Archive for Support

Help Wounded Warrior Project

Living life to the fullest–despite traumatic brain injuries or loss of limb–that’s what Wounded Warrior Project is about. As of last fall, the Department of Defense reported 1,288 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn servicemembers with major traumatic amputations. Harder to diagnose but perhaps more prevalent is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Also of great concern is the “invisible” injury of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Our wounded warriors return home and find it difficult to walk, to climb the stairs to their bedrooms, to hug their children. Those with less visible injuries may also suffer from crippling headaches, erratic behavior, depression, and lack of focus. These heroes may have difficulty returning to a normal home and work life.

That’s where Wounded Warrior Project steps in:

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) takes a holistic approach when serving warriors and their families to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. Through a high-touch and interactive approach, WWP hopes to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.

Read more about how Wounded Warrior Project succeeds in its mission.

I am partnering with Brawny® to spread the word about how you can help these Wounded Warriors. Brawny is making a direct donation of $250,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® to benefit Wounded Warriors and their families. From May 1 through December 31, 2012, the maker of Brawny® paper towels will also donate $1 up to an additional $250,000 for every individual who joins us and shares their thanks for our nation’s heroes on the Brawny® Towels Facebook page (www.facebook.com/brawnytowels).

Help Brawny® reach their goal of $500,000 for Wounded Warrior Project by Veterans Day — they are just 2,874 likes away!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Brawny® Towels. All opinions are my own.

Real Military Spouses Know the Meaning of “Community”

If there is one thing I know about this wild journey as a military spouse, it is that I could never have done it alone.

When my husband took that bus ride to Basic Training in Fort Benning back in 2003, I felt so very alone. Here I was, in New York, surrounded by friends and family, at the start of a fulfilling career in teaching and I could barely sleepwalk through my day. What would my life be like? What was expected of me? What would I do? Could I keep working? Would I be able to do this…any of this?

So, I turned to what would soon be called “social media and networking”. I joined discussion boards and I found people like Katy Jane (aka Mommy CPA) and Homefront Six and so many others who I still chat with on Facebook almost a decade later.

My journey brought me to Fort Hood where I met the women who would stand by me and yes, sometimes even carry me, through the next four years. These are the women who would join me on my quest to find the best Thai food in Central Texas, select the perfect gown for the military balls, cry with me through deployment, swim with me while I did handstands in the pool at 38 weeks pregnant to try to turn the baby, and even drive me to the hospital when my water broke at 3 a.m.

During this time, I started this blog, my first blog, about the Military Spouse Experience, the “Army Wife Life”, before I ever knew there was such a thing as blogger communities, before I ever knew I would one day be paid to blog.

How much easier would this all have been if I had women like Krystel, publishing tips and telling it like it is on Army Wife 101 and RealMilitaryWives.TV, and Traci, sharing guidance for FRG leaders along with her personal journey on Fabulous Army Life.

To this day, it is these women I turn to when I need to know just about anything…from the mundane (how do I get stains out of my daughter’s tutu?), to the frivolous (does this dress hide my mommy belly?), to the essential (how do I get in touch with my husband during an emergency?). These are the women who will reassure me that if we’ve been through a deployment, we can do anything. And they are also the same women who will tell me that, um, maybe I need a new shade of make-up that doesn’t make me look like a ghost.

This is what Word of Mouth Marketing is about–real people, giving real advice. This is my Circle of Influencers…these are my friends.

As a part of the BlogFrog Influencer Circle, I have the chance to create meaningful, authentic content for brands I love. If you’re a blogger interested in new opportunities, join BlogFrog’s Influencer Circle and check out some of the top brands already working with BlogFrog.

If you’re a brand looking to work with online influencers, learn more about BlogFrog’s Brand Solutions here.

Now, I’m curious. What do you love most about blogs and blogging? How does social media and the connections you’ve made enrich your life?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogFrog. The opinions and text are all mine.

sendCheer to the Military

Growing up in New York, military service seemed a thing of the past: faded sepia-tinged photos of grandfathers in uniform, History Channel specials on the battles of World War II, and quaint propaganda posters urging apple-cheeked children to recycle tin cans.

Never would I have imagined that I would find myself married to an officer in the U.S. Army.

And yet, there I was.  One minute I was living in Manhattan, married to a lawyer at one of the top firms in New York City, and the next I found myself trying to find a decent Italian place near Fort Hood, Texas.

Once I got over the shock, I dove right in. I’d like to say it was altruistic but really it was a way to get my bearings. By volunteering as a Family Readiness Group leader and pitching in as part of various committees on post, I got a crash course on being part of the military family.

And that love returned to us many times over. While my husband was deployed to Iraq, he received hundreds of postcards and care packages. While a letter may seem like a small thing, knowing that people back at home appreciate you keeps many of our servicemembers going. Five years later, my husband still keeps a binder of each and every letter he received.

We are back in New York and my husband has returned to his law career. He still serves in the National Guard and we do what we can to return a small fraction of the support we received while he was active duty. Whether the kids are stuffing backpacks with their friends for the children of enlisted servicemembers or baking cookies and making Valentines or Veteran’s Day cards for our local veterans, we are grateful for the men and women of our military, past and present.

Cheerios has asked me to share how easy they have made it to “sendCheer” to military families as part of a partnership with the USO. All you have to do is cut out and mail postcards from specially marked Cheerios boxes. A military servicemember will get your thoughtful note and Cheerios will donate $1 for each card to the USO.

I want you to know that your recognition of those who serve is appreciated. A box of cookies, a package of toiletries, even a simple note reminds our warriors why they fight.

Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a sponsored charitable opportunity for Collective Bias.

Shake Hands with a Hero

Thank you to Procter & Gamble, Kroger and the USO for sponsoring this blog post and the Shake Hands With A Hero initiative. Please click here to learn more about this program. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I don’t just shake hands with a hero–my hero is my husband.It has been an honor and a privilege to support him in his service these past seven years.

Like other heroes, though, he will tell you he is just doing his duty.

He left his job as a litigator at a New York City law firm to enter basic training and later accept a commission as a field artillery officer. In December of 2005, he deployed to Iraq. For almost a year he led a mission into Baghdad almost every day, sometimes twice a day. He saw violence but he also bore witness to hope as he brought diplomats and dignitaries to see the situation on the ground for themselves.

Along the way, he missed Christmas and a year’s worth of Holidays and birthdays and celebrations.  He found out we were having our first child over the phone.  And he was not there for the birth of his first child.

He carried 90 pounds of gear in 140 degree weather and led men through a war zone because that is what his country asked of him.

But he never lost his sense of purpose and his humanity–or his willingness to amuse a child with a magic trick. And he never lost sight of his mission and he brought each and everyone of his soldiers home.

When our brave men and women of the armed forces put themselves in harm’s way, they are sacrificing their comfort and safety for our own.

They voluntarily leave their own warm homes, missing anniversaries, kids’ games and recitals, and even births, so that the rest of us do not have to.

Military service in today’s world is a choice, which is all the more reason to thank our soldiers.  They could choose to be doing just about anything else–but instead they are on the front lines of freedom, fighting the battles our elected civilian leaders have chosen.

While my husband was deployed, he was “adopted” by a number of members of Soldier’s Angels.  They sent him so many postcards and letters, all of which he filed in a giant binder that we still keep today.

A postcard, a handshake, an e-mail may seem like a small thing.  To someone who is far from home, though, these gestures let them know that their sacrifices are appreciated.

Today’s warriors don’t fight for land or treasure or glory–they fight for you.

As part of their partnership with the USO, Kroger and Procter & Gamble P&G have created an opportunity to let consumers virtually “shake hands with a hero” – the proper custom to show your gratitude to US soldiers in uniform to thank them for their service to our country. The first 50,000 people who utilize the microsite application (at www.honoringourheroes.com) to shake a soldier’s hand will receive a coupon (loaded to their Kroger Plus Card) for $1 off P&G products.

Grow Where You Are Planted (Ask Molly)

seedlingI’ve been asked this question so many times that I cannot believe I have never written a post. In the comments, reader Desirae asks:

I need some help from all you other army wives out there… When I got told that being an army wife was one of the hardest jobs in the military, I didn’t really believe it. That is until I married my husband! I now have a new respect for all the women that have been doing this for years. I myself am a newly wed. Yep, as of October 2nd this year! But being away from him for these long periods of time is KILLING me. So can anyone make a few suggestions as to how I can start to deal with this a little bit better? I’m pretty lost. I think I’d really love an answer from anybody willing to give me ANY kind of suggestion! THANX!!!

Whether you are moving to a new country, an isolated posting, or your service member is deploying, I advise you to “grow where you are planted“.

Get involved, get busy.  Or, as Tim Gunn says, “make it work“.

Reach out to other military spouses. Find deployment support groups, try the FRG, volunteer on post.  Most posts have a community center where you will find postings for groups, classes, seminars and events.

You can also find other spouses online on military spouse community sites and bulletin boards.  And head online to meet people locally, too.  I’ve used meet-up to find kindred spirits.

Get involved in the community off post, too. Find things that interest you. Join clubs, take classes, get a job (if you don’t already have one), volunteer, go to concerts, etc.  Whatever your hobby or passion, you can find kindred spirits. Even in the smallest, most isolated post, you will find people making art, playing music, enjoying conversation, learning and living.

Consider your spiritual life.  If you are religious, this may be a good time to deepen your connection with your faith-based community.  If you are not religious, seek out other sources of positive energy for you.  This can be as simple as keeping a 10 minute “tea time” for yourself every day.

Stay away from negative people and drama that saps your energy. Focus on activities that give you strength and enjoyment.

This helps the days pass quicker and also gives you things to talk about with your spouse.  When you reunite, you will be glad that you also had new experiences that challenged you and helped you grow as a person.

At home, alone, at night, though, I find can be particularly lonely. I would use this time to write letters to my husband and put together care packages. This way I was doing something positive for him and our relationship.

I’d never say it is easy, but if you approach deployment with a positive attitude, you’ll find it goes quicker and easier!

What are your tips for making the time apart pass more quickly?

Photo credit: Seedling

Valentine’s Love for Veterans, Soldiers, Military

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valentinesShow our troops (and vets) some love on Valentine’s Day!

Veterans

To send Valentines to Veterans, you can locate a facility through the VA Home Page. This is a great project to do with kids! If you have a facility nearby, you can call and ask if you can deliver them in person. And I also found this site for sending Valentines to Canadian Veterans.

Stars and Stripes Valentines

The deadline for printed Valentines in Stars and Stripes is January 26; if you miss it, you can still get in the online Valentine’s section. I sent one a few years ago for the print version for DH and he loved it.

Care Packages

When my husband was deployed, I sent him a picnic in a box. What have you sent/are sending? Share your tips!!!

Nestle has some Tips for Sending Baked Goods. Others suggest adding a slice of bread to absorb excess moisture and wrapping in tin foil. I’ve also heard that Pringles containers make for good packaging. I found a food sealer was awesome for cookies, but squished the brownies too much.

Agencies and Organizations

Soldier’s Angels and Any Soldier can match you with a soldier. Businesses, groups, and schools may want to consider Adopting a Platoon.

USO Operation Care Package enables you to make a donation–they pack and ship for you and you can still send a personal message with your package.

Please add some other ways to show our troops some Valentine’s love!

Photo Credit: Valentine’s Day

Army National Guard Family Readiness Group

If you are National Guard, I’d love to hear about your Family Readiness Group.

While my husband was active duty, I ran one FRG long-distance (during his OCS–and we were spread out throughout the country) and was the co-leader for another (while his unit was deployed).

During the last year he has been in the National Guard. No one has contacted me about any sort of family group, although I received some general information about the National Guard family programs when DH first joined his unit. They seemed interested in volunteers, but only mentioned something about me going to a training program and that was the last I heard of it.

Now DH is about to take command. His unit is not slated to deploy as a unit during his command. I’m not sure what, if any, contact from me would be desirable for the families. A simple letter just so you know my name and contact information should you ever want to reach me? An invitation to a family day? Monthly e-mail updates about the unit’s training?

So, any insight from y’all would be much appreciated. Feel free to answer whichever questions you like and add your own thoughts:

Have you been contacted by an FRG representative?

If so, was that representative military personnel, a civilian employee, or a family volunteer?

Is your spouse deployed/deploying?

Is your spouse’s NG unit deploying as a unit?

Are there events (Holiday Parties, Picnics, etc.) hosted for families in your spouse’s unit and, if so, have you attended? Why or why not?

Would you attend family events if you were available on that date? Why or why not?

What would you like to see from an NG FRG while your spouse is stateside?

What about while your spouse is deployed?

What information would you like to receive in a letter from your spouse’s commander and/or the FRG leader?

A Prize for Military Supporters (USO Donation in Your Honor, The Sandbox, and a Bracelet)

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USO PatchI have a great time participating in the Bloggy Giveaways, and the last few times, I’ve given a military book. Frankly, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of contest entrants who popped over to enter either for themselves, or for those they know who are in need of some moral support.

This time, I was trying to think of something that was military related but would have a broader audience.

So, here’s the prize–a military supporter pack:

To enter, leave me a comment by 11:59 PM, Friday April 25th about how you show support for our troops–or leave a supportive message for our troops! Put your e-mail in the e-mail field and I’ll be able to reach you but it won’t be publicly visible. I’ll ship to any US, Canadian, or US Military address.



If you’d like to enter more contests, check out
The Bloggy Giveaways Carnival, this contest post is part of that carnival!

On my personal blog, I’m giving away a copy of Deceptively Delicious.

Also, we have lots of contests on Mamanista, my baby gear review blog.

What to Expect When You Are Expecting a New Soldier: Ft. Benning Graduation (Ask Molly)

A Reader Asks:

Hi, I saw your blog you posted a while ago about being an army wife. I was looking on google to find information on family day and graduation. My fiance is in Ft Benning right now at basic. When do you first get to see them? While you are sitting in the stands or before that? And then after they are dismissed on family day, how long do we get to spend with them. Also, do they get to spend the night with us, or do they have to go back that night? Then after graduation the next day, do we get to spend the day with them? Or even a couple days? I hope you can answer my questions. I would really appreciate it. Feel free to say anything else also. Thank you

Like everything else with the military, your mileage may vary (YMMV). A lot depends on the AIT your husband is attending, when it starts, and the specific command.

I would not expect any overnight passes. However, I have heard tell of some soldiers receiving 36 hour passes following graduation when their AIT was not set to begin right away. Do not count on it though, most likely he will be in transit to AIT the day after graduation.

Soldiers with visiting adult family members will get day passes (meaning they have to be back that night) following both family day and graduation–please note, however, that to the Army you do not yet qualify as a “family member.” So, a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian would have to sign your soldier out.

You may want to read my experience of family day and graduation. I describe when I first saw him and how much time we had together and where we spent our family time. Keep in mind this was about five years ago and my husband was going on to an OCS class that did not start for a while. My guess, though, is that your family day and graduation ceremony experience will be very similar.

Visit military family forums, like the forums hosted by Military.com, and you may find someone with a more recent experience to relate.

In terms of advice, I would recommend getting a hotel room for at least both nights because you’ll probably want a private place to sit and relax and your soldier may even want a short nap. Ft. Benning has good, inexpensive lodging, (Ft. Benning Lodging) but sometimes it is difficult to reserve a room. They were in the process of renovating and the rooms they had already fixed up were quite nice–one time I got a room with a sitting room and efficiency kitchen. They do keep some rooms available for “day of” walk-ins, but you’ll want to make sure you have a back-up plan.

The key is to avoid staying on Victory Drive. Victory Drive is that unsavory main road that seems to be located near almost every military post. Don’t choose a hotel on Victory Drive and you should be fine.

I found the La Quinta in Columbus, GA, to be very adequate and one of the closer, decent but inexpensive choices. There are plenty of decent options off the highway a few exits north of the central Columbus area.

There is also a very nice Marriot, that does sometimes offer military rates, right in the small, historic center of Columbus, GA, and some bed and breakfast places if you are looking for something more luxe. However, keep in mind that there is a good chance your soldier will not be able to stay overnight with you.

Your soldier will probably be most interested in you, a nap, caffeine, and a good meal. Let him take the lead about how he’d like to spend his little bit of free time.

I’ll leave you with the official word from one of the Basic Training commands at Ft. Benning (I bolded some of the text):

Family Day
The day before graduation, normally Wednesday, the battalion commander meets with friends and family members at their unit to discuss your soldier’s recent experiences and answer your questions. You will also meet the drill sergeants that trained your soldier and observe some demonstrations of soldier skills. Most importantly, you will meet with your soldier.

That afternoon graduating soldiers with visiting adult family members (spouse, parents, grandparents or legal guardians) may receive an on-post pass on Family Day and following graduation until a time determined by the chain of command. While on pass soldiers must remain in uniform and are not allowed to drive vehicles, drink any form of alcoholic beverages or use any tobacco products.

Graduation Day
Graduation is the following day, usually on Thursday at Pomeroy Field. The ceremony is at 10:00 a.m. from October through March and 09:00 a.m. from April through September. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place at the Regimental Chapel and the time schedule may change to accommodate more than one ceremony.

Day After Graduation
The day after graduation soldiers will usually not be allowed to go on pass. This day is designated as a travel day for their follow on Advance Individual Training (AIT).

Class Schedule
Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) manages class schedules.

* FY 2008
* FY 2009

Note: Graduation dates shown here are subject to change. Soldiers are afforded the opportunity to contact families with actual graduation dates/times for travel planning purposes.

Valentine’s Day Love for Soldiers, Veterans, and Other Warriors

Veterans

To send Valentines to Veterans, you can locate a facility through the VA Home Page. This is a great project to do with kids! If you have a facility nearby, you can call and ask if you can deliver them in person.

Stars and Stripes Valentines

The deadline (late January) for printed Valentines in Stars and Stripes has passed, but you can still get in the online Valentine’s section. I sent one two years ago for the print version for DH and he loved it.

Care Packages

Here’s the care package I sent my soldier while he was deployed during Valentine’s Day. What have you sent/are sending? Share your tips!!!

Nestle has some Tips for Sending Baked Goods. Others suggest adding a slice of bread to absorb excess moisture and wrapping in tin foil. I’ve also heard that Pringles containers make for good packaging. I found a food sealer was awesome for cookies, but squished the brownies too much.

Agencies and Organizations

Soldier’s Angels and Any Soldier can match you with a soldier. Businesses, groups, and schools may want to consider Adopting a Platoon.

USO Operation Care Package enables you to make a donation–they pack and ship for you and you can still send a personal message with your package.

Please add some other ways to show our troops some Valentine’s love that we can either do this year or put on our calendar for next year!