Category Archives: Make a difference

Build Your Resume: Volunteer with our Association!

group-of-volunteersSummer is winding down. The kids are headed back to school. Maybe you don’t have kids but you’re looking for a new way to gain experience and make a difference? The military has, once again, moved your family to a new location and hopefully, you’re settling in. Now what? Volunteering is a great way to meet people and learn more about your new community. Have you considered volunteering with the National Military Family Association?

Let me share a few reasons why you should volunteer with us:

  • Get out and meet new people! While volunteering, you will meet and talk to a variety of people all over the world and create lasting friendships.
  • Tap into your passion for military families! Where better than with an organization that is the voice of military families. Our Volunteers are out in the field letting us know what is happening within their military community.
  • Add to your professional resume! Volunteering not only benefits our Association, it’s also a great addition to your resume. Employers look favorably on volunteer experience. Volunteering allows you to work with professionals who will be valuable references in the future. It is a win-win situation!
  • Develop new skills! Our Association offers many different volunteer opportunities such as writing, editing, and researching. The best part is that many of our volunteer opportunities can be completed at home on your own schedule.

Be a part of something meaningful that will enhance the quality of life for military families. Being a volunteer with the National Military Family Association is a position that you can take wherever you move! Our volunteers are global, and we want you to be a part of our Volunteer Corps.

For more information about volunteering with the National Military Family Association, please contact Christina Jumper by email: CJumper@MilitaryFamily.org or apply today!

Do you have a great story about a volunteer experience? Share it with us!

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

They Can’t Hear You: Raise your Milspouse voice!

evaluationYou’ve been trying to get an appointment for your two year old’s ear infection with no luck.

The day camp and swim lessons that have been such an important piece of your summertime child care plan aren’t being offered this summer because of budget cuts.

With furloughs reducing your family income, you want to improve your budgeting skills. You have found a program offered in the Family Service center, but can’t enroll because hiring freezes have eliminated the availability of an instructor.

Where do you go to complain? Do you rant and moan to your next door neighbor or work mate? Do you share your frustration on your Facebook page? How do you let the higher-ups know that the programs you rely on aren’t meeting your needs or just plain aren’t there?

At a recent national conference, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his spouse, Deanie, said it was important for the audience members to let them know which programs are necessary and focus on those that would benefit everybody.

But what programs are best? What programs need to get the boot? What programs need a few tweaks to really meet the needs of military families?

There are ways you can raise your voice on your own installation.

Recently, General Dempsey talked about the Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) process, a web-based program that allows you to electronically provide feedback on services provided by on-base organizations. By completing a report through the ICE process, you let commanders know what programs may or may not be working on your installation.

What’s available in your local community? Is there an advisory committee for your hospital, commissary, exchange, child development center or youth center? Do you show up for meetings with a concern or do you figure someone else will do it?

What if your problem can’t be fixed locally? How do you push it up a notch? After a year’s hiatus, the Army is reintroducing the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) for the virtual age. In its 30th anniversary year, AFAP will transition into a new three-tier process, continuing with local conferences, and streamlined virtual review procedures. We’ve seen some great changes come over the last 30 years because of AFAP!

Instead of just sharing your concerns on your own Facebook page, share it with the National Military Family Association Facebook page – we are dedicated to making your voices heard!

What have you done on your installation to make your voice heard? Let us know in the comments section!

kathyPosted by Kathleen Moakler, Government Relations Director

VLOG: A BIG ‘Thanks’ to our smallest donor, Maya!

mayas-donation-to-nmfaFive year old Maya is one of our youngest and sweetest donors! Maya heard about the struggles military children face and wanted to find a way to help them. She set up a lemonade stand along a parade route on July 4th to raise money for military children. The money Maya raised will help send the child of a deployed soldier to one of our Operation Purple® summer camps.

The uncertainty of war and the absence of a service member are stressful for the entire family. Operation Purple Camps are designed to help by giving children friends to confide in, coping skills to handle mom or dad’s absence, a break from wartime tension at home, and, of course, a ton of fun to offset the extra responsibilities in their complicated young lives.

A few weeks ago, Maya’s dad brought her to our Headquarters so she could drop off her donation in person. We gave her a tour of our office and introduced her to all the employees. She met with Chairman of the Board, Mary Scott, and presented the Association with her donation of $200.

Maya’s donation shows that you don’t have to be a big person to make a big impact. If you want to help military families, visit our website to donate.


anniePosted by Annie Morgan, Development and Membership Deputy Director

Time to #EndSequestration: The yellow ribbon is unraveling

yellow-ribbon-tree-blog“I tried to schedule my son’s 2-month well-baby exam this morning and they won’t be able to see him until he’s almost 3 months old. His clinic is closed on Fridays now due to the Furlough so if either of my two children or I get sick on a Friday, we will have to go to the ER to be seen. As a patient, this makes me feel unimportant – insignificant.”  Military Spouse

“Sequestration is a mindless, irresponsible process. You know it — I know it. And I’m hoping that our leaders in Washington will eventually get that and come to some policy resolution.”  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, July 17, 2013

The time is NOW. You’re frustrated, we’re frustrated, even the Secretary of Defense is frustrated, and there is still no end in sight. No matter how many articles are written, interviews done, or blogs posted, Congress still isn’t stirring to do something about the budget cuts that are hurting military communities. The National Military Family Association says: “It’s time to #EndSequestration!” The only way we can accomplish this goal is for all of us to take a united stand.

So what can you do?

Don’t just tell us how sequestration and budget cuts have hurt your family, disrupted your community, and brought pain to your lives – show us! We’re asking every military family to send us pictures demonstrating the disruptions of sequestration. Send them to social@militaryfamily.org with a brief description and your location**.

Get creative! Find a way to tell us your sequestration story in a picture. Take and send us pictures of:

  • “Closed” or “reduced hours” signs at commissaries, clinics, or other installation facilities
  • Extra-long lines at installation gates
  • Unpaid bills because of furloughs
  • Military equipment in disrepair
  • Canceled school programs
  • Your family holding a sign that explains how sequestration has affected you

We believe our Nation’s leaders and ALL Americans need to understand what sequestration is doing to our military community. We will use your photos to create a photo book that we will hand deliver to each Member of Congress so they can see for themselves how their actions, or lack thereof, are hurting the military community. We’ll also post these photos on our website so others can see what you see every day in your community.

We’re proud that Military.com, SpouseBUZZ, Macho Spouse, and Military Partner and Families Coalition are partnering with us to show Congress the power of numbers. And we’ll be announcing the support of other organizations soon.

But, it starts with you: we need YOUR help to make sure the message is heard. Send us your pictures, but also tell everyone it’s time for the budget madness to stop. Please change your Facebook profile picture and/or cover photo to join the movement. Let’s show we are united. We may only be 1% of this Nation, but we protect what we hold dear. It’s time to make it clear where we stand on the broken promises.

The yellow ribbon is indeed unraveling.

Yellow Ribbon FB Cover2

It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to #EndSequestration!

How Are Military Families Doing? What Researchers Are Discovering.Posted by Joyce Wessel Raezer, Executive Director

 


**By submitting your photo, you agree that the National Military Family Association may use your submission, the language within, and any subsequent photos in any way including, but not limited to, publications, promotional brochures, promotions or showcase of programs on our website or social networks, showcase of activities in local and/or national newspapers or programming, and other similar lawful purposes.

An Advocate is Born: Affecting change for military families

Susan-Reynolds-and-son

We have all heard the phrase from William Shakespeare, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

A few years ago I was content with my starring role in the production of “Susan’s Military Life”. An active volunteer, educator, mentor, and friend were my starring roles. That changed when my infant son was denied healthcare coverage for a cranial reshaping helmet. I was offered a different role – the role of a lifetime – and I couldn’t pass it up.

The National Military Family Association and I were introduced in October 2011 when I was asked to be a volunteer. From there I discovered a world of advocacy that I never knew existed. The Association was working on issues ranging from education to healthcare. I fell in love and knew I was ‘home’.

In July 2012, I was invited to a conference in Washington, D.C. to tell my son’s story. In two days I had eight meetings on Capitol Hill and my performance had to be flawless. Fortunately, I had great support from the Association’s Government Relations department, as well as Kara Oakley from the Children’s Hospital Association.

The National Military Association encouraged me to use my voice to advocate for my son and all military children. I learned not to be afraid to share my story because I had a gift for speaking. You see, according to the Association, my story and my voice is powerful and should not be forgotten.

A year has passed since those meetings, and so many doors have opened because I’m a volunteer with National Military Family Association. The Association has helped me define my story and because of their support, I’m a stronger, more confident volunteer and advocate for military families.

As the saying goes, “a star is born every second.” In my case, an advocate was born and is supported by the National Military Family Association.

Susan ReynoldsBy Susan Reynolds, National Military Family Association Volunteer

An Outsider Looking In: Military life perspective from an AmeriCorp member and civilian

volunteer-with-flagAs I wrap up my first month here at the National Military Family Association , I wanted to share my perspective as a civilian working for a nonprofit that advocates for military families. For the next year, I’ll be a member of the Government Relations team through the AmeriCorps Call 2 Service Corps

Honestly, when I initially decided to apply for positions through AmeriCorps, I anticipated something along the lines of “feed the hungry!” or “clean up this polluted stream!” Those are both issues that pull at my heartstrings, and are typically what one thinks of when “AmeriCorps” comes to mind.

However, when I came across the Association’s job posting, I liked what I read about the kind of work I would be doing (think: research, reading, and writing), while working alongside these great experts in the Government Relations department. I thought to myself, “Well, I’m not sure about the whole ‘military thing’, but they’re working for the betterment of families, so let’s do it!”

I haven’t regretted the decision to accept my position for one second. Learning how different the lives are of military families, in comparison to civilians, has astounded me. I had so many preconceived notions about military life, many of which greatly underestimated the realities of the hardships the families face, and many more of which were completely off base and entirely inaccurate. For instance, I assumed “military brats” moved to 2 or 3 different places by the time they finally graduate high school. In reality, many of them move every 2-3 YEARS!

I can’t begin to imagine trying to navigate the confusions of childhood and adolescence all while having to make new friends and adjusting to a new location on a regular basis. I knew that deployments were often long and not easy for military families, but I didn’t quite grasp just how hard they were. To get a better idea, check out these videos. My coworker (and military spouse), Karen, showed these videos to me to help me grasp the realities military families face every day – the same realities SHE faces every day – while husbands and wives, siblings and children, are deployed.

I am looking forward to my year of service to the Association. I am excited to continue learning about military families, and the issues that matter to them. I am excited to further develop my skills as an ally and resource. I am excited to see, firsthand, the efforts our Staff and Volunteers make to ensure military families receive the benefits and help they deserve. I am excited to be a part of the National Military Family Association.

What tips do you have for those wanting to learn more about military families and the military community?

nateBy Nate Parsons, Government Relations and Volunteer Services AmeriCorp Member

Tribute and Memorial Gifts

Tribute and Memorial GiftsCharitable giving can be a meaningful way to honor someone special. Tribute gifts given in honor of family and friends for retirements, birthdays, Father’s Day, or other holidays—or memorial gifts given in memory of someone special— are significant and lasting ways to show someone you care, and help military families, too.

We recently received an outpouring of love and support in memory of a very special Army spouse. Karen Chandler Clark passed away unexpectedly on May 10, 2013, her 64th birthday. The San Antonio native graduated from Texas Tech University, and while there she met her future husband, Robert T. Clark, also of San Antonio. They were married more than 40 years. Karen was a gifted educator, and taught at every level from preschool to college. She enjoyed teaching English to foreign-born wives of Soldiers, so that they could write letters to their husbands who were deployed during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As her husband rose through the Army ranks from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant General, Karen served at his side with grace. She greatly enjoyed “the sisterhood”—the camaraderie of her fellow Army wives.

Retirement from the military didn’t end her service. She participated in the Military Civilian Club, a ladies’ community organization. Her life affected so many others, including all the students she taught and the countless Army wives she loved and supported. Her family asked that in lieu of flowers, family and friends make a donation in support of military families. Through the generosity of her many family and friends, Karen will continue to make an impact on military families.

Giving gifts that truly benefit the needs of others can be a wonderful way to honor the special people in your life. These gifts also allow you to emphasize important values and support the causes that are personally meaningful to you.

If you make a tribute or memorial donation to the National Military Family Association, the recipient or family will receive a letter sharing that you made a gift in his or her honor, including a special message from you, and will state how the contribution will improve the lives of military families. It’s the perfect gift for someone special!

annieBy Annie Morgan, Development and Membership Deputy Director

Happy Father’s Day: honoring the men in your life

Happy Father’s Day: honoring the men in your lifeAs Father’s Day draws near, I find myself thinking about how important the men in my life are to me. The majority of them have served in the military. My dad was in the Army, my husband in the Air Force, my oldest brother served in the Navy. My maternal grandfather was in the Navy. I couldn’t remember if my Grandpa Howard served in the military so I called my dad to find out.

Dad reminded me that his father lost an eye as a child and couldn’t enlist. He did, however, work at the naval station at Port Hueneme, California during World War II. Dad told me his brothers had all served, too. Wayne was in the Air Force in missile electronics at Cape Canaveral. Jess was an MP (military police officer) and played baseball for the Army while assigned to Fort MacArthur. Uncle Harold was in the Army infantry.

My father was assigned to the 7th Division and served in Korea from 1955-1956. He handled payroll. Back in the day, the troops were paid with military script. Dad said it looked like monopoly money and that even the coins were made of paper.

He told me one story that could have seriously impacted my life! One night while out on patrol, they encountered enemy fire. It was dark and they couldn’t see the enemy, but they had been taught to “look for the muzzle flash, point your gun to the right and shoot.” When he returned to camp later that night, he found a bullet hole through the left armpit of his field jacket. My dad is right handed, but because my Grandpa Howard only had one eye, he had taught him to shoot left handed. Dad said “If I would have shot right handed, I’d be dead and you wouldn’t be here today.” That was a story I had never heard before!

This year, I am honoring not just my Dad, but all the men in my life by making a donation to the National Military Family Association. I want to show my support of all the military families in my life, and honor their service to our country.

This Father’s Day, pay tribute to the special men in your life by making a donation in their honor. And spend a little extra time and find out more about them – you might be surprised what you learn!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad – I love you so much!!

anniePosted by Annie Morgan, Deputy Director for Development and Membership

The Veterans Charity Challenge – Help Us Win Up To $35,000

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Craigconnects, founded by Craig Newmark of craigslist, and The Rahr Foundation are teaming up to honor military families and veterans.  They’re launching The Veterans Charity Challenge and will be giving away $100,000. The National Military Family Association is competing in the challenge and we’re super excited to raise as much money as possible for our cause.

The charity that raises the most throughout the Challenge will receive $35,000. Second place gets $25,000 and third place gets $15,000. We’re out to raise as much money as possible for our cause so we can win that $35,000 donation!!

Any donation, large or small, can make all the difference. Please GO HERE and give what you can.

And, if you want to go one step further, visit our fundraising page  and click ‘Fundraise for this charity.’ In seconds, you’ll have your own fundraiser that you can share with all of your family and friends so that you can raise money for our cause too. And, please help us spread the word. If you email a list of your co-workers, family and friends and ask them to help, we can get that much closer to winning the grand prize and raising money for our cause.

Thanks so much for your support!

annie Posted by Annie Morgan, Deputy Director for Development and Membership

Help Therapy Animals Heal Military Families Today!

therapy-dogs-webAnyone who has ever loved an animal knows how powerful and healing its presence can be.

Specially-trained therapy animals are a tremendous help to military families recovering from war and separation at our Operation Purple® camps and retreats. These families have sacrificed so much, and they struggle with uncertainty and other stress.

Therapy animals—including cuddly cats, loving dogs, gentle horses, and others—help military families break down barriers they can’t themselves. These nurturing animals provide a sense of calm for adults and kids often surrounded by stress. And they lend a feeling of “home.” They allow service members to reconnect, talk more openly about their fears and needs, and solidify fragile bonds with their spouses and children at our camps and retreats.

Please help more military families heal from the physical and emotional wounds of war through the comforting presence of therapy animals today. Donate now!

Has an animal or pet ever helped comfort you through a difficult time?