Cactus Salon Salutes Women In The Military

Cactus Salon Salutes Women in the Military by Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwide

by Linda Franklin 

Our Shining Service Holiday Makeover Mission is rapidly approaching.  Please join us for a festive and a heart warming holiday experience on Monday, December 5th.

Through the generosity of the Cactus Salon and their staff members, 12 deserving women veterans will enjoy a complete beauty makeover.  Haircuts, color, makeup, manicures, styling advice, gift bags – the works.

Our makeover missions are not only fun they make a big difference in the way a woman sees herself.  You have to see the smiles on the faces of our women as they first catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror.  They are glowing and it’s that connection with their femininity that gives them the confidence to strive for future successes in their lives.

Our makeover participants will be given the opportunity to take part in our Power of Ten Mentoring Program, where they get into the real life issues  they face every day. You’ve heard it and it’s true – re-integration back into civilian life is not easy.  These women face many challenges and we want to be there to help them over the tough hurdles.

Join us on Monday, December 5th at 12 Noon and meet these special ladies.  Hear their stories firsthand, thank them for their shining service and watch the magical  transformation.  This is a very special Holiday Party. 

Cactus Salon

 2350 Nesconset Highway
Stony Brook, NY 11790

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.


Angel of Opportunity – You Just Never Know

By Doris Rivas-Brekke 

Angel of Opportunity By Doris Rivas-Brekke Shining Service WorldwideFinally that special word was said to those of us who were left.. “pass” and “you can wear your civilian clothes!”  We “ladies” were being rewarded for a job well done…we could go to the dungeon and pick an outfit to wear.   We had to stay on the post and that was fine.  We just wanted to wear “real” clothes and maybe see some men…I got to my luggage as fast as I could and put on some fine California clothes; a little Hawaiian print top and some cute white cotton hip huggers! And that was just for me to go to the PX to shop!!  Off I went to see the “Wizard”… 

The trip started off very innocent. Yes I got dressed up, but it was all fun. But on the way back from the PX, I was approached by a group of men. At first I acted aloof to their calls, but then they started getting a little obnoxious because I was not giving them any attention.  I was getting nervous because they were asking me to stop to talk, but I would not stop. 

Just as I was wondering if I should pick up my pace and maybe start running, a big black car with flags on the bumper came up to my side out of nowhere.  The window in the back came down and there was a beautiful blonde older woman officer.  She asked me if I was alright.  I was so nervous I could not speak. She asked me to get in the car.  So I got in and this wonderful woman chatted with me about my basic training, dropped me off at the barracks and wished me well.  

My staff sergeant came running out and asked me what happened. I explained and he asked me if I knew who I was with, I said no, but I knew she was a general.  He gave me a really mean look and said I had been with the commandant of FortMcClelland. I was in shock, but afterwards I was ecstatic.  I had a feeling that meeting her was a sign from heaven that I truly was going to graduate from basic training. 

When I look back on my short but lively military career, I realized that I had many of these type of “gatekeeper” moments…where people cross your path  to assist you at that time of your life, angels on earth.  So my message to all of you gals is to try to be aware of everyone who crosses your path, because you never who could be that special angel of opportunity.

My name is Doris Rivas-Brekke.  I served in the U.S. Army as a mental health counselor in the medical corps. Using my military benefits I went on to achieve my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  I am currently creative director for Military Mom Talk Radio and share my story with you to inspire you and the women following in my military footsteps. 

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that honors all the women who are part of the United States Military Family.

Thanksgiving At It’s Best

Thanksgiving at It's Best Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwideA good friend sent me this inspiring story.  I  thought it was the perfect Thanksgiving Day message, so I wanted to share it with all of you. 
I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat.  It was going to be a long flight. “I am glad I have a good book to read.  Perhaps I’ll get a short nap,”, I thought.

Just before take-off,  a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation.

“Where are you headed?” I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.  Patawawa.  We’ll be there for two  for special training, and then we’re being deployed to Afghanistan.

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time. 

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. “No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch.  Probably wouldn’t be worth five bucks.  I’ll wait  till we get to base.” He friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers.  None were buying lunch.  I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill.  “Take a lunch to all of those soldiers”.  She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me.  “My son was a soldier in Iraq; it’s almost like you are doing it for him”.

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, ‘Which do you like best – beef or chicken?’ ‘Chicken,’ I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. ‘This is your thanks.’

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. ‘I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.’ He handed me twenty-five dollars.Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, ‘I want to shake your hand.’ Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain’s hand.With a booming voice he said, ‘I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.’ I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A
man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt
pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!
Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.
I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. ‘It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.’Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and  respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little…A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank
check made payable to ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and
including my life.’

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.’

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that honors all the women who are part of the United States Military Family.

Remember Me!

by Linda Franklin

Remember Me by Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwidePeople ask me all the time if I was in the military or had someone close to me that was.  The answer is no.  The next question is, so why are you taking such an interest in the women who serve?  My answer is because they need to be remembered. 

This morning Sandra Beck of Military Mom Talk Radio sent me a link to a YouTube video.  It was done by Lizzie Palmer – a 15 year old girl.  Here’s the link to watch it.

Before I watched the YouTube video this morning I was thinking about an event I attended this past Thursday evening.  It was called “In Our Own Voice”:  Women Veterans Tell Their Story.  The performance was produced by Mary Ragan of the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute.  It was riveting.  Mary had interviewed many women vets who told her their stories – the good – the bad – and the ugly. It was then put into a dramatic dialogue and performed on stage by four wonderful actresses.  They captured the heart and soul of the women and had everyone in the audience transfixed. 

The stories dealt with everything that women vets traditionally don’t want to talk about.  Everything from sexual trauma, gender discrimination, why they joined the military, to life after the military.  All the struggles were vivid and very little was glossed over. It was designed to honor the service of all women in the Armed Forces and it accomplished that splendidly.

The experience of the women who service our country needs to be honored and the public has to be aware of their sacrifices.

Today there are 30,000 moms in the military and 14.5% of all military are women.   We must remember them, honor them and most of all support them. 

Shining Service recognizes and supports all women who are connected to the United States Military Family.

Life Leadership: The Heart of the Matter by Sandra Beck, Military Mom Talk Radio

By Sandra Beck 


Life Leadership The Heart Of the Matter by Sandra Beck for Shining Service Worldwide

When I think of leading my boys through their life and helping them become great men I kind of cringe and hide for a moment, sometimes eating chips to ease the stress. Then I go to the gym and curse every chip still wondering how I as a single mother am supposed to raise two great men.  Then I think about all the leadership training I have received and how much I have done for other people.  You’d think I’d take my own advice… 

So today I thought a lot about what makes a great leader – whether we are leading ourselves, our families, our companies or our troops.  I believe it all comes down to heart. 

In my mind true leaders, regardless of rank, put the team goals at the forefront of the mission and put their own agenda aside.  True leaders work hard to possess the confidence that can be elusive, but is so necessary for the job.  Mostly I think they serve out of love for what they are doing. 

I love being a mom. I love being a friend. I love being in service to my country. The only thing common in those statements are I love.  If you love what you do it becomes effortless.  If you love what you do, you don’t need to be afraid.  I had to remind myself that the heart of the matter is the heart. Lead with your heart but listen to your head and you will achieve greatness in whatever you do – and so will those around you. 

Sandra Beck is the host of Military Mom Talk Radio and the single mother of two boys ages 5 and 8.  She is an author, internet brand strategist and speaker. She has worked with the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Army for over 20 years and is passionate about helping women lead their families successfully the specific challenges of military life.

Military’s Unspoken Code


 by Linda Franklin

Military Unspoken Code by Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwide

An ex-soldier has written about her ordeal of becoming pregnant while on deployment in Iraq – and how by choosing to keep her baby, she went against the Armed Forces’ unwritten moral code.

Bethany Saros, 27, from Apple Valley, Minnesota, described the disappointment she felt from her commanding staff when, despite using protection, she conceived while on tour.

Writing on, the mother recalled learning the unexpected news of her pregnancy in her desert camp: ‘If pregnancy tests had bells and whistles on them, mine would have alerted the entire post. I felt the blood draining out of my face as I looked down at the positive result in my hand. 

Iraq baby: The ‘unspoken rule’ is that soldiers on tour will have abortions and get back to the job at hand, writes Bethany Saros.

She describes how rumours fly about the small community and how she felt unable to make eye contact with even the medical staff, afraid of their judgements.

The problem, Ms Saros explains, is that ‘one of the stigmas attached to a female getting pregnant on a deployment is the assumption that she did it on purpose. 

‘The unspoken code is that a good soldier will have an abortion, continue the mission, and get some sympathy because she chose duty over motherhood. But for the woman who chooses motherhood over duty, well, she must have been trying to get out of deployment.’

Ms Saros joined the Army after High School and had looked forward to a year in the desert, she says. A failed, abusive marriage, alcoholism and rape were enough the drive the Midwest girl to see Iraq as a spiritual and mental break from home. 

Unspoken rules: Despite disappointment from commanding officers and her boyfriend turning his back on her, Ms Saros decided to keep the baby and left the Army to bring him up away from military life..

Her boyfriend, on leave at the time, announced that he was getting back together with his ex. And, despite the Army’s attitude towards deployment pregnancies, Ms Saros felt she could not go ahead with an abortion.

Keeping the baby came with the judgements of others.

‘No one ever said to my face that they were disappointed in me, but I could see it in the eyes of my commander, my first sergeant and my boss. They all congratulated me but I sensed I had let them down in some way.’

‘Instead of being seen as making a responsible decision, you are seen as a faker, a soldier who couldn’t take the pressure’

An unlikely olive branch was handed to the young soldier by her most feared senior, a Commander Sargeant Major. The man, infamous for his bad temper and strict punishments, instructed Ms Saros to be ‘at ease’ and sympathetically encouraged her to think about giving up military life.

It was the nudge she had needed to leave, but the backlash was far from supportive elsewhere.

‘Instead of being seen as making a responsible parenting decision, you are seen as a faker, a soldier who couldn’t take the pressure and went to extreme lengths to get out. I’m sure there are some women who have.’

Ms Saros, a writer who is now married with a second child, believed she had let everyone down.

‘But,’ she says ‘…my son was the only person I would have to explain myself to.’

Read Ms Saros’ story in full at or read her blog at MySpace.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women connected to the United States Military Family.

Justin Timberlake – A Man Of His Word

by Linda Franklin

JJustin Timberlake A Man Of His Word by Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwideustin Timberlake is a man of his word. The superstar made good on his promise after accepting a YouTube invitation to attend the Marine Corps Ball on Saturday night in Richmond, Virginia.

He fulfilled his promise and arrived on the arm of U.S. Marine Cpl. Kelsey de Santis, who asked him to be her date in a YouTube video.

Timberlake looked dapper in a black suit, white shirt and a snazzy bow tie as he made a grand entrance into the Greater Richmond Convention Center. 

The annual event is a hot ticket for U.S. Marines, but is not open to the public.

Those attending must be active duty Marines, reservists or retired, although they are allowed to be civilian guests.

According to local television station WTVR, the wife of one of the marines at the ball said Timberlake ‘posed for pictures and seemed like a normal guy’. 

Ok from now on, Justin gets a thumbs up from The Shining Serice Community.

Shining Service Worldwide supports all women who are part of the military family through Beauty Makeover Missions and The Power of Ten Mentoring Program.