Monthly Archives: May 2013

Update: Military Spouse Employment and Education Advocacy

military spouse education and employmentAs an Association, one of our top priorities is to ensure that military spouses are able to pursue their education and continue professional career development that works with the military lifestyle.

We highlighted these priorities in our testimony that was submitted for the record on April 17 to the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and asked Congress to take steps to support military spouses in their pursuit of personal and professional growth.

Here’s what we covered in our testimony regarding military spouse employment and education initiatives:

  • Collaborative work between the three Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunity (SECO) program components to include the Military Spouse Career Center at Military OneSource, Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), and My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) Program
  • The reinstatement of the MyCAA program to include all military spouses regardless of the service member’s rank
  • The extension of the MyCAA program to spouses of the Coast Guard, the Commissioned Corps of NOAA, and the U.S. Public Health Service
  • Expansion of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for employers who hire military spouses
  • A tax credit to military spouses to offset the cost of obtaining a new license or credential when the service member is relocated to a new duty station
  • Reciprocity of professional licenses or alternative license arrangements across state lines

For the latest information on our advocacy efforts and support for military spouse employment and education initiatives, please visit our website’s policy issues section or subscribe to Military Family Topics to have updates delivered to your inbox.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest news concerning military families and tell us what you’re seeing in your community.

ccPosted by Christine Gallagher, Government Relations Deputy Director at the National Military Family Association

The Dreaded “D” Word: Preparing for a deployment

How to prepare for a deploymentThe dreaded “D” word entered our house and it’s not debt. It’s a deployment. Deployments are part of military life. Much like our peers, we are a family who has only known a time at war. But what made this deployment different is the short-notice orders. (In other words we had 10 days to prepare for my husband to leave for training.) Cue the gasps and dramatic music, please. He was the lucky guy selected to join a unit that has been training for several months and he needed to leave ASAP.

So, if your family receives short-notice orders, here are some suggestions on the essential items you’ll need:

Essential Pre-deployment Must- Haves

Updated Power of Attorney: Your service member can have a general and/or special power of attorney prepared at the local legal assistance office. It is helpful to either call or visit the legal assistance office to set up an appointment and ask for a list of information you’ll need to bring. Sometimes the legal assistance office will have designated days set aside where they offer a class and meet with clients to execute a power of attorney. Let the office know if you have a short time frame. They may be able to accommodate your schedule or suggest nearby locations that can complete the paperwork.

It is important for both parties to understand how the power of attorney works and when it can be used and when it cannot be used. If you anticipate a big purchase during the service member’s deployment, talk to your bank. The bank may have their own special power of attorney that is needed for transactions and may not accept your general or special power of attorney.

Updated Will: Simply said a will is to protect your assets. Be sure you have a copy of an updated will before your service member leaves. Again, the legal assistance office can prepare a will for you. Many installations offer classes on designated days of the week or for a particular unit that is deploying. However, they are flexible and most will work with your schedule if you have a short time frame.

DD Form 93: Also known as the Record of Emergency Data, DD Form 93 is a form that only the service member can update. The Defense Department will use the contact information on this form to contact the designated Primary Next of Kin (PNOK) if there is an emergency, such as an illness or injury. It also outlines who is eligible for the death gratuity benefit.

Unit Contact Information: It is very important for you to have your service member’s unit contact information. Especially if your service member deploys as an Individual Augmentee (IA), someone who deploys without his or her primary unit, you will need to know how to contact the unit. Generally the unit will have a designated point person to relay family information. Ask for this contact before your service member begins training. If there is not a family person designated, have your service member ask the Command to provide information on how families will receive information during the deployment.

Those are my tips for getting ready for deployment. What is your advice for someone preparing for their service member’s deployment?

katiePosted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Information Manager at the National Military Family Association and blogger at www.MilitaryFamilyCents.com, where this post originally appeared

Working for Military Families: So much more than a paycheck – it’s our passion!

National Military Family Association is hiringIf you are passionate about the military and particularly military families, then we have a job for you! The National Military Family Association has three positions open in our Alexandria, VA office. We’re looking for savvy and creative professionals who understand the military lifestyle and support our mission to improve the quality of life of military families.

Check out these positions:

Youth Initiatives Deputy Director
This is a full-time, grant-funded position. The individual will work closely with the Director of Youth Initiatives on the development, implementation, and evaluation of our popular Operation Purple® summer camps, Operation Purple Family Retreats, and specialty programs (e.g. serving wounded, ill and injured.). The deputy director will coordinate with the Director and other staff to advance the advocacy and education goals of our Association.

Online Engagement Manager
The military family community is online, which is why we need a sharp individual to fill the position of Online Engagement Manager. The person in this position will work to increase user activity, boost online presence, and build constituent relationships by managing our blog and electronic publications. In addition, the person filling this position will support the Communications Deputy Director, Online Engagement in managing and creating website content and applying design. Candidates must have excellent writing skills and experience using web tools. This is a full-time position.

Marketing Communications Manager
We need an innovative social media expert to manage communications with our fast growing community on Facebook and Twitter. Ideal candidates will also have some experience with other social media channels to include those devoted to fundraising. Additionally, the MarCom Manager will act as the Association copy editor and maintain our writing style guide; strong writing skills are a must. This position also supports traditional communications activities such as media outreach and the design and production of Association print and marketing materials.

Learn more about the National Military Family Association here. If any of these positions interest you, resumes will be accepted through Monday, May 27. Apply now, don’t wait!

Pat TravisPosted by Patricia Travis, Human Resources Director at the National Military Family Association

Recap: Military Spouse JD Network “Making the Right Moves” Event

Military Spouse JD Network event recapThe Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) hosted a professional development event for military spouse attorneys yesterday in Washington D.C. called Making the Right Moves: Celebration and Education for Military Spouse Attorneys. This event featured educational breakout sessions focusing on career advancement, networking, legislative updates, how to overcome employment barriers, and how to enhance career portability. It was an event that boasted fellowship and intertwined tools for career success.

I was thrilled to represent the National Military Family Association on a panel to discuss hot topics regarding federal and state legislative initiatives affecting military families (and more specifically spouses). As an Association, one of our top priorities is to ensure that military spouses are able to pursue and continue their professional career as they support their service member in this highly mobile lifestyle.

A few legislative highlights from the panel included:

  • State legislation: Four states have passed a rule accommodating military spouse attorneys. These include Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Idaho. We look forward to being a force multiplier through our advocacy efforts with MSJDN in other states.
  • Federal legislation: The Military Spouse Job Continuity Act (S.759 and H.R.1620), if passed, will provide military spouses a tax credit to offset the cost of obtaining a new state-specific license or certificate when the family is ordered to move.

After the forum, several military spouses approached me and asked how they could get involved with our advocacy efforts. One way is to join our Association’s Volunteer Corps. With your voice and personal experience from your local community, we can identify needs and are able to advocate for military families. Another way is to simply stay in touch with us online and on social media. By sharing the victories and shortcomings when it comes to spouse employment, you help us show how important this issue is to our community.

Please know that the National Military Family Association is here with you every step of the way! Our mission is to fight for benefits and programs that strengthen and protect Uniformed Services families and reflect the Nation’s respect for their service.

We would love to hear from you! Engage with our Association through our website, on Facebook, on Twitter @military_family, and through our Branching Out blog. (Subscribe on the top right of this page!) Don’t forget to download our new mobile app MyMilitaryLife.

ccPosted by Christine Gallagher, Government Relations Deputy Director at the National Military Family Association

Make Your Memorial Day Red, White, Blue, and HEALTHY!

Memorial Day is particularly special to me this year. My husband is due home around that time from his tour in Afghanistan. His absence gives me a deeper appreciation for those who died for our amazing country and their families that were left behind.

Getting together with family can be hard for military families who move frequently, but we are always good at making our own way and turning friends into family. Nothing brings “family” together like food! In honor of Memorial Day and my husband’s anticipated return home, I wanted to encourage you to make your celebration healthy with some festive meal ideas. Get ready to get your red, white, and blue on and get your grill fired up!

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Memorial Day Menu Ideas:

  • Grilled Lean Ground Beef Sliders on 100% whole wheat buns with caramelized red onions & star cheese
  • Fresh grilled corn
  • Watermelon Mango Salsa with organic blue tortilla chips
  • Star Spangled Pound Cake Bites with Blueberries
  • Watermelon or Apple Fries

Recipes

MemorialDaySalsaWatermelon Mango Salsa
2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped into bite size chunks
2 ripe (but not too ripe) mangoes, chopped into bite size chunks
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeno, finely diced
1 whole lime, squeezed
Salt to taste

Combine all of the above ingredients. Let marinate for 1 hour. Serve chilled with organic blue tortilla chips.

memorialdaydessertStar Spangled Pound Cake Bites with Blueberries
1 carton of fresh blueberries
1 16 oz. premade pound cake
Whipping cream
Small cookie cutter in shape of a star

Wash blueberries and set aside. Place whipping cream in mixer and mix until stiff peaks form. Add sugar to taste. Cut pound cake into ½ inch slices and use cookie cutter to cut 2 stars out of 1 slice. Place cakes on platter. With a piping bag, add cream and pipe onto cakes. Top with fresh blueberries. You can also use raspberries.

BetsyheadshotGuest Post by Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RDN, is a registered dietitian and proud Air Force wife, patiently awaiting her husband’s return home from Afghanistan. She is a food and communications consultant in the Washington, D.C. area. You can find her frequently blogging about food, health and nutrition on her website, www.supermarketnutrition.com and for Northeast Pennsylvania Family Magazine. Her main job is wife to a United States Air Force Officer and mom to 2 amazing kids and 1 dog. 

Join our Digital Hunt and Win 4 Roundtrip Tickets on Southwest Airlines!

For the rollout of the 10 completed Life Paths in our MyMilitaryLife mobile app, we are kicking off a digital scavenger hunt via social media and two winners will each receive FOUR roundtrip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines!

Starting today, May 20, we’ll post clues on Facebook at noon ET to help you find keywords hidden in the MyMilitaryLife app. Follow the clues, track the keywords daily, and submit ALL FOUR answers on our website by midnight Sunday, May 26. If you don’t win the first scavenger hunt, follow along on Twitter starting May 28 for a second chance to win! Questions? Leave us a comment below.

Now, share the image below with your friends and let the hunt begin! To get started, visit our website at www.militaryfamily.org/hunt You must be a military spouse or partner  and a registered user of MyMilitaryLife to win.

National Military Family Assoc. digital scavenger hunt

Tough Choices: Geo-Bachelor or Another Move?

Tough Choices: Geo-Bachelor or Another Move?Since I became a military spouse more than 16 years ago, my family and I have moved eight times for the good of the Navy. Some moves have been greeted with excitement and others with tears, but each time the Navy has asked us, we have packed our bags, said goodbye to our friends, and traveled obediently to the next duty station.

There’s no denying that it has been a great adventure. While our military life has not been as exotic as some others, we have lived in many interesting places. Our kids have explored Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, visited Disney World and the White House, and enjoyed beaches from Rhode Island to Florida. I recognize that in many ways the military has been good to us.

Still, there have been sacrifices. Sacrifices like the challenges that military families face each and every day. My kids have cried at leaving dear friends and struggled to adjust to new schools. I have given up jobs and worked to find a place in a new community.

It’s true, some things do get easier with each move. I’ve discovered a foolproof way to tape up the hardware for our bookshelves so they don’t get lost, for example. But some things never get easier. And a few things that seemed easy the first move got a lot harder the seventh and eighth time.

So, when my husband told me that he would be receiving orders to another ship, in another town, we decided not to follow him. This time, he will go on to the new duty station on his own while the kids and I stay behind. He’ll be what we in the military know as a geo-bachelor. This was not a decision we reached lightly. We talked about it for hours, over the course of many days, and I still lie awake at night wondering if it’s the right thing to do. It will be hard on us as a family. It will be hard on him as he makes the drive home every weekend. And hard on me as I juggle my job with being both Mom and Dad to two teenagers.

But the more we thought about it, the clearer it became that it is the right thing for us, right now. The kids are in high school, tightly woven into a network of friends, neighbors, teammates, and classmates. We have a house that we probably paid too much for and can’t afford to sell. And I finally – finally – have a job where I can find professional satisfaction. All of that seems like a lot to give up, even for the good of the Navy.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this decision. I have received a few skeptical looks from family and friends when I told them about our plans. Even the Defense Travel Office says that “a fundamental philosophy of military service is that members, with their families, create a better work environment and esprit de corps when they can be active participants in the local base and community.”

I understand the military’s philosophy. In fact, I agree with it. In a perfect world, it would be better if my family could all be together. But we don’t live in a perfect world and family life is complicated. Right now, the best decision for our family seems to be to live apart. That hasn’t been true in the past and it might not be true in the future. Certainly every family is different. What works for one family might be a disaster for another. We can only hope for the best and trust that the strength, resilience, commitment, and love that have gotten us through eight moves can get us through one “not-move.”

What do you think? Have you ever lived apart from your service member? What made you decide to stay behind? 

eileenPosted by Eileen Huck, Government Relations Deputy Director at the National Military Family Association