Category Archives: Guest Posts

The Do’s and Don’ts of Launching A Business As A Military Spouse

I launched Military Quality of Life Consulting, LLC (MQOLC, LLC) in the Fall of 2015 as I turned in a resignation letter to my last employer due to a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move. I wasn’t sure where to start, where this business would go, or the potential of what it could be, but I knew that I wanted to continue to serve the military community by creating solutions to the complex challenges the military lifestyle presents. MQOLC, LLC provides consulting services in Strategic Communication, Business Development and Community Outreach and Engagement to military service nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, private and public companies.

To give you a little bit about my background, I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in Communications and my professional experience spans across several industries. As an experienced professor and academic advisor, a prior military family advocate on Capitol Hill (with NMFA!), a previous event program coordinator serving our military spouses at the fourth largest military service organization in the country, I have had the opportunity to work with and be a resource for the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative, Department of Defense, Military Community & Family Policy, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, Members of Congress, universities, national non-profit organizations, employers and key decision makers.

After MQOLC, LLC launched, and during our family’s latest transition to Colorado from Washington D.C., I also landed a full-time remote employment opportunity with an incredible IT company where I continue to contribute to military spouse employment and education opportunities. After living at four different military installations around the country, and working in five different positions post graduate school, I finally feel stable, excited and honored to serve the military community through two separate professional endeavors on a daily basis.

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As a military spouse, I feel as if our community is embedded with an entrepreneurial spirit. For many, entrepreneurship is a great option due to portability, flexibility and as an outlet where you can share your specific skill set with the world in your own way. As a new(er) business owner, and one that is constantly learning everyday, I would like to offer a few Do’s and Do Not’s for those who have a great business idea, who are thinking about launching a business or for those who already have established businesses.

DO your research on national military spouse specific resources: The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development empowers military spouse entrepreneurs by providing the same counseling, training and access to capital that are provided to service members and veterans. The Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) joined forces with the Small Business Administration to provide military spouses with monthly webinars focusing on starting a business. Watch these or download the lecture notes if they have already taken place. In addition, if you call a certified SECO Career Counselor (1-800-342-9647), you can request to take Entrepreneur EDGE™ assessment to see if this path is right for you!

DO contact your State’s Secretary of State Department after a PCS. The active duty military community moves every 1-3 years. With this transient lifestyle, it is important to conduct research on what paperwork, licenses or tax permits are needed to transfer your business to your new location. As my business launched while we were stationed on the east coast, I am considered a foreign entity now that we are stationed in Colorado. I also made the mistake of purchasing a license when I didn’t need it. I should have done more research!

DO apply to attend Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) VWISE Conference. The program is open to all female veterans, active duty female service members and female partners/spouses of active duty service members and veterans who share the goal of launching and growing a sustainable business venture. Also, check out the additional Entrepreneurship resources available through IVMF!

DO list your business on the Rosie Network’s Rosie’s List and join a MilSpo Project Chapter. For those living abroad, check out Milspousepreneur.

DO NOT forget to tap into your network. Use your network to seek out advice and guidance. I am constantly networking through LinkedIn, Facebook, community events (I recently joined my local InGear Career chapter), and national conferences such as Inc. Military Entrepreneurs . I am also looking forward to attending VWISE in a few weeks in San Antonio, Texas.

DO NOT think you are making too little to launch your business! It takes time to build your business from the ground up. Don’t let this notion stop you from changing your aspirations. Start small and grow big overtime.

DO NOT be shy to reach out! I invite you to like the MQOLC, LLC Facebook page, stop by the MQOLC, LLC website and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Have you started a business? I would love to know if you have other DO’s and DO NOT’s that you have learned through your entrepreneurship exploration and execution!  

ccPosted by C.C. Gallagher is a Senior Analyst for Military Spouse Programs with BAM Technologies and the founder of Military Quality of Life Consulting, LLC. She is the spouse of an active-duty soldier and mother to a military child.

Mascara, Money, and the Military

It was August 2014, and I was working to find balance as a mother and military spouse during my husband’s second deployment. He had been gone 7 months. Any military spouse knows this is a challenging role that requires flexibility and patience while leaving little room for your own career path. My days consisted of the ‘usual’ military spouse duties; raising our daughter during the terrible twos, keeping up with the housework, and wondering when my husband would call next.

One evening as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a fellow Army wife post about a new mascara. I wasn’t a big makeup wearer (and still am not), but I’ve always loved a good mascara and was intrigued.

I was happy to support my friend and purchased the mascara.  As soon as I tried it, I knew I had to tell all of my girlfriends about it. My husband made me promise I’d never “do one of those direct sales companies again,” as I had tried several in the past with little to no success. But I just had a feeling this was going to be different. The cost to sign up was minimal and there were no monthly fees or quotas, so I figured it was worth a shot.

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The days and months that immediately followed my decision to join Younique filled my life with much more than money and makeup. Don’t get me wrong…I am proud to be a mother and military spouse; these will always be my favorite “jobs,” but this little makeup business gave me a PURPOSE outside of “mom” and “wife.” This was something for ME, and I soon realized that I could help change the lives of other women.

Twenty-two months have gone by and it’s hard to imagine my life without this business. The success I’ve had, the relationships I’ve built, and the customer base I’ve created, has been more fulfilling than I can express. I am now a Top Leader in Younique with a team of 1,708 amazing women. I am proud to live and share our mission every day, “To uplift, empower, validate, and ultimately build self-esteem in women around the world through high-quality products that encourage both inner and outer beauty and spiritual enlightenment while also providing opportunities for personal growth and financial reward.”

We have PCS’d twice since December 2014, and I am so grateful I haven’t had to worry about finding a job, or child care, with each move. In fact, the military lifestyle has allowed me to expand my network with each new station. I work my business 99% through Facebook on my iPhone, and I can work whenever and wherever I want. I am able to coach, mentor and build my team around the world, all while providing stability and balance to my family. It’s a dream come true!

As a military spouse and stay-at-home-mom, it is empowering to be able to financially contribute to our family. I love to support fellow military spouses in Network Marketing and truly believe it is the perfect opportunity for us. I am so grateful for the freedom and confidence that Younique and Network Marketing have provided to me and so many women. We have a saying in our company, “so much more than mascara”… There really couldn’t be truer words spoken for myself and my family.

Posted by Tracey Greene, military spouse, and Exclusive Black Status Leader with Younique

3 Easy Tips to Keep Your Military Marriage Shatterproof

Dating, loving, and eventually marrying a service member can bring a flurry of butterflies. The uniform, the exotic PCS locations (29 Palms, am I right?!), and the pride that goes with standing next to your military loved one is incomparable.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, and military spouse, myself, I often have other military couples who want guidance with how to make their relationships shatterproof. Here’s 3 tips I like to share:

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Keep civilian friends. Being a military family can start to bleed into every crevice of your life. Initially, maybe you’re simply dating someone in the military, but then all of a sudden, you’re moving halfway across the country, leaving your job, your friends, your church, and your family.

It can be extremely important to keep an anchor in the “real world,” and have someone there to remind you how exceptional your life is. Normalcy (whatever that means) still exists, and someday you will be faced with it again. It’s hard to imagine, but for many active duty members, the choice to stay in the military has a lot to do with the fact that they haven’t written a resume in years! They wouldn’t know how to begin interviewing and applying for jobs. They can become so engrossed in war stories and surreal job descriptions that to have a ‘9:00am-5:00pm’ job can be extremely jarring. Keep civilian friends around to help you from falling too far down the rabbit hole of an all encompassing military family lifestyle.

Remember your partner is fighting for YOU. In the words of Brad Paisley, “You think you’re one in millions, but you’re one in a million to me.” I know we can get lost in thinking that with all the hours, deployments, tests, and such, we’ve become an accessory to a military career. In all my work as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve found it’s the complete opposite that’s true for the service member.

Often times, when a young person enters into the military, he or she tends to marry very young. Why, you might ask? They have money, a stable job, friends and camaraderie…why settle down so quickly? From my experience, it seems as though most times, these service members want to ensure that they will have someone to come home to, someone to fight for, and give a face to their mission. Therefore, dating is not enough. Some want to lock in their partners, and have a sense of security they might very well lose in every other aspect of their life.

Loyalty, compassion, forgiveness, motherhood/fatherhood, and other traits are LEARNED. I remember a time when my son was still very little and he felt sick. It was late, and I was a new mom so I was trying to decide whether it warranted an emergency room visit. I kept asking my husband what he thought and finally he said, “I don’t know! YOU’RE the mom!” I yelled back, “I wasn’t born knowing how to mom! I google things just like everybody else!”

In hindsight, this is pretty funny to me now, but at the time I was irate. As a military couple, we are given a lot of responsibility very quickly and it can feel like trial by fire, but its important to remember we were not born with innate values and the ability to love deeply, faithfully, perfectly. We must remind ourselves that even with the jobs, the marriage, the kids, we are never really grown up; we are always maturing and growing. The question is: do you want to grow together?

What tips would you give to other military couples? Leave us a comment an tell us!

Posted by Erin Calahan, M.S., LMFT, LCDC, military spouse and mother of two. Find out more about Erin.

Health Care for Transgender Military Kids: Where’s the Equal Access?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month is a time of celebration–and the members of today’s Armed Forces and their families represent the most diverse military population in history. But even with the Department of Defense (DoD) joining the celebration of this month, we are reminded that under the current DoD regulations, transgender service members are unable to serve openly, a damaging reality that hurts the entire family unit. Thankfully, that’s all about to change soon. The DoD is in the process of updating these outdated regulations. But unfortunately, the DoD also has specific healthcare guidelines that prohibit certain medical care for transgender military dependents.

With so much anti-LGBT legislation out there now, much of which targets transgender people, service members are often stuck in the proverbial closet protecting their transgender children. To make matters worse, when they are home, they are continuously fighting the battle to have their children cared for. Service members have the heavy burden of protecting our country and should not also have to worry about whether or not their family members are getting the care they need.

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The Brewer family is one of these military families. Amanda and her husband Josh, a soldier who has served for 14 years, have a transgender teenage daughter who has continuously struggled to receive adequate support and assistance navigating military channels and healthcare.

Their family has experienced substantial struggles navigating TRICARE–even simply receiving adequate healthcare for their daughter, Jenn, has been harder than necessary. And thanks to the DoD’s transgender exclusion policy in the military healthcare system, it doesn’t get any easier.

TRICARE’s exclusion policy restricts transgender dependents to only receiving care at military installations. Any off base referrals for specific mental health professionals or medical appointments are denied.

For the Brewers, this means their daughter has had to forgo critical and needed care because services are not always available. When TRICARE deems transgender as suffering from “gender dysphoria,” any medical care or hospitalizations outside of a military installation has to be paid out of pocket, which places profound financial stress on these military families.

Currently, the DoD only has two bases that provide care to transgender dependents. If policies were to change, dependents would likely be categorized under the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). With the limited locations of medical care for transgender dependents, many service members’ careers would be jeopardized. Without a critical reconsideration of this policy, many transgender children and dependents remain untreated and excluded.

 

One current military provider, who has been treating transgender military dependent children and adolescents for the last several years told me:

The main problem that families encounter when seeking treatment for their transgender child is that there is a lack of TRICARE policy supporting medical treatment of transgender dependents. For the families that are able to find military providers who are willing to provide necessary treatment at a military facility, transferring to a new duty station may mean losing access to their care.”

She also said, “Several of the largest military training facilities have tried to establish multidisciplinary treatment teams that would treat transgender children and adolescents. This approach follows World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) practice guidelines. We also had several military providers in different pediatric sub-specialties who have received training to treat transgender children and adolescents. However, as medical providers, we find ourselves unable to provide standard of care to this population in great need of services, due to a lack of policy supporting the treatment of transgender dependents.”

This LGBT Pride Month, we are reminded of the tremendous progress we’ve made, but also of all that we have yet to accomplish. We look forward to working together to continue that progress and ensure that all service members and their families, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are getting the care and support they need and deserve.

Posted by Jennifer Dane, Diversity & Inclusion Policy Analyst, The American Military Partner Association, the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s LGBT service members and veterans

5 Things Your Service Member Needs From You

I met my husband when we were both active duty. Being a former Marine, I recognize that in most situations, I have it a little easier because I understand my spouse’s daily life.

These are some important things we all need to understand in order to support our spouses, and remove unnecessary stress from our marriages.

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Complain less, listen more
Even though they go to a job each day, the military is not a normal job. In most instances, your spouse will have several people to answer to and may not feel like they are heard or listened to at all. The hours are long with no set release time and planning around duty can be difficult.

What can you do about this? Just support them. Be there to listen, and don’t complain about a situation that they couldn’t change…believe me, there will be a lot of those. Adding stress to your spouse’s life by complaining does not help either of you.

Your spouse’s battles are not your battles
I have a hard time with this because I like to take action, but if someone disrespects my husband (and he tells me about it at home), that is not my battle to fight. Nor is it my business to bring it up to the spouse of the person with whom my husband is having a conflict. Helllooooo, drama!

There may be many times you want to give someone a piece of your mind, but that will only cause more conflict in the workplace for your spouse.

The better approach is to talk through the situation together, even if you can’t come to a solution. Sometimes getting your point of view and support will help your spouse navigate the personalities they come in contact with each day.

The more you know about your branch, the better
Your spouse could never explain everything to you about how things work in the military. The more you can educate yourself about the rank system and history of your branch, what your spouse went through in basic training, and how your spouse’s job fits into the big picture of their unit, the more relaxed you will be.

If your spouse talks about some kind of training or work event that you are unfamiliar with, ask them to explain. They will enjoy the chance to show what they know and like bringing you into the fold.

The day you remember something specific about their job, they will do a double take and be impressed because they probably feel like they are always talking at the wind!

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Decompression time
Otherwise known as alone time. If I could be stuck to my husband 24/7 I would, but he needs his own decompression time. I know spouses whose husbands get their alone time in at the gym, or tinkering in the garage, or playing video games.

Whatever the case, your spouse needs daily time to themselves to just be a person – not a military member, not a spouse – just a person.

Reassure them there is life outside the military
When my spouse works 12-14 hours a day all week, then we go to the commissary on the weekend, and just chill around the house in our downtime, to him there is nothing outside the military in this scenario. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. 

Having been in the military myself, I know this is so important, especially in the beginning years of their career. Military life can be a bubble, but you need to break out of it for sanity’s sake.

It can be something simple like taking a daily walk to talk and relax. Or planning a trip together – even if this trip is to a public park in the next town over.

No one is going to tell you this life is easy, but the more you can try to understand what your spouse needs and feels due to the nature of his/her job, the less complicated and stressed your military family will be!

What tips would you give another military spouse? Share them in the comments!

RileyVheadshotPosted by Vera Riley, Marine Corps spouse and fitness and lifestyle blogger at The Noble Big Sister

Be “On-Point” for Gold Star Families This Memorial Day

May 30th—Memorial Day—marks a unique opportunity for every American to remember and honor those who lost their lives in service to this country for the freedoms we enjoy.

Memorial Day is designated as the last Monday in May each year to honor U. S. military service men and women who died while serving their country. The day is especially poignant for Gold Star Families, those family members who have lost a loved one serving in the military.

Memorial Day is different from Veterans Day, which is always celebrated on November 11, and honors all military veterans. The tradition of Memorial Day in America started during the Civil War, first called Declaration Day. After World War I, Declaration Day became a unifying event for the country, officially celebrated on May 30th. In 1968, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, and declared it as a federal holiday.

The National Moment of Remembrance Resolution, passed in 2000, set a moment of remembrance to be held at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day.

In 1936, the United States government designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother’s Day. And Gold Star Wives was founded during WWII. Today, the federal government recognizes Gold Star Family Members—mothers, fathers, spouse, children and siblings of those who died in military service.

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Memorial Day was always a special day when I was on active duty. Celebrating the holiday with friends and families of our unit served to strengthen the bond between all of us that endures to this very day.

My family’s fondest memories of Memorial Day were during our six years in the 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Division began the Memorial Day celebration the Monday before with a week of sports competitions, memorial services, and alumni events. On Memorial Day, Fort Bragg celebrated with a concert and a spectacular fireworks display.

Serving almost three decades in the military, including command during two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, I was separated from my family frequently and for extended periods of time. So now, our family celebrates Memorial Day together. We share a meal and share memories of our time in service with some of the most remarkable and selfless people we have ever known. We thank God for blessing us with the opportunity to experience life to its fullest, with a mission that was larger than ourselves. We reflect on the unthinkable sacrifice so many endure through the loss of their fallen warrior, and we pray for those Gold Star Family Members.

Now, as a veteran, I have the privilege of serving as director of Point 27. Point 27 partners with military units and other nonprofit organizations to strengthen and encourage members of the Armed Forces, veterans, military families, first responders, athletes, and chronically ill people. Our primary means of encouragement is through jewelry engraved with scripture called Shields of Strength. Shields of Strength serve as a physical reminder of God’s Word, His promises and His unconditional love.

This Memorial Day, Point 27 is teaming with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), another nonprofit, to give more than 2,000 Gold Star Family Members a specially-designed necklace. Each pendant is a replica of a folded American flag like those presented during military funerals and engraved with the words from John 15:13.

The Folded Flag Necklace is a lifetime keepsake, an acknowledgement of the families’ enduring sacrifice, and an assurance that we have not forgotten their loved one.

On Memorial Day, military members, veterans and their families can take significant roles in educating civilians about the sacrifices of military service. Volunteer to speak or help coordinate an honor guard for Memorial Day celebrations and community gatherings. Make a special effort to locate and reach out to Gold Star Family Members, and engage your community in honoring them and supporting nonprofit organizations that focus on Gold Star Families.

We can all be on-point this Memorial Day to make sure America honors and never forgets the fallen and their families.

Posted by Retired Army Colonel David Dodd, Director of Point 27 Ministries, a nonprofit founded by Shields of Strength.

What is a Life Coach? And Do I Need One?

No one knows how to roll with the unexpected better than a military family. Whether it’s a sudden change of duty station, or a last-minute deployment, steady upheaval is just a given. The trouble is, some military spouses get so good at coping with change and supporting the family that they lose sight of caring for themselves.

That’s where life coaching can be helpful. Maybe you long to start your own business, or you’re demoralized by a stubborn weight problem. Perhaps you want to improve your relationship with your spouse, but can’t quite break old habits, or are recently divorced and baffled by the prospect of dating again. There are life coaches who specialize in these areas and more. And just like an athletic coach, they help you see where you’re stuck and find the resources and behaviors to help you move forward. And, even though your official status may be “dependent,” you can’t count on anyone but yourself to make your dreams come true.

So, what is this ‘life coaching’ thing?

Let’s start with what life coaching isn’t. Coaching is not counseling, therapy, nor psychoanalysis. There is absolutely a place and time for these critical services, but not in coaching. In very simplified and broad terms, therapy tends to look into your past for causes of certain behavior and reactions; then helps you process, so issues from your past don’t hold you back.

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Coaching is focused on helping you create the future you want. Coaching will help you articulate your goals and dreams, create a plan for attaining those goals, and finally, support your steps to achieve them.

Your coach will help you move past all the “Yeah, but…” circumstances. It’s difficult to build a career when you move every three years, or to build up a social life in the revolving door of a military post. It’s tough to make significant health changes when you spend much of your time as a (more or less) single parent.

But just as your coach will be familiar with those challenges, they’ll also help you better tap into the rich, deep assets your military connections provide, from available tuition benefits to internships. And they’ll help you discover more about the possibilities waiting for you in the transition back to civilian life, from creating a feeling of community in a new long-term home, finally being able to launch the business you’re dreamed of, to helping your kids get settled.

You might be thinking, Why should I hire a coach to help me figure this stuff out? Shouldn’t adults be able to work things out on their own, to do their own thinking and problem-solving? Why can’t I just talk to my spouse, partner, or friend?

The problem is we often are so close to our situation, we can’t see what’s in our way—that’s how ‘blind spots’ got their name. Our friends, partners, and spouses are often all too willing to tell us what they think we should do. Sometimes, this advice is colored by what they want, not what’s best for us.

A coach will listen to you without judgement–as a sounding board. They won’t tell you what to do, but rather will help you discover for yourself the choices that best align to you and your dreams. When you make decisions that are aligned to your purpose and your goals, you are more apt to attain your goals and build new, lasting habits.

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Sound interesting? Let me tell you how to find a coach that fits you. There are many good industry organizations, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), or the National Career Development Association (NCDA) that govern, guide, and credential the professional competency, proficiency, and ethical practices of coaches. When choosing a coach, you should look for reputable credentials so you know you are working with a dedicated professional.

Within our coaching program at Life Reimagined, we vet all of our coaches and only accept credentialed coaches with five or more years of experience. Today, we have 19 coaches with a broad range of experience and specialties, including working with the challenges facing military spouses and families. Coaching with the support of a guided program, such as Life Reimagined, can be an affordable, approachable, and effective way to get connected to your purpose, goals, and dreams.

Once you choose a coach, the actual coaching “meetings” often take place over the phone or using a video connection, like Skype or Blue Jeans. This means you can work with your coach when and where it’s convenient for you. And you can work with a coach who is located anywhere there is a phone or computer connection.

Typically, you will have an initial meeting during which, you and your coach will get to know each other. You’ll set up a plan for your sessions and get clarity about what you want from coaching. After the first meeting, you’ll meet periodically to further explore your goals, and develop steps to achieve them.  Your coach will be your partner throughout the cycle of reflecting, clarifying, identifying, planning, and achieving the life you want. And when you’re ready, they will be your accountability partner to help remind you of the goals you’ve set for yourself.

The beauty of this is that you don’t need to have anything figured out before you connect with a coach. All you really need is the desire and willingness to share your story. Are you ready to gain clarity and live purposefully? Are you ready to be heard? If your answer is yes…then you’re ready for a coach.

Check out Life Reimagined and explore the coaching options available to you!

colin callahanPosted by Colin Callahan, Director of Coaching Services for Life Reimagined, where he is responsible for strategy, operations, and quality for coach offerings, including one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and live group workshops. Reach out to Colin through coaching@lifereimagined.org.