Operation Coming Home Gifts War Veteran with Mattamy Home

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Service-disabled war veteran stands with family and friends in side the livingroom of his new home

The recipient of Hero Home 23, Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew Polizzi was surprised with the ultimate gift, just in time for Christmas.

Polizzi and his family have been selected to receive a brand new Mattamy home for free through Operation Coming Home.

Polizzi served for fourteen years, deployed four times, and received the Purple Heart from an injury in Afghanistan. Together, Polizzi and his wife have three children, all under the age of 10. For the past 10 years, they have constantly moved, having lived in eight different homes during the time span.

Operation Coming Home has been building Hero Homes since 2008 in Wake County through a partnership with the Home Builders Association of Raleigh and Wake County and the US Veterans Corps.

“Since Operation Coming Home began in 2008, our team has had the privilege to support and contribute to this exceptional cause,” said Bob Wiggins, President of Mattamy’s Raleigh Division. “Operation Coming Home is a project that the Mattamy team in Raleigh is very passionate about. It is an amazing feeling being able to give something as special as a home to individuals who have risked their lives to protect our freedom.”

Mattamy Homes will build Hero Home 23, located in one of the Division’s newest communities, Oak Park in Garner, North Carolina. This is the second home donated by Mattamy Homes and the 10th from the Royal Oaks team, which was acquired by Mattamy Homes in 2017.

“The Polizzi family’s new home will be conveniently located in the desirable area of White Oak,” said Donna Kemp, Vice President of Sales for Mattamy Homes. “We’ve chosen a beautiful home site for the family, and they get to come in and choose all design selections and personalize the home just for them. It’s humbling and extremely rewarding to give back, especially to a deserving veteran and his family. To be able to provide a life changing gift such as a home is an amazing feeling.”

Polizzi and his unit were on a security patrol in Afghanistan in 2010 when they came under heavy enemy fire. Polizzi quickly created and detonated a bomb that saved his entire unit, allowing them to pass only later to come under fire again. Polizzi was shot in the leg. He was treated for five weeks at an airbase, then finished his deployment.

The Polizzi family’s new home is anticipated to begin construction in February 2021 and be ready for move-in during the summer of 2021.

About Operation Coming Home

Operation Coming Home (OCH) is a partnership between members of the Triangle Veterans Association (TVA) and the Home Builders Association of Raleigh/Wake County. Made up of Veterans and non-Veterans, this team is honoring the sacrifices of the severely wounded Veterans of recent Middle Eastern Wars by building custom homes for them, at no charge.

About Mattamy Homes

Mattamy Homes is the largest privately owned homebuilder in North America, with 40-plus years of history across the United States and Canada. Every year, Mattamy helps more than 8,000 families realize their dream of home ownership. In the United States, the company is represented in 11 markets – Dallas, Charlotte, Raleigh, Phoenix, Tucson, Jacksonville, Orlando (where its US head office is located), Tampa, Sarasota, Naples and Southeast Florida – and in Canada, its communities stretch across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. Visit www.mattamyhomes.com for more information.

1st Female Sailor Completes Navy Special Warfare Training

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For the first time, a female sailor has successfully completed the grueling 37-week training course to become a Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman — the boat operators who transport Navy SEALs and conduct their own classified missions at sea.

Navy officials said they would not identify the woman or provide more details on her — a routine military policy for special operations forces.
She was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins on Thursday. She is also the first of 18 women who have tried out for a job as a SWCC or a SEAL to succeed.

The sailor’s graduation marks just the latest inroad that women have made into some of the military’s most difficult and competitive commando jobs — just five years after all combat posts were opened to them. She will now head to one of Naval Special Warfare’s three special boat teams.

“Becoming the first female to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, the commander of Naval Special Warfare. “Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.”

“She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms to deliver distinctive capabilities to our Navy, and the joint force in defense of the nation,” Howard added.

Of the 18 females who have sought a Navy special operations job, 14 did not complete the course. Three of them, however, are currently still in the training pipeline, one for SWCC and two attempting to become SEALs. Overall, according to the Navy, only about 35 percent of the men and women who begin the training for SWCC actually graduate.

A year ago, a female soldier became the first woman to complete the Army’s elite Special Forces course and join one of the all-male Green Beret teams. One other female soldier has finished training and will report to her assigned Special Forces group next month, and another will be attending the Military Freefall School next month, and then will report to her team.

So far, no women have successfully completed Marine special operations training. Marine spokesman Maj. Hector Infante said that since August 2016, nine females have attempted to get through the assessment and selection process. He said two candidates made it through the second phase, but didn’t meet performance expectations and, along with a number of male counterparts, didn’t get selected to continue.

He said that only about 40 percent of the more than 1,200 Marines who went through the course since 2016 successfully completed it.

Continue on to Military.com to read the original article.

The Importance of Listening to Our Veterans

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Ten years ago, I toured the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, with a group of World War II veterans, including Charles Utz. We stopped at the rear of a B-17 bomber, and Charles began talking.

He told me of being shot down on Christmas Eve 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a tail gunner, and the plane was in flames. But the trapdoor in the tail was stuck.

“It wouldn’t budge,” he explained. “I could see the flames growing around the engines and knew it was just a matter of minutes until they reached the fuel tank. I said to God, ‘If You let me out of here, I promise to spend my life serving You and man . . . ‘”

Charles’ voice trailed off, and his eyes brimmed with tears. “And that’s what’s always bothered me,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve lived up to that promise.”

Charles is among the tens of thousands of veterans who have shared their stories with us at the Veterans Breakfast Club. As a historian, I thought that holding veteran storytelling events would be a way to learn history from the people who lived it. I didn’t know that simple acts of listening would draw us so close so quickly and hold such therapeutic value . . . for them and me. For older veterans especially, sharing their stories is the last stop on their Hero’s Journeys.

One of the most difficult phases of the Hero’s Journey is the Return. In myth, the Hero often refuses to deliver the Grail, to bring back the knowledge gained on adventure. The Hero remains detached and alienated or enters a “deep forgetting,” unable to integrate extraordinary experiences abroad into ordinary life back home. Think of the veteran who comes back and never talks about it.

Old age provides the last chance to accomplish this integrative task.

Storytelling is the most powerful and public form of integrating past experience and gifting it to younger generations. Our veterans, I discovered, are eager to tell their stories when they know there are listeners prepared to hear them. Helping veterans complete their mission should be our mission as citizens.

Listening is hard in today’s noisy and strident social media culture. It takes a quiet mind and open heart, full attention and reserved judgement. It also takes patience. Veterans’ stories usually don’t unfold neatly in one sitting. Most have an open, searching quality, like Charles Utz’s. Meaning is revealed haltingly over time, often with struggle.

But if you, as a listener, can quiet the noise and coax a veteran through their story, you can receive a life-changing gift in return, something best summed up as wisdom.

Gaining wisdom is like earning a Medal of Honor. No one in their right mind would ever court the circumstances required to receive it. Both are granted through suffering, loss, sacrifice, and service to something greater than yourself. All of us have the capacity for wisdom, but few want to pay the price. Old age will lead us there eventually, if we allow it to.

War has the power to force wisdom upon its fighters all at once. It quickens the process by hurtling young men and women through a premature reckoning with their own mortality. If the warrior can accept the self-transformation wrought by war, then they can bring back to the world exceptional insight, perspective, and a deepened understanding of what really matters.

The veterans I’ve met at the Veterans Breakfast Club are humbler than the rest of us, more grateful for what they have, less distressed by grievance, and more dedicated to serving others. They are people of wonder, awe, and compassion. If you surround yourself with such persons, their qualities can rub off and attach to you like flecks of gold dust.

Charles Utz needed help completing the Journey that began in the tail of that B-17 in 1944. I helped simply by listening and prompting him to finish his story. In doing so, I got to reflect on how I might choose to live if I’d suddenly been granted another shot at life.

I invite everyone to take a moment to listen to our veterans share their stories. You’ll grow from the experience and may even discover your own Hero within, capable of wrestling open your own trapdoor and crossing the threshold into a new world.

By Todd DePastino

Todd DePastino is the founding director of Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC), a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to creating communities of listening around veterans and their stories to ensure that this living history will never be forgotten. As a historian, Todd is author and editor of seven books, including the award-winning Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (W.W. Norton), a biography of the famed WWII cartoonist. He has a PH.D. in American History from Yale University and has taught at Penn State Beaver and Waynesburg University, where he received the Lucas-Hathaway Award for Teaching Excellence. Learn more about VBC and its mission at www.veteransbreakfastclub.org

Above and Beyond: The lives of a veteran’s family are changed after receiving assistance from DAV

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The Nutt family smiling outside their home with US flag in background

By: Matt Saintsing

When Sarah Nutt contacted DAV (Disabled American Veterans) last May, she hoped her husband, Gary, an Air Force veteran, would be eligible for some much-needed additional compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. DAV is a nonprofit organization that helps more than one million veterans each year get the life-changing benefits they deserve.

Finances had become so bleak in the years after Gary stopped working due to illness that Sarah would trim expenses by routinely cutting his hair. There was rarely cash for extra food or gas. And medical and dental insurance was a luxury they couldn’t afford. “There was no money for anything other than the bare necessities,” said Sarah. “That’s why we were reaching out so desperately.”

What she didn’t bank on, however, was DAV helping the family obtain much more than the modest $150 per month she was hoping for, substantially increasing Gary’s VA rating and even connecting their daughter, Sadie, with educational benefits for eligible dependents.

Years before, Gary got to see the world serving as an aircraft electrical and environmental systems mechanic, traveling to Germany, Spain and the Philippines. But it was his service in the Persian Gulf War that sparked a medical mystery.

After spending just over six months at King Abdulaziz Air Base in Saudi Arabia, Gary began to experience excruciating headaches while stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. “I bent over to open up my locker on base, and after standing up, I had a splitting headache,” said Gary, a DAV life member of Chapter 7 in North Little Rock, Arkansas, “the worst I’ve ever had in my life.” Doctors said he had a sinus infection, but the medication they offered provided no relief.

“They gave me some pills that didn’t work, so I went back and they gave me some more pills that didn’t work,” added Gary. “Nothing really seemed to help.” Moments of intense anguish persisted after Gary left the Air Force, which led doctors to temporarily remove part of his skull, hoping to end the agony. Shortly after that, he began having seizures. As the years passed, Gary’s symptoms became worse.

The headaches continued, but other worries appeared: slowed speech and a steep and gradual decline in Gary’s reaction time. As more tasks took him longer to complete, the air conditioning repair company Gary worked for considered him a hazard to the workplace. “They had laid me off because I got to the point where I was really slow,” said Gary. “I got there at 5 every day, I worked as hard as I could, but they said I was more of a liability than an asset.”

“Everything slowed down,” added Sarah, “to the point where I had to help him do anything.” A stay-at-home mom, Sarah began caring for him full time, and Gary’s VA compensation at the time was not enough to cover their expenses. With Gary out of work since 2016, they slipped further into financial distress. However, their tide turned after Sarah called DAV National Service Officer Lindsay Kinslow, who was confident she could significantly increase Gary’s overall VA rating.

“They were really adamant about the $150 that comes with aid and attendance benefits,” said Kinslow, who works at the DAV national service office in Washington, D.C. “And I said, ‘Well, maybe we can get you a little bit more than that.’” Kinslow submitted the claim last June, which opened the floodgates of VA appointments for Gary—six in two months—to reassess his health. By staying in constant communication with Sarah, Kinslow learned the scope of the Nutts’ financial anxieties extended to their home, which they were close to losing.

So when Sarah got the call last October and learned about everything Kinslow had secured for Gary, she broke out in tears. “It was just such a huge blessing and a relief,” said Sarah. “When [Sarah] told me Gary had to quit working due to this condition, I knew for sure that would lead to an increase,” added Kinslow.

In all, Gary became a permanent and total service-connected disabled veteran, with the special compensation Sarah originally asked about.

With the increased funds, they were able to get a new vehicle, and for the first time in four years, Gary received a professional haircut. But the most unexpected benefit the Nutts received was the VA educational benefits available to survivors and dependents of eligible veterans. With that added benefit, their daughter Sadie will be able to recoup some of the money she spent while enrolled in cosmetology school. “We are just so thankful to Lindsay and DAV,” added Sarah.

“I know money isn’t the most important thing, but it can be very hard to live.”

To get help or learn more about how DAV helps veterans, visit DAV.org.

Biden administration formally launches effort to return deported veterans to U.S.

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The Biden administration unveiled plans Friday to bring hundreds, possibly thousands, of deported veterans and their immediate family members back to the United States, saying their removal “failed to live up to our highest values.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered his department’s immigration agencies to “immediately” take steps to ensure that military families may return to the United States. He said the department would also halt pending deportation proceedings against veterans or their immediate relatives who are in the United States, and clear the way for those who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes the profound commitment and sacrifice that service members and their families have made to the United States of America,” Mayorkas said in a statement Friday. “We are committed to bringing back military service members, veterans, and their immediate family members who were unjustly removed and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they may be entitled.

President Biden had promised on the campaign trail to direct DHS during his first 100 days in office to stop targeting veterans and their families for deportation and to create a process for veterans deported by the Trump administration to return to the United States.

Veterans advocates have expressed concern in recent weeks that few veterans or their relatives have returned, while others remained in deportation proceedings. Many deported veterans also say they have been unable to access benefits such as health care from overseas.

In a memo Friday, the heads of DHS’s immigration agencies said they will review policies to ensure that military veterans and their relatives are “welcome to remain in or return to the United States.” Officials said they would also work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department to ensure that veterans can access their health benefits, including coronavirus vaccinations, and that recruits can take the oath of citizenship, including while at basic training.

DHS will establish a “Military Resource Center” online with a toll-free number and email address to help families with their immigration applications.

Read the complete article on The Washington Post.

Small Business Loans & Grants for Disabled Veterans

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According to recent statistics, there are almost 17.5 million veterans in the United States. Of these veterans, 4 million of them are suffering from a service-related injury with disability ratings ranging from 10% and above. Meanwhile, there are 13 million who have received disability ratings for non-service-related injuries.

This means the majority of them are suffering from one form of disability or another. That’s why it’s really not surprising, and incredibly critical, that there are a lot of small business loans and grants for disabled veterans in the U.S., especially for those who are thinking of starting a business.

Here are some of them:

Small Business Association Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan

This is one of the most popular programs that the Small Business Association (or SBA) offers, and for good reason. It offers a low-down payment and more flexible payment options. SBA also offers a counterpart of this loan program for non-veterans, but they will not be able to enjoy the discounted rates and other privileges provided to veterans.

StreetShares Foundation

StreetShares Foundation is an organization that was specifically established to help veteran business owners. They have various loans and financing programs. In fact, they even award grants to veterans who qualify for their reward opportunities annually.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program

This is technically not a loan or financing program; however, it will still prove to your advantage to apply for it. This government program seeks to assist veteran-owned small businesses by doing business with them in the form of government contracts.

All you need to do is to get your business registered through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (or OSDBU). This will add your startup to their roster of small businesses to call upon if they found themselves in need of the products and services that you offer.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants

The best thing we love about grants is that you won’t have to repay them anymore. You are not getting this money for free, though. You will be required to follow the terms of the money provided. Not to mention that it can be quite difficult to get approved given the number of applicants each year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehab and Employment Ownership Track

Here’s a program that is specifically designed for veterans with disabilities. In fact, you must have a disability that serves as an employment barrier in order to qualify for it. We highly recommend this program, especially for those who have a high disability rating.

Small Business Administration Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program

This is closely similar to the OSDBU program wherein qualified businesses will be granted an opportunity to qualify for contracts that can, in turn, reap revenue. The only difference, though, is that these contracts will not strictly come from the government.

Increasing Your Chances

The programs we have listed above are definitely not the only ones that are available out there. There are a lot of government offices, organizations and even companies that offer financing aid to disabled veterans.

The ones that we have featured above are simply the most popular choices, and thus, more easily accessible. However, please feel free to research your options further.

In the meantime, allow us to share with you tips on how to increase your chances of qualifying for any program that you wish:

  • Always check the eligibility requirements. Don’t waste your time getting the paperwork ready and waiting for a response. Make sure that you are eligible from the get-go by verifying your eligibility.
  • Take care of your business credit history. Most of you are probably researching loans and grants to start your business. This doesn’t mean that existing business owners won’t qualify for these programs anymore. Quite the contrary, it is easier for a small business with an excellent business credit history to get accepted to these programs.
  • Stay organized. There is a lot of paperwork required for any loan or grant application. Those with existing businesses already are typically required to present business and personal tax returns for at least the past three years. Other requirements may also include financial statements, business certificates and business plans, among other important documents.
  • Find out your exact need. Finally, you should determine where you are going to use your loan or grant money and how much before even thinking of applying to a program. In this way, you will be able to make sure that the program you’re applying for and its benefits will be enough for your needs. It will also come in handy during interviews.

We hope that you have found our information helpful in finding the program that your small business requires to take flight. It is the least we can do in exchange for the service you have provided. Good luck!

Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics and business topics for about 3 years. At the moment he works as content manager in OpenCashAdvance.com.

10 Activities You May Not Know That Help With PTSD

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Two young beekepers in protective uniform working on a small apiary farm, getting honeycomb from the wooden beehive

By Kat Castagnoli, Managing Editor, DiversityComm, Inc.

More than 350 million war survivors around the globe suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, according to a 2019 report by the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

And while there are many types of psychotherapy treatments, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and medication that can help treat PTSD, did you know that caring for bees, taking a swim with dolphins and donning a pair of hockey skates can help as well?

In honor of PTSD Awareness Month, we compiled a list of 10 activities and programs you may not have thought of that can help veterans, servicemembers and their families cope with PTSD:

  1. Horseback Riding – Stable Strides

StableStrides (stablestrides.org), based in the large military community of Colorado Springs, Colo., provides equine therapy for veterans, active duty servicemembers and military families. The non-profit promotes positive physical, behavioral, cognitive, emotional and social development by fostering a connection with horses.

  1. Beekeeping – Hives for Heroes

Hives for Heroes (hivesforheroes.com) is a national non-profit organization based in Houston, Tx., comprised of beekeepers and veterans that focus on honey bee conservation, suicide prevention and a healthy transition from service.

  1. Cycling – Petal Against PTSD

Pedal Against PTSD (paptsd.org) aims to raise awareness regarding the severity of PTSD and to share the benefits that the sport of cycling brings to all military veterans and their families. The organization is recognized in all 50 states, as well as certain countries overseas, and seeks to provides vets with quality bicycles, create a strong community outreach program and contribute funds back to the research and development of PTSD.

  1. Service Dog Training – Warrior Canine Connection

Warrior Canine Connection (warriorcanineconnection.org) is a Boyds, Md.-based organization that enlists recovering warriors in a therapeutic mission of training a dog from puppyhood to adulthood on how to become a service dog for fellow veterans with disabilities. As a result, Warrior trainers benefit from a physiological and psychological animal-human connection.

  1. Scuba Diving – Waves Project

The Waves Project (wavesproject.org) in Temecula, Calif., was established to help wounded veterans experience the freedom and challenge of scuba diving. The organization believes the unique properties of an aquatic environment are ideal for wounded veterans as they rehabilitate from various injuries, including amputations, spinal cord injuries, Traumatic Brain Injuries and PTSD.

  1. Surfing – Warrior Surf

Warrior Surf Foundation (warriorsurf.org) is a nonprofit program in Folly Beach, SC, that works to provide free surf therapy, wellness coaching, yoga and community to veterans struggling with PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

  1. Yoga – Veterans Yoga Project

The Veterans Yoga Project (veteransyogaproject.org) in Alameda, Calif., teaches over 100 free yoga classes each week for veterans and their families in order to improve the overall health and wellbeing of all veterans, whether they are currently struggling with severe symptoms or are focused on increasing resilience and giving back to others.

  1. Swimming with Dolphins – Island Dolphin Care

The Key Largo, Fla.-based Island Dolphin Care (islanddolphincare.org) provides a unique, dolphin-assisted therapy program for veterans, military personnel, caregivers, family members and Gold Star spouses, children and parents. Each program is tailored to meet the needs of the participants and there is no cost for veterans to participate.

  1. Bird Keeping – Parrots for Patriots

Many veterans have gained new meaning in life by taking in abandoned birds that have been trained and donated by Parrots for Patriots (parrotsforpatriots.org) – a non-profit organization located in Vancouver, Washington that matches unwanted or abandoned parrots with any veteran desiring companionship. To qualify, veterans pay a $25 application fee and agree to home visits and a training session before their adoptions are approved.

  1. Hockey – Veterans Hockey United

The mission of Veterans Hockey United (veteranshockeyunited.com) is to bring the veteran, military and first responder community together to grow the game of hockey through no-cost player and team registration. The organization’s focus is on providing a positive outlet to raise awareness on suicide prevention, end the stigma of PTSD and mental health issues, and perform fundraising in support of Gold Star families.

About DiversityComm

DiversityComm, Inc. (DCI) is the proud publisher of six nationally recognized diversity focused magazines: Black EOE Journal, HISPANIC Network Magazine, Professional WOMAN’s Magazine, U.S. Veterans Magazine, Diversity in STEAM Magazine and DIVERSEability Magazine. We are dedicated to inform, educate, employ and provide equal opportunity within corporate America in order to create a more diverse workplace. For more information, visit www.diversitycomm.net

Tips for New Military Spouses

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If you’ve recently married into the military, or you or your spouse has just joined, you may be feeling both nervous and excited about the future.

During the adjustment period, spouses take on new roles, adapt to new schedules and learn new ways of handling many of life’s obstacles. To successfully do so, it’s helpful to know about the military spouse support available to you.

What’s on the installation

Your installation Military and Family Support Center is a good place to start for anything from local recreational opportunities and a personalized introduction to installation services including spouse career and employment opportunities, personal financial management classes, activities for children and families, military spouse resources and more.

Staying positive during a deployment

The power of being positive, along with a little help from friends and family, can make time apart from your partner your time to shine. Follow our tips to stay positive and make that time go by just a little bit faster.

Living on an installation for the first time

You may experience many emotions if you’re planning to live on an installation for the first time as a military spouse. While it’s perfectly understandable to feel some uncertainty, there are several ways to ensure the transition is a success:

  • Be proactive and keep a positive attitude. Take advantage of opportunities offered to you on the installation.
  • Get your children involved in activities. The installation youth center offers a wide range of sports, activities, events and social clubs. This is also a great way to meet other parents.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Other families are getting used to the new installation too.
  • Participate in military community activities. Pay attention to upcoming events and join in the fun. You can try new things and meet new people at the same time.

Stay in touch with the military spouse online community

You might be amazed at what you can accomplish on your own and with a little help from other military spouses. The Blog Brigade is the place to read about tips from other military spouses around the world.

Spouse education and career opportunities

Continuing your education or advancing your career when you’re constantly on the move can be tough. But there are many employment and education resources that are only available to military spouses.

  • Whether you’re in need of help writing a resume or simply deciding what career is best for you, the MySECO website is your one-stop shop. MySECO provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.
  • Depending on your individual interests and skills, there are many job opportunities available to you. Get your resume ready and explore what’s out there, on and off the installation.
  • There certain preferences for military spouses when applying for Department of Defense civilian jobs. With the help of the Military Spouse Preference Program, you can build your career as you move with the military.
  • If your job requires a professional license or certification and you move due to a permanent change of station, you can apply for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of re-licensure or certification fees from your service branch.

Working overseas

A move overseas can shake up your world as new possibilities and experiences await you. Finding a job overseas as a military spouse presents a unique set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you with your search:

Confidential non-medical counseling

Both Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer services for life situations, such as coping with deployments.

Having a baby when your partner is deployed

When your partner is deployed, there are ways to bridge the distance before and after your child’s birth.

  • Enroll in the right TRICARE region.
  • Enroll in childbirth classes at your installation’s hospital or military treatment facility.
  • Get a medical power of attorney. Choose someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the unlikely event medical staff can’t get your or your partner’s consent. Visit your legal assistance office for more information.
  • Familiarize yourself with local Red Cross procedures. This way, when you go into labor you can have your medical provider notify your partner.

When you become your spouse’s caregiver

When your spouse is severely injured or has a debilitating illness, you face the prospect of starting a whole new chapter of your life—one you hadn’t expected. Becoming your spouse’s caregiver presents a unique set of challenges that can affect you emotionally and physically, and can often seem overwhelming. Read about common reactions to becoming a caregiver, resources for support and tips on taking care of yourself throughout the caregiving process.

All military jobs take dedication, and being a military spouse is no different. We hope this list of resources can help you through any challenges that may arise along the way.

Source:  militaryonesource.mil

American Heroes

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Jeff Bosley wearing his Green Beret hat and in military uniform

By Annie Nelson

Tall, dark, and handsome describes the former Green Beret turned firefighter and now actor Jeff Bosley. You’ve seen him on the screen in Take Point, Seal Team, Ray Donovan, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He plays Nomad in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops III. He’s a true-life hero who served in the Special Forces–a secret society of the nation’s finest warriors that nobody knows, ones who are in it for the honor but never get the glory.

So how on earth did this Idaho native go from down-home good ol’ boy to badass Special Forces guy to a first responder …and then finally settle in the land of make believe? Join me as I learn a bit about Jeff–how he got to where he is today and where he’s headed.

Tell me a little about why you chose to go into the Army, then on to Special Forces …. what are some of your best memories from those years?

It was a convoluted journey, to be honest.  I have some random cousins and uncles who served, but I didn’t come from one of those heavily populated military families.  I spent many years chasing college degrees because that’s what I assumed you are supposed to do.  Then, after 9/11, I still resisted the urge to serve.  I had always wanted to, but the longer I put it off, the more hesitant I became.  I look back and think it was an odd fear of leaving the comfort of the normal life I had finally carved out.  Finally, when I was nearing 30, I decided if I didn’t do it, I would forever regret it.

I chose Special Forces right out of the gate because I’d always wanted to serve and once I finally did, I knew I wanted to be in the Special Forces community: All or None.

How was your transition out of the military? How did you choose firefighting?

It wasn’t too bad.  Thanks to so much college prior to serving, my transition into the civilian world wasn’t too bad when it came to interviews and resume writing, etc.  I was actually in the middle of ETS-ing from Group [“expiration–term of service,” or leaving the military] when I first tested for the Fire Department.  I passed the requisite tests and then began the Fire Academy in lieu of the ETS process.  It was absolutely chaotic.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – NOVEMBER 11: Actor Jeff Bosley, Football Star Matt Vanderbeek, guests and Actor Robert Patrick attend The Disabled Veteran Business Alliance’s Annual Salute To Veterans Day Breakfast at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 11, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Desiree Stone/Getty Images)

I knew I wanted to continue serving in a small unit team capacity.  Law enforcement just started getting so hamstrung that I knew it wasn’t for me.  Firefighting was always appealing to me when considering options other than the military.  I was a volunteer firefighter in college, so it made sense to go back to it.  I loved the four-person shifts and how they emulated the tight-knit community of an ODA [“Operational Detachment Alphas,” which are small, versatile Special Forces teams].

When did you know perfecting your craft and solely focusing on acting was the right move?

As a kid, if I could have had some higher power come out of the sky and give me my wish, it would have always been to be in movies and television.  When I grew up, the practical side of me took me to the Special Forces.

However, after wrapping up my SF career, my firefighter career was missing something.  After the perfect storm of events, including divorce and other personal “stuff,” I finally said “fu** it” and went for it.  I had spent tons of time in the theatre and in college theatre, practicing, studying and performing…why not finally just go for it.? I guess I looked at it like I had nothing to lose.  Just like my decision to go into Special Forces–I’d forever regret it if I didn’t try.

How has your military training and experiences helped you navigate Hollywood and your pursuit of an acting career?

It helps me DAILY!  Whether grinning and bearing some inconvenience or navigating the city of with an SF-learned psychological warfare attitude…my entire career helps me tolerate the chaos, uncertainty and uncontrollable business that is Hollywood.  I’m continuing my formal acting studies and experiences, which helps me in the business and in the art and craft aspect of the city. But the skills learned during my SF service certainly help me become more marketable for certain roles.  Many roles demand weapons training or feature characters that have a history of military experience and so on.  Merging the craft of acting with the skills of SF often helps me stand out and deliver more believable performances because of the amalgamation of all I’ve seen and done.

Jeff Bosley in rugged jeans and tee-shirt modeling look with thumbs in pockets
Jeff Bosley – Courtesy Jeff Bosley

What is your view of the Flag controversy since you have served not only in the military but also as a first responder?

I abhor it.  Yet, patiently and frustratingly, I respect it.  I know the meaning and the message many argue it represents, but I personally cannot EVER support kneeling towards the flag after all I’ve seen and done.  To me, it is the last symbolic hope that we should all agree on and unite towards.  Anything less is wrong.  And I say that knowing that all I believe in and fought for is what allows this difference of opinions, and I firmly respect that.  We can disagree and still be friends.  I’ll just never do it.

What are some of your passion projects?

The kid in me loves comics and action and adventure.  I spent a lot of time working to get The Punisher brought to life and would love to see that come to fruition some day.  I’m also a huge fan of great books and novels, and there are a handful of series I’d kill to see brought to the screen. I’d love to play Sandman Slim or even the main character, Joel, from The Last of Us, a great video game for the PlayStation system.

Other than that, one of my closest friends in life and in filmmaking Scott Seagren and I are always working on his scripts, whether pitching them to Netflix (which we are currently doing with three under our Scruff Brothers Films umbrella), making them ourselves, or working to collaborate with others to bring them to life.  I love acting and circumstantially producing and directing, so any chance to do those as a career is a gift in my eyes.

To keep up with Jeff Bosley, be sure to check out www.jeffbosley.com. You can also follow him on Instagram @thejeffbosley, Twitter @thejeffbosley, Facebook @thejeffbosley, and Vimeo @jeffbosley.

Is a Service Dog Right for You? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Man in military uniform with German shepherd dog, outdoors

By Nat Rodgers

What are service dogs?

Service dogs are specially trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a chronic disability who cannot perform the work or task independently for him or herself. Service dogs can, for example, pick things up, guide people who are blind, alert people who are deaf or pull a wheelchair. They can also remind a person to take prescribed medications and calm a person with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. It is important to note that service animals are working animals, not pets.

How can service dogs help Veterans with mental health conditions?

Veterans with substantial mobility limitations associated with a mental health disorder for which a service dog has been identified as the optimal way to address the mobility impairment may be eligible for veterinary health benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative. A substantial mobility limitation indicates that most common life and work activities (i.e. leaving the house, getting to medical appointments, using public transportation, etc.) are impaired or prevented for the person more than half the time.

Under the Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative, this benefit has been offered for veterans with a mental health condition. It provides comprehensive coverage for the canine’s health and wellness and any prescription medications necessary to enable the dog to perform its duties in service to the veteran.

How can a veteran apply for VA veterinary health benefits?

A veteran should meet with a VA mental health provider to begin the application process for this benefit. The mental health provider and care team will evaluate and determine whether the mental health condition is the primary cause of the veteran’s substantial mobility limitations. The team will also assess whether a mobility service dog would be the optimal intervention or treatment approach for the veteran. If the team considers a service dog to be the optimal intervention, they will apply to receive the benefit on behalf of the veteran by contacting the VA Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service at VHAPSASClinicalSupportTeam@va.gov.

Each veteran’s case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:

  • Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy
  • Goals that are to be accomplished through the use of a service dog
  • Ability and means, including potential co-caregivers, to care for the dog currently and in the future

The veteran will be informed if the veterinary benefit has been granted. Veterans approved for the benefit are then referred to ADI-accredited agencies, assistancedogsinternational.org, to apply for a service dog.

What is covered by the VA veterinary health benefit?

Veterans with working service dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service. VA does not pay for the dog or for boarding, grooming, food or other routine expense associated with owning a dog. Additional information about VA’s veterinary health benefits can be found at www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp.

In late 2016, the Center for Compassionate Care Innovation partnered with the VA Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service to extend eligibility for veterinary health care, specialized equipment and travel support to veterans with chronic mobility issues associated with a mental health disorder. These benefits help veterans with some of the costs involved with caring for their service dogs when they receive them from an approved agency accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI).

For more information on the benefits of service dogs please visit: assistancedogsinternational.org.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

How the Military Supports Diversity & Inclusion

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Four diverse U.S. military soldiers in side to side collage

As someone who cares about a service member, you may have questions about how the military ensures equal opportunity and acceptance of individual differences among all its members. The DOD has taken steps to root out bias, ensure the military reflects the nation’s diversity and promote an environment in which every member is treated with dignity and respect.

Over the coming months, there will be an effort to get input from service members – both officers and enlisted – to hear their views and concerns about diversity and inclusion in the military.

Some changes have been implemented to advance diversity and inclusion. Military leaders have been charged with making equal opportunity and inclusion a priority. Your service member may have already benefited from some recent changes, including:

  • Removing photographs and references to race, ethnicity and gender from personnel files in promotion and selection processes. This eliminates the risk of bias when considering a candidate for a promotion, assignment, training, education or command.
  • Enacting stronger protections against harassment and discrimination including prohibiting discrimination because of pregnancy.
  • Training to detect and respond appropriately to bias – both conscious and unconscious. Service members and leaders are also receiving training on recognizing and understanding the impact of their own biases and prejudices.
  • Reviewing hairstyle and grooming policies for racial bias.
  • Training for commanders on guiding discussions on discrimination, prejudice and bias.

As an ongoing effort, the DOD collects and analyzes information to identify prejudice and bias, measure the effectiveness of its actions and expose areas requiring improvement.

Longer-term steps toward diversity and inclusion

Building upon the above, the Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion has recommended further steps to improve racial and ethnic diversity and broaden equal opportunity in the military. These recommendations include:

  • Updating recruiting content annually to reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
  • Diversifying senior-level positions so they reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
  • Identifying and removing barriers to diversity in aptitude tests while retaining a rigorous screening process.
  • Identifying and removing barriers to senior leadership for diverse candidates.
  • Disclosing demographic information about promotion selection rates. This will improve transparency and reinforce the DOD’s focus on achieving equity across all grades.
  • Creating a diversity and inclusion mobile app and website that will allow service members to easily connect with each other and locate resources.
  • Prohibiting involvement with extremist or hate group activity.

To ensure continued progress, the DOD has established the independent Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services. This committee will continue the work of examining any and all issues that will improve equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in the military.

Diverse and inclusive ranks are essential to morale, force cohesion and readiness. Your service member plays an important role in maintaining an environment that values and respects individual differences.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

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