Category Archives: Make a difference

#OurVolunteersRock: Meet Jackie, our “OORAH” Historian!

Jackie-history-projectShe sat in the back of an undesirable office space with her eyes peering through a magnifying glass, garnering clues from an old photo. Minutes later, she ambled down the hall to let me know a water logged ceiling panel had just crashed to the floor, barely missing her head. She wasn’t worried about her safety; she wanted to protect the historical papers and pictures she was investigating! I immediately knew I wasn’t managing the average Volunteer.

Who is this special Volunteer? She is Colonel Marguerite J. Campbell, United States Marine Corps, Retired.

At the National Military Family Association, we call her Jackie!

She was commissioned in 1967 as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Yes, a FEMALE officer in the Marine Corps in the 60’s! It wasn’t an unusual choice for her to make – she had grown up the daughter of a USMC Master Sergeant. Her father was the first to salute her at her commissioning! Jackie never makes a big deal about being a female in what was, and still is, a predominately male world, but she does note that she had to ask the permission of her superiors to become a mother.

Here are some of the highlights of her fascinating career:

Jackie was an Administrative Officer.
She commanded the Women Marines of D-2 in 1974 and 1975.
She spent many years as the Protocol Officer at the United States European Command (EUCOM).
Jackie served two Joint Tours at the Pentagon and was the J2J5 Joint Specialty Officer for Colin Powell.

When you pop into her cubicle in our new office space, she might share some stories of famous military leaders and presidents she has come in contact with during her stellar career.

But that’s not all! She’s also a professional chef! After her retirement from the Corps in 1993, Jackie pursued another passion, and graduated from Johnson and Wales University. She worked as a caterer and chef for 10 years, and last week, she made a glorious 15 pound poached salmon for a special church event!

And if the Marine and chef experiences aren’t fascinating enough, just ask her about her husband (also a retired Marine), her three daughters, six granddaughters, two great grandchildren and seven cats! She beams with pride when speaking about her family.

In 2011, she was asked to sort, organize, and label photos and documents of our Association’s history. Three years later, Jackie has created a filing system for all of our history, and she continues to add to it. Jackie has logged almost 300 volunteer hours with our Association so far this year!

In a time when volunteerism is dwindling, Jackie is a rare gem. She volunteers diligently to preserve the history of the National Military Family Association. She also volunteers for the Armed Forces Hostess Association at the Pentagon.

Oh how I wish we could clone her!

Lets give a big “OORAH” to our retired Colonel, friend, and Volunteer Historian, Jackie Campbell!

Does a Volunteer you know have a special story? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!

meredithPosted by Meredith Moore, Volunteer Services Coordinator, National Capital Region

Got $10? That’s All You Need to Help Military Families!

soldier-hugging-dadThere’s a quote that we like to refer to at the National Military Family Association:

“The strength of our Soldiers is our Families.”
-General Raymond T. Odierno, General and 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army

Our Association serves the family- and you can too!

This week only, we need as many people as possible to donate just $10 towards our Crowdrise Veteran’s Charity Challenge 2 fundraiser!

The charity that gets the most individual donations wins $2,500—putting us that much closer to the grand prize of $20,000.

Here’s what $20,000 would do for military families:

  • Fund the education and career path for 20 military spouses
  • Send 40 children to an Operation Purple camp, or
  • Host 10 families at a Family Retreat!

Tell your friends, share it on Facebook, and help us win this week’s challenge!

Click here to donate!

Thanks for your support – we couldn’t do it without you!

carolinePosted by Caroline Rasmus, Development and Membership Manager

“525,600 minutes – How Do You Measure a Year?”

nateIt’s hard for me to come terms with the fact that my year of service as an AmeriCorps member with the National Military Family Association has come to a close. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. I’ve grown and I’ve learned. I’ve gained even more respect for the men and women in the seven Uniformed Services (I learned there are seven, and not just five) and those who love them back home.

By far, my favorite part of working here has been interacting directly with our military families. I had the privilege to attend many prestigious events over the last year that I would not have otherwise. I have witnessed families reconnect and overcome injuries at the Operation Purple Healing Adventures. I helped guide military families to the resources and services available to them at numerous exhibitions and fairs.

I wept as gay and lesbian service members and their spouses and families were recognized at the American Military Partners Association Inaugural Gala. As a gay man, I was particularly inspired to see the LGBT military community finally able to come together in the open, and throw an event just for themselves. I know a few years ago, before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, such an event would have been impossible without the fear of discharge. I was proud our Association was a Silver Sponsor of the gala, showing support for ALL military families and celebrating diversity.

Beyond my direct service, I’ve learned the National Military Family Association is just that— one big family. We’ve had potlucks galore, a party every possible chance, and a few office competitions to keep things interesting. I can’t say there’s a single person in our office who I won’t miss when I leave, especially the ladies (and Zac!) that make up the rest of the Government Relations Department.

  • Katie, despite the physical distance between us, you’ve been integral in teaching me how the Association works, and I’ll always appreciate the help you’ve given me throughout the year.
  • Eileen, you always put a smile on my grumpy morning face with your cheerful kindness, and you always made me feel so welcome here.
  • Karen, for the rest of my life, thanks to you, I’ll think about the research that goes into every product, especially car trunks, and remember all the zany stories you have to share about your family.
  • Brooke, you’ve been a great mentor and advisor, giving me realness when I needed it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
  • Zac, I’ve enjoyed having our high-level intellectual chats, and thanks for bringing some much-needed extra testosterone into the department!
  • Natalie, there’s a million things I could say about the friendship I’ve developed with you, but I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just say I’ll miss you.
  • Finally, Kathy, thanks for taking a chance on a small-town Midwestern boy who had dreams of working in the nation’s capital. I’ve learned so much from you over the last year that I will carry on during the rest of my professional lifetime, as well as my personal one. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a more caring and understanding supervisor. Thank you for making me a part of your family.

To my entire family here at the National Military Family Association, I’d like to say thanks for all the love you’ve given me, and “See ya later!” because goodbye is far too permanent.

natePosted by Nate Parsons, Americorps Member

We’re On A Mission! Help Us Win $20,000 for Military Families!

vets-charity-challenge-2We’re super excited to let you know from today through July 3, our Association will be participating in the Veterans Charity Challenge 2! Craigconnects will be donating over $50,000 to organizations that honor America’s heroes… and military families are our heroes! The charity that raises the most money throughout the Crowdrise Challenge will receive an additional $20,000 donation, on top of the donations they raise on their own! Second place will receive $10,000 and third place will receive $5,000.

We’ve set a goal to win $20,000, but we’ll need your help!

Every single donation makes a difference, no matter how big or small – yours matters! To help now, please DONATE and give whatever you can; $10, $20, or $10,000. (Yes! TEN THOUSAND big ones! Last year, we had one amazing donor who ponied up $10k just for our military families!)

We’re not just asking you to give – we’re asking you to join in our efforts by helping us fundraise. All you have to do is click on ‘Fundraise for This Campaign.’ In just a few seconds, you can create your own fundraising page! And we just know you’re going to share it with your family and friends so that you can raise tons of money for military families, too!

Military families need our support…we’re in and we’re counting on you! So, get out there and get busy!

P.S. – Don’t forget to have fun! Just a few weeks ago, a man challenged his friends and family to raise money for military kids. The twist was…colorful! If they raised $2,000, he would dye his hair purple and shave it into a mohawk! And guess what? It worked! They raised over $4,000!

carolinePosted by Caroline Rasmus, Development and Membership Manager

Military Spouses are Changing the Face of the Mental Health Profession!

soldier-hugging-childIt’s common knowledge that there’s a mental health crisis brewing in the United States. May is Mental Health Awareness month, but at the National Military Family Association, the mental health of our military families weighs on our minds all year.

From spouses who spend their days caring for an injured or wounded service member, to children who struggle with a parent’s deployment, it’s more and more apparent that the military lifestyle affects the mental health of not only the service member, but those who support them, too.

But are there enough mental health professionals out there to help military families? While the number of mental health professionals who have experience with military families grow, there’s one group of people who know they’ve got what it takes to change the face of mental health in the military community….

More and more military spouses are continuing their own educations and joining the mental health profession.

“With my degree, I hope to work with service members and their families who struggle with the after effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” says military spouse Stephanie Dannan.

But did you know our Association offers scholarship funding for spouses seeking clinical supervision hours to become mental health counselors?

Thanks to a $100,000 gift from United Health Foundation, we’re awarding spouses money to cover such hours, and move them closer to becoming licensed! United Health Foundation is the charitable arm of UnitedHealth Group, the most diversified health care company in the United States, and a leader worldwide in helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone.

Military spouses entering the mental health profession bring knowledge of the military community, and an ability to relate to other spouses and service members that their civilian counterparts might lack. These spouses have a generous spirit and want to help the communities they call home.

Stephanie was able to make her dream a reality by applying for, and receiving one of our military spouse scholarships, “I have an opportunity to give back to those who have fought for my freedom, and with this scholarship, I am one step closer to helping them.”

alliePosted by Allie Jones, Military Spouse Scholarship Program Manager

#OurVolunteersRock: 2014 Award Recipients!

In 1969, our Association was founded by a handful of military spouses who wanted to make sure their widowed friends were taken care of. Gathered around a kitchen table, these amazing Volunteers were the trailblazers of their time, and continue to be the foundation on which our Association stands.

Even today, our Association relies on Volunteers and the commitments they make to support the military families in their own communities. We appreciate the work our Volunteers do on behalf of our Association’s mission, and as a result, each year, we recognize and award some of our outstanding Volunteers.

This year, our award winners are:

David-FeeDavid Fee, Treasurer, Board of Governors is the recipient of the Margaret Vinson Hallgren Award. David’s background in financial management and superior performance has given our Board of Governors great confidence in the financial stability of our Association. His experience as a Chief Operating Officer served us well, as he has Co-Chaired the Governance Committee in the formidable task of revising Association policy documents. He contributed significantly in the search to finding a new home office for our Association.

 

Amy-ChaffinAmy Chaffin, Fort Carson, Colorado is the recipient of the Novella Gibson Whitehead Award. Amy raises awareness of numerous issues, such as the Army’s change in background checks, requiring those volunteering to work with children to agree to have their medical and dental records reviewed. She attends and reports on the Kansas Public Engagement “Living in the New Normal” on our Association’s behalf. Amy advocates for military families to be familiar with the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children to ensure their children’s schools are following the intent of the agreement.

 

Laura-YatesLaura Yates, Fort Campbell, Kentucky is the recipient of the Volunteer Corps Service Award. Laura is actively engaged in the Fort Campbell community through her network with the Fort Campbell Enlisted Spouses Club, where she works to promote our Association’s programs and services. She works with our Government Relations team on key local issues important to families. Laura is a dedicated member of our Association’s Fort Campbell Volunteer Team and has displays leadership skills within the team and in her community.

 

These are just a few of our outstanding Volunteers who have made an impact on our Association. Looking to join our Volunteer Corps? Apply here and get involved now!

karen-cookPosted by Karen Cook, Volunteer Services Coordinator, North Region

What’s On Your Birthday List? Probably Not This…

chloe-and-miya-megaroKids and gifts seem to go hand in hand, right? From birthdays, to holidays, the lists of gotta-have-its never stop growing. But for nine year old Chloe Megaro, and seven year old Miya Megaro, their gotta-have-its were a little different than most.

Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, the Megaro family felt a strong desire to help support the military, and the families who support our brave men and women. The Megaros were inspired by the many individuals who lost loved ones in the tragedy. Especially how those who lost so much managed to raise awareness, and money, for others who suffered as they did.

At first, the Megaros collected items for charities that prepared care packages to troops overseas.

But then something amazing happened. The idea to give back grew.

Their family decided to dedicate their annual children’s Valentines party, which they called “Open Your Heart to a Soldier,” to our service members and their families.

Chloe and Miya invited friends and family to the party where they provided food, fun, and raffled gift items donated from local vendors. In an effort to continue supporting military families, the family hosted this party for three consecutive years, and collected more than $3,000!

“We feel so proud to have not only raised funds, but also increased awareness and concern for our troops and their families. Many of our guests thanked us for hosting such a thoughtful event.” said Cathy Megaro, Chloe and Miya’s mother.

Due to personal circumstances, the Megaro’s were unable to continue the “Open Your Hearts to a Soldier” Valentines event this year, but that didn’t stop Chloe and Miya from giving. Instead, the girls requested donations to military charities in lieu of gifts at their birthday parties. Their guests donated $200, which the Megaro’s matched, and added an additional $100 to make a minimum total donation of $500!

“[Chloe and Miya] are aware of how blessed they are, and how important it is to help those in need, especially our soldiers and their families.”

Now that’s a gotta-have-it.

What ways do you teach your kids to give back? Share it with us in a comment!

anniePosted by Annie Morgan, Development and Membership Deputy Director