November 18, 2022

How I Will Spend 11.11.11

On this year’s Veterans Day, my children and I will start the day off by attending the Veteran’s Day Parade here in Fayetteville. They are featuring the Vietnam-era veterans at the parade this year. Next, we’re off to an event called “Tweet for Troops,” after which we will head over to my hometown to finish off the day together with family. Hopefully this year’s Veterans Day will turn out better for us than last year’s, which I spent in the emergency room with my son (check out this blog post to read about those escapades). However we each spend our day today, we should of course remember all the veterans of every war, past and present, and the sacrifices they continue to make.

Believe it or not, some Americans actually confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day (check out my blog post about our 2011 Memorial Day too), but it’s important to distinguish the two. I actually got “married to the military,” so to speak, without really even knowing the difference. And it wasn’t until after I met my husband that I really began to learn and appreciate the unique and distinct history of Veterans Day. I think it’s imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former service members properly.

Did you know that Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day? It was originally set as a legal holiday to honor the end of hostilities of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” Back then, this new holiday specifically recognized and honored World War I veterans.  But in 1954, Congress changed he law to allow the day to honor and recognize veterans of all wars and periods of service.

Veterans Day was actually my great-grandfather’s favorite holiday. Why, you ask? Well, because he said it was the one day that vets got to sit around telling their stories of WWI and WWII, what Fort Bragg used to be like, who the old USO stars were. My grandfather used to tell stories of the time when he was stationed in Nice, France as a payroll clerk for the U.S. Army. I really do miss hearing his stories of how it was for him and what he did. So this year, after I attend the Veteran’s Day ceremonies and parades, I will also go to the cemetery, talk with him, remember those stories quietly, and place a flag on his grave.

I think it is critally important for us as a nation to remember and recognize our veterans, as they have to live every day with the memories, some good but some also bad, of fighting our nation’s wars. To me, Veterans Day will always be celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Don’t Just Stand By

In August, I was invited to a meet and greet for a congressman here in North Carolina and we were discussing how we can get more people involved and interested in issues and policy. I believe people have just taken for granted rights and privileges won for them so long ago. But there are still fights to be won. Now more than ever is the time to actively learn about issues affecting each of our lives - whether it be the economy, healthcare, education, military issues, or any of a whole slew of topics.

One issue that I think is paramount to military dependents is the right to vote. This right became particularly clear during the Congressional budget showdown in April 2011 when it seemed our spouses were not going to get paid. It was at this juncture that I became motivated to help dependents like me become more informed on political issues.

However, there have been a lot of spouses who I have spoken with around the US who say they do not vote. This is incredibly disappointing.

There are a number of issues that affect military spouses on the local level of which they may not be aware. Example: Were you aware Fort Bragg has been annexed by the City of Fayetteville? This allows Fort Bragg dependents the ability to vote in city and county elections. You just have to register where you live.

It is super easy to register to vote. I believe that if you do not exercise your right to vote then you should not complain about what is happening in the government.

Being a military spouse I understand it is a little difficult to vote. There are a lot of things you have to do, including giving up your permanent state driver’s license and registering in another state and in the county where you live in. Or maybe you aren’t registering because you own property in another state. But if you don’t register to vote, I urge you to get involved in the local issues that will affect you and/or your family - a vote to raise the sales tax, for example, or a vote to de-fund community colleges or primary education.

A lot of work went into allowing women’s suffrage, which is the right for women to vote and to run for office, as well as the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or marital status. Lydia Chapin Taft was an early precursor in colonial America who was allowed to vote in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Following the American Revolution, women were allowed to vote in New Jersey, but no other state, from 1790 until 1807, provided they met property requirements then in place. In 1807, women were again forbidden from voting in the state.

Equal rights became the rallying cry of the early movement for women’s rights, and equal rights meant claiming access to all the prevailing definitions of freedom. In 1850, Lucy Stone organized a larger assembly with a wider focus, the National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. Susan B. Anthony, a native of Rochester, New York, joined the cause in 1852 after reading Stone’s 1850 speech. Women’s suffrage activists pointed out that blacks had been granted the franchise and had not been included in the language of the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments (which gave people equal protection under the law and the right to vote regardless of their race, respectively). This, they contended, had been unjust.

There are some places in the world where women can’t vote or where voting still has conditions. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women were just granted the right to vote and run for office in certain local elections, but they still can’t drive or even go out in public without a male relative escort.

So my advice to you is this: Please get informed and get educated on the issues that impact your life and your family’s life. And if you need some encouragement, please email me at “2011ArmyMSOY [at]” and we can work through this together.

What a Hard Year for the Military!

The 10-year anniversary of 9/11 is right around the corner, and already this has been quite a hard year for the U.S. and for the military. I have been engaged in several national security classes this summer, and these have really helped illuminate the fact that the world outside of the U.S. can be a pretty scary place, especially with respect to the political unrest in the Middle East.

This year has also been pretty action-packed year - from the widely publicized deaths of members of the military to the possible government shutdowns to all the talk about budget deficits, pay cuts, and military spending. My husband always tells me, “You shouldn’t worry about military pay unless I worry,” but even he was scared twice this year that we were not going to get paid. It’s terrifying to think that we might not be able to pay our monthly financial obligations to our creditors, and we just didn’t have the extra money in savings. As a result of our daughter’s illness, our savings balance has been on the decline. When you add up all the trips to the various specialists and hospitals, it gets quite expensive.

The American people have been dealing with the possibility of a government shutdown since this past April, and then the problem resurfaced here again in August. Since no solid agreements were reached in advance within a reasonable amount of time, the military, along with the citizens of the United States, were left in a state of limbo. I personally think that our service members deserve respect, and that includes being paid on time. They are putting their lives on the line, spending time away from home and are fighting the Global War on Terrorism. We as family members should not have to worry about whether the bills are going to get paid. We already accrue enough stress as it is during regular deployments.

However there are a few Senators and Representatives that are looking out for us and I commend them for standing up for service members and military families. I have been a strong supporter of the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act when it was introduced in April 2011. Despite the universally recognized righteousness of the principle behind this bill, the bill only has 80 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate and only 201 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. We can do better!

I urge you to educate yourself, your family, and your friends on the issues that pertain to us and our lives. I think the best thing we can do as responsible citizens is contact the offices of our members of Congress here in our local districts. Let them know how you feel and what you think should be done. Trust me - I talk to my congressman all the time. As a matter of fact, I talk to several and let them know exactly what I have been hearing about these issues. You should do the same.

The New Military Spouse Employment Program

As a military spouse, I know the difficulties of trying to find gainful employment, or rather a career. It is quite refreshing to see the Department of Defense assisting military spouses and linking corporate jobs and federal agencies to military spouse employment.

On June 29, 2011, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership was launched at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.  The Military Spouse Employment Partnership program is an expansion of the Army Spouse Employment Partnership program and is focused on helping military spouses from all branches of the military attain financial security and achieve educational and employment goals.

This portal, which is located at, is designed to connect military spouses to careers by creating a gateway for military spouses and corporate and nonprofit organizations to interact. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership has been the latest development in an effort backed by President Barack Obama’s administration to do more to help military families. It is quite easy for military spouses to search for jobs on this new site, which hosts a database drawn from the partnering employers. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is a great vehicle for providing more publicity for those services - such as Military OneSource - that can point you to resources to help you edit your resume and tailor it to a specific job. Many spouses don’t even know that such resources are available.

I have seen a lot of military spouses over the years who meet or exceed the qualifications, but they still just can’t seem to get their foot in the door.  Military spouses have wonderful attributes like dependability, maturity, flexibility, and resilience. They also have awesome leadership skills and the ability to work well under pressure, which we have all learned through deployments, trainings and separations.

I am really excited about this program and I plan on using it to brush up my resume and hopefully find a career in which I can make a difference. I personally think that this is the first time that the professional lives and careers of military spouses have truly been recognized, and it will make our lives much better.

The World’s Largest Military Baby Shower

Being the 2011 Military Spouse Magazine Army Spouse of the Year really opens a lot of doors that would not otherwise get opened. You get to really do a lot of volunteer work and outreach to military families, which I LOVE! I have met so many incredible women, and it just makes me so excited to see all these mommies. I am so lucky to be living in one of the best military-friendly counties in the state of North Carolina.

On Saturday June 25, 2023 I was lucky enough to volunteer with Fayetteville Cares. I was a table hostess for 5 of the 143 tables at the Crown Coliseum Expo Center. So are you wondering what it was about? Well it was the World’s Largest Military Baby Shower, “Boots and Booties,” for 1000 military spouses who have recently had a baby or are about to have a baby. How exciting! And I think I actually had the best tables in the entire Expo Center.

I arrived at the event at noon and received my assignment of what I had to do. As I watched all of the mommies arrive, and became quite  excited. I escorted them to which ever table they liked most and chatted with each of them to make them feel welcome.  Seeing all these mommies and some newborns almost made me wish I was pregnant. HA!  (Whew, that was a close one, but I did come back to my senses after having just finished potty training my last child).

Jenny Beaver of Fayetteville did an amazing job of decorating the Expo Center, including the cute candies that decorated the stage. The room  was decorated very brightly, with the tables colored bright pink, green,and orange. They had two types of door prizes, ones with red tickets and one with blue tickets. The blue tickets were for big item prizes like a changing table, a Disney rug and other such items. The red ticket items were for things like gift certificates, day spa prizes, photography packages,  and things for the babies.

For about an hour, the ladies walked around dropping off tickets in the door prizes they wanted to win. Around 2:30pm the event started. Joanne Chavonne and Kirk DeViere, the two co-chair, kicked the event off. They were followed by George Breece and two speakers from the military - LTG Mullholland and the Pope Army Airfield Commander. We also had a surprise speaker - LTG Helmick taped a message to our Army spouses. I approached LTG Mulholland and he remembered me from my work at USASOC as an intern and gave me a coin. I was so totally blown away by his kindness and down-to-earth personality. I also met Mrs. Mulholland and she was super sweet as well. That was my first time actually meeting and talking to her in person. I also saw Melissa Helmick and Theresa Sicinski, who are both also really supportive of spouses.

Around 3 pm we started playing Baby Bingo, which was pretty exciting. Mommies left and right were calling out BINGO, including one of the mommies at my table. About 20 gift bags later, we were back to calling out raffle tickets. As I walked back and forth to make sure all of my mommies were ok, I sensed they were most excited about the car raffle.

Right in the middle of all of this there was a surprise announcement. They suddenly asked all of the ladies at table 20 - one of my tables - to stand. A Mr. Breece then announced that since the manager at the Goodyear Tire plant was celebrating 20 years there, he was giving everyone at table 20 gift certificates for 4 brand new tires worth $1000 each. Talk about luck!

Before too long, the winner of the main giveaway - a new 2011 Chevy Cruze, courtesy of the Raleigh Area Chevy Dealers and Mike Lallier of Reed-Lallier Chevrolet - was finally announced. “And the winner is… Lauren!” She started crying, understandbly, and I was feeling the emotion of the moment too. I could have definitely used a new car free of car payments, but I was just so happy for her.

Before it was all over, yet another surprise was revealed. In a classic “Oprah moment,” the announcer told each of the ladies to look under their seats. Each mommy there then found a numbered card, which corresponded to a storage container out back behind the expo with a unique prize inside for everyone, from baby monitors to infant car seats.

Fayetteville really does care about military families.

Boots on the Ground

When I returned home from the MSOY Luncheon, I reached out to several organizations to see what I could do to help. One of the organizations I contacted was called The Citizen Soldier Support Program (CSSP), hosted by the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its mission is to help military and community services to increase the readiness and resiliency of Reserve Component (RC) members and their families.

I was invited to speak at the CSSP Military Family Training Fayetteville, NC on May 26th, 2011 for Behavioral Health Providers offered by Citizen Soldier Support Program. This was a day-long PTSD curriculum developed by the NC AHEC system.The full-day workshop focused on aspects of today’s military family that makes us unique. Various components of the military lifestyle was reviewed such as a family perspective of military culture and the affects of deployments.

My section was called “Boots on the Ground”. Military Families face unique challenges when their loved ones deploy and manifest themselves in ways that are not always understood by others in their community. I spoke for an hour about a 1st hand account of what it feels like to be in a military family, and go through a deployment. The reason this conference was special was because the providers I was speaking too mainly dealt with active duty soldiers and their families.  I spoke about how the deployments to Iraq affected my husband and myself, also how it affected my children.

Reflections on Memorial Day

Today we should honor the many service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to their country. Memorial Day isn’t about a day off, cook outs, swimming, or the official start of summer; it’s about memory of and dedication to our fallen soldiers and their families.

Often we do not observe the day as it should be observed - a day where we remember our loved ones and our friends who have given their lives in service. I want to ask those reading this to please join me and my family as we thank and remember our service members - past, present, and future - for the sacrifices they are making, have made, and will make for us all. May the children growing up today also remember the past, appreciate the present, and plan for the future.

Former President Bill Clinton issued a presidential memorandum in 2000 asking Americans to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day. So at 3pm your time, please stop and reflect on the sacrifices made on behalf of our nation. From the troops who fought during the American Revolution to the service memmbers fighting today’s wars, I’ll have a moment of silence today for those who those who paid the ultimate price and their families. I’ll also have a moment of silence for anyone who may still be missing in action or a prisoner of war.

I will not forget, and I will not let my children forget - rest assured that your commitment to the United States and the U.S. military will always be remembered and greatly appreciated.

Is a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) in your future?

Did I just say the dreaded word, PCS? YES it is that time of year, schools are almost out for the year less than a month away here for us. The summer kicks off the busiest PCS season of the year. Why? Well it didn’t bother me when we moved before. Now since my kids are older, they need to stay in school, when you transfer kids in the middle of the school year it’s hard. The new classroom can be further or behind your child’s level, and it is difficult!

However I still like PCS moves, I prefer hiring someone to clean but with the new rules, you have to clean it yourself. I really liked hiring someone to do it for me b/c when you have three kids, who get bored easily or want to help it can get stressful. So at least I know for a fact we are staying here for 18 more months, before we find out where our new duty station will be. I remembered our first PCS it was smooth but they packed everything, we didn’t know to take small stuff that we would need (pots and pans, plates, blankets, air mattresses, TV) NOW I have PCSed 3 times but I feel like I am a pro at it though. I am looking forward to a new duty station.

Here are some tips that have helped me:
As soon as you know where you are going, look for places to stay, check out the crime reports and if possible go there and check it out first. You want to make sure you don’t end up on the bad streets or where you will feel unsafe when your spouse leaves for training.

On the day of the packing, leave out things you are going to need, like we stayed two weeks after our furniture left, so we needed the air mattresses, a TV, pots and pans, towels. We ate on paper plates and drank out of paper cups. Also you going to need cleaning supplies, so you can clean the place you leave and clean the new house. Usually it takes about 1-2 weeks to get your stuff from transportation.

One major important thing, keep all the important documents with you like birth certificates, orders, ss cards, shot records, anything you think is an important document, don’t let it get out of your site! Trust me if you have those documents close by you can always refer to them when you need them in an instant. When you go to the new duty station, you going to need all that.

Be prepared that if you really like a piece of furniture or a favorite item, it will get lost or stolen. Our first PCS move, I had several of the Walt Disney Original movies like The Little Mermaid, the ORIGINAL CASE that is like a collector’s item, all those movies STOLEN! (and yes I made a claim and no they didn’t pay full price for them) I wanted the original cases back not the money. So your best bet, is to either take them with you or don’t let on how important they are, and make sure you know the box number and take a picture of it being packed by them. The last PCS we had two uhaul trailers that went with us when we moved LOL

Always be prepared for change, things in the Army have never gone smoothly, something always happens or changes at the last minute. So I hope you find my tips helpful and can have a smooth move.

STS-134 Shuttle Launch Endeavour, my journey to get there Part 1

We got lucky when the National Military Family Association sent out the email that they had an opportunity for military families to participate in the viewing of the last shuttle Launch Endeavour. We originally had planned to go on April 19, however they canceled that flight due to weather problems, so they rescheduled it for April 29. 2011! Yippee it falls over the weekend! So you all know we went to DC on the day after Easter which was MONDAY April 25. I was really debating on whether to go or not. You don’t know how I was debating on making this decision, I so don’t like taking last minute trips with kids. So I was like this is a once in a life opportunity, I can’t miss this, plus this is a GREAT story for my kids to tell! WOW!

Anyway we leave Thursday morning at 4am. I wanted to get our before the storm hit, that was coming across the Southern states. So as we scoot down the road, I think we were about 1 hr ahead of the storm, as we crossed into SC it was dark, and around 68 miles before we got to GA we heard there was a tornado in Darlington SC.  Whew just missed that, so driving on further, it brought up memories of me driving to see Dany when he was stationed at Ft Stewart. So while we are getting to the hotel, my mom asks, “is this a hotel chain or a mom an pop hotel” I was like well it’s called The Peabody. I never heard of it, and she was like Oh LORD here were go again! Last summer we went to Kure Beach, and stayed at the this hotel, it looked AWESOME from the internet, but it was a piece of CRAP room, it looked like the bed bugs was running off with the furniture! I was like well we gonna stay at the beach and not the room. It was really brightly colored and looked NICE! However it was grimy and yucky. (That’s for another blog) she was like Crystal why didn’t you book us at the HOJO or Holiday Inn. I was like well this is where the conference is, and I didn’t want to drive to the hotel. So as we were talking I was like what’s that a Duck Hotel, and sure enough it was the Peabody, biggest hotel on the strip! I was like naaa it wouldn’t be yucky, b/c look at it! It was something from Las Vegas! So we get there and WOW IT WAS GORGEOUS! I give this hotel 5 stars!

We get to Orlando around 1:30pm, I drove the entire trip. We get to the hotel, check in and then head over to NASA STS-134 Pre Launch activities. The kids got these really cool NASA backpacks, with pictures of the crew and space shuttle and everything in it. So we go and do some preregistration activities with the astronauts and the kids made a moon buggy out of Oreos, and graham crackers. They also made straw rockets. I think I am going to do a space themed for Brandon’s Bday party! It was some great ideas for kids to make. We made a trip to Walmart, of COURSE we had to go to Walmart. What trip wouldn’t be right with out a visit to the neighborhood Walmart. So everyone I talked to was like you aren’t So after that we finally got our hotel room YES! It was HUGE and spacious, we had a TV in the bathroom, yet right in the mirror, pretty nice hotel and huge. It took up the entire block. So we go and do some pre registration activities with the astronauts and the kids made a moon buggy out of Oreos, and graham crackers. They also made straw rockets. So after that we finally got our hotel room YES! It was HUGE and spacious, we had a TV in the bathroom, yet right. They even had bathrobes for us, and a fridge and I mean WOW I felt like I was so rich! If this is what the rich and famous feel like, I want to do this every day! This is a picture of it but it doesn’t do it justice, this is just one side (where the DUCKS live) Yes I said REAL LIVE DUCKS! Every day at 11 and 5 they have a duck ceremony, and they walk the ducks down to the duck pond in the hotel, I mean it is a grand event!
Even though I didn’t have a lot of cash, I valet parked the car because I just couldn’t drag all three of my kids through traffic to get to the car. So that was my one splurge, I felt so VIP, “calling to the valet” can I get my car! I made three trips to just drive down the street, so I could get the car, they are TOTALLY nice at the PEABODY the mirror, pretty nice hotel and huge It took up the entire block. I felt like royalty! So anyway back to day one, we didn’t go back to the afternoon session, because my kids were exhausted so we went to the pool to relax! So it wasn’t so relaxing for me. My two older kids are ok, they know not to run or whatever. So my SON, being the all boy he is, is like psssh I can swim. So he starts to chase his sister, and what happens he gets off balance and then falls right under the water. So I am a good 20 feet from him, and my mom was closer, and I was like “Momma get Brandon” yeah all southern sounding and all. LORD he started screaming b/c he couldn’t get up, so then he gets water all in his mouth, so I get to him, and he’s ok. So I am like ok BRAN don’t get out of my mommy zone. Phhh hahah didn’t work he fell under the water two more times. So I was like let’s get out and go eat. Whew that HOTEL was a nice rate but they didn’t rate the food! 2 Lemonades, and 1 fruit salad was $21 bucks. Yeah I was like gaa kill me, so we had pizza delivered. Which wasn’t the best. So after we had dinner, I wanted to take the girls back to the pool. So I finally got Bran to sleep, and we went back to the pool for a hour. They were having some sort of dinner but, the girls still had a great time playing in the water. However the person who was singing was kind of sad and had no rhythm. So we had a nice time at the pool and then we went back to the room to get ready for tomorrow’s NASA trip. We are totally excited. Ok so I will blog next week about the next day’s trip to NASA!

Are you a military dependent? Do you need money for college?

I so am happy to blog about this, since I love finding money for colleges!

This month ThanksUSA contacted me and asked if I could talk about their scholarship program, which is accepting applications from April 1st to May 16th. They have been providing need-based scholarships to children and spouses of U.S. military personnel for nearly 6 years now, and I read on their website that ThanksUSA has awarded 2,200 scholarships worth almost $6.5 million with plans to award 500 more scholarships at $3,000 each in 2011.

These scholarships are granted to dependent children and spouses, and are for first-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school. Spouses may also use the award for non-degree licensure or certification programs, regardless of whether an undergraduate degree has already been completed.

This year for the first time, Kaplan University is proud to offer a full undergraduate scholarship through ThanksUSA for an eligible military spouse. In addition, Educational Support Scholarships, which provide for reduced tuition of up to 51 percent, are also available to eligible military spouses.

So please visit them, check them out, and see if this applies to you! For eligibility requirements and application, visit