Army NCO of the Year Credits Family for Honor - DoD Roundtable

During the AUSA convention this week the Army announced several award winners and the NCO of the year, Staff Sergeant Christopher McDougall, said something that caught my attention during a Roundtable with two of the winners:

"Well, first of all, I think I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the people who got me to this level. My family back home in Germany, my wife, two kids. They definitely supported me over the last -- this isn't a one-week competition; it's been going on for, you know, eight months now when we started this whole process, and they definitely suffered because of it. And they've been supportive throughout."

Stop. Think. Connect. - DoD Roundtable with the Center for Cyberspace Research

Stop. Think. Connect.

October is National CyberSecurity Awareness Month as declared by the President and those three words are the theme for cyber awareness throughout the nation. With the focus on cyber security the subject drew me to this DoD Roundtable with the warriors at the Center for Cyberspace Research. The US military has recognized the need for a Cyber Command and for education and research! The folks at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) are leading much of this effort through education efforts such as Cyberspace 200 and Cyberspace 300 courses where officers, senior civilians and senior NCOs with experience in the cyber world receive continuing education in their career field. Here is a quick 1 minute video from Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III on the importance of cyber defense.

Wordless Wednesday: Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Tasty Tuesday Yummy Yogurt

Oh I do love the taste of yogurt. To me it is a soft ice cream sitting in the frig calling my name. I have been told to up my calcium intake, enter yogurt in it's best form EVER. I make it. Right here at home, twice a week with no special additives. So simple and so much better than any store or name brand.

I choose to make vanilla flavored yogurt. Fruits or jams could be added... but I prefer the silky smooth scent of vanilla. The yogurt maker is the key. I chose the Euro Maker, as it was the brand that I saw most often in stores and online. It had the individual cups instead of one large container. Best yet, the cups are identical to the glass jars that are used for bouillon cubes. So I recycled 7 jars and had enough for a double batch.

“We’re not going to be able to fight our way out of this conflict” - DoD Roundtable

“We’re not going to be able to fight our way out of this conflict”, said Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph R. Beam, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. The DoD Bloggers Roundtable met with Beam on Thursday morning to discuss Non-Commissioned Officer training for the Afghan National Security Forces. The message that Beam brought is that leader development is critical to the war effort which is the focus of NTMA. A real challenge is an effective personnel development program for NCOs and creating the NCO force that the Afghans need in order to have an effective fighting force.

PTSD - "There is a Cure"

PTSD can be cured! One more time: PTSD can be cured! So states Dr Dawson Church, of the Iraq Vets Stress Project. I interviewed Dr Church this morning and as we ended the interview I asked him what single message he would want me to send to our military community and that was it! Of course I am way ahead of this interview, but I was impressed with this program and what he is doing to help our veterans and their families. I had to get that out first!

According to the Iraq Vets Stress Project website:

Recognition... In the Neighborhood

As the daughter and wife of two very-selfless veterans I just want to thank all of the companies that are coming out in /my/ neighborhood to support the troops. As Veterans Day approaches I am so grateful for the appreciation that is shown to a group of people I care so much about!

Year Round
We are now frequent customers of Lowes and Home Depot as they offer 10% off to Active Duty / National Guard / Reserves year-round. If a company is going to support us as a military family, then I want to support them! (And by-george we can appreciate 10% off of all of the constant-DIY home repairs we are running into lately.)

Finding Scholarships

We have 3 adult children, who married 3 adults - all attended colleges - all accumulated debt. When added up, there are 8 degrees and one more on the way.

Degrees are worth every penny though!

And every penny that you can get in scholarship is FANTASTIC.

I went online looking for scholarships and was amazed at the massive amount of information out there. I found a great website that brought the search down to the reasonable: Scholarship Help & Advice.

Veterans and Military Associations

What is the purpose of a military association? Why do we join them?

Veterans have numerous military organizations/associations to choose from for membership. Recently, I wrote one to resign my membership because they were doing political endorsements with which I strongly disagreed. I received a very professional note back from them but the damage was done. Their name infers that veterans supported these particular politicians that I had absolute no faith in (either for supporting our veterans or directing the course of our country) so I resigned.

October ... National "Take care of yourself!" Awareness Month

You are important! There are many factors that make for a healthy well-being and we all need to be sure to take care of ourselves. The military and the different branches reinforce this idea with articles, program and support. The MilitaryAvenue Team reiterates the importance of taking care of ourselves with the very real-impact it has had on us. Now it is time for you to act! Look out for yourself and then, just as importantly, look out for your battle-buddy, your neighbor, your friend, your spouse.

October brings with it a myriad of "awarenesses" ... breast cancer, depression, domestic violence and much more. All things that we should be aware of all year long but a great chance to educate ourselves now, to prepare for the future. It is a reminder that /we/ are important, mentally and physically.

My Definition of Perfection

Here in northeastern Ohio we have a wonderful park-system called the 'Metroparks'.  They are small parks scattered throughout the area, run by the local counties.  My favorite park is just 10 minutes north of us and makes for some wonderful walks at all times of the year.  The Autumn season is glorious with the changing of the leaves; vibrant reds, golds, yellows and oranges, my favorite colors!  We took the opportunity this weekend after church to head up as a family to get a picture.  We got three or four good ones but I have to admit this is my favorite:

BratConnect, the power to connect!

I am a 100%, through and through, Brat.  My dad joined the Air Force right out of college around 1971 and retired 30 years later, in 2002.  I was born at Nellis AFB, Nevada where the Lt and Mrs (aka Dad and Mom) brought their brand-new baby home to Indian Springs, Nevada (which is now Creech AFB, NV).  I started Kindergarten at Howard AFB, Panama ... made a "few" more moves (six more to be precise) before finally graduating high school at Keflavik NAS, Iceland.

I have friends all over the world.  Friends from elementary school, junior high, high school that I can't help but wonder, "Where they are now?"  I have had the pleasure of reconnecting with quite a few thanks to modern social-outlets like Facebook.  I love looking at pictures from my best-friend from 1st through 4th grade with her beautiful-triplets born last year.  I love daily interactions with friends from high-school.  We all once lived on 'the Rock' (aka Iceland) and are now spread-out across the world.  We all have new joys and struggles, some we can empathize with, some we can only say 'I'm here for you' or 'Good for you!'.

“A Cause Worth Doing” – DoD Roundtable

“A Cause Worth Doing” – DoD Roundtable

I have never heard the Afghan people described as resilient and intelligent. I pictured them as tough fighters who over time always managed to make the foreigners leave (ie., the British and Soviet invaders) after a long fight but the guest at today’s Roundtable brought a different perspective. He also described this war as a “cause worth doing”. With 38 years experience as a US Marine (active and civilian), Mr. Dave Clifton, senior advisor, Ministry of Interior, NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A) certainly brings a wealth of experience to his job supervising a team of advisors that coach Afghan leaders on ministerial and leadership development, and building a standalone Afghan National Police force.

Creamy Pepper Pot Soup - Tasty Tuesday

Magic ingredients can turn a overflow of peppers into a tasty filling lunch that can be cooked up from scratch in 30 minutes.

The magic isn't quite Disney, or David Copperfield, but still transforming from counter top or refrigerator extras to steamy bowl full of goodness! And, this soup is for two, not twenty! Substitutions are allowed and encouraged when making your very own homemade from scratch: as you know where the senses are!

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression ... I've lived it, breathed it, been held tightly in its grasp wondering when I'll be allowed to come up for air.

Eight years ago was a very dark period of my life. I did suffer from depression after my first son, Baby *E*. I spoke to my OB/GYN at my 6 week check-up and was put on an antidepressant. I am thankful for the medication but in many ways I wish there was more to it then that. I wish there was some sort of six-week required psychological counseling, not just a "be sure to see a counselor if it gets worse" from my doctor. The medication wasn't a cure-all. I remember his first six-months of life were tough, very tough. But as I sit here now with another beautiful 2-month old son I wonder what is so different between my first and, now, my last?

Push Back... Hold Forward... Integrity

It is flu season, or at least I have heard the forecast, similar to a hurricane coming this way. Get ready!

So we went forward. After seeing TV ad after TV ad about going into local pharmacy to get the shot, Dale and I decided to take a ride. Not being one who looks forward to pain, shots, pokes or whatever, I let him go first! We whipped out our military IDs; which is all that we need to show insurance when picking up medications at 2 local places here in Michigan.

Wordless Wednesday: Reaching for the Sky

Apple Picking Season - 2010

Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.
 - Bo Jackson

They Are Making A Difference - DoD Roundtable

They Are Making A Difference -Period. Exclamation!

Our service members and their NATO allies are making a difference in Afghanistan according to Maj Gen Stuart Beare of the Canadian Armed Forces. That is how he ended the Roundtable discussion with DoD Bloggers this morning! There is no confusion for those in country why they are there and what their mission is according to the general. General Beare is the Deputy Commander – Police, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A).

Tasty Tuesday Banana Pepper Gratin

Summer is so over... so very over. Temperature dipped to the twenties; leaves are brilliant red, orange with faded yellow edges; sunshine hours have slipped to dark morning and evenings. Autumn is here.. no doubt.

The gleaner in me came out this weekend when I heard of the temperature forecast. Dale and I picked anything living out there that could be touched by a freeze. Whoa, I already have packed a peck of pickled peppers into the pressure cooker. My imagination has been running overtime as to how to use plant after plant that over produced this year. Yeah for that... but I can't let them die on the plant.

A Life Changing Moment

We never know where our lives are going to take us! Particularly for our service members and their families! Yep, we never knew when the next orders were going to arrive and where we would be heading till the last possible moment it seemed (we had a couple of PCS orders that arrived within 2 weeks of report date for the next assignment). Growing up I had enjoyed seeing airplanes but this northern Indiana farm and steel worker family's kid had no idea he would be in the Air Force flying aircraft for 30 years defending this wonderful country.

Crazy Carrots

I have always loved art. I see beauty in some of the oddest of places. Don't we all? However, there are times when the normal is the 'piece de resistance': garden carrots.

Art... it appears wherever it can, whenever the whim arrives.
I prefer the pencil straight carrots that my grandchildren draw. I have several of their colorful creations taped on my cabinets displayed as art in my kitchen.
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