Category Archives: Events

A Luncheon for One Special Volunteer: helping military families

Volunteer-award-blog-imageWhen you volunteer for the National Military Family Association you know that you are making a difference in the lives of military families globally. This is one reason, Marielle Beniquez, winner of the 2013 Volunteer Corps Service Award, chose to become an Association representative.

Armed with knowledge, experience and love for what she does, Marielle has taken advantage of every existing opportunity to get involved in her community by consistently promoting the interest of the Association. From newcomers to military families already stationed in Tampa, Marielle has been a point of contact, a friend and a problem solver who made wise use of the resources she has access to as a volunteer. Moreover, she has always been up-to-date with new policies, local events and took leadership in initiating local gatherings and events from which military families would benefit.

In order to honor Marielle and present the award, the Association organized a luncheon in her local community at the MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. “When Marielle talks about the work of the Association, her enthusiasm makes you excited about joining and volunteering,” says Christina Jumper, Volunteer Services Director. For Marielle, to have Christina present the award to her in person, in front of her family and close friends is profoundly important. “Now I have to do more of my best to be consistent and get my leadership more at the level where I can do my volunteering effectively,” Marielle says.

A Luncheon for One Special Volunteer Marielle’s favorite part about volunteering for the Association is getting to know people and networking. She is a firm believer in sharing the information from her community to the Association for the benefit of military families everywhere. Her previous military service in the Air Force has taught her to have integrity first, to put service before self and achieve excellence in all that she does.  Marielle would stop at nothing to help military families. Even during rough medical times, spouse deployment and surgeries, she is still present in her community, actively fighting for the Association’s causes.

During the past year, Marielle has recruited a number of new volunteers in the region, worked extensive hours and attended events that would benefit various groups within the military community: deployed families, local church, school and child development center, spouses and parents. Additionally, Marielle has participated in extensive trainings both for the Association and for personal goals. She has also specialized in mental health, which paved the way for her to achieve her dream of further helping military families.

Marielle is always informed regarding everything that is happening in her community and she always has a solution for military spouses who seek her help. She at times might resemble an aggressive journalist who would go above and beyond to accomplish the mission of seeking the right information, follow up and spread the word in order to benefit the whole community. What is more, she will always have a smile on her face.

Marlis Perez RiveraBy Marlis Perez Rivera, National Military Family Association Volunteer, Tampa, FL

Digital scavenger hunt results: and the winners are…

With all of the excitement surrounding the launch of our mobile app, MyMilitaryLife, we wanted to kick-off the completion of all 10 Life Paths in a unique and fun way. We hosted two digital scavenger hunts (on Twitter and Facebook) using clues hidden within the app and offered an awesome giveaway…FOUR round-trip airline tickets!

Congratulations to our winners, Jean and Melissa, both are proud USMC spouses! It was great to be able to connect with these ladies, learn a little about their families, and share in their excitement.

Association: Tell us about your military family…

Digital scavenger hunt results: and the winners are…Jean: Nate and I have been married 16 years and have 2 kids, a 7 and a 10 year old. My husband just reached his 20th year in the Marine Corps.  We have lived in 7 different states throughout his career and have spent many summers moving.

Digital scavenger hunt results: and the winners are…Melissa: My family consists of my husband and I, and our cat. I moved with him in July 2011 as his girlfriend of 2 years, and we eloped on November 11, 2011 in Virginia Beach. My husband is a Sergeant in the Marine Corps and is stationed in Maryland as a Recruiter. I am a full-time Nursing Student and work part time as a Nanny. We both have VERY busy schedules and hardly see each other, but we count our blessings every day.

Association: How long has it been since your last vacation?

Jean: Our last real vacation was to Disney World back in 2009 when we were stationed in South Carolina.  We drove down for a 5-day trip and really had a blast.  We are thinking about adding a trip to Disneyland while we are in California.

Melissa: My last real vacation with my husband was before he started Recruiting Duty in 2011.

Association: What trip do you plan to take with the tickets you just won?

Jean: We are so happy to have the opportunity to visit my parents and friends in California this summer.  The kids haven’t been back to visit in over 3 years.  My parents already have big plans for us and my 7 year old started making a list of what to pack!  We plan on visiting old neighbors, my extended family, and my closest friends.

Melissa: They will be used to visit my family in California.

We had so much fun hosting this digital hunt and couldn’t be more thrilled for our winners! A big thank you to all who participated and please continue to check back for new features that will be added throughout the summer! If you haven’t already downloaded the app, you can get it for free in the App store and Google Play.

lauren kuenBy Lauren Kuen, Communications Administrative Assistant

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

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

Military Saves: Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.

Military Saves: Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.The theme for Military Saves Week 2013 is more than just a theme; it’s the essence of a sound approach to savings, designed to help individuals take financial action. Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Knowing what you want to save for, how to achieve it, and then automating the savings process will allow you to reach your savings goal.

Set a Goal

You can save more by having a specific goal in mind. Visualizing what you want to save for gives your savings a purpose. You may be tempted to spend your savings if it has no purpose. But once you have a goal in place, you know that taking money out of your savings is taking away from that ultimate goal. So what are you saving for? An emergency fund, a home, retirement, a car? Go viral with your savings goal! Take a photo of your goal and post it on our Association’s Facebook page or tweet it using the hashtag #MSW2013.

Make a Plan

Once you have your goal in place, make a plan of how you are going to save. To start, cut down on your spending and reduce high-cost debt. Next, keep track of what you spend and make a budget. Once you know where your money is going each month, you can cut down on unneeded spending and save the difference.
Don’t forget to keep your savings safe, secure, and growing. Banks, credit unions, and even the government offer a variety of financial products that can help you save.

Save Automatically

It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it. Once you know how much you can save, make saving automatic. Use an allotment or automatically transfer a portion of your paycheck into a savings account.

We want to hear from you! Have you already set a goal? Made a plan or budget? Do you save automatically? Share what has worked for your family.

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

Military Saves Week: Starting to save

Military Saves Week: Starting to saveI remember when my husband and I made our first concerted effort to save. He had just left for his first deployment and I decided I wanted to sign up for the Savings Deposit Program (SDP). Fresh off a pre-deployment brief, I wanted to put my newly found knowledge to good use and take advantage of this great savings opportunity.

A military member can deposit funds into a SDP account once he or she has been deployed for 30 days. The military member must be receiving Hostile Fire Pay. A total of $10,000 may be deposited during each deployment and will earn 10% interest annually. This sounded like an attractive option for us.

Although my intentions were good, we didn’t get a chance to set up the account before my husband deployed. I went to our local finance office and learned I would need a special power of attorney to set up the SDP account on my husband’s behalf. (My general power of attorney wouldn’t work.)

I didn’t let this setback derail us from our long-term savings plans. Instead, I researched products available through military banks and credit unions and settled on a money market account. Every other week I would take my paper paycheck (yes, I worked for a small employer who did not use direct deposit) and deposit half of my paycheck into our new money market account. I calculated that about half of my paycheck was the additional funds we received while my husband was deployed, which included the family separation allowance, hostile fire pay, and tax benefit.

By the end of the deployment, we had a good savings foundation! The most valuable lesson we learned was about financial discipline and how to save money. We successfully accounted for savings in our budget. It was no longer an afterthought, but a regular habit.

During Military Saves Week I encourage you to take the saver’s pledge and put that pledge into action.

My husband and I are faithful savers today. I look forward to the messages I receive from the Military Saves campaign in order to help find new ways to save and to stay on track.

What helped your family start to save?

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

5 Easy Ways to Get Involved in Military Saves Week and Save Successfully

5 Easy Ways to Get Involved in Military Saves Week and Save SuccessfullyMilitary Saves Week (February 25 – March 2, 2013) is a chance for individuals to evaluate their saving status, take financial action to reach goals, and become part of a supportive environment of military savers. Everyone can take the Military Saves pledge, and if you’ve pledged in the past, you can renew your pledge and commitment to saving. Studies reveal that having a savings plan with specific goals can have beneficial financial effects, regardless of income level.

Here are 5 easy ways to get involved in Military Saves Week:

1. Take the Military Saves Pledge 
Pledge or re-pledge today! Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save for emergencies and retirement as those without a plan. Join over 310,000 people who have already committed to save.

2. Assess Your Savings
Find out if you are saving in all the right places with this 12 step savings assessment.

3. Test Your Savings Knowledge
Take this savings quiz to reveal how much you understand about the realities of saving in America.

4. Share Savings Tips and Advice with Family and Friends
On Twitter and Facebook? Share your pledge and your best savings and financial tips with your family and friends. On Twitter, use hashtag #MSW2013. Get everyone to become a saver!

5. Share Your Savings Goal
We want to hear from you! What are you saving for? Post or tweet a photo of you with your savings goal to Facebook or Twitter. Download the “I’m Saving For…” sign and share your photo and savings goal today!

Military Saves Week is coordinated by Military Saves and is part of the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Campaign. Started in 2007, Military Saves Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to evaluate their own saving status.

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

A look at our work with Presidential administrations: military families and the men in office

Military families and the men in officeIt’s a strange notion, but new things make us think about the old. There’s nothing wrong with looking back! It gives you a stronger perspective for the events of the present, and helps shape where you’re headed in the future. While the inaugural celebrations are wrapping up we thought it would be fun to look back at what the Association has been up to during the eight Presidential administrations that have occurred since we started.

Read more of what the Association has accomplished during each of the eight Presidencies we’ve been around for: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Sr., Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

Politics aside, we have spent the past 43 years working to better the lives of military families. Although world and national issues continue to affect our community, we will continue to push forward and pursue innovative ways to provide support.

What would you like to see us accomplish in the next four years?

maranathaPosted by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor at the National Military Family Association

An inside look at Inauguration events around DC

Washington, DC is the Hollywood of the political world, no more so than during a Presidential Inauguration year. In addition to the main event on the National Mall attended by thousands of people from all over the country, there are many other glitzy, star-studded festivities held in the city throughout the weekend. A few of our staff members and friends attended some of the Inauguration celebrations, and below they share their brush-with-fame experiences.

National Military Family AssociationMelissa, Sophia, Lindsay, and Liliana at the Kids’ Inauguration Concert. Lindsay is the daughter of the Association’s Vice Chairman of the Board Cheryl Glang and all the girls are part of the NOAA Corps Family. The concert, for kids in military families, featured performers like Katy Perry, Usher, and the Glee Cast. They got to sit five rows from the stage and had a blast!

National Military Family Association“My husband, an active duty Army soldier, and I are stationed in the Washington, DC area. It was such an exciting time to be here especially over this weekend’s inaugural festivities. We attended the state of Florida’s Inaugural Ball (as we are both originally from Florida) on January 19th. We met a variety of guests including members of the Florida National Guard, additional active duty military members, and Members of Congress serving in Florida. On Monday, January 21st we attended the 57th Presidential Inauguration in the Nation’s capital. As the Commander-in-Chief was sworn in, he gave us hope for a more peaceful future. As a military spouse and advocate for military families, I hope that the Nation rallies around the support of our military service members and their families. Both of these were once in a lifetime opportunities that I will always remember.” - C.C. Gallagher, Government Relations Deputy Director

National Military Family Association“Living in our Nation’s capital on any given day is exciting, but it was extra special to be a resident of the greater Washington, DC area during a Presidential Inauguration. We had been looking forward to attending The Texas State Society’s Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball since moving here in 2011. Having been born and raised in Texas, I knew this was an event that I wouldn’t want to miss. We two-stepped our way through the night, enjoying as much of the live entertainment (over 20 bands) and Texas treats that we could. What made the night even more special was spending it with my husband and witnessing the incredible amount of support and thanks that he received from other attendees. We couldn’t walk 20 feet without someone stopping and thanking him for his service. Needless to say, it lived up to its Texas-sized reputation, and I can’t think of another occasion where it is totally appropriate to wear cowboy boots with a ball gown!” - Lauren Kuen, Communications Administrative Assistant

National Military Family Association“Imagine my delight a week ago when I found out that I would receive two tickets to the Commander-in-Chief’s Inaugural Ball.  Things like this usually don’t happen to me – I never win anything! I quickly had to find a ball gown and figure out what I was going to do with my hair. (Believe me, my co-workers provided me with an abundance of advice on these two matters!) After securing a dress and working out the transportation issues, it was time to sit back and enjoy the night.

My husband and I stood in a line full of service members outside the Washington Convention Center, waiting to go through security. It was a long and beautiful line of uniforms and ball gowns. As we patiently waited, a group of picketers approached with their signs, and started ranting through their microphones how ashamed we should feel about the war in Afghanistan. Local police officers quickly made a human barricade between this group of people, and our line. My first reaction was anger, but as I looked around at the line of service members, I saw every one of them staring directly ahead, not giving these picketers even the slightest bit of attention.  These service members obviously were not going to let something like this ruin their night, and neither was I!

The ballroom was beautifully staged. Everywhere I looked I saw spectacular ball gowns. The uniforms were quickly filling up the room, and soon the place was packed! Never in my life have I been in a room with so many uniforms. It was indeed an awesome feeling. I was so proud to stand next to my husband that night and enjoy the camaraderie amongst fellow military families as we awaited the arrival of our President.  Regardless of rank or branch of service, that night we were all one – one group of extremely proud American citizens lucky enough to participate in such a historical event.

When President Obama stepped on stage, the place erupted in applause. The President made many kind remarks about our service members and truly conveyed his feelings of gratitude for our service members. There were two live news feeds on the big screen – one to our troops in Japan, another to our troops in Afghanistan. President Obama spoke with them and made sure they knew that even though this was a night of celebration, our deployed troops are still in the foremost of our minds. The whole evening was lovely. I still cannot believe that I, a small-town girl from Kansas, attended a Presidential Inaugural Ball. It was truly a magical event.” - Cindy Jackson, Finance Specialist