Category Archives: Military kids

Since When Does MTF Mean ‘Might Take Forever?’


Did you know garlic is a powerful antibiotic?

I didn’t either, until I had lived in Germany on an Army post for a couple months.

One day, my daughter woke up with a fever. It was just high enough to have me worried, so I waited for the appointment line to open for the day, and called as soon as the clock rolled over to 7:30am.

We know how this goes, so of course, I had the number programmed in my phone. All the better to dial quickly. By 7:31am I had navigated (like a pro) through the menu options and found myself on hold, waiting to talk to a representative.

“There are seven calls ahead of you.”


My heart sank. Seven isn’t great. Seven means it’s likely that the appointments for the day will be filled before they get to me. But, being the optimist I am, I hung on the line.

After all, my baby daughter had a fever. She’s never sick, and even after being trained as a nurse, fevers in infants worry me. The hold music starts playing, and I pulled out the thermometer again. I held my breath and hoped.

Nope, the fever was still there. She’s was flushed, and clammy, and crying, again, because I just had to take her temperature one more time.

“There are four calls ahead of you.”

It’s now 7:45am and I am losing hope. I’m bouncing the baby and waiting.

Finally, a representative comes on the line, gets my husband’s social security number, and asks me to explain the problem. I do, and the baby screams, filling in the gaps of my story with her own frantic song.

“The earliest we can get you in is Friday. There is an appointment at two.”

Today is Monday, and we need seen now. Friday won’t work. On Friday, she’ll be fine. Or, as my overly worried Momma brain starts thinking, she’ll be dead.

The only other option is to take her to the emergency room. Germany doesn’t have an urgent care system, and other than the small clinic on post, there isn’t an American facility to go to. However, the German children’s hospital is amazing, if your child needs a hospital; if you have an infant with a fever, it’s really not that great. What I needed was antibiotics for an ear infection, and the reassurance that I was doing the best I could by hydrating and comforting my child at home. What I got was excessive testing in the German hospital, hours of waiting, the stress of not being unable to understand the system, and the flu (probably from the arm rests in the waiting room).

Unfortunately, this situation happened to me again, and again, for the three years we were stationed in Germany.

During our tour there, I was only seen ONE time for an urgent matter in the pediatrician’s office, and that was because I sat in the office and refused to leave until someone could help me.

I learned quickly the best I could do was attempt to help myself. I learned that garlic is a powerful antibiotic… in large doses. And believe me: you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried to get your five year old to swallow four cloves of fresh garlic to treat a suspected ear infection.

I learned Germany has an extensive alternative medicine culture, and in a pinch, I could go to a pharmacy off post and communicate my problems (in terrible German) to their pharmacists. I learned essential oils can help, and sometimes, you just have to suck it up and spend two nights in the German hospital for an issue American doctors would treat as urgent care, and send you home.

This has to change. Our military children deserve better. As wonderful as alternative medicine and emergency rooms are, we shouldn’t be forced to use them because there aren’t enough appointments, or doctors, to go around.

In the meantime, I’m stocking up on garlic.

Have you had problems making an MTF appointment for a sick family member? Please tell us about it and include the approximate time frame (we are most interested in recent situations to show this is a current problem). We will compile your stories and share with Congress and senior DoD leadership.

heatherPosted by Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

Win a Bedroom Makeover for Your Awesome MilKid!


We’re having a blast celebrating the Month of the Military Child, and this month just got a little more awesome! NMFA is teaming up with top design firm Laurel & Wolf to give a special military child a bedroom makeover! You may remember the contest we did with Laurel & Wolf, where we surprised a deserving military spouse with a master bedroom makeover…now, it’s time for the kids to win!

Military kids are resilient, endure change like champs, and in some cases, are the glue that holds the family together while a parent is deployed. They’re strong 365 days a year, we’re excited to work with Laurel & Wolf to give back to our nation’s smallest heroes.

Would your MilKid love a bedroom makeover? Are they in need of a space that’s all theirs? Enter to win today! Tell us why your child is one-of-a-kind and he or she could be chosen as the winner on April 17th!

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Content Development Manager


Jump for Joy! It’s the Month of the Military Child!


April is here and it’s one of our favorite months! That’s because we get to celebrate and recognize some of the military community’s smallest heroes: military kids!

Though they’re some of the tiniest humans (both in size and age!), they play a huge part in their military family. They’re courageous, resilient, well-rounded, and strong! We think MilKids are SO awesome, we’ve got a summer camp just for them!

Now, we’re inviting you to tell us about an awesome military child in your life! Leave us a comment and share why they rock!

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Content Development Manager

2 Ways to Make Your MilKid’s Homework Easier in the Final Semester!

Children-in-classroomAmid the doldrums of the end of winter and the spring forward time change, students struggle with the start of the second semester. Once the snow melts, however, all thoughts wander first towards spring break, a reprieve from the drudgery of long school days and homework, and then to the lure of a long summer break – the ultimate escape from the classroom.

If vacation time occupies your mind right now, you’re not alone. Even the most dedicated teachers and tutors are already scanning cruise brochures and plotting their Space A travel adventures.

For military children, it’s even harder. With the average military child attending up 9 schools over the course of his or her academic career, the end of the school year most often means a PCS, and the end of time with friends at that duty station. Your student still has several months to go, though, and despite their adamant independence—yes, you know they can do it themselves!—they need you right now.

It’s time to make sure your student learns to finish the semester strong!

Here are two key ways you can help your child prepare to power through the final semester.

1. Help avoid visual distractions. If their desk is messy, help them clean it. For a visual or hands on learner, a messy desk is a reflection of how organized the rest of their schoolwork looks. If their desk isn’t neatly arranged, then it’s a sure bet you may find the missing homework assignments bringing down their grade somewhere at the bottom of their book bag. Once organized, have your child take those assignments to the teacher to see if they can at least earn a late grade. If nothing else, this presents an opportunity for your child to practice self-advocacy, a skill they’ll need long past their grade school days.

2. Reduce interaction with as many electronic devices as possible. That means no television, no music with lyrics, no texting, and no social media. It’s unrealistic to expect students to turn off all electronics, as most students, particularly those in middle school and beyond, need the internet to access homework websites and conduct research. However, it is possible to make sure that those devices are used for their stated purpose.

The following website plugins and apps may help:

  • FocusWriter allows students to really focus on writing that essay for class. It locks down all other programs, leaving only a writing document available for student access. It even allows users to set a writing goal, either for time or for word count.
  • Focus Booster helps teach your student productivity skills through time management. For younger students, set time goals of 10-15 minutes for concentrated work. Build up their study efforts in increments of 5 minutes. High school students who don’t have any other learning limitations should be able to study for up to 50 minutes at a time.
  • Cold Turkey also helps with productivity by blocking social media and games. It helps students schedule time for breaks, too.
  • Focus@Will helps define music for reading, music for studying, café noise, or my favorite, water sounds. Some music can actually facilitate studying for all learners, but it’s important to distinguish what type of music works best for your little learner. Regardless of what he tells you, though, music with lyrics distracts even the most conscientious learners, and if your child is an auditory learner, forget it!

While your kiddo is engaged in one of his productive study periods, you can break out the stack of vacation guides you picked up at the ITT office on base after all. If you have executed these changes with your child, then you’re on your way to a successful end of the school year and a well-earned summer break!

How do you help keep your kids encouraged and engaged at the end of the school year? Share your tips with us!

KarinaGHeadshot(Square)-(2-of-2)Posted by Karina Gafford, Air Force spouse, founder of Tutors By Base, and blogger at Thoughts on Tutoring

Raising my Military Kids: Does the Worrying Ever Stop?

liz-larsen-and-familyIt’s been a few days since our son Jake, and daughter Grace, left to go back to school and my house is completely silent. We had a busy Thanksgiving holiday filled with lots of food and football! I still can’t believe both of our children are in college.

I can’t help but think about the young adults they have become, and how I worried about them as they were growing up. If you have kids, you worry, stress over, and second guess every decision you make on their behalf. For me raising my military kids, it was even worse!

I worried about all of the PCS moves and new schools they’d attend. Jake moved with us (in utero) three times before finally being born at Fort Polk! I worried about all of the deployments their dad went on, and how that would affect the kids not having him around. I worried about not having extended family close by.

larsen-kidsAnd the schools! Are they going to be behind at the new school? Will they fit in? Make new friends? Jake attended six different schools and Grace attended five. I wondered if they’d end up hating us for dragging them away from old friends. The worrying never stops. My husband, Jay, and I joked about what our kids would complain to their future therapist about! We’ve given them plenty of material!

But it hit me this morning; I would not change anything about the way they were raised. I am proud of my military brats! They are far more mature and responsible than most of their peers. They are comfortable speaking to anyone, and have respect for everyone they meet. They have a great prospective on life at their young age because they have learned what is truly important.

Adjusting to college life was easy for these two. They have great friends, are making good grades, and are both in leadership positions on campus. I can’t think of anyone more prepared to go off to college, and face life than my military kids!

Liz-LarsenPosted by Liz Larsen, Volunteer Services Coordinator, West Region

Drowning in Child Care Costs? Here’s Your Lifesaver!

judy-familyI was 7 months pregnant, working full time and searching for a child care provider. As a first time parent, I was terrified to bring my daughter home (can you believe they let you leave the hospital with a newborn and no instruction manual?), but finding someone I trusted enough to leave her with all day while I worked made me incredibly paranoid. Add to that the expense of infant daycare in the DC area, and I was a wreck.

While relaying my plight to my coworkers, a fellow military spouse spoke up and asked, “Don’t you know about Child Care Aware?” The name sounded like some watchdog group who might provide a list of reputable centers.

As it turned out, they were so much more.

My coworker went on to tell me about the subsidy she received for her two children in daycare. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The military would help us offset this huge expense? I wouldn’t just be ‘breaking even’ between my income and the price of daycare? AND the facilities had to adhere to even more stringent guidelines than the state required? Where could I sign up?!

My husband and I selected a few places off their list to check out and tour. We got on a couple of waiting lists at the ones we liked, but we couldn’t do anything with the Child Care Aware application until our daughter was actually born. Once she arrived, we called them (and spoke to a really helpful representative) and discovered we just needed to scan and upload a few documents, and apply online.

To be eligible, I had to either be working full time, or in school full time. So, we sent in one of my pay stubs, my husband’s leave and earning statement (LES), along with the application, and waited a couple weeks to see if we were approved. If we were approved, how much would our subsidy be?

The process was easier than I assumed it would be; I figured I’d have weeks of paperwork going back and forth, and I worried we’d still be waiting to finalize everything when I was ready to go back to work after maternity leave. My worries were, thankfully, unfounded and we were eligible to receive the highest stipend allowed!

So how do they figure out your stipend? In a nutshell, they take into account the income of the service member and the price of the center where you’re placing your child. Suffice it to say, our center was more than their ‘cap,’ which is how we were able to receive such a large amount.

Today, Child Care Aware has contracts to work with Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps families, and Army families now use the General Services Administration (GSA).

I am continually surprised by how many other spouses with children aren’t aware of this benefit. If you’re in school or working, and you’re up to your ears in daycare costs, take a few minutes to look this up and see if your center is listed. Trust me when I tell you, it was so worth it for our family!

Melissa-JudyPosted by Melissa Judy, Social Media and Brand Manager

A MilKid Milestone: Getting Your First ID Card

birthday-cakeFor any kid, turning ten is a big deal. Getting to double digits is a milestone worth celebrating. However, military kids have an extra reason to look forward to the big 1-0. As every military kid knows, age 10 is when you can get your very own, super grown-up, military dependent ID card.

I didn’t realize just how big a deal this was to my kids until my son’s 10th birthday approached. Glancing at the calendar one day, I noticed the day after his birthday was circled in red. I racked my brain to try and remember what was happening on an otherwise uneventful Monday, with no success. Finally I gave up and asked – what’s so special about December 4?

Ryan looked at me with surprise, “That’s the day we can get my new ID card.”

Gulp. I had forgotten.

Okay, I thought. I can do this. How hard can it be, right? People get new ID cards all the time. And then I remembered.

“Honey, you know, Dad won’t be here that day. Can we wait a few weeks until he’s back? It will be so much easier if he’s there with us.”

Ryan’s face fell. Clearly, he had been looking forward to this for months. The prospect of waiting even a few more weeks for his very own super grown-up military dependent ID card was hugely disappointing.

There it was. Mom guilt. Right then, I decided I was going to get this kid his ID card, no matter what it took.

Turned out, it actually didn’t take that much. In fact, getting my son his first ID card was surprisingly easy. If you are a military parent with a kid approaching the double digit milestone, fear not; you, too, can get your child his very own super grown-up military dependent ID card in just a few easy steps.

  1. Your service member needs to complete the DD 1172-2, the Application for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment. If he or she will be there when you get the ID card, they should wait and sign it in front of the official at the ID card office.
  2. If the service member can’t be there, the DD 1172-2 must be notarized. Alternatively, if you have a general Power of Attorney, you can present that, along with the completed and signed DD 1172-2.
  3. Find your nearest Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) site using the RAPIDS Site Locator. Be sure to check whether the site issues cards for family members (not all do) and if the office accepts walk-ins or requires an appointment.
  4. Visit your nearest RAPIDS site with your excited ten-year-old, his or her birth certificate, and your completed DD 1172-2 (and, let’s be honest, a good book – you’re likely to be there a while). Wait your turn, turn in your form, and that’s it – your child is now the proud owner of his or her very own military dependent ID card.

Need more info? We’ve got your step-by-step instructions and a list of required documents!

eileenPosted by Eileen Huck, Government Relations Deputy Director