Say hello to the dog days of summer. Days that beg for cooling off while floating on the water, reading a good book under the patio umbrella, and plenty of stops at the local ice cream shop for a sweet treat.
Okay, maybe that’s not quite the scene your military family is experiencing. Instead, there’s a greater chance you’re enduring a PCS, lengthy separation, or just trying to make the most of your current duty station.
But just because you’re busy juggling all things military life keeps throwing your way doesn’t mean the fun of the season has to come to a screeching halt. In fact, we could all use a little reminder to enjoy the ride. (Yes, even if it’s one that’s 24-hours long where the kiddos’ favorite saying is, “Are we there yet?” Oh, those cross-country excursions are great, aren’t they?)
So here at Blue Star Families, because we always have you—our military families—in mind, we created a few summer programs we thought you’d enjoy. Check them out!
Blue Star Bingo
Are you looking for a fun way to keep your family busy this summer—whether at home or while traveling? Join Blue Star Families’ summer Bingo! It’s easy and fun. The best part is, to complete five squares in a row, all you need to do is read, visit parks and museums, and be a good neighbor…or some combination of all three to shout B-I-N-G-O before time’s up on September 2, 2019.
Rally the troops—your spouse, milkids, neighbors, download our free printable Bingo board (found here), and get ready to play to win a $25 American Express gift card. Good luck!
Blue Star Parks
These next two programs will help you get a jumpstart on winning Bingo! And first up is our Blue Star Parks program. If your milfam needs a serious change of scenery from the cramped car or never-ending pile of moving boxes, escape to one of the more than 2,000 national and federal recreation sites for free with the America the Beautiful pass!
And thanks to our collaboration with National Park Trust, and the support of the National Park Service, finding your nearest park is easier (and more fun) than ever before with the ParkPassport app for iPhone and Android.
Use it as a family so you can keep track of the parks you visit and outdoor activities enjoyed, collect badges for your virtual passport, connect with friends near and far to compare adventures, and much more!
Blue Star Museums
Let’s cross off that fifth and final Bingo square of yours, shall we? Now through Labor Day, you’ll have a chance to do exactly that by visiting a Blue Star Museum! Our partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Defense, and thousands of participating museums across the country gives active duty military families free museum admission. So go ahead and take a break from the summer sun to expand your knowledge and enjoy storytimes, crafts, and kid-friendly exhibits.
Keep your kiddos engaged on your next outdoor adventure—no matter if it’s in your backyard or at a nearby park—with a ready-made Nature Scavenger Hunt! It’ll challenge them to be observant and creative as they scout out things to cross off the list.
And if you’re hoping to save your sanity while in the car on the way to your next duty station or family vacation, we’ve got your back. Print off these activity sheets, and you’ll press the pause button on those screen time distractions to entertain them in a fun, yet educational way. There’s even an adlib to complete after visiting a Blue Star Museum!
Cheers to a #BlueStarSummer for Your MilFam
No matter where you may find yourself this season, these #BlueStarSummer programs are guaranteed to help you take the guesswork out of creating a fun and memorable summer with your milfam. For all the details you need while at home or on-the-go, click here.
Do you officially have those PCS orders, and now you’re left wondering what will happen to that occupational license you worked so hard to obtain?
States and licensing boards are on a mission to simplify the process of obtaining recognition for your occupational license while enduring frequent moves. Though because these laws can often vary by state and occupation, it’s challenging to pinpoint what exactly applies to you.
For that reason, we brought together Pam Frugoli, Workforce Analyst at U.S. Department of Labor; Gina Wells, Senior Analyst at Maher & Maher; and Julie C., licensed real estate agent and Reservist spouse, for a Networks Live! On Demand event to explore license recognition options by state and occupation, how to access these options, and insight into advocating for yourself throughout the entire process.
With the current momentum of changes, it’s critical you stay up-to-speed so you can successfully find and navigate occupational laws and get back to work upon arriving at your next duty station. Tune in to watch now!
Concerned about what will happen to your occupational license when you relocate? States and licensing boards are working hard to make it easier for you to have your license recognized when you move to a new state. View this webinar to learn about license recognition options by state and occupation; how to access these options; and how to advocate for yourself throughout the process. You’ll also hear from other military spouses on how they accessed new license recognition options and continued their careers!Occupational License Recognition for Military Spouses Website: https://www.veterans.gov/milspouses/Resource Guide on License Recognition: https://www.veterans.gov/…/License-Reco…Have questions? Reach out to Liz Jones at email@example.com Don’t forget to take the Annual Military Lifestyle Survey! www.bluestarfam.org/survey
Even though the military provides quite a few allowances for moving, there can still be a lot of out-of-pocket costs. Use these tried and true tips from Kate Horrell, Military Finance Coach, to keep things under control.
1. Stay Underweight
Before you move, go through your house and do some serious decluttering. Say goodbye to books you didn’t love the first time you read them, toys the kids have outgrown, and excess housewares. Not only will you feel emotionally lighter, but you’ll also decrease the risk of going over your weight allowance and owing the government money.
2. Claim Your Pro Gear
Another way to ensure you don’t go over the weight limit is to separate the service member and spouse’s professional gear. Read up on the pro gear rules, and make separate piles for each. Put a big sign above them that says “pro gear,” and point those piles out to the movers when they arrive to pack up. Just don’t forget to list it on your moving paperwork before you sign it!
3. Cash Out with the Clean-Up
Once you’ve tackled the task of decluttering, see how much of that stuff you can sell. Installation yard sale groups, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist can help you empty your house while filling up your wallet.
4. Know Your Entitlements
Familiarize yourself with the entitlements that come with a PCS move. Most installations have classes on the moving process. Take advantage of the allowances you’re authorized, including temporary lodging. And make sure you request Dislocation Allowance! You don’t receive it if you don’t request it, and that’s often a lot of money you can add to your wallet.
5. Empty Out Your Pantry
There’s nothing worse than being forced to throw out or give away a ton of good food. So slash that grocery budget for the last few months in your old place by using up everything you can in your pantry. If you’re feeling stuck, search the Internet to figure out what to do with random ingredients. Don’t be afraid to have some crazy meals with items you wouldn’t usually put together!
6. Plan Your Food for the Road
Plan for simple ways to eat without having to go to restaurants for every single meal. Start by figuring out how much you think is reasonable for restaurant meals, like one meal and one snack each day you’re on the road. Then, pack a cooler of road trip picnic items.
For example, breakfast can include yogurt and berries, and you eat out for lunch. And for dinner? Grab some chicken and a salad from a nearby grocery store. Don’t forget any necessities like paper plates, paper towels, plastic utensils, and a cutting board and knife to make it easier to stick to your food budget!
7. Consider Cooking in Your Hotel Room
If you aren’t required to stay on base, look for a hotel that offers breakfast. If you’re really lucky, you may be able to find one that includes dinner, too. The Internet is a great place to research the quality of those breakfasts and dinners as some are a lot better than others.
Also, look for a hotel with at least some type of in-room kitchen. If it has a “full” kitchen, it’ll decrease the amount of temporary lodging allowance that you receive, but you’ll still come out ahead if you can avoid going out. Once again, prepared or semi-prepared food is your best friend. Stock the fridge with a pre-cut veggie tray, and look for microwavable or easy-prep options. This is a great time to indulge in things you don’t usually buy. (Hello, Pop-Tarts!)
8. Reset Your Budget
Take advantage of a move to reset your budget for two of the biggest (and least flexible) PCS-ing expenses: housing and transportation. Figure out where you’re willing to compromise.
In most locations, there’s a balance between location, schools, size, and price. Be sure to factor in the costs of commuting. In the end, saving $200 a month on rent isn’t a good deal if you spend an extra $300 on gas, and another $100 on prepared foods because you’re too tired to cook after fighting traffic.
9. Take Advantage of Security Deposit Specials
Check with your landlord and utility providers to see if they have special programs for military members. Some will waive the security deposits altogether, and others may offer a reduced amount or payment plan.
10. Be Creative (and Patient) When Setting Up the House
Don’t overspend on your start-up costs. While not ideal, sheets make perfectly fine window coverings until you have time to figure out what you really want. Restock your pantry slowly, waiting for sales on the items you use the most. And, if you can, hold off on buying furniture until you can find it at yard sales or thrift shops.
Looking for More Ways to Save?
Join Ebates for free to begin shopping for housing items or back-to-school clothes using your military discount. The best part? You’ll earn cash back from your purchases!
Remember, no matter where you may be at along your journey, Blue Star Families is here to support you. Become a member today.
Psst … any Amazon Prime fans out there?! If so, you probably know that Amazon Prime Day 2019 is on Mon. July 8 this year (hooray for discounts!). And, if you’re a planner like us, you’ve likely already scoped out the hot deals. So, just in case you’re looking to buy, buy, buy, we want you to know that your shopping supports our mission!
Amazon will donate five percent of your purchase to Blue Star Families when you designate Blue Star Families as your charity of choice shop at smile.amazon.com. It’s that easy, and we really appreciate your support!
Now, if you’re scratching your head wondering, “What the heck is Amazon Prime Day?”… don’t fret.
Here’s what you need to know:
Amazon Prime Day was started back in 2015 to celebrate their 20th anniversary. They offered Prime subscribers a full day of discounts on millions of products, and it was widely popular, so they turned it into an annual event (usually) in July. Basically, it’s the Cyber Monday of summer!
So, mark your calendar for Mon. July 8 if you’re a bargain shopper and are dreaming of a new grill, tablet, blender, or whatever you’re in the market for now. The fun will likely last 36 hours this year!
Just remember to shop at smile.amazon.com so that Amazon donates part of your purchase to Blue Star Families. Thanks for your support, and happy shopping!
Blue Star Families is proud to be a Hosting Partner organization of the event, and today, we’re sharing the need-to-know details with you so you can join in on the fun!
What are the MVC Choice Awards?
They’re all about recognizing and celebrating brands that provide outstanding service to our community and help make the difficult parts of military life feel a little less difficult.
The best part? The MVC Choice Awards are more of a “for the people, by the people” type of commemoration. Results won’t be determined by a marketing firm, media company, or a select group of committee members. Instead, they’ll be determined by the service member, veteran, and military spouse community. A big round of applause for that!
Okay, I’m ready to cast my vote. When and how can I do that?
Well, voting is officially open—now through August 6! If you’re a service member, veteran, or military spouse, it doesn’t cost you anything to make your voice heard. All you’ll need to do is head on over to this page to verify that you’re a legitimate member of the community.
As soon as you do, you’ll have the opportunity to nominate and/or vote for organizations in the following categories:
PCS & Relocations
Base Housing Companies
Hotel Chains (Companies)
Places to Live
Military, Veteran, & Family Support Organizations
Military, Veteran, & MilSpouse Influencers
Veteran Owned Businesses
MilSpouse Owned Businesses
Social Media Influencers
You can cast your nomination/vote in as many categories and for as many organizations as you want. Though, you won’t be able to vote for the same organization more than once. One vote for an organization per year.
Anything else I should know?
Just a little fun fact, especially if you’re a service organization hoping to earn some votes this year: the three nominees with the highest ratings in each category will be invited to attend the MVC Choice Awards Banquet at the Hilton in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 2019, during the Military Influencer Conference. And the top organization for each category will be announced on stage!
Now, get to voting (and share the word)!
Remember, the voting period for the MVC Choice Awards is open until Tuesday, August 6. Click here to cast your vote today, then encourage your fellow military friends and family to do the same!
Have you completed it already? If not, we’re missing your voice. And it’s not only yours, but also 6,000 of your fellow military families.
Why so many? Because the more voices we have to paint a robust picture of military family life—the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly—the more significant the impact.
Maybe you haven’t taken it because you feel like plenty of conversation has been happening lately to encourage positive change. Or, you’ve completed it year after year and feel it’s time someone else does the talking, you’re no longer serving, you’re new to the MilFam community, and even you’re short on time.
But if you’re a service member, veteran, National Guardsman, Reservist, or family member of any of the above, changemakers need you. Your military community needs you. And your family needs you to speak up and share your story.
Here are the reasons why you should do exactly that before the survey closes this Friday, June 14:
1. All of the problems military families face haven’t been solved.
Military spouse unemployment or underemployment? Lack of affordable, available childcare? Enhanced relocation stress? Concerns over military children’s education? Those are all problems of the past, right?
Wrong. Despite progress being made, the hard work continues, and there are many more improvements still to be made. And that’s where the #BSFSurvey comes into play. You have the opportunity to tell us, and decision makers, what still needs to be improved.
2. There’s a military-civilian gap we’re still working to bridge.
While you might feel as if our nation should already be aware of and understand the obstacles, frustrations, and sacrifices your family makes daily, unfortunately, that’s not the case.
As our nation’s military comprises less than 1% of the population, the majority of Americans don’t know someone serving. The #BSFSurvey, however, gives you the ultimate opportunity to make your personal story heard by a larger audience that might not otherwise know your daily realities.
3. Change is possible.
No decision maker truly listens to military families. And if they do, they don’t act on the feedback they receive. Or it takes years for positive progress to happen.
Do you agree with those sentiments? Well, it’s time to push those aside once and for all and follow author Courtney C. Stevens’ golden nugget of advice:
“If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.”
Reason being, you’ve probably noticed issues like spouse employment and professional licensing, childcare, and military housing in the limelight lately. That’s thanks, in part, to military families like yours helping leaders make informed, important policy changes by lending their experiences to the survey.
4. Sharing your story doesn’t take up much time. (30 minutes at most.)
And that means squeezing in a family vacation or two, cross-country move, outdoor activities, and more. So you probably don’t have time to tell all on the #BSFSurvey, and someone else will probably just say the exact same thing you would have.
Let’s re-evaluate, shall we? We know just how busy you are, which is why the survey should only take about 30 minutes of your time to complete. (And you don’t even have to finish it in one sitting! Your answers will be auto-saved to return to before the final fielding date, June 14.)
Not to mention, your voice is yours, and yours alone. And chances are, you have a unique experience to reveal. As soon as you do, you’ll grab hold of the opportunity to make a lasting impact on your military family and community.
5. Decision makers aren’t aware of everything you’re going through.
Let alone, what the entire military community looks like—from active duty members to veterans, retirees, spouses, military kids, National Guardsmen, and Reservists. So now’s your chance to paint a powerful picture for them. So…
Well, the only way we can tell the story of the whole military community is to gather the voices of the whole community, all in one place on the #BSFSurvey.
That way, leaders can see the pressure points of military life as well as the military community’s preferred solutions to those problems. And armed with this information, decision makers can better serve military families!
Ultimately, they want to support this community. Sometimes, however, they just don’t know how to best do that. But they’re listening, and with your help, we’ll continue to give them the information they need to make change happen.
Make your voice heard now or wait another year. You decide.
It’s that time of the year…yet again. Military families from all over are beginning their big #BlueStarSummer adventure.
No, we’re not talking about a dreamy tropical vacation. We’re talking about the journey to their next duty station. So, if you find yourself in the “MilFams Who Are PCSing” camp this year while living out of boxes and suitcases, we’re sharing some words of wisdom from the community to help make this time in your life a little less stressful and a bit more fun.
Keep a PCS binder on hand.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy! Just a simple, three-ring binder that will keep all the necessary paperwork all in one place (think orders, list of essential contacts, shipping documents, medical and dental records, school records; you name it). One Blue Star Families follower, Stacy, told us it has saved her family in so many different situations because you never know when you might need some important documentation.
You can also create a free digital Trello board for your family’s PCS if you want to take things to the next level. You know, in the event a few must-haves get lost in the shuffle. This can also host checklists to work through and hotspots and doctors to check out once you arrive at your new duty station. Make sure you keep a manila envelope or snap a photo (and upload it to your Trello board) of any receipts you collect along the way, too!
Designate a room for personal, DO NOT PACK items.
This is a simple hack, but one worth mentioning again and again! Suzanne shared that she and her family would always block off one room or area and place all of their personal items in there so they didn’t get packed. If you follow suit, label the entrance to the area with a clear, easy-to-read sign that says “DO NOT PACK” and make it off limits. Don’t forget to put cleaning supplies in this space too so you can clean after your belongings get packed up!
Make plastic totes & Spacesaver bags your best friend.
While cardboard boxes are always a go-to packing supply, consider an eco-friendly alternative: plastic totes. Angie mentioned that her family uses reusable plastic totes and stores them away until the next move. Why? Because often, they can hold more weight and be easier to organize.
Another favorite? Reusable Spacesaver vacuum bags. Safely pack away your linens, pillows, clothing, and other delicate items inside and you’ll quickly notice how much space is, well, saved to make room for more belongings!
Consider renting a storage unit a month before the big moving day.
Now, hold up a minute before you start thinking this hack will actually cost you more money than you’re already going to spend. Sometimes it’s FREE to rent a storage unit for a month before your PCS date arrives.
In fact, Christine told us this is her favorite hack because the storage unit serves as an out-of-sight spot to load up packed items, and as a result, her family has yet to arrive at their next location with lost or damaged goods (WOW!). Ultimately, when the house is empty except for your furniture, a storage unit can make the process of moving yourself (aka a DITY) easier to manage (if that’s the route you choose!).
Put knick-knacks and loose-ends in Ziploc baggies.
Want to avoid opening a box with hundreds of pencils, markers, magnets, and paperclips tossed everywhere? Purchase Ziploc baggies in bulk and place items from your drawers or shelves inside. That way, you won’t have to spend hours re-organizing as soon as you arrive at your new home.
Load up a First Day Essentials box.
Think about the necessities you’ll need the first few hours and days in your new home. Then, get to packing what will be called your First Day Essentials box! This can include a pair of scissors, box cutter, plenty of trash bags, few rolls of toilet paper, all-purpose cleaner, shower curtain, hand soap, paper towels, a couple of hand towels, and a basic toolkit to get you started. And be sure this is kept in the DO NOT PACK room so you can open it as soon as you arrive.
Mark boxes by room with color-coded stickers.
Make life a little easier when your household goods arrive by developing a color system for each room and tagging each box accordingly before it goes into the moving truck. This favorite hack of Blue Star Families fan Laurie is pretty straightforward to tackle.
All you have to do is purchase ready-made stickers on Amazon or make your own (if you’re a DIY type of family!), then use a piece of paper to display the color key for the unloading crew to see. That way, they can quickly identify where each box goes (without you having to do the directing, especially if you’re handling the move without a second adult!).
Download podcasts for kiddos to tune in (& audiobooks for yourself!).
You’re all packed up, and now an even greater adventure begins—traveling from point A to point B as a family. If you’re PCSing with little ones, you know it’s essential to keep them occupied during long car or plane rides. So Stacy shared another favorite hack with us: downloading kid-friendly podcasts! Her kiddos love to listen to WOW in the World and The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian. Best of all, they’re free! Just don’t forget to add some audiobooks or entertaining podcasts into the mix for your listening pleasure.
Map out your move to ensure fun along the way.
Driving to your next location? Map out the stops you plan on taking along the way to keep things fun and light-hearted. We know just how eager you are to get to your final destination! But even if you’re kid-free on your PCS adventures, it’s important you schedule in plenty of breaks so you can get out of the moving vehicle, stretch, and refresh. Who knows, maybe a Blue Star Museum or Blue Star Park can be found on your route!
Book your hotel(s) as soon as you know your PCS plans.
Lastly, as soon as you get your plans mapped out, book your hotel(s) for each resting point ASAP! If you think you can push it off until the last minute, think again. Many people travel in the summertime, and if you’re planning on taking advantage of military lodging, rooms will book up many months in advance.
Not to mention, if you have a feeling (or already have confirmation) your home won’t be move-in ready by the time you arrive, book a hotel room in your new duty station location. Often, you can reduce the length of your reservation without penalty up to 48 hours before you get there. It’s always best to play it safe!
Make it a #BlueStarSummer for Your Family
Become a member of Blue Star Families today to access free military resources that can support you no matter where you may be at on your journey! We can’t wait to welcome you into the family.
New York, NY – June 4, 2019 – The American silver screen will set the scene for this year’s most spectacular Independence Day celebration, the 43rd Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks®. The nation’s largest 4th of July event will make a magical return to the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge to present an incomparable display of light, sound, shape and color, this year honoring classic American Cinema. On Thursday, July 4th at approximately 9:20 p.m. millions of spectators lining the waterways near the lower East River and millions more on television nationwide will be captivated by the stunning display of patriotic firepower, as Macy’s Fireworks launch more than 70,000 shells and effects from the bridge and from four barges positioned along the shores of Pier 17 at the Seaport District.
“There is nothing more exciting on the 4th of July than gathering with friends and family to see a world-class fireworks spectacle, and this year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks will deliver a jaw-dropping display that will be rumble in the imagination for years to come,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. “With the iconic Brooklyn Bridge as our centerpiece and four barges lining the East River, we will launch an unprecedented barrage of color, light, sounds and shapes that will delight millions as we hum along to a patriotic and stirring musical score celebrating our Independence and landmark cinematic achievements.”
The 43rd edition of Macy’s Fireworks is conceived, designed and produced by Macy’s with Pyro Spectaculars by Souza. Perfectly orchestrated to synchronize to the musical score, the 25-minute display will feature a host of new shells and effects in 28 colors including crackling rain shells, patriotic chasing crossettes, howling wolves, screaming dragons, silver twisters, diamond screamers and a dramatic 1,600-foot waterfall.
Since 1976, Macy’s Fireworks have grown in scale and artistry as they burst to life over many of New York City’s waterways and neighborhoods. Incorporating landmarks and celebratory milestones is a Macy’s Fireworks signature. Macy’s last showcased the Brooklyn Bridge when its structure served as the launchpad for key moments in the 2014 show. For this year’s presentation, Macy’s will fully integrate the bridge with an expanded design that will showcase approximately 25,000 shells and effects launching from the span. From the opening sequence featuring a dramatic silver hued pyrotechnic curtain unfurling from below the bridge representing the silver screen to stunning multicolored waterfalls and chase scenes, a host of dazzling and intricate effects will be fired from more than 100 locations spanning the entire bridge, its towers and roadways. To create this out of this world spectacle, six computer firing systems will control the bridge portion of the display requiring more than 5-miles of cabling and more than 110 custom designed props installed on the bridge to hold the pyrotechnics in position for the show.
The musical score is the basis for the fireworks choreography and this year it features patriotic classics such as “America the Beautiful” and “Stars & Stripes Forever,” along with world-famous instrumentals from classic American films. From John Williams’ famed compositions for “Star Wars,” “Superman” and “E.T.” to Max Steiner’s “Casablanca Suite” and Alfred Newman’s “20th Century Fox Fanfare;” audiences will be humming along to the score as the fireworks paint the night sky in perfect synchronicity.
In celebration of the 80th anniversary of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, the renowned classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” will be performed in the score by Oscar® and Grammy® Award winner Jennifer Hudson. The tribute will mark the show’s visual and emotional centerpiece. A host of rainbow colored effects will be launched from the Brooklyn Bridge and barges including a fan, falling leaves, waterfall and a mile-wide rainbow accented golden cracking kamuro wall. The song will also serve as the backdrop for Macy’s famed Golden Mile. This signature of Macy’s Fireworks lights the skyline with a mesmerizing array of golden-hued effects for a mile across the river and from 800-feet in the air to the water’s edge.
On July 4th, Macy’s Fireworks may be viewed from any area with an unobstructed view of the sky above the lower East River at or below the Brooklyn Bridge with four barges positioned between the Manhattan Heliport and Pier 17 at the Seaport District. Public viewing locations and dedicated entry points will be set up along elevated portions of the FDR Drive in Manhattan. Check macys.com/fireworks for the most up-to-date information including exact points of entry, viewing locations for persons with disabilities and for marine viewing details. Spectators lining the public viewing locations will also enjoy a NYPD helicopter flyover and an FDNY water boat show prior to the start of the display.
Macy’s glittering spectacle is made possible in part by GoBowling.com, Green Giant®, New York Life, Pier 17 at The Seaport District and The Howard Hughes Corporation, SOUR PATCH KIDS® Candy, with the Official Countdown by Bulova, and is presented in partnership with the City of New York. Revelers lining viewing locations in New York City are encouraged to enjoy the full Macy’s Fireworks experience by tuning in to radio station 1010 WINS (via 1010 WINS-AM, or on the Radio.com app) to hear the musical score to which the show is choreographed.
Spectators from coast-to-coast will also have a front row view of the pyro in the sky by tuning to NBC’s national broadcast of “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” (8:00PM-10:00PM ET, check local listings). The nation’s No. 1 Independence Day will feature musical performances from some of America’s top musical acts.
No Independence Day celebration would be complete without a special tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who work tirelessly to defend and protect our freedoms. In addition to the patriotic tribute during the Macy’s Fireworks display, this year, Macy’s and its customers nationwide will once again come together for a charitable round-up program to support returning veterans and military families. During “Macy’s Salutes Those Who Serve” campaign, which kicks off Monday, July 1 and runs through Thursday, July 18, shoppers are invited to round up their purchase amount to the nearest dollar (up to $.99) and donate the change. One hundred percent of the donations will benefit two veterans and military family focused organizations: Blue Star Families and Bunker Labs. These charities focus on a number of programs that support current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, providing access to career development, caregiver support, entrepreneurship and business opportunities, among other services.
For more information on the 43rd Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, please visit www.macys.com/fireworks or call the Macy’s Fireworks Hotline at (212) 494-4495, follow and participate in the excitement on various social platforms via @macys and #MacysFireworks.
There’s just one week left to make your voice heard. Our 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey takes less than 30 minutes to fill out, but the findings will influence policy for years! Make sure you tell us your real-life, mil-life story right now. Once you do, we’ll enter you to win a $100 gift card. Take it today!
When you explore our nation’s parks, including those in your neighborhood, take along the new ParkPassport app! Now, you can track all your outdoor activities, receive badges, and share with friends. The first 20,000 families who download the app will receive a free Buddy Bison plush toy to join in on the fun!
Blue Star Museums
Blue Star Museums are back for Season 10! Whether you want to blast off at a science museum, take a walk through nature, encounter animals at the aquarium, or meet your heroes at a historic site, Blue Star Museums can help you create memories that last a lifetime.
Make the PCS Transition a Sweet One for Your MilKid
We’re partnering with Dreyer’s Edy’s® Ice Cream to help you do just that. Why? Because we all know PCS season can be hard—especially for our military kids (yes, even those who are super adaptable). So we’re giving them something sweet to look forward to when starting over in an unfamiliar place. Enter to win your PCS-ing milkid an ice cream social here.
Get Out & Explore Blue Star Parks
Buddy Bison at a National Park
Visit a mobile petting zoo in Missouri. Take a canoe down the Potomac. Build a (mini) arch in St. Louis. Meet National Park Rangers in San Francisco. Enjoy the stars on a Tennessee summer night. Explore a Utah zoo.
Yes, these are just a few of the many exciting things going on this summer thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers all over the country. Do you want to bring Blue Star Parks to your community? Join our team of volunteers and help us celebrate the great outdoors!
A Virtual Career Success Story
Recently, BSF partnered with Birthing of Giants—a New York-based education program for entrepreneurs—to bring you an opportunity to work in a dynamic, fast-paced, and independent environment that is rewarding and full of variety.
Read what one BSF Member has to say about her training and new virtual career:
“As a military spouse, I understand all too well the importance of having flexibility and remote career opportunities. When we were stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, CA, I remember feeling overwhelmed because of the limited job opportunities for me there. It was also important for me to do something meaningful for both my personal and professional growth. When Birthing of Giants approached me with the opportunity to work as a Research Associate in their Admissions department, I found the perfect opportunity.” ~Thai Santiago
And we’re excited to announce that the Admissions team for Birthing of Giants has an open position! This is a remote work opportunity and full training will be provided. If this sounds like something you want to do, click here for more details and to apply online.
Vote for the 2019 MVC Choice Awards
Blue Star Families is proud to partner with the Military and Veteran Community Choice Awards! What are the MVC Choice Awards? They’re awards that celebrate brands that provide outstanding service to our community and help make the difficult parts of military life feel a little less difficult. And the MVC Choice Awards are determined by you, the Military and Veteran Community. Nomination season starts soon and is open until July 6! Learn how you can get your vote in here.
USAA Offers PCS Tips
PCSing is a big part of many military families’ lives this summer! Whether it’s your first or your twelfth, here are some solid PCS tips that may help you make some money.
Don’t miss out on summer fun with your family. Get that last space checked off—whether it’s wiggling your feet in the water, checking out a library book, or helping a neighbor. Good luck!
Blue Star Museum Ambassadors
Join our team of ambassadors in thanking Blue Star Museums this summer!
Ambassadors will be sent a certificate of appreciation to present to their local BSM. Our goal is to thank over 100 museums throughout the summer!
Father’s Day is Around the Corner!
We’re big fans of the dads in our lives—from those who are milspouses to active duty members, reservists and guardsmen, and neighbors! Basically, it’s love all around. In need of a way to show your appreciation to the dads in your life? Download your free Father’s Day card here.
PTSD Awareness Day
June 27th is National PTSD Awareness Day. Because of our annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey, we know this illness affects far too many of our families. Treatment and self-help tools have gotten better over the years as our understanding and knowledge has increased. There are many tools and apps on the market, but we’d like to highlight one that may be helpful to raise knowledge, awareness, and self-help. Check out PsychArmor.org—a tremendous online resource providing short video courses for veterans, families, and community members to enable better understanding and communication.
Life as a military family most definitely requires patience.
It’s a virtue not too many of us are born with or acquire until we’re knee-deep in long, drawn-out deployments and tasks the military throws our way.
And even then, we can find ourselves tapping our foot in anticipation for our service member spouse to return home safely, the last day of school to arrive so summer can begin, orders to be solidified so we can figure out where in the world we’ll be living next, and leave to be approved so we can take that much-needed vacation (even if it’s to a destination just a stone’s throw away).
You get the point. In a countdown mode state-of-mind, patience can be difficult to come by. Yes, our loved ones, our heroes, are 100% worth waiting for.
But what about the daily hassles or setbacks that come with military life? You know, such as: scouring the Internet for a milspouse-friendly job option that can stick with you no matter where the military takes you, battling long waitlists for reliable childcare, trying to get ahold of maintenance to fix up military housing issues; the list goes on.
So, is it really possible to have patience for improvements to be made?
Well, if you’re feeling frustrated with the time it takes the military to find concrete solutions for any of the issues shared above, the good news is, your voice can help propel change. (Yes, it’s true. Check this out.)
Let’s just say referrals are a bear. Between multiple appointments, paperwork, and miscommunication between who is responsible for what, the time it takes to be seen by a provider in your network definitely surpasses the time it’d take you to complete the BSF Survey.
Pull together three emergency contacts for your child’s daycare or school.
Yes, right after you arrive at your new duty station. Of course. Doesn’t anyone understand it takes time to find people you can really rely on? You can’t just give the emergency contact role to anyone.
Mow the yard and pull the weeds that decided to take over ever since your spouse deployed.
Yard maintenance isn’t for the weak. And why do the weeds always seem to sprout up when you’re the person who’s now responsible for avoiding housing citations?
Try to find a building on base even when Maps has no idea.
“Hey, Siri. Directions to the DEERS/RAPIDS office.” Yeah, not a chance. Siri wishes you the best of luck in your search.
Cut your spouse’s hair when they refuse to go to a professional.
It’s an honor to be chosen for such a task. Or is it? Because, chances are, after they take a glance at their new “High and Tight” ‘do in the mirror, they’ll have some choice words to say. Hey, they get what they paid for—free (and with little to no experience).
Visit The Exchange on Family Day.
Fighting crowds and long lines is not really your thing. Especially when you just came for a few snacks and paper towels.
All jokes aside, your time is precious. And so is your patience. The amount of time it will require for you to complete the Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey is most likely far less than any of the above tasks we as military families often encounter (an average of 30 minutes, to be exact). And it’s probably a lot more enjoyable because you can complete it from wherever you are and know that change-makers will hear your voice!