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Archive for January, 2012

They learn a new language….PTSD, TBI, TSGLI, TRDL, MEB.

We owe these families a debt we can never repay.

They lose jobs and friends can abandon them.

They become experts at navigating a Byzantine maze that would make Indiana Jones doff his hat.

They try to understand a reality for which they have no frame of reference, to be prepared to respond in a blink of an eye to the needs of their warriors.

They endure a level of fatigue, anxiety and fear that would break the strongest of us.

But they are also pure and brilliant examples of the power of hope and faith and bottomless love. For their spouses and each other.

They are Wounded Warrior Wives. And it’s way past time to let them know they are not alone.

That is why we are thrilled to learn of First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to highlight the challenges facing the caretakers of America’s war wounded. We at Operation Homefront understand the strength it takes, day in and day out, to be a warrior for the warrior.  We see it every day on our Wounded Warrior Wives Facebook page, in our support groups and at our retreats, and in the calls that reach out to us for help. Even if it’s just to hear an understanding voice.

We must stand behind these heroes as they stand behind theirs. If you’d like to join with us to support our Wounded Warrior Wives program, here are some places to start:

Find out more about Operation Homefront’s Wounded Warrior Wives program at www.woundedwarriorwives.org.

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They hail from Maine to Washington State.  From Puerto Rico to Kadena Air Base Japan. They represent ages from 8 to 18.

They are the 100 Semi-Finalists for the 2012 Military Child of the Year Award.

Here they are, grouped by branch of service:

AIR FORCE

Tasha D. – Age 15 – Callaway, FL

Gregory C. – Age 17 – Albuquerque, NM

Jacob P. – Age 11 – Childress, TX

Ilaria R. – Age 10 – Valrico, FL

Brookelyn S. – Age 17 – Marblehead, MA

Brandon S.  – Age 16 – Andrews AFB, MD

Chelsea R. – Age 17 – Panama City, FL

Joanna S. – Age 17 – Europe

Caitlin R. – Age 17 – Luling, TX

Alexandra D. – Age 17 – Durham, NC

Bryce R. – Age 12 – Valrico, FL

Bailey C. – Age 8 – Surprise, AZ

Kyle W. – Age 15 – Ashland, IL

Brianna S. – Age 13 – Kadena Air Base, Japan

Jada K. – Age 12 – Tolleson, AZ

Mika D. – Age 12 – Lumberton, NC

Katherine O. – Age 16 – Las Vegas, NV

Jeffrey M. – Age 13 – Scott AFB, IL

Ryan P. – Age 18 – Yuba City, CA

Madyson N. – Age 15 – Lackland AFB, TX

ARMY

Hunter M. – Age 12 – Fort Huachuca, AZ

Amelia  M. – Age 17 – Carlisle, PA

Brock W. – Age 12 – Vine Grove, KY

McKenna T. – Age 14 – Fort Meade, MD

Jacob F. – Age 12 – Europe

Marly K. – Age 12 – Hope Mills, NC

Andrew M. – Age 11 – Lakewood, WA

Gabriella G. – Age 10 – Copperas Cove, TX

Samuel B. – Age 14 – Fortson, GA

Brandon G. – Age 17 – Hope Mills, NC

Sydney S. – Age 12 – Wake Forest, NC

Jessica H. – Age 17 – Fort Riley, KS

Courtney L. – Age 16 – Fayetteville, NC

Robert D. – Age 11 – Europe

Robert W. – Age 13 – Gastonia, NC

Alexis S. – Age 13 – Fort Drum, NY

Zachary H. – Age 17 – Aberdeen, NC

Kirsten L. – Age 14 – Elizabethtown, KY

Erika J. – Age 17 – Raeford,, NC

Marquis H. – Age 17 – Sanford, NC

COAST GUARD

Alena D.  – Age 17 – Fairfax, VA

Felicity M. – Age 8 – South Portland, ME

Meaghan, M. – Age 15 – Grosse Pointe Park, MI

Collin E. – Age 17 – Morehead City, NC

Margaret C. – Age 17 – Chesapeake, VA

Maggi F. – Age 10 – Prescott, AZ

Matthew M. – Age 9 – Lake St Louis, MO

Lyric S. – Age 13 – Bayamon, PR

Maverick J. – Age 15 – Port Angeles, WA

Meaghan B. – Age 8 – Astoria, OR

Ayden M. – Age 10 – Cocoa, FL

Alyssa S. – Age 12 – Davie, FL

Chandel B. – Age 13 – Chesapeake, VA

Tamalega T. – Age 8 – Amherst, NY

Matthew Y. – Age 16 – Fairhope, AL

Jack F. – Age 8 – Prescott, AZ

Felicity L. – Age 11 – Kittery, ME

Sara H. – Age 11 – Virginia Beach, VA

Zahkeira B. – Age 13 – Jacksonville, NC

Duncan M. – Age 15 – Groton, CT

MARINE CORPS

Renalyn Q. – Age 16 – Kailua, HI

Michael-Logan J. – Age 13 – Kailua, HI

Jacob M. – Age 14 – Garden City, NY

Erika B. – Age 16 – Jacksonville, NC

Benjamin L. – Age 18 – Tampa, FL

Bailey – Age 16 – Beaufort, SC

Desirae S. – Age 18 – Jacksonville, NC

Tanner G. – Age 11 – Concord, NC

Kathleen D. – Age 16 – Camp Lejeune, NC

Tyler V. – Age 17 – Chester, VA

Eric D. – Age 15 – San Diego, CA

Bailey L. – Age 15 – Tampa, FL

Archie B. – Age 17  – Pearl City, HI

Joseph K. – Age 18 –29 Palms, CA

Whitney H. – Age 18 – Prince Frederick, MD

Mikayla L. – Age 12 – San Diego, CA

Thomas C. – Age 10 – Beaufort, SC

Anastasia B. – Age 10 – Oceanside, CA

Gavin S. – Age 8 – Jacksonville, NC
Savannah C. – Age 8 – Camp Pendleton, CA

NAVY

Desiree’ W. – Age 13 – San Diego, CA

Ashley F. – Age 16 – Jacksonville, FL

Haley F. – Age 8 – Lexington Park, MD

GiVahna P. – Age 14 – Springfield, VA

Daniel N. – Age 12 – Fleming Island, FL

Addalyn B. – Age 13 – Newbury Park, CA

Malcolm T. – Age 10 – Odenton, MD

Avery D. – Age 12 – Jacksonville, FL

Elisha D. – Age 15 – Pacific Area

James  Nathan R. – Age 9 – Jamul, CA

Debra P. – Age 11 – Seattle, WA

Sheridamae G. – Age 12 – San Diego, CA

Hallie G. – Age 11 – Chula Vista, CA

Mariah W. – Age 14 – Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan

Isabella T. – Age 13 – Jacksonville, NC

Kasey P. – Age 13 – Ramona, CA

Maiya D. – Age 16 – Portsmouth, VA

Keegan M. – Age 13 – Panama City Beach, FL

Amanda N. – Age 12 – Aiea, HI

MacKenize F. – Age 11 – Browns Mills, NJ

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By Allison Perkins

Your 2011 Filing Doesn't Have to Be "Taxing"

Are you dreading hauling that box of receipts and paperwork out from under your bed to file your taxes? Too bad. It’s time.

But, the good news is, military members can have their taxes done for free. All ranks can use free the H&R Block filing service for free online at www.militaryonesource.com.  Junior rank personnel can visit the tax help office on their specific military installation where volunteers will walk you through the filing process.

At Marine Corps Base Hawaii, tax consultants there said as families prepare to visit the office they must bring all paperwork, w-2s, proof for items they want to claim and their Social Security cards – for the military member and all qualified dependents.

“That’s been an ongoing battle,” said Staff Sgt. Kelly Anderson. “They must bring proof of their Social Security number.”

Anderson also said many on-base tax offices are small and limited on space. Call ahead before your visit to see if children and strollers can be accommodated.

If you are filing taxes on your own, Anderson gives this advice:

  • If you itemize deductions and the amount is not higher than the standard deduction for your filing status, you are better served to take the standard deduction
  • Married couples will benefit more to file married and jointly than to file married, separately
  • Military members can deduct the cost of rank and uniforms that are not worn for general, everyday use but they must itemize their return to do so
  • If doing a multi-state filing, file all states you have a holding with to receive your taxes back in a timely manner and be sure they are correct.

To speak to a tax Military OneSource tax consultant, call 1-800-342-9647. They are available seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST. Send questions via email to TaxQuestions@militaryonesource.mil

Anderson said families should keep in mind that the tax laws change every year and their return may not be as small, or as large, as it was the previous year.

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She wears her gold star when she feels strong, when she can handle the questions.

What is a gold star?

The gold star is worn by someone who has lost an immediate family member killed in action defending our country.

Let me make it personal so it will resonate like it should.

Margy Bons, president of Operation Homefront of Arizona, lost her son, Michael Marzano, a Marine, in 2005. After she read the article Gold Star Families Feel Disconnected, published in USA Today this week, she reached out to Jane Horton, who is featured in the article. Her response will hit you at your core.

After 6 years, I can still feel so weak. As a Gold Star mom, it pains me to witness a new member. Tell Jane that what she talks about is what we walk through once receiving “the knock” on the door. My knock came on Mother’s Day.

I was told my son, Michael, was not viewable at the funeral home. His battle buddies said he had a cut on his head and damage to his right leg. They were trying to protect me. It was 2 years later that I found out that we did not get all of him back as he was blown up. I kicked, screamed and threatened that they would have to put his casket on top of me unless I viewed something. I got to see his left hand. He was my boy who had given up going to the 2000 Olympics as a Heavy Weight boxer to be a Marine. He had boxing hands, so I knew it was him. 

I had friends for 15 years that left me shortly after my “knock.” They couldn’t handle the “new and different” Margy. That is one of the most painful outcomes of this. If I am left during the most horrendous time in my life, how can I trust friends again? 

Michael’s items trickled in. I got letters from his comrades expressing their grief of his loss. He was missed. He was a clown who kept everyone laughing. Some still stay in touch and will call me on Mother’s Day. They just want me to know they are not forgetting. Those calls are priceless. He is not forgotten. 

No one wants to be us. I don’t want to be us. I work through it. I don’t wear my pin much because sometimes I don’t want to be that mom and I don’t want to explain. It can be very painful. I wear it for special occasions and when I feel strong. Tell Jane it is a long walk but if she can do it with the mission of supporting her loved one’s legacy, it makes it bearable. 

I worked for 2 years with our local legislatures, both House of Representatives and Senate and passed a Gold Star family vehicle license plate bill. I even designed it.

There is a VA Outpatient Clinic named after my son in Hermitage PA. That was a feat but worth the efforts. We must never forget. 

I also worked on a bill to prevent people from profiting by using the names of the fallen on merchandise without permission from the families. While this passed and the Governor signed it, it was immediately overturned in court by the ACLU as a violation of the Freedom of Speech rights. Our constitution was upheld although it was a painful reality. This made me realize that our fallen did not die in vain. 

Please express my sympathies to Jane and, when ready, there are books that help those of us that must continue on even after receiving “the knock.” Also, let her know she can call if she wants.

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