Week in Review: Week of February 21-27 (Military News)

Here are ten of our most popular military-related articles for the week on MilitaryAvenue.com:


MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Money and The Military: Looking for some resources related to money-management? Look no further: * 2010 Military Saves Week - The Stress of Making a Purchase - Did you know that The Department of Defense has designated Feb. 22 through March 1, 2010 as Military Saves Week? Saving money... kind of a sore point for me.  Extending Your Dollars Not as Tough as Once Thought- Trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of those dollars you receive every couple of weeks is a challenge to many. ...

Is this what support feels like? The 'Pause' of MyCAA: I have a barrel of emotions running through me this morning. Distrust. Anger. Frustration. Not pretty emotions. And it is all for our military-spouses directed - AT - our administration.  "Effective immediately, the MyCAA program is temporarily halting operations. We are reviewing all procedures, financial assistance documents and the overall program. This pause will not affect approved Financial Assistance documents. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please check back for updates." ...

Approved Spouses Unaffected by Career Program Pause: A week after announcing the temporary halt of the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Career Advancement Account operations, the head of the program assures participants with approved financial assistance that their enrollment will be unaffected.  “For those of you who have currently approved financial account documents, your documents will be honored,” said Tommy T. Thomas, deputy undersecretary of defense for the Pentagon’s office of military community and family policy.  ...

MilitaryAvenue.com Special: PCS Central:  We all know how hard it is to pick up the family and move them to a new duty station! We have a wide variety of resources for you here on MilitaryAvenue.com. Here is a directory of articles & MilitaryAvenue.com categories offering military discounts related to PCSing. This is just a small selection of what MilitaryAvenue.com has to offer you.  MilitaryAvenue.com's Moving Checklist: A move isn't complete without a checklist! ...

Attention Military Spouses, Brats, Parents ... We want to meet you!: I'd LOVE to do a weekly or monthly segment all about you ... the one who stands behind our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines & coast guard. The 'forgotten-heroes' at home. The loved-ones who traded in a piece of their heart for his (or her!) dog-tags.  "The Faces Behind Our Heroes"  Would you be interested in responding to a short email with interview-type questions? ...

Air Force Sergeants Association, USAA announce affinity relationship: USAA is the preferred provider for property and casualty insurance products - Nearly 128,000 enlisted Airmen and their eligible family members now are able to take advantage of one of the nation’s highest ranked* property and casualty insurance group of companies thanks to an agreement between the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) and USAA. ...

Penny Pinching: Penny-pinching ... Don't think of it has a burden. Think of it as a challenge! Some people are natural budgeters others of us find it a major stretch. Stretching the value of a dollar is important in this day and age. After all President Obama hasn't included *MY* household in his stimulus package. Although, I sure could use a few thousand dollars if he finds any extra in his pocket-book.  All this money-talk though has me thinking about ways that we can save money, a nickle at a time, even.  ...

Second-tier Entitlement and VA Loans: Veterans and active duty military with a VA Home Loan might be surprised to know that they can qualify to purchase a home with a second VA Loan based on what’s called their Second-Tier Entitlement.  While there’s plenty to know about the VA Loan for those just looking to use it the first time, there’s a dearth of information about using two VA Loans simultaneously.  “A lot of vets think they can only use their VA Loan once,” said Dan Davis, a VA Loan Specialist with VAMortgageCenter.Com. “They’re trying to save their VA Loan benefit when they don’t have to be.” ...

New Hiring Authority for Military Spouses Announced: New federal government hiring regulations allow for the noncompetitive appointment of military spouses to federal civil service positions. The intended effect of this new hiring authority is to facilitate the entry of military spouses into the federal government as part of an ongoing effort to recruit and retain skilled and experienced members of the civilian armed forces.  This authority gives government agencies the option of hiring qualified military spouses without going through the competitive process. ...

Wordless Wednesday: Homemade Pizza... YUM!:  It is wordless.  Checkout this blog for some fun pictures of homemade pizza in the works.


Revitalized, 'Re-streamed' and Re-energized

I have to admit... it's been a long weekend.  It had been a LONG weekend as of Saturday morning.

Yesterday was a snow-day for my boys.  The first of the year for our school district.  Last year we didn't have any.... and we do live in northern-Ohio.  So we do get snow!  But as my brother-in-law so eloquently put it ... "More Learning ... less Snow-Angels" is the school's motto ;)

So I admit I was kind of excited for them to enjoy their day off on Friday...

BUT by 10am, Friday, I was ready to ship them off to Antarctica.

"BOYS!" 

Anyone listening in might think that was the extent of my vocabulary.  The wrestling, the arguing, the constant need to be touching the other.  It was getting to me.

So today ... as it continued I announced if they couldn't behave I would find some jobs for them.  My 7 year old announced: "JOBS!  I love jobs!"  Who knew?!  (I do hope he keeps the attitude when he is 13 :).)

So that is what we did.  The 7 year old swept the kitchen floor and the 4 year old vacuummed the piles of dirt.  (And I am embarrased to say there were piles.)  They did it with a happy heart and all smiles!
The best part?  (Yes, even better then the de-dirtified-floor) The bickering, wrestling, touching, STOPPED!  Even when they were done.  It was as if the "jobs" re-streamed their energy.

Then because they did such a good job,  [Well, not really... Hubs and I had been planning it already but they don't need to know that ;)]  we went sledding as a family.  Ah yes, I just KNOW Sunday is going to be a better day.  Revitalized, 'Re-streamed' and Re-energized!







- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Attention Military Spouses, Brats, Parents ... We want to meet you!

I'd LOVE to do a weekly or monthly segment all about you ... the one who stands behind our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines & coast guard.  The 'forgotten-heroes' at home.  The loved-ones who traded in a piece of their heart for his (or her!) dog-tags.


"The Faces Behind Our Heroes"


Would you be interested in responding to a short email with interview-type questions?  Fill it out, send it back my way and then I will feature you on "Our Letters to You"; if you are a blogger I'll be sure to include a link to your blog for the extra touch of publicity!  I'll pick a new interview-ee each week to feature, and I'll be sure to let you know when you have been featured!

If you are interested leave a comment here on the blog, on Facebook, reply on Twitter or send me an email!  leanne@militaryavenue.com.

I can't WAIT to hear from you!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The Veterans Airlift Command says, “THEY'VE GOT HEART...THEY NEED WINGS”


I was hard at work today when I saw a tweet from a friend and decided to find out more! Ever follow your gut and realize that you did the right thing later? Stephanie, a Marine Corps spouse asked if I had ever heard of Veteran Airlift Command and I said no, but let me check this out. A pilot is always curious about aircraft stories and this one sounded interesting. Supporting veterans has a real ring in my ears! Jumping to Veterans Airlift Command’s website and blog I found some great information about some real patriots! Yep patriots! Say it again, these guys are patriots!

Next thing you know I am on the phone with Walter Fricke, the founder of Veterans Airlift Command, to find out more! He had quickly responded to my email and my phone call and gave me the chance to ask questions and hear a bit about him. A Vietnam veteran, Walt decided to support today’s veterans and their families by starting a service in 2006 to “… provide air transportation for medical and other compassionate purposes to wounded warriors, veterans, and their families through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.” They flew their first mission on November 6th, 2006. Today they have 1,500 aircraft/pilots who donate their time and aircraft that have moved 1,900 wounded warriors and family members. He described their operation as “High in Compassion and Low in Red Tape!”.

During our discussion we agreed that efforts like Veterans Airlift Command and MilitaryAvenue.com are like a salve/healing for Vietnam era veterans like ourselves who were not treated well by many of our countrymen. I remember thinking that I would never accept that sort of treatment again – afraid to wear our uniforms on commercial aircraft or in public. In fact, told not too by our superiors! Today we see a much different effort to recognize and support our veterans.

He described the story of an injured veteran dealing with airline travel, security procedures, etc and some of the frustrations that Veterans Airlift Command avoids with door to door service for those who deserve our support! He said it “is not charity, its payback” for their service. They flew a mission today from Dallas to Louisville for a wounded warrior and they can move families to veterans who are unable to travel due to their injuries. Do not be afraid to call or email! They want to help you or someone you know! I linked to their blog and website above but here is the phone number and email address for further information as well! By the way you could spend hours on the blog listening/watching/reading the stories of wounded warriors and the lives they touch! It is a wonderful effort to tell their story!


Veterans Airlift Command
5775 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 700
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
952-582-2911
info@veteransairlift.org


Thank you Walter is not enough, but it is a start! God Bless our wounded warriors and their families!

US Army Initial Military Training - DoD Roundtable with LTG Mark Hertling

I remember my first connection with the military community like it was yesterday! My concerns when I left my hometown for officer training school and pilot training in 1971 were certainly far less than the open fear of my family! All new military trainees and their families must face those same concerns and fears so when I saw the opportunity to listen to and question the Deputy Commanding General for Army Initial Military Training I quickly volunteered (I can do that now since I am retired - first rule, never volunteer was a common civilian warning before I entered the Air Force). I wanted to hear how the Army was adapting their new training programs.

During today's DoD Roundtable we listened to Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Training and Doctrine Command Deputy Commanding General - Initial Military Training, talking live from the the Initial Military Training Conference in Columbia, SC and Ft Jackson talk about Army “basic” training.

General Hertling said there were 200 leaders at the forum to review the progress of IMT since it was stood up in September 2009. They have had the chance to include lessons learned from our combat forces, added technological capabilities not available in the past and to better understand this new generation of soldiers. I asked him what the #1 task from the forum that he would take away for action. He said that he could not narrow it to one but spoke of three categories that needed to be addressed. First, the skills each soldier learns are fairly straight forward but have been reviewed for application to each soldier’s needs (more on that later). Second, the physical training of civilians in transition has been challenging based on our society’s reduced physical condition. He said that this generation of Americans were frequently obese, out of shape and not as physically able as previous generations! Wow! The key is to train them without “breaking them”. The third category was the inculcation of values and professional military ethos that most do not have. He said this was also a difficult challenge for the training program.

To better understand the requirements of trainees the Army has begun a program to determine the baseline of “soldier resiliency” through testing of four areas: Societal, emotional, physical and spiritual. This can also be used later for assisting soldiers with injuries whether physical or emotional (PTSD or traumatic brain injury for examples).

They have also evaluated the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drill which have grown “onerous” (according to the general) in the last 6 years and more reflect the requirements of an infantry soldier versus a basic soldier. The Tasks were at 32 and the Drills at 11 when they began their review and many soldiers did not even know what they were. So they have reduced them to 12 and 4 respectively with all Army commands in agreement and they are waiting for the Army Chief of Staff to approve before implementation. He gave the example of training on claymore mines and 50 caliber machine guns which can be better focused training in later courses for soldiers actually using these weapons (most trainees will probably never touch a claymore mine).

When asked if trainees were provided training on social media such as Facebook, twitter, etc., he said that the leaders needed the training! In fact, the forum was having a session this afternoon to talk about it. The IMT has a Facebook and Twitter account to help keep those interested informed. He also mentioned that the Army was looking at a pilot study on a CSDA, Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications (similar to an iPhone). He called the times “exciting” for the Army and the IMT community.

The general was concerned about the training stress for the drill sergeants and their families. He said that most (96%) are recent combat veterans. Many return from a deployment and expectations for both the soldier and their family is a more relaxed pace of life and it is far from that. The long days and commitment to caring for the new soldiers can be a tough job but one that is done well by his soldiers! Thank you General for your service and commitment to the training of our soldiers!


Interested in seeing more Roundtable interaction? Go to Our Letters to You blog for some very interesting blogs on training, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan and other military issues. Please go to DoDLive for an audio or written transcript of the Roundtable! It is only 30 minutes long and the comments are extremely informative!








Photo Credit: Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, Training and Doctrine Command Deputy Commanding General - Initial Military Training DoDLive

Photo Credit: Basic training Soldiers learn how to detect and react to possible bombs at the new IED village. Nov 25, 2009 www.Army.mil

Wordless Wednesday: Homemade Pizza... YUM!






Training the Afghan Army (Part II) - DoD Roundtable with Brigadier Simon Levey, British Army

Military bloggers enjoyed another DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable today with Brigadier Simon Levey, British Army, Commander, Combined Training Advisory Group-Afghanistan. Brigadier Levey was interesting, informative and he brought a new perspective to the training issues for the Afghan National Army (ANA). The efforts of the allies in Afghanistan for 8+ years will be successful if the Afghans prepare for the eventual departure of allied forces with a trained, professional, educated and ethical army. The trainers might be said to be the linchpin of our efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. The camaraderie between military personnel, their trust and cooperation can be the glue that holds this all together!


Last week we meet with US Army Maj General David Hogg and he led us through the current training efforts of US Forces. Brigadier Levey furthered the discussion by explaining challenges that the coalition of trainers involved within his mission areas bring and the development of a professional ANA. The recent discussion within NATO for additional trainers was the first point of discussion.


Brigadier Levey said there were three lines of operations and number one started with growing the Afghan Army forces and that the additional 2,000 trainers requested will meet a need for specialty training. They would be used in the multiple military specialties such as combat engineer, communications, infantry, logistics, etc. The Combined Training Advisory Group (CTAG)-Afghanistan's including diverse nations such as the US, France, Germany, Turkey, Romania, Mongolia, Canada, Estonia, and the UK. The CTAG will “train, coach, advise and monitor” Afghan efforts as they develop a professional force. Development of the force is the second line of operations which is followed by mission execution.


The brigadier supported General Hogg’s comments on the difficulties of training an almost illiterate force and the extra effort they were putting into the education of the Afghan Army. Each level of school continues the literacy efforts with additional weeks allocated to reading and writing skills. He said the Afghans were extremely motivated and the men and women of the CTAG are extremely professional and that they demonstrated “absolutely, perfect coordination” between the different national forces in the training cycles! The trainers have 113 different courses to teach with 20,000 students each day! The additional trainers from NATO would expedite and improve training with their expertise and the expanded classroom and field training available to the Afghans.


When queried by one of the bloggers about how aircrew training was going, the brigadier said that although not part of his expertise but he thought it was going well. He also responded to another question about women in the Afghan Army with a very positive comment including the Afghan efforts to incorporate their skills and the beginning of an officer course this year for women. He further explained that the officer development programs for men came from three sources including the Afghan Army Academy, the selection of enlisted members with suitable leadership qualities who attend officer training and third, the integration of the mujaheedan fighters with critical leadership skills developed during combat.


The Afghans are enthusiastic about education and learning these skills which should bode well for their future! We can only hope and pray that is true so we can allow them to care and protect their own in the future!


If you would like to listen to an audio of the Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive! A big thank you to Brigadier Levey and the men and women of the Combined Training Advisory Group-Afghanistan for their selfless efforts to make that country a better, more secure and improved place to live! We are so very appreciative!






Photo Credit: Brigadier Simon Levey, British Army, Commander, Combined Training Advisory Group-Afghanistan (CTAG-A) DoDLive


Photo Credit: Afghan National Army soldiers lined up practicing steady firing positions on the M240B machine gun as part of NATO weapons training, Forward Operating Base Thunder, Paktya Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 13, 2009. The training is part of a three week combined action course covering NATO weapons, HMMWV drivers training and roll over drills. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Nicholas / Released)
Photographer's Name: Spc. Christopher NicholasLocation: Gardez
Date Shot: 12/13/2009Date Posted: 1/13/2010VIRIN: 091213-A-6385N-083

Photo Credit: Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and coalition forces board a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, Jan. 4, 2010. ANA and coalition forces were present for a visit by Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi, the ANA’s chief of staff and Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A), to the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr./Released)
Photographer's Name: Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.Location: Kandahar Air Field
Date Shot: 1/4/2010Date Posted: 1/6/2010VIRIN: 100104-F-0782R-167

Sometimes you just have to wonder WHY... MyCAA & the DoD

I am wondering WHY would the DoD possibly end the MyCAA? The MyCAA program is invaluable to military spouses who are constantly relocating and working to find a niche in the work force. Here are some details about the MyCAA program:

The Department of Defense (DoD) Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program provides a lifetime benefit of up to $6,000 of Financial Assistance (FA) for military spouses who are pursuing licenses, certificates, credentials or degree programs leading to employment in Portable Career Fields.

Who Is Eligible?

Spouses of DoD Active Duty members and activated members of the National Guard and Reserve Components who are on Title 10 orders are eligible to receive MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA).

Who Is Not Eligible?

Military spouses who are legally separated under court order or statute are ineligible. Spouses who are Active Duty or activated Guard or Reserve members themselves are ineligible. Coast Guard spouses are ineligible.

What MyCAA Pays For

MyCAA FA pays tuition for education and training courses, and professional licenses, certifications, and credentials. This includes state certifications for teachers, medical professionals and other occupations requiring recognized certifications; licensing exams and related prep courses; Continuing Education Unit (CEU) classes including those offered through professional associations; and degree programs leading to employment in Portable Career Fields. MyCAA also pays for High School Completion courses, GED tests and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

*Source: Military OneSource

The week of February 15th, this was announced:

Effective immediately, the MyCAA program is temporarily halting operations. We are reviewing all procedures, financial assistance documents and the overall program. This pause will not affect approved Financial Assistance documents. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please check back for updates.

* Read more: Defense Department Pauses Spouse Employment Program

What can you do about this? Contact your state representatives, your congressman, local TV and Radio stations; let your current universities know of your new hardship, and spread the word about this ending!

MilitaryAvenue.com has put one of our founders on the case, Col. (Ret) Dale Kissinger is working to get a DoD RoundTable going to discuss the MyCAA suspension. As soon as we have more news we will certainly share it. We have found that DoD Roundtables help get the word out quickly and to a wide audience. Here is a list of DoD Roundtables we have been involved with during the last few months:


Please comment on this blog with ideas and suggestions or stories of how the MyCAA has assisted you. We will bring your stories with us as we look for answers and fight the good-fight.

- Dan from MilitaryAvenue.com

Is this what support feels like? The 'Pause' of MyCAA

I have a barrel of emotions running through me this morning. Distrust. Anger. Frustration. Not pretty emotions. And it is all for our military-spouses directed - AT - our administration.

Effective immediately, the MyCAA program is temporarily halting operations. We are reviewing all procedures, financial assistance documents and the overall program. This pause will not affect approved Financial Assistance documents. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please check back for updates.
They pulled paused MyCAA (Military Spouse Career Advancement). Not good. Not good at all. The program gave $6,000 in tuition money to help the military-spouse with a portable career. A portable career is A NECESSITY for a military wife or husband moving every two to three years; a military wife or husband running a household for a year-long deployment as a single-parent of sorts; a military wife or husband who wants to contribute to the bottom-end of the family finances, to be a contributing member, to feel empowered.

MyCAA FA pays tuition for education and training courses, and professional licenses, certifications, and credentials. This includes state certifications for teachers, medical professionals and other occupations requiring recognized certifications; licensing exams and related prep courses; Continuing Education Unit (CEU) classes including those offered through professional associations; and degree programs leading to employment in Portable Career Fields. MyCAA also pays for High School Completion courses, GED tests and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. - http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS/FindInformation/Category/MilitarySpouseCareerAdvancementAccounts.aspx

They say it is to review the program.
“This short-term break will allow us to better assess the program to ensure we are achieving that goal.” - http://www.militaryavenue.com/Articles/Defense+Department+Pauses+Spouse+Employment+Program-32977.aspx

I hope that is the case. I hope they will reestablish the program ASAP. Although, my gut tells me otherwise. Once it is reestablished how is it going to have changed?  You have to plan your education. If we aren’t sure a program is going to be available how can we plan for the Summer-session, or the Fall- semester? For those who had turned in their paper-work, and while waiting for approval had signed up for spring classes where is the money going to come from now? We are trying our hardest to plan around deployments, PCSs, children’s schedules. This is just another drop in the bucket of planning that leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

Just a month ago our First Lady Announced a boost in the budget for Family Programs:
“In addition, based on input from military spouses, the request will include $84 million for spousal career development, Obama said, including tuition assistance and a federal internship program.”
- http://www.militaryavenue.com/Articles/First+Lady+Announces+Family+Program+Budget+Boost-32780.aspx

I hate to point out their math error; an error my 1st grade son could surely point out them.
Taking away is not adding.

Thank you to Military OneSource for not leaving us completely high-and-dry in the information department… here are some Alternative Educational Funding Opportunities. Yes, there are other options; scholarships, the GI Bill, education loans.  And, yes, we are flexible. I think most military-spouses are made of rubber; you can bend us, twist us, and we will not break. Most times we bounce right back into place. But it doesn’t mean it leaves us feeling very good; and it certainly doesn't leave us feeling supported as we feel the rug being pulled out from under us (even if they say they will put the rug back where they found it).


- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com




Questions?  Stop in the Education Avenue:  Post an Education related question for other military-families and experts to help you with!
 
Become an Expert, yourself, today! An 'Expert', me?! Most certainly!

Homes for Our Heroes & other great organizations looking for your support

Have you seen our outreach to the business community?  "Marketing to the Military" is all about and for our MilitaryAvenue Business Partners, the companies that support the military-community.  This morning I sent them some information about how they can support you, the military-family.  But outreach like this isn't limited to the businesses around you ... You can help too!





There are a lot of great organizations out there that support our military-families in times of need; from deployment-support (Armed Services YMCA), to a new baby for young parents (Operation Homefront); from wounded warrior transitions (Wounded Warrior Project), to dealing with the unexpected loss of a military-member (TAPS). These organizations (and so many more) help families cope with major change: some expected, some very unexpected.

A big Kudos to our MilitaryAvenue Partner, Stephanie McGee, a Realtor with Keller Williams Preferred Realty.  She is going out of her way to raise money for Homes for Our Troops an organization that supports wounded-warriors.  (Continued)

Quick and Easy Low Carb Lunch

Fresh from the oven, a dish of broccoli, carrots and Angle Hair Pasta... Nice! There are times when pasta just sounds right. My mind really likes the idea of that comfort food... and when it comes, presented in the form of Angel Hair pasta... oh my! I like this!

This summer we canned carrots like nobody's business. We love them. Some I put in quart jars... a bit too big for us to use in one meal. I also froze broccoli. We had the best plants ever. So there are freezer bags and bags of them yet in produce freezer downstairs. Life is so good!

We zoomed in late for lunch yesterday, no time to make soup, so I decided to 'clean out' the refrigerator of Saturday night dinner. The meal was wonderful and I knew I had to share! It is also so simple, no addition of herbs, salt or extras.

Quick and Easy Low Carb Broccoli, Carrots, Pasta and Feta

Week in Review: Week of February 14-20 (Military News)

Here are ten of our most popular military-related articles for the week on MilitaryAvenue.com:


February Featured Military Reward This month has been extremely busy for the men and women of our armed forces! With Haiti relief in full swing and many deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and other "hot spots" the community is feeling very stretched! We have decided to recognize this month's Featured Military Reward with a military spouse run business! We had many wonderful Rewards to choose from but hers stood out!...

Loving a Person Loving a person just the way they are, it's no small thing.  I woke up this morning with a song in my head. Kind of strange, as I haven't heard it for awhile.   It takes some time to see things through.  But it has reminded me of how blessed I am. And yet, relationships in my life require work. Simply because I am me. They are them. ...

MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Are you having a baby?  Whether this is your first child or another addition to your growing family, a new baby changes lives! Here are some resources from MilitaryAvenue.com as you prepare for the arrival of the newest "Military Brat":   Trying to Get Pregnant? Tips on Ovulation; TRICARE Reminds Beneficiaries of Covered Infertility Treatments...

2010 Military Saves Week - The Stress of Making a Purchase  Did you know that The Department of Defense has designated Feb. 22 through March 1, 2010 as Military Saves Week? Saving money... kind of a sore point for me. I would MUCH RATHER take a shopping spree at Target then save a budgeted amount each month for my retirement ... in like 30 years! Egads... don't the 'financial experts' know that I live in the here-and-now?!  Well not my husband. He is my saver...

101 Ways to thank a Veteran  A post written around Veterans Day, 2009 but still very popular, and appropriate: 1.Send a message of support on the "Thank the Troops Message Form" at OurMilitary.mil  2.Take a Veteran out to eat; whether it is a fast-food chain or a fine-dining establishment. Tell them why you are bringing them out to eat.  3.Are you a knitter or crocheter? Make a scarf for the cold-winters ahead. Donate them at a local-VFW for a veteran in need or contact Operation Gratitude to see how to donate. ...

Medicine in Iraq in 2010 and Beyond - DoD Roundtable  Imagine trying to find a doctor or nurse in a country where 90% of the doctors fled after multiple devastating wars, an insurgency with criminal elements kidnapping physicians for ransom and a medical community that spent 35 years locked in a closet away from the rest of the world’s medical system by the dictatorial government under Saddam Hussein!  The Iraq medical community has a long ways to go before recovering to its previous expertise!  ...

Supporting Our Troops in the Field - DoD Roundtable As "Operation Moshtarak" kicked off this week it brought me back to the fourth military budget theme from the Department of Defense discussed in earlier blogs. During the Roundtable with Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale, he highlighted the themes of the military budget as being:  1) Taking care of our people 2) Rebalancing the Military  3) Reforming what and how we buy  4) Supporting our troops in the field ...

What would you ask at the Council of College and Military Educators?  You would think Nashville would be warmer than Grand Rapids, Michigan. Well it's not. In fact, it is snowing as I type. This week I am at the Council of College and Military Educators.  I will have a chance to meet with military program directors from a number of colleges and universities that want to get in front of military audiences. The week will heat up Tuesday morning with the convention opening.   ...

How to get Double Discounts off the price of your cruise vacation  It's a well kept secret: military personnel could save hundreds to thousands of dollars off the price of their cruise vacation. While there are many cruise price discounts and specials deals available to military personnel, they'll only benefit from them if they know where and how to find them. Cruise line pricing is not created equal. The cruise lines have different 'fare codes' for their cruise prices that only specific people can qualify for at certain times. ...

Help Us Build a Home for Your Local Hero  Marine Sgt. Steven Kiernan was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq when he suffered life altering injuries that caused him to lose both of his legs in May 2008. While returning from a security patrol and acting as Walking Point, the leading foot patrol, Sgt. Kiernan and his team were hit by an IED, creating confusion in what had moments before been an ordinary day, with children playing in the streets and people out and about  ...

2010 Military Saves Week - The Stress of Making a Purchase

Did you know that The Department of Defense has designated Feb. 21 through Feb. 28, 2010 as Military Saves Week? Saving money... kind of a sore point for me. I would MUCH RATHER take a shopping spree at Target then save a budgeted amount each month for my retirement ... in like 30 years! Egads... don't the 'financial experts' know that I live in the here-and-now?!

Well not my husband. He is my saver. Finances might be tight but darn-it-all our monthly budgeted-allotment is going into our IRAs. "You have to pay yourself too", he says. Well I'll pay myself... by buying that cool new household-gizmo that I just need right now. He just shakes his head in utter-dismay. Is there really any hope for his wife?!

But I have SEEN the beauty of saving first hand ... and because I have it has made me a better consumer in the long run. Strides ... I'm taking great strides! I'm a little less prone to stomping out of the room when hubs pulls the "It is not in the budget" line. I pick things up .... put them down ... pick things up ... and finally put them down for good. (Sometimes things even stay in my cart for a couple trips around the aisle while I contemplate.)

Almost two years ago we got stimulus-money from the government. My husband was in Iraq and I knew I wanted to plan a big family vacation when he got home. I KNEW he would be thrilled if I said let's save this stimulus money for when we are a family again. And I did! I opened up a CD, put the money in and let it sit for a WHOLE YEAR! Wow that felt good! And you know what felt better?! Disney World in 2009! Knowing we had that money stored away made that trip so much more fun to plan. We weren't worrying about breaking the bank. Why? Because we saved!

There is so much less guilt about spending - when you have saved for it. If I make a conscientious decision to buy something --- If I think about it for a few days, or a few weeks depending on the circumstances, I don't question myself and then in that same sense feel dread thinking, "How are we going to pay for this?!"

This isn't a new subject for me I've written about "Penny Pinching" ... which /is/ different then budgeting ... but makes budgeting so much easier! Here is an expert ... but you can read the whole blog too: (http://militaryblog.militaryavenue.com/2009/03/penny-pinching.html)

All this money-talk though has me thinking about ways that we can save money, a nickle at a time, even.
  • I can't be the Joneses
  • Coupon Clipping
  • Compare prices
  • Do you need that cart?
  • Line-dry your clothes
  • Nothing says "I love you" like a homemade card.

There is a lot to be said about budgeting, penny-pinching, of course, saving. I am glad to see efforts being made to educate our military & their families! There are a lot of resources out there! Here are just a few:

Other "Letters":
Financial (In)dependence
Your Finances in a Crisis? An Interview with a Financial Expert from USAA
Your Finances in a Crisis? Part 2: An Interview with a Financial Expert from USAA
Your Finances in a Crisis? Part 3 and Final: An Interview with a Financial Expert from USAA

Additional Resources:
Military Saves Web site
Shop smart using saver savvy tips
Financial Readiness: As Critical as Fully Charged Batteries
MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Money & The Military
Personal Finance Expert Gives Soldiers Advice They Can Bank On
Take Your Thrift Savings Plan with You
Thrift Savings Plan
Where to Go — and Not Go — When You Need Money


So I raise my glass (of milk, of course, I am 4 months-pregnant and we are SAVING for baby number four now too) and toast to Saving, Budgeting and less-stress in Purchasing!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Training the Afghan Army - DoD Roundtable with Maj Gen Hogg

Maj. Gen. David Hogg, deputy commander-Army, NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan provided some great insight into the current NATO efforts with the Afghan Army training, including their current status, plans for future builds, and the many challenges they face. His responses to the Roundtable questions were especially informative and helpful in understanding the current situation within the Afghan Army. If we are to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people their Army must be well trained and support the government security programs. This will be necessary before we can disengage and allow the Afghans to maintain their own security programs and provide opportunities for their people to become educated and prosperous.


Gen Hogg has been in Afghanistan for 9 months and has oversight of training programs including combat forces, logistics, medical, infrastructure and equipment. The Afghan Army currently has 104,000 trained personnel in uniform with 17,000 basic trainees in the regional schoolhouses. The end strength goal for October 31st this year is 134,000. By the end of the following year (October 2012) the Ministry of Defense goal is to have 171,600 in uniform. Currently, there are 20,000 personnel in training including the basic trainees.


The additional 3,000 slots are for officer training, NCO training, aircrew and the commando training program which is similar to our Ranger training. The commando training program has been very successful and is partnered with Army Special Forces teams. The aircrew training is for MI-17 helicopters and C-27A aircraft and requires English training as well. Due to literacy issues the basic course has two weeks of reading/writing so they can write their names, recognize the number of their weapons and other basic military needs. Gen Hogg said that education is a “big deal” to them. The Defense Language Institute is providing English language training as well.


The Afghan Army now has a four year military academy and graduates 213 officers in March. The development of an officer and NCO leadership track is critical to the Afghan Army success. Their personnel system is a challenge according to the general. One challenge for training is to transfer Afghan trainers from combat units with current experience back to the schoolhouses. Progress is being made and the Afghan leadership understands how this will help improve the performance. During the current push into Marjah there have been no incidents of non-performance by the Afghan Army and with the right leadership they perform admirably. The general said they will be following up with a lessons learned program after the current operation to use in Afghan training programs.


One controversial program mentioned in the media, the re-integration of the Taliban into the Army has not happened and no program is in place to do that, the general said in response to one blogger’s question. However, Gen Hogg said this will be a high level decision before the training would start. They do have a training program for former mujaheedan fighters that has been successful! One aid to successful recruiting efforts has been the increase in pay for soldiers. In December, the basic pay went from $45 to $165 a month with combat pay increasing to $75 in red zones and $65 in yellow zones. The zones are levels of combat risk. One blogger quoted General McChrystal and said that the Taliban were being paid $300 a month and the general said they were not competing in pay. He emphasized that the recruits were primarily interested in supporting their families and that the medical program for the active soldiers included their families! He called them “highly motivated recruits” who state their reason for joining the Army is to serve Afghanistan!


One key challenge the recruiters and Army face is the ethnic mix in Afghanistan. With a high percentage of Pushtans and Tajiks the effort to balance the Army to reflect the national demographics is critical and is part of the challenge the personnel system mentioned earlier. This is a very sensitive issue for all Afghans and they must do a balancing act to maintain a unified force. In a form of affirmative action they have metrics and goals for the different ethnic groups. In particular they need to grow the presence of Pushtans from the southern part of the country.


I took away from this Roundtable that the training programs are in good hands and the success of the Afghan Army in developing leadership will determine the end result of these efforts. The senior leadership that has purchased positions through graft needs to be moved into greener pastures and allow the younger officers to be promoted. The development of a retirement system will help make this happen according to General Hogg. Great information general and thank you so much for taking the time for this great update for the Roundtable!


If you would like to listen to an audio of the Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive! Two recent blogs I wrote about the war fighters in Afghanistan include: The "Can Do" Seabees in Afghanistan - DoD Roundtable and Supporting Our Troops in the Field - DoD Roundtable.




Photo Credit: In this file photo, U.S. Army Soldiers look on as Afghan National Army soldiers zero their weapons during basic rifle marksmanship training on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2009. The soldiers are assigned to the 1st Infantry Division's, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Photo Credit: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie


Photo Credit: An Afghan National Army Soldier, with the Fire Direction Control center, looks over data displayed on the Afghan Field Artillery Computer during a live-fire exercise at Forward Operating Base Kalagush, Aug. 2. The AFAC is a system designed to give instant coordinates for field artillery units, allowing for m Photo Credit: U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Moeller, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

"Here to Protect, Ready to Rescue" - The Coast Guard 2011 Budget - DoD Roundtable

The DoD Roundtable had the privilege of interviewing the Coast Guard commandant, Admiral Allen prior to his retirement this year. Admiral Thad W. Allen assumed the duties of the 23rd Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on May 25th, 2006. The Coast Guard is the largest component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), comprised of about 42,000 men and women on Active Duty, 7,000 civilians, 8,000 Reservists and 34,000 volunteer Auxiliarists and is the fifth military service. I spent several tours in the Air Force combat rescue world and my Coast Guard contacts were always extremely professional and they often accomplished much with few resources. Visits to Coast Guard maintenance facilities at Elizabeth City, NC reflected the organizations pride and mission focus as well!

During the Roundtable Admiral Allen discussed the Coast Guards fiscal year 2011 budget including anticipated budget impacts such as the need to recapitalize the service's aging ships, aircraft and shore facilities. He also spoke proudly of the Coast Guard's recent response efforts in Haiti.

With his opening remarks concentrating on the need to recapitulate the Coast Guard resources such as cutters, boats and infrastructure it was easy to see why they had chosen it as their number one priority. With an ageing fleet of ships and small, isolated infrastructure stations in need of updates and funding Admiral Allen will ask Congress for the following spending priorities in hearings schedule in 3-4 weeks. Here are Coast Guard Budget Priorities for 2011:

- Recapitalize cutters, boats, aircraft and infrastructure

- Deliver value to the Nation

- Support and develop a competent, capable, diverse, and healthy workforce

- Modernize business practices


According to the admiral the Coast Guard will be smaller next year as they downsize manpower to provide additional funding for the recapitulation of their resources. The manpower reduction is about 1,000 active duty and will be partially covered by a much smaller hiring of civilian manpower (339 positions). When queried about the impact of the manpower loss on the national defense mission he provide some great commentary on how the Coast Guard provided some great capabilities but with so many missions to accomplish he had to use risk management to determine which to prosecute. He used the example of moving the anti drug resources in the Caribbean as first responders after the Haiti earthquake. The quake victims became the priority for them and he was quite proud of their response! So are we Admiral! Thank you from a grateful nation!

The Coast Guard intends to pursue purchase of national security cutters, patrol boats, utility boats and patrol aircraft. According to the budget the vessels and aircraft being replaced have reached the end of their service life! Specifically, FY 2011 recapitalization funding for NSC #5 with the ultimate goal of replacing the 40 year old fleet of 12 high endurance cutters. The maritime patrol aircraft will replace the 25 year old HU-25 Falcon jet fleet and the Fast Response Cutters will replace the Island Class Patrol Boat. Finally, the Response Boats-Medium will replace the current utility boats. When asked about helicopter resources, the admiral felt that the current fleet of HH-60s and HH65s had been through recent retrofits and that block upgrades such as the new engines for the HH-65s would keep them operational for 10-15 years.

When I asked about Coast Guard efforts to support their families, the Admiral spoke with conviction and heart felt feelings. His big point was parity/equity with the other military services. He said sometimes legislation forgets the Coast Guard when determining family funding issues such as child development centers and housing. Having seen some pretty bad Coast Guard housing I think he has a great point! The Guardian families are often located in isolated places with medical facility challenges as well. The admiral said the families often are in an almost deployed situation. The budget does include $14M for new housing which he was happy with and expressed appreciation to the President and First Lady for their support in this matter.

He closed with challenges faced by the Coast Guard including defining the Coast Guard’s role in Homeland Security and how to operate in a constrained budget environment. Thank you Admiral Allen for your service! Best Wishes and God Speed!

If you would like to listen to the audio of the Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive! Specific budget information can be found in this online pdf document If you would like to listen to Admiral Allen's State of the Coast Guard speech at the National Press Club here is an audio link.

If you would like to read more about the military response to the earthquake in Haiti please go to our Haiti articles on MilitaryAvenue.com which is chronological. To see the US Coast Guard installations on MilitaryAvenue please go to Coast Guard installations.



Photo Credits: Admiral Allen's Official Bio Photo

Photo Credits: PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Coast Guard Lt. Teresa Wolf, a physician assistant assigned to Port Security Unit (PSU) 307, and Methelus Edelette, A Haitian Coast Guard corpsman, provide medical attention and medicine during an orphanage relief project, Feb. 03,

Medicine in Iraq in 2010 and Beyond - DoD Roundtable

Imagine trying to find a doctor or nurse in a country where 90% of the doctors fled after multiple devastating wars, an insurgency with criminal elements kidnapping physicians for ransom and a medical community that spent 35 years locked in a closet away from the rest of the world’s medical system by the dictatorial government under Saddam Hussein!


The Iraq medical community has a long ways to go before recovering to its previous expertise! At one time this country's medicine was the envy of the region! Now they are re-building with American assistance! We spoke with Dr. Adel Hanson, linguist/medical advisor, USF-I Health Affairs, Iraq Training and Advisory Mission (ITAM); Col. Bernard DeKoning, ITAM and medical advisor, and Lt. Col. Andrew Kosmowski, CJTF-76 Surgery Cell about the current status of Iraqi medical efforts. The medical system is divided into three parts: the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Health (MoH). These different entities support the military (MoD), the national police (MoI) and civilians (MoH) and we discussed the first two and touched on the third.


According to the Roundtable announcement, “Those wounded after insurgent explosions are lucky to survive their wounds, even minor ones. However, Iraqi MEDEVAC teams have made great advancements in their procedures. Iraqi medical professionals are making advancements in training and ultimately in saving lives.”


Prior to 2003 the United Nations sanctions and subsequent criminal activity in the Oil for Food programs the medical supplies and equipment in Iraq were simply not available or very limited. After the US invaded, the military units that held much of the medical capability were broken and most Iraqis had no access to care. The Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission (ITAM) is changing that as they provide training and resources for the Iraqi medical personnel! One aspect with many positive results is the training of a response force in the Ministry of Defense with MI-17 (Hip) helicopters. While not a dedicated medevac platform the helicopters are directed to respond with medical teams as needed in a joint US Air Force and US Army training program for helicopter crews and medical teams. They are involved in exercises for mass casualty response and future standby alert crews during potential trouble spots. The MoD has six MI-17s available with four trained crews for this mission and continue to grow crews through joint training efforts with the ITAM Air Force aircrews and flight surgeon team.


The Army ITAM team is creating capacity and “training the trainer” type of courses are critical to the effort! At Camp Taji, Iraq medics have a schoolhouse for these efforts until a new training center/hospital is constructed in downtown Baghdad. The new facility is intended to be finished in November and will provide connectivity world wide and back to the States for continued training opportunities through social media type of portals! One of the challenges mentioned by the ITAM team was retention of medics in the MoD and MoI due to pay and location issues. The Ministry of Health provides better pay, flexibility and relocation is by choice versus orders in the Defense and Interior programs. This makes it difficult to retain the trained personnel (similar to issues that US medical programs with retention in the past) who after training prefer the MoH route.

However, the doctors expressed some great optimism for the future of the Iraqi medical community! In the last 10-11 months they are seeing doctors return to Iraq from Jordan and the United Kingdom! With stability has come a reduction in criminal elements and less fear and the return of these experienced medics is giving a boost to the efforts of the medical community to return to their previous level of expertise. Dr Hanson said that it showed that “the people have not lost faith in the country”. The ITAM team described the Iraqi medical efforts as at a “crossroads” while “well poised” to create a world class system with a great future!


Interested in reading more articles on American efforts in Iraq please go the MilitaryAvenue Reading Room!


If you would like to read a transcript or listen to the audio of the Roundtable please go to DoDLive! Thank you Lt Cragg and the team at the New Media Directorate,
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Defense Media Activity for making these Roundtables available!




Photo Credit: Maj. Adnan Naji, a senior medical officer and commander of the Taji Location Command Medical Clinic level 2, explains, in Arabic, the technique used by Spc. Christopher Graham, a brigade medic and health specialist with the 96th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Pleasant Grove, Utah, native, to apply bandages to a simulated open abdominal wound on Staff Sgt. Michael Carlson, a medic with the 1161st Task Force, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sust. Bde., 13th ESC and a Yakima, Wash., native, Jan. 13 at Camp Taji, Iraq. Carlson and Graham are instructors training Iraqi Army medical officers on combat medical procedures at Camp Taji.


Photo Credit: Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group unload a patient from an Iraqi helicopter during medical evacuation training for the Iraqi air force Dec. 21, 2009, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The purpose of the training is to help Ministry of Defense officials strengthen their health care system for Iraqi troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brittany Bateman)



Photo Credit: Iraqi air force airmen put their skills to the test during medical evacuation training Dec. 21, 2009, at the Air Force Theater Hospital, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The purpose of the training is to help Ministry of Defense officials strengthen their health care system for Iraqi troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brittany Bateman)

Loving a Person




Loving a person just the way they are, it's no small thing


I woke up this morning with a song in my head.  Kind of strange, as I haven't heard it for awhile. 


It takes some time to see things through

But it has reminded me of how blessed I am. And yet, relationships in my life require work.  Simply because I am me.  They are them.  My husband is head-strong, my dad is a mover & shaker, my mom wants the best for me, my step-son is, well, a teenager, I sometimes threaten to eat my own children (think about spiders eating their young and you get the picture), friends around the world are not me!  (Thank God!)

Sometimes things change, sometimes we're waiting

Sometimes it is me that has to reach out and be a part of their life.  Sometimes I need them to reach out and be a part of mine.  Sometimes we meet in the middle.

We need grace either way

Hold on to me

I'll hold on to you

Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through



Tomorrow starts Lent.  My husband is Catholic, I am Protestant... This is one area where he has reached out and met me.  We attend a grace-filled, family-oriented, Presbyterian church, faithfully (almost) every week.  I didn't grow up "Presbyterian".  I was kind of a Protestant-mut :)  Moving around the country as an Air Force Brat we went to churches where we were welcomed, where the message was Christ-centered, we really didn't care what 'denomination'.  However, the word LENT was not in my vocabulary.

As you can imagine (with any Catholic knowledge), Lent is a big deal to my husband.  So as we coast into this season from tomorrow through Easter we will be conscientious of not serving and eating meat on Fridays.  Tomorrow night around the dinner table we will talk to the boys about what Lent is.  Hubs will probably not eat, as fasting on Ash Wednesday is important to him.

I think that I will not necessarily be 'giving up' anything up for Lent.  But I will choose to be very conscientious about how I show love, and to whom.  It's not easy to always love.  Love isn't a cute little Valentine's card or a candy-heart with smooshy words written on them.  Love is hard.  Love is real.  Love can only be grace-filled.

There's a lot of pain in reaching out and trying
It's a vulnerable place to be
Love and pride can't occupy the same spaces baby
Only one makes you free



Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through



If we go looking for offense
We're going to find it
If we go looking for real love
We're going to find it

The song came from the recesses of my mind but I know Who planted it there.  I thank God for grace-filled love every day!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

PS If you want to hear a sample of the song, by one of my FAVORITE artists, Sara Groves, click here -> http://www.last.fm/music/Sara+Groves/_/Loving+A+Person?autostart

What would you ask at the Council of College and Military Educators?

MilitaryAvenue Followers!

You would think Nashville would be warmer than Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Well it's not.  In fact, it is snowing as I type. This week I am at the Council of College and Military Educators: http://www.ccmeonline.org/nashville10.aspx.

I will have a chance to meet with military program directors from a number of colleges and universities that want to get in front of military audiences. The week will heat up Tuesday morning with the convention opening.

While at the convention I will have numerous opportunities to ask military friendly universities, Military OneSource staff, and other attendees any questions you may have. Please use our Education Avenue, Answers tool, Facebook page, Twitter, leave a comment on the blog, or email me at dan@militaryavenue.com with any questions you may have.  I WANT to find the answers to Your higher-education questions!

I will be blogging throughout the convention so please hit refresh on our blog frequently. Oh, and I will be sure to post a wrap up as soon as I get back to Michigan on Friday!

Respectfully,

Dan Kissinger
MilitaryAvenue.com

Popular Articles: Week of February 7 - 13

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Angels Amongst Us ...

USAA and Zag Team up with Mercedes-Benz USA

For Our MilitaryAvenue Partners: Stop by and introduce yourself!

Advance Pay for a PCS

Military OneSource Offers Free Tax Filing

For our MilitaryAvenue Partners: Your Military Rewards and How to Win the Hearts of the Military Community

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Escape and Save with the Armed Forces Vacation Club

Growing up in the Military


Supporting Our Troops in the Field - DoD Roundtable


As "Operation Moshtarak" kicked off this week it brought me back to the fourth military budget theme from the Department of Defense discussed in earlier blogs. During the Roundtable with Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale, he highlighted the themes of the military budget as being:

1) Taking care of our people
2) Rebalancing the Military
3) Reforming what and how we buy
4) Supporting our troops in the field


I wrote on the first priority in, The 2011 Military Budget - DoD Roundtable with Secretary Hale and people programs usually gain a lot of support. I wrote on the second and third themes in The Defense Budget Squabble Continues at the Kitchen Table – DoD Roundtable. More controversial than the first theme the second and third themes are very politically challenging as they are based on decisions which affect the purchase of major weapon systems, canceling others , how the money is split between the services, etc. and which congressional district receives more or less in the budget. The fourth theme is probably not as controversial since it directly pays for the efforts of the combat troops and those supporting them. During the roundtable Secretary Hale said this about the 4th theme,


"And our final theme in this budget is supporting our troops in the field, providing all the resources they need, including financial resources. And that brings us to what we call the overseas contingency operations, or OCO, portion of the budget, the wartime portion. And we have added -- asked, as I mentioned before, $159 billion as we build up in Iraq and draw down -- I'm sorry, we build up in Afghanistan and draw down in Iraq, as well as $33 billion in -- for fiscal year '10 supplemental to pay for the extra troops ordered to Afghanistan."


I never agreed with this administration’s change from the “War on Terror” to Overseas Contingency Operations because I think it further separates the military community from the American population. The military is at war and the casualty receiving center at Dover AFB proves this almost every day and I believe most Americans are not in touch with this fact! But this is about the budget that supports the Afghanistan buildup, the drawdown in Iraq and supports the President’s decision on Guantanamo detainee operations (which may be particularly difficult to get through Congress due how controversial it is with the American population and specifically the citizens of New York). It supports the infrastructure improvements in Afghanistan needed to win the war there and provides training for the Afghan security forces as well! It will also provide funds for the continued training of Iraqi security forces and the peaceful and I might add successful transition in Iraq.


Secretary Hale said it will also provide for the equipping of Iraqi and Afghan forces with new rotary aircraft, additional units, individual equipment and salaries of police and soldiers. The effectiveness of these national assets in both countries is directly tied to their budgets, training, equipment and morale. To be successful they must be adequately funded.


Some specific American programs funded in the proposed budget in the support of operations such as Moshtarak include:

– Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
– Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles
– Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)

These programs are force enablers and provide improved combat capability and protection for the troops at war and in combat daily! As we end this series of blogs on the proposed budget and the roundtable with Secretary Hale, I asked that we keep our forces in combat in mind as we discuss this budget during the next 6 months. As congress attempts to add earmarks (funding in their district or non military budget items), pet projects that have no relationship to the military budget and other controversial measures or actions occur, please be aware of the impact on the morale of the troops and the critical support for them and their families during wartime! Lastly, please pray for the troops and their families as they are in the middle of a large effort in many locations ensuring the security of our country and that is what the military budget is supposed to be about!

If you would like to keep up to date on budget issues please continue to follow MilitaryAvenue.com and this list of articles on the military budget for 2011! If you would like to read the transcript of this Roundtable or listen to the audio please go to DoDLive!






Photo Credit: A Marine with Weapons Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, sprints down the line of heavy machine guns to deliver a map after a firefight with Taliban insurgents Feb. 9 at the “Fire Points” intersection, a key junction of roads linking the northern area of the insurgent stronghold of Marjeh with the rest of Helmand province. Marines of Charlie Co. conducted a helicopter-borne assault earlier that morning to seize the area. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian A. Tuthill)




Photo Credit: HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army soldier fires a rocket-propelled grenade at Taliban insurgents from Marjeh firing on their position Feb. 9 at the “Five Points” intersection. A group of ANA soldiers joined the Marines of Charlie Co. as they conducted a helicopter-borne assault earlier that morning to seize the key intersection of roads linking the northern area of the insurgent stronghold of Marjeh with the rest of Helmand province. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian A. Tuthill)

Iceland Land of Ice and Fire and Fantastic Memories

This morning as I scrolled through new facebook updates, I saw that a friend had joined a group of which we were once part. I began to scroll through my own memory to recall other groups that really stand out in the fun factor of life.


Fun factor could also mean... a stretching experience. Living in a land of light and dark did play games on the psyche. And when the game got tough, friends stood side by side checking to see that our folks were winning and not the elements! It was a long 3 year game, but within those 3 years we made friends that are exemplary of heroes, military's finest - across all of the services and international friends too.


I would never say that we had a hometown experience there, but we were at home with the strength and support of those there and the importance of the mission. I can say this as a spouse, as our squadron pulled in all the family to the inner circle of living.


I joined the 56th Air Squadron facebook group. The pictures threw me into the jet stream and posted voices, names and stomping grounds. A YouTube.com video brought smiles, and the weight of the darkness that hung there for 5+ months. http://bit.ly/c6VZa3

Now I need to see if the administrator of the group will allow me to post some of my pictures on there!


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