9.30.2008

MILITARYCONNECTION.COM JOINS FORCES TO HOST WEBATHON WITH THE BOB HOPE USO & CBS RADIO TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

MILITARYCONNECTION.COM JOINS FORCES TO HOST WEBATHON WITH THE BOB HOPE USO & CBS RADIO TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS


September 26, 2008 - MilitaryConnection.com, a “portal of all things military” and a corporate member of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program is pleased to be airing a Webathon that will raise funds for the Bob Hope USO. The Webathon will take place this Wednesday, October 1st from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MilitaryConnection.com is proud to be joining forces with several of the premier CBS Southern California radio stations including KRTH-FM (K-Earth 101), KTWV-FM (94.7 The WAVE), KLSX-FM (91.7 Free FM), KFWB-AM (News 980) and KNX-AM (News 1070). In addition to MilitaryConnection.com, the event will be live on Newsblaze.com, TalkingWithHeroes.com and RealMilitaryFlix.com and will be powered by Stickam.com.



Go check out the rest of the story over at Military Etc....




Pau.




- hfs

9.26.2008

In a Time of War




I'm supposed to write a review. I don't know if I can.




Pau.




- hfs

9.22.2008

Meltdown

A few of the "girls" who write with me at SpouseBuzz talked about the "meltdown" that followed the last live event. Maybe not so much of a 'meltdown' as a 'let down' a la the day after Christmas. I didn't understand what they were talking about, having never experienced it.


But I think that is where I am right now. It was a great conference and I'm already looking forward to next years (and grateful that it looks like it will be in DC). But I'm a mess and I need to take a break.


I'll be back eventually, I think.


"Talk amongst yourselves."




Pau.




- hfs

9.21.2008

MBC AAR

Where to begin...


It was incredible, once again, to meet so many people whom I admire. And it was great to reconnect with old friends. I'm already looking forward to next year.


In looking back at last year's MBC posts, I realize that this year's conference had a decidedly different feel to it. Partly due to the change in location and partly due to the fact that it was a slightly different crowd. I'm sure there is more to it but those were the two biggest factors, in my opinion.


As wonderful as it was to have hooked up with BlogWorld Expo, I can't say I am fan of Vegas when it comes to the MilBlogging Conference. I think that Washington, D.C. was a better location. I understand that logistically, and probably financially, it made sense to do it in Vegas (not to mention the fact that it's a heckuva lot easier to fly from Hawaii to Vegas than it is to fly from Hawaii to D.C.) but I'd prefer to have it in D.C. There's just something about D.C.


The panels were pretty good. I think the second panel actually answered the question posed in the FIRST panel better than the first panel answered it's own question. When you have to ask yourself whether you're still relevant, chances are that you are not.

I do think that the panelists in Panel 1 did a good job of clarifying their thoughts and explaining their individual motivations for blogging. Greyhawk pointed out that readership numbers are not the significant metric when it comes to justifying a blog. And CJ really got at the heart of the matter in that he will never set foot in a psychologist's office and that his shrink is at WordPress.



***My plane is about to board so I'll continue this later...***


Continuing on with Panel 1...Ward Carroll does not need to moderate any more panels. Ever. He fails to understand what "moderate" means and, on several occasions, overshadowed the panelists and the discussion with his sidebar comments and pot-stirring "insights". The point of a moderator is to facilitate the conversation, not dominate it.

The discussion came up concerning the reason for the decline in blogging by those IN theatre. Career concerns were put forth as a reason - pressure from above and concern over the career ramifications were set forth as a possible cause. Semper Fi's husband suggested an alternative theory - that it is not a strategic level issue but more of a tactical issue (and forgive me if I messed that up. I can't recall exactly what he said and I'm waiting for clarification which I'll post once I get.).

Secretary Geren made the point in the third panel that soldiers who blog from in theatre are the best ambassadors for the Army (when it's done properly). And he's right. But blogging while deployed is a risk and one that not many - especially senior NCOs and the lower enlisted side of the house - are willing to take. I would love to see more senior NCOs blogging - I think that their insight into the situation on the ground at that moment is priceless.

Bouhammer made the point in Panel 4 that, as opposed to the rate of information flow back in WWII (think "Letters From Iwo Jima"), blogging captures today what happened TODAY. He made the point that it was like comparing Generation Kill and Band of Brothers in terms of how quickly the stories are now told. In fact, I think they are told SO fast that many of fail to grasp just HOW important those stories are until a little bit of time has passed and perspective has been gained.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering what John Donovan was talking about when he referred to the "mall guard uniform" in his question to GEN Bergner, here you go:


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***Looks like my flight from LAX to home is finally about to board (we've been delayed by over 4 hours on top of a 4 hour layover. Ick) so I'll stop now and write more later. Stay tuned! ***

9.20.2008

MBC 7

Mrs. G is up there talking about the milbloggers we've lost. This part is the hardest part of this entire thing and yet it is so important. So many lost...and not just bloggers.

MBC 6

MilBloggies!!!




Chuck Z lost out to a blogger who was ordered o stop six months ago. It's a real shame because aside from my personal crush on him, I really love the way he writes. If Carren ever dumps him, My hooker husband may have to change to an "open Marriage."



***edited to add that I have photographic proof of many things including the fact that I did not write this post. IT was a 3-time loser that did.

MBC 5

Panel 4 is up and titled "The New Cadre of War Reporters". Hosted by Greyhawk and includes JP Borda of Milblogging.com, Christian Lowe of Defense Tech, and Toby Nunn of Toby Nunn's Briefing Room and Bad Voodoo's War fame.


JP's showing us a clip from the bit done by Deb Scranton on "Bad Voodoo's War".


JP says it was a lot more fun to do BVW because he isn't able to put those types of experiences into words. Greyhawk comments that, in watching BVW, he recognized some friends from his time over there. Small world.

Christian, what were you thinking when you decided to go to Iraq??

He was pissed that he didn't get to embed on the first round for the invasion. It was (is?) the biggest story of the century and he wanted to be in on it. He went as a "SOJO" - solo journalist. That's the beauty of modern technology. The support structure is now sitting right there in your laptop. Anyone can be a multimedia journalist and makes a much more compelling story for the reader.

The DoD wants to send jounalists to Iraq but there is still an accreditation process in place that makes it tough. Blackfive and their staff are working to provide another avenue.

Toby says that it's beautiful but it sucks that bloggers aren't getting embeds like they should. However, we're able to fill that gap with something other than a mainstream media voice.

Jack Holt finds that the liability is the big stumbling block right now. The one question that most commanders have before they allow an embed is do they have insurance in place? They want to know that everything is squared away and that you're not going to be left hung out to dry with a big medical bill.

Toby relates an incident in which they got hung up behind a convoy and an IED hit a bus filled with women and children rather than the convoy. They offered aid and were riding high on their actions. That night the WaPo reported that Toby's unit attacked the bus. The story got skewed and Toby and his men were hung out to dry. However the bloggosphere afforded Toby and his unit the opportunity to set the record straight. The milblogging community got behind Bad Voodoo in a big way.

QUESITON: Any pressure from above?

TN: Obviously there is OPSEC. Didn't want anything to distract from ability and lethality. Once the command was convinced of that, it was a go.

BH: Never really had a problem with it. The only time censorship was an issue was from his wife.

QUESTION: JP, what differences did you see between your deployments?

JP: Didn't see much change. Had to consider the fact that his family read what he wrote so there was always that consideration.

BH: Blogging now captures today what's happening on the warfront TODAY. As opposed to letters from previous wars that sat for years before they were captured for history. It's captured raw, unedited. But it's NOW, not 20 years later. Generation Kill versus Band of Brothers. We'll know tomorrow what happened today.

QUESTION: Do you think that someday blog writings will be the "first hand sources" that come with history textbooks?

QUESTION: Did your families watch the film before it was screened? And how did they feel about it?

JP: They all cried a lot during the screening. But it gave them a much better understanding of what we were doing.

TN: They did watch it and they did get a better understanding. But he's still in the doghouse for not communicating effectively with his family what he did before the screening. His website became somewhat of an FRG site in that everyone read it.

QUESTION: When you're over there, doing your thing, do you have kind of a different view as a blogger? Do you look at incidents with an eye toward blogging?

BH: Went with a stack of 3x5 cards and would write down highlights so he wouldn't forget (too many IED hits...his memory is shot) so that he could come back and write about it.

TN: There's a beauty of the relationships built in combat. That's part of bridging that cultural gap. It's important thing for them to understand. Situations can provided some levity. Shows good guys having fun while still doing dangerous work.

CL: Everything is blog fodder. Many a port-o-potty was put up for a caption contest. There is no better notebook than a videocamera.

BH: Writing about difficult events can be therapeutic but it's also very hard to bring those demons out.

QUESTION: Afghanistan. Thoughts?

BH: All the bad guys that left Iraq have moved in to Afghanistan. Germans lost their first soldier in ______ years. We've set the record for number of losses already this year. Partly because there are more of us there. And partly because they've lost in Iraq and they've moved on.

And we're on to the MilBloggies.




Pau.




- hfs

MBC 4

I come back to find my computer littered with advertisements like I would find on my car windshield after a day at the mall. Good grief!


Still no dice on getting the BWE site or Twitter. Grr.


We're currently waiting on the live feed for the Bloggers' Roundtable panel. This panel is hosted by Jack Holt from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and features the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren. Additional panelists include Ward Carroll and John Donovan.


Secretary Geren is on the line.

Ward: How would you rate your own internet savvy?

SG: Uses the internet a great deal. Blogging isn't something that he was really familiar with until just a few years ago. References Dan Rather's undoing by bloggers. "I don't know what a blog is but I know that Dan Rather does." He encourages the senior leadership to embrace "new media".

Ward: What are your personal frustrations with how your top concerns have been handled by traditional mechanisms?

SG: Interest in "new media" wasn't really fueled by any frustrations per se but more just a realization of the rise of "new media" and it's value. He sees it as an addition to what we're doing and a mechanism to reach families.

John Donovan: How do we change the culture at the O-5/O-6 level or do we just wait some of those guys out?

SG: General Caldwell is making inroads in that area. There are generational challenges. He now sees blogs as an important part of his information-gathering. Yes, his generation has had difficulty in embracing the "new media". But there are now senior leadership and THEIR WIVES that blog!

JD: Do you think you've satisfactorily set the stage so that, no matter what the new administration embodies, that the ball will continue to roll?

SG: I think so. General Caldwell has really made inroads. But he's not the only one talking about it. Significant inroads have been made but we're not where we need to be.

QUESTION: Has the Army given any thought to publicizing blogs outside of the military (i.e. the general public)?

SG: Hadn't really thought about this before. The sense is that, particularly for the 30 and below set, MSM is much like the Model T Ford in terms of where people get their news.

QUESTION: Has there been any talk about trying to come up with a common set of rules with regard to blogging amongst the services?

SG: No. Each branch is going to have different criteria. Each service is going to customize the guidelines based on how they see the mission requirements and how they relate.

QUESTION: What kind of follow up do you have in place to pursue ideas brought forth in roundtables to make sure that the concept presented is fully understood and isn't misconstrued or misinterpreted?

SG: In a previous roundtable, the issue of reaching out to parents was brought up. Getting back to the person who raised the issue and let them know what is being done and look for clarification is necessary but not yet really done.

QUESTION: There is no methodology to train the soldier on how to blog. How do we make this happen? The Army doesn't train people on the ONE TOOL we use every day.

SG: You're right - there is no mechanism in place for that. Our senior enlisted and officers think that they will never get in trouble if they keep their mouth shut but then the Army story isn't told. We have to get away from the "zero defect" mindset. The best people to tell the stories are the ones that are out there, every day. They are the best ambassadors for the Army. How we get a culture that is willing to take risks in that respect is a big challenge.




I have to say, this is the 4th or 5th time I've been involved with Secretary Geren and I am never disappointed with him.




Chief of Public Affairs, US Army General Bergner


QUESTION: (John Donovan) What's up with the "mall guard" suit that the Army seems to be moving to in terms of uniform?

GB: Feedback has been strong but there is logic behind it. But that's the direction the Army is going.

QUESTION: Would the Army be willing to issue and "Outstanding Blogging Medal"?

GB: One of the challenges we have in this institution is getting a new idea into the Army and also getting an old idea out. Our ability to move forward is really the nature of the challenge. We will find a way to recognize those that are telling the Army story. All of us want to tell the story.

QUESTION: What about the interagency aspect of all of this? Are there any efforts in that regard?

(sorry, I missed the answer...got distracted.)


Time to browse the exhibit hall.




Pau.




- hfs

MBC 3

Next panel up is MilBlogging as a Community and moderated by Melinda of SpouseBuzz and Most Certainly Not. Panelists include LAW of ParentZone, FuzzyBear Lioness, Mrs. G. from Mudville Gazette, and Sarah from Trying to Grok.


What are some of the "hot button" issues for families and your audience?

Sarah: It's interesting how we will write anything for everyone. The biggies are ones that are really personal - the things that you NEVER talk about like how many of us sit home and plan our husband's funeral or divulge the innermost details of reunification.

Mrs. G.: Dawn Patrol is a great resource.

FbL: Project Valour-IT started during Hurricane Katrina and had a rough start. So the idea came about to pit the services against one another to raise monies for PVIT. And the fundraising exceeded everyone's wildest dreams.

How does the milblogging community fill the gap for the parent community?
LAW: ArmyWives (the show) has a line..."It's a totally different muscle" in reference to sending a child into combat as opposed to sending a spouse. Parents are different than spouses. They are not often on the radar with regard to the military.


Mary from MilitaryOneSource is speaking about the new stuff coming up including TroopTube (as an alternative to YouTube), a blog site called GoalPost, moderated online counseling, and HeroHelpers which will be coming online in the next few weeks.

LAW: Is MilitaryOneSource.com available to parents?

Mary: It's not a black and white area. Depends on the level of support being offered to the servicemember. There are resources for parents on MilitaryOneSource.


QUESTION: Are there any communities out there that try to form a support structure for veterans? Are there any plans to expand those communities to veterans from other wars?

Sarah: When a blogger who was a military member exits military service, it's not like they are then erased from the milbloggosphere.

John Donovan: You're not always going to see what's going on. It's multi-variant, multi-faceted and you don't see it up front all the time. Many things are behind the scenes.



For some reason, I can't get into the BlogWorld Expo's site or Twitter...and it's really ticking me off. Other sites come up just fine. Grr.


We're breaking for lunch.




Pau.




- hfs

MBC 2

JP Borda opens with an intro to LTG Caldwell's remarks. LTG Caldwell is speaking about the importance of blogging as it relates to the control of power in this "complex landscape". LTG Caldwell instituted a policy that all students at the Combined Arms College blog which I personally think is a wonderful idea.


JP is hilarious. And not only that but he brought his MOM with him and the image of her hanging out at the pre-party last night (at The Penthouse Club) was priceless. Way to go ChipperD! It's nice to have him here instead of overseas, getting shot at.


JP's covering some of the highlights of the past years of milblogging:
* the DoD's update of the OPSEC command, requiring military bloggers to register their blogs with their command

* milbloggers met with President Bush in 2007

* Andrew Olmestead's passing in January 2008

* March/April 2008 MattMattMattMattMatt

* Soldiers' Angels, ParentZone, SpouseBuzz, etc.


And now we're on to the first panel. Ward Carroll is moderating with Matt from Blackfive, Phil Carter from Intel Dump, CJ Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective, and Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette. The topic is "Are MilBlogs Still Relevant?"


Ward talked too long. Introductions from all panel members. I didn't realize that Greyhawk had been blogging since early 2003. He mentions that it's getting harder and harder to find bloggers that are actually blogging from IN theatre. There are a variety of reasons for the decline. Phil started in November 2002. He remarks on the gap that exists between the less than 1% of citizens of this country that serve in the military and the rest of society and how blogging, and milblogging in particular, needs to adapt and adjust as time goes on.


And on a side note, the internet connection in this room (not sure if it's expo-wide) SUCKS.


Matt was mobbed by a group of adoring fans as he arrived here at the expo. He's reviewing the reason (Matt Schram) that he started blogging and how the effects of blogging have had positive effects worldwide. He's now discussing the future of Blackfive - credentialing people, embedding them in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how Blackfive is morphing somewhat into something that resembles the MSM. And it scares him. It scares me too in a sense. It's a slippery slope and I'd hate to see something like Blackfive turn into something that it was designed to counter - the MSM.


So, does it matter? Are milblogs still relevant?

Phil: Yes. This election provides an opportunity for discourse between the 1% in the military and the rest of the society. Keep the war on the front pages.

Ward: Is there part of Obama's campaign that is trying to use the milbloggosphere to get Obama's message out there?

Phil: Yes. Both campaigns are. And both see the importance of it.

CJ: The relevancy issue is about as broad as the variety of blogs themselves. As long as blogging is relevant to the blogger, it doesn't matter whether anyone else sees it as relevant. "I'll never set foot in a psychologist's office. My psychologist is at WordPress."

Greyhawk: Is pressure from above a significant factor in the cause of the decline in frontline bloggers? Readership numbers are not the significant metric. It's not "how many" readers but WHO are the readers.

Ward: Matt, what are your concerns?

Matt: Besides the Penthouse Club...as long as we can still reach out to those within the military community and help them, it doesn't really matter if the rest of the world cares. That's as relevant as he cares to be.


QUESTION: Do you think the blogging community can use the need for support to push for support for those returning? And if so, do you think the blogworld community can move from simply talking about the issue to actually implementing support groups within the milblogging community?

Greyhawk: It's already been done - in a disorganized organized way: Military.com, Soldiers' Angels, Project Valour-IT, SpouseBuzz, etc.

CJ: His decision to become a 1SGT was made in order to be able to influence and support the troops. The emails from troops that he gets shows that he IS supporting troops, in addition to supporting himself.

Phil: We're seeing a new way of organizing. Groups like Wounded Warrior Project are relying on a new way of getting word out and accessing support that eliminates a great deal of overhead due to the personal and viral nature of how support is coming about.


John Donovan: His blog has allowed him to get with his CongressCritter and allowed him to influence his VA region, etc.

QUESTION: How do we organize all of these resources so that everyone has common access to them?

Phil: It's jazz, not symphony. The nature of these resources is resistant to top-down organizational structure.

(It all goes back to Matt's idea of Small Spheres of Influence.)

QUESTION: What was your target audience and how has it changed due to the unintended consequences of blogging?

Matt: It was a lot easier to get noticed back in the beginning. The biggest unintended audience was his mom. That's when he changed his "blogging voice".

Phil: We've been able to help the MSM get the story right or call them out on it when they get it wrong.

Greyhawk: When the numbers started coming in, he changed his blogging style. He began to self-edit more and increasingly put more thought into his posts. The realization came then that the "bad guys" started reading. He references the Rick Rescorla post and how one of the first commenters on that post was Rick's wife. People you write about will find you.

QUESTION: MilitaryOneSource is a perfect answer to the first question of the panel. They are looking to use the milblogging community and the social networking sites to spread the word.

QUESTION: Carren Ziegenfuss remarks about how, when Chuck was wounded, writing on his blog was therapeutic for HER. And had she not done that, she wouldn't be a part of SpouseBuzz. What kind of impact does the involvement of families have on you as a blogger?

CJ: "I wrote to be able to talk to 'someone' without talking to 'anyone'". Blogging is his way to be able to talk to those close to him without having to do so face to face.

Greyhawk: It's an interesting side effect to get emails from families seeking help. Or those who joined the service because of what they read at Mudville.

Phil: "It's a tough question about how much light you want to show." He didn't blog much from Iraq as he didn't want his family and friends to worry. It's an interesting that so many in the military are willing to share with EVERYONE.

Matt: The Army is one big, frickin' bureaucracy and you're not going to see it take those kind of risks.

Phil: Until you see the metrics for promotion and selection change, you will not see this become mainstream.

CJ: The higher-ups support blogging but there's still a reg out there that stands in the way. The support hasn't trickled down to the lower levels.


The discussion ensues about the conflict between the strategic level and the tactical level in terms of support for blogging.


And we're on break.

Evidence - MBC 1

Some people never learn...


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And that was just the warm up. There are more where that came from and I think I see a Project Valour-IT fundraiser in the making. I think I can sell some of these pictures for a pretty penny...heh.




Pau.




- hfs

9.19.2008

Cool thing #1 about the MilBlogging Conference

The MilBlogging Conference (henceforth known as MBC because I'm too lazy to type out "MilBlogging Conference" each time) is being held here in Vegas in conjunction with BlogWorld Expo. Which means that there are not only going to be all sorts of cool milbloggers hanging around, there are also going to be some very cool "mainstream" bloggers (is that an oxymoron anymore?) hanging around.

Case in point: I went over to the convention center to register early as I am planning to help out at the registration table for tomorrow's MBC. Didn't want to get stuck in any more crowds than is absolutely necessary on this trip (which is another post in and of itself). As I'm walking in, I see none other than Hugh Hewitt off to my right on the phone. I must have been staring at him because he looked up and smiled and gave a small wave.

Eek! Too cool! He's one of my favorite bloggers/radio talk show hosts (I'm hoping to meet Dennis Praeger as well...eat your heart out, Jay) so this was definitely a highlight. Listen to me...I sound like a goofy 10 year old at a Miley Cyrus concert. Sheesh.


It was still cool though.


Stay tuned for more updates...




Pau.




- hfs

Leavin', on a jet plane...

Just remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.


And like MacGyver says, pictures aren't memories, they are evidence.


I promise to take more pictures this time. Honestly.




Pau.




- hfs

9.18.2008

Prayers needed

7 Soldier Die in Chopper Crash in Iraq


No word on unit, names, or cause.




Pau.




- hfs

9.15.2008

Grr.

UPDATE: *whew* Seems to be fixed! Barb - you are my hero! Beer's on me in Vegas! If you happen to stumble over an archive whose text is too long for the dimensions of the new layout, you'll see the blog layout go wonky. If I had more time on my hands, I'd go back and edit all of the offending posts...but I don't. SO you're out of luck. Sorry. I have to pack!

*~*~*~*~*~*

The new template I want to use for my blog is giving me FITS. I'm about ready to chuck it and just stick with the old tried and true basic blogger template. What's really frustrating is that when I preview the code in my test blog, it looks JUST FINE.


When I copy and paste (altering NOTHING) to damn code to my regular blog, it's FUBARd.


I. DON'T. GET. IT.


I know just enough .html to be dangerous. Which isn't a good thing. Thank goodness for the "preview" option! I've narrowed it down to a slice of code that seems to be causing the problem (though I can't be 100% sure so I'm still digging through the rest of the code) but I can't figure out what to DO about it.




GRR.




Pau.




- hfs

9.14.2008

Britain Establishes Shari'a Law

UK's First Shari'a Courts


Not with a bang but with a whimper...




Pau.




- hfs

9.12.2008

Crossing the Bar

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Crossing The Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.


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"Crossing the bar" refers to the death of a mariner. The phrase has its origin in the fact that most rivers and bays develop a sandbar across their entrances, and "crossing the bar" meant leaving the safety of the harbor for the unknown.





Pau.




- hfs

9.11.2008

9.11.08

Photobucket Image Hosting

9.08.2008

Army Steps Up to Challenges Supporting Families

Did you know that the Army Family Action Plan celebrated it's 25th anniversary this month? Recently, I was invited to participate in a Bloggers' Roundtable put on by the Department of Defense (DoD) designed to differences the Army Family Action Plan has made in the lives of Army families since its inception 25 years ago.

The Bloggers Roundtable provides source material for stories in the blogosphere concerning the Department of Defense (DoD) by bloggers and online journalists. Where available, this includes transcripts, biographies, related fact sheets and video.You can access the transcript and mp3 audio file of this roundatable by visiting the DoDLive webpage.

Among those involved in this particular Roundtable was the Secretary of the Army, Mr. Pete Geren. I have had the pleasure of meeting Secretary Geren in person as well as participating with him in a previous Roundtable and this time was no different. He introduced the topic by saying that this was
an important opportunity for us to look back on 25 years of the Army Family Action Plan. General Wickham initiated this with a -- with a very prescient white paper that he wrote 25 years ago, and did an extraordinary job of looking into the future and laying out for us the challenges we would face, as an Army, as we moved further into this century.

And the Army, over the last several years, has been stepping up to this challenge, making -- doing everything we can to provide Army families a quality of life that's comparable to the quality of their service. But we recognize there's more to do, and the great folks that are with us today are some of those that are helping us respond to the needs of families and helping us understand the needs of families.

There were several of us on the panel and some very good questions were posed. In particular I asked how the Army manages to strike a balance between the family-life programs that AFAP has been so good about pointing out the need for versus actual military funding. Because, let's face it, as wonderful as those programs are, my overriding concern as a military spouse is the safety and welfare of my husband - that he have the best equipment and training available to him so that he can not only do his job well but also stay safe and come BACK to us when he's done.
Secretary Geren responds:

Anytime you have to live within a budget you have to make hard choices. There's no doubt about it. Always the first priority of our Army are the men and women in harm's way. We can never take our eye off of that ball. That's got to be where every day you wake up, what can we do for the men and women that are in harm's way and do everything we can. Now, that doesn't mean that you can ignore other important aspects of the life of the Army and family support is a huge part of that, and over the last couple years we've more than doubled support for families. We've worked hard to move those family support programs from the supplemental -- (inaudible) -- into a -- to the regular budget and into our five-year budgeting cycle and have been successful because we recognize how important that is.

But I can assure you that we never take our focus off the men and women who are in harm's way. That is our top priority. But an important part of supporting those men and women in harm's way is making sure the families have the support that they need, and General Wickham 25 years ago wrote that the family support is a readiness issue. If you are in harm's way and you're having to worry about whether or not your children are in good schools or the housing (they're in that it be safe ?), their neighborhoods are safe, it's going to impact readiness. So just from a readiness standpoint family support is critical. But our commitment to family goes beyond that. We believe we've got a moral commitment to the families. They're volunteers just like the soldiers are and they're carrying a big part of our nation's burden particularly during these very challenging times. But your point is well taken. We can never take our eye off the ball of the men and women whose lives are on the line for us. We've got 250,000 soldiers in 80 countries around the world today (varying ?) threatening environments and we -- that is our obsession.

In addition to my question, there were some phenomenal questions from the other panelists. One question had to do with PTSD/TBI (post-traumatic stress disorder/traumatic brain injury) support for the spouses whose loved ones are dealing with these issues. And not only is there support for spouses in these situations but also is there any kind of effort being made to connect these spouses WITH one another for added support?

Another question focused on the servicemembers that do not have spouses but DO have families (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.) that want to be involved and crave the information that has traditionally been reserved for spouses.

One participant asked how the DoD and the VA were planning on handling the "bubble" of servicemembers that have gone through the military service and what the plans were to help with the transition from military to civilian life.
These roundtables are a wonderful way to be able to bring issues to the forefront of a discussion with people involved at some of the highest levels of decision-making within the military and the Defense Department. I would encourage you to go and either read the transcript or listen to the audio archive of the discusison. And, should you have questions that were NOT addressed, please feel free to post them in the comments and I will do my best to bring them up should I get the chance.


Cross-posted at Military Connection.





Pau.




- hfs

9.07.2008

Bear with me please

I'm futzing with my template again. I think I've found one I like (and Bill, there's no mauve) but it's going to take a few days to get things tweaked to my satisfaction. In the meantime, I'm going back to my original template.


If you notice bugs or issues as I upload the new template, let me know in the comments. Also, could you be kind enough to let me know what O/S you're using and what browser? Thanks!




Pau.




- hfs

9.05.2008

If you're the praying type

UPDATE: Coast Guard Releases Names

Our friends were involved in the recovery effort. All four on board were married with children. A fund has been established to help the families of those lost.

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Now would be a good time.


Even if you're not the praying type, good thoughts are needed.


Friends of ours are involved.





Pau.




- hfs

9.02.2008

Military Connection

For those of you who are new to my life, I also write for another website - MilitaryConnection. It's a great site for all sorts of employment and education resources, targeted at (but not exclusive to) the military and veteran community. I maintain a blog over there as well as oversee the forum.


If you're looking for a career change, or just a career, you should go check it out!




Pau.




- hfs

Bloom where you're planted

Friends of ours from church bought a boat this summer and decided to head down to the beach today for the holiday and asked us to tag along. A great get-together - lots of friends from church were there.


Our friends brought water skis and took us out for a run. I've never been water skiing nor wakeboarding nor tubing. We never did boats and the closest I've come is jet skiing (which I adore and MacGyver and I are always on the lookout for some of the old standup jetskis on Craigslist that don't cost an arm and a leg). I am always up for new stuff so I decided to give it a try and it was a blast! I was worried I wasn't going to be able to get up at all but I managed to get up on my first try. Didn't stay up for long but I made it up!


Our friend who was driving the boat and giving instruction has the heart of a teacher so he was very good at explaining what to do and how to do it which made things much easier. I wrenched my shoulder pretty good on the first try and it's pretty sore right now. We'll see how it feels in the morning.


This family that invited us to go with them are awesome. I love how they just embrace life wherever they are. I'm very much a "bloom where you're planted" type of person - I think it's necessary in order to be "successful" in military life - but this family is the epitome of that.


I have several friends that are not the "bloom where you're planted" types and I have a hard time understanding how a person functions like that. Don't get me wrong - I've not liked every place we've lived while in the military nor do I like even the "good" places 100% of the time. Even our dream location will have it's drawbacks. But I can't spend months or years bemoaning the location I live in and I can't sit around waiting for "the next place we live" to be better. If I did that I might as well curl up into a ball and try to sleep the days away.


Not my style.


So I get out. I learn about the place we're living. I find things to do. I do my best to meet people. I try to put out of my mind the fact that we will be leaving here someday - probably sooner than later - and others may very well do the same. Military life is very much a "live for the moment" life. If you spend your time waiting to be in a "better location", you'll wake up one day and find that 10 years have slipped past you and all you have to show for it are a few lousy T shirts and not a lot else.


I'd rather look back on those 10 years and remember the time we went snowmachining (that's "snowmobiling" for those of you that don't live in Alaska) in -20* weather at the unit Christmas party or the time I had a massive snowball fight in the parking lot at swim practice or the time we took off down to Orlando while living in Alabama to go to DisneyWorld because the tickets were free. Or what about the time the kids and I jumped in the car and drove with friends from church (in Alabama) to New Orleans because there was a Mervyn's there and because I wanted FOR REAL beignets from the French Quarter? Who knew that a year later, the French Quarter would come really close to being wiped off the map??


Or what about the time MacGyver and I took off up to Chena Hot Springs for our anniversary? Or the trip to Talkeetna during HART (high altitude rescue team) training? Or jumping the rock at Waiamea? Or driving the road to Hana? Or finding our favorite bagel place down in Nashville? Or touring the plantation in Franklin? Or the beautiful homes we toured in Eufala?


NONE of those memories would exist if I had sat around moping over the fact that we weren't where I absolutely wanted to be. Not one.


Bitter or better. It's a choice. Choose a vowel.




Pau.




- hfs

Nothing worth linking to

So I was caught with my pants down, metaphorically speaking. If you're here from AoS, you'll have to dig in order to come up with much of interest. Right now, life is mundane and boring which is just the way I like it.

If you do have time on your hands, you can check out a few of my personal favorites:

Veteran Treatment Court

The Shield

Hooker Pr0n

Hooter Hooker Pr0n

Bloggers' Roundtable with Pete Geren

General Georges Sada

Looking Back



There are more but that's about all I have time for right now. Because I have that thing called a life. Archives are to the right -----> Enjoy.




Pau.




- hfs

9.01.2008

Musings

Long weekends aren't my favorite things when MacGyver isn't here. This has been a LONG 4 months. And it's not over yet but we're heading in to the home stretch. This separation has been a bit of an adjustment for me - the mindset is different this time around. When he was in Iraq, I worried. He was in an unsafe spot and was doing unsafe things.


Now? Not so much. Now he's hanging out with old friends, riding motorcycles, drinking beer, shooting pool. It's easy to slip into that "he has it easy compared to me" attitude. At least when he was Iraq, they were shooting at him.


Awful, isn't it? I have to remind myself that he misses us terribly and would so much rather be here than there. Though there are days when I'd gladly switch places with him. At least he'll be home for Princess Trouble's birthday.

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Conversation with Little Man today:

LM: Mommy, do bad guys live on asteroids?

ME: I don't think so. I don't think anyone lives on asteroids. There's no oxygen in space and that makes it hard to breathe.

LM: So we couldn't live on an asteroid?

ME: No.

LM: What if we lived on a ship?

ME: What kind of a ship? Like a boat?

LM: No. Like a plane.

ME: That could be interesting. I think we might get bored and want a yard to play in.

LM: Yeah. And there aren't any bathtubs. Where would we take baths?

ME: ...Good point.

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Hurricane Gustav is giving me heartburn. Much less so than Katrina now that Grama no longer lives down there. But we still have friends in the area and it sure does dredge up those awful days in 2005. I'm afraid to go to sleep tonight. I did that in August of 2005 and woke up early the next morning to find that Katrina had taken dead aim at where my Grama lived.

So right now, I'm glued to the television, praying Gustav keeps tracking west of NOLA and thanking God for Bobby Jindal.

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A friend of mine started selling jewelry for a certain jewelry company and I'm hosting a party for her next weekend. Drop me an email (homefrontsix @ yahoo.com) if you wanna know who the company is or if you're interested in placing an order.

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I'm still trying to get a design drawn up for new T shirts for the unit. But I am not graphically inclined and the one person I had been put in contact with hasn't delivered. Anyone good with Photoshop or other graphic design programs? I'm not looking for anything show-stopping. I was thinking of a Chinook slingloading a palm tree with the unit info and name in a circle around it. I'd like to sell them as a fundraiser for the unit FRG.

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Nineteen days. Nineteen days until I head out for the MilBlogging conference! I. Can't. Wait. Everything seems to be in place. The plane ticket is purchased (Thanks J.K.!!!), the hotel room is booked and paid for (thanks to everyone for that!) as is the rental car (again, thanks!). I think I even have a few bucks left on the In-N-Out gift card that my Godmother gave me for Christmas so Carrie and I will be hitting the closest In-N-Out at first chance. And my mom gave me cash for some spending money (and goodies for the kids). I don't gamble so no need for that.

Nineteen days!!! I'll be doing my best to live-blog it with my new Mac (gonna have to keep Andi away from it so she doesn't get drool on it) which should be fun.

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That's all for now. Time to go pack the car. We're heading to the beach tomorrow with friends from church. Then it's back to the daily grind (which I happen to enjoy) and hopefully a few work days before it's VEGAS, BABY!




pau.




- hfs