Week in Review: July 24 - 30, 2011 (Military News)

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of July 24 - 30 on

MilitaryAvenue.com

One Thousand Posts - Let's Celebrate It has been an amazing journey at 'Our Letters to You', a military family blog. I started writing in 2007 and now just a few short years later our team has written a thousand blog-posts! Blogs full of empowerment, support, education, fun and a bit of 'been there done that'. One-thousand posts; This calls for a celebration! Which is just what we are going to do. We have some great prizes thanks to some wonderful companies that support our military families. ...

Debt Ceiling Crisis: How USAA Is Prepared Help Members:  Should the federal government not reach an agreement by Aug. 2 to raise the debt ceiling — and therefore not be able to pay its bills — USAA has solutions in place to help our members who might not get the federal pay and benefits they need to meet their daily obligations. Here's how we are prepared to help members who are impacted and request assistance: ...

U.S. Women's Sailing Team Takes Bronze: The U.S. women's sailing team took home the bronze medal yesterday here at the 5th International Military Sports Council's World Games.  This is the third medal that U.S. teams have garnered in the competitions, all earned by female teams.  The team, made up of Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps service members, has only sailed together for a total of 11 days, including the competition. The group met during their training week in Annapolis, Md., before flying here for the July 16-24 competitions. ...

The Man-Bag: My son has a man-bag. This sends me into fits of hysterics every time I think about it.  It all started out with a dad-and-son trip to Sports Clips. You see, I am frugal. We do our best to save around here where we can, when we can. This way I can enjoy some of the 'finer things in life' with less guilt. (Like fulfilling my need to close the kitchen and eat out once in awhile.) As my eight-year old starts to care more and more about 'style' my handy-dandy clippers are failing him. (I'm sure it has everything to do with the clippers and nothing to do with my ability. Just saying.) I have tried to use scissors. ...

Face of Defense: Recruiter Saves Life on Dallas Freeway: When Army Staff Sgt. Marcus A. Stone saw cars suddenly braking and swerving ahead of him on Interstate 35 East in Dallas, he knew something bad had just happened on the freeway he was driving on. In the minutes that followed, Stone pulled a victim from a burning vehicle. Those actions that December day prompted Stone’s commanding officer to nominate him for the Noncommissioned Officers Association of the United States of America Military Vanguard Award, presented annually to recognize acts of heroism. ...

Staying Healthy: Get those endorphins going: Health experts call endorphins "feel-good hormones." Endorphins are natural chemicals released by the brain that improve your mood, relive pain, reduce stress, and produce an overall feeling of well being. They also help you sleep better. The easiest way to get your body to release endorphins is to exercise. Even a moderate workout eases tension and improves mental and physical health. More vigorous exercise really gets those endorphins going. The positive effect of endorphins can last for several hours, according to some endocrinologists. ...

Military Discounts: Are you interested in Military Discounts in your area? Did you know we have numerous companies sign-up to be part of MilitaryAvenue every day? We call them MilitaryAvenue Partners. The Partners can have a free ad on MilitaryAvenue.com as long as they offer a military-discount, which we call Military Rewards, to our well-deserving service-members and families. (That's you, military spouses and military members!)...

101 Ways to thank a Veteran: One of our most popular pieces here on MilitaryAvenue, 101 Ways to Thank a Veteran is not just for Veterans Day. Have you thank a Veteran today?  Here are some ideas to get you started...

French Government Honors Special Forces Soldiers: They are used to their deeds pass as unnoticed as their battlefield movements, but six Special Forces soldiers took the limelight here last night to receive a French military award roughly equivalent to the Silver Star. Five National Guard soldiers and one who serves on active duty were honored with the Croix de la Valeur Militaire – or French Cross of Military Valor -- in a private ceremony at the French ambassador’s residence attended by senior leaders including Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Army chief of staff, and Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, deputy director of the Army National Guard. ...

New Office Aims to Strengthen Families Financially: A government office dedicated to protecting service members and their families from financial predators and pitfalls officially opened for business this week.  As the military arm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of Servicemember Affairs is intended to strengthen military families financially and to serve as an advocate on their behalf, explained Holly Petraeus, who was tapped to head up the new office in January. “Military families have special challenges,” said Petraeus, wife of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. “There are 50 different states with 50 different laws, and military personnel may not be aware of the protections in the state where they live.” ...



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Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

Where's Your Motivation?

Meet *C*.  He is my tender hearted, full of hugs, rough and tumble boy!  He worried me when he was a baby.  He couldn't latch on or get anything from a bottle.  I met with a lactation consultant and I ended up pumping breast milk and then squirting it into his mouth through a tiny tube while he was 'latched on'.  Now, he is the biggest of all my boys on the growth charts.

One Thousand Posts - Let's Celebrate!

It has been an amazing journey at 'Our Letters to You', a military family blog.  I started writing in 2007 and now just a few short years later our team has written a thousand blog-posts!  Blogs full of empowerment, support, education, fun and a bit of 'been there done that'.

One-thousand posts; This calls for a celebration!

... Which is just what we are going to do.  We have some great prizes thanks to some wonderful companies that support our military families.

Two $250 Visa Cards from USAA


One $100 Gift Card from Sears


One $100 Gift Card from Home Depot


A beautiful pendent from USAA.com/Jewelry (valued at over $500)


A $50 Visa Card from Dee Ramsay Burnett of Prudential Network Realty


Five $20 Visa Cards from Sitter City


A package of books full of support from Army Wife Network



WOWZERS!  This is exciting.  Thank you to all of these companies for supporting MilitaryAvenue.com as our story has unfolded over the years and more importantly thank you for supporting our military families.

The Blackberry Patch

Beautiful Michigan Blackberries!
I think He understands and hears my prayers while in the patch.

This is a favorite time of the year for me! I enjoy spending time in our wild blackberry patch which is now at its peak! The blackberries were a gift that we found behind our woods the second year we arrived after that last PCS! It was number 18 move and we looked forward to being grounded for a bit and being close to family after 30 years of being “transients”. But … back to the berries!

We purchased a house that was placed on a hill overlooking the nearby river valley and deep in a woods. Deb insisted that we have land so we bought in the “country”. We explored around us the first year but the berry patch was a great discovery during the second year. Behind the woods, it sits on top of a pasture with a view of the “back 40” as we call it. I grew up in a family that raised and sold several kinds of berries for "vacation money".  So I was no stranger to the berry patch. I also know their barbs can be very unfriendly but have mowed “paths” through the berries to help a bit.

Berries being prepped for freezer!
I find the picking to be a time of quiet and solace! Memories flood me, emotions too sometimes when I remember laughing and horsing around with siblings while growing up! My dad was a fantastic example of hard work being a lifelong endeavor. Thanks Dad! I also find it a great time to chat with God! I think He understands and hears my prayers while in the patch.


Ode to the Coffee Bean

Just the thought of you motivates my legs to bear the full weight of my zombied body at some ungoldy hour as I trudge down the stairs in the morning;

Your sweet aroma awakens my senses, helping my eyes to see beyond my nose, aiding my nose to take in the sweet perfume of a fresh new day (I''m sure that is what it is ... as opposed to last night's garbage or yesterday's dinner dishes);

The site of your sweet juice flowing into my favorite mug reminds me that 'this too shall pass': the baby will someday sleep through the night, the toddler will soon not be afraid of the monsters in his closet; the school age child will eventually be able to fill his own empty water cup; and the teenager will come home before curfew giving Mom and Dad a sigh of relief with the sound of the front-door opening and closing.

Your taste lingers through the morning...
 or at least until I need to pour my next cup.

How do you prepare your favorite cup of 'joe'?  A brewed cup, with a shot of half n half with an added half packet of hot chocolate is the perfect way to wake up for me!  (and if it has been an extra bad night ... a dollop of whip cream on top!)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Staying Healthy: Get those endorphins going

Health experts call endorphins "feel-good hormones."  Endorphins are natural chemicals released by the brain that improve your mood, relive pain, reduce stress, and produce an overall feeling of well being.  They also help you sleep better.  The easiest way to get your body to release endorphins is to exercise.  Even a moderate workout eases tension and improves mental and physical health.  More vigorous exercise really gets those endorphins going.  The positive effect of endorphins can last for several hours, according to some endocrinologists. - Feeling Good - 100 ways to feel better every day
Walking the Paul Henry Trail

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Staying Healthy: Get Support

Caring for an older relative, a Wounded Warrior, your own children or any loved one is emotionally and physically exhausting.  That's why it is important to seek support for yourself so that you can remain strong for them.
  • Remember that you don't have to do it alone.  Ask for help from family and friends.
  • Get help from a support group.  Support groups are a place to share stories, feelings and information with others who are going through what you are going through.  Groups like MOPS are perfect for new mothers.  Many churches have support for Cancer Caregivers.  Learn more about  the New Family Caregiver Benefits if you are caring for a Wounded Warrior.  (Caring for Our Wounded/Disabled Heroes! Two New VA & DoD Efforts to Help!) No matter the circumstance find people around you that have walked or are walking in your shoes.  Be there for each other.  Walk beside each other.
  • Talk about how you are feeling with the people you love.  Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling.  Let others offer comfort and be there for you.
  • Remember your 'Oxygen Mask!'
- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com


Inspired by 100 ways to feel better every day (Military OneSource acct required)

The Man-Bag

My son has a man-bag.

This sends me into fits of hysterics every time I think about it.

It all started out with a dad-and-son trip to Sports Clips.  You see, I am frugal.  We do our best to save around here where we can, when we can.  This way I can enjoy some of the 'finer things in life' with less guilt. (Like fulfilling my need to close the kitchen and eat out once in awhile.)  As my eight-year old starts to care more and more about 'style' my handy-dandy clippers are failing him.  (I'm sure it has everything to do with the clippers and nothing to do with my ability.  Just saying.)  I have tried to use scissors.  I have tried clippers and a comb.  None of it satisfied my *E*'s desire to sport a Justin Bieber look... despite *E's* apparent disdain for JB.  Oh to be eight...

Garden Beauty That Came Too Early to the Grounds




There are flowers in your life that pop up, 
vibrant, unexpected 
and spread life from the center to the tips of the pedals.

And then

There are flowers 
that just should not appear early.  
Even though these flowers are yellow, perky, 
definitely unexpected but rob life from stem to stamen.
Broccoli, you are just too early!


Week in Review: July 17 - 23, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of July 17 - 23 on

MilitaryAvenue.com

Little Known TRICARE Benefits:TRICARE offers comprehensive, affordable health coverage to more than 9.6 million eligible beneficiaries worldwide. It is an enormous military health benefits system and because of its complexity, many beneficiaries may be unsure of all the benefits and programs available to them. TRICARE has decided to highlight several well-know and maybe not-so-well-known benefits ...

Let's Celebrate!: Get ready though... we have big plans for our 1,000 post coming soon! Prizes from USAA, Sears, Home Depot, Army Wife Network, Prudential and more. But I can't stop there because the list is growing daily. (Are you a business owner? Want to participate? Giveaway-Extravaganza - We NEED You!) I'm so excited to see this kind of support for and from our Military Community! ...

Taking Care of Yourself is NOT Selfish: Spouses serve too! You provide support and stability in maintaining resiliency and mission readi-ness. While managing family separations, changing jobs and assuming the role of both parents, meeting the needs of everyone tends to take center stage. So, it only makes perfect sense that you move to the front of the line. Be an example to your children through action:  Get rest: Sleep is very important. You will be better prepared to deal with tomorrow if well rested. Create a bedtime ritual - meditating, reading or drinking a relaxing tea - whatever works for you. ...

Ask USAA: How much do I need to save for my newborn for college?: Hello, and welcome to the Ask USAA. My name is Scott Halliwell, and this is our featured question. Our question comes to us from a new mom by the name of Crystal, and she wants to know, "How much do I need to save each month for my newborn for college?"  Well Crystal, congratulations on the new addition. I remember those days very well, and, frankly, for me they were very exciting, but sometimes they were very scary, 'cause I wasn't sure how I was supposed to take care of a baby. ...

First Lady Plans ‘Joining Forces’ Events: First Lady Michelle Obama will take part in three events over the next several days to promote “Joining Forces,” a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of American society to support service members and their families. The first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, have made numerous appearances in support of the initiative. On July 21, Obama will visit Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., to tour the youth program’s summer camp. ...

Soccer Players Fly Athletes to Brazil for CISM Games: Military Team USA soccer players Air Force Capt. Wendy Emminger and Air Force 1st Lt. Mandi Messinger were the pilots for a July 13 KC-10 Extender mission that flew teammates and track and field athletes from here to Galeao Air Base in Brazil to compete in the 5th CISM Military World Games. Created in 1948, the Conseil International du Sport Militaire organizes various sporting events for the armed forces of 133 member countries, according to United Nations information. CISM Military World Games are considered the largest military sporting event, with some 6,000 athletes expected to represent 110 countries in competitions in Rio de Janeiro this week. ...

"Your Future Demands Greatness, A Soldiers Inheritance" A Book Review: A young man joins the Army and goes off to basic training. Happens a thousand times a month! But this young man treasures letters from his dad through the whole process! "Your Future Demands Greatness" is a father’s wisdom and guidance for his son while he is in basic training, AIT and his first year of service. Full of humor and family, this book makes you feel like you are a member of the family but smiling as you watch Joseph meeting life’s changes! This is a great book for young people going off to be soldiers but also the other services as well! ...

Mom Means Business: My boys are a hurricane. A tornado. A path of destruction. We are working hard at starting good habits, staying organized, picking up when they are done playing, not waiting till Mom blows her top tells them to. I have found if I help organize the toys in their room that it only gets me very frustrated and my ideas fall apart in less then a couple of days. So now they are left to their own vices. I sent them to clean their room the other day, and told them anything left on their floor when they were done was going into the garbage. Sure enough they came down 30 minutes later declaring they were done. ...

Tasty Tuesday! Col K's Sassy and Yummy Salsa: What a refreshing, thick and tasty salsa. We had it with a few chips and a glass of wine on the deck at the end of a busy day and it helped cool us off! As a follow on, we had a 6 year old grandson's birthday party and knew it would be a hit! Be sure to chill for at least an hour after putting together! Easy to make; place ingredients in a mixing bowl and if wanted you can transfer to a nice dish later. Many of our items were fresh from the garden including the herbs or local farmer’s market! It is so nice to have that option. ...

What does PCS mean to our MilitaryAvenue Partners?: Military acronyms are frequently a source of curiosity by our civilian family and friends and a source of much humor in the military community! Recently, my father, a WW2 veteran, told me of an acronym used by his pastor in a sermon that had its origin in WW2 GI slang and had become part of American culture and language. When the minister was informed of what he had just said if the acronym had been spelt out in its entirety, he was pretty surprised. We don't want our MilitaryAvenue Partners surprised by the term PCS! While it does not contain any bad language itself, it might be considered to be the beginning of a period of bad language for many military families. ...

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

We Are Grilling to Stay Cool!

It is hot, so we decided to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible at dinner time. Avoiding use of the oven will certainly keep the house cooler and keep that electricity bill down a few cents. So, with some fresh green beans picked from the garden (1.5 cups with ends picked off), a yellow onion sliced thin, olive oil, four chicken breasts, some "Sweet Baby Rays" sauce and some herbs (basil, parsley and rosemary) mixed into the sauce I headed out the door to the grill. Deb did make some very nice garlic potatoes on the stove but it was an on and off quickly.

The chicken sizzled on the grill at a high temp to sear it and then was lowered it to medium for 10 minutes on each side and brushed with the sauce (don’t forget the fresh herbs) to keep it moist. The green beans and onions roasted on the other side of the grill for 15 minutes and splashed with small amount of olive oil to keep the mixture from sticking. I stirred them every couple of minutes to keep them cooking on all sides and I wanted the onions to brown a bit.

"Your Future Demands Greatness, A Soldiers Inheritance" A Book Review

A young man joins the Army and goes off to basic training. Happens a thousand times a month! But this young man treasures letters from his dad through the whole process! "Your Future Demands Greatness" is a father’s wisdom and guidance for his son while he is in basic training, AIT and his first year of service.  Full of humor and family, this book makes you feel like you are a member of the family but smiling as you watch Joseph meeting life’s changes!

This is a great book for young people going off to be soldiers but also the other services as well! The helpful hints to deal with adversity and new life challenges with growing up are there to help! I loved this one on P 12 “…but even someone you detest is good for being an example of what not to do.” And P 10 “Soldiering is an art form, and basic training only teaches you to color inside the lines”.  Joseph's dad is a Christian and provides a backbone that of our young folks need to see in their parents! 


Mom Means Business

My boys are a hurricane. A tornado. A path of destruction.  We are working hard at starting good habits, staying organized, picking up when they are done playing, not waiting till Mom blows her top tells them to.  I have found if I help organize the toys in their room that it only gets me very frustrated and my ideas fall apart in less then a couple of days.  So now they are left to their own vices.

I sent them to clean their room the other day, and told them anything left on their floor when they were done was going into the garbage.  Sure enough they came down 30 minutes later declaring they were done.  True to my word I told them to grab a garbage bag and put anything in the bag that wasn't put away.  *E*, 8 years old, looked at his dad, sitting in the room with me, and with a shrug of his shoulders said, "Mom is strict."

Unbroken: a Travelogue That Paralyzes the Mind and Pounds on the Heart

War movies do not intrigue me... I enter into the big screen arena.  I am there, almost smelling the dynamite and JP4.  I do not like being blown up, punched, starved or mutilated.  I enter into the movie, my heart pounds with the characters.  Then... I remember, they are only actors.  They go out to eat at night and party on the weekend.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand rockets the reader back in time.  Allows one to cheer and jeer at the Louie Zamperini, the bad boy in town.   Never portraying Louie as a complete scoundrel, but a child/man with a mind in action.  A creative, courageous and caring character.  Ya gotta love him!

Tasty Tuesday! Col K's Sassy and Yummy Salsa

Col K's Sassy and Yummy Salsa finale
What a refreshing, thick and tasty salsa. We had it with a few chips and a glass of wine on the deck at the end of a busy day and it helped cool us off!  As a follow on, we had a 6 year old grandson's birthday party and knew it would be a hit!

Be sure to chill for at least an hour after putting together! Easy to make; place ingredients in a mixing bowl and if wanted you can transfer to a nice dish later. Many of our items were fresh from the garden including the herbs or local farmer’s market! It is so nice to have that option.

Week in Review: July 10 - 16, 2011 (Military News) #MilitaryMon

Popular Military Family Articles for the week of July 10 - 16 on

MilitaryAvenue.com

PCS Allowances and Entitlements: Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): is an allowance to offset the cost of housing when you do not receive government-provided housing. Your BAH depends upon your location, pay grade and whether you have dependents. BAH rates are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in each geographic location. The rates are established such that members in each pay grade, independent of location, pay approximately the same out-of-pocket expenses. ...

MSEP Jobs! Connecting Military Spouses to Employers: It’s finally here! An online portal that connects military spouses directly to employers who want to recruit, hire, retain and promote military spouses into current job openings at their facilities around the world. By visiting the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) jobs portal, military spouses can get on the fast track to sustainable portable careers and employment with seventy-two Fortune 500 Plus Employers. Here’s how it works: ...

A Book Review: "Home and Away" A Story of Family In A Time Of War by David and Nancy French: I laughed and I cried (mostly laughed)! What a great book for military couples, their families and even their civilian friends! “Home and Away, A Story of Family in a Time of War” by David and Nancy French brought back memories and new images of warfare and families! This book will help military families see themselves during the two wars that our country is fighting! Or maybe, not the whole country as David felt as he read about a soldier with a family, wounded in war? ...

Swim Lessons: Two Year Later: There are a few things I have done in motherhood that are questionable. As an example, cutting my then 9-months old hair by myself. Disastrous. Thinking I could travel across state-lines, 200+ miles, as a new mom with a six-week old. Excruciating. Attempting to convince my boys that they should like asparagus because it makes your pee stink. Bad choice of reasons.  But this weekend I was reminded of one of the best things I have done for my boys in their eight and six years of existence. Swim Lessons. ...

Services Deliver ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal Input: All of the services and combatant commands have provided their input to the Defense Department in advance of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that bans gays from serving openly in the military, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.  The input includes progress on training of the force, the regulatory aspects of the change in the law and other aspects, Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said.  “Ultimately, it’s for the services to provide their input to the secretary about whether their services are prepared for repeal to take place,” Lapan said. ...

A Split Second Decision – and a Medal of Honor! DoD Blogger Roundtable:"Rangers Lead the Way" We all make them – those decisions that are made in the blink of an eye. But some are more important than others, how about life changing ones? We take time to consider those? Right? Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry had a life changing decision and he only had the blink of an eye to make it in – the grenade was live, it was close and he and his fellow Rangers were going to die. His decision to pick up the Taliban’s grenade and throw it away from his team saved their lives and his, but cost him a hand as it exploded a split second after he picked it up and threw it. ...

MilitaryAvenue.com Special: PCS Central: We all know how hard it is to pick up the family and move them to a new duty station! We have a wide variety of resources for you here on MilitaryAvenue.com. Here is a directory of articles & MilitaryAvenue.com categories offering military discounts related to PCSing. This is just a small selection of what MilitaryAvenue.com has to offer you.  ...

Quick Tips for New Military Spouses: If you’re a new military spouse, these tips will help you get a handle on military benefits: Get a copy of your marriage certificate and keep it with other important documents. Ask for it from the city, town, or county clerk's office where your wedding took place. Ask your spouse to enroll you in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). This lets you receive medical and other benefits. Links to the DEERS site and contact information can be found on the TRICARE website. Obtain a military identification card from the ID card facility. ...

That Military House: Moments of Sanity Are on the Checklist!: Move it - or lose it. Adventure advise from Sandee Payne. That Military House helps one open boxes and doors during all steps of the inevitable move. Be prepared, organized, clutter free and open minded.  Are you at home with your surroundings? Oh the joy of waking up in the morning knowing the coffee pot is on the counter, milk in the refrigerator, spoons in the drawer. And then. Hello military spouse! It is PCS (Permanent Change of Station) season and that season, as a hunting season, is 365 days a year. You my dear are the item in the sites, laser beams are pointed straight at you. Or is that just the stress talking? ...

Afghan-led Security Force Detains Insurgents: An Afghan-led combined security force detained a Haqqani network leader and one suspected insurgent in the Terayzai district of Afghanistan’s Khost province yesterday, military officials reported.  The leader was responsible for the distribution of weapons and supplies throughout the district, and also emplaced roadside bombs in the area. ...






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

Sermon Notes: My Rock

As the young and vibrant woman of God led us into a time of worship this morning she asked, "Who is God to you?"  He can be so many things at so many times but what resonated in my head was "He's my Rock."  Because as beautiful as a sandy beach is, I can't ground myself on thousands of pieces of shifty sand, thousands of things pulling and pushing me this way and that.  However, that Rock; That Rock keeps me grounded.  It keeps me grounded in the midst of turmoil: relationship troubles, financial problems, teenage angst, childhood rebellion, infant tantrums, tumultuous emotions.  It doesn't matter what is happening around me when I stand solidly on the Rock I know that I cannot fall.

That Military House: Moments of Sanity Are on the Checklist!

Move it   -  or lose it.   Adventure advise from Sandee Payne.  That Military House helps one open boxes and doors during all steps of the inevitable move.
Be prepared, organized, clutter free and open minded
Are you at home with your surroundings?  Oh the joy of waking up in the morning knowing the coffee pot is on the counter, milk in the refrigerator, spoons in the drawer.

And then. Hello military spouse!  It is PCS (Permanent Change of Station) season and that season, as a hunting season, is 365 days a year.  You my dear are the item in the sites, laser beams are pointed straight at you.     Or is that just the stress talking?

A Split Second Decision – and a Medal of Honor! DoD Blogger Roundtable

Medal Of Honor Recipient Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry and his wife Ashley

"Rangers Lead the Way"


 We all make them – those decisions that are made in the blink of an eye. But some are more important than others, how about life changing ones? We take time to consider those? Right? Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry had a life changing decision and he only had the blink of an eye to make it in – the grenade was live, it was close and he and his fellow Rangers were going to die. His decision to pick up the Taliban’s grenade and throw it away from his team saved their lives and his, but cost him a hand as it exploded a split second after he picked it up and threw it. His quick decision and actions earned him a Medal of Honor on Tuesday at the White House.

What makes such a special man? How best to find out? From his fellow Rangers, team members, supervisors, those he saved by his extraordinary actions? We had all of those during the DoD Bloggers Roundtable yesterday! Captain Kyle Packard, Master Sergeant Reese Teakell, Sergeant First Class Jerod Staidle and former Staff Sergeant Daniel Higgins served with Petry during his tours and Higgins was wounded and saved by Petry’s heroic actions in Afghanistan during the battle on May 26, 2008. These are extraordinary men themselves, elite Rangers, selected from the best of the best soldiers! With hometowns across the country in California, Wyoming, Michigan and New Mexico, they represent America!

According to CPT Packard, Petry was ‘the best squad leader I have known.” His “dedication is always impressive.” Staidle said, an “outgoing and selfless person” and “willing to stay after work”. The kind of accolades one would expect about this man who battled terrorists in repeated tours of action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four, six, nine and twelve times these men have responded to the call of action with combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan! Words of men, not to be taken lightly!

Packard described the mission as a complex as they sought a high value target, a leader of terrorists. They arrived in helicopters at high atltitude in daylight to locate and apprehend or kill the target. Not their normal mode of operation for the Rangers who like to fight at night with their technology giving them the advantage. They met resistance from men willing to die to protect this leader according to the team. One ranger was killed in the courtyard where Petry and Higgins were wounded. Specialist Christopher Gathercole was mortally wounded by a Taliban bullet and these men said, remember "the value of sacrifice”. They do not want their friend forgotten and were very appreciative that the President recognized Gathercole’s family during the Medal of Honor ceremony.

Swim Lessons: Two Year Later

There are a few things I have done in motherhood that are questionable.  As an example, cutting my then 9-months old hair by myself.  Disastrous.  Thinking I could travel across state-lines, 200+ miles, as a new mom with a six-week old.  Excruciating. Attempting to convince my boys that they should like asparagus because it makes your pee stink.  Bad choice of reasons.

But this weekend I was reminded of one of the best things I have done for my boys in their eight and six years of existence.  Swim Lessons.  When hubs was in Iraq with the Army National Guard we used our free membership at the YMCA and the boys hopped in the pool every Saturday morning.  There were mornings they hated to go.  There were mornings that lessons added more strife to our crazy world.  There were times when lessons only made me question, "Am I doing the right thing?"  (Take a look back: Swim Lessons) But as the boys got better; overcame some of their fear of being in the water alone; and actually started to swim, not just cling to their teacher for dear-life, I started to see the value in this swim-lesson routine.

A Book Review: "Home and Away" A Story of Family In A Time Of War by David and Nancy French

I laughed and I cried (mostly laughed)! What a great book for military couples, their families and even their civilian friends! “Home and Away, A Story of Family in a Time of War” by David and Nancy French brought back memories and new images of warfare and families! This book will help military families see themselves during the two wars that our country is fighting! Or maybe, not the whole country as David felt as he read about a soldier with a family, wounded in war? “Why not me?” asked David. As a 37 year old, comfortable and living well as a lawyer, he was convinced of a gap between American civilians and our warriors and their families. Convicted of the need to serve, he began an odyssey to join the fray.


"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Putting “Home and Away” down as they tell their story, Nancy from home with two children, David at work with the 2d Squadron, 3d Armored Calvary Regiment was impossible. The story of a family, chapter by chapter of their deployment; normal life in Nancy’s chapters in Tennessee but without David and CPT French's surreal life as a JAG beyond the wire with the troops. I fought back tears reading of our soldiers’ deaths; of children exposed to unthinking adults’ comments; but then of pride with how their church responded to one of their own on the field of battle; how the soldiers’ cared for the children of Iraq; followed the Rules of Engagement and honored their own service!

A Slice of Summer

Ahhhh Summer Fare.  There are so many good, fresh, healthy foods out there this time of year.  It is my favorite time for munching and crunching!

Fresh, healthy foods are an investment in your health as well as your wallet.  Before we dive into some of my favorite recipes I want to share just a couple of money saving tips for your eating pleasure:
  • The Garden, my passion, on so many fronts. It embodies good health, good stewardship, and good eats!  According to USAA: "A National Gardening Association study found that families with gardens spent an average of $70 on supplies and reaped $600 of food a year." Grow Money in Your Backyard  That is a wonderful investment!   (Want to read more thoughts on the benefits of gardening? The Many Benefits of a Garden)
  • When foods are in season that you regularly cook with, take green peppers or onions as an example, buy them in bulk when they are on sale.  Chop them up and store them in serving size quantities.  During the winter months you can pull them out and cook with them as desired.
Do you have a favorite summer recipe?  Leave a link to it as a comment!  What makes it a favorite?  This a great opportunity to share it on your own blog and then link to it here!  I'd love to try something new, add a new recipe to my repertoire.

Here are some of our favorite Summer Fare here from MilitaryAvenue:

Art is not over rated: A reflection through young eyes.


Camp Grandpa DOES rock!

Flying like a wild wind

A new perspective on life

A Must Read for a Better Understanding of PTSD "Achilles in Vietnam" by Dr Jonathan Shay

Volunteers of America Michigan Veteran Homeless Shelter
During a recent visit to a veterans’ homeless shelter in Lansing, MI, Patrick Patterson, the Volunteers of America Michigan Vice President for Operations gave me two books to read. The gift was a great way for me to find meaning as to how our veterans end up on the street. As I read, Jonathan Shay’s “Achilles in Vietnam, Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character” the memories of the Vietnam era came flowing back to me… not as a combat veteran of that era but as an American who could not understand what was happening to my country, its soldiers and my friends. While not a combat veteran of that war, I came on active duty during this timeframe and felt the national angst and some antipathy towards America’s service personnel.

Dr Shay is a psychiatrist who was treating a group of American combat veterans suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the conflict in Vietnam when he wrote this book. Comparing the experiences of the American soldiers and their “brothers” in the Greek wars was a wonderful way to delve into the trauma and why our soldiers were frequently damaged psychologically by this war! As a professional military officer, I wish I had learned more about this book while on active duty as it leads one to better understand the ways and means for a leader to help prevent some of the side effects of the trauma of battle.

God Bless the USA

A hot dog, a beer, and a game of baseball with my family followed up with some wonderful fireworks for our little Ohio suburban town; it was a wonderful culmination to a great 4th of July weekend!  As I enjoyed the feel of the baseball stadium I was reminded, once again, why the US is such a wonderful place to call home.  Here is just a tiny percentage of the US doing what so many are all doing around the country, enjoying our freedom.  The focus of the day isn't on power, politics, or bravo.  It is about every day Americans celebrating what our founding fathers and those that followed worked so hard to establish and maintain.  The day can be about picnics, lake-front fun, barbecues, friends and family, pleasure, passion, and fun!

Veteran Affairs Issues First Checks to Caregivers of Wounded Heroes!

"Col K" getting a friendly assist last year
We just had a great 4th of July weekend and enjoyed some great family times! It actually ended a week of “Camp Grandpa” where we take care of four of our rambunctious grandsons and I have to admit being a bit tired from the last month or so of activity. Then I remembered that last year at this time. I had just been diagnosed with cancer (“A Life Changing Moment”) and how far I have come since then. The surgery required to remove the tumors left me pretty immobile and needing lots of tender loving care for more than 6 months as I healed.

My mobility slowly returned and this last week I had the chain saw out cutting down a bunch of trees that had died demonstrating almost total recovery. I could not have recovered as quickly or as well without a loving caregiver! Deb was great and cared for wounds that needed daily dressings, debriding, assistance with getting across the room, doing most of the driving, doing her normal outstanding meal preparation (including adding doctor prescribed protein), praying for me, encouraging me and so much more! While she is employed by MilitaryAvenue, she did have the flexibility to drive me to doctor appointments, working around my schedule from her home office.

We were fortunate and then I took some moments to reflect on what we would have done if we had needed her income and did not have the flexibility that we did have. Many of our severely injured hero warriors are not as fortunate and need the income from a spouse or friend and also need 24 hour care as well! When this dilemma was properly addressed by Congress, the Veteran Affairs folks designed a program of stipends for those in need! Just in time for the 4th of July celebration the first payments to 96 caregivers were just sent out! A long time in coming with lots of bureaucratic hurdles to overcome!  It is great to see the payments finally arriving where they are needed and so deserved!

Barbecuing on the 4th of July and Having a Great Independence Day Celebration!

Searing the meat!
We found something new to barbecue for the 4th of July celebration this year! I love to barbecue and this took some planning but it turned out great!  With the family gathering around to share the weekend, we had been busy cutting down dead trees (the ash bore infestation seems to have reached us) and other outdoor activities. Everyone came away hungry and this provided a great main dish!  We did do this on the 3d due to some family travel requirements on the 4th but military family life often creates those flexible holiday celebrations!

Deb bought a beef brisket (a hunka meat) and marinated it for me. I put the grill on maximum till it read 400 degrees and then seared the meat on both sides for about a minute. Then I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer at about 300 degrees (my temp gauge seems to be pretty accurate). We had trimmed the fat off and I layered it on top with a sprig of rosemary. The fat cooked and kept the meat moist and each time I turned it I put the remaining fat on top with the rosemary again.

I did flip the meat about every 10 minutes and cooked it for 40 minutes and the center was medium rare to rare. The best part of this piece of meat was that it gives everyone a choice of well, medium, medium rare or if you want to take it off earlier you can have real rare too.

Cutting down one of eleven trees that created an appetite!

How do you spend your Saturdays? Blog Hop and Share

Here is just a small sample of some of the things that keep me very busy on any given Saturday:

Household Chores

Gardening

Around the House (and Deck) Projects

Enjoying the grass between my toes!

Take a picture!  Post it on your blog, on Twitpic, or Facebook and share the link with us as a comment. Let's get creative and enjoy each other's weekend 'doings'!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com
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