A Note To Our Civilian Friends


“I don’t know how you do it.” Ask any military spouse, and they have heard a well-meaning civilian friend or family member say these words, usually during a deployment or on either end of a PCS move. And most mil spouses shrug off this compliment (is it a compliment?) just as their active duty spouse does.

The military life is not for the faint of heart but for the past few decades; it has been entirely a voluntary fighting force. “You knew what you were getting into,” is also a common phrase heard by the military community.  For the active duty warrior, yes but for their families, not so much. Oh sure, in theory, there are expectations of numerous moves, changing schools, mifamily-apprecmaking new friends, frequent goodbyes, and the dreaded deployment. But the reality of living through these staples of military life and still keeping some semblance of “normal” is at times challenging.

November is set aside by Presidential Proclamation as Military Family Appreciation Month. It is a time to recognize and honor those who didn’t “choose” this life but rather are living it because they love someone who did opt to step up and defend this nation. And there are plenty of ways civilian friends and neighbors can truly honor and thank military families for the sacrifices made in support of those who keep our nation safe.


The best way to truly be supportive and find out what a mil spouse or their family needs is to ask and then LISTEN. Many a spouse is told, “Let me know if you need anything.” But the truth of the matter is, a military spouse is pretty independent and is not prone to seeking out help. When he or she is going on and on at the bus stop about how tough it is getting the kids to all their activities with their spouse away, an offer to provide a ride or pick a child up from practice would be greatly appreciated.

birthdayBe Proactive

When you figure out what the need is, take action. When my husband deployed, a girlfriend decorated my front yard for my birthday. My kids were young at the time, so she knew that with my Marine gone, my birthday would be on the back burner. I was touched, and the kids loved the decorations!

Share their Interests

Most military spouses volunteer a lot of their time. It is a great way to immerse themselves into a new community. Military kids get involved in many of the same activities as their civilians counterparts. But ask any mil spouse what it is like having a daughter join a new Girl Scout Troop and feeling pressured to sell a ton of Thin Mints to the new neighbor you just met last week. Admittedly, the “pressure” is often self-inflicted but try explaining to an 11-year old why she can’t out sell Susie Q who grew up in the area and has more relatives in a four block radius than you have in the entire eastern seaboard. So purchase that box of Do Si Dos that you know you want or volunteer to stuff care packages alongside your military friends at the local USO. Shared interests are a great way to bond.

Don’t Keep Your Distance

elizabethselsorstrongSome civilians consciously keep their distance from military families because, chances are, the mil family will be moving on in two to three years. There is a tendency not to get too emotionally involved. But if military families led their lives this way, they would never feel connected. It’s important to a military family that their kids feel at home at a new duty station as soon as possible. Military families see a new neighborhood or a new school as an exciting opportunity to meet new people and learn new things from their adopted community. And many times, the military family moving away, actually moves back to the area, so there is a chance to reconnect with old friends.

Actually Celebrate the “Military” in Military Holidays

Invite a military family to celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Veteran’s Day with you. If you volunteer with your Parent/Teacher Organization at school, organize a slide show to honor military and veteran members of your community on Veteran’s Day. My kids loved seeing a photo of their Dad shown on the big screen during the annual Salute to Veterans at their school.

Avoid Been There Done That

Don’t tell a mil spouse, “This is how we’ve always done it.” There is nothing more deflating than volunteering at your new church or school and finding that they are not open to any new ideas. One of the benefits of the nomadic military lifestyle is that military families get to experience all types of cultures and situations. They can be a terrific resource for new ideas

Be Like Family

Military families tend to be stationed far from family and friends so traveling home to celebrate major holidays, or special occasions may not always be possible. While the tradition with your civilian family may be to invite extended family from across town, go the extra mile and invite a military family to share your holiday. Or better yet, make every effort to accept if an invitation is extended by a military family even if the event seems like it would be reserved just for family. My civilian friends have supported our family on numerous occasions attending birthdays and church events when extended family couldn’t be there.

Military families feel honored that their active duty or veteran family member serves their country and they take pride in whatever sacrifices they may have made as a family along the way. Being embraced by a civilian community that takes action to show their appreciation is what Military Family Appreciation Month is all about.

COlivo (2)Author: Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Strategic Communications Coordinator, previously served as the Director of Communications for Operation Hug-A-Hero and as the Community Relations Officer for the Delaware Department of Transportation. This Marine spouse feels blessed to have civilian family and friends who were always there to support the Olivo family through five PCSes. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel, and their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.



Chief Tecumseh (Poem from Act of Valor)

I had not read this since I first posted back in 2012 to my Williamsburg Military Insider blog. Wow! Chief Tecumseh poem inspires me to Make this life count, and live to the fullest having used all my talents and have no regrets. Rereading the poem inspires me to ask what can I give, and not worry about what I don’t have. This life is short and too short not to live every day to your fullest potential.

Williamsburg Military Insider

By: Williamsburg Military Insider

The movie Act of Valor at the end, has this amazing poem by Native American Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. I wanted to share it with you all. As a Current Military Spouse it has a special place. It’s truly amazing and I hope that it inspires you to make this life count, to pursue noble undertakings, and live to the fullest  having used all your talents and have no regrets.

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or…

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The Ability to Repay Rule…One of Seven New Mortgage Rules that take effect in January 2014

ImageFor many Americans, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases they will ever make. People want to make their own purchase, but they want a little help: someone to stand by their side and make sure they are not getting tricked into a bad deal. They want a deal that’s clear and understandable, and they want to know that if you do your homework and follow plain logic, you can make a responsible decision that you can live with over time. And if you do run into trouble down the road, you will be able to talk with someone who is responsive in helping you work through your options. 

That’s why CFPB has taken action to make the mortgage market work better. CFPB is  making it a priority to give you the information you need about shopping for a mortgage, maintaining your current mortgage, and getting help if you need it. It’s why CFPB wrote the Ability to Repay rule. It’s a straightforward rule that does not change anything about your current mortgage, but for new mortgages received after January 10, 2014, it puts behind us the irresponsible lending that disrupted the housing market and so badly damaged our economy. But while it provides strong new consumer protections, it preserves needed access to mortgage credit. 

The Ability to Repay rule is one of seven new mortgage rules that take effect in January 10, 2014

Host a killer Halloween party with these simple Halloween decorating ideas

Pumpkin by Williamsburg Military Insider

A previous post that was popular. Enjoy!

Host a killer Halloween party with these simple Halloween decorating ideas  from Palm Beach-based interior design firm, Leslie Schlesinger Interiors.

Get your guests spooked out before they ever even enter your home. Start by decorating the trees in front of your home with ravens perched on bare tree branches. Don’t mess with the leaves that have fallen in your yard, they will add to the ambiance. Place pumpkins and gourds of varying sizes and colors beneath the trees and in your front porch or entrance. Spray paint life-sized silhouettes of people onto light-colored curtains (outline/trace the person onto the curtain first with a permanent marker) and hang the curtains on some of the windows that face the sides of your home that guests will see as they approach your home. As night falls, light a few candles in those rooms and it’ll look like you have ghosts peering out your windows, anticipating your guests’ arrival.

If you happen to have, or can find, an old dressmaker’s dummy or mannequin, drape it with tattered cheesecloth or sheets and place it in the entry way to give your guests a frightening greeting as they enter your home. Turn your living room into a haunted one by covering all of your upholstered furniture with plain white sheets à la an abandoned house.

Dim the lights in your home and instead use lots of candlelight, which will create sinister, dark shadows in your home’s corners. Create spine-chilling spider webs by tearing ragged cheesecloth or old white stockings. Hang vintage, yellowed thrift-store curtains on your windows. Pin inexpensive lace to a wall as a backdrop or use lace as an antiquated table cover. Cut true-to-size mice or rats from black construction and tape them to steps, baseboards or other spots where they will startle your guests.

Decorate your entry tables, side tables, bookshelves and fireplace mantle with some of the following items certain to unnerve your party goers:

  • Photocopy 19th-century portraits of somber-faced individuals from history books, mount them on gray mats and set them in antique-looking frames.
  • Use a flea-market candelabra or spray paint wedding cake columns black or grey and use them as tall candle holders for spooky tapered candles.
  • Spray paint plastic party store skulls black for a super-eerie look or cover with a green, purple, orange or red glitter spray paint (whichever color matches your décor best) for a more playful theme.
  • Fill old jars (save your used jelly, fruit or pickle jars; or use mason jars, apothecary jars or “potion” bottles) with food-colored water and twigs, fake bugs, worms, eyeballs, shrunken heads, or whatever fits your theme best.
  • Decorate with twigs, leave them as-is or spray paint them black for a more ominous look, placing them in vases or leaning them against the walls.
  • Turn an old birdcage into a spooky centerpiece by surrounding it with fake ravens and filling it with candles.

Create a vampire-inspired tablescape with a black velvet tablecloth, jars filled with red marbles, red and black dishes, blood red cloth napkins, drip candles on tall, antique black candleholders and mirrors placed underneath the candleholders and jars to reflect the eerie candlelight.

For more design ideas or information about Leslie Schlesinger Interiors, please visit www.leslieschlesingerinteriors.com.

Government Shutdown….How Would the Public Really Feel the Effects?

imagesEverybody is talking about a midnight deadline for a Government Shutdown. Because that is the official time that all discretionary spending (which is the portion that Congress controls) halts as the federal government rolls over from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014 on Oct. 1.

Despite the frenzy in Washington, the government might not turn into a pumpkin right away.

Vacationers would be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums.  Low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.

A list below from the Associated Press:


Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays during the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, wouldn’t underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended.


The military’s 1.4 million active duty personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees would be furloughed.


Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.


The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.


Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.


Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.


Deliveries would continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.


All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers that would be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco and the Washington Monument.


New patients would not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted and some studies would be delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.


The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls suspend most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections would be expected to proceed as usual.


A small number of Head Start programs, about 20 out of 1,600 nationally, would feel the impact right away. The federal Administration for Children and Families says grants expiring about Oct. 1 would not be renewed. Over time more programs would be affected. Several of the Head Start programs that would immediately feel the pinch are in Florida. It’s unclear if they would continue serving children.


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.

School lunches and breakfasts would continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.


Americans would still have to pay their taxes and file federal tax returns, but the Internal Revenue Service says it would suspend all audits. Got questions? Sorry, the IRS says taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, would be shut as well.


NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms. The scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey would be halted.


The majority of the Department of Homeland Security’s employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country’s borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees would continue to process green card applications.


All 116 federal prisons would remain open, and criminal litigation would proceed.


Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA’s health programs. Veterans would still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits. But those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.


Federal occupational safety and health inspectors would stop workplace inspections except in cases of imminent danger.

Why Travel to a National Park this Summer? The Annual Pass for US Military a Great Opportunity!

DSC_0610Our National Park System is a true treasure. First it creates a fantastic backdrop for the type of iPhone-less family vacations, the real reasons to hop in the car and visit are easier to see in photo form. National Parks our most protected lands—and the dramatic drives that give access to them—are  all too often conga lines of taillights and tourists, an experience you would not want to miss.

DSC_0536 Last week we visited Mesa Verde National Park, which on  June 29, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established this park to “preserve the works of man”. Remains the 1st and only U.S National Park of its kind. At first I thought with a 19 and 11 yr. old they would be board.   There first thought was WOW…you can actually walk through the ancient ruins. Awesome adventure, I was surprised to see the questions they had about how past generations lived over a thousand years ago.  They enjoyed crawling through Balcony Palace up a 35 foot latter, that was on the side of the cliff.  I was one with the wall, but the girls shot right up, and never looked back.


The best part of a National Park Adventure is the Military Pass:

  • Free
  • Available to US military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as most members of the US Reserves and National Guard. Proper military ID is required (CAC Card or DoD Form 1173).
  • Obtained in person at Federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees.
  • Covers entrance to Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites that charge Entrance Fees, and Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites.
  • Admits the pass owners and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and up to additional 3 adults at sites that charge per person.
  • Non-transferable

Make sure and get a National Park Passport Book if you have not already.  My girls have enjoyed traveling the United States and Collecting Passport Stamps in their books.  Enjoy the rest of summer with all the National Parks in the US.

Baggie Bonanza… and the PCS Military Move

neighborsBy: Williamsburg Military Insider

With many Military Families PCS season is coming up. I have moved 14 times in the past twenty years, and can relate with everything in the article at Call Dibs  “How to MOVE IT without LOSING IT!: Helpful Tips for your PCS Move” I got the biggest chuckle out of the Baggie Bonanza paragraph. In my twenty years I thought I was the only one who did this, as I am the same and do not want movers all up in my space. 🙂 I recommend reading her tips on your next PCS move; they are some of the same I have done for the past twenty years. Take to heart the refrigerator stocked full with drinks, I can tell you from experience moving in this past July, and it was 110 F, my movers were the best! They were just so thankful for the endless supply of Gatorade. They even assembled everything without being asked. We all know sometimes that can be a challenge. Happy PCS season…wishing everyone very smooth moves!

If A Meteor Hit Your Home In Williamsburg, VA … Who Pays For The Damage?

MeteorBy: Williamsburg Military Insider

Today after watching the news about the meteor that hit In Russia; I was curious if my home would be covered by a similar event. If your house is hit by a space object — such as the remnants of the meteor that stunned people in the Urals region of western Siberia — it won’t be a major hit to your bank account. CNN Money has a good Article, about falling objects hitting your house.

Your chance to read an awesome story!

Positive Outlooks

[This beautiful story has been circulating on Facebook. Unfortunately we cannot trace who wrote such a touching and insightful piece. Nevertheless, we are sharing it to those of who have not read it yet.]

Grandmother Says…
Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

carrots-eggs-or-coffeeA young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished…

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Administration Enhances Foreclosure-help Program…Does this include VA Loans?

by: Williamsburg Military Insider

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the federal regulator with oversight responsibility for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced changes Monday to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to attract more underwater borrowers who could benefit from refinancing their home mortgages. This is a step in the right direction, to help some Military Families but the majority of Military Families have VA loans which this will not help.

News reports, such as one from ABC News blog, reported that President Obama announced the proposal from a Las Vegas home’s front porch. Nevada has one the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

HARP was launched in 2009 to let troubled homeowners bypass a requirement that they have at least 20% equity in their home to be able to refinance their mortgages at lower rates. However, the program has been, some say, severely under utilized because many cannot qualify for help.

The program enhancements announced yesterday were developed at FHFA’s direction with input from lenders, mortgage insurers and other industry participants. Program changes include:

  • Eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers;
  • Removing the 125% loan-to-value ceiling for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie;
  • Waiving certain representations and warranties made by lenders on loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • Eliminating the need for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable automated valuation model estimate provided; and
  • Extending the end date for HARP until Dec. 31, 2013 for loans originally sold to Fannie and Freddie on or before May 31, 2009.

The FHFA, in a release, said one important element of the changes to HARP is the elimination of certain risk-based fees, which should encourage borrowers to utilize HARP to refinance into shorter-term mortgages.

“Borrowers who owe more on their house than the house is worth will be able to reduce the balance owed much faster if they take advantage of today’s low interest rates by shortening the term of their mortgage,” explained the agency.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to issue guidance with operational details about the HARP changes to mortgage lenders and servicers by Nov. 15.

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763 or e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com