Businesses Salute Military Service with Exclusive Memorial Day Deals

Military personnel, family members, veterans, reservists, and the National Guard can choose from a variety of offers this year, including discounts on tickets, tee times, an online store builder, wood working tools, home improvement supplies and flowers.


  1. is offering military members a chance to win a $1,000 giveaway from May 18th – 22nd, 2015. The winner will be announced on Memorial Day. Verified military personnel will also receive $20 off an order of $300 or more all summer.
  2. wants the military community to be able to send the thoughtful gift of flowers anytime at an affordable price. Active duty, military families, retirees, reservists, and the National Guard are eligible to receive a single-use coupon code, good for 40% off their next purchase. Claim this exclusive military discount from at
  3. Birdies for the Brave is currently offering free admission and discounted admission for active duty, veterans, and retirees to fourteen golf tournaments across the country this summer. Find a list of the tournaments and download a voucher at
  4. Harriet Carter Gifts, Distinctive Gifts Since 1958, hopes you’ll enjoy affordable products and gifts that make life easier and more enjoyable around the home as well as support personal well-being. They are proud to offer the Military community 10% off their purchases. Visit for a unique promotion code and all the details.
  5. Military Tee Times provides all members of the United States exclusive savings on tee times at thousands of golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. All military members, including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retirees, veterans and dependents qualify for this exclusive military discount. Visit to book tee times.
  6. Grizzly Industrial is offering an extra 5% off purchases during their Summer Sale to honor all members of the U.S. Armed Forces this Memorial Day. Single use coupon codes will be valid from May 25 – June 12, 2015 on in-store, online and phone purchases. Visit on May 25thto receive a unique coupon code.
  7. American Century Championship, the No.1 celebrity sporting event, is giving complimentary tickets to their event on on Tuesday, July 14th – Sunday, July 19th 2015 at Edgewood-Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, NV. Active Duty, Reservists, National Guard, Military Retirees, and Veterans receive 1 complimentary ticket and 1 complimentary guest ticket for each day of the American Century Championship. Tickets are available now, get more information at
  8. Volusion created Stores and Stripes in order to go beyond bringing members of the Armed Forces into the workforce by giving them and their spouses their very own online store for one full year for only a $1 donation with the proceeds going to Operation Homefront. Get started at

These companies are confident that only qualified members of the military community are able to redeem their exclusive military offers because they have SheerID’s military verification solutions in place. “We’re very excited about the opportunity that the Stores and Stripes program presents to active duty military, veterans, and their spouses,” says Matt Winn, Senior Brand Manager at Volusion. “Providing service members and their families with an online store of their own ushers in a new era of entrepreneurship, and having SheerID as a partner ensures participants are quickly and easily verified to join the program.”

To see a complete list of offers protected by SheerID, visit

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Teaching Our Kids to Stick Up For Themselves in School

When your kid is the one who (almost) always follows directions in school, he is bound to be stuck with the kid who (almost) never does.  I understand the concept.  I’m quite clear on the theory that the rule follower will steer the other student in the right direction.  After all, classroom time is most effective when students see a good model to emulate.

But, what if the rule follower is ALWAYS put with the rule rebel?  Generally, the rule follower isn’t going to be influenced by the rebel, but he is bound to be distracted and, most likely, irritated by his peer’s behavior.

I generally strongly dislike when people use the terms “fair” and “unfair,” but in this case, as the parent of a rule follower (four, thankfully), I genuinely think this practice is unfair when not balanced with opportunities to work with other rule followers.

The real trouble arises when kids move around from teacher to teacher for different classes, but are stuck with the same irritating kid in every partnered activity.  I realize that kids have to learn to work well with others, but shouldn’t they also have the opportunity to not have partner work be such a challenge?  To not have to bear the brunt of the work?  After all, working together actually requires two willing partners, each carrying his own weight and each being able to discover his strengths and weaknesses.  When a student is forced to work with the kid who is not only not carrying his fair share, but is a detriment to the success of the project, the students both suffer.


I’m teaching my boys to advocate for themselves in situations like these.  I don’t like to be the mom who is butting into class business.  I know every man and woman who teaches my boys is doing a great job and working hard to help all of his or her students.  As a teacher myself, I would never want to make another educator feel as if I am questioning his or her abilities.

When one of my boys was made to work with the same uncooperative partner in three different subjects yesterday, I told him that the best thing to do is to stick up for himself by talking with the teacher.  I told him to explain what was happening during the partner work, to be sure to tell the teacher that he has partnered with the same child in two other classes, and ask if he might be able to work with someone else next time, if not this time.

After school, my son told me he was able to just “deal with” the other boy, and didn’t need to talk to his teacher.  He took initiative and dominated the robotics project and the other boy only mildly interfered in the second hour of the class.

We are reading a book together to help him learn the tools to advocate for himself.  It’s called, Stick Up For Yourself.  I’m not getting anything for mentioning this book, I just think it’s a good tool for many situations kids deal with on a daily basis.  Rather than helicopter parent, I like to try to prepare my boys for whatever obstacles they may encounter at school and after school.  These are lessons that will help them long into the future.

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Caliber Collision’s Military Support

Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” At Caliber Collision, they believe in using their talents to help others and give back to communities.

They have over 300 locations within the United States, and are determined to use their collision repair skills for military support. Many of their employees are veterans, and they have a heart for assisting military veterans and families.

Caliber is committed to joining together and using their talent to help the military…one vehicle at the time.

School carpool. Work. Grocery store. Dentist appointment. PTA meeting. Our daily lives are filled with so many activities that require transportation, and we understand the burden of not having a proper vehicle. Caliber is working to eliminate that stress from the lives of military veterans and families, and to accomplish this goal, they created Recycled Rides.

The Recycled Rides program is the pride of Caliber, and they are truly honored to have this program as a way to give back to military heroes. They restore vehicles and give them to military veterans and families. It truly is a labor of love for their team to refurbish these vehicles, and when they give the vehicles to the new owners, there is never a dry eye in the room.

In 2014, Caliber donated 20 vehicles through Recycled Rides, and in 2015, they have 25 scheduled vehicles. Currently, Recycled Rides is available in North Texas (Dallas) and Austin, TX, and you can nominate a deserving military hero on this nomination form.

Caliber understands the need of monetary support for our military heroes, but they are also committed to raising awareness. The participate in Carry the Load, a 27-day relay designed to raise awareness for fallen military, law enforcement, and rescue personnel.

Their team is walking the relay, which started in West Point, NY on April 28 and finishes in Dallas, TX, on May 24. Anyone can participate with Carry the Load during any leg, and the relay will travel through cities including Philadelphia, PA, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, and Little Rock, AR. At the end of the relay, Caliber is sponsoring the Dallas Memorial March in Dallas, TX, and the Austin Memorial March in Austin, TX, and both of these events are designed to restore the meaning of Memorial Day and help honor our military heroes.

Employment can be a challenge for anyone, and after leaving the military, many veterans struggle with their next step; whether it is finding the funds to complete their education or securing a job. The Caliber team understands this need, and they are actively working to assist veterans in this capacity. They have partnered with the 3M Hire our Heroes campaign to assist returning veterans in finding careers in the collision repair industry. Through this program, they are able to provide scholarships for those seeking employment in the auto body repair industry as well as rehabilitation for wounded veterans through Operation Comfort’s Automotivation program, designed to teach skills to veterans in a different way. Within Caliber, many locations seek to hire veterans.

At Caliber, the motto is to restore you to the rhythm of your life®, and even though they are not able to completely restore our military heroes’ lives, they are proud to serve them in any way we can. All of their locations participate in corporate military support programs, and many also contribute in local military support programs in their area. By using their collision repair skills, they have the opportunity to serve others and support our military heroes.

Carry the Load Relay map

CarrytheLoadMap Recycled Rides Van Recycled Rides

Army Veteran Samantha Kennedy, one of the Recycled Rides 2014 recipients

Also pictured: Caliber team who worked on Samantha’s vehicles

Samantha Carroll Samantha RR




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American Sniper DVD Giveaway; Plus Benefit The Wounded Warrior Project

The American Sniper will be released on dvd and blu-ray on May 19, and you can win a copy of this exceptional film for yourself by following the directions at the end of this post.  If you want to purchase a copy, rather than entering the giveaway, and benefit the Wounded Warrior Project in the process, you can do that easily, here: American Sniper.

American Sniper 3D Box Art

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will donate a portion of the proceeds across physical and digital sales to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). One dollar of each purchase will be donated, up to $1,000,000 from April 21, 2015 through December 31, 2015, void in Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and South Carolina.

The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP’s life-saving programs and services, please visit

The film, American Sniper, is heralded as one of the greats; the story of a modern day war hero.

From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris
Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter.  Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield, and as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.


Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.



“American Sniper” Blu-ray Combo Pack & Two Disc DVD contains the following special features:

  • One Soldier’s Story: The Journey of American Sniper

Join director Clint Eastwood and his creative team, along with Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, as they overcome enormous creative and logistic obstacles to make a film that brings the truth of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s story to the screen.

  • Making of American Sniper

To win a copy, enter at a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What’s Good and Bad about the Military’s Medical System

Bob’s tonsillectomy went off without a hitch.  His pain level has steadily decreased since two days post op and it is barely noticeable now.  We celebrated, with more ice cream, when his pain level reached a lower level than what it had been prior to surgery.  Also, the pathology came back ‘all clear.’


Medevacing was the right choice.  Thanks to Tricare, the military’s medical insurance system, we were able to, relatively seamlessly, get to a US Naval Hospital, see a provider and make a huge difference in an 11 year old’s life. (We celebrated his birthday on Monday.)


While we’ve been here, for what will end up being 19 days, I managed to see to some of my own medical needs.  I was months behind on getting my yearly mammogram because I was so consumed with Bob’s health. (I know, that’s no excuse.)  So, I walked into the family practice clinic, explained our medevac, short term  on location situation, had a well check and scheduled the test.  The technician and radiologist were thorough and extremely attentive, knowing the difference in care back in Taiwan.  I could not be more grateful for their kindness and attentiveness to detail.  Since I was seen at a Military Treatment Facility (MTF), the process was seamless and easy.

Less easy, was getting care for my months old foot injury.  I hurt my foot on a run in November, but knowing how difficult the care process is where we live, I sucked it up and when it didn’t get better after a few weeks of rest, I just went back to running and took a lot of NSAIDs.  It occurred to me that it would be simple to get it looked at here, at an MTF, where there is a Radiology department, Podiatry department, and Orthopedics department… all on one floor of the hospital.

No such luck.

I walked into the ortho/podiatry clinic, explained my unique situation, and asked for an appointment.  The kind ladies at the desk expressed their apologies but said that I needed a referral, and there were no appointments available, so I should just go to the ER.

The ER?  For a months old injury?  That seems like a terrible waste of resources.  They agreed, but shrugged their shoulders.

I had nothing but time on my hands as Bob recovered, happily sucking up the free hospital wifi, so I watched for a quiet time at the ER and then explained my situation to the young man at the desk, who agreed with me that this was a backwards way to run things, but said it happens all the time.  I know it does because I see the kids with ear infections and strep throat waiting in the ER chairs every day lately.

Alas, a kind doctor took a look at my foot, scheduled some xrays and put in a referral to the podiatry clinic.  That wasn’t so bad…


When I went into the Podiatry clinic to make my appointment, the kind ladies put on their apology faces again as they explained that there are no appointments for new patients until May 5th.  But I’m flying off island on May 1st, I explained.  We are medevaced here.  My son had surgery…

They understood, tried to change the referral from new patient to something else.  They even talked to the doctor.


I went back to the ER to ask for suggestions.  The young man at the desk suggested I see Referral Management.  The great lady there told me she would do what she could.  Today she sought me out, found me, and told me she got an appointment for me on May 5, which won’t work.

I checked for cancellations at the Podiatry clinic EVERY DAY… twice, for nearly two weeks.  Nothing.  When I asked today, our second to last day here, what I should do, they said to go back to the ER.

Really?  There has to be a better way.  Doesn’t there?  This is being debated and worked on by people, who, unlike me, are not wearing yoga pants and running shoes, they dress up and go to work specifically to deal with such conundrums.  The National Military Family Association is working on it, but what is the solution?

I realize that my situation is unique, but I’ve seen so many cases of people who have an enormous amount of trouble navigating the appointment and referral system.  Overall, the military medical system has been very good to us, but it is broken, to be sure.  Providers and technicians will testify to it.  It has only gotten worse since Sequestration took effect.

The ER doc diagnosed what I had been afraid of…  I’m getting older.  I have a healing stress fracture and a… wait for it… bunion!  NOOOOOOOO.

Solution, find exercise that puts less stress on my foot.

I just started training for a 10K.  Can’t stop… Won’t stop…

Popping more Motrin.


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Medical Care in a Less Foreign Land- Part 3

Answer: Watch TV shows you’d never watch at home; Eat junk food you’d never eat at home; and sit for hours in a hospital lobby just to access wifi.

Question: What are things you do when you have 3 weeks to burn on a military base with a kid recovering from surgery?


Also, rotate Tylenol and Motrin like clockwork, using the back of a memo announcing installation of wifi in your “hotel,” to record times and doses, and take an extra trip to the water fountain for filtered water because you spotted another adult there, who just might want to make conversation for five minutes!

Note: Said TV shows might, or might not, include Duck Dynasty and TMZ.

Note: The aforementioned memo stated that work on the wifi network would be complete on Friday… Last Friday. So why am I sitting in the hospital lobby to publish this post?

Thanks to G-d and modern medicine; Bob’s surgery was successful. He had a great team of a surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses, who were all kind, supportive and helpful. He is now recovering as expected. The pain is present but tolerable. We now spend our days “chilling” in the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters and the hospital lobby.


As you can see in this picture that I took of the hospital from the back entrance to our lodging, the distance between the two buildings is pretty insignificant.  It takes about 5 minutes to walk.  Bob was labeled a “fall risk” and got a ride in a wheelchair, pushed by a young Corpsman, from the hospital, all the way to our room after surgery.


I’m struggling as much as I thought I would with being away from Horatio and the other boys. Of course I’m used to being away from Horatio, since he travels A LOT and has been gone on deployments for longer than I can count, but I’ve never been away from the boys for more than a few days and I don’t like it.

OK, I’m not going to lie, I don’t mind not having to do laundry for 4 other people and I don’t mind not having to cook dinners and pack school lunches, but I’d trade this “rest and relaxation” for the chores any day if it meant Bob felt better and we could be home, all together.  Doctor’s orders are to stay here for two weeks after surgery.  If you want to know why, use Dr. Google.  I won’t bore you, or gore you, with the details.

Horatio is doing a bang up job with all of the tasks at home, so I’m not worried about that aspect of things. I’m wondering, though, why our kind-hearted host government offered to take him and the boys out to dinner EVERY night while I’m gone; but when he’s gone, it’s “Erin who? What boys?”   Seriously, they offered! Respect to Horatio for turning them down. He’s been cooking up a storm, making good use of the grill we recently purchased from our beloved neighbors, when they packed up and shipped their household goods three weeks ago, in preparation for their move this summer. He’s also coming up with some creative menus and catering to the boys’ tastes. He even made a trip to Cotsco this morning to get more meat… something I rarely do since I haven’t eaten meat since I was 12 years old. I will not mention how long ago that was. I do cook meat for the family, just not often, or as well, as Horatio does it.

So, here we sit, in the hospital lobby, of course, using the wifi. Soon, we will head back to the room for dinner, which will consist of something soft for poor Bob and something simple for me.


Bob in Recovery

Bob, the second day following surgery... Known to be the worst day... Yep!

Bob, the second day following surgery… Known to be the worst day… Yep!


On the mend, with meds on board...

On the mend today, with meds on board…

We are both relieved to be in the after part of the surgery and are eager for Bob’s pain to subside. We see the doc again in 11 days and if all is well, we will fly home in 13 days. After that, there will be just one more month of school and then, like nearly every other US expat, we will fly the coop for the whole summer! (More on that later.)


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Casting Call for Military Families!


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Medical Care in a Foreign Land… Update

After seeing 4 specialists, and 2 family doctors, and getting no answers as to why young Bob has had a sore throat for going on 6 months, we are being medevaced to a US Military hospital.


Most likely, Bob will have to have his tonsils removed.  If the first doc we saw here had suggested it, we would have done the surgery here.  Sadly, the medical care does not follow the same philosophy as US medical care.  The Taiwan medical system seems to prefer a “wait and see” approach.  I’ve lost any faith I had in the local medical system.  I think 6 months is too long.  To hear a doctor, at a well respected hospital here, say Bob’s tonsils look fine, and maybe he just swallowed something sharp, like a fishbone, does not instil confidence.  I can see that the tonsils do not look “fine” and I have no medical training, whatsoever.  (Of course that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about pretty much every medical situation.)

Medevacing is complicated.  We first had to get a recommendation from the primary doctor (no problem.)  Next, our medical insurance had to approve the idea.  Now, we have to make all of the travel and accommodation reservations and the military system does not make that easy.  Horatio has tried for a cumulative time of at least three hours to get us into the defense travel system, to no avail.  All official DoD requirements on the net are complicated.  Then, the time difference between here and DC make it so that if there is a problem, it’s an entire day before we can get guidance from DC!  Hopefully, we can get the paperwork worked out before we have to travel 3 weeks from now.


If Bob does have to have surgery of any kinds, we will be required to stay on location for two weeks post-op, meaning we will be away from home for close to three weeks.

These are the things that keep me up at night.


I try to look at the silver lining, though:  Quality time with just ONE of my four boys, and lots of shopping at the PX and commissary so we can bring home lots of US products upon our return.

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Fitness Nutrition Delivered Monthly

The founders of Fit Snack contacted me to ask if I’d like to try their product.  I am working out a lot and feel healthy, so I’d like to stay that way.  Fit Snack seemed like a good fit with what I stand for, so I happily agreed.

Fit Snack - ExplodingBox - withLogo

As my regular readers know, I love getting packages.  Mail is very hit or miss using our “special” mail system, so sometimes it feels like birthday/Chanukah/Christmas around here.  I was very excited to receive my first Fit Snack box and to see what is inside.

Fit Snack’s criteria is based on what we call “The Perfect 10″: High Protein | Complex Carbs | Low Sugar | GMO-Free | Paleo | Gluten Free | Clean Eating | Sustainable | Organic | Raw.

The box is the size of a large shoe box and it is packed side to side and top to bottom with healthy snacks.  Some are full of protein, some are naturally gluten free, some are dairy free, but they are all delicious!  I especially like, and was immediately hooked on an energy bite included the box.  It is now a part of my routine when I want to push myself on my morning run.

I highly recommend subscribing to Fit Snack.  It would also make a great gift for your military member loved ones and friends who are far from home.

what-in-a-box-imageIf you subscribe now, for certain subscriptions, you can get a free gift.


If you are eating healthy, or want to start doing so, Fit Snack is a great way to try new things and feed your fit lifestyle.

Fit Snack provided the product for me, but all opinions are my own.

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Do You Have a Battle Plan for Transition?

By Jen Pilcher Founder and leader of

From The Going Civilian Blog (From | ‎03-03-2015 07:30 AM



There is one guarantee about getting into the military, eventually you will have to get out.  Whether you are retiring, choosing to start a new career, or forced out due to sequestration, transition at some point is inevitable.

As you know, finding a job is a lot of hard work.  However, we can help relieve some of your stress.

Here are 5 steps to complete your battle plan for your transition.

• Resume Building with an Expert – Timeline: at least 6 months before transition. I firmly believe this is a time to bring in the “special ops team”… you need to seek professional resume services. Visit your local family support center on board your nearest installation for resume workshop classes and help from one of their employment readiness experts. Search for a company or organization that specializes in preparing resumes for the transitioning military and veteran population. Active duty members are required to attend TAP – Transition Assistance Program – and they will help you with resume preparation, however it is a general overview. Many military friendly organizations that help with resume prep are free; it’s a benefit included as being a member of their organization (MOAA). Always ask the organization if you will have to pay out of pocket. Whatever you decide, just make sure you have someone who can evaluate, proof read and edit.

• Maximize LinkedIn® – Timeline: at least 6 months from transition. Your professional profile is now just as important, if not more important, than your resume. You must have a clear image – it does not need to be a professional head shot, but please no, sunglasses, hat, or shirt off and don’t stand 500 feet away – this is a professional site. Recruiters are now going directly to your LinkedIn profile as soon as they receive your name and/or resume. Make sure this is filled out completely before you submit your resume or give a contact your business card.  Start building your LinkedIn profile now, well in advance of transition. Active duty members and Veterans can also receive a free LinkedIn upgrade services for a year.


• Professional Business cards – Timeline: at least 3 months from transition. I’m sure you are saying, “what business card – I am not even employed yet?”  Well, this is the way the networking world works, so you need a business card with your contact information. Go on-line to a site that prints professional business cards. has many designs; you can even select a patriotic type card and have your name, contact phone number, your LinkedIn profile link and a personalized email address FirstName.LastName@gmail.com

• Clothes Shopping –Timeline: 3-6 months out. As they say, you only get one first impression. It’s time to get rid of the suit that was created before 2012, trust me the gold buttons and wide lapels are a dead giveaway. You need to take the time to get fitted and invest in a new suit. Many of the men’s stores like Jos. A Bank offer military discounts and for women, you can find a great sale at Macy’s and other department stores to purchase a new suit.


 Hiring Fairs – Timeline: 3-6 months out. USAA and MilitaryOneClick® have teamed up with the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes Program® and they provide career fairs across the country.  Both USAA and MilitaryOneClick also serve on the Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Councils working with the best companies developing strategies to hire you!  Find and event near you and attend!

Your battle plan for transition is now ready – create your resume, fill out your LinkedIn profile, purchase business cards, buy a new suit, search for hiring fairs near you, and get ready to find your new career. We hope to see you out there networking!
Have something to add to this story? Share your insights below!

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