Looking Back

I have a full checklist of things that need to get done this morning but as I was doing a bit of research I ran across an old blog-post that took me back: Holding up the Fort. I wrote this two years ago right after Hubs returned to Iraq from R&R. You can go ahead and read it I'll wait right here... :)
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Isn't it fun to look back? Relive? Revisit? The kindergartener in "Holding up the Fort" is now a 2nd grader. My preschooler from a few years ago is enjoying his own Dr Seuss week with his kindergarten class! This morning he proudly got on the bus with Flowers, his stuffed dog, and "My Many Colored Days", a favorite Seuss book here at the Kocsis Household. They grow up quick!

On my to-do list for this evening is to pack up BabyBoy *L*'s 3 to 6 month old clothes. He's getting bigger too. I just hope he isn't getting on the bus tomorrow with his favorite stuffed animal and Dr Seuss book as well.

Happy Birthday, Dr Seuss! Thanks for helping to make learning fun.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Week in Review: February 20 - 26, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of February 20th - 26th on

MilitaryAvenue.com:

Military Saves Week: That Wind in Our Hair: Fresh out of college. Brand new job. This was my former life. I worked for Hewitt Associates (HA), a benefits administration company, in their customer service department. Our clients' employees called us to help with their health care benefits, 401(k) plans and pension plans. After a bit of time with HA I became 'the manager' you talked to if you had a problem with your 401(k). Yes, I knew the rules and regulations like the back of my hand.Fresh out of college. Brand new job. Disposable income. ...

America Does Support Our Troops!: I am a Vietnam era Veteran and an Afghanistan era veteran and everything in between as well! I remember the 60s and 70s and I so appreciate how America is now recognizing and supporting our men and women and their families! We see thousands of small businesses on MilitaryAvenue with a military discount and a sense of pride and patriotism among our citizens when talking about veterans. ...

MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Money & The Military: Looking for some resources related to money-management? Look no further: February 2011 Savings Tips Drive - Give one, take a dozen! - Go "savings crazy" with MilitaryMoney.com's Facebook Savings Tips Drive, sponsored by USAA during the month of February 2011. With a goal of compiling the 50 most innovative ideas on how to save money, Military Money.com is asking readers to "drop off" their tips in a number of categories including: Utilities, Housing, Food and Kids. ...

The Rubber Band Effect: This isn't going to be one of those feel good , I know what I'm doing, all is well, posts. After all I haven't had a stretch of more than three hours of sleep in oh ... many many moons.Baby Boy *L*, 6 months old, as cuddly as they come. I am trying desperately to establish an earlier bed time routine. We have been nursing from 8:30pm till 11pm - Yes, for that long - in the comfort of my bed, my legs stretched out with a good book in my hands or my iPad at my side. By 11pm I'm exhausted. ...

That Still Small Voice: This morning got off to a late start. Hubs and I began to awaken at about 8:45am with Baby Boy nestled comfortably between us. We needed to be out the door for church at 9:00am. Didn't look like that would happen. So we decided we would hit the 11:15am church service, instead of arriving frantically late at the 9:30am service.Since 11:15 isn't our usual church service we decided to let the kids sit with us, instead of going to Sunday School with a different group of kids than usual. ...

Tasty Tuesday: Dried Fruit, a great on-the-go, money-saving, snack: On the go! That describes our family of six! From high-school wrestling meets, to work meetings through lunch; from putting together quick school lunches to grabbing a snack on the way out the door to play with friends, healthy options at our finger tips are a necessity.A few years ago we caught the 'dehydrating' bug. Hubs learned to make homemade beef jerky. Then we expanded and learned to dry fruit. Fruit at our fingertips. ...

Military Saves Week: Use that Thermos! A big congratulations to Roxie Curtis. She was our winner in our Penny Saved. Penny Earned. Contest. We had a lot of GREAT ideas and I can't wait to highlight a few of them! Roxie's was a true winner in my book: Pack healthy snacks and drinks for the little ones in reusable containers and bpa free drink bottles. There's nothing like hungry kids in the car to make you spend a lot of money for unhealthy, greasy drive-thru fast food out of desperation! Good for the environment, good for your kids, good for your wallet. :-) ...

A Snow Day Workout for TRICARE Kids: A snow day can cause excitement for many children. A day without school means texting friends, talking on the phone, playing video games, watching TV and eating lots of junk food. Sadly, bad winter weather can encourage bad winter habits. “A snow day workout – outside or inside – can keep children busy and active,” said Cmdr. Aileen Buckler (USPHS), TRICARE population health physician. “It can also start them on a path to getting and staying in shape.” ...

A penny saved is a penny earned!: Saving, something that is dear to my heart. My husband is frugal. I love to spend money. We meet in the middle. I have learned to cut back majorly on my trips to Target. He has learned not to get quite so upset when I come home with a brand-spankin' new, couldn't be passed up, it was a great deal, home decoration of some sort. (In fact, I wrote about it in more detail last year: The Stress of Making a Purchase.) Saving is a mindset: ...

Military Career Status Bonus: Been in the military over 10 years? There's a $30,000 decision to make in the next few years. Now's the time to understand the Career Status Bonus. USAA's June Walbert, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner offers her advice.



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"The Army In Your Pocket" - DoD Roundtable

Do you have a smart phone? How do you use it? Can you use the Apps on it?

I have one and there are so many applications (ie Apps) that I can not keep up with them. It appears that Uncle Sam via the US Army is ready to use commercial technology to help our soldiers fight the wars and win the missions that our country’s leadership tasks them to do. "The Army In Your Pocket” came from Lt General Michael Vane during a Department of Defense Blogger’s Roundtable this morning. General Vane is the Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center who answered my first question, "what were the biggest issues/challenges for the Army to adapt commercial technology such as Smart Phones for military use?"


He said there were two challenges that the Army faced during development of the military Smart Phone and Apps for military use. The first was a cultural challenge for soldiers who were not familiar with this technology and required training to use it. This includes some “senior folks” according to the general who make funding decisions (and may not comprehend the capability or its value to a soldier - my comment). The second challenge was information assurance (accurate data, protecting from intrusion or avoiding operational security issues) and discipline by the users to avoid misuse and therefore compromising the mission.

The Army is focusing on applications that are for training and operational missions. Right now, there are eight pilot assessments ongoing that should be complete in six to eight months for decisions on funding. The requirements document is approved, funding is available and the cost benefits will be proposed to the Army Chief of Staff for a decision on how to proceed. New apps are being written every day according to Gen Vane and 150+ are already done! In order to control application development and use their will be one Army store for apps.

Development is great but one blogger questioned how the Army would use them and the general said they would take advantage of in place 3G/4G networks and that a portable infrastructure is being developed where commercial support is not available. Always aware of information assurance, he said it could be a problem but that techniques to protect information are being addressed. Much of the information being used is timely and perishable. The smart phone apps could improve mission success without compromising security.

He also described a phone that could have two sides! One would be for personal use and the other for military use to assist in the discipline issue of using the phone for the wrong reasons. That reminds me of a story in the news this week, of the mother of a Marine receiving his one call a month on her cell phone at work in violation of company policy. It started badly with discipline action but ended well with the company recognizing the priority of the call. Imagine a young soldier’s spouse with an emergency at home or great news like the arrival of a child knowing the number of the spouse’s phone. We would expect the spouse to call and having a two sided phone clearly makes sense!

A big thank you to General Vane and the New Media Directorate for making this Roundtable possible! If you would like to listen to this Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive. To read additional Roundtable Blogs from Col K please go to Our Letters to You!



Photo Credit: Col K's cell phone with MilitaryAvenue.com pulled up.

Photo Credit: Lt. Gen. Vane, Deputy Commanding General, Futures and Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center DoD Live

Military Saves Week: Ideas from our Community of Military Families and Friends

I enjoyed the tips that we got from Facebook Fans and MilitaryAvenue Partners and wanted to share them with you, our blogging community:


  • Again, a big 'Congrats' to the winner in our "Penny Saved. Penny Earned." Contest was Roxie. Her savings idea was: "Pack healthy snacks and drinks for the little ones in reusable containers and bpa free drink bottles. There's nothing like hungry kids in the car to make you spend a lot of money for unhealthy, greasy drive-thru fast food out of desperation! Good for the environment, good for your kids, good for your wallet.:-)" ... and here are some more great ideas ...

  • Master Craft Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Services: Live by the concept of 'paying yourself first!' Too often we pay all of our bills and discretionary spending causes savings to get left off of the list. (I wrote about just this thought yesterday! Military Saves Week: That Wind in Our Hair )

  • Ryan: Max out ROTH IRA every year

  • Marla: We have recently paid off a car so since then we have rerouted that allotment to our savings account. Now every month when that payment would have gone out, it is now in savings. The best part is I will have enough to meet my husband in port for the first time in his time in the military. We are so excited!!

  • Brenda: Make a budget and stick with it! I saved $50 elect. when I wrapped hot water heater and turned it off or down at night. Save more with the energy efficient light bulbs. Also save on water by filling a water jug and placing it in toilet tank. We have smorg night when we eat all the left overs in fridge. Cut back on eating out.

  • Brenda: Your windows and doors can loose heating or cooling. Insulate them well and fill in cracks with a caulking gun. It works wonders.

  • Shannon: To help save money, we used only cash for a long time. Pulled out (4) envelopes labelled gas, food, church and entertainment. Once it was gone, that was it until the next pay period. And we also froze our credit cards. Faster payoff on debt, faster money in our savings...

  • Sherry: Buy only what you need. Don't purchase something just because it is on sale or because you have a coupon for it.

  • Ashley: We still keep a change bucket (besides our obvious accounts), before we know it, it is filled! We turn it in for cash and use it for movies, milk, or every other day items! That way,we aren't dipping into any of our bank accounts! (Especially w/4 children & a dog!)

  • April: My husband & I will pay for items with cash & pay in whole amounts ie:something that costs $12.53, pay with $13, then take the change & put it into a jar. At the end of the year, you can take the money & either put it into savings or take a vacation, or even both. You will be surprised how quickly the change adds up.

  • Mary: Use coupons... Take the amount saved each time and put it in a jar. You'll have extra money in no time. Also at the end of the week, empty your pocket/purse change into the jar. (We keep our loose change in a small-bank that sorts the coins. Then once a month we head to the kids' bank and deposit rolled coins in their college accounts. It may be only a few dollars in each account, but it adds up!)

  • Angel: We match up coupons with store coupons and/or sale prices to really maximize our savings! We buy enough at the best price to last us until the next great deal. Can't beat name brand items for very cheap or even free!

  • Chris: Before grocery shopping for the week, "shop" in your cupboards/freezer first. Use what you already have on hand for menu planning. Once menu is created, shop for items needed. This tip can save up to $50 per week or more! Happy Shopping! (On a related note, we try to do leftovers for dinner once a week, or every other week. It is a great way to clean out the frig and makes for a fairly easy meal.)

What are your tips? Even if it is just saving a few dimes here and there... they add up! Share with your fellow military-families. We'd love to hear!

Here are some other ideas we live by from the MilitaryAvenue Team:



Last note: If you are making a purchase ask if they offer a Military Discount! Home Depot and Lowes offer 10% off for Active Duty, Retired, National Guard, Reserves year round. If you have a military ID you are eligible. Old Navy offers a discount once a month. Many cellular phone companies offer a discount. Here is a great list of local-discounts. Find your installation to find local discounts: http://www.militaryavenue.com/RewardFinder.aspx

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Military Saves Week: That Wind in Our Hair

Fresh out of college. Brand new job. This was my former life. I worked for Hewitt Associates (HA), a benefits administration company, in their customer service department. Our clients' employees called us to help with their health care benefits, 401(k) plans and pension plans. After a bit of time with HA I became 'the manager' you talked to if you had a problem with your 401(k). Yes, I knew the rules and regulations like the back of my hand.

Fresh out of college. Brand new job. Disposable income. I bought a convertible. I /loved/ that convertible, a Mitsubishi Spyder. Wind in my hair. Feeling of Freedom.

One of the big advantages of working for a benefits company was ever day I saw the power of a saved dollar. I talked to folks making much less than me that had retirement accounts building wealth. They looked to their future. I talked to execs who had millions saved. They had started saving back when they too were making much less, when their belts were much tighter.

With my disposable income I maxed out my 401(k) contribution each paycheck. I watched my account grow. After a few years I got married. I had to trade in the convertible for a car to hold our family. I was growing up.

Hubs and I bought a house. I changed jobs. We had four boys. Disposable income? What is that? My hubs attitude: "Pay yourself first!" Each month we have automatic withdrawals going into our IRAs; we have rolled over my 401(k) and he is enrolled in his TSP. Every month we pay our self and look forward to our future!

We have some great articles on MilitaryAvenue.com from USAA, the Department of Defense, and other great resources. Be sure to read through them. Educate yourself. Understand the power of a saved-dollar!



Some day after our boys have grown up I'm going to feel that wind in my hair again! Thanks to our IRAs, TSP, and 401(k).

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

America Does Support Our Troops!

I am a Vietnam era Veteran and an Afghanistan era veteran and everything in between as well! I remember the 60s and 70s and I so appreciate how America is now recognizing and supporting our men and women and their families! We see thousands of small businesses on MilitaryAvenue with a military discount and a sense of pride and patriotism among our citizens when talking about veterans. Access to schools during Veterans Day and other events, neighbors helping military families and appreciation for the sacrifices they and their families are making. A ground swell is growing and we are seeing it amongst corporations as well.

Corporate America is participating in military family support programs too! Several nation wide chains have military discounts year round! Sears has their Christmas program, Veteran's Day specials and now they are doing an outreach for military families by hosting a first-ever live Military Twitter Event on Tuesday, March 1 at 2:00 pm (CST). The focus of the event is Military Family: Reintegration. The moderator for the event is Christina Dibble, the Program Manager for Military Talent Acquisition at Sears.

Part the tweet chat is a free giveaway (to a random chat participant) of a $250 gift card from Sears. The hashtag is #militarychat hosted by @MySears! For more information on this event go to http://www.mysears.com/mysears_blog/Live-Twitter-Chat---talking-about-Military-Reintegration/

Did you realize that Sears is a super military supporter and employer? Ranked nationally for their veteran employment programs and atmosphere (including great support for the Guard and Reserves). Questions? Ask Christina during the #militarychat!





Photo Credit: The Col K with his grandson at Veterans Day event at his school.

Tasty Tuesday: Dried Fruit, a great on-the-go, money-saving, snack

On the go! That describes our family of six! From high-school wrestling meets, to work meetings through lunch; from putting together quick school lunches to grabbing a snack on the way out the door to play with friends, healthy options at our finger tips are a necessity.

A few years ago we caught the 'dehydrating' bug. Hubs learned to make homemade beef jerky. Then we expanded and learned to dry fruit. Fruit at our fingertips.

Since it is Military Saves week it seems appropriate too to mention that we buy fruit in bulk when it is in season. This makes it not only a tasty treat but a treat full of savings! Pineapple, Mango, and Apple are our top three picks. You can also do bananas, apricots, plums, cherries, or pears. Your options are limitless.

Yesterday I dehydrated two mangos. We picked them up grocery shopping last week when we saw they were on sale. (Apples are perfect in autumn. Go apple picking, a fun family activity, and then dehydrate some of them to last you through the winter.)

Some quick directions if you want to give it a try yourself.:

When you cut the fruit to dehydrate the thinner you cut, the quicker it will dehydrate, and the end result will be less chewy.

Start by peeling your fruit. Then with a sharp, serrated knife, cut thin slices. (Get rid of the core.) Lay the slices on your dehydrator trays so that they are touching but not overlapping.

After your trays are filled set the temperature of the dehydrator to 135 degrees and let them "cook" for about 8 hours. You can do it at night and let them cook overnight, or start in the morning up to early afternoon and have them ready before bed.

After eight-hours check the fruit. If it is still wet, spongy, or just not quite crisp enough give it another hour. If you don't cut as thin it will need a bit more time.

We buy snack sized ziplock bags and fill each bag when the fruit is crisp. (You can refill the bags when you have gobbled up the contents.)

I keep the bags full of yumminess in our cabinet with other snack options. It is a very easy food to grab and go! It saves us from buying unnecessary food at concession stands, hitting the fast-food restaurant, or general grumpiness from being hungry. I keep some in the console of our van, a bag or two in the diaper bag and my husband keeps some in his brief-case. My son enjoys packing them in his lunch as an alternative to candy or twinkies. I enjoy them when I just don't have time to sit and eat but need a little something.

If you are on the go like we are I would encourage you to give it a try! Pineapple is sweet like candy. Mango and apples are similar, sweet yet crunchy like a chip. Your possibilities are endless. Pick up your favorite fruit and give it a shot.

I hope you enjoy nature's candy. Pure Deliciousness!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Military Saves Week: Use that Thermos!

A big congratulations to Roxie Curtis. She was our winner in our Penny Saved. Penny Earned. Contest. We had a lot of GREAT ideas and I can't wait to highlight a few of them! Roxie's was a true winner in my book:

Pack healthy snacks and drinks for the little ones in reusable containers and bpa free drink bottles. There's nothing like hungry kids in the car to make you spend a lot of money for unhealthy, greasy drive-thru fast food out of desperation! Good for the environment, good for your kids, good for your wallet. :-)

Sometimes you have to make an investment to save. We have invested in a few things that with use have paid for themselves ten-fold. A yogurt maker, a dehydrator and Thermoses for the kids' lunches.

A box of chocolate milk, a Caprisun or other juice box, a Sunny D in a one-serving container. All cost more than a quarter a serving. This adds up. Multiplied at least 5 times and then the number of school kids and you are spending more than you need to. My $10 Thermoses bought over a year ago have paid for themselves many times. The boys can enjoy cold milk, homemade lemonade or just ice water if they choose. Lots of great, healthy choices can fit in their lunch box this way for pennies on the dollar.

Sometimes cutting costs is just pennies a day. But they add up! Military Saves week is a great initiative that gets us all thinking about our future and financial readiness!

Tomorrow is Tasty Tuesday! Watch for my continuation of Roxie's idea about healthy snacks for in the car.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Week in Review: February 13 - February 19, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of February 13th - 19th on

MilitaryAvenue.com:


Being a Caregiver for Our Wounded Heroes: Do you know what it is like to be a caregiver for a seriously injured or sick person? a family member? Caring for my wonderful wife during her treatments for breast cancer five years ago became my mission! This fall she cared for me after several surgeries to remove malignant tumors from my foot and leg. With that experience and background I recognized the impact our wounded heroes' caregivers. Recently the VA provided some great information about new programs to assist our wounded and their caregivers. ...

Wounded Warriors: "It is WoundedWarrior Week! Caregiving, support groups, PTSD, walking in their shoes, ++ Find a way to #SOT"

Our Military Families and the Defense Budget of 2012 - DoD Roundtable: Defense Secretary Gates has called service members the "military's greatest strategic asset," and the President and First Lady’s Initiatives to support military families have had an impact on the proposed DoD Budget for 2012. No longer screaming for large medical fee increases for those who serve/have served, the budget includes $8.3 Billion for family support for all the services. ...

Wordless Wednesday: The Heart of a Military Spouse

February 2011 Savings Tips Drive - Give one, take a dozen!: Go "savings crazy" with MilitaryMoney.com's Facebook Savings Tips Drive, sponsored by USAA during the month of February 2011. With a goal of compiling the 50 most innovative ideas on how to save money, Military Money.com is asking readers to "drop off" their tips in a number of categories including: Utilities, Housing, Food and Kids. ...

Military Saves Week: Military Saves Week is quickly approaching. Are you ready to make the most of your money? Here's a few tips from USAA's Certified Financial Planner, Joseph Montanaro. The 2011 Military Saves Campaign kicks off with Military Saves Week Feb. 20-27. Normally, I’m not big on keeping up with the Joneses or jumping on bandwagons, but in this case it’s a no-brainer. Here’s why: You won’t miss it and even a little adds up. The Thrift Savings Plan is a great way to systematically set aside money for retirement. ...

10 Tips for a Healthy Marriage ... on Facebook: A Very Happy Valentine's Day to our military-families! I will honestly tell you hubs and I have no plans. I am a little sad about it but not terribly over-worked. It is hard with a young family to get out in the middle of the week as a couple. We certainly find time to 'date' each other but this Valentine's Day does not entail a dinner out, fine dining and dancing. I am thinking it will involve a homemade pie, chocolate, wine, and most hopefully some candles, backrubs, lights down low ... and a sleeping six-month old ...

Pentagon Comptroller Explains Budget Issues: While acknowledging a tougher financial reality, the Defense Department’s top financial official yesterday warned of a disruption in war funding and other likely effects if Congress continues to force the military to operate on continuing resolutions instead of fully funded budgets for fiscal 2011 and 2012. In a “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable yesterday, Pentagon Comptroller Robert F. Hale explained President Barack Obama’s $671 billion fiscal 2012 budget request...

VA Announces Budget Request for 2012: In announcing the proposed budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) during the next fiscal year, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki emphasized “making every dollar” count in the $132 billion budget proposal for VA. “We will continue to wisely use the funds that Congress appropriates for us to further improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families through the efficiency of our operations,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. ...

It's not too early to think about Buying a Home: It's February, Tax season, and not too early to think about buying a home. Industry experts will tell you that December is the best time to buy a house and spring is the worst. That may be, but many of us have kids in school and realistically, we are going to want to make the big move during the summer. So, February is a great time to begin formulating a plan of action. ...



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Our Letters to You, MilitaryAvenue.com's Military Family Blog

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Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

That Still Small Voice

This morning got off to a late start. Hubs and I began to awaken at about 8:45am with Baby Boy nestled comfortably between us. (The Rubber Band Effect) We needed to be out the door for church at 9:00am. Didn't look like that would happen. So we decided we would hit the 11:15am church service, instead of arriving frantically late at the 9:30am service.

Since 11:15 isn't our usual church service we decided to let the kids sit with us, instead of going to Sunday School with a different group of kids than usual. They enjoyed the sounds of the band, but five-year old *C* was fidgeting from the get-go. He can't sit still, and I even had to ask him at one point to get out of under our pew while we sang.

So five-minutes into the sermon he declared he had to go to the bathroom, no real surprise. He and I snuck out and as I stood in the main corridor outside of the restroom I noticed a bulletin board. There were about a dozen service-members in uniform. Some in their photo alone, some surrounded by family, some professional, others candid. To the right was the US Flag in a flag-box with a plaque. It had been flown in Afghanistan and was sent to the church as a Thank You for our service-member support.

There I stood. In the church corridor. Not with the congregation. Disappointed a moment earlier that I was missing the message from our pastor. Then I heard my own little message. Pray. And I did. For each of those service-members. Each one loved by a family member in my church. Each one serving our nation.

If you see a frazzled mom in the grocery store with a toddler run-a-muck, a tired co-worker that seems a little dazed despite the project looming in front of you both, a stranger that just cut you off on the highway and seems completely oblivious... take that moment to pray for them, and if you can help them do that. It is amazing the situations we find ourselves in where we may not hear God talking to us, yet he whispers in His very still way. My whisper came from a little boy who just can't sit still and my prayer for these service members was heard by the High King above.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The Rubber Band Effect

This isn't going to be one of those feel good , I know what I'm doing, all is well, posts. After all I haven't had a stretch of more than three hours of sleep in oh ... many many moons.

Baby Boy *L*, 6 months old, as cuddly as they come. I am trying desperately to establish an earlier bed time routine. We have been nursing from 8:30pm till 11pm - Yes, for that long - in the comfort of my bed, my legs stretched out with a good book in my hands or my iPad at my side. By 11pm I'm exhausted. If I try to put him in bed any earlier he wakes up within 20 to 30 minutes. He knows!

I'm ready for bedtime in the 9pm hour. Time for hubs and I. Because our relationship is like an industrial rubber band. It's strong but it is being stretched, big-time. How many times will he hear "Not tonight, dear"? How often will I slip off into sleepdom 10 seconds after hitting the pillow? How I long to let that rubber-band be not quite as stretched and have more give in my evening hours.

Every night *L* is in his bed at 11pm... up and mad sometimes in the midnight hour but always before 2am. He joins us because I'm tired. Way tired. I can easily lay him between hubs and I and he can nurse while I drift in and out of sleep. *L* is comfortable. He is warm. He is between the two people he loves the most. Life is good.

I can see how he would be mad about my recent decision that he needs to stay in his bed at night. I nurse him in his room. I put a CD player playing our favorite quiet music, Loreena McKennitt. I put the small clock that plays nature sounds to wind for some white noise when the CD is done. I knew this would work. He would get comfortable in his room. He would sleep like a baby for more than a few hours.

Two nights ago there was much gnashing of teeth and frustration from 11pm until 4am. After more screaming then I thought possible from those little lungs he fell asleep in his bed with my pajama shirt clutched tightly in his fingers. (I carefully slipped it off and let him sleep with it... which he did for a couple of hours... no more, no less.)

Last night Hubs and I lasted till 1am and out of pure exhaustion brought him back in to our room. I feel like we are failing and all the parenting experts would say you are /never/ going to get him out of your room if you cave. But we need more than 4 hours of sleep.

So the rubber band is still stretched. I can only take comfort in the fact that it will not stretch beyond its means and will bounce back ... now if only I could say the same about my achy, aging, sleep-deprived body.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Seed Packets Promise a Garden of Beauty

We live in zone 5b. I did not realize this. I was a zip code and area code type person. Now, I can add planting zone: frost free date zone to my list of where to pinpoint my "home is where the heart is" on the map.

Knowing your frost free zone is of premier importance for gardeners. It is the point where you little debutantes can come out and meet the world outside of the green house. I nurtured some impatiens and alyssum last year and saw their frozen little bodies worthless in a garden last year. Impatient can be imprinted on my garden gloves.... need to wait... need to hold off one more week. So, it is learning, trying and reading on my list of things to do. We have lived in this zone now for 7 gardening seasons. So much to plant, so much to enjoy, so much to look forward to seeing. Oh how the gardens call!

Therefore, it is with joy that planting charts are available. Planting charts can take some of the guess work out of hardening your seedlings. Weather and charts do not always talk to each other!

It is time to go off to the garden department and peruse the kiosks with beautiful seed packages. For zone 5b it is time to start Ageratum (purple flower with velvety leaves). gerbera (daisy like colorful flower) impatiens (low growing, multicolored flowers) lobelia, moss rose, slavia, and snapdragons. Oh... let me out! Let me play in the dirt, I'm ready... but that snow out there... must wait!

Thank You to Sergeant Major of the Army Preston and the NASCAR Controversy - DoD Roundtable

First, a big thank you for 35 years of service to our country for Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston! Plus more than seven years serving as the Sergeant Major of the Army for two Army Chiefs of Staff! We have to be thankful for such men and women who are willing to sacrifice, be professionals and represent all of us so well!

This Roundtable was a chance for the sergeant major to talk about his career before retiring on March 1st and sharing some of the highlights, changes and advocacy for the enlisted personnel and their families of the US Army! He was gracious, responsive to questions and thoroughly up to date on Army issues. I enjoyed listening and he provided some key points such as the Army Family Covenant that occurred during his tenure in October 2007. He credited it with improving MWR (morale, welfare, recreation) programs, youth programs, housing and much more! It also helped retention as the Army drew a bull’s-eye on improving family life to retain soldiers.

If you would like to listen to an audio of this heroes’ discussion about the Army and the outstanding performance of its soldiers please go to DoDLive. I also asked him about a controversial piece of news concerning the DoD budget. With the President’s budget proposal now before Congress, one representative from Minnesota challenged the use of Army funds for their NASCAR car. Preston responded that the Army NASCAR team was a tremendous tool for recruiting and gave a positive image to millions of Americans about the Army. He did recognize that Congress does have a right to determine funding and the budget was going to be debated. I also posed the question on MilitaryAvenue’s Facebook page and received several different responses to whether we should retain the team in this time of budget cutting. Some cited its value as a recruitment tool, others said leave the DoD budget alone, one challenged the priority/need and others strongly supported it.

I felt that the congressperson from Minnesota was using the Army budget as a way to counter her frustration over possible cuts to public funding of NPR and other programs she supported. What do you think? Should we fund recruiting tools such as NASCAR? My opinion is that it is an extremely valuable tool and will bring in a future Sergeant Major of the Army to join the ranks! We would love to hear your opinion by commenting on this blog or going to our Facebook page! To see other Roundtable, Budget, Afghanistan and Wounded Warrior blogs from Col K please go to Our Letters to You/Col K.

PS: Godspeed to the Prestons as they join the ranks of the retiree community!








Photo Credit: Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston DoDLive

Photo Credit: Ryan Newman, who drives the number 39 U.S. Army car, was among several drivers to visit wounded warriors during a trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center Sept. 23. Photo Credit: CIA Photography

Plant Your Easter Bulbs

As I write this the temperature has climbed up into the 50's. LOVE it. Last week we were into the minus degrees. Change comes and it goes, but the calendar marks the real changes that are coming: Spring and sunshine. Ahhhhhhh!

There is a tangible change that you can experience right now. An ugly bag with a hairy bulb looks like it will be anything but beautiful. And change is so hard to see. Because the Easter amaryllis will take about 6 weeks to bloom get it ready to pot now. Placethat bulb in a fresh pot, with soft potting soil, drab as it seems, and as far away from life as it is, life is close at hand! Just as Easter seems like it is anything but close, the two can come together. Ash Wednesday (March 9) is 6 weeks away from Easter (April 24) so your bulb, when planted, will be 6 weeks away from bright red blooms.

AAFES, NEX, CGX, and the MCX have lawn and garden departments if they are large enough where shelves of spring gardening items are tempting shoppers like me to fill a cart! Or visit one of the stores outside the gate like a grocery store or Wal Mart are show casing the hope of spring now with bulbs and pots, fertilizers and gloves.

Fill a large enough pot with potting soil, set the pot in a warm sunny place, and water it. Buy one for yourself and another for a friend.

If you want something smaller, plant some paper white narcissus bulbs; slender and graceful they appear best when packed tightly with lots of bulbs to create a full pot. Set bulbs in a shallow dish on top of pea gravel, colored sea glass or stones. Fill the dish to the bottoms of your bulbs with water. Keep in a cool, dark place until roots start, then move them into a bright place. Clusters of tiny while blooms will appear in the 6 weeks: perfect timing for an Easter basket for an "older kid"!
Fun to think about changes and wonderful to see them unfolding in front of you! Best of luck and remember it is a great 'homemade' gift to give to a friend.












Child's Play! Sprinkle Muffins

Tuesdays are one of my very favorite days. Esther and Jacob come to play with me. Drawers are opened, cabinets cleaned out, car 'noise' buzzes down the halls, Sesame Street is back on the TV after a 20+ year absence. All of those activities are out of my realm of influence. But let's get to the kitchen! Let's see what is cooking today!
I asked Jacob... last week for Valentines' Day we made a Rice Krispie heart. It was amazing. Almost as many sprinkles as marshmallows. But that was the beauty! It was a total Jacob creation.
Today it will be muffins. I was thinking, apple or peach, or berry. NO... Sprinkle muffins the chef said. So, chocolate sprinkle muffins are our new favorite!


Chocolate Sprinkle Muffins
preheat oven to 400 degrees (not child's play)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c milk (or 1/4 c milk and 1/3 c. yogurt)
1 egg
1/4 c vegetable oil
In a large bowl mix dry ingredients with a fork to blend sugar, baking powder with the flour. In a glass measuring cup, mix milk (milk and yogurt), egg and oil. Mix and combine these.
Pour into the dry ingredients and mix JUST UNTIL MOST is incorporated... will be lumpy.
With a large spoon, divide into muffin tin that has been sprayed with oil, or greased.
Pick up a few good pinches of sprinkles and place on top of muffins.
Bake 20 minutes and remove muffins immediately to a cooling rack. Serve with a smile! Jacob did!



The VA Budget - Another Critical Budget for Our Military Community

The Department of Veteran Affairs just announced its fiscal 2012 budget proposal (part of the President’s budget proposal to Congress). The Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Eric Shinseki promised to ensure that they are “making every dollar”count in the budget of $132 Billion. A retired four star Army general, the secretary, has the heart of a soldier for those who served and funding is critical to turning a few things around at the VA.

Caring for 6.2 million patients is a large undertaking and the “system” can be lethargic and not responsive to the veterans but Shinseki is trying to make the VA more responsive and up to the task of caring for our veterans. I remember making contact with one VA Center and during the conversation felt like I was definitely not talking to someone who cared! The VA needs to identify and eliminate non performers, especially those in the customer contact business! We should feel like we are the most important person in the world to them when we call or contact.

The lengthy delay when filing for veteran benefits is being addressed with additional resources and electronic (paperless) applications for benefits. I spoke to one veteran of the Vietnam War, who used the online application for Agent Orange problems, and he was very satisfied with their response. Their goal of 125 days from application to receiving benefits (at a 98% accuracy rate) is admirable but not effective till 2015 and demonstrates how long benefits can take in the current time frame (goal is more than 4 months and many now take much longer).

The VA’s budget includes funding for reducing homelessness among veterans, suicide prevention, upgrades to facilities, education and training, information technology upgrades and our national cemeteries. The national cemeteries are a great news story for the VA, being recognized for their efficiency and management. With the current fiasco at Arlington National Cemetery (which is currently run by the US Army) I would advocate, as some political leadership has, for the transfer of responsibility to the VA on this sacred ground.

The VA has entered into the social media world with blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. to reach out to veterans and their families which I applaud (I do wish they would allow posts on Facebook from military friendly users). They have done great things for wounded warrior caregivers with http://www.caregiver.va.gov/. The site provides resources, tools, support and contact information for those who face a daily task of caring for one of our seriously disabled veterans. If you would like to get some additional caregiver information please go to Being a Caregiver for Our Wounded Heroes. The VA blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/ provides up to date information on topics of interest to veterans and you can find them on Facebook too! Their website is located at http://www.va.gov/.

As Congress debates the President’s Budget Proposal for the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense, Congress need to consider the impact on veterans who have served this country. We recognize the need for government expenditures to be reduced for the economic health of our country (and for our grandchildren’s sake) but reducing benefits to our warriors is a broken promise! Finding other means to save dollars from a spend happy government should be easy!

To see the VA’s press release on their budget please go to MilitaryAvenue.com! We have numerous articles in our Reading Room for your pleasure and up to date information. We also posted a blog on the Defense Department Budget Proposal that you should read: Our Military Families and the Defense Budget of 2012 - DoD Roundtable.






Photo Credit: VA Budget Fast Facts http://www.va.gov/budget/docs/summary/Fy2012_Fast_Facts_VAs_Budget_Highlights.pdf

Wordless Wednesday: The Heart of a Military Spouse


My very own, Ode to Military Spouses


- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Our Military Families and the Defense Budget of 2012 - DoD Roundtable

Defense Secretary Gates has called service members the "military's greatest strategic asset," and the President and First Lady’s Initiatives to support military families have had an impact on the proposed DoD Budget for 2012. No longer screaming for large medical fee increases for those who serve/have served, the budget includes $8.3 Billion for family support for all the services. The community that has sacrificed so much during two wars, while most Americans continued ordinary lives, should not be the target of budget cuts for their programs. We recognize that our country is in the midst of economic instability but too often the military budget is the first target of the axe! With military requirements being priority, support programs for the community are often cut within the department. In these times of war and sacrifice by the military community, Congress needs to look somewhere else!

I met with Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Defense, Robert F Hale, to discuss the DoD 2012 Budget Proposal during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable this morning. Mr. Hale described some of the budget changes and updates and I asked him what military families had to cheer about in this budget. He went on to describe several areas that should be very encouraging for military families.

Critical for the health of our military and their home life is the manpower increase of 65,000 over 2007 to help services meet the goal of one year deployed and two years at home. The DoD leadership recognizes how critical this time at home is for our service members and their families. I recently saw a Facebook comment from a friend who complained that her son missed his daddy who was stuck at work during a snowstorm for one day. I really fought not to respond with something about our military families but realized they might not understand and could be offended. Too many of our “military brats” are growing up without mom or dad’s presence due to multiple deployments. Funding a larger force through the end of the conflicts is critical to these families.

Also important to the well being of the military family is a small increase in the budget for food and housing. The budget provides for the basic allowance for housing to rise 4.2 percent and the basic allowance for subsistence by 3.4 percent. These increases improve the monthly budget picture for military families that are frequently stretched by long distance to family, communication systems such as computers/phones and childcare that are critical support during deployments.

The military health care system will have a $52.5 billion budget to support our heroes, their families and a retiree population that continues to serve in many ways. Past attacks from this Secretary on the retiree benefits seem to have finally become politically untenable. Forgetting the promises made and sacrifices our retirees and families made, the calls for large fee increases for Tricare medical coverage of the past few years have been muted. Tricare Prime will have a small monthly fee increase of $5 for a family which seems reasonable based on past history as long as it is not intended as a “get our foot in the door” type of maneuver to increase fees at a much higher rate during later budget drills. Changes to pharmacy rules will drive more folks to the mail order pharmacy contracted by DoD and save costs which I have no argument with! If we can be thrifty and save $ without putting it on the back of the military family please go for it! Sometimes “efficiencies” are really nothing more than reduced services so I hope this is not the case for our medical system.

According to their press release before the budget announcement yesterday, “Defense leaders understand that military families also serve the country, officials said, noting that Gates has vowed to protect military families from the budgetary ax.” Funding for military families support programs will not be reduced as the budget decreases during the end of combat operations and troop reductions to follow. Support for child care spaces (200,000), schools, morale, welfare and recreation programs and family support centers are included in the budget. The schools will receive $500 M to replace or modernize DoD schools at 6 stateside locations and 9 overseas.

As we closed the discussion with the Under Secretary, he asked us to implore Congress to act on this years DoD budget request. We were talking about 2012 but he asked for help in 2011 which is still operating on a continuing resolution which means funds are targeted at 2010 levels (prior to the deployment of 30,000 additional forces to Afghanistan for example) and are not going to meet the needs of our forces. This is unconscionable for our elected leaders. We expect Congressional and Executive leadership to step forward to ensure our service members have the best resources possible while fighting this country’s wars.

If you would like to read a transcript of this Roundtable or listen to an audio, please go to DoD Live. If you would like to read additional Roundtable discussions from Col K please go to Our Letters to You from MilitaryAvenue.com! Thank you Secretary Hale for taking the time to meet this morning!






Photo Credits: A 5 year old military child, grips the hand of her father, a U.S. Marine, following his return to Marine Corps Base Hawaii from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2010. The Marine is a battalion gunner, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which provided support as part of counterinsurgency operations during Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Reece E. Lodder



Photo Credits: The Honorable Robert F. Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Defense

Finding the Best in a Situation

Valentine's Day.

I know some call it the "Hallmark Holiday" but I'm the romantic type [much to my hubs chagrin ;)] and don't see it that way at all.

I find joy in celebrating being a couple. Because there are some days, some hours, some moments when it is just. not. easy. So making a big to-do about Love... I think its necessary. I think it is a great reminder what it is supposed to be. I think it's too easy to take advantage (not on purpose!) of your spouse in the hustle and bustle of our crazy days. Taking a day to really say "I Love You" is needed.

But that's just what I think.

In an ideal world Hubs and I would have found a sitter last night and gone out to dinner. Of course there would be no wait at the restaurant (in an ideal world, of course), we would be able to relax, sip our wine, enjoy our meal and when the bill came we would think, "No problem".

That is ideal.

The reality is Hubs had client appointments till after 6pm. It was a school night. The restaurants were packed, I'm sure. ... and when that bill came we would sigh and think "I wonder if it was worth it."

So I started preparing early for our own little Valentine's Celebration. I cleaned our dining room. (No small feat since it tends to be the spot where we set things that we don't have a better place to set.) I planned out /two/ meals. I made the boys their favorite meal, Shrimp Scampi and I prepared Tilapia with our favorite cheese topping for my Valentine and me. The boys ate while I got the fish ready. I put the baby swing in the dining room doorway. Lit candles. Found books for the boys to read to themselves in the TV room. Pulled up a bottle of wine. I even made a pie!

Hubs and I ate a wonderful dinner around 7pm. Just the two of us... and the baby in the swing chatting to himself. The ambience was a wonderful reminder what our love has brought to us. A bustling household could be heard all around. The flicker of candlelight soothed us. The conversation flowed much differently then if we were in the kitchen, set for a table of six.

And that bill... it never came.

I hope you had a great Valentines Day. There are lots of challenges for our military families: deployments, shift work, long hours, PCSs even ... but we can certainly make the best in any situation, don't we!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Tasty Tuesday Hungarian Chicken


Hungarian food is rich in tradition and paprika! Creamy, red and spicy food that fills the need for a hungry family. Hungarian chicken makes a rich sauce that compliments pasta and vegetables. This meal just asks for time to linger at the table and share the highlights of everyone's day. The aroma whets the appetite before the table is set! Try this on a cold night served with noodles tossed with butter and crisp croutons. Beautiful!

This recipe is revised from the one in the James Beard American Cookery

Hungarian Chicken

10 Tips for a Healthy Marriage ... on Facebook

A Very Happy Valentine's Day to our military-families!

I will honestly tell you hubs and I have no plans. I am a little sad about it but not terribly over-worked. It is hard with a young family to get out in the middle of the week as a couple. We certainly find time to 'date' each other but this Valentine's Day does not entail a dinner out, fine dining and dancing. I am thinking it will involve a homemade pie, chocolate, wine, and most hopefully some candles, backrubs, lights down low ... and a sleeping six-month old..

There is more to a healthy-marriage though then time alone. What about time in front of everyone else? Particularly, online. Talk about putting your feelings for each other out there in front of the world. How do you talk about your spouse? How do others see your marriage? It is not just a matter of perception, it is a matter of how others will respect your marriage.

10 Tips for a Healthy Marriage ... on Facebook
  1. Keep fights between the two of you. It might seem easy to vent on line about the fact that Hubs is once again out drinking with his buds leaving you at home with the kids. That is a discussion between you and him. If you need to vent to a good friend about it send a private message to her... no need to air your dirty laundry to the world.
  2. Look at your pictures that you post. Do you post pictures of the two of you together? You should! If you don't have any take a fun self-photo the next time you can to post.
  3. Be careful "friending" old romances. I admit I am friends on Facebook with a couple of old boyfriends, however, there is not even a hint of flirting between us. And they are certainly not relationships my husband is worried about. If you can remain friends with old romances great... it is, however, *not* alright to flirt in front of the world. That only undermines your spouse and leaves your marriage very vulnerable.
  4. Talk offline with each other about what you are comfortable with being posted on Facebook. An open discussion about something like Facebook and social media can lead to a deeper and more open conversation about topics that may be much more important.
  5. If your spouse is deployed make sure he isn't learning all about what is happening on the home front on Facebook. Your Facebook status should not replace offline conversation with him.
  6. If your spouse is nagging you to help around the house and you post your status as "Bored. Nothing to do." expect an argument. Be sure that you aren't spending too much time behind the computer and for that matter Facebook. We are all tired and need time to relax! But more than 20 to 30 minutes when things need to be done is too long.
  7. Reminisce. Post a favorite wedding photo on your anniversary of just the two of you. Find an old picture when you were dating to post. Share a favorite picture of the two of you for all to see.
  8. Once a week make your 'status' about something you love about your spouse. It can be goofy, gushy or just something you love about him. Let your friends and family know how much you love him. Last night I was folding laundry in the kitchen and hubs was cutting fruit at the counter. Suddenly a favorite Chicago song came on the stereo. It was a wonderful four-minutes of goofy-singing together (as off pitched as we both are!) and it made a fun 'status' later in the evening. How fun to let the world know we are still in love and having fun while we are at it!
  9. If he does something nice for you, expected or otherwise, let others know! You never know it might just lead to more 'random acts of kindness' on his part. ;)
  10. This Valentine's Day, when you sit down to see what is happening in the Facebook world be sure to send out a special "I love You!" on his wall or from your status. Let the world know that he is your one and only Valentine.

Facebook is definitely just a blip in the radar of romance for some. But it can turn a relationship sour very quickly if you aren't careful! There is truth to the fact that not treated properly social media can rip your marriage in half. But with some forethought and persevering you can add another drop of love into the strength of your marriage.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Being a Caregiver for Our Wounded Heroes

Do you know what it is like to be a caregiver for a seriously injured or sick person? a family member? Caring for my wonderful wife during her treatments for breast cancer five years ago became my mission! This fall she cared for me after several surgeries to remove malignant tumors from my foot and leg. With that experience and background I recognized the impact our wounded heroes' caregivers. Recently the VA provided some great information about new programs to assist our wounded and their caregivers.

The week of 14 February is set aside to recognize our wounded heroes. Do you know how many have been wounded since 9/11/2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan? More than 41,000 have been physically wounded and that does not include the thousands suffering with mental injuries such as PTSD. These men and women are being cared for by many family members who have put their own lives on hold to care for our heroes! A new law passed by congress and signed by the president recognizes the financial impact on caregivers for our seriously wounded or ill personnel (“…Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010") If you know a disabled veteran or caregiver please tell them about it! Here is a link to a great article from the VA on the legislation:

http://www.militaryavenue.com/Article/VA+Provides+Benefits+to+Veterans+Caregivers+-36294.aspx


Some of the new support for caregivers includes a caregiver coordinator at each VA Medical Center, a toll free line for caregivers (1-855-260-3274), a website for caregivers training (VA Caregiver) and education on “how to’s” for providing care, support groups, a monthly stipend, travel expenses and medical coverage for the caregiver. It appears that congress got it right and thank you to our veterans’ supporters such as the VFW, DAV and American Legion who pushed for this legislation.

Do you know the caregiver of a wounded hero? How can you help? Sometimes a caregiver needs a respite from the stress of caring for someone so ill or injured (many of the injuries involve loss of limbs that affect mobility). I remember after surgery and during chemotherapy with a very sick wife how it felt to take a walk with someone at the house. I could breathe fresh air, listen to the birds and did not have to worry about providing care. It helped to have another family member sit with her during chemo sessions on occasion as well. Can you give the caregiver an afternoon off? Stop in for coffee or tea, bring a meal and spend time with a hero while their caregiver goes out? I know it would help their mental health. How about offering to help them get to church on Sunday morning, a trip to a park or an outing to a support group? A friendly face and willing arms to assist can make a big difference for someone adjusting after the transition to a “new” normal! A new normal is what our doctor described following the affects of cancer and it is no different for someone suffering from the affects of a bullet or IED! The new normal includes many challenges and you can help!

While doing some research for this blog I found another great resource for wounded warrior care maintained by DoDLive. http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/category/wounded-warriors/ It is a great series of blogs from leadership at the Pentagon, links to critical information and new programs that will make being a caregiver easier!

I do want to thank the VA press release information that we post on MilitaryAvenue.com for providing data that we can share with you (you can find these articles in our Reading Room at http://www.militaryavenue.com/ReadingRoom.aspx. Go to General and then VA for current information from the VA.

I also want to thank the Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander in Chief, Richard L Eubanks for his great editorial in the February 2011 Command Post which inspired me to take on this blog (http://www.vfw.org/)

Have a great Valentines and do not forget our Wounded Heroes this week!



Photo Credit: U.S. Airmen, medical personnel from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, transfer a wounded Service member to a bus that will move the Service member to another medical facility in the area Oct. 20, 2010. Ramstein averages at least two medical flights per day from deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wayne Clark/Released)

Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael Anthony Mynard talks with his nurse-case manager 1st Lt. Laurie Voss and platoon leader Sgt. 1st Class Eliseo Torres at the Warrior Clinic. Photo Credit: Kayla Overton

Week in Review: February 6 - February 12, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of February 6th - 12th on

MilitaryAvenue.com:



Flex Tips for Working Parents: If you and your spouse juggle civilian and military careers while raising children, you know life can be hectic. One way you can navigate these challenges is to communicate openly and often and make the most of workplace flexibility. ...

Our National Anthem: ... "Ironically, I missed where and how Christina Aguilera messed up last night's National Anthem for the Super Bowl. The TV was on, she started singing, and my kindergartner said "Why are they singing?" My husband had arrived home minutes before hand, coming in from the field, dressed in his ACUs. He hadn't changed yet and had sat down to catch the beginning of one of his favorite sporting events. Upon hearing his son's question he explained the importance of the song, soldier to son." ...

The Power of Women in Afghanistan is Growing! - DoD Roundtable: Imagine female pilots in the Afghan military! How about an Afghan Army Officer Commissioning Class of 29 women! Or 35% of the population of students attending college at Kabul University! As we spoke with Dr Jack Kem, Deputy to the Commander, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan this morning you could hear the excitement of his explanations of where the issues of “gender main streaming” were headed. ...

Valentines Day Dress It Up!: Valentine's Day!Pure fun.Simple decorations can turn a coffee table into a place to sit and talk, read poetry and remember that romance is alive and well and living within!Candle holders of every shape and size bring warmth and generate smiles.Pinks and reds carry the love theme. Have fun decorating, and do not worry about perfect matches!Need some great poems? Here are some snippets. ...

“‘Like’ it for TIME” Supporters Nationwide to Mail Letters to Time Magazine on March 4, 2011: “‘Like’ it for TIME” (LIFT) has announced March 4, 2011 as “Mail-your-letter-to-TIME-day” in an appeal to the magazine’s editors to consider the military family as its 2011 Person of the Year. Several “fans” of the facebook page have committed to spreading the word on their personal blog sites, and teachers are planning to have their classes write letters to the magazine. ...

Marine Receives Navy Cross for Actions in Vietnam War: Nearly 45 years after he saved almost an entire company of fellow Marines in Vietnam, a Marine Corps veteran was formally recognized today for his actions. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus presented Ned E. Seath with the Navy Cross -- the second-highest award a Marine can receive for valor -- in a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. ...

Website Links Unemployed Vets, Spouses to Jobs: Unemployed veterans, wounded warriors, reserve-component service members and their spouses searching for jobs can find one-stop shopping at a Web portal designed just for them. Operated by the Army Reserve, the military-friendly Employee Partnership of the Armed Forces at http:www.EmployerPartnership.org lends assistance not only to those looking for a job, but also to public and private employers who are ready to hire former service members and help to support the troops ...

101 Ways to thank a Veteran: Despite being written and compiled in 2009 this article continues to be one of the most popular on 'Our Letters to You'. We must be on to something! Be sure to check this list out and then show a veteran how you appreciate them no matter the time of year.

The Ultimate Adventure Cruise! DoD Roundtable: Some TV programs and cruise line ads describe their programs and trips as the “ultimate” something or other. Today I talked with two senior officers who I think can claim the ultimate cruise: They visited 22 countries, 5 continents, saved lives, fought pirates, delivered relief supplies, rescued folks at sea, supported combat ops in Afghanistan and …

Women Learn to Fight Stress from Home Front: During a week in which the White House pledged a vigorous, whole-of-government approach to supporting military families, 11 women worked diligently a few miles away to learn to cope with the stresses of their husbands’ multiple deployments and the post-traumatic stress that affects many of them when they return home. Ten military wives and a fiancĂ©e met in a quiet place the week of Jan. 24 without the distractions from ringing phones, kids' schedules and work projects. ...





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