New York Times Reports On Female Vets Struggling Back Home

by Linda Franklin

New York Times Reports On Female Vets Struggling Back Home Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwide
This morning I read this article in The New York Times  by Patricia Leigh Brown and it confirmed everything female veterans already know and are dealing with on a daily basis.

Even as the Pentagon lifts the ban on women in combat roles, returning servicewomen are facing a battlefield of a different kind: they are now the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, an often-invisible group bouncing between sofa and air mattress, overnighting in public storage lockers, living in cars and learning to park inconspicuously on the outskirts of shopping centers to avoid the violence of the streets.

While male returnees become homeless largely because of substance abuse and mental illness, experts say that female veterans face those problems and more, including the search for family housing and an even harder time finding well-paying jobs. But a common pathway to homelessness for women, researchers and psychologists said, is military sexual trauma, or M.S.T., from assaults or harassment during their service, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Female veterans are far more likely to be single parents than men. Yet more than 60 percent of transitional housing programs receiving grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs did not accept children, or restricted their age and number, according to a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office.

These statistics are much more than mere numbers to me. Since I started Shining Service Worldwide, which is all about successful integration for female veterans, l have been all to aware of the challenges these women and their children have to endure.

Just yesterday, one of our makeover veterans and her two kids faced living on the streeets.  But, with the assistance of our partner United Veterans Beacon House and Congressman Israel’s office she is getting the help that she needs.  Now the real help can begin -getting her back on track – with healthcare shelter and a job.

Our Shining Service Makeovers are so much more than a day of beauty.  These women become part of our family and we do whatever we can to help them with their many challenges.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family. Our goal is their successful re-integration back into civilian life.  We accomplish that goal through our homes for veteran moms and their kids, our Shining Service Makeovers and our Shining Service Bracelets. Help us help our women in service!


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.

Woman In Combat

Woman In Combat Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwideWomen make up 15 percent of America’s armed forces in numbers over 350,000.  Until now, military policy had prohibited them them from serving in combat zones.  That’s changed.  Is this change a good thing?  Here’s a look from both sides – you decide.


Where and how women serve in the military should be based on ability and training, not gender. Policies that prohibit the military from using the skills of all service members should be changed.

But policy had limits where women serve in the Army and Marines. Specifically closed are infantry, armor, and most artillery units, and women cannot be assigned to units whose primary mission is to engage the enemy. These polices were based on what is believed to be the will of the American public, not women’s proven abilities.

Women have always fought and died in America’s wars. (As of June, 41 women have died in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.) They’ve led men in battle, been prisoners of war, fired lethal weapons, and operated our most sophisticated systems. They fly combat aircraft and serve on combat ships. Women meet the military’s physical and mental standards, are technically proficient, and are highly trained war fighters and leaders. From my 28 years in the Air Force, I know that servicemen consider women part of the team.

In today’s all-volunteer force, women have accepted the challenges, responsibilities, and dangers of military service, just as the men have. With today’s battlefield and the war on terror, there are no front lines, and every unit regardless of size or mission has the potential to engage with the enemy.

Why handicap our military with outdated and unrealistic policies restricting the use of capable people? It is time such policies were abolished.

Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught
U.S. Air Force (Retired)


The nation’s pride in our military women does not justify assignments in direct ground combat, which involves more than the experience of being in danger, or even the risk of ambush.

Forget about Lara Croft, and think about real-life infantry, Marines, and Special Operations Forces that engage the enemy in places like Fallujah in Iraq. These men carry electronic equipment, weapons, ammunition, heavy body armor, and water weighing 50 to 100 pounds. Such burdens would weigh more heavily on smaller female soldiers who have, on average, 45 to 50 percent less upper-body strength and 25 to 30 percent less aerobic capacity, which is essential for endurance.

In the Army’s own surveys, 90 percent of enlisted women have said they oppose involuntary combat assignments on the same basis as men. They know that training for female soldiers is modified to compensate for physical differences, but there can be no modifications on the battlefield.

In direct combat, women would not have an equal opportunity to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive.

Even if physical capabilities were objectively measured and equal, coed combat assignments would affect discipline and unit cohesion. Women lose more duty time due to medical issues, including pregnancy, and their absence would be particularly disruptive in combat units where concentration and mutual trust are essential for survival.

At times, we have no choice about sending young men to war, but we do have a choice when it comes to sending young women. Changing that would be a mistake.

Elaine Donnelly

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 Moms Rock!

by Linda Franklin

They are right!  One picture is worth a thousand words.  This is why Shining Service is devoted to helping women in the military.

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 Families and Financial Resiliency

 Janine Boldrin, Military Spouse

Military Families and Financial Resiliency  Shining Service WorldwideOver thirteen years as a military spouse, I’ve messed up a lot. Most of the time my mistakes were because I just didn’t know any better. For instance, I bought a huge couch that was hard to fit in every house from the day we bought it. We moved that couch to five different states and (finally!) just got a new set that is much leaner and more easily fit into the many places we call home. That first couch may not seem like a big deal to most people but a poor decision made me anxious to buy something new because I was tired of reconfiguring every living room we lived in around that one piece of furniture. The choice to buy a big sofa cost my family money.

Then there was six years ago, when my husband went back to school. We moved to a college town where the mass transportation system was awesome. He could ride the bus to school every day and I could walk to the grocery store and local playground. It was ideal situation for us to own only one vehicle for two years and cut down on car payments and insurance costs.

Too bad I only found this out several months into living at our new home. And it was really too bad that we already purchased a huge SUV and a new station wagon within weeks of arriving.  This decision was one of the biggest financial errors our family has made and it cost us for several years afterward.

All of these lessons were ones that I wish I had learned early on in my life as a military spouse so I could have saved our family some financial heartache. There are certain subjects we share as military spouse friends but financial suggestions seem to be one that we often skip or, even worse, may inadvertently lend some bad advice.

If we bought a house, we often recommend to a friend that buying is a good option for them. However, each military family has a unique situation that requires a huge amount of evaluation. If we buy a new car, a friend may start thinking about buying a new one too because you got yours at a military sales event that only goes on until Friday. Your neighbors have puppies and she says there are two more in the litter and they are moving in two days, can you take one? Maybe you decide to get a dog.

As military families, we need to think differently plus be making better decisions than we have in the past. Why do I feel this is an urgent need? There are too many of us drowning in debt. Too many of us with houses we can’t sell. Too many of us in foreclosure or operating as accidental landlords. There are too many shelters filled with pets that are abandoned around military installations.
We are facing a huge amount of uncertainty with the drawdown in Afghanistan, the looming budget issues, the present day budget cuts, and the possible change in troop composition and distribution. Our families need to become more financially resilient in anticipation of change. Whether you are a new spouse or a seasoned one, examine how you make purchasing decisions that impact your financial well-being. If you’re not considering your mobile, military lifestyle when making a purchase, start now. Change is coming. Will your financial house hold up to a storm?

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.

Making Over The Military – One Woman At A Time

by Barbara Hannah Grufferman

I have witnessed firsthand the sheer and unfiltered joy that a woman who has been to hell and back can express when she feels pretty. I’ve seen the glow that comes with the understanding that her service to America is acknowledged and appreciated. To celebrate Veteran’s Day, several women veterans were pampered with new hairstyles and makeup applied to accentuate their gorgeous eyes and brilliant smiles at the special Veteran’s Day Military Makeover event hosted by Shining Service Worldwide.

Shining Service was founded by post-50 former Wall Street executive Linda Franklin. Linda is better known right now as the woman who started “The Real Cougar Woman” blog and website a few years ago as a way to give women the tools to feel empowered, not realizing her blogs were a hit with women in the military, too. Turns out, quite a few military women in active duty were reading her blog every day, leaving comments on the site, thanking Linda for keeping their spirits up. They even called themselves “Combat Cougars.” Seeing an opportunity to help women in the military — including those in active duty, veterans, military wives and mothers — Linda started Shining Services specifically to support the reintegration of military women back to civilian life with a multitude of programs and events, including the extremely popular Makeover Missions, all of which take place in high end salons which donate the time and services of their staff to make these brave women feel special and beautiful.

There are myriad challenges women, specifically, can face when they make the transition from ‘woman in uniform’ to ‘veteran’… including unemployment and a high incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Defense Department found that 1 in 3 women in the military have been victims of sexual assault or rape. Marcia Yerman wrote in a Huffington Post blog:

For women in the military who have been raped, the rate of PTSD is higher than for men who have been in active combat. According to Helen Benedict, author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, 40 percent of homeless female veterans were raped while serving and as a result, “can’t hold their lives together.”

It’s a daunting task, but Linda Franklin is determined to give these women the tools and encouragement they need to feel good about themselves, the first step toward reintegrating into civilian life, which includes looking for jobs and housing, and learning to cope with thepsychological setbacks that can frequently occur. The unique “The Power of Ten Life Skills Program” is three-month mentoring program offered by Shining Services designed to help women veterans with jobs, health and financial management, and a house in Brooklyn is being renovated to serve as a transitional home for women veterans (and their children) until they can find jobs and start their new lives outside the military.

Helping a woman re-connect with her feminine power is just as important, however, especially as a tool to build self-esteem and confidence. And giving these women, who are so incredibly deserving of our thanks and appreciation, a day of beauty and pampering is powerful, indeed.

Here I am with a woman vet who served in Afghanistan at the Veteran’s Day Makeover event at theW Hotel at Times Square in New York City.2012-11-09-PhotoatShiningServices.jpg

Mary was absolutely glowing (as were all the other women) after Michael Duenas, founder of Hair Room Service styled her hair and Ashleigh B. Ciucci (both of whom usually work with visiting dignitaries and stars who are staying in NYC hotels, but graciously donated their time and skills for this lovely event) gave her a whole new look with the magic of makeup. Participants had photos taken by professional photographer Rose Callahan (who also donated her time and expertise for this worthy cause) as a reminder of how truly beautiful they are.

Each woman I met at the event, many of whom were mothers and grandmothers, told me they had served in the military for over 20 years — including stints in some of the most dangerous places in the world — and now it was time for them to forge new lives.

This was a beautiful start.

I salute you, women in the military, veterans, wives, mothers, girlfriends and daughters. We all salute and thank you. Happy Veteran’s Day!

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

Leon Panetta Sued By Military Rape Victims

Leon Panetta Sued By Military Rape Victims Linda Franklin Shining Service WorldwideTwenty men and women are suing Leon Panetta claiming the Department of Defense failed to punish dozen of sexual assaults. A lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco alleging current and former members of the U.S. military were sexually assaulted while serving. 
They further allege that they suffered retaliation when they reported the alleged crimes.

The lawsuit accuses the leadership of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force of failing to prosecute and properly investigate claims of sexual assault. 

Susan Burke, the lead lawyer representing the plaintiffs, has filed four other lawsuits alleging assaults in military branches.

A federal judge in Virginia in December tossed out a similar suit. Although the judge called the allegations troubling, he said the military disciplinary system should handle the cases.  In my opinion, that’s the problem.  Get these cased tried in courts outside the military jurisdiction. 

Cynthia Smith, a Department of Defense spokeswoman, declined to discuss the latest lawsuit.

In March, after several service members filed a suit against the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy, funding was increased for investigators and judge advocates to receive training in sexual assault cases. 

In addition, a two-star general was appointed to direct a sexual assault response and prevention office.

More and more victims of these assaults are lifting the curtain of secrecy and shame and coming forward.  This is how change happens. They are so brave and I honor their courage.

All of us have got to unite and stand behind our military sisters.  This is an issue for all women whether or not they are in uniform.  

You Gotta Have Heart – women supporting women.

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