The quote comes from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dameron v Brodhead, a case concerning the SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act). For those of us in the chamber, the answer was very clear.

This LINK will take you to the Video – Rebecca’s testimony is minute 88, Senator Burr’s supportive message is at minute 98.

Senate Veteran Affairs Committee Hearing on MSRRA S. 475

Rebecca Poynter was the last speaker, and put the case for the MSRRA succinctly and clearly. Personal property rights, taxation and voting in our “home of record” are the points that the MSRRA is seeking to change. She gave examples of spouses who have been badly affected by tax/home state problems; a military spouse who almost lost her clearance and job when a tax nightmare erupted with three states all arguing over where she owed taxes, the IRS got involved as did her employer; A spouse trying to get her degree, but cannot find an online course in the new state she just PCSed to, but her “home of record” state has one. Spouses who need to take classes, but can’t afford the non resident tuition. is a hardship many of us can empathize with, since most of us can’t afford to finish a degree in just one assignment cycle – when you move, and if you can keep taking classes in that program online – you are suddenly now a non resident! Voting – do we want to vote in our current state, or the state we plan to retire in, where some of us own property already? As for me, we still own a house in our home state, the local elections are important to us. After all, we worry about the town the house is in, the state of the local roads, the water tower, the police department.

Senator Richard Burr (R.NC) questioned the Legislative Attorney – wondering why there was a constitutional question, since military spouses have already been given certain rights concerning contracts and leases, that can be adjusted due to military moves. Since those rights are already there and were put into law by Congress, why is there a problem with expanding those? Senator Burr has requested an answer to this question soon. I for one, will be very interested in this answer.

NOW is the time to make phone calls. If your Senator is one of those who is a co-sponsor, please call and say thank you. If your Senator isn’t a co sponsor, please call.Here’s a link for information about the bill. Call the Senator of your “home” state, the Senator of the state you live in now, the one from the state you just PCSed from. Ask your family members to call their Senator as well. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is coming up – let’s make sure we show our elected officials how we’d like to be appreciated!

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.

AP

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]

Karen