10 Resources Every National Guard Family Should Know

As a National Guard family member, it has taken me years to feel confident within this community. It can be extremely difficult to find support within the community. Most of the time it is simply an issue of education; and many do not realize there is even a problem. We are often spread out, with our service member spouses traveling hours or even in an airplane, to their units. Many spouses, like myself, spend countless hours searching for support, assistance and reaching out to anyone that they can. Still, many others simply don’t try. The misnomer that this is a one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer job is simply incorrect. The idea that National Guard families don’t need as much support because we all live in our hometowns, with our families, is also not true in many cases. And what I want to make especially clear – most of these resources I mention here are accessible to National Guard families REGARDLESS of status. This is an important distinction to make because so very many of the non-profits in the military world DO NOT include National Guard families in their events and programs unless we are in a specific type of orders and for a specific amount of days, or deployed. Making sure NG families know these specific resources is very important to me.

I hope that this list provides information to families out there that are like me, seeking support and assistance. Maybe this post might even provide insight to those providing the support and other military branches that we view as part of our larger military family.

1. Military One Source – Even if you have never used Military One Source you probably have heard about it if you’ve been to any military event. I’m hoping you’ve at least heard of it. If you haven’t it is a large resource of information for military families in general. However I want to point out two specific aspects of the program that I have used. One is the counseling program. It appears overwhelming when you go to the website but it is so very easy. You simply call, verify your information and move on from there. If you are worried about privacy and information getting back to your spouse’s unit, please do not worry. The information is given simply to verify that you are military and qualify to have access for it. In all the cases that I have used it I have never once found that the information went anywhere else. Use it! The second is their products for purchase. They have books, the Sesame Street programs and many others are available to order for FREE! We have ordered several for our families and to give out to others.

2. EANGUS – This is the Enlisted Association of the National Guard. Mr. Air Force and I have been involved with EANGUS for years, only recently having stepped back a little bit with our schedules. You typically see more activity from retire service members and their spouses, however I really believe in this organization and wish more young people, especially spouses, would get involved. EANGUS does amazing work to improve the Guard, especially in regards to legislative issues. I would encourage you all to check it out and consider getting involved.

3. The Wingman Project {Ready Airmen} – this resource applies specifically to the Air National Guard. Here you can find resiliency resources, suicide prevention, and PTS support. There is also an App. What is really great about the Ready Airmen app is that you can access the information to whatever unit is close to you. If I needed assistance or information I could easily access the information of whatever unit is closest me, rather than contacting my unit across the country which may be unable to assist me easily.

4. Strong Bonds – Strong Bonds is a program in connection with the Army National Guard, however Reservists, and Guardsman from the Air Force side of things can access and attend these programs. Find a Chaplain at your unit to assist you in getting access to the events, or simply go on the website and do it yourself. We have done both. In connection with deployments sometimes you can get orders to attend. Usually it is a short weekend event as a couple or as a family, usually staying at a hotel in the area. I would encourage you to check out the information on the website. Also please share with any single Airmen or Soldiers as there are programs for them as well.

5. The JSS, National Guard Family Programs website – This website can be difficult to navigate but once you get to where you are going you can usually find some great information about events in your area or people to contact. On the map page you can find a list of contact information.

6. PillowProject USA – Similiar concept to a daddy pillow, except its a small pillow-shaped size. We have them, and after several years they are in great shape and our children love them. They ask for a donation to help cover shipping costs because they don’t charge for them. I try to donate to them occasionally simply because they really met a need for me when I was absolutely desperate. My sweet children were in desperate need of something that as a National Guard family we were having a difficult time qualifying for in the traditional sense of the word. Spread the word about them, and even if you don’t need them consider giving.

7. Blue Star Families – BSF is one of the first military focused non-profits that I discovered when I moved to the DC area, that also offers event invitations and programs to every branch of the Military – including Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserve…..regardless of status. Their Blue Star Museums program, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, partners with museums across the country to provide free entry during the summer months. National Guard and Reserve families can access this program. This is such a huge deal to National Guard families.

8. Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program – What is great about this program is that it is a ‘Purple’ program, meaning all branches. You can find all sorts of events and support for you no matter where you are living. These can be really great opportunities to meet other Guard families in the area and get some valuable information for the locations in which live. Even if you think you’ve got it together, and you’ve got what you need, take the opportunity to go. Don’t make it a missed opportunity for something great!

9. Operation Purple Camps {National Military Family Association} – Operation Purple provides a free week of camp to military children of all branches and service status {National Guard and Reserve}. While priority is given children of wounded or deployed, or children who have been to the camps the previous years, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get in! Apply!

10. Military Spouse Advocacy Network {MSAN} – MSAN is a more recent non-profit that has recently launched a mentorship program. They have advocates all over, and are really trying to grow their National Guard reach. Since they were founded by an Air Force Spouse, that is their most dense area of reach, but they are growing so quickly I know they can barely keep up. If you are an experienced Spouse in the NG or Reserve I would definitely encourage you to get involved! And that doesn’t mean you have to have been in for a really long time either! It’s a great opportunity to give back to our community.

Bonus Resource – I’m also including one of my most popular posts here on the blog in this list. It is all about how to make a readiness folder. A readiness folder is usually something that an FRG or Key Spouse might assist you with. But as we have already discussed sometime that person just isn’t around, you are too far away or you just don’t know how to even find that person. I encourage every military family to make a readiness folder, even if you think you aren’t going to go through a deployment. Having all that stuff together in one place is great. Making it on your own, while a little tedious, will be such a benefit to you and will also empower you because you are now armed with all the information you need.

Check out the Resource Tabs up top for my National Guard/Reserve resources!

stop by my National Guard Families Facebook page. On this page I try to provide as many resources and connections to Guard/Reserve and Remotely located families as I can! Contribute information, ask questions or just see what we have going on!

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Military Support Series – Military Spouse JD Network #MilitaryMonday #MilitarySupportSeries

Welcome to another Military Support Series post and Military Monday!!  I love being able to share some of these great resources with you all.  Hopefully these are things you might not normally have heard of and this is helping someone out there.  Please make sure to click the “military resources” tab up top and spread the word.  If you’re stopping by for the first time please let me know so I can return the favor; and as always my mailbox is always, always open if you have any questions.

What is Military Spouse J.D. Network?

The Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) was formed in Summer 2011 by two military spouses frustrated with the challenges of maintaining a legal career that seemed incompatible with the military lifestyle. They formed MSJDN to advocate for licensing accommodations for military spouses, including bar membership without additional examination, as well as network with other military spouses with JDs. Since 2011, the membership of MSJDN has swelled to over 750 members and supporters.  In February 2012, with the support of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution supporting changes in state licensing rules for military spouses with law degrees. MSJDN supports such a rule change in each jurisdiction.

Their Communications Director, Lori Volkman, happens to be a great bloggy friend of mine.  We both share a heart for advocating for military families.  She is pretty much totally awesome and I was lucky enough to spend some time with her in D.C.  I know that she’s been working her rear off as a mom, a Naval Reserve spouse, and a Deputy Prosecutor in the State of Washington.  She is how I came to hear about the J.D. Network and all they do.  Jobs and Education, as it relates to the Military Spouse is such a huge topic of conversation these days, especially with Joining Forces making it a priority.  Making it easier for spouses to maintain any credentials they need when moving between states would do a lot to ease the amount of stress that just comes with the territory as a military spouse.  MSJDN is doing its part to accomplish this.
Because of the tireless work of the Spouses at MSJDN, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina and Texas have passed resolutions for admission of military spouse attorneys without examination.  States considering these changes include: California, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Maryland.  The purpose of this resolution is to aid military spouse in attorneys in a seamless transition when they are forced to move to a new state because of military orders.  *make sure to visit the MSJDN website to read more about what they are doing and about the resolution itself.*
How can you get involved?
If you are a military spouse with a law degree I definitely 100% encourage you to join the Military Spouse JD Network.  It will provide you a network of fellow spouses experiencing the same things you are, and you can help make a difference for spouses in your career field.  If you simply want to help, or find out more, and get involved, please visit their membership page.
 That’s me and Lori, hanging out at the Pentagon
I miss that girl!
Check them out on social media:
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Military Support Series: Military One Click

Hi all!!  Well the week is underway and I’m getting excited because its almost vacation time for me!  You’ll still be getting some good posts, perhaps some guest posts and maybe a giveaway or two.  But today I am happy to pick up the Military Support Series again.  You can see the other groups I’ve highlighted in the “Military Resources” tab up top.  All of my resources will be getting an overhaul soon and I’m so excited to share everything with you.  Thanks for stopping by and spread the word about some of these great resources.

Today’s spotlight is MilitaryOneClick.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and spending some time with MilitaryOneClick’s founder, Jennifer Pilcher, and I’m proud to call her my friend. Jennifer was one of the first awarded for the Women Veterans Entrepreneurs Business Pitch Competition.

What is MilitaryOneClick:

MilitaryOneClick is a premier virtual resource for military families.  Our dynamic, user-friendly website provides visitors with direct access to thousands of valuable resources including career tools, hiring fairs, educational scholarships, PTSD help, health insurance, buying or renting a home, financial assistance, and more!  The site is free and does not require users to register or login.

~ MilitaryOneClick  
What does MilitaryOneClick do?        
You can find just about anything you might be searching for on there.  Say you’re getting ready to PCS, just stop by MilitaryOneClick and find their relocation page.  From there you are one-click away from all the information you might need, from temporary lodging, buying or selling your home and military-friendly rental sites.
One of my favorite sections is the Education and Scholarship sections.  You can find links to military schools of learning, leadership programs like the Civil Air Patrol and the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, as well as resources for scholarships for any member of a military-connected family.
MilitaryOneClick is the premier virtual resource for military families. Our dynamic, user-friendly website provides visitors with direct access to thousands of valuable resources including career tools, hiring fairs, educational scholarships, PTSD help, health insurance, buying or renting a home, financial assistance, and more! The site is free and does not require users to register or login. – See more at: http://militaryoneclick.com/about/#co
MilitaryOneClick is the premier virtual resource for military families. Our dynamic, user-friendly website provides visitors with direct access to thousands of valuable resources including career tools, hiring fairs, educational scholarships, PTSD help, health insurance, buying or renting a home, financial assistance, and more! The site is free and does not require users to register or login. – See more at: http://militaryoneclick.com/about/#co
MilitaryOneClick is the premier virtual resource for military families. Our dynamic, user-friendly website provides visitors with direct access to thousands of valuable resources including career tools, hiring fairs, educational scholarships, PTSD help, health insurance, buying or renting a home, financial assistance, and more! The site is free and does not require users to register or login. – See more at: http://militaryoneclick.com/about/#co

MilitaryOneClick is a wonderful resource for someone living the military life.  I think it is perfectly set-up for a newbie.  Entering into this life can be really overwhelming, and if you have no prior experience, aren’t near any installations or have no friends with military experience the task can seem daunting for sure.  All you’d have to come across is MilitaryOneSource and it would make the experience get off on the right foot.

Thanks MilitaryOneClick!!  Make sure to check out there site and follow them on their social media platforms!


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Military Spotlight – Military Town Advisor

This past May I had the awesome experience of attending the Military Blogging Conference in Arlington.  It was amazing and I met so many wonderful people.  One of the absolutely wonderful people I met was the absolutely darling Cameron from Military Town Advisor.  Seriously, she is sweet and darling and has come up with an amazing and cool website.  Something I wish I had known about before we started looking to move.  I’m thankful we were lucky and ended up in a wonderful neighborhood, but seriously, how do you know for sure when you are going anywhere?  Areas vary from street to street, and you never can tell whats up until you are there, or you send someone to wander the streets of the area you move into.  Real Estate people can’t really ever tell you the down and dirty and unless you are moving on base, the area around the base might be a crap shoot.  Thankfully now there is Military Town Advisor, your one stop shop for all the information you need in your neighborhood.  I recently just submitted my own review of the last neighborhood we moved out of and it was super easy.  I will continue to submit reviews concerning neighborhoods that I’ve lived in.  So, without further adieu, let me introduce you to Cameron, a fellow Mil-Spouse.

How I came up with the idea of MilitaryTownAdvisor.com:
As newlyweds, my husband and I were stationed in Kingsville, Texas. I was new to military life and the only information I knew was that we were either going to a base on the East or the West Coast. I immediately began researching both coasts and attempting to gather as much information as possible. I quickly learned that the majority of information that can be found on the internet about towns and areas are tourist guides and statistics about the demographics of the area. Or I would go on Facebook and ask other military families and they always suggested areas that were good for their lifestyle not areas that fit my family’s needs.   I ended up discouraged and resigned to the fact that I could not go any further in my research until we received our orders.
When we got our orders and were headed to Virginia Beach we spent seven days looking for a place to live. We contacted a realtor and she started showing us homes.  She took us all over Hampton Roads and didn’t really listen to our needs.  This took up a lot of time and we wanted to buy a house all in a week’s time frame. Needless to say, we were extremely nervous about picking a house in the right area. Luckily we found a house in a great area, close to the base, with good school districts; however, this was not the outcome for many of our fellow military families. Some of our new friends chose homes far from base where it may have been more cost effective, but they ended up regretting being so far from the activities that are centered around the base. Also, others chose neighborhoods that were close to the base but did not end up feeling safe in those areas, especially during deployments. As each new family told me their storythe concept of MilitaryTownAdvisor.com was born. I knew that military families were the best resource for other military families. I understand the uncertainty and fear that can come with a quick move to a new part of the country, the lack of readily available information, and the need for each of us to be able to learn from each others’ missteps and successes.
How this site is unique: First, all of MilitaryTownAdvisor’s content is written by other military families in the form of reviews. It’s like TripAdvisor for military towns!  The reviews focus on neighborhoods, areas of towns, and schools.  Military families are different than other home buyers because they aren’t looking to purchase their ‘dream’ home. They want their families in safe, family friendly, social neighborhoods that are in good school districts and within a decent commute to base.   Military families are willing to give up ‘dream home’ extras for a good neighborhood. The site is a way for other military families to share their knowledge about where to live.
How to use the site: When you get your new orders, go to MilitaryTownAdvisor.com and search for reviews near your base. Read the reviews and make note of neighborhoods that fit your family’s lifestyle and needs. Then contact a realtor or go to sites like MilitaryByOwner.com and start looking for homes in those neighborhoods.
How we met: My husband and I met at Texas A&M our senior year. We shared the same major and started dating. After school was out, we both moved to Houston and my husband began working for his family and I worked at a bank.  After experiencing the ‘real’ world and being unsatisfied, my husband decided to fly for the Navy. We married and moved to Kingsville, Texas for his advanced training in jet aviation.  We both are Texans and have enjoyed moving around with the Navy, but hope to move back to Texas one day where we can have grandparents close by to help raise our kids.

About me: I graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in Finance. I played Division 1 Soccer for Texas A&M all 4 years, in addition to being in the Pi Beta Phi sorority. I worked for a Comerica Bank in Houston for 3 years, then was a 5th Grade Math Teacher in South Texas (while hubby was in flight training), then once we were stationed in VA Bch, I have worked as a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep for GlaxoSmithKline for the past 6 years. I launched MilitaryTownAdvisor.com 6 months ago in Jan 2012 while having and infant and a 3 year old.
Upcoming: I am the ‘Resource of the Week” on Amy Wife Network Talk Radio http://www.armywifenetwork.com/ Listen to the show at 8pm (i go on about 9pm) Monday July 16th, 2012!!
Current Promotion: For the month of July, we are donating $1 for every review left on the website to Operation Homefront!

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