Sunday, November 30, 2008

eMailOurMilitary Needs Your Help: Donate Today for the Holiday Postage Campaign

December 1st is the deadline set for postage donations needed to send the holiday cards and packages to deployed troops. The postage goal for this year was set at $2,500, and the total collected so far isn't even half that.

Help send holiday support to deployed troops by donating to the postage campaign right now.

Donate now

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day: Thankful for the Changes in the Past 38 Years

Today on Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for many things. One of these is to have lived to have seen how much the world has changed since 1970.

In my Google alerts today I found a link to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Company Information website page. Under the heading "Recent Blog Posts" I found "MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL." I clicked on the link to my blog post about the AFFES' new blog initiative

I said to my husband: "Imagine this turn of events. In 1970 I was turned down from a professional position at the U.S. Army's European Exchange System headquarters in Munich (where we were stationed at the time) because I might block a man from getting that position. And 38 years later AAFES (parent of EES) has a website that links to a blog of mine about my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT."

And only yesterday, as co-host of the new BlogTalkRadio show Your Military Life when host Nancy Brown of and I interviewed Lauren Vargas of AAFES, I asked Lauren if AAFES still has catalogs. (The answer was yes, plus an online mall-style shopping site.) And I told Lauren that I still have my 1971-1972 EES mail order catalog.

To return to the subject at hand, I am so thankful for the progress that U.S. women have made in the past 38 years. While we still have a long way to go, I could never have imagined -- at the moment that I was turned down at EES headquarters -- that, in the intervening years, it would become unlawful to discriminate against women and whole other classes of people in employment situations.

May the United States continue to champion equal rights for men and women of all races, creeds and places of national origin. And may we as a country be a beacon unto the nations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Help Feed the Family of a Severely Wounded GI This Thanksgiving

Here's the mission statement of the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes:
The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes provides emergency financial aid to our troops who have been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Our patriotic donors have responded with financial help to 10,950 requests from disabled troops facing evictions, foreclosures, utility cutoffs, car repossessions and other crises, providing more than $22 million so far.

But more wounded troops are returning each week and they need your support. They were there for us. Now it's our turn to be there for them.
Donate now to help our nation's heroes this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Please Help the USO Provide for Deployed Personnel and Their Families: Donate Now

I received an email solicitation from the USO (United Service Organizations) that I find so compelling that I'm going to share it almost in its entirety here. (Boldface is mine.)
A few days from now, families in small towns and big cities all across the nation will gather together for that "most American" of holidays - the day we emulate our Pilgrim fathers and give thanks for all that we hold dear.

At the same time, halfway around the world, 170,000 brave young men and women will demonstrate their gratitude in another way: by putting their lives at risk to defend everything America stands for.

As we join our loved ones around the table to feast on turkey and all the trimmings, our troops overseas will grab an MRE and head out to patrol crowded streets and back alleys where insurgents continue to lurk.

As we watch the giant balloons of the Macy's parade usher in the holiday season, they'll spend Thanksgiving morning in harm's way: a "place" where rounding any corner can mean a deadly ambush... where stopping any car or passerby can trigger an explosion and sudden death.

As we cheer on our high school football heroes or watch the pros on TV, they'll face combat of a different nature - ducking live rounds and remaining alert for the sudden rush of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade.

Today, the deepening economic crisis and post-election political developments continue to dominate our front pages: so much so, that some Americans may even have forgotten about the brave and women who are doing their job overseas, but counting the days till it's their turn to share the home-town celebrations with their loved ones and friends.

However, the USO hasn't forgotten; we've already geared up to provide extra services to our troops... not just for the holiday season, but throughout the weeks and months ahead. With American troops spread all over the globe...

* We must recruit more stars to man our Holiday Entertainment Tours to combat zones... not just to entertain, but also to shake hands with our GIs and say face-to-face, "Thanks! We're here for you. You're the real star!"

* We need to buy more pre-paid phone cards, so our troops can call home for free whenever they get a chance, even from a pay phone in Baghdad.

* We must staff up and supply our overseas Centers and Mobile Canteens; the Holiday season is the loneliest time to be at the Front, so they'll have to stay open extra hours to provide our guys and gals in uniform with a hot cup of coffee, a warm smile, and a chance... even if just for a few moments... to escape from the war and enjoy a taste of home.

Meeting these special challenges, on top of all the everyday services we provide to our troops and their families, will take a huge effort, cost a lot of money, and stretch our resources to the limit. Many people are surprised to learn that the USO is not a government agency; in fact, we rely on individual citizens who want to support the troops, and who always seem to stand behind us at the times we need them most.

Now is one of those times. Please send your tax-deductible donation today, to help the USO make certain that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman around the world knows that the folks back home are thinking of them this holiday season, and that we honor their dedication, their heroism, and their sacrifice.
Donate now

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanks to the Troops: Pre-Thanksgiving CD Release of For the Troops II

Starting November 25th, the Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will be providing free downloads of the second CD "For the Troops" featuring Grammy Award winners/nominees at And TriWest HealthCare Alliance will distribute 200,000 hard copies at locations such as military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and USO centers.

Here's more information from
"I’ve heard from service members who, before going on missions or upon returning, listen to songs for inspiration, motivation, reflection or simply to be distracted from a reality few of us could ever imagine,” said John Ondrasik, who writes and sings under the pseudonym band name Five for Fighting and spearheaded the CD’s development. “I hope that my song and the other hits from artists who generously contributed to this project stir those same emotions in our service members. We greatly appreciate the sacrifices the military has made for our country.”

The complete track listing of “For the Troops II” is:

3 Doors Down – When I’m Gone
Daughtry – Home
Five for Fighting – Freedom Never Cries
Good Charlotte – I Don’t Want to Be in Love (Dance Floor Anthem)
Gretchen Wilson – California Girls
Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
Joe Perry – Shakin’ My Cage
Josh Groban – Machine
Jude – I Think It’s Time (Everything’s Alright)
Keith Urban – Everybody
Maroon 5 – Won’t Go Home Without You
Ray Orbison – In Dreams
Alan Jackson – Where I Come From
Trace Adkins – Fightin’ Words
AAFES asks that people help spread the word about the availability of this new CD. Let's do this.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Army Wives: Dealing With Household Baggage

I'm in Chicago today visiting my parents for their 84th birthdays. As we are about to drive to O'Hare Airport, I suddenly thought of the day in September 1970 when my husband called from the Baltimore Airport. He was en route to Ft. Dix, New Jersey, to fly to Europe for an unknown destination. I didn't have concurrent travel orders.

He called and said he'd just been paged. An official army personnel informed him that my concurrent travel orders had come through and his travel orders were being put on hold. I had 72 hours to join him at Ft. Dix.

And, oh yes, we were going to Munich, Germany. I had no idea where that was, and took some time to locate it on a map.

The next day my mother and I drove to Ft. Sheridan in Chicago to arrange for our household goods still at my parents' house to be shipped to Munich. And it's being in close proximity to the former Ft. Sheridan (now a housing development) that brought this memory to mind.

If you want to read more stories of military wives dealing with household baggage and other military household matters, check out the website of author Marna A. Krajeski at

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Online Organization CommunityofVeterans.Org Helps Veterans Make the Transition to Civilian Life

I’ve just come across the website of Here’s a brief statement about this organization:
Join our veterans-only online community to connect with people who know where you're coming from. Share your experiences and help others make the transition to civilian life. Stronger Together.
As a writer, I particularly found compelling the section of the site In Their Words in which veterans tell their own stories, including the featured story of Bryan Adams.

The site includes information on the new G.I.Bill:
The new G.I. Bill offers the most comprehensive educational assistance package in more than a generation.

Beginning August 1, 2009, veterans who have served three years of active duty since September 10, 2001 will be eligible to receive full tuition and fees, a monthly living stipend, and a $1,000/year stipend for books and other supplies. Active duty veterans who have served fewer than three years will be eligible to receive a portion of benefits under the new G.I. Bill.
For more information, go to G.I. Bill.

I hope you share information about this site with veterans you know who are returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. Having the support of an understanding community can make a huge difference in the success of a veteran’s return to the civilian world.

I’d like to close this blog post with the first paragraph of the story submitted by Cara Hammer. (The boldface is mine.)
I was stationed in Germany when I was redeployed from Iraq; we got off a C-130 from Ballad and were greeted on the tarmac by three Vietnam vets. These three guys were so happy to see us, one would have thought they were waiting for us the entire year to return. They had food for us, hugs, and well wishes for our return. They mentioned later that they were determined to have each individual soldier know their service was appreciated and not in vain. It’s amazing how a stranger can genuinely care and make such a big impact on you at a time when you’re not even aware that you needed it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Military Families: New Sources of Online Information

Nancy Brown of and I did our first BlogTalkRadio show last night, interviewing my husband Mitch about estate planning issues for military families. We made a couple of mistakes that we'll correct next time, but all in all it went well.

This Wednesday we're interviewing Trish Forant of about her holiday program for deployed troops, and we're lining up other very informative people for our future shows. Check out to get the schedule of upcoming radio shows as well as listen to shows already aired.

And here's a new website from Military OneSource that I just learned about --
TroopTube is the new online video site designed to help military families connect and keep in touch while miles apart. The site is designed for easy use, so you can quickly upload videos and share the simple joys of each day with each other, either privately or with the whole world. Sign up today and begin sharing videos by clicking here.

Military OneSource is an authorized Department of Defense program for Active Duty, Guard, Reserve and their families.
And if you're a military family, remember to check in with the new AAFES blog

Friday, November 14, 2008

BlogTalkRadio New Show: Your Military Life

The BlogTalkRadio Show “Your Military Life” will be co-hosted by me thanks to an invitation to do so from Nancy Brown of, who has just created the show.

Our first “official” show will be on Wednesday, November 19: 11 p.m. Eastern, 10 p.m. Central, 9 p.m. Mountain, or 8 p.m. Pacific. We will be interviewing Trish Forant, founder of eMailOurMilitary (, about the organization’s holiday program to send cards and packages to deployed military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we’ll take questions from the audience at 646-929-0021.

(We’re actually testing out the format on November 17 at the same times as above by interviewing my husband Mitch Miller on why a will is not enough.)

To find out about our upcoming shows, go to

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Compelling Photo Essay Concerning the Men and Women Deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan

The September 29, 2008, issue of The New Yorker features a compelling photo essay titled PORTFOLIO BY PLATON: SERVICE.

The essay was introduced by the following paragraph:
This summer, the photographer Platon took pictures of hundreds of men and women who volunteered to serve in the military and were sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. He followed them on their journey through training and deployment, after demobilization and in hospitals, to compile a portrait of the dedication of the armed services today. Sergeant Tim Johannsen, who lost both legs when he drove over an I.E.D. on his second tour of duty in Iraq, made a point of buying an Army T-shirt to wear in his photograph. Of his sacrifice, he said, “It’s just part of the job. You know what you signed up for.” Sergeant Matthis Chiroux, a military reporter who has become a vocal opponent of the Iraq war, says that he and others like him “take our activism as a continuation of our oath of service.” Like many who enlist, Johannsen and Chiroux come from military families. Sergeant John McKay, a marine whose uncle and grandfather were marines, and whose three-year-old son posed in uniform at the wedding of a cousin, also a marine, said, “He’s just waiting till he’s eighteen.” He went on, “I’m scared for him, but if he wants to do it I’ll support him.”
View the photos with their captions at PORTFOLIO BY PLATON: SERVICE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day: We Honor Our Men and Women Past and Present

A friend forwarded a chain email with compelling photos of military personnel interspersed with these words. I do not know who wrote these words, but I would like to share them with you:
Your cell phone is in your pocket.
He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags.

You talk trash about your "buddies" that aren't with you.
He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.

You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls.
He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.

You complain about how hot it is
He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe his brow.

You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong.
He doesn't get to eat today.

Your maid makes your bed and washes your clothes.
He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.

You go to the mall and get your hair redone.
He doesn't have time to brush his teeth today.

You're angry because your class ran 5 minutes over.
He's told he will be held over an extra 2 months.

You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight.
He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home.

You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do every day.
He holds his letter close and smells his love's perfume.

You roll your eyes as a baby cries.
He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they'll ever meet.

You criticize your government, and say that war never solves anything.
He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he is fighting.

You hear the jokes about the war, and make fun of men like him.
He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded.

You see only what the media wants you to see.
He sees the broken bodies lying around him.

You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don't.
He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger.

You stay at home and watch TV.
He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep, and eat.

You crawl into your soft bed, with down pillows, and get comfortable.
He tries to sleep but gets woken by mortars and helicopters all night long.
Last night I watched the first part of a PBS show on the Medal of Honor with interviews of some of the men still alive who received the Medal of Honor in WWII, Korea or Vietnam. (The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in battle bestowed by the U.S.) The five men who have received the Medal of Honor for fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan all received the award posthumously.

After a while I couldn't watch any more. What we as a country ask of the men and women who serve in the military is enormous. And so few of us who don't serve in the military understand this.

I hope today you'll take a few moments and say a personal thank you to all these men and women past and present. And then donate to your favorite military support organization. If you don't know of any, go to for organizations that support military families and personnel.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Website Great Americans Is Launching for Veterans Day

The website is launching on Tuesday -- Veterans Day. Here's the website's home page explanation by Matt Daniels, the creator and executive producer of the site:
Great Americans is a movement to celebrate those whose lives offer a positive example to others. As the first step in the pursuit of this vision, is dedicated to men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk to protect our nation at home and abroad. Great Americans is a celebration of their service, their sacrifice, and their example to us all.
The site is live now. Go check it out at and listen to some of the video interviews. And you still have time to Honor a Veteran at

Friday, November 7, 2008

Honor a Veteran: Veterans Day is November 11

There are only a few more days before Veterans Day. I want to encourage everyone who hasn't yet honored a veteran by posting a photo, video or description at to do so now.

And I want to share with you the terrific blog post by Lauren Vargas at the new AAFES blog (see my post about this new blog at

Lauren's post today is about the Facebook Honor a Veteran event -- Hope you'll read this blog post!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

After Election Day: Supporting Our Veterans and Our Troops

Last night at a Los Angeles election-day party I overheard a woman comment on Proposition 12 on the California ballot.
Shall a nine hundred million dollar ($900,000,000) bond be used to provide farm and home aid for California veterans?
The woman said: “I voted for the proposition because veterans deserve benefits even if I’m against the war in Iraq.”

Yes, she “gets” it! Supporting the troops is NOT a political stance. It is simply an acknowledgement of the men and women who serve to protect us.

This morning the news is that Proposition 12 passed, which means that the majority of Californians who voted understand this too. (For more information on the proposition, see

Also last night someone else was saying that he wanted to give books to the VA Hospital in Los Angeles but didn’t know how. I suggested he instead give them to, which supplies books for the troops. He readily agreed.

And to round out this blog post on supporting our veterans and our troops, I’m asking you to please participate in two events:

• My Honor a Veteran Facebook event at

• Trish Forant’s holiday program at