The Year in Review - 2012 has a lot to offer the military family, from local military discounts, to stories of personal experience, and articles from reputable resources like the DoD, USAA, Community and Family Policy and so many more.

So what was important to our families this year?  Here are the Top 10 Articles on from the year 2012:

MilitaryAvenue's Moving Checklist: A move isn't complete without a checklist! It certainly is less stressful with one. Click on a link below to take you to the appropriate time frame and then skim the other lists to make sure you are on track for a great move.

Growing Up in the Military: A few years ago, a debate emerged on an Internet newsgroup for military brats about what kind of flower military children of military parents were most like. The consensus became the dandelion.

13 Tax Deductions You Can't Ignore: Before tackling your tax return, brush up on this baker's dozen of deductions that could cut your tax bill.

DeCA begins testing new Commissary Rewards Card: The Defense Commissary Agency is testing the Commissary Rewards Card that will soon allow customers to access and redeem digital coupons at all its stores.

DOD Announces 2013 Housing, Subsistence Allowance Rates: On Jan. 1, 2013, service members can expect to see an average increase of about $60 in their 2013 basic allowance for housing, Cheryl Anne Woehr, the BAH program manager, said Dec. 13.

Face of Defense: Marine Boxer Fights for Olympic Gold: After leading the U.S. boxing team in warm-ups yesterday, Marine Corps Sgt. Jamel Herring demonstrated the unique style and speed that may earn him an Olympic medal.

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.

Planning Ahead – 5 PCS Tips you can do now: Educate yourself and then Start Saving! Do you know about your PCS Allowances and Entitlements? Find out what they are and what you need to do to get the maximum reimbursement for your move. Dislocation Allowance, Move-In Housing Allowance, Monetary Allowance in lieu of Transportation and much more!

Service Members, Families, Get Free Pass to National Parks: Service members and their families will be able to enter all of America’s national parks free of charge for a year under an initiative announced today.

5 Social Networking Tips for Military Members: Here's a scary war story: In 2007, when a fleet of new AH-64 Apaches arrived at a base in Iraq, several soldiers snapped shots of the choppers. Those images made their way online — along with the invisible meta data that gave away the compound's precise location. Armed with that information, insurgents launched a mortar attack that destroyed four of the helicopters.

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Raising a Generation that Loves

Today Newtown, Conneticut will bury the first of their children.  Noah Pozner, age 6, will be laid to rest at 1:00pm. (Newtown shooting victims: First funerals to be held) Then there will be 19 more funerals for children and 7 for adults.  Oh deep sorrow runs through my blood.

My husband, the level headed soldier who has seen more then I would like to imagine, came home on Friday and immediately turned on the news.  He watched for a quite a while, standing there stunned.  Then the man who is never sick complained of a headache the rest of the night.  I don't know if it was a headache as much as heartache.

The Christmas Tree - Military Family Style

O Christmas Tree
O Christmas Tree
How Lovely are Your branches

Isn't it amazing how many different styles of Christmas trees there are?

Protecting Your Hard Earned Tuition Assistance – DoD Blogger Roundtable

Fairy tales often start like this: Once upon a time… But our military benefits are not the things of fairy tales, they are earned and deserved! Some colleges have been less than honest with our service members while taking their benefits. It only takes a few to leave a bad taste. I can personally relate as:

Once upon a time, a Lieutenant signed up for an advanced degree program, drove 100 miles roundtrip for classes, spent hours studying and preparing for assignments while working a more than full time job and then received orders overseas. Two courses completed, in the bank for when the next opportunity arose several years later.

When I signed up for the next program; Surprise, surprise the "wicked witch"* announced that the classes were not transferable”. In fact, though described as advanced degree courses, the transcripts showed undergraduate course credit. Wait, I had been enrolled in an advanced degree program and the courses were paid for by the GI Bill at the rate for advanced degree hours.  Language in the transcript detailed that they were prerequisite courses, something that the school never explained. 

So it was with great interest as we dialed in for the Blogger Roundtable with Carolyn L. Baker, chief of Voluntary Education Programs at Military Community and Family Policy at the Department of Defense. Carolyn was there to discuss the DoD revised Tuition Assistance (TA) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The implementation date has slipped until 1 March 2013 from 1 January to allow additional time for schools to sign and get the MOUs in place. In response to veterans’ organizations that were concerned about the “transportability” of course work into veteran programs (such as the GI Bill ) and participating college inputs, modifications to the MOU had been implemented late in 2012.

Carolyn L. Baker - DoDLive Photo
Ms. Baker added detail to a DoD article on the requirements and what the schools needed to do in order to be qualified for accepting students using TA. As of 1 March if the school has not signed the MOU, they will not be available for military students using TA as a form of payment. There are 2,400 schools participating and about 50% are public and 50% for profit schools. So are we limiting the student’s freedom of choice and what is the impact on the students?  She said “there is no impact on the students” and further explained that 95% of the military students are in high enrollment programs that have or will have MOUs signed by the cutoff.  The TA policy for students has seen no changes!

What about the impact on the schools? While there are apparently some concerns about meeting the new requirements, the DoD is committed to the program and it reflects the President's Principles of Excellence.  Increased oversight by a third party review (as identified in the MOU) will insure that the schools honor the requirements and guidance in the MOU and provide the students the biggest bang for their education buck!

DoD wants to protect the students and help them reach their education and personal goals. Transparency is key for the students and the MOU will provide that transparency so YOU know exactly what the course work will provide and if it can be transferred, delayed by deployments, continued via online resources, etc.

This was a great discussion so if you would like to listen to it please go to DoDLive for an audio transcript. For additional information on military education issues, official government links and other information please go to MilitaryAvenue’s Education Center!

* I do not mean to infer anything about the military education center or the hard working counselors by referring to the “wicked witch” but imagine my frustration over this issue and how I took the announcement versus the person explaining it to me. Besides MilAve_Deborah has worked in a military education center and I know that perspective quite well. :-) 
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Col K is a retired Air Force pilot who served with the best of the military community from the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force. He flew combat rescue and special operations helicopters, fixed wing trainers and airlift and retired while flying the C-17 as the Vice Wing Commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord AFB. He enjoys writing about military issues and is a frequent contributor to the the DoD Blogger Roundtable at DoDLive. 

A member of a proud military family that created to support the troops and their families, he enjoys the continued military ties from blogging.

The Home Depot Celebration of Service 2012 - Meet a military family.

The Home Depot Celebration of Service 2012 - Meet the Purvis family!

I had the pleasure of meeting the Purvis family in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week, as a part of The Home Depot Celebration of Service 2012The Home Depot provided them (that we delivered) with decorations, a corner Christmas tree, and an opportunity to meet a wonderful family.  Throughout my time with the family we shared plenty of laughs and a few serious and emotional topics.

Mr. Purvis has been in the Army National Guard for about 11 years.  He has been deployed 3 times, to Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan.  The family's living room wall is covered in pictures and memories from his multiple deployments and service to our country.  His wife is a huge arts and crafts fan and mentioned that she is “addicted” to Pinterest.

More than just the winter-blues

The Holidays. They can be a very tough time of year.

Not only is it getting darker and darker in our part of the hemisphere but we are missing family, friends and loved ones that are around the world.  We are looking back at our year and have seen changes we may or may not like.  We are looking ahead wondering what the year ahead will have in store for us.

Your spouse might be deployed.  Your parents might be thousands of miles away.  You may be experiencing the mind-blowing effects of PTSD.  Your schedule is crazy and the thought of 'Silent Night' is really only a song. Or it might be just a little /too/ silent!

According to Military OneSource there are ways to manage seasonal stresses without canceling the holiday season altogether! Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be realistic. Few of us have ideal families, unlimited resources or perfect lives. Stop putting pressure on yourself to magically create a perfect scenario during the holidays.

Tips to Protect Your Hard Earned Military Money! The BBB Military Line is for You.

Do not give away your hard earned military cash! You served. You or your soldier, airmen, marine, sailor or coastie served in a high threat environment to bring in the bacon and now an unethical business or person wants to take it from you.

Have you ever been a victim of consumer fraud? Concerned about how to avoid becoming a victim? Many of our military community are vulnerable to consumer fraud, scams and contract issues due to their age, relocation to new and unfamiliar areas and their wide spread use of the internet according to Brenda Linnington, Director of the Better Business Bureau Military Line! Did you know that the BBB had a specific military line? I knew about BBB but had not really dug into the Military Line until I sat next to Brenda at the 3d Annual USAA Influencer Conference in November.

Brenda is all about helping our service members and their families. She is a West Point grad and her husband and son are active duty Army as well! She agreed to talk about the Military Line with me so I could better explain how it can help you. There is nothing more frustrating than to see our service members or their families become victims of some unscrupulous business. While on active duty, I saw them on the outside of the military gates trying to draw in young folks to get a payday loan as an example. Now many have moved to the internet or found other ways to scam their targets – YOU! Brenda said that the most complaints to the BBB from the military community are those in the E-6/7s ranks and the second group is E-1 through E-4s. But fraud can strike anyone!

Commissary Gift Card for You

It is that time of year. When we have a hard time finding air because the schedule is so busy.  Parties, kid-concerts, shopping, meal planning, travelling and so much more.  It is easy to get lost in the festivities and forget to take a moment to remember the joy in the season.

Start your membership today -
To help encourage and empower our military families SitterCity has presented us with four $50 Commissary cards to give to military-families!  Wow, what a wonderful gift!  

The "Macho Spouse" at USAA Blogger Conference

Jeremy Hilton, 2012 Military Spouse of the Year
see below
Who is the military spouse? We know many of the demographics – they are young, try to maintain a career, mostly female but as the number of female military members trend upwards, the number of male spouses does as well.  Most have faced numerous deployments in the last 10 years and many have children. They are often engaged in social media like Facebook, twitter and blogging as well.

When MilitaryAvenue was invited to a blogger gathering in San Antonio, with banking/insurance/investment giant for their 3rd Annual Influencer Conference (See "Two Very Different Veteran Day Celebrations") it sounded like an opportunity to learn more about a company/association that we had been members of for more than 40 years. What I did not realize was the diversity of the 25 bloggers in attendance. They came from wide and far and had diverse audiences like military families and members, financial bloggers, bloggers from other military associations and even from the Better Business Bureau. The conference was well laid out with a great agenda that balanced the social opportunities with the business presentations.

Meet the "Macho Spouse":


I am constantly reminded how things change through the years.  Computers and Internet have changed communication, from hand written letters of many years ago to nightly Skype conversations with soldiers and children, airman and wives, marines and husbands, sailors and moms, coasties and dads (and any of that mix you can imagine).

This Christmas season I am so happy to have our family whole but we are still glued to the computer.  There are two new loves.  (Don't get me wrong: family is more important then these fun tools.  However, you can certainly take the time to watch these as a family and create memories if you are together!)

Military Friends - A Puzzle for Our Civilian Counterparts

Military friends!
Sometimes our military lifestyle is a puzzle to our civilian friends and the rest of the nation. We have some opportunities that civilians normally do not receive and we also face challenges and lifestyle issues they may never see. But one thing we have that is "just to die for" is our military friends. We come together from all over the country (and in some cases the world), of all races, ethnic backgrounds, economic and educational levels, different goals and lifestyles and so much more diversity that most Americans ever have the opportunity to experience. 

I have to admit that this is our (my military spouse, mil brats and my) experience but I do believe it reflects the military community as a whole. We made friends at the beginning of an extended career, in the middle and near the end of the road towards military retirement. All were special; each filled a void of not being from here at that installation or we connected in a unique way, whether work related, gym, youth activities, volunteer offices, classes during education efforts or maybe an extended TDY/TAD.

Change of Command: Celebrate Parade Rest

Although geese fly in formation, they did not waddle on the parade field at Scott AFB. No goose steps. The left feet hit the turf on the beat of the bass drum. Flights, squadrons, groups and wings presented polished top notched personnel, as always, ready to shine and report to General Welsh, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Our military has a time honored tradition to uphold precision and honor in a way that showcases the challenge of working together. The step by step, in step march of men and women blends the missions the training and the esprit de corps of individual squadrons, groups and wings: they all meet this challenge in a Change of Command.

At attention, ready for orders.
AMC Change of Command ceremony
Link to the Change of Command 

The old adage "You'll fight in war as you train in peace" holds true for change of command. There is purpose, movement, orders and reactions. Best, there is a beginning and an end. The mission goes forward, the driving force of the Air Force is flying high, and the world is impressed.

Small Business Saturday: November 24, 2012

I am really intrigued by this idea of "Small Business Saturday". The premise is the Saturday after Thanksgiving you go to your local family-owned, small business stores to do your Christmas Shopping.

I got this 'chain email from my mother-in-law a couple weeks ago.  Usually I immediately hit delete on chains.  I get over 100 emails a day so the delete key is my friend.  But this one caught my eye and hits right along the Small Business Saturday concept:

Full of Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far.  Christmas and Easter shape my life but have become way too commercialized and, in general, we've lost the meaning.  There's not much pressure with Thanksgiving though.  Wednesday I'll turn the music up, bake some cookies, pies and bread.  I'll enjoy having the kids' help once in awhile (especially with the cookie part) and then Thanksgiving, this year, we'll head to hub's family gathering; sixty to seventy of his closest relatives.  No fuss, just family. 

I also love taking the time to enjoy what we are thankful for.  This year, at dinner, we have gone around the table each day and said something we are thankful for.  We've heard good things like, fish (our "pets"), friends, new opportunities, recess, autumn leaves.  We've talked about finding the good in the bad sometimes too, like conflict (& resolution!).  November has been a great (and very important) lesson in thankfulness.

I didn't jump on the Thankfulness bandwagon on Facebook; although I regret it.  Instead, I present 22 things I am thankful. You get it all at once instead of little snippets at at time:

Apple-Oatmeal Yeast Bread

Thanksgiving is zooming at us with rocket speed.  Today might be Monday... but watch out!  Thursday is coming into focus.  Slow down and make some yeast bread.  This recipe calls for apple cider which is prominent in the aroma.  Welcome Thanksgiving week with a fresh loaf of bread.  I think we all need something 'to hold us up' for the hard work of eatting a fantastic meal later!   Oh yes, bring it on.  Simple to make and bake, and totally wonderful to relax and taste the wholesome goodness of oats and apples.

Yeast Bread
Apple-Oatmeal Bread
1 c quick cooking rolled oats (not instant)
¼ c packed brown sugar
1 T butter
1 ½ t salt
¼ t nutmeg
1 ½ c apple cider
1 pkg or 2 ¼ t active dry yeast
About 3 ½ c flour, divided
Melted butter

In large bowl add oats, sugar, butter salt and nutmeg. Bring cider to boil, pour over oat mixture, stir well and cool to 110 degrees, (warm), about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with yeast and mix well. Let stand about 1 minute, then stir in ½ c flour. Mix well, then stir in 1 c flour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Stir down, add 2 c remaining flour or enough to make firm dough that leaves sides of bowl. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

  Shape in loaf and place in greased 9 x 5 x3” loaf pan. Cover loosely and let rise in warm draft-free place until dough comes to top of pan, about 1 hour. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 50 minutes or until top is quite brown (it will not sound hollow when tapped).

Turn out on rack and brush with melted butter. Store in cool dry place; will keep about 1 week. The loaf can be frozen. Makes 1 loaf.

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Two Very Different Veteran Day Celebrations

Last week I was privileged to be invited to the 3d Annual USAA Influencer Conference in San Antonio, TX.

Today, I was invited to Pine Ridge Elementary School in Ada, MI.

Both had Veterans Day celebrations that impacted me but in two very different ways. Both sent and had a wonderful message! USAA is built around veterans and their members are veterans and their families so there is a natural appreciation and their Veterans Day program certainly showed their affiliation. A dignified and respectful ceremony with flag officers, wounded warriors from the nearby medical center, family members, USAA team members and a crowded, standing room only audience.

Captain Smiley speaking at Veterans Day Celebration at USAA
The headline speaker was the only blind Army active duty officer, Captain Scotty Smiley. Captain Smiley was terribly injured in Iraq by a terrorist car bombing while shielding others with his Stryker vehicle. While blindness was certainly central to his story, it was not the whole story. The story was one of hope, depression, caring, family support, a Christian testimony, love, marriage and the future. The USAA veteran celebration in San Antonio was video taped and played live on the Pentagon Channel for a national audience. It thrilled the audience and left us feeling proud to be Americans.

Veterans Day - The Battle Hymn of the Republic

I can honestly say I've never cried for the song 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'.

Until today.

It had been too many weeks since we made it to the pews of our church.  Between a special monthly kids service (called Kids Stuff) for the parents too, nursery duty, lice (ya, bleck!), an annual soccer tournament that was on a Sunday (boo hiss), and Frankenstorm Sandy (no heat, no electricity that week) I hadn't sat in the sanctuary to worship since September.

I missed it.

I was a little emotional to begin with (Congregational Worship stirs up an emotion I cannot explain.  It is my soul, the Spirit, unleashed.)  But then to top it all off it was Veterans Day, a day that stirs up so much emotion for me as well.  A reminder of the sacrifices US Military Members (and their families) have made since at least the Revolutionary War. 

There we are before the offertory and our choir leader asks all the Veterans to stand up.  My husband leans over and asks, "Do I have to?" and I nod, yes.  The congregation gives a rousing round of applause and the veterans from 20 years old to 80 years old quickly stand and just as quickly and so very humbly sit back down.

The offertory begins and the choir starts "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".  About half way through the entire congregation stood, almost like a standing ovation, but mid-song.  We recognized that this emotion we all were feeling was not something we could handle sitting on our dufts.  It was a moment to stand and say 'Thank you, God'  Thank you for the soldiers, coast guard, sailors, the marines and airmen.  Thank you for their sacrifices, for the freedom that you have given us.  Thank you God for the freedom to be Americans.

The choir director turned around to have us join in the last few verses and she was astonished.  She had no idea she was going to turn around to an already standing room.  And my tears started flowing.  The lyrics coming out of my mouth were shaky.  The moisture on my cheeks a little uncomfortable in the crowd.  Then I saw the kleenex wipe tears away from the lady right in front of me, the young woman doing the same across the aisle, it was happening throughout the room.  There was gritty emotion in that song, in that moment.

My son, 4th grade, told me that they are also going to be singing that song at their Veterans Day Concert on Wednesday.  I certainly can't wait to hear it!  I'm pretty sure it will be just as beautiful.  (And today's was the most beautiful rendition of that song I had ever heard.)

To all US Veterans I say, "Thank You".   A special Thank you to my husband, prior Marine and current Army National Guard; my dad, Air Force Retired; my grandfathers, Army Soldiers in World War II; both of my Uncle Johns, both served during Vietnam; my cousins Bob (Navy), Jason (Navy) , Luci (Marines), John (Marines), Tony (Navy), Cory (Army), Fred (Marines).  You have all served our nation with honor.  Thank you!

His truth IS marching on!

- Leanne from

PS I was honored to be asked to take part in a Veterans Day presentation from Veterans United.  I stand very strongly by what I shared with them.  How will you thank a Veteran today?

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Away for the Holidays - Care Package Ideas and More

There are a few Christmases that stand out in my life. I remember our first Christmas in Iceland after being separated from my dad for six months while we waited for a house to open up at Keflavik NAS.  He had to report without his family but just before the holidays new friends opened up their home to us so that we could be together as a family.  Our house would be ready when they returned from a vacation back to the states.  That was the Christmas of Homecoming.  (Although a new home, but home none the less).

Another very memorable Christmas for me was the year my husband was in Iraq.  I remember the laptop sitting on the coffee table with the webcam all setup.  We opened up gifts at my mom and dad's.  It was the middle of the night for hubs and we would look over to see him dosing in and out of sleep.  Yet, I could just feel his presence.  He sent me a gift to open under the tree and a little something for each of the boys.  He worked so hard at being there even though he was so far away.   That was the Christmas we were apart.

If you are looking at a Christmas apart empower yourself!  You can start now to put together Christmas themed care packages.  Get the kids involved.  Find ways to put Joy in the Season, even if you have to work a little bit at it.

Away for the Holidays - Find ideas for your Holiday Care Package Ideas and More

Frankenstorm and Gratitude

My friend, Ann Marie over at Household 6 Diva recently posted on Facebook this epiphany:

There is always, always, always, always, always,
something to be thankful for. #pinterestproverb

We were really walloped by Frankenstorm Sandy. Folks in my area lost power in the storm on Monday, October 29th, and finally had it restored Sunday morning, November 4th.  (I'm one of the lucky few to never have lost it.)  Kids were out of school for 'inclement weather' (to say the least) for two, three and four days. Basements were flooded.  Trees were down. Roads impassable. Yet, there were SO FEW posts on Facebook from my friends that were negative.

A Hurricane and Gratitude? Can it be?  Keep Reading

November is Military Family Month

As a fellow member of the Military Family I want to take time to say 'Thank you'.

Thank you to our

Thank you to our Veterans
Those that have served (and continue to serve today) in:
World War 2,
Persian Gulf,
and around the world.

Thank you to our Families
Moms & Dads,
and Prayer Warriors

101 Ways to Thank a Veteran

I appreciate when the 'powers that be' send out notes or in this case videos of thanks and appreciation.  Enjoy these two videos geared for you the Veteran and Military Family:

Thanks to Our Service Members this Veterans' Day

As we approach Veterans' Day a big thank you for the ability to enjoy the land of the free!  This veteran thanks those who are currently serving for his ability to walk a beach and have a relaxing vacation!

Self Esteem vs Self Respect

Last weekend was cold.  Cold and rainy.  The kind of weather that makes you want to curl up in front of a fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.  Instead I was at a soccer tournament for my ten-year old.  Three games over Saturday and Sunday 90 minutes from home.  Three games of pure determination on our boys' parts.  Three games of 'Go, Avon, Go!'  ... Three losses.

Continue Reading about how to turn the loss into a win, Self Esteem vs Self Respect

Refreshing View from the Top of the Army Reserve – Blogger Roundtable

It was a great interview and so different than most of the other air coming from DC during this political season! Refreshing candor, integrity, willingness to acknowledge the occasional problem being worked,… the newest Chief of the Army Reserve—Lieutenant General Jeffrey Talley spoke with his heart and had the facts on issues affecting the Army Reserve.

In addition, this was a great follow on to the blog we posted in August: Are You Ready for the Army Reserve? Or, Is Your Soldier Ready for the Army Reserve?  

Army Reserve Capabilities - See Below for Photo Credits
First off the start line: What does the Army Reserve bring to the fight? 

Twenty percent of the Total Force and only six percent of the budget according to Talley. He said the Army Reserve role of complementing the active role with critical skills such as engineers, medical units, civil affairs units, psychological operations, biological/chemical warfare detection units and other technical skills means there is little chance his budget of $8 Billion will see major cuts. In fact he said the new proposals in the Pentagon might increase Army Reserve manpower during active Army force cuts.

Military Monday Pins

Real Action Figures


Continue to see more images in honor of our Military & Veterans

Going to Bat for the Bullied

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  A great time to educate yourself, empower yourself, think about how to handle future bully problems in your own children's lives. is a great resource, as is  I've written about my own experience with bullying once before and I stand by my thoughts, "Bullying and our Military Children".

But amidst all these awareness programs an article caught my eye :

"Mission: Transition" is October 27th!

Every once in a while I get really excited about something that is going to be helpful for or assist our troops and their families in a unique and special way. The Home Depot just announced “Mission: Transition” which will help the military community with their job search! Not just jobs at Home Depot but skills and tools for a veteran in transition and looking for civilian employment with any business.

Photo Credit:  Home Depot - See below
 A big date! On October 27th, Saturday, the Home Depot will provide veterans with training at more than 100 locations. The training will include resume ideas, interview tips and other transition topics. The slots are open to any member of the military or veteran but are limited!  "Mission: Transition" has a state by state locator for the class nearest to you. As an example, I found 4 sites in Michigan that had classes including a store near us in Grand Rapids at 4646 28th St SE.   Continue reading for how to find a location near you.

Walk in the Woods Wednesday

The warmth of the landscape is everywhere right now. Countryside woods, county lanes, and front yards are blanketed with orange, yellow, dark green and brown. The ground looks like it is hand stitched with irregular sized threads of maple, oak, elm and 17 other variety of trees leaves. Patterns form and then are whirled by south, east and north winds.

New Friends, Motherhood and Growth

We are well into the autumn schedule. Boys are at school, my toddler and I are settling into a great routine, which includes some Disney Channel, Lego-time and lots of books.  Plus lots of crock-pot time, a newly-painted bedroom and garden canning and storage for the winter months.  It has been a great fall so far!

But I'm taking on new adventures too.  This year that includes MOMSNext.  I'm a huge advocate for MOPS.  That organization turned my life around from being a lonely mom with not many friends in a new area with a toddler and baby, to an involved mom part of a group; wanted, loved, befriended, needed.  But all things must come to an end and after quite a few years with that group I was ready for something new.

Continue Reading about my adventures with making new friends through MOPS

VOTE VOTE VOTE DoD Blogger Roundtable

A Military Family Member
who is happy mom voted!
It is Not Too Late to Vote! Military personnel and their families have a lot at stake when it comes to elections. You serve this great nation in a way that many citizens can not and do not. So why not get involved in this election? Too hard to do? Not true, according to Pamela Mitchell, Acting Director of Federal Voting Assistance Program.

During a DoD Blogger Roundtable Ms Mitchell described some great social media, mass emails (12,000,000 – now that is quite the mailing list) to all .mil addresses, twitter town home meetings, live chat and call center and of course their website at FVAP (where you can find details as well) - all to help you vote!  

But you have to take the time to get involved and in a busy lifestyle that can be hard. So let’s make it easier! Here are some great tools on Pinterest for you as well:

Ms Pamela Mitchell,
Acting Director of Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Yes, our military votes need to count! According to Ms Mitchell, post card voter registration and ballot applications are down almost 250,000 voters from the previous presidential election. 

Yes, we are trying to make it easier for you to get the urge to vote!  A 30 day cutoff for many states is quickly approaching for the presidential, congressional and local elections. 

Yes, you can do it. Take the Time to Vote!


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta urges military community to vote!

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Photo and Video Courtesy DoD

Family and Community Values – the Home Depot Celebration of Service 2012

“Giving Back” “Building Strong Relationships” 

It was a great opportunity! Talk to an Iraq veteran, now a District Manager for Home Depot about his experiences and participation in Celebration of Service 2012 (COS 2012). Frank was in Richmond, Virginia supporting the Paralyzed Veterans of America Virginia Mid-Atlantic Chapter with 65 other volunteers in orange #COS2012 (twitter hashmark) shirts. The public relations coordinator was great but when the time zone for the call became a possible issue, I suggested using 1400 Zulu and the three veterans understood: one of the simple things that tie veterans together.

Frank Blake Jr speaking at COS in Richmond VA
Frank Blake Jr. is an Army veteran of the war in Iraq and he brings such enthusiasm to life, I could feel it through the phone! We talked about his service briefly and how it translated to the civilian world. He saw action near Tikrit (Saddam Hussein’s hometown) during the invasion with the 4th ID as an infantry battalion signals officer. After serving four years of active duty he transferred to the reserves for two years and began his civilian career with Home Depot.

Why Home Depot for a veteran looking for a civilian career? He jumped right on that one with fervor. He said he considered other positions but they “offered me a cubicle” for years and Home Depot offered me two years of intense training, a budget to manage, inventory to account for, a team of 150 associates at a store and long work hours. After Iraq, he felt prepared with safety training; stewardship of resources; team morale responsibilities; fast paced, dynamic environment; 24/7 and much more! He felt like he had found a home.
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