As I look around the coffee shop I feel as if I’ve turned back the clocks to my college days. I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s that time of the year when finals and final project deadlines are fast approaching and people are focused. Most everyone has their heads buried in a book, but what strikes me most is that many of the people surrounding me are either military spouses, veterans or active duty service members and I’m inspired.

Military ScholarshipI’m inspired by the military spouse who has set up her 2 little girls with coloring books, the young soldier who is utilizing his educational benefits to prepare for the future and the veteran who is transitioning to a new career. I love the fact that they are all working to improve their lives. But most of all I love that there are programs, universities and financial aid that makes it possible for those in the military community to make their dreams of a better life a reality.

One particular university that steps up and truly gives back to our community is Colorado Technical University. Every year CTU provides full tuition scholarships to 50 eligible wounded service members and spouses of wounded service members. And this year the program has been expanded to include caregivers and non-wounded attendants.

How cool is that? I love that CTU has broadened the eligibility requirements and wanted to pass along the information because you or someone you know may be a perfect candidate!

About the Wounded Warrior Scholarship

In 2008 CTU came together with the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Inc to create the Wounded Warrior Scholarship as a way to give back to service members, their families and caregivers of those injured while serving. (Learn more about the first caregiver recipient and hear her inspiring story here) [click to continue reading …]

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As we kick off Mental Health Awareness Month I want to begin with some insight that my son had over the weekend into how social media really steals the joy from our lives. He shares this piece of writing with me and I was struck by how it opened my eyes to the connection between social media and our military mental health. His excerpt highlights the reality of living with the challenges of depression and how we can feel alone even in a room full of people. I read it and got a loud and clear message that I think we all need to hear. So I ask you…

Military Mental Health Is Social Media

Military Mental Health:
Is Social Media Stealing Your Happiness? by Geoffrey Davis

Sitting at my favorite coffee shop with a group of friends I wonder why I feel so alone. Why do I feel like I’m the only one who wants to be here? I’m surrounded by my best friends who are absent of mind all who seem to be controlled by this small rectangle in their hands that seems to dictate what we are doing at all times. As I look around the table,  I see that I’m the only one who isn’t staring at this little screen in my hand and can’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with me.

Being someone who has depression and PTSD, I get that there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that tells me I’m not good enough, that no one likes me. It’s as if that voice is just lying there waiting for the perfect moment to strike, and seeing the people i really care about sitting across from me, but at the same time somewhere else entirely, gives that voice a chance to have a field day in my head.  I have come to the realization that these types of thoughts will never go away. I know its something I will have to live with for the  rest of my life and I’m okay with that. Better yet I’ve come to terms with it. [click to continue reading …]

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I’m inclusive, I reach out to the newcomer, I’m supportive of all military spouses and I love my military life. I’m all of these things; UNTIL I’m not. And today it’s been brought to my attention that without realizing it we have once again alienated the male military spouse. Don’t see it? Neither did I…that is until today.

Military Life_ Alienating the Male Military spouse_This morning as I was sharing information on a free military spouse event (get more details here) one of my all time favorite military spouse advocates sent me a message with a simple statement. Jeremy Hilton shared:

“I’m starting to get the message that men aren’t wanted at these events”.

As I read the message I instantly wanted to insure him that we always include all spouses and began to frantically type… But I stopped before I hit send. One by one flyers for various events came across my feed. Without exception the verbiage was written to the female military spouse. Whether it was an “All branches luncheon for Officer Wives”,  a “Womens Conference open to all military spouses” or any of the other local and national marketing I’ve been able to uncover in the last hour there is definitely something that we are NOT doing.

We are not making the male military spouses feel welcome. And not because we don’t want them there nor because we aren’t sensitive to their needs. It’s because we aren’t thinking about that segment of the population when we design our flyers and invitations. The result is an entire group of spouses who feel ouster-sized and unwelcome. Now to be fair and balanced they often don’t come or when they do, they don’t come back. It’s a problem that needs action on both sides.

So how do we fix it? [click to continue reading …]

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Last night I attended an event that is part of a week long tradition among the Engineer Regiment. As part of military life and regimental week here on Fort Leonard Wood, military spouse events are as much a part of the weeks powerful lineup as the laying of the wreath ceremony, best sapper competition or the Regimental Ball. And this years Engineer Spouses Night Out didn’t disappoint.

Military Life - You are the glueWhile the event was full of laughter and fun it was so much more than that for me – it was a wake up call that I didn’t even know I needed. Up until last night I hadn’t realized that since we PCS’d here to Ft Leonard Wood that I’d been disconnected from the spouse community. Sure I have my online spouse community and I travel to installations regularly to speak, but without realizing it, I was missing the most important thing. The thing that helps me keep it together and prevents me from fraying at the edges. I was missing my local peeps.

I was missing the glue.

It’s easy to get caught up in work and home life believing that online connections are a strong enough support system to get us through military life. But last night showed me that a quick messenger conversation or a comment reply convo are NOT a substitute for the laughter and camaraderie that happens only with in-person contact.

At one point during the evening, as part of a game, each table was asked to describe their engineer.  All of us around the table began to spit out descriptions, adjectives, quirks and sayings about our soldiers that had us high-fiving and smiling. Instantly there was a bond of understanding and acceptance that only military spouses can understand – a silent acknowledgement that we “get it”. [click to continue reading …]

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