Category Archives: Guest Posts

Sinking to Soaring: 7 steps to position yourself for success

successHitting the books has always come easy for me. In fact, I love school. I could easily become a perpetual student if given the chance. I already have an undergraduate and a graduate degree under my belt, and I’m currently pursuing a certification that will open many doors in my current profession.

And of course, there’s plenty of additional training in my future. I recognize the tremendous value of education. Education is the key that has unlocked many opportunities for me.

So why do I continue to struggle to reach my educational goals?

Over the years, I have found that my educational pursuits often take a back seat, because finding the time, energy, and money to spend on my schooling is a problem when life is so busy. Like many other military spouses, I struggle to carve out the time it takes to tackle my educational goals with so many other demands on my plate.

Between the endless chores necessary to keep our household afloat, and keeping all my other plates spinning, I sometimes feel as if I’m struggling to keep my head above the water and a smile on my face. With all that, how can I plug in something extra?! I think we all find ourselves in this spot at one time or another.

I would love to tell you how great it is to invest in yourself through training and education, but if we’re in a place where we’re already overwhelmed, that sort of advice is about as useful as an oar without a rowboat.

The key is to position ourselves in a more comfortable place where we can do more than just survive. We need to get ourselves to a place where we can make choices without something else forcing us to make a decision, a place where we can put in extra effort for the things that truly matter, which make a real impact on the quality of our life in the long run. We need to reach a point where we can engage in our life instead of trudging through it and feeling depleted and at a standstill at the end of each day.

Even though I have successfully completed a number of educational goals, I still occasionally find myself in sinking mode. Recognizing that life never seems to be completely in control, I have come to rely on a few steps to get myself back in a ready position when I feel like I am thrashing.

Try these steps the next time you find yourself struggling to stay afloat:

  1. Recognize. Awareness is vital to change. I first need to recognize that I am sinking.
  2. Decide. Action starts with the decision to act. I must decide that I want to stop sinking. If I never make the decision to change my situation, the likelihood that it will naturally work itself out is pretty slim. So, instead of just crossing my fingers, I will make a deliberate decision to change.
  3. Plan. The most difficult part is to figure out how to get out of it. Once I wrap my head around my current situation and identify my goals, then I can start connecting the dots. I will write down my game plan and list out the actions necessary to get from point A to point B.
  4. Rally. The journey is often exhausting and defeating without proper support. I will pick out sources of support so that I know where to go, or who to talk to, if I run into problems or want to give up on my plan.
  5. Act. Plans are worthless if not acted upon. I will make the sacrifices necessary and put in the hard work required to act on my plan. I will do what it takes to reach my goal.
  6. Rebound. Bumps, setbacks, and turns are inevitable, but the result depends on the response. I know that the road will be difficult, and when I get knocked down, I will get back up and continue towards my goals. If I need to reevaluate my plan, then I commit to making the changes necessary to ultimately reach my goal, even if it is redefined.
  7. Recognize. Just as awareness is important to start the process, recognition is important to complete the process. Once I find myself no longer sinking, I will stop and give myself a pat on the back. I will recognize my small successes along the way, and I will be sure to thank those who helped me in my journey.

These seven steps can help you change anything, from daily tasks to increase efficiency, to making a major career change to feel more fulfilled by the work you do.

However you choose to apply these steps is up to you, but make sure that they are taking you to a better place. The goal is to eventually seek out that oar and take larger, more impactful steps toward improving your life through education.

The goal is to soar.

maikman-headshotGuest Post by Michelle Aikman, 2012 recipient of the National Military Family Association Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship

Remembering Justin on my First Gold Star Mother’s Day

Justin_and_Phyllis-GOLD-STARI’m a new Gold Star Mom. I’m just beginning this new journey of what that means to be a mother who has lost her child.

My son Justin was a calm baby in the womb, usually perfectly happy to just sleep calmly close to my heart. That all changed when he was born six and a half weeks premature, and spent his first weeks in the NICU. That’s when we knew he was a fighter.

Growing up, Justin would always zero in on one particular thing in life, and be so passionate about that one thing. First, it was dinosaurs. Then wolves, pirates, and sunken ships. After that, it was a love of knights, castles, and finally, the military and its history.

My own family could trace its military history back to Europe and the Revolutionary War. My father-in-law was a West Point graduate and veteran of both Korea and Vietnam. Having two grandfathers who both served in the military was something Justin admired very much.

It came as no surprise when Justin told us he wanted to be in the Army. I don’t remember how he told us, but it just seemed to be the natural order of his life. It was in his genes, and we supported him.

Justin wanted to attend West Point and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Brooks. After doing everything necessary, he was not accepted. Justin was very disappointed, but took it as a challenge to fight for what he wanted. He took an ROTC Scholarship to his dad’s alma mater, Florida State University.

At the end of his freshman year at FSU, Justin chose to give up his ROTC scholarship, and join the Florida National Guard. Much to our dismay, he followed his heart and finished Basic Training in the summer of 2008. A few months later, his National Guard Unit was activated and deployed to Iraq. As a full time student, Justin did not have to go. However, we were surprised to learn that he made the decision to deploy with his unit anyway.

We asked Justin, “Why?”

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He told us he felt the need to serve, and thought the experience would give him a better idea of what it would be like to lead his fellow soldiers in the future. Just like that, he was off to fight.

When he returned, he received the Bronze Star for his service, which is unusual for a Specialist to receive. He shrugged it off and said he was “just doing his job.”

Justin was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in April 2012.

It was a proud moment for us all. He completed Ranger School, Sapper School, Airborne and Assault, and was assigned to the 101st Airborne, 1-506th, 4th BCT at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. This was a dream come true for Justin, as he had always admired the Airborne Unit. He deployed ahead of his unit on April 2, 2013, as part of TORCH, a group sent to light the way in preparation for everyone else to follow. Just like that, he was off to another fight.

[Read more of Phyllis' journey here]

Staffing Agencies: Do they work for military spouses?

Hire-meYou probably know first-hand the employment challenges facing military spouses. Considering the mobility of your family and the short-term job tenures resulting from unavoidable PCS assignments, it can be frustrating to submit your application knowing that the work history on your resume doesn’t fully reflect your real capabilities to a potential employer.

Staffing firms can offer a different experience. While some people think of staffing companies as only offering “temp work,” contingent positions can lead to permanent careers with great companies nationwide.

These statistics from the American Staffing Association give a clearer picture of the value of working with staffing firms:

  • 88% of staffing employees say that temporary or contract work made them more employable
  • 77% say it’s a good way to obtain a permanent job
  • 79% work full time, virtually the same as the rest of the work force
  • 65% say they developed new or improved work skills through their assignments
  • 40% say they choose temporary work as a way to obtain employment experience or job training

Here are a few of the key advantages of working with a staffing firm:

Specialized staffing recruiters understand your experience: Let’s face it, the average recruiter doesn’t have a clear understanding of how life can be different for military families. Many staffing firms have dedicated military specialists (for example, Volt has the Volt Military Heroes Program) who “get it,” recognizing how military spouses are on a different path than other civilian employees. These recruiters understand the challenges of adjusting from military life, and can help match you with a position that suits your skills and circumstances.

Recruiters are simultaneously trying to fill multiple jobs: When you apply with a private employer, they are trying to fill one job, and if you aren’t a good match, the door closes. A staffing firm may have dozens, even hundreds of open positions at one time, and while you might not be the right fit for one, you could be great for another. For that reason, many recruiters for staffing companies will want to talk with you, to get to know you a little more. Not every recruiter, and not every staffing firm, but generally, there is more advantage for recruiters to dig a little deeper on your experience and skills.

Contingent positions offer more flexibility: Short-term positions can be a good fit for mobile military families, providing financial security as you settle into a new location. Contingent work also enables you to gain experience and learn skills that you can take to your next position, and with a national staffing firm, strong performance on an assignment in one location makes you easier to deploy for assignments in a new region. Short-term assignments also provide flexibility without having to burn bridges when a new PCS assignment requires you to leave a permanent position.

Access to jobs not posted elsewhere: Most companies aren’t in the recruiting business, and many find it more efficient to outsource their recruiting to a staffing firm. That means the company’s open positions are listed only with their staffing partner. Having your resume on file with the staffing firm gives you the chance to be considered for a position that never made it to the job boards because the recruiter already knew a qualified candidate.

When it comes to finding work, it’s important to take advantage of every possibility – and few employers offer as much access, assistance, and opportunity as staffing firms. While they can’t promise to find you work, they can definitely help put the odds more in your favor.

Guest Post by Volt Military Heroes Program

Our Military Family Adoption Story

lori-brown-guest-post2Adoption within a military family is often confusing, and can leave you feeling alone on an island. How do I start? How much will it cost? Is this right for my family?

For 19 years, my husband has been active duty with the Marine Corps. We have 2 typical kids, ages 18 and 16, and we also have an exceptional family member, Hunter, who is 13 years old with special medical needs.

In September 2011, we met Hunter’s school nurse, who was in the process of adopting a special needs little girl. She introduced us to the world of foster and adoption. After quite a bit of talking to each other, and to our kids, my husband and I realized we had room in our heart, and in our home, for another child. This was the beginning of our adoption journey.

Most military families aren’t aware that no matter where they are stationed, adoption through foster care is possible – even if you are stationed OCONUS. Out-of-pocket expenses are minimal, unlike foreign adoptions which can cost more than $20,000.

Military families are strong, adaptable, and resourceful, making them perfect candidates to be foster/adoption parents. There are many county, state and foster agencies that love to work with military families, so check around your area to find an agency that works best for your family. Don’t be discouraged if some don’t work out initially.

After a few ‘false starts,’ we found a great Foster Family Agency that appreciated our experience as special needs parents. They also understood that as a military family, we have a special ‘skill set’ that some might not have. My husband and I attended multiple classes specific to foster, adoption, special medical health needs, and CPR/first aide in order to become licensed as a foster home. At the end of that, we were able to become a licensed foster family. In our hearts, we knew that we wanted to foster and adopt special needs children.

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We were blessed to be matched with our daughter, Destiny, who is now three years old, shortly after becoming licensed. In her young life, Destiny has faced multiple of medical procedures with no one by her side. She was born with several birth defects, including a heart with no left ventricle.

Destiny had been in the foster care system for 17 months with six failed potential adoption matches. On paper, Destiny’s medical history is scary. When we first learned about Destiny, we asked to meet with her doctors to get some of our questions answered. After only 2 hours, my husband and I knew we could meet Destiny’s medical needs, so we moved forward with having her placed in our home.

Since Destiny came to live with us on February 1, 2012, she has made great advances developmentally, emotionally, and medically. She had many sensory issues to work through due to her lack of exposure to everyday things in the real world. Prior to Destiny being placed in our home, she had never touched carpet, tile, grass or sand – things we see and touch nearly every day.

She had two open heart surgeries before coming home to us. In July 2013, Destiny had her third surgery with us by her side the entire time, and she pulled through it with flying colors! She has a lot of fear related to abandonment, but I think she has come to realize the promise we made to her was true: we would always be by her side, and she would never have to go through any medical procedures alone. Destiny is still delayed developmentally, but has made huge strides and is now only six months behind her typical peers.

Destiny is loved and adored by our three older kids. We are very thankful we learned about adoption and fostering. Our family will most likely adopt again, but for now we are doing foster and foster respite care.

I want to encourage other military families to look into becoming foster parents or foster/adopt parents. The children within the foster care system range from newborns to age 18. There are all races, some with special needs, but a lot more with no special needs.

Even though our homes may change every few years in a military family, yours could be the ‘forever home’ that a foster child is waiting for.

lori-brown-guest-postGuest Post by Lori Brown, Marine Corps Spouse

An Army Wife’s Pursuit of Education OCONUS

Amanda-oakley2In November 2009, my husband and I set off for the adventure of a lifetime after he received orders to PCS to Baumholder, Germany! I was 23-years-old, a recent college graduate, and a newlywed. I was both excited and terrified. I had never lived outside of my home state of North Carolina, and other than moving to Raleigh, NC to complete my undergraduate studies at N.C. State University, I had never lived away from home. Baumholder was also my husband’s first permanent duty station.

It was easy for me to get lost in the excitement of moving to Germany and having the opportunity to travel Europe, however, when all of the excitement wore off, I realized that moving to Germany would mean limited career and educational opportunities for me. Unfortunately, it is common for military spouses to put their educational and career goals on the back burner while they support their spouse’s military career. I refused to let this be the case for me.

Upon arrival to Germany, I learned quickly that if I wanted to accomplish anything I had to be proactive and try to figure out my questions on my own. OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) duty stations are a different world from stateside duty stations, especially if you have little knowledge about how the Army operates. Prior to moving to Germany, I knew I wanted to attend graduate school. When I found out that I would be moving overseas, I figured I would have to put going to graduate school on hold or live apart from my husband while completing a graduate program stateside.

Thanks to a fellow Army spouse, I learned about the education center on base. The representatives at the education center were so helpful and friendly, and just what I needed after ending up at so many dead ends with my school search. After receiving a wealth of information about educational opportunities for spouses in Germany and giving it a lot of thought, I applied to a program that would allow me to complete my Master’s while living in Europe. I was filled with excitement when I received an acceptance letter to the program, and beginning in January 2010, I was on my way to a Master’s degree!

While I was completing my graduate degree, I also held three part-time jobs. I worked as a childcare provider for two different military families in the area and as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) tutor for one military family that had a child with Autism. I felt it was important to provide some financial support to our family and do something that helped further my career. So much of my life revolved around my husband’s career, I needed something to call my own and to help me find my own identity without getting lost in his.

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I reached my last year of graduate school in 2011, which brought new and exciting challenges for me. I was extremely sad and worried, but I did what any military spouse would do: I wiped off the tears and toughened up! In February, my husband left for his first deployment to Afghanistan. I decided to move back to NC during the deployment, to surround myself with family and work while continuing my education. I think staying busy with work and school was the best distraction I could have had. Before I knew it, the deployment was over and I was on my way back to Germany to welcome my husband home.

The next month, I began my internship at Baumholder Middle-High School. I was in the home stretch! I worked hard as a school counseling intern and in my final graduate school class. I enjoyed assisting the military students and it felt good to be back “home” with the military community. I learned a lot during my internship and received many opportunities to practice my counseling skills.

In May 2012, I received my graduate degree and walked across the stage during graduation in Heidelberg, Germany along with fellow military spouses, military personnel, and civilians. I had completed a Master’s degree, all while getting accustomed to the military lifestyle, living in Germany, and surviving my husband’s first deployment. What an awesome feeling!

Currently, I am working on a post-graduate certificate in behavior analysis. I have decided to become a certified behavior therapist and pursue a career as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Someone once told me that military spouses will never be able to have a career due to the frequent moves and limited opportunities at many military bases. By being proactive and making strides to continue my education and begin my career, I have been able overcome the obstacles and be a strong military spouse at the same time!

amanda-oakley-headshotBy Amanda Oakley, Joanne Holbrook Patton Scholarship Recipient

Military Families in All Shapes and Sizes

Military Partners and Family CoalitionWhen you marry someone in the military, there are things about your life that will change pretty drastically. We all know that. How you live, where you live, how long you’ll get to stay at a job, whether you’ll even find a job—these uncertainties, and many more, come with the territory. Even the presence or absence of your spouse in your household is no longer something you always get to decide.

Military spouses and military children are expected to make these sacrifices for the sake of our Nation’s military every day. The missed birthdays, the school play Mom or Dad couldn’t come see, the graduations, births, deaths, joys and disappointments we experience without members of our families all come with this life. Some of our brothers and sisters face the enormous challenges of welcoming home a beloved service member who must now rebuild their lives because of a war-related injury, or cope with unimaginable heartbreak when a loved one doesn’t come home at all.

One of the ways the military has traditionally acknowledged these sacrifices is to assure military members that, come what may, their families will be taken care of. From the routine—PX access, health care, housing allowances—to the extreme—SGLI, survivor benefits—military families know that their basic needs will be met. It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it doable. That is, unless your spouse is the same gender as you are.

I reached out to Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), an organization that provides support, resources, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families, because I know how hard this life can often be, even with the benefits extended to heterosexual married service members and their families. I also got in touch because every day I look around our beautiful neighborhood in San Diego and see the joy, companionship and acceptance woven into the fabric of this diverse community as couples of every variety hold hands, fall in love and share their lives. All military members can now openly experience this joy in their relationships, too, and that’s an enormous step forward. But we need to do more.

June is LGBT Pride Month. It is a perfect time to renew our commitment to support ALL military families. Families serve too and military families deserve to be given the gratitude and the benefits to which they are entitled, regardless of their family composition. They’ve earned it, just like heterosexual partners and families have, and the American public wants to thank them the same way they thanks us. In fact, there should be no “them” or “us.” MPFC is working to make this ideal a reality and I’m proud to stand with them as an ally military spouse.

Kim-PlaceGuest Post by Kim Place-Gateau, MPFC ally. A wanderer by nature, Kim grew up on three coasts and two continents, and has no plans to settle. She is a former restaurant owner, caterer, wrangler of at-risk teenagers, Ropes Course instructor, legal dweeb and tutor, and is now a writer. Her work has appeared in Military Spouse Magazine, The Broad Side, Front Porch Fredericksburg and wherever old newsletters, menus and flyers from her popular restaurant still exist.

Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC) is the only organization founded by partners of active duty service members. The MPFC mission is to provide support, education, resources, and advocacy for partners and children of LGBT service members – including families of service members on active duty, in the reserves, national guard, and veterans. The National Military Family Association is a member of MPFC and works with them to raise awareness of the needs for support for all military families. We applaud Kim Place-Gateau, an MPFC ally spouse, for working to create an awareness and a welcoming spirit in her community for LGBT service members and their families.

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. 

Military Life is Not a Trial to be Endured, but an Adventure to be Lived!

laura marin“Think outside the box, take real risks and work together to make big bold commitments.” I’m 11 and this is my family way of life, this is our military life.

My Dad has military orders to go to Minnesota. “Cheese and sprinkles” is a Minnesota saying. That was the first thing that came to my mind when my parents told me about our new assignment; well, my family serves too. The only thing I could relate to Minnesota was the movie “Rio.” Winters are cold, very cold. Our previous assignment places have all been warm. From the hot Texas summers to the Caribbean breezes of Puerto Rico.

I don’t have everything figured out yet, but I feel incredibly lucky that I get to experience the world in a way that so many people only dream about. I have air in my lungs, a mighty God that loves me, the most wonderful family, two legs, and a bed to sleep in. I want to view my life as an adventure and my childhood as an asset.

Never having a hometown inspires me to be a citizen of the world. Being separated from my Dad makes me realize that time together as a family is to be valued. Being a military child makes me aware of choices and options available for me in the future.

I have been a military child all my life. We have been through so much. My military life has taught me how strong we could be as a family and how much love we have to give. It has taught us that laughing is less painful than crying, that a smile is worth more than gold. That this military life is not a trial to be endured, but an adventure to be lived. We are not an ordinary family with ordinary worries — we are something extraordinary.

I’m ready to make new friends and to fit in the land of the ten thousand lakes, maybe go for a dog sled ride one day, and of course I will need to hug my family a little tighter during winters now on. We will stand tall and face it all together.

Guest Post by Laura C. Marin, age 11, military child


Editor’s note: At the time of this posting, Laura’s family’s orders were changed from Minnesota to New York. Laura’s mom says: “Flexibility, what a great strength. Enough said!”

Photo courtesy of the Marin family

Moving in the Military From a Kid’s Point of View

Moving in the military from a kid's point of viewDo you enjoy moving? Some people might say no, but I love it!! Since I am a military child, I get the opportunity to live many different places, some of which people save all of their lives to get to.

I personally think that the best part of moving is getting to experience new cultures. I myself have lived in eight different places, in six different countries, and on three continents. Yes, it can be challenging to get adjusted, but I get used to it pretty easily. For example, in Africa, I had to get used to people eating with their hands, while sharing the same bowl. I know what you’re thinking, GROSS!!!! That’s what I thought too, but after some time I enjoyed doing it also. Here in Italy it was a bit easier to adjust because it is not a third world country. Trying to learn another language is still difficult though. Thankfully, the Italian people are helpful.

Being a military child gives me lots of opportunities. For example, last week I got to go on a field trip to Padova. We had the chance to go to Galileo’s Planetarium, the anatomical theater, and St. Anthony’s church. These are all places that people save up to go to, and by the time they have enough, they are walking with a cane. I am twelve, and I just got to go for the day. How cool is that?!?!?!?! In Mali, I got to go to Djenne, a big town in the north. There, we got to see the biggest mosque in Mali. For other people to get there, we’re talking fortunes!!! My family and I got to go there in our car for winter break.

Every time that I am about to leave a place to move to another I ask myself these questions. Will I make new friends, will I like my teacher, and will they have sports? When I get to the destination, I realize that I should not have been worried at all.

Last, but not least, whenever I move to a new place I get to try new foods. In France, it was the delicious escargot. In Mali it was definitely the moist sheep stuffed with couscous. Here in Italy it is a tie between the gelato and the pizza. You can find gelato in almost every town here. Here, the pizza is cooked in a stone oven. Yum!!!

Even now, I am getting ready to move to Senegal next year. I am very excited to go, and I can’t wait to find out what it is like. Africa, here I come!!!

Guest Post by Elizabeth Pepper, age 12, military child

Military kids need support programs: an Operation Purple Camp testament

Military kids need support programs: an Operation Purple Camp testamentI was born into the military. My dad is a West Point graduate, and for most of my childhood I was the only one in my class who had immediate family serving in the military. Many of my peers did not know or understand what I was going through. It’s one of those things in life that unless you are living it, you can’t 100% understand it. I often felt alone and kept my feelings inside thinking nobody could relate.

But life changed as I knew it when my dad was deployed during Operation: Iraqi Freedom. That year I had turned the big 13, a significant time in every teenager’s life, and received a life changing opportunity – I attended the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple® camp. The professional camp staff with the Tsuga Community Commission that week helped me address the negative feelings I had bottled up inside about my father’s service. It allowed me to be part of a community that I didn’t know existed and feel proud of my family instead of feeling embarrassed and alone. I was able to escape the hardships and struggles, focusing on being just a kid that week.

My father deployed again to Afghanistan a few years later when I was a sophomore in high school and I was able to attend Operation Purple camp again, this time bringing my younger sister for the first time. Watching her flourish that week is something I’ll never forget. She gained confidence and a feeling of belonging that she had been lacking. Something I believe many military kids struggle with in silence.

It was the Tsuga staff that brought the Operation Purple program to Oregon who opened my eyes to see that even through there aren’t any active military installations in Oregon, a support system was actually out there for military children. It helped draw out my inner leader and inspired me to become a camp counselor at Operation Purple camp and join the Tsuga staff that helped me out so much.

After two summers of working with military children, I was able to identify that my passion lies in serving others and being part of something bigger than myself. Operation Purple camp holds a special place in my heart because of what it did, not only for me, but my family and many others like it. Without these nonprofit programs, our military’s youth would be without a resource that provides support and community for our dependents that need it the most.

We cannot forget that our Kids Serve Too.

Posted by Lauren Miner, Former Operation Purple Camp Attendee and Counselor