How the 99 Percent Can Support Military Service Members

Lest we forget, here’s a photo to remind us that U.S. Marines and their working companions are hard at work daily in Afghanistan as are all U.S. Armed Forces.

Wilbur, a U.S. Marine Corps military working dog with a Marine special operations team, takes a break with his handler after successfully searching a build site for an Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. The ALP complemented counterinsurgency efforts by assisting and supporting rural areas with a limited Afghan National Security Forces presence. (DoD photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Released)

Wilbur, a U.S. Marine Corps military working dog with a Marine special operations team, takes a break with his handler after successfully searching a build site for an Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. The ALP complemented counterinsurgency efforts by assisting and supporting rural areas with a limited Afghan National Security Forces presence. (DoD photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Released)

Currently, only 1 percent of Americans serve in the Armed Forces.

If you are part of the other 99 percent, here’s a chance for you to support those service members and their families.

A number of community-based organizations, listed below meet a number of criteria from OurMilitary.mil , which can be found here.  Click on the type of support you would like to offer for a list of organizations that can help you get started:

 

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Military Working Dogs Know No Obstacles

Another MWD. They really do anything their handlers do include climbing ladders Afghanistan. (Photo by Jamie Peters 10 Dec 12 Used with permission)

Another MWD. They really do anything their handlers do include climbing ladders Afghanistan. (Photo by Jamie Peters 10 Dec 12 Used with permission)

Military working dogs don’t know nationality. Above is a photo of a British military working dog.

Fellow blogger Kevin Hanrahan became friends with some British Army combat photographers who agreed to let him use their photos.

The photographic team was deployed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in December when the picture was taken.

You can see more photos and read Kevin Hanrahan’s blog HERE.

More on the British Army 4-legged troopers is available  HERE.

Washington Post: Military Benefits for Same Sex Spouses

Leon E. Panetta appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee during confirmation hearings June 9, 2011. (Defense Department photo)

Leon E. Panetta appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee during confirmation hearings June 9, 2011. (Defense Department photo)

As Secretary Leon Panetta prepares to leave the Department of Defense, the Washington Post is reporting that he plans one more major change in policy.

The Pentagon has decided to extend certain benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian personnel, according to officials and people notified about the decision, responding to the increasingly vocal appeals of same-sex couples in the military.

The military expects to announce the decision this week.

The new benefits were not identified by Pentagon officials, but the selection is limited by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. According to the Post story, the law prohibits effects more than 100 benefits.
Under Secretary Panetta’s term, the Pentagon has taken on two other major changes: ending the ban on openly gay military service members and expanding the role of women allowing them to serve in combat units.

AP: Secretary Panetta Lifts the Ban on Women in Combat

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta

The Associated Press is reporting that Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat. The move opens hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs to women in the military

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.

Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.

The Defense Secretary was sued last year by four women in the military and the American Civil Liberties Union who claimed the exclusion of women from combat positions was unconstitutional.

NPR reports that the ACLU website  published a post from one of the plaintiffs, Major Mary Jennings Hegar, who has been deployed twice to Afghanistan.

She tells the story of being shot at in a helicopter while trying to rescue a fellow soldier and concludes:

“If there is one thing I’ve learned about the differences between us all throughout my years of service, it’s this: putting the right person in the right job has very little to do with one’s gender, race, religion, or other demographic descriptor. It has everything to do with one’s heart, character, ability, determination and dedication.

“That’s the problem with the military’s combat exclusion policy. It makes it that much harder for people to see someone’s abilities, and instead reinforces stereotypes about gender.

Basic Allowance for Military Housing to Increase 3.8 Percent

The Village at NTC has been used as a model for redevelopment of military housing throughout the country. Photo credit: epa.gov

The Village at NTC has been used as a model for redevelopment of military housing throughout the country. Photo credit: epa.gov

The Department of Defense announced military families on average will receive a 3.8 percent increase in their housing allowance.

That translates to between $55 and $60 a month for military with dependents depending their rank. The basic allowance for housing is calculated on the median current renter’s market; an average of utilities; average renter’s insurance.

The increase does not apply to members reporting to new locations. Details on how the BAH is calculated is available HERE.

A Proud Marine Mom’s Thanksgiving Wish

To all of our Marines, their families and all of our military – wherever you may be; our wish is that each of you can have the best Thanksgiving possible and that you know we are here in full support & appreciation of the sacrifices you make personally each day for all of us.

On behalf of our organization I would like to express our sincere “thankfulness” to each of you who continues to support us in all of our endeavors in helping our military men & women, their families, wounded warriors and our veterans.

Because of everyone’s support, dedication, love & devotion we have been able to accomplish and make a difference not only at home but far beyond.

We are committed to continue to grow, educate and promote those programs and projects that will best benefit our military,  veterans and their families.

We are truly & abundantly blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving   

Cyd Deathe
Tampa Area Marine Parents Assoc., Inc.
President – Executive Director
Proud Mom of OIF Wounded Warrior Veteran LCpl Adam, USMC 03-07

Memorial Day: An Army Mom’s Reflection

Army Mom Tracie Ciambotti and her son, Josh.

I awoke this morning thinking about how different this Memorial Day is from 2011’s.  I recall—all too well—the dread that plagued me this holiday weekend last year as my son was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in early June.  Those last couple weeks prior to his departures are always difficult with the constant anticipation of having to say good-bye looming.

This year I am so thankful to have him home on American soil and relieved that my daily battle with the worry and fear that accompany his deployments has ended too.

Many of our nation’s sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers have come home from war over the past year.  Sadly, some will forever be remembered as fallen heroes; others are now wounded warriors fighting to recover from severe injuries or missing limbs; many are struggling silently to reintegrate into non-war life and regain some sense of normalcy—if there is such a thing.

Thousands of service members are currently deployed in war zones; others have just begun their tours of duty; some are now preparing for an upcoming deployment.

I doubt we will we ever know the full impact of war on our military families. Continue reading

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