Fort Ord declared a national monument

Fort Ord had been home to many of the individuals who had served in the U.S. military dating back to 1917, though it has gone through several names before becoming what is now known as Fort Ord. This fort was primarily used for weapon training and tactical. To this day, some 18 years after its official closing sections of Fort Ord are still marked with warning signs where underground mines remain. Those cornered off sections don’t take away from the recreational paradise that has taken over this once prestigious U.S. military fort.

President Obama declared Fort Ord a national monument and referred to Fort Ord as, "one of the crown jewels of California's coast." That is exactly what Fort Ord is. It goes on for miles and miles just outside of Monterey, California. Following the official closing in 1994, residents in and around the Monterey Peninsula have turned the old fort into a recreational wonderland. It now contains numerous bike trails and hiking paths.

Plans are underway to locate and remove the last of every underground explosive. In an effort to remove past weapons within safe parameters, the Army Corps of Engineers have taken on the task and have estimated that the cleanup will be complete by 2019.  Once this gorgeous land has been cleared of all potential threats of civilian harm, even more land will become open for enjoyment. 

Any individual who has ever trained in Fort Ord should take some time to enjoy this fort under a new light. I have actually had three relatives serve at Fort Ord, my grandfather and two uncles. All three of them have returned to see this land without the sometimes strict military life.

 

US Veterans remain Heroes in Civilian Life

Warriors and Wolves Program Promotes Healing for Vets and Wolves

Animals have been known to promote healing for some time now. Sometimes animals can heal others while they are being healed. This happens when strength comes from both sides and healing becomes the only true outcome.

Three months ago 29 hybrid wolf-dogs were taken in by a California Animal Rescue Center, the animals were rescued from an Alaska tourist attraction. Three separate veterans volunteered to help the animals in need and through care the animals and the veterans have begun to heal. Each volunteer veteran has shown that even at home they will come together to fight for the rights and needs of others, even if the others happen to be mistreated animals held in captivity.

A Navy Vet of Ten Years, Stanley McDonald is one of the US veteran volunteers and uses the strength of these animals to find his own strength. He has battled with alcoholism throughout his life and following his time in service has been diagnosed with PTSD which in itself can amplify alcoholism just as alcoholism can amplify problems associated with PTSD. McDonald is striving to overcome his alcoholism as he fights for these damaged wolves and has stated in a recent interview that, “he’s learned from the animals and knew if he could help them, he could help himself.”

Just as these animals have learned to trust and have begun to heal both physically and emotionally, so has McDonald. In the time that he has worked with these animals he has also reconnected with his family. It has been a hard uphill battle, though through strength and bravery  McDonald has become the man he wanted to be, the man that his family could believe in. by helping injured wolves McDonald has helped himself.

Emo girls and bummed out boys

Just because you choose a certain life doesn’t mean you have to love every piece of said life. My husband and I separately chose the military life back in the nineties. We lived it singly and as a married couple and enjoyed our time immensely.  We lived the National Guard (two deployments) life as a couple and as parents and now we are back to active duty as parents.

  When it’s just you or just you and your spouse then it’s not so bad. Actually, my husband and I use to joke that with field missions and deployments it’s like you get repeated honeymoons! Woohoo, that’s a bonus. The hard part comes when you have kids; becoming parents changes everything.

  None of our kids are old enough to actually remember a deployment with more than extremely vague memories. When my husband went to a school in 2010 the bigs were old enough to know what was going and realize that daddy wasn’t going to be home for a while. Our son is pretty easy going but he was a little more emotional than normal during that time. I was attempting to potty train our daughter at the time, bad idea. There were too many accidents to count and the crying increased.

Currently my husband is on a training mission where he’s been for a couple of weeks and we still have another week left. In all reality a three week mission isn’t bad; it’s rather short in the grand scheme of things.  Here at the Swink household it’s FOREVER though! Our son is bummed but not stressing too much, our oldest daughter is exceedingly emotional and cries about everything under the sun, and our baby girl cries and runs to the garage every time the door opens calling for daddy.

  The emotions are running high and I can’t wait for my husband to get home! We are trying to look at this in a good light and think of it as getting ready for a deployment when it happens. It doesn’t make it any easier though.  We did choose this life for ourselves and for our family but it doesn’t make it easy to watch as my kiddos go through pain and learn how to deal with the changes that come with a military life.

Savings!

Woohoo! I found a new place to save, which is always cause for celebration around here.  Not only did I find a way to save money but it’s something that we spend money on every month anyway.  Did you know that the first Saturday of the month our local Albertson’s gives a 10% discount to military?

  Ok, ok…so I know that we have the commissary to use. It’s cool and the whole “not paying tax” thing but the 6% surcharge they tack on the end isn’t exactly wonderful. Since we don’t live on base and going to the local stores are a bit more convenient then I tend to look for sales and deals wherever I can. I don’t typically shop Albertson’s but just happened to glance at their flyer and saw the discount. Super cool!

  They often have some great deals going on at the same time. If you take advantage of the sales that are going on and combine them with the 10% discount you can save a ton of money. The first time I took advantage of this combined savings my total savings came close to $50.00. I’ll take that all day long! I’m a huge fan of saving money. The money saved on groceries can be used to go to other things: lessons for the kids, something fun for the husband and I, any number of things would greatly benefit from a few extra dollars in the envelope.

  Go ahead and check your local grocery stores and see if they offer a discount; they may do it every day, weekly, monthly, or possibly just yearly. It never hurts to ask and it could always help!

US Veterans Return Home to new Battles

VETS and Warrior care provide help with civilian life adjustments

Our US Military Veterans have proudly and bravely served their country. In the first days, weeks and months of being home they may face difficult challenges. They need to readjust to civilian life, find employment and in some cases find housing. In effort to ease veterans back into civilian life with minimal difficulties, the US Department of Labor VETS program provides several valuable resources to service members and veterans.

Any returning service member or veteran can access the VETS website to gain access to available grants, employment resources, transitional resources, educational training and many other resources. Each resource has an application form and process that needs to be carefully filled out, however the requirements to get an application approved is an easy process. Additional help is also available through staff members should any service member or veteran need extra assistance.

Service members and veterans also receive informative handbooks that cover information on each program to help them understand the steps that they will be taking. There is also a link to Warrior care which will provide a valuable benefits handbook at the VETS site or you can access it directly through the Warrior Care link. The Warrior Care handbook covers every available benefit to veterans. It provides information on medical benefits, recovery benefits, tuition assistance and general veteran’s benefits.

The Warrior Care handbook thoroughly covers veteran’s disability benefits and the process that will need to be undertaken to determine eligibility. This can be vital to an any veteran faced with the need to determine disability eligibility. Life doesn’t stop when service members leave the battle field, in many ways it begins.

Grant Library

  It’s taken us a few months to actually check out the post Library but we finally made it there a week ago. There are a number of positives about the library but as with anything there are a few negatives as well. Let’s break it down:

Positives:

  • Free wifi -  available even out on the patio so you can use it even when the library is closed
  • Children’s area – has some great books (obviously) and four dedicated computers for the young ‘uns. Story time -  10:30 a.m. for preschoolers
  • Reading Club – a group that meets once a month to discuss a selection for adults and a summer reading program for the kiddos.
  • Computers – I didn’t actually count how many but I know there a quite a few for use.
  • Study Rooms – They have cubicles you can sit in as well as actual rooms to use if you need a quiet place to study or read.
  • Free magazines – I’m really fond of this one since I love magazines. They have a stack near the front door so you can take them on your way out.

Negatives:

In all honesty there isn’t much that’s negative about this library. The one big thing that is particularly annoying is the weird balance in genres.  I know that much of what is carried are the current popular picks but the overabundance of vampire books is annoying. There is a huge selection of them right in the middle of the library. I’ve read a few vampire books in my time but I’m not obsessed with them; and in all actuality believe many of them aren’t well written but rather are just written to take advantage of the recent popularity. My husband went looking for some good books to take to the field with him and found possibly a handful written by Christian authors. The selection for this genre was almost nonexistent and since that’s what we prefer it makes it a  bit harder.

Overall it’s a great library and I can see us spending a ton of time there. We will definitely take advantage of the story times and I would love to get involved in the book club. Perhaps I can spend a night out a month talking to other grown-ups (rather than the 6 and under crowd) about grown-up things! Check out your local library!

US Military gets new Mini Robots

They will be used for surveillance so that soldiers can limit their exposure risk

Our US military has just made an order to receive micro sized robots. I’ve never wanted to be in the military as much as I do right now. I mean just think I could have my own little squad of mini robots to lead into battle.

All kidding aside, these robots are pretty cool. They’re rather indestructible and can withstand extreme impacts. They will be used to perform surveillance, they have the ability to get into places that soldiers can’t go into without being noticed. These robots will basic help to prevent military casualties and will improve the chances of soldiers returning home from battle.

They are light weight and actually come with their own carrying case so that soldiers can have them on their side at all times. This will enable American soldiers to access the benefits of these robots whenever they need a few extra eyes.  The only downfall is that they run off of battery power so soldiers will need to make sure that they are charged.

This is almost something I would expect to see in a sci-fi movie. It’s actually rather exciting to thank that we have robots to help us out during times of battle. Of course they can’t fight, however give them time they just might eventually be able to. Honestly, did you ever think that robots would actually become part of our armed service. Remember watching terminator and how at the time it was a great yet out of reach possibility, well we have in fact made our first series of combat robots. I wonder how much further technology can take us.

Mountain Post Wellness Center

Last week I had a chance to visit the Mountain Post Wellness Center for a class. It’s the first time I’d been there and I was pleasantly surprised to see everything they had to offer. The offerings include a gym, nutrition classes, tobacco cessation class, stress management, and a host of others.  The staff is pretty nice and super helpful with getting the soldiers, families, and retirees the assistance they need.

 During the class I took, one of the physicians spoke of a new system that will soon be in place that will allow better communication between the patient and their health care team as well as more comprehensive care for patients. The Fort Carson website states that, "We provide treatment for health promotion and prevention as well as education, and we partner with patients' primary care managers to ensure clear health goals are advanced between office visits. The providers include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, a nurse and health technicians.” That’s a pretty wide range of people working together to ensure the best possible health for military families.

  There are a few more classes or services I would like to take advantage of at the wellness center. The weight management program will be beneficial as I try to get back in shape after three kids. This program includes everything from healthy cooking to fitness counseling as well as a gait analysis to ensure that my running shoes are the best ones for me.

Another service I am interested in is the Migun relaxation bed that has heated stones and massage heads…that sounds absolutely lovely! I think that may be a perfect way to help ease some of the stress that our lives bring on.  If you live near Fort Carson it may be well worth your effort to check out the Wellness Center; I’m not sure of the offerings on other bases but it very well could pay off to do a little research. Go get well!

Watching the door

He made it through!

  If you remember last week I reported that Swink1 was headed out to the Team Member Stakes. He made it home and in one piece but not without some issues. Apparently this particular exercise was rather difficult and a few soldiers were injured though not severely. He said that this past Tuesday was probably one of the hardest days he has had in his 13 years in the Army. That is saying a lot for a guy who was once a medic with an infantry unit and has been to Iraq twice.

  On the home front it was life as usual. We go about our daily lives of school (here at home), cleaning, cooking, and a trip out and about if the weather is decent enough. It gets pretty hard keeping three kids entertained and their energy expelled when it’s too cold to take them out. Spring and summer need to HURRY UP! I need to be outside much more than I currently am and so do the kids.

  The hardest part of him being gone is how it affects the kids. As I shared last time our older two deal rather well with daddy being gone since they have had more experience with it. Our baby had a hard time since she would rather daddy be the one to put her to bed at night and she can usually be found attached to him when he is home. I think the part that saddens me the most is the door. Every time someone opened the garage door she would run (on her little 18 month old legs) to the door calling, “Dada…dada,” and when he wasn’t there the sadness on her little face tore at my heart.

  The positive thing about him traveling though is that we cherish the times together so much more. I love the fact that when he is home my husband is really home. He talks to the kids, reads to them, plays with them, and just all around loves on them. They enjoy being with their daddy and will seek him out just to be with him. They are incredibly blessed to have such a great dad and I am incredibly blessed to have such a great husband.

US Military get Menu Options Revamped

More fruits, veggies and whole grains

The education department isn’t the only group having their food program revamped. On Thursday when Michelle Obama is at the Little Rock Air Force base the Pentagon will officially announce new meal standards that will become regulatory for all military bases. You can expect a new variety that is more health conscious than past mess hall meals.

New menu options will limit fat intake while increases fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This will reduce operating cost associated with military personnel who have fallen out of their required fat percentage range. When a service member has too high of a fat percentage PT is a mandatory requirement before being released back to regular duty, this requires extra time and energy. Those service members that can’t seem to keep their fat percentage within normal range suffer medical needs that raise military operating cost.

This problem goes beyond active personnel. If healthy eating habits can become natural then military service members that return to civilian life will be more likely to retain their healthy eating habits. This can save medical cost within the private sector and promote a lifespan of good health. Eating habits whether good or bad are more often than not passed on to children growing up in a household. The men and women who ate better food choices while in the service will likely take those choice home and could possibly pass healthy eating onto their children which just may overtime reduce food related health problems and medical costs. This is only a start yet the outcome has the potential of spiraling growth.

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