Work Life vs. Marine Wife

Balance

Please welcome Anna Maria Manino, a marine wife and full time working woman.  She’s also the BSF Co-Director of Communications.

I’m sitting at my desk on a Thursday afternoon, trying to ignore the snail’s pace of the clock. Suddenly my cellphone rings and it’s my White Knight. My excitement at a break from the boredom quickly fades. Since it’s a holiday on Monday, he explains, his unit is now off for the weekend and they are celebrating with a barbeque – at our house. Can I leave early today, he asks, and can I take the rest of the week off.

The answer, of course, is no, I can’t. And no matter how many times he calls and asks similar questions, the answer is always the same – I have a job, which means I can’t be on hand to play hostess any time of day. And this was not the only time having my own source of income seemed more annoying that it’s worth.
Ignoring the hassle of figuring out where I should claim residency on our taxes (a rant in and of itself), there are dozens of reccurring times when my job gets in the way. There’s the award ceremony that I’m almost late to because a work meeting ran long (“If you’re late, you’re f. . . .” as the saying goes in the USMC.). There’s the Hail and Farewell I have to leave early to go back to my office, and while making my apologies to the CO, his wife good-naturedly teases me about having to return to work.
But more than that, there’s also all the “me” activities that I just can’t seem to find time for. Like going to the gym, keeping in touch with my oft-missed friends from life before “Marine wife,” the dozens of unfinished craft projects that I used to love, and even just sitting around by myself doing nothing.
I can totally see how many women choose to not work outside the home. I have spent lots of time daydreaming about having hours upon hours to myself, to fill with errands and leisure in whatever order I decide.
However, there’s also a certain amount of fulfillment I get from having a job, doing it well and contributing financially to our lifestyle. And for all of the military wife-related duties, I am fortunate that my work is very understanding. So for now, I guess I’ll just keep saying “no” to skipping out of work early, keep showing up just in time for those award ceremonies, and keep finding time for “me” whenever I can.
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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.

OPM Director John Berry said:

This family-friendly policy provides employment opportunities from individuals and a measure of economic stability to military families who must deal with a multitude of issues arising from one spouse serving their country.

Approximately 400,000 to 500,000 of the active duty servicemembers relocated every year are married, and active duty servicemembers move on average every three years. Seeking employment is difficult for many military spouses because of these continuous moves. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk said:

There is a desire out there, and we know that if we can meet the spouses’ desires and keep them happy, then we’ll keep them in the service.

He also noted that 70% of military spouses want to work according to military surveys.

Federal jobs can be found at USA Jobs and on several other sites around the web depending on the area of work. Military OneSource can help military spouses with employment questions.

This measure is a certainly welcomed by this military spouse!

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

Military Spouse Residency Relief Act

The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act – What is that, and why do we need it?

spouses-at-the-launch-of-msrra-with-carter1Yesterday, representatives from Blue Star Families went to Capitol Hill, to show support for an Act that will mean a lot to all military spouses, regardless of service branch.

Representative John Carter (R-Tex) reintroduced the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act. This bill, which passed the House last session, but didn’t get through the Senate before the recess, will give military spouses the same rights as the service member, when it comes to “State of Residence”. When we move, and some of us move more than others, the service member is allowed to “keep” his/her state of residence (taxes, property, voting) as they go to a different state. However, unless you are a state resident of the few states that allow it, the spouse has to become a resident of the state that they are now living in. That means the spouse has a problem if the car is owned in both names – a lot of military families have vehicles in only the service member’s name because of this! Taxes – which are confusing enough for most of us, become more confusing when Soldier X is filing his taxes in one state, Spouse X files in another (no joint filing of State taxes then) – it gives tax accountants a job, that’s for sure! Voting – you have to register in a new state, and get to know your local representatives and get educated on the issues in your area. Let’s not forget the nightmare of the DMV and getting a driver’s license renewed/changed – and wondering… do I have to? As one commenter yesterday asked “am I legal?”

bsf-with-sen-carter1The problem gets worse for the spouse who has a career that needs licensure. As Star & Stripes reported, (and look at the last paragraph –  Tameka Gabriel from North Carolina – one of the Blue Star members in the pink shirt in this picture)  Cindy Maurer, a physical therapist listed all the places she has licenses from – and every time she moves, she has to do this again! For some professional licenses, you have to take a class (and pay for it) then pay for the test… so let’s see – PCS to Ft. Bragg, get settled (that takes time) take a class, (when is it offered, once or twice a year?) then study , take the test (again, how often is it offered?) then wait for your results. Yay- you passed the test, now start job hunting; Yay – got a job… and another set of orders for another state….PCS to Ft. Lewis…… and the hamster wheel starts again.

Representative Carter talked to us about the military spouses who came to him with this problem, one of  the founders of the MSBA (Military Spouse Business Association) Rebecca Poynter, who was joined by Joanna Williamson. He was, as he put it, surprised that this problem even existed and when he puts this bill before his colleagues, they are pretty surprised too. After all, spouses move when their service member moves, right? So doesn’t it make sense to allow them to hold onto that residency too?

So, if you want to support this bill, contact your congressperson,  and your senator and in some cases, contact the one of the state you have residency for, and the one of the state you are living in, or the one you lived in 2 years ago, or the one you are PCSing to! Letters, email, phone calls, however you want to make your voice heard – do it! Rep. Carter is hoping to get it through the entire process and onto the President’s desk this fall. I for one, will help him anyway I can – what about you?

If you need assistance contacting your senator or representative, or if you’d like more information about this bill, you can contact Blue Star Families.  We’re happy to help.