27 February 2013

Sequestration's Effects on the Military

I don't know about you all, but the concept of "sequestration" seems to have popped up overnight.  I know it wasn't a secret, but simply that the media was more focused on leading us through an election, the Holidays, and an Inauguration to bring the things that REALLY matter to our attention.  (Off soap box)

So what is sequestration?

According to USA.gov:

"Sequestration, sometimes called the sequester, is a process that automatically cuts the federal budget across most departments and agencies.
Congress included the threat of sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011 as a way to encourage compromise on deficit reduction efforts.
Congress couldn’t agree on a budget by the deadline set in the Budget Control Act, so mandatory budget cuts were scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013.
Congress stopped the cuts from happening by passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act on January 2. This law pushed the budget cuts back until March 1, 2013.
If Congress cannot agree on a budget to reduce the deficit by March 1, then sequestration would happen and $85 billion in spending cuts would go into effect." See more here.

Who will it affect?

While sequestration will affect much more than the DoD budget (our education system, our public service system: Police, Fire, Emergency Services, and any other Federally covered programs that rely on a promised budget), as members of the Armed Forces, we will most likely be the hardest hit, despite the assumption that sequestration is supposed to be proportionate across the board.

Much speculation has been given to how the DoD will be affected on March 1 and afterward until Congress (both parties) decide to do their jobs and take care of the budget issues.

According to National Military Family Association, the DoD is facing budget cuts of almost $55 billion dollars.  While some areas are surely to be affected (wartime funding), many more DoD related areas are not as clear.

  • We know Commissary hours will be cut back by a full day of service.  Commissaries will be closed, in addition to current closures, on Wednesdays as well. 
  •  DoD Civilians will have to face up to 22 days of furlough- days off with no pay.
  •  Installation services for Military Families could be affected, to include shortened CDC hours.
  •  According to General Breedlove, USAFE and AFA Commander, training, maintenance, and military travel will probably be affected as well.
  •  The Army is already taking steps to assure that its troops in hot spots will see as little change as possible, though stating that family services will see the brunt of the effects.
  •   Currently, only civilian PCS's are considered in danger of being held, but so far have not been frozen.
  • Military pay will not be affected- base pay, housing, and subsistence will be unaffected

  • How soon will we see the effects?

    Different articles say different things.  One thing is for sure, if Congress doesn't get its act together, sequestration goes into effect on Friday, March 1, 2013.  How soon we will see the effects of it is hard to tell.  Most articles seem to think that a ball has to start rolling, so changes won't be noticed until April 2013.

    What can we do?

    Now while our the President is going around scaring the heebie-jeebies out of people about the potential loss of jobs, as he did in Newport News, Virginia several days ago, there are some things that we can do to make our voices heard. 

    The National Military Family Association encourages us all to get involved.  Please take a few minutes to email or call your Congress man or woman.  We need to make our voices heard, and we need to be heard loud and clear!

    To contact your Congressman, please visit http://www.contactingthecongress.org/; Your House Representative, please visit http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

    Keep in mind, no matter how rough life gets for us, no matter how little the government cares for the sacrifices we make as Military Members, as Military Spouses (and family members), and as Military Veterans, there is One who has not forgotten us.   Even as you contact your Politicians, please also send up some prayers the His will be done, and that He keep His Hand on us and our families.

    God Bless!








    25 February 2013

    Musical Monday

    There are days, weeks, and seasons, when we forget who we are as Christian women.  There are instants where we forget His love for us, when we forget to share His love.

    This song, by Jason Gray, is a great prayer to sing when we need help remembering who we are to Him.   I hope you all have a great week!  Be blessed, and remember: you are loved!  You are never alone!  You are cared for!  You are remembered!

    24 February 2013

    Sacred Sunday

    4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

    10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29 v 4-14

    As Military Members, as Military Wives, even as Veterans, we move around alot.  We sometimes have plenty of time to prepare, sometimes we have no time at all.  Sometimes we are excited at the prospect of a new place, and sometimes we feel like we are being exiled.  The above passage encourages us to embrace the "exile."  Make the best of the new home.  Make friends.  Make family.  LIVE an abundant life, because He promises He has a plan, and He promises He will bring you home. 

    God Bless!!!

    21 February 2013

    Judge Not?

    "I wonder what she did." my friend mused from the passenger seat as we drove up to a police car, its lights flashing, and watched as the police officer helped a cuffed woman into the back seat.  "I bet she's a meth head."

    The comment alone would not have raised my ire.  However, the tone.  The sense of smugness, and weird satisfaction that were intoned in her comment, made me take notice.

    I slowed down to look better at the woman as she peered out the police car window.  She looked tired and worn.  There was a blankness in her eyes, no happiness, no joy, no peace, no hope.  Still, nothing about her screamed anything at me to hint that she was anything more than a woman in trouble.

    "What makes you say that?" I challenged my friend.

    She merely shrugged.  "Why else would she be in cuffs and in a police car?  She MUST have done something wrong.  Besides, look at her...."

    "I AM looking at her." I broke in.  My friend noted my tone, and sank silently into her seat, while I fumed inwardly at her callousness.


    The story above is fiction.  However, it is inspired by recent observations I have made from status updates on Facebook, from conversations with friends, from articles online.  How quick we are to jump to conclusions.  How quick we are to cast judgment.  How quick we are to make villains of others, assuming the worst, and drawing others in to our negative conclusions.

    In John 8, Jesus Himself addressed our quickness to judge.  This was not a parable, a story.  He stood there with a condemned woman, and he rebuked the crowd who condemned her.

    1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
    2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
     9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    He went on to say later in the same chapter:
    14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.

    So why is it so easy for us, as Christians, to think it is okay for us to judge?  Why do we often take pleasure in it?  Why are we so drawn into court proceedings, drama, hurtfulness?  Why do we get a smug sense of satisfaction when our judgmental conclusions seem to gain merit in another person's failings?

    We are so comfortable in our judgment we often are completely unaware that we are doing it!  We make comments in passing about the sins of another.  We justify our condemnation because the person we are judging hurt someone else.  We use the Ten Commandments, the Laws of the Bible, to ridicule, cast out, and condemn anyone who does not live by the Law.  Yet, our own beliefs, as stated throughout Christ's ministry, throughout the ministry of His first disciples, and then the early Church was to disregard the Law in our dealings with others.  ((This does not mean we disregard LIVING a Godly life, merely that we are no longer BOUND by it, and therefore, should NOT hold others up to a standard which we are not held by.)) 

    We have no right, according to our Faith, to measure the actions of another beyond choosing to love them as Christ loves them, to show them compassion as Christ shows us compassion, to lift them in prayer even as we pray for those we care about.

    I am disheartened by the thoughtless and quick judgment we cast on one another.  As Christians, we are supposed to be better than that.  As Christian woman, we should strive to show love and grace.  We should offer hope.  We should look past the image we see and see the soul underneath that might need to meet our God, that might need to be led back to His touch.  

    When we cast judgment, we only build up walls that exclude that person from His love.  Do not assume that He will send another to help lead that person back to Him, you are there in that moment, YOU are the one to see to it that the wall is pierced.  You are the one to reach out your hand, speak a kind word, offer up a prayer.

    20 February 2013

    Fortress of Faith- Update

    Hello dear Sisters in Christ!

    I had been hoping and praying that I would be able to start the next portion of this series this week.  However, everytime I sit down and attempt to fill in the gaps of my working outline, I draw a blank.

    I have been praying for His guidance, and it appears He wishes me to wait a little bit.

    In the meantime, I am reworking on "Foundation of Love."  I will repost those eight weeks of study as I complete them.  I am preparing them to publish to ebook.  Once I have completed each study, adding more Bible passages, including prayers, creating more questions for thought, I will leave them up for about a month, as I will have to remove them completely from the blog in order to publish them like I want to.

    I will also continue the Sunday and Monday posts, and I hope to work on military news and how those situations relate to our faith.

    I thank you for continuing to follow this blog.  I appreciate the encouragement I have gotten from you as well as the questions, shared experiences, and notes of thanks.   I am happy to know that He is working through these random thoughts, helping me as much as I hope He is helping you!

    Stay tuned!

    God bless!!

    18 February 2013

    Musical Monday

    Today, in honor of President's Day, I am breaking away from the typical musical encouragement for a lighter look at our history of Presidents.

    The following clip is from the Animaniacs, a cartoon I grew up watching that poked fun at just about everything.  This clip is no different.  Be advised it ends with the Clinton's, but we can fill in the gaps since then I hope!

    I hope everyone that had today off enjoyed their day. 

    Let us remember, whether we agree or disagree with the POTUS, his job is not easy.  He can use our prayers just like any of us!

    God bless the U.S.A.

    11 February 2013

    Musical Monday

    The past few weeks I have become aware of so many friends and family members hurting.  Some are experiencing separation from loved ones due to deployments.  Others are having to make tough and unexpected decisions that affect careers, homes, and families.  Some are on the verge of incredible and heartbreaking changes as relationships fail.  Others still are finding themselves on the edge of the unknown as choices, circumstances beyond their control, and events are thrust upon them forcing them to ask where He is in all of the mess?

    My heart is heavy for the people I care about who are experiencing pain, hurt, and loneliness right now.  My heart longs to offer encouragement to those who, like me, are on the edge of the unknown- a myriad of paths stretch into the future, and all of them are appealing and scary in their own ways.

    I understand the feeling when prayers seem to be unheard.  I can completely relate when He seems silent through my struggles. 

    Even as a Christian woman, I can feel abandoned when I don't get an immediate answer.  I often even feel abandoned when I get an answer, but it is not the one I wanted.  How easy it is for me to forget that His will is not my own.  How easy it is to forget that He promises ETERNAL blessings, not instant gratification.

    The song I am sharing today is sung by BarlowGirl.  While the lyrics are especially appropriate to this time in so many of our lives, pay attention to the video and the man struggling against the ropes binding him.

    Let's stop struggling with Him even as we struggle with our trials and tribulations.  He has not abandoned us.  He has promised to never leave or forsake us.... Neither heighth nor depth can separate us from Him...  THAT is a promise I can lean on!!!

    God bless you!!

    04 February 2013

    PTSD Is Not A Myth

    A friend had posted the following article on his Facebook page: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/03/16823532-american-sniper-author-chris-kyle-fatally-shot-at-texas-gun-range?lite&GT1-43001    

    When I left a comment expressing sympathy for the two men killed and for the shooter, who suffers from PTSD, a young man (a friend of my friend, but one I have never met) left a rather brutal comment in response calling into question the validity of PTSD.  I argued back in defense of those who suffer from PTSD.  Then, because I did not know if the young man is associated with the military or not, I looked at his FB profile.  The only thing I could learn from it is that he lives in an area where a lot of other military live.  So, while he may not be in the military himself, he should certainly be aware of the issues military men and women face.  However, as evidenced from his comments, the man is clearly ignorant or mislead on the issues surrounding PTSD.  

    That bothers me- partly because PTSD is not confined to military ranks, and partly because this man got the idea somewhere that PTSD was merely a method to be used to excuse poor behavior.

    First, let me say this:  The account above is incredibly tragic!  My heart and prayers go out to the men's families who are left behind after this shooting.  No matter if Rauth has PTSD or not, he still needs to be held accountable for his actions.  However, if he truly does suffer from PTSD then he also needs support, empathy, and our prayers.  I can only imagine the suffering he will face when the clouds clear realizing he shot and killed his brothers-in-arms, which will surely add to the PTSD.  If he doesn't have PTSD, then of course he should be convicted of his crimes with no consideration, though he could still use our prayers!

    So what IS PTSD? 
    Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health concern that anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience can develop.  While it is seen most commonly in men and women who have served during times of war, as we see in the increasing numbers being diagnosed within our military ranks, men and women are also being diagnosed with PTSD following events like those of September 11, or following hostage situations, abuse, rape, natural disasters, or any other kind of traumatic experience.  This is not a disorder that is confined to the military, though military members are still all too often too ashamed to seek help, and many civilians that suffer from it would not be able to recognize it due to lack of information.

    How do you know if you suffer from PTSD?
    There are four key symptoms that will help you identify PTSD.  I have witnessed two of these four in friends who have PTSD- some who have not yet been diagnosed, and one who has.  Both served in Iraq on multiple deployments, and both are open about their experiences which clearly attributed to the development of this disorder.

    The symptoms are:
    1. Reliving the event(s) either in dreams or "flashbacks."
    2. Avoidance of anything that might remind you of the event(s).
    3. Feeling numb in reaction to the event(s)- closely resembles depression in loss of involvement even in things you enjoy.
    4. Always hyped up, always on the look out, always looking for danger (where none should exist).

    There are many reasons women with PTSD do not get diagnosed.  They are reluctant to admit they have a problem.  They are concerned that being diagnosed will affect thier career in the military, or will affect how others will interact with them should it be found out.  There is still a social stigma surrounding the need to get counseling despite the great lengths the military has taken to make mental health care more accessible.

    However, Ladies, if you have PTSD, fear not! 

    First, know that you are not alone.  You have Sisters in Christ  who love and support you.  You have Sisters in Arms who can relate and can share in your fears and uncertainties.  Second, as Christian women we are called to lean on Him to answer our needs, if those needs call for speaking to a counselor, do not be ashamed to see one!  You are not less of a woman, or less of a Christian for seeking professional help with PTSD (or ANY mental health concern.)  Third, mental health issues are now treated much different in the military because of people's aversion to seeking help.  In most cases, the things you seek help for will not reflect poorly on your military career.  (Wives, note this to keep in mind for your Hubbies:  Mental Health Care is not something to be feared in regards to Military Careers.)  However, ignoring the problem because of that misplaced fear can hurt much more if it goes untreated.  (Rauth is a prime example.)  Finally, there are treatments for PTSD outside Mental Health Care which include medication to help manage the symptoms.

    Ladies, I encourage you to seek out help if you beleive you have suffered a traumatic experience that has caused you to develop PTSD.  There is no shame in asking for help.


    Contact information:

    Musical Monday

    Let my words be uplifting, encouraging, full of His Love and Grace!

    A video on the power of our words by Hawk Nelson.