Monthly Archives: December 2013

SSV Welcomes New Workforce Development Manager

Linda - Color - WebThis week marked the first week with our new Workforce Development Manager, Linda Blankenship. Linda is replacing Mitch Williams, who recently moved on to a job with the VA. Still Serving Veterans is excited to have Linda join the team and feel that her experience and history makes her a great match – a Vietnam Veteran herself, she also has been serving Veterans for the past 40 years.

Linda Blankenship of Rogersville, Alabama joined the Women’s Army Corps graduating basic training at FT. McClellan, Alabama in 1973. She served as a Medic at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas during the Vietnam War caring for soldiers who suffered from severe burns, amputated limbs, and painful long term injuries. While serving in the military Linda completed a degree in Adult Vocational Education Studies – Healthcare Careers.

Linda is a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). She serves on the national board and the following committees; Women Veterans Issues, Homeless Veterans, and Healthcare. She is a past secretary and board member of the Alabama State Council and Chapter 511 (VVA). Linda was awarded Veteran of the Year for Chapter 511 in 2013 and the Sharon Boyers award from the Alabama State Council in 2010.

Linda has served our community as a Veterans Upward Bound Educational Advisor and facilitator of the Veterans Job Club. This past September marked Linda’s 40thyear of service to our Veterans. Linda is dedicated to serving our Veterans and their families. She looks forward to her new assignment as the Workforce Development Manager and her continued mission – assisting our Veterans.

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Operation Christmas Bear by NAVFOC

Operation Christmas Bear

The North Alabama Veterans Coalition is holding their 10th Annual Operation Christmas Bear event this weekend! In case you haven’t heard, it is a free event for the families of our deployed, or recently deployed Servicemembers, including all Active duty Guard, Reservists, & Deployed DOD Civilians.

It will be held at the Jaycees Building on Airport on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 1pm to 4pm. There will be food, drinks, and tons of fun! Santa arrives at 1:30 by fire truck and free portraits with Santa will be available!

View their flyer for details and registration info here: Operation Christmas Bear

Learn more about the North Alabama Veterans Coalition here: NAVFOC.org

FREE Tax Services for Low Income Households

UAHuntsville, along with United Way of Madison County, will be offering free tax preparation and fast electronic filing for households earning less than $52,000 per year with one or more children or $20,000 per year without children.

The free tax preparations begin mid-January. For appointments call: 1-888-99-TAX-AL (1-888-99-829-25).

There will be two locations: Optimist Recreation Center (703 Oakwood Ave, Hsv, AL 35811) and United Way of Madison County (701 Andrew Jackson Way, Hsv, AL 35801)

Helpful Hints from Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program

Guard and Reserve Families: Get Connected!

When National Guard and Reserve members receive orders to deploy, there often isn’t much time to prepare. Knowing about all of the available resources, services, and benefits in advance will help you and your family face deployment more readily.

Have you heard of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program? Managed by the Department of Defense and the Services, Yellow Ribbon connects you with the information and support you may need throughout each stage of the deployment cycle. The program hosts hundreds of free nationwide events specifically tailored for each Service. By attending a local Yellow Ribbon event, you will receive assistance in navigating the challenges of deployment and reintegration.

Experts who understand the deployment experience lead breakout sessions on financial management, legal planning, healthcare, benefits, employment, relationships, and family well-being. Many events also offer special youth programs and free childcare. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with fellow Guard and Reserve families who understand the issues you may be facing.

Your family doesn’t have to deal with the difficulties of deployment in isolation. Reach out to Yellow Ribbon today! Register for an event in your region at www.yellowribbonevents.org.

Marie Balocki is the Director of the Office for Reintegration Programs at the Department of Defense. In addition to being an Army spouse for more than 30 years, she has served military families around the globe as a volunteer and Federal civilian for 18 years.

Support Guard and Reserve Members in Your Community! 

In towns and communities across the country, National Guard and Reserve members are living double lives. Forget what you’ve seen in spy movies! These men and women are not only maintaining civilian lifestyles, but they also can be called to military service at any time. Guard and Reserve members regularly drill and train in preparation for national emergencies, like disaster relief, international missions, or combat overseas.

In recent years, the nation has increasingly called on the Guard and Reserve more frequently and for longer deployments. Last year, Service members averaged more than 130 Active Duty days. This trend is expected to continue.

What does that mean to those of us in the community? You probably know someone in the Guard and Reserve or someone with a family member who serves. The stress of multiple deployments weighs heavily on those Service members and their loved ones. They need the ongoing support of their friends, neighbors and local resource providers.

For the last five years, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program has also stepped in to share the information and resources that help Service members and their families navigate the challenges of deployment. Yellow Ribbon offers free events nationwide, specifically tailored for each Service and stage of the deployment cycle. Experts lead breakout sessions on financial management, legal planning, health care, benefits, employment, relationships, and family well-being. Participants also have the opportunity to connect with fellow Guard and Reserve families who understand the issues you may be facing. Many events also offer special youth programs and free childcare.

Help us spread the word to Service members and their families in your community. Learn more about Yellow Ribbon at www.yellowribbon.mil or find an event in your region at www.yellowribbonevents.org.

Marie Balocki is the Director of the Office for Reintegration Programs at the Department of Defense. In addition to being an Army spouse for more than 30 years, she has served military families around the globe as a volunteer and Federal civilian for 18 years.

Guard and Reserve Members: Deployment Checklist

When you receive military orders, time to prepare is often limited. This quick checklist is designed to help you ensure your affairs are in order and your family is ready, no matter how long the mission.

  • Update important documents, including Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), ID cards, living will, beneficiaries on financial accounts and Powers of Attorney.
  • Create a spending plan that includes your income and expenses (both planned and emergency).
  • Designate a trusted person to monitor your finances during deployment and be sure he or she has access to all account numbers and passwords.
  • Double check that your will is up to date and accurately captures your wishes regarding property, assets and the guardianship of any minor children.
  • Develop a family communication plan to help you set and manage each other’s expectations during deployment. Define the methods that work best (email, letters, instant message, Skype).

For more intensive preparation, attend a free Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event in your region. Yellow Ribbon events are tailored to every Service and deployment stage, offering information for military members and their loved ones. Led by deployment experts, the events include free sessions on financial management, legal planning, health care, benefits, employment, relationships, and family well-being. Participants also have the opportunity to build support networks with fellow Guard and Reserve families.

Get connected today! Find and register for a free event in your community at www.yellowribbonevents.org.

Travis Bartholomew is the Director of Outreach Services for the Office for Reintegration Programs at the Department of Defense. He has 16 years of experience serving in the Army Reserve, including deployments, and  13 years of experience serving military families as a Federal civilian. 

FREE Military Child Education Coalition Training Opportunity in Huntsville

The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) is pleased to announce that another no-cost training opportunity has been planned in Alabama; at Supporting Military Children through School Transitions – Social-Emotional institute in Huntsville, AL on 21-22 January 2014.

The Supporting Military Children through School Transitions – Social-Emotional, previously known as Transition Counselor Institute – Phase Two, is an interactive professional development institute focusing on the social and emotional implications as they relate to the transitioning student.  Deployment and separation, building confidence and resiliency, and supporting children through trauma and loss are some of the modules addressed in this institute.

This training is open to area public, private, parochial, and home school and Department of Defense counselors and other educators, installation and community leaders, transition specialists, and military parents, as well as other caring adults interested in learning more about and improving the education of military-connected children.

MCEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, world-wide organization, focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all military children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition.  We also perform research, develop resources, conduct professional institutes and conferences, and develop and publish resources for all constituencies.

The training will be at the Hilton Garden Inn, Huntsville South, 301 Boulevard South, Huntsville, AL 35802.

The ‘Save the Date’ flyer can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here and the event is open for registration on MCEC’s website (www.MilitaryChild.org/training).

MCEC is accredited by multiple organizations including, the International Association for Continuing Education and Training, the National Board of Certified Counselors, and the Texas State Board of Social Workers Examiners.  Participants may apply for Continuing Education Units (CEU) upon completion of the training.

A Soldier’s Dream

Poem by Valerie Moore

My shattered body, mutilated

corpse stretched out on the

sand as sacrifice

Soundlessly appeals to Your presence

And in my dreams this

death is relived, in the darkness

Your presence surpasses all.

I have had some help in

making my bed in

hell but You were there

with me.

And in that solemn

moment when I

met You in holy

occasion, my sacrifice

on blood-soaked land

was a prologue to grace.

In this soldier’s

dream, I have laid

down my arms and

I am considering the lilies.