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.


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.

Memorial Day Created By Women

by Linda Franklin

Memorial Day Created By Women Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwideMuch of women’s history is missing from our public story.  Did you know that women were almost entirely responsible for the recognition of Memorial Day?  I didn’t.

Memorial Day originated during the Civil War and until recently, the day focused on the terrible war between the states that, at tremendous human cost, ended slavery. Just weeks after the Civil War ended in April 1865, Ellen Call Long organized a women’s memorial society to reconcile embittered enemies.

Usually named some variant of “women’s relief society,” groups sprang up in both the North and South that not only memorialized the dead, but also cared for the war’s disabled and its widows and orphans. On June 22, 1865, women adopted these profound, forgiving, and future-oriented resolutions.

The document read in part: The object of this meeting is to initiate a Memorial Association…that shall perpetuate in an honorable manner the memory of the gallant dead We are done with the [Confederate] cause…and are willing to do all that women can do to stem the tide of bitterness…and angry feelings… We will practice and teach forbearance and patience, which must finally bring peace and justice.

Wouldn’t it be a different world if all people could emulate Ellen Call Long.  I think it’s up to the women to make that happen.

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.

Female Vets Worry – Will They Need Me Now?

By Al Detres  

Female Vets Worry - Will They Need Me Now? Al Detres Shining Service WorldwideOne of the scariest things about returning home after a lengthy time away is the thought that since your family survived without you, why and how will they need you when you come back?

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First of all, whether they just barely survived by eating fast food and turning yesterday’s shirts inside out to wear another day or actually thrived while you were gone.  You need to know that you were missed. No matter how they got by without you, there is nobody in the world who can love the way you love your family.

Step one is to let them know that you and your love are back for them.

Secondly, your role may have changed and you need to give yourself some time to find out where you now will fit in. This can be a freeing experience.  Before you left, the most important thing that you may have done was cook and clean. Since you weren’t there to do that, it was still done, which means that they can do those things (not as well as you, of course), but that may free up your time to spend helping with homework or playing games with them.

The best way to find out how you fit in now that you are back home may be to quietly watch how your family interacts and look for opportunities to enhance that interaction, without interfering or trying to change things.

Pray for the insight and opportunity to see and fill those areas of need that aren’t being filled. Ask how you can help; share your ideas that you have learned while abroad. Make yourself available and be open to whatever role you will now fill. The greatest commodity that you can give to your family, no matter how long you were away – is you!

Al Detres is a father of four and a Christian Minister in Oregon who 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 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

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.