Will the Military Be Cut Off From US Mail Services?

Almost a year ago, the Trump Administration declared that the United States would withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations organization that regulates international mail delivery. The withdrawal could cause severe disruption of international mail, including military mail, to and from the United States.


The 144 year old UPU regulates global mail systems and rates. The Administration’s chief complaint is on behalf of some US companies who are frustrated by the fact that packages sent to the US from other countries, particularly China, have much lower rates than what Americans pay. In many cases, Americans pay three times what China and other countries pay to ship their mail internationally. The UPU will meet at the end of this month to consider changes to the rules and rate structures. If the issue is corrected, the Administration will remain in the Union. If not, major changes will affect military, foreign service and other governmental agency personnel stationed around the world.


Collecting DPO mail at the embassy

Yes, this means that we might not be able to ship our Amazon packages to our overseas duty stations. Our family members won’t be able to mail holiday presents to us, nor us to them, but the disruption is far more serious than what some may perceive as luxuries (I assure you, they are not) as shipment of medical supplies and medications travel through these systems to our Posts, Bases, Embassies and Consulates. Our APO, DPO, and FPO mail, which we’ve come to depend on because it allows us to use the US mail system and its rates, could see significant disruption, if not altogether stoppage. The United States government would then have to negotiate a new bilateral postal service agreement with each country to allow smooth transport of mail, and this will take time.

Military family and other government family associations are working to warn Congress of the destructive implications of the withdrawal from UPU, but it’s the Executive Branch that has the legal authority to withdraw from the Union. The Department of Defense is developing contingency plans, in case the withdrawal occurs and countries do not continue to allow for the special situation of APO, DPO, and FPO mail, to minimize any potential disruptions and continue providing support to families serving abroad.

The immediate reaction by troops and families should be to place orders now to ensure that letters and packages will reach you before the possible withdrawal in mid October. Check on your mail order prescription situation now so that you have plenty of medication on hand, should mail be disrupted.

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Moving As An Adventure- Guest Post

By Julianne Price

The_Adventurers_Club_10-11 (1)

Summer is here again! Popsicles, pools, parties, and—drumroll please—PCS-ing!

For those of us who move more frequently than we buy new running shoes, summer transfer season is as normal as June sunburns. But just because it’s routine, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Packing up, researching a new home, and trying to help our children manage their expectations while we temper our own is always a struggle—whether you’re moving to a new town or a new country.

It can be particularly tricky with small kids. I have an entire micro-library of kids moving books. Berenstain Bears Moving Day, Big Dan’s Moving Van, A Kiss Goodbye… I could fill half a page. But after years of reading these to my children and students at the international schools where I teach, I found they all have a common theme. They treat moving as a challenge to be overcome.

Which it is. No doubt about it. But for families that move every year or so, the language of “overcoming adversity” can get a little tired. I wanted to find a book that treated moving as an adventure. After years of looking, I was still coming up empty handed. So, I decided to write the book I wanted to read to my children. The Adventurers Club is the result.

The book follows the adventures of a sibling duo and their pet turtle as they turn packing boxes into pirate ships, new rooms into art canvasses, and a house into a home. It was published last fall by A15 Publishing, a publishing group formed by a team of combat veterans, and I hope it can be a useful resource to families whose service moves them around the globe.

The Adventurers Club is available on Amazon, or through the A15 Publishing website. Also, for more information, coloring pages, and resources on moving with small children, check out Adventuremoves.com.

Happy summer and best of luck with your upcoming adventures!!
-Julianne Price

About Julianne:
Julianne has taught for 14 years in US and international schools. She is a mother of two
adventurous girls who have grown up in Madrid, Tokyo, Washington DC, and Vienna.

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Military Kids Are Not Brats- Month of the Military Child



2014- Our tenth moving day. (We’ve had one more since then.)

Most military children will say goodbye to more significant people by age 18 than the average person will in their entire lifetime. Most military kids don’t know how to answer the question: Where are you from? They’ll answer with any combination of the following: Do you mean where was I born? Where do I live? Where do my parents own a house? Where do my grandparents live? There’s no simple answer because military families relocate so frequently. It’s not uncommon for kids to attend two or more high schools. Military families serve our country too, and kids’ contributions and commitment are often overlooked.

Most military children will say goodbye to more significant people by age 18 than the average person will in their entire lifetime.

Our second born Homefront Kid will graduate from high school next month. He attended two high schools, two middle schools, two elementary schools and three preschools. As luck would have it, he is graduating from the international school at which he started Kindergarten because The Navy sent us back to China after we’d been away for seven years. While it can be difficult for military kids to make connections with classmates, Dwight was able to use the social skills he learned from starting fresh so many times to become a good friend and leader among his peers. He was even chosen as the graduation speaker for the class of 2019, and as Most Likely to Change the World.


Military kids have to be very adaptable.

Some military kids struggle to form lasting, meaningful relationships throughout their whole lives. They build proverbial walls around themselves to prevent the emotional pain that comes when they have to leave yet another home and group of peers. Military kids who have lived on bases and immersed in military culture most of their lives can struggle to feel anchored to civilian life. The transition to college life can be especially tough. I recommend that parents read the book, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition. I read it when Homefront Kid #1 was preparing to leave our overseas home for college and I’m rereading it now that #2 is leaving the nest. It’s helpful if the kids read it too, but since that’s unlikely to happen, parents can read it and impart the knowledge on their children.

The military’s migratory lifestyle can impede potential for building concrete relationships with people and developing emotional attachments to specific places. It’s important to also consider the stresses of having a parent deployed for long periods to undisclosed locations, and possibly to a war zone, and also the psychological aftermath of war in dealing with returning veteran parents. In some cases there is also the loss of a parent in combat, or a drastic change in a parent due to a combat related disability. Many military kids personally know another child whose parent was killed or wounded (physically or psychologically) in action. All of these factors shape our military children.

As parents, and a community, we can make every attempt to help military kids handle all of the adverse side effects of military life, but when the side effects are significant enough that they are above our paygrade, so to speak, we might have to seek counseling for the child or whole family. Military One Source is a good place to start, as many of their approved counselors are experienced in dealing with military issues. Also, psychiatric services are covered by Tricare. If someone in your family needs help, get it for them, it’s easy to find.

Despite all of the stumbling blocks that military kids encounter, they often end up as the most resilient among their peers. Adversity can lead to dynamism and adaptability. The skills military kids are forced to develop serve them well in the future, where they proceed to do great things. Military kids are not brats. They are brave, sensitive, adaptable, and above all, solid citizens. Take a minute to recognize one in your life.


Military kids serve too…

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Your Child’s Identity May Have Been Stolen

I was shocked to learn that more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft or fraud last year. According to the Federal Trade Commission, two-thirds of those victims were age 7 or younger. As soon as your child is assigned a social security number, he is at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, and most parents never even check their children’s credit history, so the crime goes unnoticed for years. Generally, parents don’t think that children’s identities might be stolen because they have no credit history. Kids don’t use credit cards, so what’s to check? It turns out, it has never been more important to be on top of this issue. Every day, more and more children’s social security numbers are sold on the dark web, and sixty percent of child victims personally know the perpetrator.

Kid fraud 1

A child’s social security number is usually used to create what has become known as a synthetic identity. The SSN thief takes the child’s unblemished number and creates a new identity with a different name, birthdate, address and phone number to start a new and phony credit file. The thief can then open credit cards and use them to establish a good credit history, which allows him to then take out loans that they never intend to pay back.


Adults of all ages are also at risk. Younger people report more instances of identity fraud, but people age 70 and older report greater losses due to this kind of crime. Those with active social media presence have a 30 percent higher risk of becoming fraud victims due to increased exposure.


From the very young, to the very elderly, we are all at risk, but we can take steps to minimize the risk by utilizing services designed to protect us. Identron has a variety of plans designed to protect and insure individuals and families against identity fraud. It’s important to take steps to protect ourselves before it’s too late and the damage has been done.

This is a post sponsored by Identron. 



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Strengths of the Military Family

“I could never do what you do.” I hear this refrain again and again. No matter where I go, if I’m not with other military spouses, conversation inevitably makes its way to some form of this phrase. I always respond with, “yes you could,” because of course you could. We do what we have to do, do we not? Sure, there would be some people who would just put up their hands and say “no way. I’m out,” but for the most part, we are in, all of us,  no matter what is thrown at us.

I never would have predicted, as a young midwesterner in the 1980s, that I would end up married to a man in the military, moving house 12 times in 23 years and going strong.  Never. Nor would I change it if I could. Sure, the military has bumped and bruised us along the way (years of deployments, among other things), but it’s also led us to a life of great opportunities to meet people, travel and learn from the world. Am I where I thought I would be when I thought about my future 25 years ago? 10 years ago? No. But what makes the military life unpredictable and hard, also makes it exciting and even inviting.

In 2009 our family of six moved from China back to Northern Virginia and we were finished moving. Really finished. I was over it and ready for military retirement. The deal was: Horatio was going to deploy in 2010, and then he’d come back to us, do a twilight DC job, and then retire. When he was away, though, he called me on FaceTime and said, “I got a call offering us a new job. How’d you like to move to Taiwan?” Initially, I said “no thank you,” (literally) but after weighing the pros and cons, we found ourselves unpacking boxes in a house on a mountain in Taiwan in 2014, and then back in Beijing in 2016.

Home is where the Navy sends us.

Horatio is doing an important job that he’s passionate about and good at, and our family enjoys the perks of, and looks past the downsides, of living all over the world as we support him. While Horatio does his job, I do mine, the kids do theirs. I have a lot of responsibilities that are a part of his job. I don’t get paid, but these duties, both at home and in the diplomatic corps, are no less important. It does not escape Horatio or me that without me doing my job, he could not do his effectively.

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Pollution in Beijing (No filter. For. Real.)

Some days are less easy than others. The air pollution is bad, the traffic is a giant mess, and it feels like there’s an obstacle in the way of almost anything we try to do. Thankfully, though, when I can’t find my own strength to get through it, I can always count on the other transplants around me to help me keep things in perspective.


Desperately Poor in China

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Obscenely wealthy in China

Life can be quite a challenge, living in a culture so different from our own, so far from home. (Did you ever hear of a Chinese squatty potty? Google it with caution.) Would I love to live closer to my family, drive on the roads with civility and shop at Target whenever I please, while not carrying toilet tissue and hand sanitizer wherever I go? Yes. Do I dwell on it? No. What would be the point? Instead, I celebrate the fact that our willingness to serve our country (yes, I said OUR willingness) has led to our kids having a sense of what it is to serve, going to state of the art International Schools, meeting high level officials (both US and foreign) and visiting countries that would have been unattainable (South Africa, Australia, Cambodia and Israel, to name a few) had we not chosen this life.  Our kids have seen obscenely wealthy people and desperately poor people in the course of a day, on more than one occasion. It’s my job to point out these contrasts and pull lessons from them. Plus, we’ve all learned to speak Chinese, which is another thing that people say they could never do. Let me tell you, though, if you lived in a country that speaks another language, you’d do your best to learn, even if it’s just the basics. We are in our eighth year in Asia. We have lived in 9 different cities, the kids have been to more than a dozen schools, combined. It’s our life. How do we do it? We find the strength or it finds us. The kids and I know that we are here for the greater good. Horatio serves our country, so we serve our country.

Horatio and the family during leave from deployment in 2011




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Strengthening Children – The Special Education Process

A guest post by Kimberly Wilkerson

Family is everything. Two months ago, at the end of a 12+ year stint in the Portland, OR area, I packed up a house, a speech pathology career and a t-shirt business and moved to Idaho with the sole purpose to be a constant, positive, and fun influence in my nieces’ and nephews’ lives. (And two months later – despite the craziness of “starting over” – it’s absolutely worth it!)

As co-owner of MyFreedom MyFamily T-Shirts (www.myfreedommyfamily.com) and a speech-language pathologist who advocates for kids and their families, I recognize and praise the importance of family as the foundational unit of our society. Our communities need strong families and families are strengthened as each member is valued, loved and supported in the specific ways they individually need to grow and thrive.

Sometimes the younger members of our families need extra support on their path of development and education. U.S. schools provide opportunities for specialized instruction to students who need extra support to succeed in academic requirements. Some of you may have students already receiving special education services and others may be wondering if your child could benefit from such services.

What is special education and how do you know if your child needs it?

Your school provides a team of professionals specialized in areas that target academic learning needs, childhood psychology, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and in some schools – autism, deaf and hard of hearing and assistive technology.  Those of us who work with your children seek to create an environment that provides meaningful and fun opportunities for your child to learn, reach goals, and experience happiness.

If you have specific concerns about your child’s development and academic progress, you have a right to request review and assessment in the particular area(s) of concern. Often, school districts have established intervention processes that can be implemented immediately to provide tiered support for your child with progress monitoring at regular intervals to determine if more support/instruction is required. If “in-class” supports are not demonstrating adequate results, a referral is made to the special education team for a comprehensive evaluation in the area of concern (e.g., academics, speech-language, occupational therapy). Results of the evaluation help guide the team in determining the best plan to support your child at school.

How can you help your child in the special education process?

Parents may wonder if their concerns are relevant. Many assume the challenges they see at home are typical and their child will grow out of them or overcome them with further schooling. For families who frequently move – as is the case with military families – their child may have been referred for in-class supports and interventions and/or special education services, but did not qualify for those services based upon numerous factors. Keep in mind – districts’ criteria for special education services vary and criteria for many services is based up a child’s age at testing. So, if you’re child struggled with saying their “l” and “r” sounds at age 6 years and did not meet criteria for therapy services last year, they very well could be eligible for therapy services this school year.

When it comes to kids, all concerns are relevant, and bringing forward those concerns should always result in increased understanding and knowledge of how to help your child. Even if specialized instruction is not warranted, strategies and tools you can implement at home to help your child can always be provided by teachers and specialists. Though not comprehensive, the following is a list of academic, language, speech, and motor-based skills that are necessary for school success. If your child demonstrates challenges in these areas, it may be advantageous to talk to your school team about his/her progress and performance in class:

  • Reading fluency

  • Reading comprehension

  • Understanding vocabulary

  • Using vocabulary in the correct context

  • Formulating grammatically correct sentences (oral and written)

  • Expressing thoughts and ideas in a written format

  • Ability to retell a story or sequence information

  • Grade-level math concepts and problems

  • Using writing tools (e.g., crayons, pens, pencils) effectively

  • Using cutting and eating tools effectively

  • Ability to manipulate objects in self-care (e.g., buttoning, tying shoelaces)

  • Following multi-step directions

  • Understanding and using age-appropriate social cues in peer and adult interactions

  • Producing speech sounds correctly in conversation

What is best practice for communicating concerns and collaborating with your school team?

Transparency and clear communication is critical in helping your child receive the supports to meet challenges they’re facing. You should expect it from your school team and they should expect it from you as a parent.

Keep organized records of all screenings, testing, evaluation reports and provided at-home strategies and resources. This is particularly important when frequently relocating to different towns and school districts. Concise, clear information results in a smoother transition for your child and a new school team can easily step in and resume the necessary support more efficiently.

If a new concern arises or if you’re voicing a concern for the first time, take a few moments to document the specific challenges you’re observing, including how those challenges are impacting home and school tasks. If background information is relevant to the observed challenges (e.g., history of multiple ear infections, family history of stuttering, extended absences from school), please document and share that information with the team.

One final thought – I love working with parents who are willing to seek answers, find solutions and help and encourage their child in education-based goals at home. Collaboration between parents and school staff is always better for kids than independent objectives and plans. Kids succeed faster and better when we’re all working together in their behalf.

So, ask questions. Seek resources. Suggest ideas.

When we work collectively to support and strengthen one – we grow power in the family. And that power blesses us as a nation.

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Army Training Expands To Esports

The Army is expanding its expertise into the arena of Esports. No, modern war fighting hasn’t gone full AI, but the Army is seeking new ways to recruit new soldiers into its ranks. In 2018, during a time in which the Army aims to increase its numbers by about 25,000 to more than 500,000 over the next four years, it missed its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005.

As the mom of four sons, I am very familiar with the role of video games in young people’s lives, so the idea that the Army is looking at video games as a way toward recruitment makes perfect sense to me.  As a way to immerse itself among its target population, the Army is setting up teams of gamers to compete in gaming tournaments across the nation. What better way to reach America’s teens coming of age than to meet them in their own digital world? This effort originated some 15 years ago when the Army created its own First Person Shooter game, aimed at enlisting real world soldiers. The Army now hopes that by mixing with today’s youth, and showing that current soldiers can play video games competitively, they will encourage young people to join their ranks.

Soldiers will try out for the Esports teams which will then become part of the Army’s Marketing and Engagement Team. The video gamer team will operate similarly to the Golden Knights Parachute Team and Army Marksmanship Unit, traveling to special events around the country, and competing in the name of the Army, gaining much needed positive publicity.


The Army’s struggle to keep recruitment numbers up is partly because in our current economic climate there are low unemployment rates, as well as a shrinking pool of 17- to 24-year-old Americans who can meet the military’s entry requirements — about two-thirds are ineligible due to things like poor physical fitness or drug use. The members of the new Esports team will have to be physically fit, in addition to being digitally savvy.  By mixing with other competitors at the tournaments, team members can meet young people in their own environment, show the new side of the Army and encourage young people to sign up to be soldiers. Old recruiting methods are still available, but in order to remain successful in increasing their numbers in today’s economic climate, the Army is modernizing its approach. Meeting young people in their arena is a logical next step. Esports is growing exponentially, so the Army is looking to piggy back on its growth.

The Army’s Esports efforts are growing quickly. Soldiers interested in joining the esports team can apply via an online form.

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Target Offers 10% Discount To Military This Week

During the week leading up to Veteran’s Day, Military Families and Veterans can get a stackable 10% discount at our beloved Target!

Target Coupon

Visit the registration website now to get your personalized code. I did it today and it is very easy.  You just have to enter a few bits of information and upload a document to prove your affiliation to the military. They accept a number of documents, including a Leave and Earnings Statement (I used this but blocked out the ssn), current orders, Veterans ID card, and more. The verification process is quick and you’ll receive an email with a unique code to use online or in store.

Happy Shopping!


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New Tricare Vision Coverage

DOS_Phase2_Understanding_Moms_Half Page_TRICARE and FEDVIP

Anyone who has vision trouble or family members who do, knows how expensive it is to pay out of pocket for exams and contact/glasses.

In 2019, a brand new vision benefit will be available to eligible to active duty family members through Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

Eligible beneficiaries can enroll in one of FEDVIP’s four vision plans. Plans vary in coverage and cost, and may include routine eye exams, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.

Coverage is not automatic! You must enroll during Open Season, Nov. 12- Dec., 2018.

Visit tricare.benefeds.com to learn more and sign up for updates.

Don’t Forget, Save the Date! Federal Benefits Open Season Nov. 12- Dec., 2018



Visit Now



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Coalition Formed to Address Military Family Food Insecurity

Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) convenes top hunger- and food security-organizations to support military families facing food insecurity
A newly formed coalition of service, advocacy, and education organizations has made combating food insecurity among military families a top priority. This coalition will work together to understand the landscape, needs, and how the nuances of military life can impact a family’s ability to meet this fundamental need. According to MFAN’s Military Family Support Programming Survey, food insecurity is something experienced by 15% of military and veteran family respondents.

“Our research shows that not all military families have enough food to feed themselves and their families,” said Shelley Kimball, Ph.D., MFAN’s director of research. “This should not be a reality for families who are devoting their lives to service, but unfortunately, it is.”

Coalition members include: Feeding America, Food Research & Action Center, National WIC Association, and United Way.

The group will work together to address three key areas: education on the issue and the resources available, reduction of shame for those in need, and increased access to services.

“As an organization, we recognize that we are not the experts on food insecurity. However, we do know our community and know how to convene the right people and organizations to advance an issue,” said MFAN’s executive director, Shannon Razsadin. “We know that with these organizations involved, we will be able to help military families put food on the table—there’s not much that’s more important than that.”

Contact MFAN’s research director, Shelley Kimball, PhD for more information on this initiative and to get involved: kimball@militaryfamilyadvisorynetwork.org


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The Military Family Advisory Network is a nonprofit dedicated to building a community of military and veteran families at home and abroad who are well-informed about the resources designed to serve them, equipped with tools for success, connected to leaders who serve the military family community and embraced by the public. To learn more about MFAN, visit www.militaryfamilyadvisorynetwork.org

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