united through readingWhen a parent is deployed to a war zone, it can be difficult on the children left behind at home. The United Through Reading Military Program provides parents a way to make connections with their children by having deployed parents read childrens books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home.

How does it work?

  1. The service member reads a book while being recorded and sends the DVD to the child.
  2. The child at home watches the DVD and follows along with a book (if available).
  3. The parent at home captures the child’s reaction in a photo or email and sends back to the service member.
  4. The service member’s morale is boosted!

Where is the program available?

National Program Managers from United Through Reading are working directly with over 200 Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard commands, including more than 60 select USO locations that are hosting United Through Reading Military Program. In 2006 United Through Reading invited USO to make the program accessible to Service members who visit participating centers.

You can check to see if your soldier’s unit is listed as participating in the program and contact the email address for that area. The program is available at many locations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.

Visit United Through Reading Military Program
Click here to check on location availabity

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american-red-crossIf your family has an emergency at home and you must contact your soldier, be sure to contact the Red Cross. If the emergency requires that your soldier come home, Red Cross-verified information helps commanding officers makes decisions about emergency leave and it is up to the military whether the service member returns home.

Without Red Cross verification, your soldier may not be able to come home during a family emergency.

The Red Cross emergency communication services keep military service members in touch with their families following the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, birth of a service member’s child or grandchild, or when a family has other emergencies.

Red Cross can help twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. They will relay urgent messages and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world including ships at sea and remote locations.

How to Contact the Red Cross for Assistance

Call (877) 272-7337 (toll-free) if you are an Active duty service member stationed in the United States, or a family member residing with them.

Contact your local Red Cross chapter, which is listed in local telephone directory and at Your Local Red Cross, if you are:

  • Family members of active duty service members who do not reside in the service members’ household,
  • Family members of Department of Defense Civilians assigned overseas
  • members of the National Guard and Reserves,
  • recruiters, MEPS military personnel
  • veterans and
  • civilians.

Call overseas base or installation operators or the Red Cross office at your location if you are:

  • Active-duty service members and family members residing with them or
  • Department of Defense civilians stationed overseas and family members residing with them.

When calling the Red Cross, please provide as much of the following information about the service member as is known:

  • Full name
  • Rank/rating
  • Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  • Social Security Account number or date of birth
  • Military address
  • Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)

Click here to visit the Red Cross website for further information.

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Sandstorm in IraqSandstorms occur mainly in the regions of the  Middle East, Northern Africa, and Northern China. Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, or Kuwait will likely get hit with a sandstorm during their time there. Sand Storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena.

When a sandstorm occurs, it is like a wall of sand approaching . When engulfed, visibility is poor to none and high winds blow sand everywhere – there is no escape. To stay safe during a sandstorm, a person should wear goggles and cover their  mouth and nose with cloth.

That’s where sand scarfs come in handy! They keep sand from nostrils and mouth, and when tucked into the shirt, prevent sand from getting inside clothing.

The Scarves Team over at Soldiers’ Angels makes Sand Scarves  for our troops deployed to the “Sandbox.”  These scarves protect the wearer from the elements, increasing their comfort level, safety and ability to focus on their work. Sand Scarves are available for purchase!

Learn more about the Soldiers’ Angels Scarves project and how you can help! Many soldiers have already received these scarves in care packages and love them! They put them to good use right away!

The Soldiers’ Angels Sand Scarf is made of 100% cotton for comfort and is used to protect our brave soldiers from the elements of the deserts of the middle east.

  • Protects face, neck and ears from dust, sand, mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, etc.
  • Fabric is good for all weather climates
  • great for sand, desert and wooded environments
  • blends well with camouflage military attire
  • assists with breathing in blowing wind and protects from sand and other debris
  • Great item to place in care-packages.

Head over to the Soldiers’ Angels store and buy one or two or more! Our soldiers will appreciate it! You can send sand scarves to yourself (to pack in a care package), to your soldier, or any HERO.

Visit Soldiers’ Angels. Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) non-profit with over 225,000 members providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, veterans and their families

Visit the Soldiers’ Angels store

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american-red-crossDeveloped by the American Red Cross, the Coping With Deployments course addresses the stresses and strains that deployments place on the families of service members. This course was created for military family members (spouses, parents, siblings, and significant others) from all lines of service.

The Coping with Deployment course helps with information on how to strengthen your ability to cope with the challenges that military families deal with during the deployment cycle. Also included is information on how to provide psychological first aid to others experiencing stressful feelings or events.

if you live around Fairfield County, Ohio, the American Red Cross in Fairfield County is sponsoring their “Coping with Deployment” course on March 20 from 9 am – 3 pm. Lunch is provided and the course is free. Just register by calling 740-687-5585. Click here to find out more.

For more information about this course, click here to download the PDF brochure.

To find out if there is a Coping with Deployments course in your area, contact your local Red
Cross chapter by visiting RedCross.org.

Have you taken this course? Please leave a comment and let us know how you liked it :)

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Armed Service Blood ProgramIn peace or war time, the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) helps provide quality blood products for Service members and their families. The ASBP has many components that work together to collect, process, store, distribute, and transfuse blood worldwide. This program is a joint operation between military services including the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Now, the program’s most important mission is supporting troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Blood is shipped to those locatoins several times per week. According to Lt. Col. Deehr, “Having an adequate supply of blood in forward areas can mean the difference between life and death for those injured in the line of duty. To make sure blood is available for those who need it most, the ASBP relies on strong donor support and routinely scheduled blood drives.”

Military donor centers can accept blood donations from military service members, their immediate families, retirees, and DoD employees. Donations from non-DoD civilians who fit the ASBP eligibility criteria and have access to the blood drive will be gratefully accepted.

You Can Help by Donating Blood

ASBP has 20 blood doner centers in the U.S. and around the world. Visit the website to get information on locations and scheduled blood drives.

Even if you cannot donate blood, ASBP has many other ways that you can help! You can help:

  • Organize a blood drive
  • Encourage others to donate
  • Help a friend donate
  • Volunteer at a blood drive

Visit the Armed Service Blood Program website for more information about how you can help!

Join ASBP on Facebook!

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postcards for troopsI was walking at the beach one day, not far from where my son lived before joining the Army. He loved being near the ocean and I was thinking of him that day. So I stopped in the store and picked up a postcard and addressed it with a quick note to let him know I was at his old stomping grounds — far from the cold, landlocked, and mountainous Afghanistan that he now calls home. Fortunately I always carry stamps so I then mailed it at the post office just a block from the beach.

A few days later, I found myself wandering another beach with a friend. I was drawn again to the postcards and got one with a beautiful ocean scene, scribbled a quick greeting to my son, and dropped it in the mailbox nearby.

I repeated this several more times, even mailing one on my way to work one day. I didn’t hear anything about the postcards from my son. A few weeks went by and I asked during an Internet chat one day if he got a postcard from me.

He responded, “Yes! I love getting all the postcards. I hang them on the wall! Thank you!”

I then enlisted the help of a few friends around the country. I asked each person if they could just pick up a postcard from their city the next time they were out and mail it to my son with a brief note about the weather or anything happening that day. They agreed.

Postcards cost 30 – 50 cents and are a quick, easy way to let my deployed soldier son know I am thinking of him at a given moment in time. It’s different then a care package. It’s a little slice of home that brightens my son’s day from a 1/2 world away.

Next time you are out and about, pick up a postcard and send it your deployed son or daughter. I am sure they will appreciate a little slice of home!

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Fit family logoAir Force FitFamily is a web based goal incentive program. Families have the opportunity to set goals and monitor their progress. If you have young children, or grandchildren, take a look at this program. You can help create good habits for kids early in life.

FitFamily is open to all active duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, DoD and civilian families.

Air Force FitFamily encourages the ABCs of family Health and Fitness. You can try them with your family and see the difference small steps can make!

FitFamily stresses that it is never too early—or late—to teach children to make healthy lifestyle choices. With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s more important than ever for parents to make exercise and good nutrition part of everyday family life.

How can you get your little couch potatoes off the sofa and on the road to good health? The answer may be as easy as ABC. Start with these baby steps, get the kids involved in the choices, and make healthy eating and movement part of the entire family’s routine:

  • “A” is for Activities
  • “B” is for Building Habits
  • “C” is for Counting Progress
  • “D” is for Day Trips
  • “E” is for Eating Healthy
  • “F” is for Fun

From walking and raking leaves to hiking and cooking healthy meals, FitFamily participants are doing all kinds of fun activites to stay active—together!

There are many helpful resources available on the Web site to help you and your family stay fit and healthy! You can also enter competitions and register to win prizes.

Visit FitFamily: http://www.usaffitfamily.com/

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drum hike for our heroesWhen SPC Troy Yocum came home from Iraq, he had just one thing on his mind: hike 7,000 miles across America while drumming to raise $5 million for Military families.

Starting April 17th, 2010, Iraq war veteran Troy Yocum will hike daily for 16 months to spread the word that help is needed. His plan is to drum up support in various ways with a great team backing him up!

Troy will be hiking though 37 major U.S. cities and hundreds of small towns with his loyal dog Emmie (Emerson Elaine Eskridge the Superdog) at his side. They will hike through 20 baseball stadiums and be joined by support groups throughout the journey. Troy’s hike will also be streamed live on the Internet – through DrumHike.com, and pinpoint his location in real time on Google Earth. Stay tuned for the book, a film, and events organized by his team and volunteers around the nation.

Why is Troy doing this? Troy is responding to the needs of our nation’s warrior citizens. In the last 6 years over 19,000 Military families have applied for assistance and nearly 50% of those soldiers have been helped. By spreading awareness he hopes to save the homes and lives of his fellow brothers and sisters in arms. “They have fought for us, and now I will fight for them. If I reach the goal of $5 million then many families will drumhikedogbe helped.”

Find out more about how you can help at http://drumhike.com
Support Drum Hike on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HikeForOurHeroes
Find out how Emmie is doing her part for our Nation’s heroes!

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patti correaEvery Military Mom has a heartwarming story to share about strength, sadness, and love when their son or daughter joins the Military and especially when deployed.

Patti Correa, Published Author and Military Mom is seeking stories from Moms. It’s time to tell the mother’s side. This new book will feature stories from mothers of servicemembers coping with their sons and daughters serving this great country.

For more information contact Patti Correa at correahouse@cox.net.

Patti Correa is the author of “From a Pebble to a Rock“, where she compiled stories of military wives, mothers, and daughters from all walks of life. How do they do it? is a question often asked as we see wives, mothers, and daughters of military men go day by day faced with loneliness, more responsibility, and uncertainty that come with separation. Follow Patti as women on the home front tell their true-life, heartwarming stories of love, weakness, and strength during times of separation. These stories of survival will show you the love they have for their husbands, dads, sons, and uncles and their perseverance to keep the families together.

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soldier prayer - pray FASTA unique prayer effort for U.S. deployed troops is happening close to Fort Hood Texas, at Skyline Baptist Church.

About 200 churches are part of this interdenominational prayer ministry, called Pray FAST (Pray For A Soldier Team). Local congregation participate by praying for soldiers deployed from Fort Hood to Iraq and Afghanistan. Each “prayer warrior” is assigned three soldiers to pray for by name.

FAST coordinator, Cecil Wolfe goes through proper channels to ask all soldiers deployed from Fort Hood if they want someone to pray for them. If the soldiers do want prayer, they each fill out a card with information and prayer requests. This information is sent to their prayer warriors.

The desire for prayer amongst deploying soldiers from Fort Hood has spread, with as many as 85 percent requesting a prayer partner.

More churches are needed to provide prayer warriors because approximately 2,800 soldiers are still waiting for prayer partners.

In addition to volunteers, Pray FAST also needs donations of Christian literature and pocket-sized Bibles for deployed soldiers.

Churches wishing to participate in Pray FAST should select a point person to e-mail Wolfe at cecilwolfe@clearwire.net. The point person should be competent in using the Microsoft Excel computer program and will work with Wolfe to match each prayer warrior with soldiers. Pray FAST is geared to churches, he noted, to avoid being over­whelmed by e-mails from individuals.

“It’s critical to start getting names as soon as possible so that I can fulfill the requirements of soldiers,” Wolfe said.

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