Posts Tagged AFPS
By Lisa Daniel
Tomorrow marks the start of an open season of sorts for job fairs for military spouses in what one Pentagon official calls the “high-touch” part of a “high-tech, high-touch” process.
Meg O’Grady was a military spouse herself, having moved 13 times in 17 years, when she began working at the Pentagon just before the June 29, 2011, launch of the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Read more. Today, she is its acting program manager.
The partnership hosts an online job portal where military spouses can search for jobs, post resumes and receive education and training, and where employers can post openings and search for new talent. The site has posted more than 500,ooo job ads in the past year, and has 220,000 ads on any given day, O’Grady said. That’s the high-tech part.
The high-touch part gets under way tomorrow as MSEP’s partner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, ramps up its “touch” tactics by sponsoring numerous job fairs in the coming weeks in military-populated cities such as Hampton, Va.; Minneapolis; Utica, N.Y.; Sugar Grove, Ill.; Lake Charles, La.; and Quantico, Va., to name a few. Click for the full list. The DOD and Chamber programs compliment that of Joining Forces, a program started by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden that also works to improve military spouses employment.
The job fairs not only bring employers to job seekers, but also offer forums for helping spouses with resume writing, networking and the like, Laura Dempsey, director of Hiring Our Heroes, told me. Dempsey, too, is a military spouse, and so knew the potential of those who mostly have been an untapped resource in hiring. Read the rest of this entry »
By Lisa Daniel
When First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden started the “Joining Forces” campaign 15 months ago, they did so with the goal of creating impactful and lasting health, education and employment support for military families.
The campaign had two significant achievements this week that its director, Navy Capt. Brad Cooper, told me hit both of those marks.
First, North Carolina became the 26th state to pass a law making it easier for military spouses to transfer their professional licenses. (Read more.) South Carolina and Hawaii passed similar laws in recent weeks, potentially affecting tens of thousands of military spouses, Cooper said. With similar legislation pending in California, Ohio and New Jersey, the campaign is “exceeding our expectations” in getting laws passed in all 50 states by the end of 2014, he said.
“As I take step back and look this – and my dad was an Army officer – this signals a pretty remarkable cultural shift,” Cooper said. “I remember my mother — as well as my wife, spouses of my friends — were reluctant even to indicate they were military spouses” to prospective employers, he said.
Second, the National Association of Social Workers, at its annual convention here this week, announced it is launching a free, online training course for all social workers to better understand the unique needs of military families. It also is providing a set of standards for working with veterans and military families, and is creating a professional Credential for Social Work with Veterans and Military Families. (Read more.)
Social workers are considered the nation’s frontline mental health services providers, and they practice in every county in the country. The NASW represents 650,000 of them. Its pledge to Joining Forces follows that of the four largest nursing associations, representing 3 million nurses, and the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, with 105 and 25 schools, respectively, in training doctors to serve military families and veterans. The Association of Marriage and Therapy Therapists also has signed on, as well as associations representing psychiatrists, psychologists and surgeons.
“This really represents, to me, not just the impactful piece, but the sustaining piece,” Cooper said.
Spouses’ and veterans’ employment also has made major strides, Cooper said. More than 2,000 companies have signed on already hiring 25,000 spouses and 65,000 veterans, and pledging to hire another 175,000 in the next two years, helping bring down the veterans’ unemployment rate, he said.
“This really is the largest outreach and advocacy efforts we’ve had on behalf of veterans and their families for years,” Cooper said.
Joining Forces has been successful, he said, because “we’ve been able to breach through years and years of bureaucracy and bring people together and focus them on the effort.” All they needed was leadership and direction, he added.
“People, generally, want to be helpful,” Cooper said. “They don’t always know what they can do. Our objective is to steer them to meaningful action.”
Joining Forces’ efforts have caught the attention of military spouses.
By Lisa Daniel
Lori Volkman was in college when she confronted what some would approach as an either-or situation: marry the Navy pilot she’d fallen in love with, or head for law school for the career she was passionate about.
Volkman had grown up in a Navy family and she knew she couldn’t have it both ways – at least not at the same time. “I knew exactly what was involved in that,” she told me when we spoke on Monday.
Not only would frequent relocations prevent her from practicing law, “I didn’t even know if we’d be anywhere long enough for me to finish law school,” she said. “I knew as Navy brat that there was a very real possibility of having only two-year duty stations.”
So Volkman and her husband came to an agreement: he would leave active duty for the Navy reserves, and she would go to law school.
Volkman, the deputy prosecuting attorney for Clark County in Washington state, says she is both fortunate and atypical of military spouse lawyers. “I’m one of the few who have enjoyed working in the same place for 12 years,” she said.
Just over a year ago, Volkman signed on to helping other military spouses pursue their careers in law after Erin Wirth, a federal administrative law judge and Coast Guard wife, asked her to join her and Mary Reding, another military spouse attorney, in starting The Military Spouse JD Network. Wirth had moved seven times in 15 years, and sometimes did not relocate with her husband, to maintain her law career even when it meant taking jobs below her experience level, Volkman said. Read the rest of this entry »
By Lisa Daniel
Department of Defense Education Activity’s schools have been on a roll lately with high achievement of both teachers and students. Now that the 2011-12 school year is behind them, students, teachers and parents have much to be proud of.
The latest recognition goes to math teacher Spencer Bean at Baumholder Middle-High School, Germany, who has been chosen to receive the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching here June 27. Read more here.
Bean is the kind of teacher parents hope their children will have in school: high-energy, innovative and focused on individual student success. The motivating force for Bean is that he loves his work.
In his 13 years of teaching, he said, “I’ve rarely ever missed a day of work; I just love it that much.”
Like many high-achieving students, Bean said, he had to be talked into teaching. He was a math major and, already married in college, wanted to earn a good living. He considered going into accounting or some other business area.
Bean had the good fortune of having a mentor who advised him to go into something he was passionate about, and a brother – an Air Force officer based in Germany – who told him that, for teachers, DODEA’s pay, benefits and opportunities for travel are hard to beat.
“With public schools, … it’s a tough thing to do to say you’re going to be a teacher,” Bean said. “You have to be really motivated. DODEA can definitely have the best and brightest because of what they offer financially.”
Defense Department schools have demonstrated success in many ways lately. In April, Angela Wilson, a 7th grade language arts teacher at Vicenza Middle School, Italy, represented DOD schools as one of four finalists in the annual National Teacher of the Year competition here.
In May, Anuk Dayaprema, a seventh-grade student at Vincenza Middle School, represented DOD and State Department schools at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Dominik Muellerleile, an eighth-grade student at Wiesbaden Middle School, Germany, represented DOD and State Department schools in the 24th annual National Geographic Bee here.
In June, DODEA celebrated its first graduation – of three students – of its Virtual School, a high school that serves students through technology to get required courses they otherwise wouldn’t be able to take. And, DODEA offered live streaming of its graduations where many parents are deployed.
There are many reasons to celebrate Defense Department schools. Bean is just the latest example of a school system that does so many things right.
“I’ve never regretted it,” Bean said of his decision to become a Defense Department teacher. “I’ve loved it ever since.”
Posted by in Family Matters on April 18, 2012
By Elaine Sanchez
April 18, 2012
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is seeking active duty service members and recent veterans to serve as volunteer mentors to children of the military fallen over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C.
TAPS, a nonprofit organization that provides support and care to families of the military fallen, will host nearly 500 children and teens from across the nation at its 18th Annual TAPS Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp.
Volunteer mentors work with these children one-on-one, serving as a camp guide and offering a sympathetic ear or shoulder to cry on. Mentors have ranged from privates to generals, and represent all military services.
Posted by in Family Matters on April 5, 2012
By Elaine Sanchez
April 4, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday unveiled a new hiring effort that will deliver thousands of portable, flexible job opportunities to military spouses.
Eleven companies have pledged more than 15,000 jobs for military spouses and veterans, the first lady said. The good news for spouses is the vast majority of these jobs – in areas such as customer support and telemarketing — can be accomplished from home.
Other jobs will be in contact centers located near military installations, and offer family-friendly scheduling, growth opportunities and the ability to transfer seamlessly from one center to another
This commitment will make a “huge difference” for military spouses, Obama said during a teleconference announcing this effort. “Having an opportunity to have a decent job … is one of the most important ways we can support these families,” she said.
Posted by in Family Matters on April 2, 2012
By Elaine Sanchez
April 2, 2012
In honor of April’s Month of the Military Child, I created a Top 10 list of the qualities I most appreciate about children from military families.
Their amazing service and sacrifice deserve a much longer list, but I figured this would at least be a start.
What I most appreciate about children from military families:
10. Their sense of humor. Navy wife Vivian Greentree’s sons pasted pictures of their deployed dad on a stick, dubbed it a “dad on a stick” and took it everywhere with them. Her son, MJ, even asked if “dad on a stick” could help make macaroni and cheese. He carefully placed the following message to his dad under the picture of this mac and cheese preparation: We’ll eat mac and cheese when you get home. You can use my Spiderman bowl.”
9. They selflessly serve their community. Military children possess a strong sense of service — perhaps modeled after their military dads and moms who serve and sacrifice daily. But whatever its origin, they don’t hesitate to step up at school, at home and in their communities. James Nathaniel Richards, the fifth of six children in his military family, took on a host of deployment-related challenges when his Navy father and three of his brothers deployed at the same time. But rather than focus on the separation, the 9-year-old started a blog to help other military kids deal with deployments and separations. He also heads up the anti-bullying committee at his school, and has clocked more than 200 hours as a USO volunteer.
8. They stand by their military parent through thick and thin. I met a high school senior who told me his father would miss his graduation and his departure to college. But this teen wasn’t upset in the least. “He loves to be a soldier, and if it makes him happy, it makes me happy,” he said. “How can I possibly complain that he’s not watching me graduate when he’s out there sacrificing for our nation.”
7. Their sense of patriotism. Zachary Laychak was 9 years old when his father was killed Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Laychak struggled over the years with anger and confusion over the incident. But as time passed, his initial anger evolved into a deep sense of patriotism – born of resentment against those who dared to attack his nation and his family. “As terrible as this whole situation was, I know he was a very patriotic person,” he said of his father, and that he died serving his country. That’s a way he would have been proud to go.”
6. They support each other. Two California teenagers, Moranda Hern and Kaylei Deakin, were inspired to create the Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs after they dealt with their National Guard dads’ deployments. They didn’t want other military daughters to feel what they did: alone. Their organization is intended to unite, inspire and lead girls with parents in the military.
5. Their adaptability. I attended a high school graduation at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., last year. The class included nine students from Defense Department high schools in Japan who had left with their families in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Although they had entered a new school and a new senior class just a few months shy of graduation, they were all smiles that day as they talked to me in their caps and gowns. A transition that would have thrown the best of us for a loop didn’t seem to phase these teens, who had already been through more changes in their 18 years than most people see in a lifetime. The students in that class had moved, on average, more than six times with one student tallying up a total of 18 moves in the same number of years.
4. Their compassion. A number of kids have military parents who return home wounded, some with visible wounds and others with less-evident injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. These kids immediately step up to help out at home – taking on additional chores, pitching in to babysit — during their parent’s recovery. Taylor Dahl-Sims’ Marine Corps stepfather returned home from his fifth deployment with a traumatic brain injury and she stepped in to help during his recovery. She already was helping her mother with her baby brother’s medical care. Many wounded warriors have told me their children don’t look at them any differently, even if their wounds are severe. They are simply grateful their mom or dad made it back alive.
3. Their global knowledge. Many military kids have traveled across the nation and around the world. They have an innate appreciation for cultural diversity and knowledge of world events that most kids who never crossed state lines would be hard-pressed to match. This will serve them well in the future as modern technology and the rise of a global economy increase the likelihood they’ll be exposed to a people of different cultures and backgrounds in their careers. “These children come to us with broadened perspectives and a broad range of experiences,” said Marilee Fitzgerald, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity. “They’re the closest to being a global citizen that this world will have.”
2. Their strength. They’ve dealt with a decade of war and multiple deployments, with the associated worry and fear. But these challenges also have equipped them with a resilience that will prepare them for life’s setbacks and hardships. The first lady summed it up well at an event in June. “A bad grade on a test, a bad day at work, that’s not going to knock you off your game,” she said, “because from a very young age, you all have been dealing with the big stuff, and that’s given you perspective.”
1. They serve too. Their military parent signed on the dotted line; their children did not. Yet, they must deal with deployments, frequent moves and school transitions, and they do so with courage and grace. As a nation, we owe them a debt of gratitude. This month, and year round, we should take time to let military children know how grateful we are for their service, said Barbara Thompson, director of military community and family policy, children and youth. “One of the things that’s disconcerting is we know that 1 percent of our population is in uniform and is serving, and the other 99 percent of the country takes full benefit of that,” she said. “We owe it to our children to honor them and to protect them.”
Posted by in Family Matters on March 23, 2012
Guest blogger Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly, of U.S. Pacific Command, is the owner of Hawaii Military Pets, which provides pet resources for military families. She’s offered to share her pet-related knowledge in a series of blogs for Family Matters.
By Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly
March 23, 2012
A missing pet can be a devastating experience for family members and can result in a dangerous situation for the animal. However, military families can take steps to keep their beloved pets safe and secure.
If your pet lives indoors or is supervised outdoors, it’s less likely the pet will become lost or stolen. Many animals crave human companionship and do quite well lounging on a comfortable couch or bed during the day.
However, if you can’t take your pet out for exercise, make sure they play in a safe, secure and enclosed area with necessary shelter, water and food. You also should avoid the use of chains or ropes for long periods of time. U.S. Humane Society studies indicate that animals become territorial and aggressive when tied up on chains for a prolonged time. Animals are more likely to bite another human or could unintentionally hang themselves if tethered too close to a fence.
If a pet becomes lost, a microchip can help reunite pet and owner. This is a tiny computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted into the skin of the animal with an identification number programmed into it. A national registry tracks the number, and any organization with a scanner can identify the number and contact the company owning the device. The company then will contact the pet owner or another emergency contact. Since registration tags are easily removable, the microchip provides an additional layer of protection.
Microchips can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit — no surgery or anesthesia required — in animals as young as eight weeks, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Because of this critical method of pet identification, animals have been found more than 1,000 miles from their home or after years of separation.
Posted by in Family Matters on March 20, 2012
By Elaine Sanchez
March 20, 2012
With the temperature rising and the school year drawing to a close, parents across the nation are starting to think about summertime plans. With three young children and a stretch of lazy summer days ahead, it’s definitely a hot topic in my household.
Military families can get a head start on their planning today by applying for the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple Summer Camp program. The nonprofit organization launched this free camp program nine years ago to support military children, ages 7 to 17, dealing with the stress of war.
The weeklong camps are open to military children of all ranks and services, both active and reserve. Officials will give priority to children who meet the association’s deployment criteria and have never attended an Operation Purple camp. Families should submit their application by midnight EDT on April 19.
This summer, officials said, 1,400 children will attend an Operation Purple camp at one of 16 locations in 14 states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.
For more information or to submit an online application, visit the NMFA website.
Posted by in Family Matters on March 16, 2012
By Elaine Sanchez
March 16, 2012
Last year, I met an amazing woman who was caring for her triple-amputee son in San Antonio. Saralee Trimble had left a job, her husband and her home behind the moment she got word her son, Army Pfc. Kevin Trimble, had been injured in Afghanistan.
The 19-year-old was just four months into his deployment when a fellow soldier standing 3 feet away stepped on a homemade bomb. The soldier was killed and Trimble lost both of this legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow.
Saralee became Kevin’s full-time caregiver, a role she’ll continue for years to come. But rather than a burden, this military mom considers her son’s care a privilege. “Caring for him … I couldn’t ask for anything more special,” she told me, tears welling up.
A nonprofit organization is hoping to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices of caregivers like Saralee in the coming months.
The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation is sponsoring a video contest to find a caregiver of a wounded service member or veteran to be honored as the “hero at home” at its 8th Annual Night of Heroes Gala on May 24. This year’s gala will honor family and friends caring for wounded military heroes while they’re recuperating at the hospital and after they’ve returned home.