"Ferocious About Getting the Job Done!" The Volunteers of America and Homeless Veterans on Wordless Wednesdsay

Volunteers of America Plaque
WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN

Code of Conduct

VoA Homeless Shelter
Service Flags
Jack the Chef
Cafeteria
Drop Off for Gifts
Classroom white board with goal setting

"Ferocious About Getting the Job Done!" The Volunteers of America and Homeless Veterans

VoA Homeless Shelter in Lansing
We drove down the street looking for the Volunteers of America (VoA) Michigan homeless shelter in Lansing. The GPS was right on the money but as I looked in the rear view mirror to change lanes and find a parking spot I had to change plans. Realizing I had an escort as the police officer pulled in behind me, my first thought was uh oh, what did I do? Then I saw the ambulance in front of the building we were looking for …

Four hundred ambulance runs a year according to Dennis Neuner of VoA’s communications department. Deb and I had been on the road at the University of Michigan Cancer Center in Ann Arbor and decided this was a great chance to visit the facility and Dennis was so accommodating and helpful. We were able to visit the shelter and talk to the men and women who cared about our vets, fed them 115,000 meals last year, gave them counseling and helped find them housing and jobs! The place was abuzz with activity; laundry, food preparation, group sessions, chapel time, staff meetings and more! Patrick Patterson, the Vice President of Operations, led the tour and the discussions about the veterans’ needs and proudly spoke of their accomplishments. With an 80% success rate, which includes finding a job and a place to live, the VoA Michigan staff was doing a fantastic job.

Heather, in charge of employment programs said they had 27 job placements in the last quarter. Quite an accomplishment in Michigan with its shrinking economy and work force! VoA has an employment staff of seven and Heather (an Air Force veteran) walked us through their challenges and ways they help with counseling, writing resumes, clothing for interviews, etc. The program was expanding with each success and adding staff as well.

Oxygen Mask

A quiet but BOOMING voice reminded me throughout this past week. "Leanne, put on your oxygen mask, then help those around you."  It has been a tough week.  BabyBoy, diagnosed with an ear infection two weeks ago, was so incredibly crabby.  Refusing to nurse, refusing to be put down, refusing to be happy.   "Leanne, put on your oxygen mask."

BabyBoy and I headed to the pediatrician Monday afternoon.  My happy go lucky boy had taken on a completely different personality and I was at wit's end.  His ears were beautiful according to the doctor.  So she took a peek in his mouth.  Then I saw it.  Ulcers /every where/.  Wow.  I would probably be just as crabby; how did I miss this?  Hand, Foot and Mouth disease it is called.  It is a virus so all we can do for it is Ibuprofen.  My poor boy.  Now the crying, "hold me"s, and lack of sleeping was making sense.  But knowledge doesn't always equal relief.  "Leanne, put on your oxygen mask."

Marines Arrived! Our Family Is Thrilled

Leanne told us years ago that she met a Marine.

We are USAF folk you know.
A Reserve Marine. Dedicated to tasks that were in his path Paul was certain then and now that Leanne was to be his life's partner. Not quite that simple but a good way to state where they are today. That's the gist of it. Paul is a highlight in our lives. He 'moved on' to be an Ohio Army National Guard JAG. The best they ever had undoubtedly; father of boys and like his Marine heritage, on task at bringing this family to strength, faith and love of life.

Forty some years earlier Dale's cousin met her Marine. Fred went from high school to Vietnam with hardly breathing time in the middle... but with time to court a blond beauty named Jacque Kissinger. Fred was best friends with my hubs, loved to laugh, reach out and help anyone he could and trustworthy. Nice accolades! And true.
We gathered with Dale's cousins this weekend at our house. They relived stories from their teen years. It was hours of merriment and nostalgia, marvel and medical discussions. We all had medical 'conditions' it seemed: except for Fred.
Even out of uniform, ever a Marine.

Fred, the only one who saw combat in Vietnam, only one to witness a death there, only one who got through Camp Pendleton. Strong and solid Fred. Not to say that medical issues haven't slapped him up side the head, but he didn't join in on this talk. He is still that marine who takes what is given to him, rejoices in what is good, but moves forward in tough times.  He didn't have doctor reports to share, pain issues to proclaim... he has Jacque, and that is where his heart has been and will be.
Marines have a mission clear and strong.
I'm thrilled to have them in my life. Our family is so blessed because of them.

Proud Papas and Patriots both. Thank you Paul and Fred!

“I Will Not Say Goodbye” An Interview with Josh Gracin

Josh Gracin
“I want to take every
Breath I can get
I want to live”

Josh Gracin “I Want to Live”

I watched Dan struggle for breath, his pneumonia and infection making it so hard. He was sweating, the pain meds helping but the pain in his eyes was clear. We had traveled to be near Dan before the surgeons were going to help. Leading a church youth group service trip to Nashville, TN, Dan had fallen ill and needed urgent care. I saw him smile as his 2 year old came into the room and rocked his world…

I had been looking forward to interviewing former Marine, Josh Gracin about the “Rockin for the Troops” concert in Wheaton IL on July 16th and now the words of Josh's “I Want to Live” were speaking to me personally as my son lay ill. A song writer and performer’s skill to talk with others and tell their story touches the human race. Josh Gracin will sing a song about an American hero’s story after choosing a winner from many entries that touched his heart during the Portraits of Heroes Song Contest.

Caring about the military community that Josh is a member of, he reached out to the Sears Heroes at Home, Portraits of Heroes song contest to raise funds for military families. His music will also keep alive the memories of US Army, Sgt 1st Class Ofren Arrechaga, 101st Airborne Division, killed in Afghanistan on March 29th. Seana Arrechage, the soldier’s widow entered the contest to tell his story of their life together and wrote, “In the 1305 days I had him, he showed me how to live with no regrets and how to love with no limits. He taught me that you have to fight for what’s right when no one else will especially when it comes to your family.”

The interview was one of modern technology with the Sears public relations firm, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR coordinating with Josh, as he traveled through West Virginia to talk to me as I sat in Centennial Hospital in Nashville.

Touch Pad Touches Home

Here we are yet in Nashville.  Fun city for so many.  A tourist attraction.  Land of hospitality, southern drawl, sweet tea and genuine warmth.  We are here because our Daniel is working on his breathing.  Working on getting that heart rate down.  Doing Olympic type feats like getting out of the bed, marching down the hall, dragging a pole, pumps, tank all while sporting a back flapping cotton gown.  Always the edgy one in the family.
The rest of the family are in their homes in Ohio, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut and Florida yet they are in contact continuously.  Facebook, iPad, iPhone, instant messages: touch pads.  We are letting the fingers do most of the talking. The conversations we have had!  Full chat rooms, pictures racing across state lines.  Communication has never been so good.
Communication is medicine not covered by TriCare.  Those little yellow smiley faces are pills that go down easily, just can't overdose on them.  :)
When someone comes to your mind, someone far away, if you know their email address, give them a shout, a Texas howdy, a Charleston hi y'all.  How about a Hawaiian aloha? 
Touching a heart can be done with your fingers on the touch pad of your keyboard.  It works.  I get them... I love them!

Look Out The Window When Feeling Down

On the road again; travel has been a natural and neccessary part of our married life.  Military called, Mom and Dad wanted to see us, siblings got married, nephews graduated, and the ever true PCS ruled.
Time has passed, we retired, travel is still in our veins.
I love it when travel is for vacation, or for MilitaryAvenue.com.  Both have intrigue and still pull at the memories of military life.
The last two trips have been to hospitals.  Big hospitals far from home.  Far from comfort, loving arms or scenic desires.  Yet, outside those HUGE walls beauty exists.
Ann Arbor hosts the U of M medical center.  I do believe more cement has been poured there than in all of Western Europe.  The buildings are expansive, impressive and imposing.  Dale and I have walked, wheel chaired and even 'scootered' through those halls. 
Peering down from some high floor window, an arboritum spreads out alongside a lazy Huron river.  Walking trails meander around sculptured gardens.  Quaint restaurants serve weary visitors.  One just had to look and decide the energy spent would make the trip not painful only, but uplifting.  I'm all for lifting spirits.  Smiles and fresh air win out everytime.

Now we are down in Nashville, a place I had on my bucket list of cities that would be worthwhile visiting.  Oh my, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it when you are least ready!  This is our third night in a hotel near the hospital.  First waiting for surgery on our son Daniel.  Next night waiting for recovery and 'get moving' words from the doc.  Today hearing:  infection still there.  Tubes will stay in.  Procedures still to come.  Seeing a very pale, weak, hurting little boy... okay... that part isn't up to date... Dan is a dad and will be a dad again soon.  But he is my little boy, and his little girl who bounds in the room can not understand why Daddy looks sooooooo tired.  Mom does her best to 'talk happy' and say all is well. 

Today we looked outside the windows.  The Parthanon is here!  Paved sidewalks and later a pool at the hotel came into view.  We will be here for a bit.  Restaurants wont' be for date nights, but for finding something to eat in order to get back to see Dan.

Discouragement is not in the plan book.  Discontent has no place here.  Depression is too tiring.  We have each other.  We have hope, not hope in and of ourselves but hope within. 
Our oldest grandson is Joshua.  So, I heard him tell me... Joshua 1:9  Be strong.  Don't be discouraged.  God is with us wherever we go... Ann Arbor, Nashville or any other spot on this Earth!
We will be traveling again.  I know that.

Week in Review: June 12 - 18, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of June 12 - 18 on

MilitaryAvenue.com

How Did I Miss this Great Information Resource?: The USAA Educational Foundation: What do you know about the USAA Educational Foundation? I have been a USAA member for over 40 years and have to admit that I knew little about this non profit resource provider! They are totally separate from USAA since USAA donated a one time gift to establish the foundation and have completely separate missions, leadership and absolutely no ties for products or services, etc. With an opportunity to talk to Barbara Gentry, the President and Steve Finley, the Director of the USAA Educational Foundation, I thought I could tell others about another resource for your challenging military lifestyle!...

Keeping your kids active this summer: Are your kids already complaining about having nothing to do this summer? Keeping them busy during the summer may be especially challenging if you’re a working parent or if someone in your family is deployed, preparing for deployment, or readjusting to family life after deployment ...

“No Shame in Seeking Help” – Real Warriors Campaign DoD Blogger Roundtable: Staff Sgt Meg Krause had her act together! Joining the Army in 2001 she served as a medical technician at Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany and then found herself in Iraq. It was according to her a “life changing experience for me”. Something she did not expect! Leaving active duty in 2006 to attend college at Penn State she stayed part of the military with duty in the Army Reserve. Then the problems came: alcohol abuse, tardiness, poor class attendance, attitude changes, bad decisions and more! ...

The Heritage and History of Normandy in the Minds of Our Youth: My dad and father in law are both World War II veterans and are in their late 80s as are most veterans of that war. We share with them and have known their stories but what of those who were killed during the war? Their heritage was left on the beaches of Normandy, at Bastogne, Iowa Jima, over Ploesti, at Midway and other famous WW II battles sites. How do we keep their stories alive? Our children, grandchildren have interacted with those who lived and returned to become our leaders, teachers, steel workers, miners, industry giants and even movie actors. ...
Let's Celebrate!: It started back in March of 2007 with a blog about a long car ride. "Our Letters to You" has evolved into a journey about parenthood, veteran issues, deployment, Department of Defense stories, household tips & tricks, real life struggles, an occasional soap-box moment, and most importantly thoughts from the heart. If you have been with us through the years, Thank you! You are the reason we love doing what we do. If you are new to this military family blog, "Our Letters to You", Welcome! I am so excited to have you. Get ready though... we have big plans for our 1,000 post; probably sometime in July! ...



101 Ways to thank a Veteran: * Send a message of support on the "Thank the Troops Message Form" at OurMilitary.mil * 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. * 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. * Listen to their stories with interest. If they are a war-veteran they have seen things you will never see. Listen and Learn. ...

Active Kids are Happy Kids - Summer Fun!: Summer Vacation is in full swing. It is a time of year I look forward to; time to spend with my kids; time to laugh and play. But with idle hands and minds comes "Mom, I'm bored", "Mom, he hit me", "MOMMMMMMM!" Then you will find Mom locked up in the bathroom, singing the "la la la la la, I can't-HEAR-you" song, wondering when school starts again.  I love Summer Vacation, and to keep up this high-maintenance love-relationship we stay fairly busy, in a fun relaxed way.  ...

A mom, a minivan and a road well travelled: Just a mom in a minivan

Making my way to Michigan
Boys in the back, watching, playing, sleeping
Me in the front, music on the stereo, jamming
106 miles behind us. 142 miles to go.
You know that feeling when summer camp is coming to an end?
You will soon get to hug your mom again? ...

Planning is Key for Peak-season Moves: Each summer, about 225,000 Defense Department and U.S. Coast Guard household good shipments are slated for movement, creating a phenomenon in the transportation industry aptly called the “peak moving season.” Officials from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's personal property directorate, responsible for the DOD’s household goods moving program, want service members to know a successful move during this peak time is possible with proper planning. ...
Why is a Military Discount Valuable for a Marketing Strategy: Occasionally I revert back to my military experiences when planning events for the family. I receive some friendly harassment from family members who are used to it and also those still adapting to the "colonel" in their lives. But my planning is part of the strategy of getting the most of life; following my principles and God; and taking time to care for those who I protect and love. So my strategy sets the tone for my planning.  What is strategy? ...






More Great MilitaryAvenue.com content:
Find Military Discounts in your community

You have Questions? We have MilitaryAvenue Answers!

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

Subscribe to MilitaryAvenue Alerts, monthly military-discounts and incentives right to your email box: Manage Subscriptions

The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

A mom, a minivan and a road well travelled

Just a mom in a minivan
Making my way to Michigan
Boys in the back, watching, playing, sleeping
Me in the front, music on the stereo, jamming
106 miles behind us. 142 miles to go.
You know that feeling when summer camp is coming to an end?
You will soon get to hug your mom again?


I am so there!

The Heritage and History of Normandy in the Minds of Our Youth

My dad and father in law are both World War II veterans and are in their late 80s as are most veterans of that war. We share with them and have known their stories but what of those who were killed during the war? Their heritage was left on the beaches of Normandy, at Bastogne, Iowa Jima, over Ploesti, at Midway and other famous WW II battles sites. How do we keep their stories alive? Our children, grandchildren have interacted with those who lived and returned to become our leaders, teachers, steel workers, miners, industry giants and even movie actors. But what of those who died defending our freedoms? I recently became aware of a fantastic program to educate our students about the men who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy and surrounding areas and are buried at the American Cemetery in France.

The program, “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom” is part of National History Day, “… a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.” I started reading about both National History Day and the “The Albert H. Small Student/Teacher Institute” and their selection of 15 teachers and students to conduct research about the men who died during combat around Normandy.  Each student had to select a GI from their home state to research and write a tribute of their lives leading up to their death at Normandy. A competitive entry program coordinated by the institute; the teachers and students then are immersed in the history of World War II and their soldiers.

Active Kids are Happy Kids - Summer Fun!

Summer Vacation is in full swing.  It is a time of year I look forward to; time to spend with my kids; time to laugh and play.  But with idle hands and minds comes "Mom, I'm bored", "Mom, he hit me", "MOMMMMMMM!"  Then you will find Mom locked up in the bathroom, singing the "la la la la la, I can't-HEAR-you" song, wondering when school starts again.

I love Summer Vacation, and to keep up this high-maintenance love-relationship we stay fairly busy, in a fun relaxed way.  Military OneSource's article, "Keeping Your Kids Active This Summer" has some great ground-rules that we have always applied, like involve the kids in planning their day, setting rules for screen time, staying organized and creating a loose schedule for the day.

A Summer's Education

How Did I Miss this Great Information Resource? The USAA Educational Foundation

What do you know about the USAA Educational Foundation? I have been a USAA member for over 40 years and have to admit that I knew little about this non profit resource provider! They are totally separate from USAA since USAA donated a one time gift to establish the foundation and have completely separate missions, leadership and absolutely no ties for products or services, etc. With an opportunity to talk to Barbara Gentry, the President and Steve Finley, the Director of the USAA Educational Foundation, I thought I could tell others about another resource for your challenging military lifestyle!

I spoke briefly to Barbara about the mission of the education foundation and she told me about a fun event coming up in the future and then passed me to her expert. Steve Finley.  An Army veteran, public affairs officer who when I queried him about why he chose the foundation he said, it continued his connection with the military. He was a military brat, in addition to being a veteran himself, and enjoyed maintaining those ties with the military community.

Week in Review: June 5 - June 11, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of June 5th - 11th on

MilitaryAvenue.com

What has your favorite assignment been and why?:  We all have stories being military families... stories of places we LOVED living, stories of places we weren't so fond of. Perhaps the dust-storms in Texas just aren't your thing or perhaps you could have done without the humidity of South Carolina. Maybe you couldn't get enough of the history of Charleston or the free museums and cherry-blossoms in DC.  This is the life of the military. It's more than an adventure, it is life-changing! You get to see the sites, opportunities to do things you wouldn't have had you stayed and lived in your hometown.

Giveaway-Extravaganza - We NEED You!: We want to introduce you to the military-community in a fun and exciting way this summer! Be a part of our Giveaway-Extravaganza when "Our Letters to You", MilitaryAvenue's award-winning Military-Family Blog hits 1,000 posts. (That's a lot of writing, a lot of readers and a lot of military-family face time!) This is a great opportunity for you, the MilitaryAvenue Partner. What are we looking for: A gift around $25 to $50 that we will give to a military family. It has to be a national gift. As an example, a $50 Visa Card, or a $25 gift-card to military-family stores like AAFES. ...

 Mom Without a Clue: I spent the wee-hours of the morning in the ER. Baby Boy *L* has been running a high fever for about 72 hours and last night he didn't want to nurse, he didn't want to be held, he didn't want to be put down. He just wanted to cry and be miserable (and drag all of us down with him. Wait did I just say that?) His misery had made for a long day already and I realized that if this went all night again we both might drown in a puddle of tears together. It is am awful feeling to feel helpless. Especially when the ones you love, those that you hold so close to your heart they feel to be part of you, are in pain. Real pain. ...

"Too Sweet a Deal"? You Decide!: The military lifestyle is a tough road! No one can deny that but many civilians do not understand why it is tough either! Long deployments, extensive TDY/TADs, frequent relocations (PCS), and caring for our families despite these conditions are frequently misunderstood. Also largely misunderstood is the impact on the lives of Reserve Forces including the National Guard and Service Reservists. Yep, some civilians may even ignore these situations but I think the major issue is education. ...

“They Helped Me Up” Staff Sergeant Eddie Peoples – DoD Blogger’s Roundtable: How do I start? This story is about one of our own, a hero for wearing his country’s uniform, a “Defender” in his one words and certainly a model for caring! United States Army Staff Sergeant Eddie Peoples came home on leave from Vicenza, Italy with his family to care for and see his ill father who had had a stroke. Stopping in the branch of the Sarasota, Florida Bank of America, he saw a robbery “go down” and elected to get involved! ...

Arctic Report Assesses Defense Role, Future in Region: The Defense Department has sent to Congress a report on its Arctic operations that leaders say will put the department in a good position to shape U.S. interests as the region undergoes dramatic climate and social changes. The Report to Congress on Arctic Operations and the Northwest Passage, mandated by the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, “was true value added” to U.S. policies on the Arctic, a DOD official speaking on background said June 3 when the report was sent to Congress.


Last Day of School and My Mixed Emotions: Storms were rolling into northeast Ohio as the bus was pulling up to the driveway this morning. Tumultuous. Kind of described how I was feeling. Feeling the tears fill up. Feeling the emotion of putting my child on the kindergarten bus for the last time. Feeling like I should be thrilled (I do LOVE summer vacation almost as much as the kids.) and yet for some reason I was lamenting my own boys growing up. Moments of reflection can hit me at the worst of times!...


Paratroopers Commemorate D-Day Anniversary: About 300 U.S. soldiers, most of them combat veterans themselves, joined their British, French and German counterparts in Normandy, France, to honor the sacrifices of World War II veterans who conducted the D-Day invasion 67 years ago today.  The troops spent the last few days visiting key battle sites during the mission code-named Operation Overlord: the beaches 160,000 troops stormed on June 6, 1944, during the largest amphibious invasion in world history; and St. Mere Eglis, the first French village to be liberated by U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Division soldiers, among them. ...

101 Ways to celebrate the 4th of July!: Stationed in the DC Area? Plan a picnic; Sit on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and watch the fireworks above. - Find a friend with a boat and sit in a lake so you can see the reflection of the fireworks!  - Invite an elderly veteran to your picnic and thank them for their service (our WWII veterans will not be with us much longer).  - Study the 50 States. Fifty States… do you know 50 State capitals? - Plant a garden with Red (Petunias, geraniums, salvia, impatience, bleeding hearts to name a few) White (alyssum, geraniums, petunias, asters, daisies) and Blue (delphiniums, pansies, irisies) flowers.  - Write a Letter to a soldier stationed overseas. Checkout “A Million Thanks” to find a drop-off location if you don’t have a service-member in mind. ...

Getting the word out to the Military Community: I want to reiterate how thankful we are for our MilitaryAvenue Partners! You are the businesses and the communities that support our military and their families. They need to know you stand behind them, beside them and with them. (As a military spouse, I can tell you, that thought is from the heart!)  Your story, your discount, your support is a very important piece of the MilitaryAvenue story. (I would say the most important part.) The part that lets the military know about the support they can find in their community. So how do we spread the word for you?

 
More Great MilitaryAvenue.com content:
Find Military Discounts in your community

You have Questions? We have MilitaryAvenue Answers!

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

Subscribe to MilitaryAvenue Alerts, monthly military-discounts and incentives right to your email box: Manage Subscriptions

The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

Just a Mom Without a Clue

I spent the wee-hours of the morning in the ER.  Baby Boy *L* has been running a high fever for about 72 hours and last night he didn't want to nurse, he didn't want to be held, he didn't want to be put down.  He just wanted to cry and be miserable (and drag all of us down with him. Wait did I just say that?) His misery had made for a long day already and I realized that if this went all night again we both might drown in a puddle of tears together.

It is am awful feeling to feel helpless.  Especially when the ones you love, those that you hold so close to your heart they feel to be part of you, are in pain.  Real pain.  Then not to know what is causing the pain.  Awful.

“No Shame in Seeking Help” – Real Warriors Campaign DoD Blogger Roundtable

Staff Sgt. Meg Krause
Staff Sgt Meg Krause had her act together! Joining the Army in 2001 she served as a medical technician at Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany and then found herself in Iraq. It was according to her a “life changing experience for me”. Something she did not expect!

Leaving active duty in 2006 to attend college at Penn State she stayed part of the military with duty in the Army Reserve. Then the problems came: alcohol abuse, tardiness, poor class attendance, attitude changes, bad decisions and more! The unit leadership and peers noticed, family and friends too! But she failed to respond until her First Sergeant sat her down and said, I too had PTSD and needed help. You must seek help as well!

"Too Sweet a Deal"? You Decide!

The military lifestyle is a tough road! No one can deny that but many civilians do not understand why it is tough either! Long deployments, extensive TDY/TADs, frequent relocations (PCS), and caring for our families despite these conditions are frequently misunderstood. Also largely misunderstood is the impact on the lives of Reserve Forces including the National Guard and Service Reservists. Yep, some civilians may even ignore these situations but I think the major issue is education. How do we tell our fellow citizens that we are stretched as a community and in some cases would like them to “cover our 6 o’clock” for us?  Checking 6 is when another aircraft watches behind you to protect you from a bad guy coming in from your blind spot at the tail (6 o'clock) of your aircraft.

Recently, a Guard spouse identified to us that she had applied at the pharmacy of Target and Giant Eagle to participate in their pharmacy rewards programs. She was denied the opportunity because she was using Tricare military health benefits. Many of our retirees, reservists and their families do not live near an installation with a pharmacy and the mail in process for Express Scripts can take too long for timely medications. This lady was flabbergasted to say the least when she was told she could not participate - The Reason?  from these corporations' representatives? – she was in a “government assistance” program! Yep, she got pretty mad and walked away looking for another pharmacy.  A serving member of our armed forces have earned their medical benefits for them and their families!

Last Day of School and My Mixed Emotions

Storms were rolling into northeast Ohio as the bus was pulling up to the driveway this morning.  Tumultuous.  Kind of described how I was feeling.  Feeling the tears fill up.  Feeling the emotion of putting my child on the kindergarten bus for the last time.  Feeling like I should be thrilled (I do LOVE summer vacation almost as much as the kids.) and yet for some reason I was lamenting my own boys growing up.  Moments of reflection can hit me at the worst of times!


“They Helped Me Up” Staff Sergeant Eddie Peoples – DoD Blogger’s Roundtable

Staff Sergeant Eddie Peoples
How do I start? This story is about one of our own, a hero for wearing his country’s uniform, a “Defender” in his one words and certainly a model for caring! United States Army Staff Sergeant Eddie Peoples came home on leave from Vicenza, Italy with his family to care for and see his ill father who had had a stroke. Stopping in the branch of the Sarasota, Florida Bank of America, he saw a robbery “go down” and elected to get involved! More defending to do and children to protect (two of his own were with him), he described himself as on call 24 hours a day.

Waiting for the robber (I hate the “suspected robber term in this case”) to leave the bank he followed him to the getaway vehicle and then blocked it with his own (it was a rental after all). When the robber finally realized he could not leave with his vehicle, he jumped out and confronted Peoples with his “gun” which looked real but when the soldier took it from him using combat skills taught to him by the Army instructors, it was a fake. Subduing the bigger man (hard to believe seeing some of the pictures of the Staff Sergeant) and placing him on the ground on, “a pile of money”, he waited a very short time for the police to respond. Not knowing which guy was the bad guy, the police used their standard protocol which Peoples said he followed very closely until the police had the whole picture. What happened next? Peoples said, “They Helped Me Up” and one gave me a hug afterwards.

Week in Review: May 29 - June 4, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of May 29th - June 4th on

MilitaryAvenue.com

Armed with a Battle Saint™: A military Mom, Cynthia LeMay, has launched a project to support the troops. She has a number of loved ones serving in the military, including a son with the 101st Airborne who is currently serving in northern Afghanistan. Many of her family members are in harms way and not a moment goes by when she doesn’t worry and wonder if she could do more to help.  At a recent family reunion, she sat around a big bonfire listening to the stories of war told by family members’ home on leave. Some had just returned from tours of duty and others were about to deploy.  ...

Volunteers of America - Redux "There Are No Limits to Caring!": Volunteers of America (VoA) Michigan showed me how people cared about our homeless veterans last week! I wrote about The Home Depot Foundation and how many others jumped in to make the veterans’ lives easier with the VoA Stand Down which provided resources and information to the veterans in Lansing, MI. VoA has a long arm with organizations in 400 communities in the US while helping over 2 million folks in need!  Volunteers of America (VoA) Michigan showed me how people cared about our homeless veterans last week! ...

Going Viral with MilitaryAvenue and CNN - "Tell Your Story": MilitaryAvenue.com was featured in a midday story on Military Spouse Appreciation Day last month!  May was Military Appreciation Month and many businesses responded with some great support to the military community! Did you know about Military Spouse Appreciation Day? Armed Services Day? Memorial Day?   We received some great coverage from CNN on Military Spouse Appreciation Day with our blog on 101 Ways to Thank a Military Spouse! ...

It Was A Wet, Cold Day and the Homeless Veterans Came to the Stand Down!: “The Home Depot Foundation is committed to ensuring that every veteran has a safe place to call home.” Home Depot Foundation President Kelly Caffarelli.  My day was a bit different than normal yesterday! I admit to being a bit of a routine type guy; maybe it comes from years of aircraft checklists and procedures, I am not sure. But, I left my comfort zone and headed out in the car solo for a drive to attend a Stand Down for Homeless Veterans! ...

Making the Most of Your Vacation, Without Breaking the Bank: If you're like me and my family, you can already feel it coming...the gotta-get-away itch. Vibrant colors are starting to dot the landscape, the kids are more interested in fresh air than books and school. Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner. Even in today's difficult economic environment, there's definitely a need to block some time to focus on family, fun, relaxation and recharging your batteries. However, that same economic environment puts a premium on getting the most bang for your vacation buck...

Sermon Notes: The Soldier's Psalm: Psalm 91 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. ...

Caring for Our Wounded/Disabled Heroes! Two New VA & DoD Efforts to Help: Military Appreciation Month was extremely busy with activities for military community members. The month included recognition programs and much to be thankful for; such as a successful mission to find and eliminate Al Qaeda’s leader.  But life continues and now some military members are preparing for a PCS or deployment (again), some are in basic training (best wishes to a cousin’s friend at Ft Jackson) and many are helping out those affected by natural disasters such as flooding, fires and tornadoes (and we just started hurricane season).  ...

It's Not a Question Of Do They Get It: Summer is fast approaching, schools are closing, heat is rising, sports are triumphant... or winding down. Life in the home front is sweet. Routine does have it's advantages especially with gas prices out the ceiling. Then the mail brings in high school open house invitations, wedding announcements, family reunion picnic plans. Most are from out of state, half are from out of time zone! But that desire to see Momma, hear Dad's laughter, show off your youngsters and rest for a few moments being the child again at home sucks you in like a powerful vacuum cleaner! ...

Memorial Day: This weekend I'm looking forward to a local minor-league baseball game, a barbecue with good friends, a little league game for my eight-year old and YES getting my garden in Most importantly, though, we will also take time to remember what Memorial Day is really about. My husband will be marching in our Memorial Day Parade in his ACUs as part of the VFW presentation of the Colors. My boys will be wearing their baseball uniforms, holding little flags and tossing out candy to the parade watchers as they march in their first real parade. ...

Be Prepared for Your PCS: The difference between an easy PCS move and a difficult one often depends on your family’s level of readiness—especially financial readiness. To help, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) and the National Military Family Association created Money and Mobility, an informational guide that contains worksheets, checklists, links to online resources and more to help your next move or deployment go smoothly.







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Caring for Our Wounded/Disabled Heroes! Two New VA & DoD Efforts to Help!

Military Appreciation Month was extremely busy with activities for military community members. The month included recognition programs and much to be thankful for; such as a successful mission to find and eliminate Al Qaeda’s leader.

But life continues and now some military members are preparing for a PCS or deployment (again), some are in basic training (best wishes to a cousin’s friend at Ft Jackson) and many are helping out those affected by natural disasters such as flooding, fires and tornadoes (and we just started hurricane season).

For some military members life changing events have had a significant impact on their lifestyle. Severe injury, retirement, separation, etc are at the forefront. I have written a couple of articles about volunteers helping homeless veterans and Foundations kicking in as well. Today, I thought I would share about two programs from Veteran Affairs that are going to help our community!

Wounded Heroes - See Below for Detail
Off to a bumpy start due to wrangling in DC over what was intended, the New Family Caregiver Benefits kicked off its first week in May while processing 625 applicants! With its own phone lines at (855) 260-3274 and web address http://www.caregiver.va.gov/ the system has been implemented to help those most in need – our severely disabled veterans who require round the clock care from a loved one who frequently must give up a job to become the primary caregiver. The program provides a stipend, insurance, mental health support, live chats and much more! I have been a caregiver for my bride who was a cancer patient and the recipient of care following extensive surgery for cancer as well. I know that these men and women need the full time attention of their caregivers and this program helps.

Final Days of the School Year

My boys are pumped!  *E* and *C*'s last day of school is Tuesday and today is their final Friday in 2nd grade and kindergarten.
Soon our routine will change.

We'll spend more time outdoors.
     more time at the library,
          more time doing 'summer jobs'.
               more time staying up later than we should.
                    more time with neighbors and friends, barbecues and sparklers.

I love summer vacation just about as much as my boys do!

Kindergarten has had an A-Z Countdown since the beginning of May.  Each day has been a letter and a theme.  For example, 'H' was hat day; 'P' was pajama day; today we are at 'X' and it is eXtra Day.  The calendar says Extra Recess, Extra Snack, Extra Fun!  Now seriously, who wouldn't want to go to school on eXtra day?!

It Takes More Than an Infantry Force to Win in Afghanistan! DoD Roundtable

Deh Afghanan village, Afghanistan, May 27, 2011
This is a time of transition in Afghanistan. The winter is over and summer has arrived with a vengeance. But more importantly, the transition from a NATO/US led force to an Afghan led military is in full swing! In the year 2014 the plan is to turn the lead over to the Afghan National Security Forces for defense of their own country! A big step but one that requires infrastructure, support forces, training institutions, logistics, plus ...! We can create the best fighting infantry and lose the war in 2014 if we do not leave the Afghans with educators, qualified mechanics, supply experts, civil engineers, trained police officers and more …!

The DoD Roundtable met with Colonel Howard Arey, Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander for Regional Support with NATO Training Mission Afghanistan. The colonel gave us a brief overview of the organization that has six commands led by five US Army colonels and one US Air Force colonel then led us into the importance of their mission! They integrate 60 training sites with up to 30,000 personnel in class a month and they build infrastructure such as police stations with engineer forces. They also sustain the engineers and trainers by providing security and enabling long term, self help programs for the Afghans.

These programs as expected will increase in scope for the future and the regional commands will provide the structure to hand over the lead in 2014! As a great flight leader trains a wingman the regional commands train the Afghans to take care of their military and police needs by 2014! There will be a handoff of responsibility and how we train Afghan forces will determine our and their success beyond 2014!
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