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This post is sponsored by the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center. All opinions and work are my own.

Every few days we see the headlines: another veteran suicide.

This spring has been especially brutal with huge news stories covering veterans completing suicide near or at VA hospitals. While the headlines are always horrific, we don’t hear about every military-connected suicide. We couldn’t. Sadly, there would be too many to keep up.

It’s an issue that is not only gut-wrenchingly sad, but it’s also one that is personal for people in the military and civilians alike. While it feels so personal, it’s also an issue that can feel overwhelming and huge. But there are many things that you can do to help reduce and bring awareness to veteran suicide:

1. Keep an eye out

If your partner or friend seems to have changed in some way– where they like to go, if they’re drinking more, if they have severe mood or personality swings, or if they’re not interested in what they used to– it might mean that they’re dealing with more than they’re letting on.

2. Share your time

Especially after transitioning out of the military or reintegrating after a deployment, veterans and service members can feel especially alone. It can seem that no one else understands what they’ve experienced, lost, or miss. Whether they choose to isolate themselves or their lives just naturally lend to not spending much time with others, having human contact and feeling connected to other people is an important part of holistic wellness. If you know someone who seems like they might be spending a lot of time alone, invite them for dinner, go on a walk with them, or make another offer that makes sense for your relationship with that person. A little bit of time can go a long way.

3. Join an organization

As mental health and TBI/PTSD awareness increases, so do organizations that make it their main focus. Check out local and national nonprofits promoting mental health and wellness and suicide prevention, especially for those in the military community.

4. Know what’s going on

We know that there’s a problem, and now, more and more research is happening surrounding military community suicides and mental health. In fact, for the first time–ever–the DoD will release data on military dependent suicides. (Yes, you read that right. It’s never happened before.) Understanding what’s happening means that you can be a better advocate.

5. Go to a training

Last year, after a high school student completed suicide, a church in my town hosted a training done in conjunction with the local hospital. Volunteers learned how to spot and understand warning signs as well as how to respond. After a two-hour training, our town had at least 100 more folks who knew a little bit more about how to help someone in crisis. Check with your local hospital to see if any trainings are happening in your area.

6. Support organizations doing good work

Want to take your commitment to military-connected folks who are struggling? Consider supporting organizations that are doing great things in the area of mental health and wellness in the military community. One such organization is the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center. To date, this Atlanta-based center has changed more than 550 veterans’ lives. Veterans with mild to moderate brain injuries and psychological concerns are able to participate in a twelve-week rehabilitative therapy program, customized to their needs. Veterans who have served since September 11, 2001 are able to participate, including those who left the military with other than honorable discharges.

SHARE is leading the way for other medical centers across the nation because of its comprehensive rehabilitation. Those receiving services at SHARE benefit from life-coaching, cognitive therapy, recreation therapy, neuropsychology, and chaplaincy.

Take a moment to watch Christopher’s experience with the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center:

Stories of Courage: Christopher Dixon - YouTube
 

7. Share in-person and online

People who are struggling with mental wellness, TBI/PTSD, and/or suicidal thoughts may not be actively looking for resources and help on their own. Their family members may also be struggling with changes in their loved one’s behavior, dealing with TRICARE or other health care providers, and/or their own emotional needs that come with being a caregiver. When you share resources with friends and family– like the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center–you make it easier for people dealing to ask for help or discover tools that may be helpful.

Veterans and those who want to help can call 404-603-4314 or visit www.shepherd.org/share and www.shepherdsmen.com.

8. Participate in fundraisers and activities

Fundraisers aren’t just about raising money for programs that provide benefits and supports for veterans… they’re also about raising more awareness. That’s why it’s vital for supporters of causes like suicide prevention to participate in those fundraisers. The Shepherd’s Men Run is one such event that raises funds and awareness for SHARE. Every year, volunteers run half marathons wearing 22-pound flak jackets. Yes. Half marathons. In flak jackets. And they do it for seven consecutive days in multiple states.

This year, the run kicks off on May 21 in Connecticut. Want to provide moral support? See where the Shepherd’s Men will be— and if they’ll be near you in 2019!

The post Worried About Veteran Suicides? Here’s What You Can Do appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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This post is sponsored by OM Media and Verizon. All opinions and work are my own. 

Caring for twins during deployment.

Taking a Facetime call at midnight.

Driving the kids to soccer-basketball-Scouts-swimming and back again.

Grocery shopping with one arm because the other is occupied by a brand new baby.

Is there anything military mothers can’t do?

(No, no, there’s not. I’m in awe of them!)

That’s why Verizon wants to honor 15 military mothers across America with a $1,000 shopping spree at their local Verizon store. Yes. $1,000. $1,000 to be used how they’d like to use it– a new tablet, a new phone, maybe a handsfree headset… The choice is theirs.

But Verizon needs your help to get these gift cards into the hands of deserving military moms. Today, spend a few minutes nominating a military mom— including yourself if you are one– to be honored by Verizon. Nominations will be available until May 12–Mother’s Day!– so make sure you submit now and honor the military moms in your life who are rocking it every day!

But wait… there’s more!

In addition to giving away a ton of Verizon cash and goodies to military mamas, Verizon also offers a military special for cell service for military families. We’re talking about $40 off a month for 4 lines (and yes, the plan is unlimited), 25% off select gear and accessories, and 15% off other select cell phone plans. In addition, they work with the Wounded Warrior Project, too.  Learn more about the program and get the details from Verizon.

The post Nominate a Military Mom to a $1,000 Shopping Spree appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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For the vast majority of military spouses around the country, today– Military Spouse Appreciation Day– feels just like every other day. There are things to do, Facetime calls to wait for, PCSes to plan for, children to walk to school, jobs to search for.

No awards.

No brunches.

No goodie bags.

No meet-and-greets with famous people.

No flowers.

No thank you.

All of those things– from the discounts to the magazine covers to the social media posts– are lovely and wonderful. It is important to set aside time to celebrate people who are making the community better. I am excited for them and I applaud them and their accomplishments. In fact, many of my friends and colleagues get to be part of the thrill of Washington, D.C.’s (or elsewhere’s) celebrations. But today, I’ve been thinking about the spouses who don’t get the accolades, the ones whose stories are outside of the stories we usually tell about military spouses.

I’ve been thinking about how forgotten they must feel. How even a day that is supposed to be full of gratitude might seem thankless to them. How every military spouse is deserving of appreciation today. Because, let’s be real, military life is great–but it can be super rough too.

So here’s to the military spouses who are planning their escape from the fists and the verbal abuse. The ones who have been secreting away money in that drawer no one ever goes to, under the pile of Christmas decorations that are only moved once a year. The ones who are afraid to report domestic violence to leadership. The ones who have left and come back.  The ones who are thankful for deployments because it means respite and mending bruises. The ones who left for good. The ones who can’t find their way out. Not yet.

Here’s to the military spouses who sit in hospitals. Who have become fixtures in waiting rooms. Who know the nurses’ names. Who fight TRICARE. Over. And over. And over again. They’re the ones who say, “It could have been worse,” while they sit by the hospital bed and hold their partner’s hand. The ones who feel guilty that they’re not sick or hurt, but their husband or wife is. The ones who think of themselves second… or third… or fourth. Who eat hospital food and fast food in between appointments and can’t remember the last time they grocery shopped. Who say, “Tomorrow will be better than today.”

Here’s to the spouses who deal with depression and anxiety. To the spouses who sometimes can’t get out of bed. The ones who feel like they’re barely hanging on. The ones who feel lost and forgotten. The ones with chronic illnesses. The ones who dread the next move, the next promotion, the next home because the unknowns are too many and too difficult.

Here’s to the military spouses who are Muslim and Jewish and atheist and Wiccan and Buddhist and Hindu. They wonder if they’ll be close to a place of worship during the next PCS. They wonder if it will be safe for their family. They’re the ones who attend command Christmas parties and bow their heads during command prayers that don’t include their faiths. They’re the ones who pull their kids out of school for holidays that schools don’t take off for. They take a deep breath and explain their hijabs or the altar in their home or why they’re fasting over and over again.

Here’s to the LGBT military spouses who wonder how safe their partner’s job and reputation are. Who worry if their family will be accepted in their new communities. Who watch the news and see politicians and leaders malign their identities. Who know that blood is red and bodies all bleed the same.

Here’s to the spouses who care for their special needs children. Who drag massive binders and files around the world. Who go to specialist appointments alone. Who attend IEP meetings in new schools and take meticulous notes. Who know the EFMP rules and regulations better than their wedding vows.

Here’s to the spouses who aren’t exactly what’s “expected.” The male spouses. The child-free ones. The spouses who marry later in life. The ones who serve or are veterans, too. The ones who regularly have to explain that they are, in fact, a military spouse.

Here’s to the spouses who don’t “bloom where they’re planted.” The ones who miss home. The ones who keep applying to jobs, even though they never get the position. The ones who hate where they are. The ones who don’t feel cut out for military life. The ones who feel like their lives aren’t theirs to live.

Here’s to the military spouses that everyone forgets. The ones who don’t receive awards or coins. The ones who aren’t tagged on Facebook. The ones who don’t have tribes. The ones who don’t get flowers. But who do get up every single day…  and do this hard, beautiful, difficult, wonderful military spouse thing again… and again… and again.

The post Here’s to the Military Spouses Everyone Forgets appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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This morning, I was scrolling Facebook when I saw a post from my friend, Randi. Now, you must understand that to know Randi is to love Randi and her writing. She is brutally honest. She is incredibly empathetic. And she writes with a fierceness that few do. She is witty, devastating, and uplifting. And I wanted you to read her words today because I know they’ll resonate with you.

Tomorrow is Military Spouse Appreciation Day and here’s how it will go down.

We’ll all (active duty, Guard/Reserve, veteran spouses, ex-spouses, etc.) love on each other. We’ll tag our village, sing praises, share some camaraderie, etc.

There will be blog posts all over the interwebs acknowledging that we too serve and sacrifice, followed by a round of Dependa-trolling as the less kind among us remind us that we signed nothing, fought nowhere, etc. The more vocal of us will shut that down and we’ll go on about our recognizing each other and our efforts in the military family space.

There will be ceremonies, proclamations, limited edition coins made. Tea parties, luncheons, and awards. (There will also be so many of us up to our eyeballs in FOMO as we wish we could hang with the cool kids. Hell, as we wish we WERE the cool kids.)

Almost everything that will happen for Military Spouse Appreciation Day will be initiated, hosted, or driven by people within our community – military-connected businesses and publications, on-base activities, and the like. And while every one of these efforts will be special and meaningful and appreciated, none of it is about why we have a designated day.

Because nobody needs to tell you what you’ve given up or taken on for this life.

Not one moment of your military family’s life has been even remotely improved by an atta girl or atta boy. Stars and stickers and coins and certificates go in drawers of things you’ll have to move time and again. Or soon lay forgotten in the thick of it all.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day may be named for us, but it’s meant for a civilian world.

A reminder to them of what we do. A little glimpse, if you will, into our world. A world that is somehow enmeshed with theirs and similar to theirs and yet in so many seemingly insurmountable ways, an entirely different animal altogether. And nothing about Military Spouse Appreciation really does much to bridge that divide other than an occasional “like” from a civilian friend on a FB post that we share with and write for each other.

So I’m not going to tell you that I “see” you and all you do (I do).

I’m going to tell your civilian families and friends and neighbors and employers what you won’t. Because we’re big on the big girl/big boy pants in these parts. And we carry our burdens and scars on the inside.

I’m going to tell them that, “No, your spouse away on business trips some weekends is not in any way the same as sending a loved one away for months at a time.” And that you’ve already perfectly timed how long you can keep it together at the airport and get to your car after waving goodbye before losing your shit. That the window of keeping it together is exponentially larger if said car will have children in it when you make the eternal drive back home with one less passenger.

I’ll tell them that you can’t watch the news when your service member is away without doing calculations of time zone, distance, and last known location to determine exactly how far away your loved one is from whatever bomb, natural disaster, or other horrifying news may or may not have happened right where s/he is currently stationed.

I’ll tell them that you smile and say “we’re good” to everyone who asks, including your service member and then cry in a ball on the bathroom floor or down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or run until you can’t feel your legs or the pain of missing someone so much you can’t breathe.

I’ll tell them that it’s not helpful to say “I don’t know how you do it, ‘cause I surely couldn’t” because most days you have no freaking idea how you’re going to get out of bed or make it to the shower let alone get through a day. You can’t do it either. But you do.

I’ll tell them that there’s a whole dance (power struggle) that takes place each time your loved one leaves or comes back. A renegotiation of roles and responsibilities and hurt feelings and struggle to relearn or learn anew where each of you fits in now. That sometimes who you send away isn’t who comes home and you may find yourself having to learn to love an entirely new person – or not.

I’ll tell them that the world stops when your loved one is away. And yet the world still demands you do ALL. THE. THINGS. And you do them. You work or search for work or question why nobody will hire you. You go to school or get your kids through school or go to school while getting your kids through school. You make sure the bills are paid, the broken things are fixed, the house is maintained, the food is cooked, the dirty things are cleaned, and more. You raise babies to somehow not be psychopaths even though they’ve lived a kind of dysfunctional life. And those babies are miraculous – they grow up with a service mentality, with a sense of the importance of giving back rather than taking. And you did that for them. You raised them like that.

Most importantly, I’ll tell them that you do all of these things and more mostly on your own. That your support system is a badass village of people you love, many of whom you’ve never actually met. And that your life would be infinitely better if your village included them – IRL family and friends and communities that understand that showing up for you regularly is exceedingly better than paying lip service to one day of the year.

Randi Cairns is a nonprofit professional who has dedicated over three decades to advocating for vulnerable populations. She’s also the owner of Randi Cairns Consulting, where she provides nonprofit and small business consulting and freelance writing services. And she’s the snarky but loving voice of Throwing Pots & Pans, coming (one day) to a bookstore near you. Her favorite title? Proud Mama of four children who she hopes will always have a passion for learning and a heart for changing the world for the better.

The post Military Spouse Appreciation Day Isn’t for You, Milspouse appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine.

John and I stood inside our coffee shop. It was just the two of us. In just a few minutes, we were going to walk out onto the porch and begin a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open our business.

“Do you think there’s anyone out there?” John said to me.

We couldn’t see anything. And we couldn’t hear anything. At the very least, we knew that our parents and siblings were on the sidewalk.

If there was a reporter there covering the opening, maybe our families would pretend they didn’t know us so it seemed like at least a few people showed up, I joked.

John took my hand.

This moment–opening the door and walking over the threshold–was more than four years in the making. John had begun formulating the business plan for our coffee shop, Swatara Coffee Co., while he was deployed to Afghanistan. Over those four years, we had scrimped and saved and created a nest egg so that we could bootstrap the coffee shops. And we talked. We talked about finances. And career paths. And if the coffee shop was what we wanted to do. We dreamed about what life would be like. We made checklists and talked some more. Then, suddenly, all of that planning was over and we were buying the coffee shop and equipment. Our family and friends were helping us lift refrigerator units, figure out the plumbing, tear down walls, and build other parts of the shop. It was dizzying and exciting and absolutely terrifying.   In the past few years, there’s been quite an emphasis on veteran, service member, and military spouse entrepreneurship. The truth is, owning your own business doesn’t fix all of the career issues that the military community faces. But it is a career path that can be rewarding, especially if you plan and strategize about what being a business owner actually looks like for your family. These questions helped John and I plan what the entrepreneur life was going to look like for us. They can help you begin framing your vision too, no matter where you are in the process of setting up your business.

1. What are we doing about health care?

Universal truth: Military families love to complain about TRICARE.  There are frustrating aspects about TRICARE, but those frustrations about health care don’t go away in the civilian world. (In fact, personally, we’ve been more frustrated by health care issues after John’s transition out of the service than when he was in.) When John and I decided to open our coffee shop, the biggest question mark we had was health care. At first, we had to find a plan on the Marketplace. If you live in a rural area (like we do), this can be difficult. There was one (yes, ONE) HMO plan available to us… and our monthly bill was more than our mortgage. Still, we were unwilling to take the risk and go uninsured even though we are healthy thirty-somethings. I found a full-time position that carries benefits, which has been huge for us. It might not be an option for others, which is why it’s extremely important to be clear-eyed about this particular part of owning a business. Make sure that you know how you’ll handle the health care question and then budget appropriately so you’re not sticker-shocked.

2. How will our personal finances fair?

Owning your own business can sound idyllic, and sometimes it is. But it can also create a lot of financial stress, especially as you’re standing it up and aren’t paying yourself yet. Depending on your situation, you may be looking at the loss of a paycheck in your family. The loss can feel amplified especially if you’re transitioning out of the military at the same time. It can be tough to go from a regular paycheck that you can count on to… nothing. Don’t expect money to flood in the minute you open your doors. Depending on your situation, it might take some time to start seeing the profits of your business trickle back to you. That’s why it’s important to have a discussion with your spouse on how your family will deal with limited earning power in the short- and long-term. Then, make a plan. To prepare for entrepreneur life while John was still in the Navy, we used a suite of financial products, including those from Navy Federal Credit Union, to save and plan. Because we could bank anywhere through their app, it was one of the few consistent parts of our life as it followed us through PCSes and job transitions.

3. Who does what?

When you’re business and life partners, things can get a little muddy. Where are the boundaries? Who takes care of what? Who makes which decisions? I’m not going to lie: this has been the hardest part of becoming business owners. (At least for me. I can’t speak for John.) We spend so much time talking about the shop, working for the shop, doing things that are related to the shop that sometimes it’s hard to see where work ends and our personal life begins. (And yes, you absolutely need a personal life. It’s not healthy for anyone to spend all of their time for the rest of the foreseeable future working. And it’s not good for your relationships with the people around you.) Figuring out how you’ll navigate who does what and how you’ll communicate with each other when it comes to business and your relationship is exceptionally important. But you can do it. After all, chances are, you’ve hurdled bigger communication issues… like terrible Skype connections, missing letters, and time-zone differences for months (or maybe years) on end.

4. How will we fund our dream?

John and I decided to bootstrap our business so that we could operate it on our terms. It gave us the freedom and flexibility–both financially and creatively–that we wanted in order to operate our business exactly how we want. Nearly 18 months since we’ve opened our doors, we know it was the right decision for us. Let me repeat that: it was the right decision for us. But that doesn’t mean bootstrapping is the right decision for your business. Knowing what your options are is absolutely critical as you proceed with planning and executing your business. Don’t do something just because someone else (including me) says you should do it that way. Do it because it is viable for your unique circumstances.

5. What will we do if we fail?

When you start your own business, you don’t want to think about failure. But truth is, many small businesses do fail, including veteran-owned businesses. Creating contingency plans and giving yourself options on how you’ll navigate your business closing in the event that it does is just smart. It doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in yourself. It doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in your business. It just means that you’re covering all of your bases. If your business doesn’t take off like you think it will, how long can you stay afloat before you have to close your doors? Will your family be financially okay? What will you do with equipment and products in the case of closing? If you’re bootstrapping, how much money are you willing to put in before you get a return? What happens if there is no return? John and I talked about each one of these questions in-depth before we bought a single spoon or signed on a dotted line for anything. We knew where the red line was for us personally and professionally, which was very important to us. In fact, it gave us a lot of peace of mind as we took one of the biggest risks of our lives together.

Back to the story…

We opened the door and gasped. Our parents weren’t the only people at our grand opening. There were people stretching down the block, excited to celebrate the opening of Swatara Coffee Co. with us. It’s one of the most humbling and amazing moments of my life.

Opening a business is taking a crazy leap of faith. It’s stepping through a door, not sure if anyone will be on the other side. But it’s easier when you know that you and your spouse are on the same page. Because you’re stepping through the door together, to meet whatever is there, arm-in-arm.

And it’s easier when you have resources that you can trust. If you’re thinking about opening a business, Navy Federal Credit Union has a suite of services that can help, including loans, credit cards, and checking accounts specifically for business owners.  Learn more and become a member today, and visit navyfederal.org/celebrate during the month of May for special offers Military Appreciation Month.

The post 5 Vital Questions Military Couples Need to Ask Before Starting a Business appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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Sunglasses on.

Towel off.

Toes in the sand.

On a tropical island.

It sounds like a dream, right?

For 31 nurses, teachers, moms, and/or active or retired military personnel, it won’t be a dream this May. It will be a reality through their Maycation Sweepstakes, where they’ll be celebrating (deep breath) Mother’s Day, Military Appreciation Month, Teacher Appreciation Week, and National Nurses Day.

If you are a nurse, teacher, mom, and/or an active or retired military member– or if you know someone who is– Sandals wants you to nominate yourself or them to win.

And what are they giving away, exactly?

Sandals Resorts is giving away 31 seven-day, six-night vacations for two adults. If you–or the deserving person you nominate– wins, your vacation could be in Jamaica, Antigua, and the Bahamas. Sandals Resorts has mentioned that four winners will get to vacation in a Butler/Love Nest Suite. That means 24-hour room service and a butler (because who doesn’t need a butler for vacation?). The other winners will have the chance to vacation in a deluxe suite (not too shabby!)

While the vacation is free for winners, transportation to the resort is not. Winners will need to pony up for airfare and any other auxiliary travel costs they incur.

Here’s how to enter

Nominations are being taken right now through 11:59 PM EST on May 30. You can click here to be taken to the nomination page. You’ll need to include some identifying information about yourself and the nominee as well as write a 250-word essay on why the nominee rocks. (And yes, you can nominate yourself!) You’ll also need to upload a photo of the nominee.

The giveaways begin May 10 and last until May 31. While it’s not in the rules, it stands to reason that the earlier you submit a nomination, the more chance your nominee may have at winning.

Like free stuff?

I mean… who doesn’t? Check out these posts for free stuff for military families:

The post Here’s How Military Members Can Win a Resort Vacation appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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Notre Dame is on fire.

It was a five-word text my sister sent out to our family. At first, I thought that she was talking about the university. Was March Madness still going on? Maybe they had a winning streak? Or something?

But, of course, that wasn’t it at all.  Watching the coverage, my heart broke. We had just visited the cathedral two weeks ago, witnessing an evening mass with an organ recital afterward that was captivating. Truly, I’m struggling to string the right words and phrases together to accurately describe the experience.

It’s no wonder that people around the world watched in horror and grief as the roof was consumed and flames licked at the spire until it collapsed. I spent time yesterday teary and upset, hoping for the best, but knowing that some of the damage would be irreparable and that some treasures would be lost forever.

Today, it seems that much of the cathedral is intact and that many of the artifacts inside the church were saved by heroic men and women who formed a chain to spirit them to safety. (But more on that a little later.) And I’ve spent time looking over the pictures I took inside and outside the cathedral and reading a little more on the history. Even after visiting, I realized I knew very little about such a famous landmark and touchstone.

The history of the Cathedral of Notre Dame is the story of people and world events. I was mesmerized by truly how much the building has seen in it’s 850 years… and how war and the military has touched it throughout the ages as well. (I mean, I am a military spouse blogger, so I often have an eye open for that angle.)

Here are seven ways that the military and war have intersected with the Cathedral of Notre Dame:

1. Emmanuel

The bells of Notre Dame’s carillon are named for various saints, Popes, and other notables. Emmanuel, tuned to F-sharp, is the first bell cast of the 10-bell set and is the heaviest. It played for the coronations of kings, marked the ends of WWI and WWII, and rang for national mourning surrounding the 9/11 Attacks.

2. Crown of Thorns

The most precious relic housed inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame is the Crown of Thorns. Tradition holds that this crown is the one worn by Jesus on Good Friday as he died on the cross. The relic is encased in a glass tube and, during the fire, was safely removed from the cathedral thanks to a human chain of firefighters and police officers. The Crown of Thorns was supposedly taken from the Holy Land during the Crusades and Holy Wars in the 13th Century.

3. Joan of Arc

A surprising military leader in any era–but especially during the 14th Century– Joan of Arc believed that she had been chosen by God to lead France to victory against the British. She was captured and martyred. Notre Dame’s role in this? Joan of Arc was posthumously exonerated by a trial held in the cathedral in 1455-6.

4. Religious Wars

During the 16th Century, France was embroiled in religious wars, pitting Catholics and Protestants against each other. Huguenots raided the church and destroyed or defaced many statues and pieces of work. (Centuries later, the heads of saints, which were smashed off their statues, were found in an excavated pit and are now on display at the Musee de Cluny.)

5. The French Revolution

During the French Revolution, the Catholic Church was banned and Notre Dame was converted into the Temple of Reason for the Cult of Reason. And then… it was used for storage. (Seriously.)

6. The Rose Window

During World War II, the stained glass from the iconic Rose Window was painstakingly removed as caretakers feared the Germans would target it for destruction. And for good reason: there are accounts that sniper fire shattered other windows in the cathedral during a mass celebrating the liberation of Paris. The original stained glass was restored to its rightful place in the 1960s, nearly 20 years after it had been secreted away.

7. Saving treasures

During the fire, Father Marc Fornier organized and led the human chain that saved priceless artifacts, art, and relics from the cathedral. He’s the chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade who was also on the scene during the Bataclan terrorist attacks, helping to evacuate and pray with people. His connection to the military? Before he was a fire chaplain, he was a military chaplain and served in Afghanistan.

The post 7 Military Connections to the Cathedral of Notre Dame appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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I absolutely love it when I find out about new discounts or shopping tricks. It’s like solving a puzzle– how to get the best stuff for the cheapest price. And one of those places I love to frequent is Kohl’s. Between their loyalty program, Kohl’s Cash, and regular sales, I pride myself on being able to get a good–and sometimes amazing– price for things that I’d normally buy (and sometimes I wouldn’t).

This winter I managed to score a Dyson vacuum for nearly half price during Black Friday Sales at Kohl’s. (And then there was Kohl’s Cash on top of that, which I bought Christmas presents with.) I also stacked my Ebates rewards and had it shipped to the store…  which meant a fatter rebate check. (Yay!)

This spring, I managed to purchase over $700 worth of items for just under $250 for a basket raffle fundraiser at my church. (Kohl’s Cash again meant that I was able to purchase even more later for the event as well. Boom.)

So, I was just a tiny (just kidding, hugely) bit excited to see that Kohl’s is now offering a military discount during what they’ve dubbed “Military Mondays.”

How much is the discount?

Kohl’s is offering a 15% in-store discount. It does not apply to online purchases.

When is the discount available?

From now until the end of 2019, every Monday is a “Military Monday,” which is when you can grab that 15% off your purchases.

Who can benefit?

This might be the best part of all– the discount is available for current military personnel, veterans, and military families. Bring your valid military ID, military dependent ID, or veteran ID (a state-issued ID card indicating veteran status or DD-214 will suffice) with you to the store to prove your military status.

Are there other stipulations?

You can’t combine percent-off discounts or age-specific discounts with the military discount. Kohl’s Cash coupons, Yes2You Rewards, and other promotional gifts will be applied before the military discount is taken.

In addition, Kohl’s notes that these brands and items cannot have the military discount tendered on their purchase: Gift Cards; Kohl’s Cares® cause merchandise or other charitable items; select online-exclusives; premium athletic; beauty and fragrance; consumables; select electrics; premium electronics and warranty products; sporting goods; sports team merchandise; premium sunglasses; toys; Columbia; Dyson; Koolaburra by UGG; Levi’s; S’well and Timberland.

(Have more questions? Check out Kohl’s press release about their new discount.)

Still want to use your Ebates? You can!

Did you know that you can make in-store purchases using Ebates (so you continue to add to your rebate check)?  Sign up for free and start getting cash back right now. (Spend $25 and get $10 back right away!)

The post Here’s How to Get a Military Discount at Kohl’s appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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While April has been designated as Month of the Military Child since the mid-1980s, it seems like in recent years, there’s really been a surge in excitement and support for this observance.  And there are a lot of really cool things happening locally and nationwide for military kids. From purple buildings to free food to contests for all ages, there’s something for every military kid to take part in and feel a little special during their month.

Check it out–

1. Free food for milkids

On April 13, AAFES is celebrating military kids with free food at a variety of restaurants and kiosks. Kids, 18 and under, can cash in on treats like cake pops, ice cream, doughnuts, and free sodas at restaurants on Army and Air Force bases. According to SpouseBuzz, these restaurants will have treats (while supplies last):

  • Arby’s — chocolate chip cookie
  • Baskin-Robbins — kid’s cone
  • Burger King — vanilla soft serve
  • Charley’s Philly Steaks — small lemonade
  • Dunkin’ Donuts — doughnut
  • Manchu Wok — egg roll
  • Pizza Hut — five-piece cinnamon sticks
  • Popeyes — cinnamon apple pie
  • Starbucks — cake pop
  • Subway — two cookies
  • Taco Bell — cinnamon twists
  • All other restaurants — small or kid’s-size soft drink

Learn more here.

2. See the skyline go purple

In honor of Purple Up Day (April 12), USAA will be lighting up their buildings across the country, and encouraging other businesses and organizations to do the same. By turning their buildings purple for the night, they hope to send a strong message of support to military kids. On April 12, check out these buildings:

  • USAA Bank at 10750 McDermott Fwy, San Antonio, TX
  • USAA Bank at 13805 W IH 10), San Antonio, TX
  • USAA Bank at 300 Convent St, San Antonio, TX
  • USAA Campus at Colorado Springs, CO
  • USAA Campus at Pheonix, AZ
  • USAA Campus at Tampa, FL
  • USAA Campus at Plano, TX
3. Enter the Army MWR’s contest

Army kids (ages preschool through senior high) can participate in a creative contest to share what life is like for them through MWR’s Young Lives, BIG Stories contest. Kids ages 3 through grade 3 are invited to submit drawings; grades 4-12 have a written prompt. With six age groups, there’s a lot of opportunities for recognition. The contest runs from April 1 to April 30. You can find out more and submit your child’s work here.

4. Enter DeCA’s coloring contest

Military kids (ages 11 and younger) are invited to participate in a coloring contest celebrating the Month of the Military Child. An overall grand prize winner will have their design replicated on DeCA reusable grocery bags; there are other opportunities for winners and honorable mentions as well. The coloring page is downloadable here and can be submitted in person at your Commissary or via mail.

5. Win a gift card for your school

Stars and Stripes is sponsoring a writing contest open to military kids attending a mainland Japan, Okinawa, Guam, or Korea DoDEA school. Students who submit their original work can win a $250 gift card for their school’s PTO and can have their work printed in a Stars and Stripes publication. The contest runs until April 30 and more information, including how to enter, can be found here.

6. Local activities and events

Check with your local MWR, Legion, YMCA, and other organizations. Many community groups–both civilian and military– are sponsoring a celebration for military kids in their area. Keep your eyes peeled at in-person and online community boards– you never know what gems you might find!

Looking for more on military kids?

Although April is Month of the Military Child, for military families, every month is! These articles about military kids and parenting are popular with Jo, My Gosh! readers. Take a look and save them for later (or read them now… your choice!):

The post 6 Free Events and Contests for Month of the Military Child appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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When John left the military, we had a clear idea of what he wanted to do. That’s because he’d been dreaming of the next step in his career, even while he was deployed to Afghanistan. When he transitioned out of the Navy, we knew that it was our chance to make this huge life goal happen: we were going to open a coffee shop.

Since opening nearly a year and a half ago, we’ve seen tremendous changes in ourselves and in our community. We made the choice to open the coffee shop in my rural hometown and to be part of a driving force to revitalize and draw more business and cultural opportunities into our area. As the only coffee shop in our school district, we have the unique opportunity to be a meeting place for a diverse range of people and to really be part of the community. (It’s exciting stuff that John and I both could talk about for hours and hours.)

Owning our own business by bootstrapping it has given us the freedom and ability to grow our business exactly as we want to– with a focus on our local area, our neighbors, and our employees. SCC has garnered local, national, and international media attention for our hyperlocal sourcing, celebration and elevation of the flavors of Pennsylvania Dutch Country and what we’re doing in the area. We celebrate our community by working with our neighbors and businesses in rural Pennsylvania and have seen that by choosing local and small, we’re able to have a big impact on our community.

While entrepreneur life is hard sometimes, every day is thrilling… including yesterday, when we learned that John made it into the top 15 for StreetShare’s national veteran entrepreneur competition.

The chance to win a grant for our very small business would mean the world to us. We are excited to expand Swatara Coffee Company and continue our mission to enhance the lives of our neighbors. In order to make it to the top three and have a chance at the top prize of $25,000, we need your help. Could you take a moment and vote for John Noll/Swatara Coffee Co. here?

The post Help a Veteran Entrepreneur Win a National Grant appeared first on Jo, My Gosh!.

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