President’s Day Makeover Rocked NYC

by Specialist Gisselotte Ventura , N.J. National Guard

Presidents Day Fridays Shining Service WorldwideOn Monday February 18, 2013 five of my Army National Guard battle buddies and I were chosen to partake in the “President’s Day Makeover” organized by Shining Service Worldwide  It was billed as a salute to “First Ladies” and was their reward for our hard work as first responders during Hurricane Sandy.

We were chosen by one of our sergeants for a job well done. Sergeant Brito and Pamela Kulisek both informed us of what Shining Service was putting together for us. On our way to the makeover we were filled with excitement, nervousness and we did not know what to expect. From the minute we entered Riccardo Maggiore’s Salon everyone was very welcoming. For the first time we were the ones being rescued and catered to.

We had gotten a breakdown of what our day would consist of but believe me, it far surpassed our expectations. Everything was so well organized. The stylists and Fox 5, who filmed the event for the evening news broadcast,  were eager to know more about us and where we came from. Being in the military we very seldom find people who are genuinely interested in who we are, it has mostly been about what we have done.

Words cannot express our gratitude for being granted the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people.  It was as if we were queens of the city. We were complemented from the minute we arrived and even after we said our goodbyes. All the stylists kept us engaged in conversations about what they were doing to our hair, nails and make up, providing us a real level of comfort.

Then it was time for our big reveal.  We changed into our party attire ready for the final  piece to an amazing day. Linda Franklin and Trish Rubin welcomed us to Shining Service Worldwide and provided us with a beautiful Shining Service bracelet and gorgeous red pashminas.  It was a very emotional moment for us. I was even more excited because this same week marked my fourth year in the military and what better way to celebrate your service.

Then if was off to TGI Fridays for lunch.  We were greeted royally and ushered to a special section just for us.  Then it began.  Champagne toasts, followed by a delicious lunch and an open bar for our pleasure.  The manager of Fridays at 56th and Lexington Avenue and the server, were at our beck and call with fabulous service.

Our combat boots were taken off, children were left at the babysitters, and professors and employers were notified of our absence. It was as if we were part of a fairy tale – only it was real life.

Linda, we learned so much about your organization and we praise what you all do for women in the military. Again thank you not only for the makeovers, the delicious meals, or the toasts but for introducing us to your organization and what you do.  – Hooah

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family. Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

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Military Makeovers A Big Hit

by Linda Franklin

Military Makeovers - Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwideOur military makeovers are the best.  Yes, I am bragging but honestly, they are the best. Nobody does it like we do.  Just look at these beautiful women with the huge smiles after being primped, pampered and dressed in their new outfits.

Our military gals were then ready for their grand entrance at our Fleet Week Celebration.  They rocked the house.  Everyone wanted to shake their hand, thank them for their shining service and hear their stories.  One woman said for the first time in her life she feels really beautiful. That’s a first step in changing a life around – feeling good about yourself.

Military Makeovers Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwideThis is the beautiful space we held our celebration.  The food, wine, vodka tasting, cupcakes and raffle were all better than I could have every hoped.  We had almost 200 guests.  

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration to civilian life.

Karilyn Bales Blogs About The Anguish Of A Military Spouse

by Linda Franklin

Karilyn Bales wrote a blog about her daily life as a military spouse.  She detailed her pregnancy, with her husband a world away. She described the knot she got in her stomach from missing him. She wrote of her disappointment after he was passed over for a promotion.

But mostly, Karilyn Bales — the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers last week — relayed the simple anguish of life as a military spouse, tending to a home with two young children, with a husband summoned for repeated deployments.

“Bob left for Iraq this morning,” she wrote in her family blog on Aug. 9, 2009. “Quincy slept in our bed last night.”

She described surprise phone calls and solo doctor’s appointments, attempts to clean the house while Sergeant Bales was gone and the “bad dreams” she woke from after a nap on the day he left in 2009

Though much of the family’s online presence appears to have been removed in recent days, the fragments that remain capture the daily travails typical of any family with a loved one stationed abroad.

To read more check out the front page article in Sunday’s New York Times.

My heart goes out to Karilyn and all the militaryspouses who are left behind with so much on their plates to deal with.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration to civilian life.

Sexual Assault – The Secret Pandemic

by Linda Franklin

ISexual Assault - The Secret Pandemic Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwiden the latest string of shocking sex assault allegations in the military, eight female Marines stationed at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., one of the country’s most prestigious bases, filed a lawsuit claiming U.S. military officers tolerate a ‘staggering’ level of sexual assaults.

Lt Ariana Klay and Lt Elle Helmer both claim they were raped.  In addition, little or no justice followed the alleged incidents, and their fellow Marines ridiculed them for being ‘sluts’ and ‘walking mattresses.’

One of the plaintiffs in the case is Lt Ariana Klay, who graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy, joined the Marine Corps, and went on to serve in Iraq, claims that her rapists threatened to kill her and said they wanted to humiliate her.

One Marine in charge of filing complains posted a supposedly-satirical ‘Hurt Feelings Report’ to their Facebook page, with reasons for filing including ‘I am a cry baby’ and ‘I want my mommy’.

The lawsuit is the latest in an alarming number of sexual assault allegations and estimation by secretary of Defence Leon Panetta that more than 19,000 assaults annually occur within the ranks.

Lt Klay and Lt Helmer first spoke publically about their stories in The Invisible War, a documentary slated to be released this spring that looks into the alarming amount of sexual assaults and rapes within ranks.

It’s time for women in the military to be heard!!  It’s time to clean house and for justice to be served!. 

For more on this story and The Today show video click here.
Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life

Life Leadership: Stale Doesn’t Work

By Sandra Beck 

Life Leadership Don't Become Stale  Sandra Beck Shining Service WorldwideRecently I found this great brownie recipe online – the good kind from scratch where you shave the chocolate into bits and mix the ingredients from their original source, not from a boxed package. 

I was so excited and since I had a lot of wonderful chocolate left over from the holidays I made a massive batch filling up 6 pans thinking I would share them with neighbors, family and friends.  I used this huge 5 pound bag of flour that I had removed from my mom’s house after she died. I didn’t check the date.  The flour was years old but I didn’t know that because the packaging was unopened. 

The brownies came out like bricks.  So bad I had to soak the pans just to clean them.  They never rose to the occasion and the flour was stale.  I stood there in the kitchen so frustrated until I thought about the lesson here. Sure, use fresh ingredients got that.  But for us as women it goes deeper than that.  

How can we expect to rise to the occasion when we are the same old stale self?  I realized with the brownie bricks that I was stuck in some of my old ways and if I expected my life to rise to the occasion I would need to use a fresh me and not the same old stale me.  I never did make any more brownies because the fresh me doesn’t want to get fat…lol…but I do show up fresh everyday so I can rise to the occasion. 

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. 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.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

Military Wife’s Life – It Ain’t Easy!

 By Al Detres  

Military Wife's Life  Al Detres Shining Service Worldwide Talk about complicated! Whether in the military or married to a military guy, the life of a military wife has to be one of the most challenging tasks known to humanity. Between moving from one base to another to being alone for months at a time during deployment to never knowing what the next day will bring, the life of a military wife is not one for the faint of heart. This life is one for women of great faith. 

There is a story of two great women of faith in the Old Testament, Deborah a prophetess forIsraeland Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. According to Judges chapter 4, These women had it going on! Deborah was such a great leader that Barak, commander of the Israeli army, refused to go into battle against the enemy commander Sisera’s army without her. She agreed, but told Barak that a woman would get the credit for the victory if she went. 

Barak agreed and when the Israeli army routed the enemy army, Sisera ran to the tent where Jael and her family lived. Jael lured Sisera into her tent, covered him, gave him milk to drink and let him fall asleep. Once he was asleep, she drove a tent stake though his skull and killed him. This act of heroism brought about a huge victory forIsraeland both women got the credit for the military victory. 

What does this have to do with being a military wife in the 21st century? Women have always been called into countless scenarios that require courage and sound thinking. Military wives need to keep their minds focused on what is true and real this day, knowing that God is in control of their lives and the lives of their husbands and families. Worry is not an option.

Al Detres is a father of four and a Christian Minister in Oregon.  He has a son currently serving in the US Army.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

Personality Disorder – Army’s Badge Of Dishonor

by Linda Franklin

Personality Disorder Badde of Dishonor - Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwide The New York Times printed an article this morning on ‘Personality Disorder’ and what it means when the army decides you have it.  It’s an eye-opening read and it should be read in it’s entirely, but here’s a brief synopsis.

Capt. Susan Carlson was not a typical recruit when she volunteered for the Army in 2006 at the age of 50. But the Army desperately needed behavioral health professionals like her, so it signed her up.

Though she was, by her own account, “not a strong soldier,” she received excellent job reviews at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she counseled prisoners. But last year, Captain Carlson, a social worker, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard and everything fell apart.

After a soldier complained that she had made sexually suggestive remarks, she was suspended from her counseling duties and sent to an Army psychiatrist for evaluation. His findings were shattering: She had, he said in a report, a personality disorder, a diagnosis that the military has used to discharge thousands of troops. She was sent home.

She disputed the diagnosis, but it was not until months later that she found what seemed powerful ammunition buried in her medical file, portions of which she provided to The New York Times. “Her command specifically asks for a diagnosis of a personality disorder,” a document signed by the psychiatrist said.

Veterans’ advocates say Captain Carlson stumbled upon evidence of something they had long suspected but had struggled to prove: that military commanders pressure clinicians to issue unwarranted psychiatric diagnoses to get rid of troops.

“Since 2001, the military has discharged at least 31,000 service members because of personality disorder, a family of disorders broadly characterized by inflexible “maladaptive” behavior that can impair performance and relationships.

For years, veterans’ advocates have said that the Pentagon uses the diagnosis to discharge troops because it considers them troublesome or wants to avoid giving them benefits for service-connected injuries. The military considers personality disorder a pre-existing problem that emerges in youth, and as a result, troops given the diagnosis are often administratively discharged without military retirement pay. Some have even been required to repay enlistment bonuses.

By comparison, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is usually linked to military service and leads to a medical discharge accompanied by certain benefits.

Though it is impossible to know how many veterans are disputing their personality disorder discharges, Vietnam Veterans of America, an advocacy group, with help from the Yale veterans legal clinic, has sued the Defense Department seeking records they say will show that thousands of troops have been unfairly discharged for personality or adjustment disorder since 2001.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.