2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Military spouses work hard all year long to keep the family running on the home front, so they deserve a little something special this holiday season. Here are some of our favorite ideas for pampering the military spouse in your life.

Gifts for Military Spouses

Fairwinds Candle Company

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Fairwinds Candle Company is a veteran- and military-spouse owned candle company. All of their scents are Navy-inspired like Commitment, Gig Line and Topside, these are a perfect gift to give your Navy military spouse or military spouse friend. 

Beth R. Martin Designs

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Hand-painted by a military spouse in Charleston, S.C. these gorgeous leather napkin rings make for a great addition to your next holiday party or social gathering with your military spouse friends. 

Altruist Wine by Markham Vineyards

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

The Altruist Wine was developed by Markham Vineyards to honor those serving in the military and as first responders. The deep Merlot is a great gift idea for your fellow military spouse or for yourself — because we all need a little wine to get through this military life. 

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Soap Cauldron

Owned by a Navy Reservist who served in Desert Storm and her sisters, Soap Cauldron is now creating beautiful artisanal soaps and skincare products. The small-batch products are made with pure plant oils, gourmet butters and natural botanicals. You can get a gorgeous gift set to make gift-giving easier or pick out the perfect scent for your military spouse. 

Brave Crate

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

If you are looking for the perfect gift for a military spouse going through a deployment, look no further than Brave Crate. Brave Crate offers a monthly subscription box that helps military spouses count down the months during deployments with self-care items and even resources through their private Facebook group. 

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Charliemadison Originals

Charliemadison Originals is a military-spouse owned bracelet company that offers gorgeous beaded bracelets and necklaces that are military-inspired, first-responder-inspired and more. This set of Milspo Strong bracelets is a perfect gift for your military spouse- although you can find others that are branch-specific, too. 

Life and Apples Wellness Planners

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

We know that military life can be…well, chaotic to say the least. A Life and Apples Wellness Planner is a great gift to help your military spouse start the new year off organized, as well as track her own self-care and wellness. They have pages for your to-do list as well as meal planning, fitness tracking and gratitude journaling.

MilSo Box

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Looking for the perfect subscription box for your military spouse? MilSo Box is a military-spouse owned and inspired monthly subscription box full of self-care items like beauty, treats and even jewelry. Each month has a theme, and the monthly box will help you get through this crazy military life one day at a time. 

Modern Rosie

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Modern Rosie offers prints, canvases and accessories that mostly focus on the Navy military spouse life of those on cruisers, destroyers and submarines. But this “Do Not Pack” tumbler is something that all of us military spouses can get behind. And need for our next PCS filled with coffee (or something a little stronger). 

Jane & Cope

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Military-spouse owned shop, Jane & Cope offers gorgeous handmade leather earrings in a variety of colors, styles, designs and prints. We love these leopard white ones that are perfect for a night out with your service member, but they have ones that are elegant enough to wear to your next ball, too. These make a great gift for your fashionable military spouse!

The Admiral’s Daughters

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

The Admiral’s Daughters is a former military-child owned shop that offers apparel and prints. We are loving their naval station prints like this one of Jacksonville, although they offer several others like Norfolk and San Diego, too. 

microMAHALO

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Stationed in Hawaii or just missing it? This military spouse owned shop creates sea glass art straight from the beaches of Hawaii. If your military spouse’s or military spouse friend’s favorite duty station was on the beautiful Hawaiian islands, then a gift of Aloha or a set of pineapple magnets made from their favorite beaches is a perfect gift this holiday season. 

Portable phone charger

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

One thing military spouses always have on them is their phones. We don’t dare miss a text, phone call or WhatsApp message when our service members are gone! This portable charger will make sure that your spouse’s phone is always charged so they never miss those all-important calls. 

Raquel Riley Thomas Cosmetics

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

This veteran-owned cosmetics line offers lip color, eye shadow, lashes and mascara. If you have a beauty-buff military sposue, shopping from Raquel Riley Thomas Cosmetics is a perfect gift for her as well as a great way to support the military community.

Looking for more holiday gift ideas? Download the Military Families Magazine 2020 Holiday Gift Guide!

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

North Korea’s monstrous new ICBM is America’s latest nuclear headache

Seriously 2020, what next?

At a military parade on Saturday to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Korean Workers Party, North Korea unveiled a new and massive intercontinental ballistic missile, which arms experts say may be capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads to targets as far away as the US homeland.


Experts say the new North Korean ICBM is probably called the Hwasong-16. Measuring some 82 to 85 feet in length, about 9 feet in diameter, and likely weighing between 220,000 and 330,000 pounds at launch, it’s the world’s largest mobile missile, according to an Oct. 10 assessment from 38 North, a North Korea-focused intelligence and analysis website.

The 38 North authors estimate the new ICBM, which is an upgrade of the existing Hwasong-15 missile, could “in principle” deliver a payload of 4,400 to 7,700 pounds “to any point in the continental United States.”

North Korea also reportedly unveiled a new solid-fuel, submarine-launched missile at Saturday’s parade. Yet, the massive, liquid-fueled, road-mobile ICBM is what caught the eye of US officials and nuclear arms experts, sparking concerns that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might try to exploit this new weapon to extort diplomatic concessions from the US.

“It’s not clear why the North Koreans invested in huge missiles. All I can think of is that they are replicating those parts of the old Soviet ICBM force that worried us the most in the 1970s and 1980s, and hope to get some kind of favorable reaction from us, something that will make us trade something [North Korea] wants, such as international recognition and lifting of sanctions, in exchange for getting rid of the missiles,” Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist, arms control expert, and former chief scientist of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

North Korea’s new intercontinental ballistic missile. Photo by Lokman Karadag via Twitter.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal comprises some 30 to 40 weapons and enough fissile material on hand for six or seven more, according to the Arms Control Association. A US government study in 2017 estimated that North Korea’s production of weapons-grade material may be enough to build some 12 nuclear weapons a year.

“An unexpected ‘super heavy’ ICBM would be a classically Khrushchevian statement of North Korea’s technical prowess, the robustness of its ability to threaten the US, and the permanence of its nuclear weapons status,” wrote the 38 North authors, referring to the former Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, whose decision to place nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba in 1962 sparked the Cuban missile crisis.

“Thanks to our reliable and effective self-defense nuclear deterrence, the word ‘war’ would no longer exist on this land, and the security and future of our state will be guaranteed forever,” North Korea’s Kim reportedly said during a July 28 speech.

Although North Korea has not tested a nuclear weapon since September 2017, a report by a panel of UN experts, released last month, determined that Pyongyang has likely developed the ability to manufacture miniaturized nuclear warheads. North Korea is also reportedly working to develop multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, also known as MIRVs, for its biggest ICBMs.

If those assessments are accurate, Pyongyang may already be capable of arming a single missile with multiple warheads, each of which can target a different location after release from the mother missile. Such a missile system would be much more difficult for America’s missile defense shield to destroy. However, its presence on North Korean territory also offers America’s strategic military forces a “lucrative” option for a nuclear counterstrike, Zimmerman said, adding that North Korea was “putting all their nuclear eggs under one shroud.”

“I don’t see an increase in the overall nuclear threat to the United States, because I think that deterrence is pretty robust. That said, very large ICBMs with multiple warheads increase the consequences should anything go wrong. That cannot be a good thing,” said Zimmerman, who is now emeritus professor of Science and Security at King’s College London.

The 38 North authors doubted whether Pyongyang has developed a “militarily useful” MIRV system, noting that North Korea’s military has not yet flight-tested an operational MIRV from the second stage of an ICBM. The massive new ICBM revealed over the weekend has also not been flight tested, raising questions about its operational utility.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles, designed to carry nuclear weapons, on display in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. Photo by Nolan Peterson/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Thomas Moore, a former senior professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

“[North Korea] may need larger missiles for heavy payloads. They may also simply be faking it,” Moore said, adding that trying to derive useful intelligence from parade images is “useful speculation, but still just speculation.”

Pyongyang’s new missiles mark the latest in a series of incremental upticks in the overall global nuclear threat against the US.

US and Russian leaders appear to be at an impasse in negotiations to save the New START agreement — the last remaining nuclear arms limitation treaty between the two Cold War-era foes — before it expires in February. The US side says China is in the midst of a “crash nuclear program” and any future deal with Russia must impose limits on China’s nuclear arsenal, too.

“The antiquated Cold War construct of a bilateral, two-country-only solution does not work in a world where a third party — in this case China — is rapidly building up,” Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, the US special presidential envoy for arms control, told reporters in June.

“So we think and what we seek to do is avoid a three-way arms race, and we believe the very best way to do that is to arrive and achieve a three-way nuclear deal,” Billingslea said.

China is expected to “at least double” the size of its nuclear arsenal in the next decade, US officials have said. China is also reportedly developing a so-called nuclear triad — comprising the ability to deliver nuclear weapons by ground-based ICBMs, by sea-launched missiles from submarines, and by aircraft.

In April, the US State Department published a report raising concerns that China had conducted low-yield nuclear tests in 2019 at a site called Lop Nur. And last year China test-fired more than 200 ballistic missiles, “far more than the rest of the world combined,” Billingslea said in August.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) off the coast of California. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ronald Gutridge/Released.

According to the Arms Control Association, the US possesses some 6,185 nuclear weapons, while Russia has 6,490 such weapons in its arsenal. The US-based Federation of American Scientists estimated China has about 320 warheads — roughly on par with France’s number of 300.

“While Beijing has long focused on maintaining a minimum deterrent, it is likely that its nuclear stockpile will increase in the next few decades,” the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation said in an April 2020 report.

The report’s authors added: “Additionally, if the United States continues to expand and strengthen its missile defense program, China may modify its nuclear posture to include a significantly larger nuclear force with the potential to strike the United States.”

Signed by former Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, the New START treaty limits Russia and the US each to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and heavy bombers. The original START I was signed in 1991, six months before the Soviet Union dissolved.

In addition to China’s inclusion, the US also wants New START to enact limits on Russia’s newest weapons, including hypersonic missiles and nuclear-powered cruise missiles, which were not included in the original deal. So far, Russia has balked at meeting America’s requirements, setting up a contentious final few months of negotiations in advance of New START’s expiration in February.

President Donald Trump is trying to secure a deal with Moscow to extend the strategic arms treaty before the upcoming presidential election, Axios reported Sunday. Putin, too, has said he’s open to renegotiating the pact. However, in June the Russian president raised some eyebrows in Washington when he signed an executive order authorizing the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear attacks that “threaten the existence” of Russia or its nuclear forces.

Meanwhile, in defiance of US and international sanctions, Iran has not abandoned its uranium enrichment program. In June the International Atomic Energy Agency estimated it would take Iran three to six months to manufacture enough weapons-grade material to produce a nuclear weapon.

“The Iranians continue to enrich uranium, and to a much higher degree than they have committed themselves to. And this amount is growing by the month,” International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi told the German newspaper Die Presse in an interview published Saturday.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Selfless heroes of 9/11

On this day 19 years ago, America woke up to unimaginable news. Nineteen members of al Qaeda had hijacked four fuel-loaded U.S. commercial airplanes. One crashed into the Pentagon. Two more hit the World Trade Center. The final plane was destined for the White House, but thanks to the heroic efforts of the passengers and crew, it never made it. That day, a total of 2,977 lives were lost; killed in New York City, Washington, DC and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

September 11, 2001, showed us the very worst of humanity, but it also showed the very best. Nineteen men set forth to destroy our country, while thousands more stepped forward to heal it. We were reminded of what Americans are capable of; incredible kindness, selflessness and unity. The 11 figures below are just a few of the remarkable individuals who put their lives on the line that day, and gave us exactly what we needed: Hope.


Father Mychal Judge

While thousands lost their lives on that dark day, the first recorded casualty was Father Mychal Judge. The Roman Catholic priest and NYFD chaplain chose to walk into the burning World Trade Center to bring comfort to wounded firefighters and others injured in the attack, listening to their final confessions and blessing them in their last moments. He gave his life just to bring others peace.

Flight 93 passengers Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick

What would you do if your flight was hijacked? We’d all like to think we’d be as brave as these four men who fought their hijacker and helped prevent an even greater tragedy. When Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick boarded United Airlines Flight 93 that morning, they had no idea what was about to happen. In a stroke of “luck,” the flight was delayed slightly. Because of this, when the hijackers took over the plane at 9:30, the other attacks had already taken place. When the four passengers called their loved ones, they learned of the hijacker’s intentions for the plane — to crash directly into the White House.

To prevent this from happening, they worked with members of the plane’s crew to fight back against the terrorists. When the hijackers realized the passengers might successfully breach the cockpit, they opted to crash the plane into a field in Pennsylvania, killing all on board. The efforts of Beamer, Bingham, Burnet and Glick saved hundreds of lives that would have been lost had the plane reached its intended target.Before the plane went down, Burnett spoke to his wife on the phone, saying calmly, “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.”

Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney

One thing all these stories have in common is quick thinking and calm resolve. Two flight attendants on American Airlines Flight 11 could easily have panicked when the plane was hijacked. A passenger had already been stabbed, some crew members were murdered, and the air was filled with something similar to mace, but they calmly notified their colleagues on the ground of the scene unfolding.

Those on the receiving end were astounded by their unwavering professionalism, listening carefully as they provided details about the hijackers throughout the flight. The information they shared helped the FBI uncover their full identities.

Wells Crowther

Wells Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader, was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower when it was struck by Flight 175. He called his mother and left her a voicemail, calmly telling her, “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m ok.”

He had no obligation to help anyone escape other than himself, but the former volunteer firefighter chose to anyway. He helped over a dozen people get out before running back into the building alongside firefighters to save even more. He carried one injured woman out on his back, directing disoriented and terrified office workers to the ground floor. Survivor Ling Young told CNN, “He’s definitely my guardian angel — no ifs, ands or buts — because without him, we would be sitting there, waiting [until] the building came down.”

His body was recovered in a stairwell, his hands still holding a “jaws of life” rescue tool. He is remembered as “the man in the red bandana,” a commanding, brave figure who worked to save all he could.

Brian Clark

Stanley Praimnath was trapped on the 81st floor of the South Tower when the second plane, Flight 175, struck. He was close enough to see the plane approaching, yet he survived the impact. Terrifyingly, he still had no way to escape the teetering tower. Luckily, Brain Clark heard his calls for help and talked him through a challenging escape route. As it turns out, by stopping to help Stanley, Brian also saved himself. Before he heard Stanley’s cries, he was headed to the upper floors to wait for help. The building collapsed within the hour. Those who had continued up the tower never made it out.

Michael Benfante and John Cerqueira

Two colleagues, Michael Benfante and John Cerqueira, were in the North Tower when the planes hit. Most people would be desperate to get out, but when the two men ran into a woman in a wheelchair on the 68th floor, they didn’t hesitate to stop. Together, they strapped Tina Hansen to a lightweight emergency chair and carried her down endless flights of treacherous stairs. Thanks to their selflessness and determination, all three of them survived.

Frank De Martini and Pablo Ortiz

Construction manager Frank De Martini and construction instructor Pablo Ortiz were both in the North Tower when it was hit. Instead of scrambling to safety, they took it upon themselves to rescue as many people as they possibly could. Many were trapped on the tower’s 88th and 89th floors, so the two men went into action. They opened jammed elevator doors, cleared debris, and directed people to safe escape routes. The North Tower collapsed while they were still inside. Before it did, however, they saved over 50 others.

Jason Thomas and Dave Karnes

Although members of the military eventually retire, their dedication to their country does not. Former Marine sergeants Jason Thomas and Dave Karnes had both been out of the military for some time. Yet, when they heard about the attack on the World Trade Center, they put their uniforms back on. Karnes was all the way in Connecticut when he sped off to New York at 120 mph to help.

He ran into Thomas at the site of the collapsed towers and together they began searching through the rubble. They identified two New York Port Authority police officers, William Jimeno and John McLoughlin, trapped 20 feet below the surface. Both men were seriously injured, but after a total of 11 hours they were both successfully rescued. Karnes later reenlisted, serving two tours of duty in Iraq.

Rick Rescorla

Cyril Richard Rescorla was born in Britain, but his dedication to the United States is unmatched. A Vietnam Vet with a Silver Star, police officer, and private security specialist, Rescorla had frequently warned the Port Authority that the World Trade Center was vulnerable. At the time of the attack, Rescorla was working as head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley in the South Tower, and when his fears were realized he dove in to help.

When the first plane hit the tower across from his, Rescorla was directed to keep his employees at their desks, but he ignored this order. Instead, he issued an evacuation order, walking employees through the emergency procedures he had made them rehearse time and time again. He had evacuated over 2,700 employees and visitors in just 16 minutes when the second plane struck the building they had just escaped from. Throughout the tense evacuation, his steady voice singing “God Bless America” and “Men of Harlech” rang out through a bullhorn, giving people strength and calm.

According to The New Yorker, he called his wife during the evacuation to tell her, “Stop crying. I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”

He was last seen on the 10th floor of the South Tower on his way to find any who had been left behind.

Maj. Heather Penney and Col. Marc Sasseville

When Major Heather Penney and Colonel Marc Sasseville learned of the initial attacks, the two National Guard pilots prepared to intercept United Flight 93, the fourth and final hijacked plane. They aimed their two F-16s directly at the wayward Boeing 757…except they were completely unarmed. The only way for them to stop the plane would be to ram into it- essentially a suicide mission.

“We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” Maj. Heather Penney told The Washington Post in 2011. “We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft. I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

Fortunately, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 took on the job themselves. While Penney and Sasseville never had to complete their death-sentence mission, they were fully prepared to go down with their aircraft to protect others from harm.

Army Spc. Beah Doboszenski

On September 11, 2001, Army Spc. Beah Doboszenski was just a tour guide at the Pentagon. He was working on the opposite side of the building, so far away that he didn’t even hear the plane hit. The former volunteer firefighter and EMT didn’t hesitate to volunteer his services, however, racing to the site of the crash. He had to evade police officers and go around barricades to find a medical triage station and begin giving medical care to countless victims.

He then voluntarily ran back into the building to search for survivors while the building was still in flames. He gave medical aid to the injured outside, then went back into the building while it was still in flames. Former Vice President Joe Biden said of Doboszenski’s heroic act, “When people started streaming out of the building and screaming, he sprinted toward the crash site. For hours, he altered between treating his co-workers and dashing into the inferno with a team of six men.”

Last but not least, Roselle

Some heroes have two legs, but some have four. Roselle, a guide dog, was on the 78th floor with her blind owner, Michael Hingson, when the plane hit. She guided him all the way down to safety. Without her, he most likely wouldn’t have made it out alive. The heroic pup lived a long, happy life until her passing in June 2011, and her owner has since written a book in her honor.

These are just a few of the innumerable heroes of 9/11. To the police officers, firefighters, military personnel, and ordinary citizens who brought light to one of America’s darkest days: We humbly thank you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to build the best bug-out bag, emergency kit, or go-bag for your family

We live in a world full of uncertainty. This has always been the case. But when you have kids, that uncertainty becomes less abstract and action is required. It needs to be met with the understanding that it’s on you to take the proper precautions to protect your family when shit hits the fan. There’s truth in that saying “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” There’s also truth in the saying “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The act of preparing helps you feel a bit less worried about hurricanes, floods, super viruses, and other such events. You can’t control anything; but you can control how ready you are.


One way to ensure you’re ready: prepare an emergency kits or go-bag. Companies like Uncharted Supply Co., Echo-Sigma, and Emergency Zone have made small fortunes in recent years selling premade emergency kits for this very reason. Affordable, portable, and packed with short-term survival essentials, their sole purpose is to arm people with the gear they need to get out of town should a life-or-death situation unfold right before your eyes.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Emergency kits are also commonly known as bug-out bags. Borrowing military terminology, the moniker refers to when U.S. troops were directed to retreat (or “bug out”) with their vital survival gear during dire situations in the Korean War. Some other common nicknames used today include the battle box, 72-hour kit, go-bag, and INCH bag, the latter of which stands for “I’m Never Coming Home”.

Not necessarily intended for long-term survival, the modern-day bug-out bag emphasizes being ready to go with everything you would need should an unforeseen emergency evacuation arise. And while the concept of proactively preparing for a worst-case scenario can seem like a daunting task, it’s also incredibly important.

“Throw away the thought that it can’t happen to you, because it can,” says Les Stroud, famed Canadian survival expert from the hit TV series Survivorman and author of such books as Will to Live and Survive! – Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere–Alive.

“Natural disasters and society disasters such as a loss of power are not going to stop happening — we all know there will be something happening again sooner or later,” says Stroud. “It takes such little effort to prepare, yet the payoff can be very profound, and even save lives.”

Stroud, true to his reputation, doesn’t believe in taking the easy way out and is not a fan of the one-size-fits-all, ready-made bug-out bag. Why? For the simple reason that the hands-on nature of putting one together yourself makes you aware of its contents. “People must become comfortable making their own bug-out bags through research and learning,” he says.

“There is no shortcut here, and there is no company that is going to put together a grab-and-go kit that is going to work for your own family’s individual needs,” Stroud adds. “Most people will purchase such a kit and never open it or go through the contents to make sure they all work well.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

images.pexels.com

So what does the proper bug-out bag contain? While an emergency kit for single guy in his 50’s will vary significantly from the contents of one prepared by parents evacuating with a newborn, there are certain items both need to contain..

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t planning for a glamping vacation or a weekend family escape to the woods. These evacuation essentials are geared toward survival purposes. They’re intended to keep you covered during the first 72 hours after an emergency strikes. You’ll want to source items that are easy to carry, durable in unpredictable conditions, and most importantly, useful in keeping you and your family safe.

Here, with Stroud’s help, are some of non-negotiables that need to be included in a bug-out bag

What to Pack in a Bug-Out Bag or Go-Bag

There’s no shortage of online communities and websites completely dedicated to survivalism and preparedness. Popular digital destinations like The Ultimate Bug Out Bag Guide, The Prepared, and Ready To Go Survival are teeming with resources related to the topic, ranging from how-to-videos to in-depth gear reviews.

All of these sources keep updated master lists of everything you could possibly need in a bug-out bag. And a simple Google search for “bug-out bag essentials” will instantly return millions of results. But at the end of the day, only you can ultimately decide what needs to be included in your family’s survival kit. Personalization is paramount.

Stroud even brings it a step further, advising that every family member takes ownership of preparing for their specific needs.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

upload.wikimedia.org

“I recommend one bug-out bag per person,” he says. “Each family member, including all adults and any children capable of carrying, should have their own bug-out bag — personally designed — that they are familiar with.”

In addition to the general must-have survival elements, what should parents evacuating with kids in tow bring? Consider the below list a starting point. While there’s bound to be some crossover in the lists below, use your best judgement when curating each bag. Include any additional items that you feel would be absolutely necessary, and engage your kids in preparing their own bags so they’re familiar with the contents.

Bug-Out Bag Essentials for Babies

  • Diapers: Diapers are so lightweight, it’ll be easy to bring enough to last a 72-hour period. The absorbency of diapers also helps them come in handy as cold or hot packs when emergencies strikes.
  • Dry formula: Even if your baby is still breastfeeding, you’ll want to make sure to keep a healthy supply of dry formula packets on hand, just in case.
  • Bottle: Bring a bottle should you need to resort to using dry formula (plus, you can use the nipple as a pacifier, or store other items inside the bottle for extra protection).
  • Pacifier: Because a pacified baby beats a crying baby.
  • Antibacterial wipes While these can be used for the whole family, they’ll come in handy for a quick baby bath or other sanitation purposes.
  • Baby carrier You’ll want to be able to use your hands and carry your baby comfortably.

Bug-Out Bag or Go-Bag Essentials for Children Ages 3-6

  • Snacks: Food may be scarce, so be sure to bring some of your kid’s favorite snacks along. Bonus points if the snacks also pack a jolt of energy or nutrition.
  • Oral hygiene supplies: keeping to some routine habits, even in extreme situations, can help instill a sense of normalcy and independence―plus, healthy oral hygiene habits never hurt.
  • Multivitamins: your child’s diet can be severely challenged in an emergency, so stash a daily vitamin supplement in their bag.
  • Study walking shoes: terrain may be rough, so plan to pack a durable pair of walking shoes (that fit their ever-changing foot size) which can stand the conditions you may face.
  • Thermal blanket: A light, metal-coated space blanket is ultra-lightweight and designed to retain heat in colder temperatures. It can even be used as a make-shift shelter.
  • Ear plugs: depending on the scenario, ear plugs can help drown out frightening noises during the day and ensure a more sound sleep at night.

Bug-Out Bag Essentials for Children Ages 6+

  • Gum or hard candy: Whether they’re leveraged as an energy-booster or a pick-me-up when morale is low, you’ll be glad you brought a handful of sweets.
  • Pedialyte powder: Children aren’t the best at communicating when they’re thirsty, so avoid dehydration with a few packets of this electrolyte-infused powder.
  • Books: we’re not talking heavy, hard-cover books, but the mind can weaken faster than the body in times of stress―so keep a favorite paperback close by.
  • Other mind-occupiers: should boredom set in, it’s not a bad idea to have a deck of cards, coloring book, or other such extras on hand.
  • Emergency whistle: Kids six and older can let curiosity get the best of them, so arm them with an emergency whistle in case they get separated from the family.
  • Walkie-talkies: When whistles won’t cut it, or the family is planning to temporarily split up, a pair of walkie-talkies will definitely come in hand.

Additional Bug-Out Bag or Go-Bag Items to Keep in Mind

  • Power bank: pack a fully-charged power bank or two to keep cell phones and other necessary electronics charged. Ideally, you want a solar-powered bank that can be refueled via sunlight.
  • Document protection: during periods of uncertainty, it’s imperative to keep your family’s important documents (like birth certificates, social security cards, and passports) with you at all times, so invest in a waterproof document pouch for when you’re on the go.
  • Super Glue and duct tape: in an evacuation scenario, you never know when you’ll need to take a page from the MacGyver playbook (plus, Super Glue and duct tape can be used in a range of medical emergencies).
  • N99 masks: These face masks are effective at filtering out 99 percent of non-oil-based airborne particulate matter, including most pollution, bacteria, and viruses.
  • Extra money: In emergency situations, cash is king. Five-hundred dollars in small bills is a good amount.
  • Sunscreen: Because sun exposure is likely in emergency situations.

This covers the basics. The point here is to get you thinking about preparing and taking an active role in considering the worst. Luck, they say, is where preparation and opportunity meet. While it’s good to hope that the opportunity never arises in this case, you’ll be thankful to have prepared if it does.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Back to School: What IEP parents need to be doing right now

The biggest thing that I was not prepared for when the Coronavirus pandemic shut down our schools? Becoming a teacher to all four school-aged children, all in differing grade levels — and one being an IEP student.


(For those that don’t know, an IEP student is a student with educational needs addressed by an Individualized Education Plan.) And I wasn’t alone, families across America had the same struggle, and my mind constantly was the fear of regression for my IEP child, as she was finally making headway in her studies.

Even if your child does not have an IEP, I urge you to familiarize yourself with the process at your school.

“We are all a breath away from a disability.” -MJ Boice said during a Facebook live I watched, and her statement stuck with me. I never expected my daughter to need me to be a fierce advocate so that she could access appropriate health services and have a proper education. It became evident that she needed help after our PCS to Jacksonville, where she was placed in a school that for a variety of reasons, was not a good fit for her. We withdrew before the end of the year, as we felt that we could do a better job of preparing her for First Grade.

From the moment I requested that my daughter be evaluated at her new school, she started receiving additional services at school, such as tutoring and speech therapies, thanks to her school’s very proactive approach to IEPs. Throughout this time, she had been receiving Occupational Therapy outside of school, which was moved to an in-school service after her IEP was issued, allowing her to be more present during her therapy days instead of being pulled out early before the end of the day to drive across town. However, this also meant that when school was shut down, until we got her online, she wasn’t receiving any therapies for about two weeks.

Across the United States, IEP children were either going without services entirely or being forced to access services in a new way online, which for children like my own daughter, was a rough adjustment. Military families found ourselves without respite, some of us had deployed spouses, and many of us had to choose between continuing to work or taking over our child’s education.

More than ever, IEP parents must advocate right now for our children.

As we head into a new school year, some schools across the nation are continuing to rely on distance learning while others are giving parents the option to distance learn at home — and some districts are mandating that you cannot receive IEP services while distance learning, almost forcing IEP students back into schools to receive their services, many of which are even immunocompromised due to their disabilities.

If you don’t know where to begin, start with an IEP binder.

My binders are organized by school year and divided into sections. In the front is the IEP for that year with logs of meetings and any missed services. If my daughter missed a session at home, I logged it and the reason why she was unable to make that session. Next is a log of every specialist she sees, when and why she saw them, the results of those visits, and their contact information.

If my child goes back to school and lacks goals that she previously attained, these logs will help me advocate properly for her because I’ll know exactly why, when, and even possibly how things happened into the present.

Keep all present-level assessments and performance paperwork.

This makes up the next tab of my folder – any assessments, performance paperwork sent home throughout the year, and any report cards. This can help me and her IEP team see a pattern over a period of time, even years, so we can ensure that she progresses.

My final tab in our yearly binder is a Miscellaneous/Notes section.

I personally am a fan of recording IEP meetings and then transcribing them into this section for my personal records, which could make for some great fun in future meetings if I ever quote anyone. “Ms. K., according to my records which are based on audio recordings of our IEP meetings, it shows you said x,y,z, in our meeting two years ago regarding this matter.” It sounds a little crazy, but it is hard for people to argue with themselves. Extensive records are also helpful when we move, as we all know how hard it can be to get new services set in place for our neediest children — the best thing we can do is lay it all out for the gaining school so that an IEP and services can be put into place as soon as possible.

Partners in Promise is also a great resource for IEP families, and is currently introducing legislation that would make it easier for children to take an IEP with them to a gaining school and allow the IEP to remain in place for six months.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to get your ailments diagnosed online (and covered by Tricare)

Having a cough has never been more nerve wracking than during the current pandemic. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a cough. Needing to go to the doctor for any reason can send a quick thought of panic, due to current protocols. Needing something as simple as a prescription refill suddenly got complicated.

But fear not, military families! There is an easier way. Thanks to ongoing efforts to increase the logistics of telemedicine and over-the-phone appointments, Tricare beneficiaries can video chat with their doctors to receive a quick fix to many questions or prescription needs.


This includes video calls, but will not include phone calls or texts.

If you or a family member is in need of a non-urgent appointment, you can call your normal doctor’s number and ask what their options are for telehealth appointments.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

media.defense.gov

Tricare covers these services via telemedicine

If you or a family member has an upcoming appointment scheduled, you’re likely to be contacted about rescheduling or moving the appointment to your phone. Services covered include:

  • Office visits
  • Preventative screenings
  • Mental health services (individual psychotherapy, psychiatric diagnosis interviews/exams, and medication management)

In addition, from March 31 through May 31, Tricare has announced they will also cover telehealth services for “applied behavior analysis (ABA) parent or caregiver guidance services under the Autism Care Demonstration.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life
Spangdahlem Clinic Pilots Virtual Health program

media.defense.gov

Stay up-to-date on health with social distancing

Don’t skimp on important healthcare appointments just because you can’t be seen in person. These distancing appointments allow Tricare patients to get the care they need, without risking germs. Additional distancing measures have been put into place on military bases, such as drive-through pharmacies, or in-vehicle triage.

Talk to your healthcare team to see if telehealth is available at your base.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine reels in success from off-duty charter business

The first time John Cruise III and Steve Turner discovered they shared a connection beyond fishing, they were surprisingly not on the Atlantic Ocean.

Turner booked Cruise’s company, Pelagic Hunter Sportfishing, for a charter, and as they fished for mahi, the talk flowed freely. During the course of their conversation, they learned something else.


Cruise and Turner are Marines.

“He was very assertive and very structured and very good at what he did, and that aligned perfectly with me,” Turner said.

Cruise, a major at Camp Lejeune, is in his 22nd year of military service. For 12 of those years, he has run a small charter-boat business that caught the largest fish at the renowned Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament earlier this year in North Carolina.

Cruise captained a 35T Contender boat that hauled in a 495.2-pound marlin.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to build this business and to continue to work and to transition toward retirement,” Cruise said. “But there are challenges that come with that. The Marine Corps job is my main effort. It’s my most important job.”

Cruise, 47, got a late start as a Marine.

The Toms River, New Jersey-native moved to Florida and tried his hand at roofing, fixing cars and being a handyman. He studied to become a mason but realized that wasn’t his calling.

Cruise enlisted when he was 25 years old.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

“I was trying to get him into the Marine Corps when he was 18, 19, but he wanted to do his own thing, so I just let him go,” John Cruise Jr., a Vietnam War veteran, said of his son. “… His drill instructor says to me, ‘Mr. Cruise, your son is like an Energizer bunny. He does not stop. I can’t keep up with him.”’

The younger Cruise said he was a gunnery sergeant before becoming a chief warrant officer. He switched to the limited duty officer program.

Pelagic Hunter Sportfishing consists of four full-time employees, not counting Cruise or his wife, Jessica, a real-estate agent who answers calls and relays messages to her husband. Cruise tries to respond during lunchtime or on his way to and from his job at the Marines.

Two other men run charters for Cruise, including Capt. Riley Adkins.

“He’s very good at reading people, and if he wants it done, you better have it done before he walks on the boat,” Adkins said. “I’ve baited for him many a day, and if it is not down to the ‘T’ of what he wants, you’re going to hear about it.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Marine Maj. Cruise (left) pictured with his father, a Vietnam veteran. Photo courtesy of the Cruise family.

Adkins and second mate Kyle Kirkpatrick assisted Cruise during Big Rock. The size of their crew and boat (35 feet) was much smaller than most of the more than 200 other boats in the field.

“John approaches fishing, and especially tournament fishing, like nobody I have ever seen,” said Kirkpatrick, who served a decade in the Marines. “He approaches it and treats it just like a mission, so he does all of his planning, all of his preparation ahead of time. You can absolutely tell when you work on John Cruise’s boat that you’re working for a Marine officer. Very meticulous. Perfectionist.”

Cruise’s father has fished his entire life, but Cruise took it a step further.

Whether it was surf fishing, freshwater fishing or fly fishing, the boy seldom returned empty-handed. It was not unusual for Cruise to call his father, breathless with excitement, alerting him to a freshly discovered hot spot.

“In his bedroom on his wall, he has nothing but tuna, because I did a lot of tuna fishing, too,” the elder Cruise said. “I had tuna on the wall, mahi, all kinds of different kinds of fish, and he would keep them in his bedroom on his wall, all pictures of all kinds of fish. He was a real fisherman.”

Said his son: “We catch a lot of fish, and we have a good time doing it.”

Stories of just how good are just below the surface.

Cruise mentions, almost matter of factly, how he has caught several bluefin tuna in the 600- to 700-pound range. One even weighed nearly 850 pounds, the largest fish Cruise said he ever caught. The day before Big Rock, John Cruise Jr. mentioned his son caught two or three swordfish, all weighing at least 150 pounds.

And despite some doubters, Turner insists Cruise’s quick thinking once helped him land an 84-pound wahoo.

“He’s a student of the ocean,” said Turner, who is retiring from the Marines this summer after 24 years. “That man studies the ocean harder than any human I’ve ever met — waater temperatures, water breaks, depth, species, migration, patterns, historical data.”

Starting a business while on active duty is challenging, Cruise said.

“You have to put a lot of money and energy and effort upfront, and it took us about three solid years before we really got on our feet and started … about three years of really breaking even,” Cruise said.

“If you’re going to open a business, make sure you love it and you have passion for it and reach out to the people who are very successful and have done it before. Try to pick their brain to see what works the best.”

And, most of all, evolve.

Cruise said that is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. He estimated more than 20 charters were canceled in April; a full-day charter can cost id=”listicle-2647408673″,200 or more, according to his company’s website.

“We’ll definitely have some impacts this year,” Cruise said. “It slowed the business down in regard to summer and some of the expectations that we were expecting for this upcoming season.”

Business has rebounded since then, though, Cruise said.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Cruise is the captain of the Pelagic Hunter II. He and mates Riley Adkins and Kyle Kirkpatrick won the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in June by catching a 495.2-pound marlin that they battled for 5½ hours.

The father of three intends to retire from the military “in the next year or so,” thus freeing time to devote to his business and more tournaments.

Until then, there are more fish to catch.

“I have the ability to make adjustments, work hard, prepare and apply those techniques,” Cruise said. “I can give the same exact spread to — pick a captain — and he may never know how to apply it the way we do. You’re constantly making adjustments and changes. It’s a really cool thing to do, and I love it.”

Follow https://www.facebook.com/PelagicHunterSportsfishing for updates on Maj. Cruise’s business, located near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Suddenly homeschooling? 10 pro tips from military homeschool moms

Maybe somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve considered homeschooling your kids, but have never taken the time to give much effort and research to the idea. Well, many schools in the U.S. have closed their doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out!


According to a census done in 2012, approximately 3 percent of U.S. students were being homeschooled. That is roughly 1.5 million students. This number has increased significantly since homeschooling platforms and options have diversified. There are co-ops and multiple curriculums to fit a variety of lifestyles and beliefs.

A new survey found that 11 percent of military families have chosen to homeschool for different reasons. One of the reasons is to give their child stability because they don’t like having to uproot them from learning facilities with every PCS move. It also allows them to have more control over their kids educational process and learning environment.

If you are a newbie and have been pushed into the role of “teacher” because of this pandemic, don’t fret. Here are some PRO tips from actual homeschooling moms that have been in the game for a while.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life
  • Keep it simple – Don’t try and print out every curriculum you can find and then stress yourself and your kids out. Let them read to you or practice writing their letters with their finger in a plate of salt (age appropriate of course).
  • Make a schedule but be flexible – Yes, schedules help with focusing and staying on course, but life happens.
  • Use what you have – Don’t make it complex. Go through household items to cover a lesson. For example, if you’re covering shapes, have your kids go through the house and find all the spheres that they can. This could include balls, fruit or even toys.
  • Make it practical – If you’re doing a science lesson, put the book down and go on a nature walk to find things outside that reflect what the lesson is about.
  • Start early – Everyone has a fresh mind in the morning. Afternoons are a hard time for kids to focus.
  • Don’t make lessons long – Learning should only be 1-3 hours max per day.
  • Take multiple breaks – You can stretch out your learning throughout the hours. Don’t try to do it all in one clump of time.
  • Be patient – Remember you are a parent first and you all need grace while you’re figuring it out
  • Make it engaging and FUN – This isn’t a classroom. You are in control of the fun meter. Turn it up!
  • Do what fits your family’s vibe – You have the freedom to tailor your lessons to the way you know your kid learns. Try different approaches until you find one that makes sense for all of you.
2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

media.defense.gov

There are many homeschooling resources available online. There’s always youtube where you can pull up subject and age-specific videos for activities and lessons.

Whether or not you are a fan of the idea of homeschooling your kids, it is upon us! Hopefully, these tips bring clarity and ease to this new journey.

Here is a link to find Military Homeschool Support Groups.
MIGHTY MEMES

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 11

Oh snap! The first official recruiting ad for the Space Force has finally dropped! Don’t get me wrong. I’m just as hyped as everyone else who joked to their retention NCO that the only way they’d stay in was to reclass as a space shuttle door gunner.

But, like, why do they even need an advertisement at this point? Everyone knows who they are and are already planning on camping out at the recruitment offices when they open. It’s like seeing a commercial for a Ferrari. It’s just a waste of time and money when we’re already sold on the idea.

Whatever. They’re probably going to have a bigger budget than the Air Force – so spend it if you got it, right? Anyway, here are some memes.


1. I don’t care about any of your damn stories from Basic. But you can be damn sure that I’ll play along with whatever BS lie about how badass you are to tell civilians.

2. While we’re in, we all sh*ttalk chief for being OFP. But, he’s literally treating the military like it’s a 9-5 job at that point.

3. North Korean generals got nothing on some of the E-4’s I’ve seen these days…

No photo description available.

4. Anyone know if the vehicles in the motorpool are still fine? No one’s been around to kick their tires in ages!

5. All else fails, pocket sand…

6. One makes things go boom. The other prevents things from going boom. See the problem?

7. Largest amphibious landing in military history and it wasn’t conducted by the branch of the military specifically designed for such a task…

(Yeah, I know. They were in the Pacific and Marine generals assisted in the planning. I thought Marines were at least supposed to understand jokes.)

8. “Ah, I see you’re a man of culture as well.”

9. For the Space Force? In a heartbeat. Then again, I’ve been out for a few years, put on a few pounds, have literally no applicable skills needed in space… But I’d do it.

10. Well. Now I’m going to rewatch Band of Brothers this quarantine… for the 101st time…

11. As long as you don’t have flat feet. (Is flat feet still a thing?)

12. f it looks right, it is right.

13. If you didn’t jump up out of your bunk, but forgot that you’re on the lower one, so you smack your head so damn hard it echoes through the bay, did you even go to basic/boot camp?

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

5 places to look for local military spouse events

When moving to a new location, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information you don’t have on hand. A lack of people and support system, not knowing what the local events are all about, or even when they exist, not having the low-down on stores and restaurants, like which McDonald’s is “the good one” and so on.

All of the above and more comes with each PCS. There’s a nuance to each new base, and knowing or not knowing what to expect is part of the gig.


However, by searching out what your new stop has in store, you can more readily get acquainted with the locals. You can attend events, get immersed in the culture, and gain a better understanding of what your new base has to offer.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Facebook

This household name is great for checking out local events. With their new(ish) feature, users can search upcoming parades, meetings, town happenings, and more by location. Get the details, save to get reminders, and even notify Facebook friends that you’re interested in each item. When starting out, Facebook is a great place to find what’s new and how you can get involved … or just how you can keep yourself busy!

MeetUp

Another free resource can be found online. While users creating events might pay, for searchers, the info is completely free. What sets this platform apart is the ability to search far and wide and by interest. Seek out what you enjoy and see what’s available surrounding your new duty station.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

MWR … or your branch’s equivalent

Short for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, each military branch (and each base) will have its own MWR office that hosts events. Follow them online and sign up for email notifications, or stop by in person for a list of what’s ahead and how you can get involved. MWR is known for rec centers, recreational rentals, kids’ sports leagues, movie showings, parties, and more.

Word of mouth

As you meet new folks, make a point to have real conversations. Tell them what you like and what you’re looking to do at your new base. You never know who knows what … or who might be willing to try something new. But you can’t get access to their wealth of information unless you make it a point to be friendly and say hello.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Out and about

Running errands just got more interesting! As you head to new spots in town, look for posters or bulletin boards that list upcoming dates. The grocery store, gas stations, the library — all of your regular errand stops, plus a few recreational, will inform you about upcoming activities. Make a point to seek out flyers or public boards and simply take note of what’s ahead.

Don’t sit in the dark when at a new duty station. Look for lists of what’s ahead for an easier way to transition and immerse yourself into the local culture. Military and civilian alike!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Dover Fisher House marks decade of providing refuge for families of the fallen

When Toni Gross stood at the entrance of the Dover Fisher House for Families of the Fallen, she had no idea what to expect.

The previous hours were a blur, filled with grief and disbelief. It was July 2011, and she and her husband and daughter learned that Army Cpl. Frank Gross, their only son and brother, had been killed by an IED while serving in Afghanistan.


He was 25. And just like that, a mere few weeks into deployment, he was gone.

“We were just numb,” Toni Gross said.

The day after learning of Frank’s death, the Grosses traveled from Oldsmar, Florida to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, expecting to stay at “some place like a Hampton Inn” for the dignified transfer of Frank’s body. But instead, just across the street from the runway, they spent 24 hours at the Dover Fisher House for Families of the Fallen — a house created by Fisher House Foundation specifically for loved ones of those who have fallen through combat.

“It was a wonderfully comforting experience, and everything we could possibly think of— all of our needs, food, everything — was taken care of,” Toni Gross said. “We were able to spend time focusing on why we were there: grieving the loss of our son.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

That’s exactly what the chairman and CEO of Fisher House wants to hear. Ken Fisher is a third-generation leader of one of America’s most successful family-owned real estate development and management companies, but he is also expressly passionate about honoring veterans while assisting their families.

The foundation offers several programs to support military families through critical times, like the Hero Miles program and a scholarship program for military children, spouses, and children of fallen and disabled veterans. In 2019 alone, more than 32,000 families were served, according to its website.

There are 87 Fisher Houses located on 25 military installations and 38 VA medical centers, with several more in the works. Run by the Fisher House Foundation, Inc., each Fisher House provides free lodging for military families whose loved ones are receiving medical treatment nearby.

The Fisher House at Dover, however, is special for many reasons, Fisher says, because “it was built to honor the ultimate sacrifices of those who wear the uniform.”

Those who stay there aren’t waiting for a recovery but a goodbye to their airman, soldier, Marine, sailor or Coastie.

“I think the Fisher House at Dover does more than just provide lodging,” Fisher said. “It’s important that these families who have made the ultimate sacrifice understand that there are Americans that are very grateful.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

The Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Photo Roland Balik.

Built in just a few months in 2010, the Fisher House at Dover is equipped with nine guest suites that have seen approximately 3,700 guests since its opening. The average length of stay is 24 to 48 hours, with a typical family consists of six to 10 members.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michelle Johnson watches over each one. As house manager, it’s her job to make sure each guest has every need — and every want —taken care of.

One family with small children, for example, stayed at the house over Halloween. Staff members purchased costumes and took them trick-or-treating. Another time, they cooked a traditional holiday dinner for a family receiving their loved one’s body over Christmas.

“[These families] are experiencing a very difficult point in their lives, and grieving comes in different ways, so we make sure the Fisher House staff members takes care of those families,” Johnson said. “Giving them the care that they need and providing them with any comfort required.”

Toni Gross’ experience with staff members made such an impact that she now volunteers regularly at a Fisher House in Florida. Similarly, Ken Fisher, whose 87-year-old father served in the Korean War, calls the houses his “passion.”

“The House at Dover is particularly relevant as we approach Memorial Day, even while we’re in the grip of a pandemic,” he said. “In the end, we can never ever forget what has been done, what has been given to us, this freedom. That what we hold most dear above everything else — that came at a cost.”

And for families who have experienced that cost, like Toni Gross, it is “comforting” to have a place of refuge during such a difficult time.

“My family and I are grateful to the Fisher House Foundation for our stay at Dover Air Force Base. While it was a solemn time, it was comforting to know that the staff there all understood why we were there and were able to accommodate us during our darkest hours,” Gross said.

Visit https://fisherhouse.org/programs/houses/house-locations/delaware-fisher-house-for-families-of-the-fallen/ to learn more about Fisher House programs and services.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Spouses create safe haven for survivors of sex trafficking

Founded and led by military families, The Safe House Project (SHP) is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering victims of human trafficking by providing them a place to call home.

The group is focused on the development of safe houses for survivors of sex trafficking. Its 2030 mission is to eradicate child sex trafficking in America by strengthening networks.


Human trafficking is a global issue that affects roughly 40.3 million people and roughly 300,000 American children each year. Less than 1% of those victims will be rescued. And, if they are lucky enough to be rescued, what happens to them?

Thinking big

“In 2018, there were less than 100 beds in special care homes [in the U.S.],” Brittany Dunn, a Navy spouse and co-founder of SHP, said.

Without a place to go, many victims are turned over to the foster care system, juvenile detentions or mental institutions, with some even electing to return to their captors.

According to the US Department of Justice, finding adequate and appropriate emergency, transitional, and long-term housing is often the biggest service-related challenge that [human trafficking] task forces face.

Dunn, along with SHP co-founders and fellow Navy spouses Kristi Wells and Vicki Tinnel, began researching ways they could fill the gap. Rather than start a small non-profit organization focused on helping their local community, they thought big.

SHP accelerates safe house development through providing education, resources, funding and government contacts to local nonprofits who seek to establish safe houses within their local communities. These individual safe houses provide specialized counseling and resources to help victims get out of the cycle of abuse. By adopting a business-like organizational structure, SHP partners do not have to work in isolation to solve a problem. They are part of a larger network and better able to solve big-picture problems.

“What most people see as a disadvantage, moving around constantly, we’ve been able to use that to our advantage,” Dunn said. “A majority of our volunteers across the U.S. are military families. That creates networks that most people do not have as a natural resource.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Many survivors find art therapy to be an important part of processingtheir past. Art allows them to express their pain, while also helping them find their wings.

Why is this so hard?

Like other national problems, sex trafficking issues are often complicated by the division of power between local, state and federal government. If a victim is rescued in a state that does not have an active safe house, SHP will attempt to have them transferred to a neighboring state that can provide the resources they need.

While this is the ideal model, according to Dunn, some CPS [Child Protective Services] don’t want to see their dollars flow out of state.

“That is where education and awareness come in,” she said.

Victim reintegration from a stable treatment environment back into the “real world” must be strategic. Without proper planning, victims could easily run into former “johns” and reenter the cycle of abuse. The reason safe houses are so essential is because victims have specialized needs and many shelters do not have the resources or government mandate to help them.

“There is a need domestically for improved victim services, trauma-informed support, better data on the prevalence and trends of human trafficking,” Congressman Richard Hudson, R-N.C., said at a Safe House Project’s Freedom Requires Action event held earlier this year. Hudson, a cosponsor of the 2019 Put Trafficking Victims First Act, hopes this legislation will “provide stakeholders — from law enforcement to prosecutors to service providers to government officials — with the guidance and information they need to better serve victims of trafficking.”

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Congressman Richard Hudson, R-N.C. was a guest speaker at the Safe House Project’s Freedom Requires Action event in January 2020 event held in the U.S. Capitol building. Hudson is also cosponsor of the 2019 Put Trafficking Victims First Act

The victims

The majority of trafficked children are not victims of a snatch and grab.

“We live under a perception that our kids are safer because they are in a first world country, but they aren’t. It is the harsh reality,” Dunn said. “It just looks different. Instead of having a red-light district in Thailand, you have kids being recruited on Fortnite or being approached peer-to-peer in schools.”

Every time a child is exposed to sexually-explicit content in conversations, on television or online, underage sex becomes normalized. For some, abusive acts do not feel like the crimes and victims do not feel like they are being victimized.

“Child sex trafficking is a difficult subject to talk about but raising awareness and talking about it is the first step in solving it,” Ria Story, Tedx speaker, author and survivor leader, said.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

Safe House Project and Coffee Beanery are teaming up to raise awareness in coffee shops across America. Advocates also marked their hands in red to support the #EndItMovement.

See something. Say something. Do something.

According to Dunn, “any epidemic has two sides to eradication. Prevention and treatment.” She encourages everyone to look for the problems that may lie under the surface.

In addition to providing safe houses, SHP has trained over 6,000 military personnel to recognize and report instances of sex trafficking and hope to more than double this number by the end of 2020. And for those who cannot attend an official training, SHP offers online tools (https://www.safehouseproject.org/sex-trafficking-statistics).

For more information or to donate to SHP, visit: https://www.safehouseproject.org/donate

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Green Beret’s kid wrote a book on coping with deployments

When his father deploys, 9-year-old Davidson considers himself “man of the house” — it’s a role he’s filled eight times.

Davidson’s father, Dave Whetstone — the surname is a pseudonym for security reasons — is a Green Beret currently on his tenth deployment. Dave has deployed nearly every year of Davidson’s life, and each time, Davidson “puts on a brave face,” he said.

To help other military families also be brave, the father and son duo recently published a children’s book, “Brave for my Family,” written by Davidson and illustrated by Dave, with some proceeds going to military charities.


The book was released on Veteran’s Day under pen names to protect their identities, and recounts the family’s experience with one of Dave’s deployments after a life-threatening battlefield injury, recovery, and Dave’s return to war — all through Davidson’s eyes.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

“Brave For My Family”

While deployed, Dave tries to stay in touch with his family, he said. In the past, he’s recorded videos of himself — reading bedtime stories, praying, etc. — for his wife, Elizabeth, to replay for their children.

“While Americans are grateful for the sacrifices service members make for our country, it’s the sacrifices they don’t see that are the hardest,” Dave wrote in an email.

Story behind the story

While deployed to Afghanistan in late 2013 — four days shy of Christmas — Dave was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

During the explosion, shrapnel pierced the Green Beret’s face and tore through the right side of his body. It missed his carotid artery by a few millimeters.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the Whetstones were with family over the holidays and carried on with their lives, unaware the patriarch of their family was fighting for his.

After the blast, the Special Forces officer suffered life-threatening injuries. He was triaged on the battlefield, and subsequently airlifted to Germany and briefly hospitalized there.

From Germany, Dave returned to the United States and underwent multiple surgeries at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he eventually stayed for three-weeks.

Once the Whetstones received the terrible news, they also flew to Washington, D.C., and were reunited with their soldier on Christmas, Davidson said.

Davidson — who was 3 years old at the time — writes about this moment in the book.

“My mom cried, and I was pretty scared my dad was going to die,” he wrote.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

An illustration from “Brave for My Family.”

In the book, Dave’s illustration depicts this moment, too. The wounded soldier is in the hospital — he’s battered, with multiple wounds and bandages — but embraced his son.

To this day, the illustration is hard for Elizabeth to see without reliving the memory, she said, because the artwork looks so real.

Also on Christmas day that year, Dave and his family were greeted by then-Vice President Joe Biden. The former VP, who visited wounded troops and their families at the hospital, invited the Whetstones to his home for lunch — an offer they took him up on the following year.

As he recovered, Dave learned his close friend — while also deployed in Afghanistan — was killed in combat. Although he was on convalescent leave, Dave requested special permission to return to Afghanistan and complete his deployment.

The blast claimed the peripheral vision from his right eye, and left parts of the shrapnel lodged in his body. However, Dave doesn’t believe the scars of war are the most painful thing a soldier can experience.

“I have been wounded in combat, I have lost close friends,” Dave wrote. “But, for me some of the toughest pills to swallow are not being there for first words, first steps, first Christmases, first birthdays, and all of the moments that I’ll never see again. The hardest thing is watching my kids grow up in pictures.”

Father and son share their story

Years later — during the summer before Davidson started school — the father and son duo started the foundation for their book. Together, they decided to produce something “that could help kids not be scared if their parents deploy,” Davidson said.

“I know what it’s like to have your dad deployed to a scary place,” Davidson added.

For nearly two years, and in-between deployments, the pair would spend the Sunday afternoons they had, usually after church, being creative together, Elizabeth said.

2020 shopping ideas for the military spouse in your life

An illustration from “Brave for My Family.”

“Creating the book was therapeutic for them both,” she added.

For Dave, drawing is a way to organize his thoughts, and a passion that dates back to childhood, he said.

“Illustrating Davidson’s story gave me a strong motivation to create meaningful representation of our family’s sacrifice and courage,” Dave wrote. “It also allowed me to spend time recalling and appreciating the details of our family’s experience, and come to terms with some things.”

Part of the proceeds from the book will go toward charities like the Green Beret Foundation and help support military families and wounded warriors.

“I can’t express how proud I am of my family, and how immeasurably blessed I am to have each of them in my life,” Dave wrote. “I am so proud of Davidson for writing this book. But, if I’m being honest, this is only a snapshot of his talents and passion as a good young man.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.