Government Contracting for Your Veteran-Owned Business

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Transitioning Veteran to small business owner

By Larry Stubblefield

GWACs, IDIQs, T&M—oh my! To a new business owner, these acronyms look like alphabet soup. To government entities, they look like work. But to a veteran business owner competing for a government contract, “GWAC, IDIQ, and T&M” look like opportunity.

To start off, the terms GWAC, IDIQs, and T&M are different types of government contracts—federal, state, and/or local. Known as government contracting to some, and procurement to others, selling to the government may provide you with a channel of revenue you may not have previously considered. And, with federally mandated service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) contract spends and the increased desire for supply chain diversity, you’re well positioned to take your business’ products and services to the government marketplace.

Full of jargon and complex processes, learning how to navigate the complex landscape of government contracting can be a difficult process if you try to tackle it alone. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but why re-invent the wheel when you don’t have to? Here are a few ways to start and grow your business in the federal marketplace.

  • Sign up for a training course. The Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program (VFPETP) prepares veteran business owners with the knowledge and skills they need to tackle government contracting. The program is delivered by the National Center for Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) and provides three different courses depending on where you are in your contracting journey:
  • VIP START: designed for veteran-owned businesses that want to enter or expand their business growth into the federal marketplace
  • VIP GROW: designed for veteran-owned businesses to increase their ability to win government contracts by establishing best business practices
  • VIP INTERNATIONAL: designed for veteran-owned small businesses that want to enter and/or expand their federal and commercial contracting opportunities overseas

Fun fact: VIP GROW graduates report an increase in their revenue by an average of 54 percent within their first year of completing the program.

  • Explore SBA’s free online tools. The federal contracting section of the SBA website contains easy-to-digest information on contracting assistance and specialized areas of government contracting (women-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, minority-owned, etc.). There’s also a Government Contracting 101 learning course available through the SBA Learning Center.
  • Connect with a trusted adviser. Local SBA resources. such as the Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), District Offices, and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), can either provide you with the procurement expertise you may need—or direct you to a professional who can.
  • Network with other veteran-owned businesses who are already involved in government contracting. Many organizations will host events focused on government contracting, and just government in general. Attend and meet other veteran business owners who have contracting experience—the best advice comes from those who have lived it!

To learn more about the tools available for veteran, service member, National Guard or Reserve, and military spouse entrepreneurs, visit sba.gov/veterans.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Final Week to Apply for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award

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HIRE Vets banner

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor reminds the nation’s job creators they have one week left to submit their application for the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Award. The application period for the inaugural award closes on April 30, 2019.

Through the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, the Department will recognize employers of all sizes – ranging from small businesses and non-profit organizations to large businesses – for their leadership in recruiting, employing and retaining America’s veterans.

Applications for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award are evaluated on a range of criteria that include veteran hiring and retention rates, as well as the availability of veteran-specific resources, leadership programs, dedicated human resources, and compensation and tuition assistance programs. To apply, employers must meet and verify award requirements, complete the online application on HireVets.gov, pay the application fee, and ensure compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).

President Donald J. Trump signed the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017 (HIRE Vets Act) into law on May 5, 2017, creating the only federal-level award that recognizes the commitment of job creators to hire America’s veterans.

To learn more and apply for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, please visit HireVets.gov. Applications will be accepted until April 30, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Phillips 66 joins effort to commemorate D-Day, fly vintage warbird alongside D-Day Squadron

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75th Anniversity of D-Day flight

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, Phillips 66® Aviation and Phillips 66® Lubricants are proud to support the “Miss Montana to Normandy” mission to fly a historic C-47 warbird in Daks Over Normandy,a flyover of more than 30 international aircraft to commemorate the day the Allies invaded Western Europe in World War II. Phillips 66 Aviation is contributing fuel, and Phillips 66 Lubricants is supplying aviation engine oil and Hydraulic Oil.

Miss Montana will fly alongside the D-Day Squadron, the American fleet of C-47s participating in the flyover. The Squadron will depart from Connecticut on May 19 and travel together on what’s known as a Blue Spruce Route across the North Atlantic.

Miss Montana will depart from Northstar Jet (KMSO) in Missoula on May 13, and along the route to Connecticut, will stop at a selection of Phillips 66 branded FBOs to refuel and undergo any necessary inspections. The FBOs will include West Jet Air Center (KRAP) in Rapid City, South Dakota, Yingling Aviation (KICT) in Wichita, Kansas, Beaver Lake Aviation (KROG) in Rogers, Arkansas, and Tri-City Aviation (KTRI) in Tri-Cities, Tennessee.

“Phillips 66 contributed many significant advancements during the war, including a high-octane fuel to increase power and efficiency for long-range flight,” says Lindsey Grant, Manager, General Aviation, U.S. “We’re excited to celebrate and honor all of the heroes and veterans that served, as well as the role aviation played in the Allied victory.”

Miss Montana is currently exhibited in the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula. Originally the idea to purchase the airplane was inspired by museum co-founder Dick Komberec. Dick, his son Eric, and a group of aviation enthusiast have spearheaded efforts to fundraise, restore the aircraft, and prepare her for the international flight.

“Miss Montana never got the chance to enter foreign services as her completion date was at the end of World War II,” says Tia Komberec, member, board of directors, Miss Montana to Normandy. “Her original mission was to serve our country, and this is one of the reasons we are flying her to Normandy – to complete the mission she was built for.”

The original designation “Miss Montana” was the nose art on the B-25 flown by Capt. Malcolm W. Enman, who served during World War II. Enman was a highly-decorated soldier and received several accolades for his service, including three stars for participation in three major campaigns, the Gilbert, the Marshall and the Caroline Islands. Enman, now deceased, is the father-in-law of Dick and grandfather of Eric, who plan to make the trip to Normandy as pilots.

“Phillips 66 has a rich history of innovation and a deep connection to World War II,” says Grant. “And as we celebrate the momentous achievements made in the past, we also look forward to the many more significant contributions Phillips 66 will make in the aviation industry.”

A send-off gala will be held May 11 at the Museum of Mountain Flying hangar at Missoula International Airport.  For more details, and to learn more about Miss Montana, the D-Day Squadron and Daks over Normandy, visit missmontanatonormandy.com. To donate to the mission, please click here.

To learn more about Phillips 66 Aviation, visit phillips66aviation.com.

About the Museum of Mountain Flying

Museum of Mountain Flying’s mission is to preserve for future generations, the legends, lore and historical legacy of pilots and other individuals whose pioneering aviation exploits helped bring America’s Rocky Mountain West into the Air Age. The museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in at the Missoula International Airport in Missoula, Montana. For more information, visit MuseumofMountainFlying.org.

About Phillips 66 Aviation

Phillips 66 is one of the largest refiners in the United States and a top supplier of jet fuels and avgas to private, commercial and military aviation. Our extensive network of refineries, pipelines and supply terminals translates into secure, cost-effective supply now and in the future. Phillips 66 Aviation supports the nation’s largest branded dealer network. Currently, Phillips 66 Aviation supplies jet fuel and avgas to a network of more than 800 Fixed Base Operations. For more information, visit Phillips66Aviation.com and like us on Facebook. Phillips 66 is a trademark of Phillips 66 Company or one of its subsidiaries.

About Phillips 66 Lubricants

Phillips 66 is a diversified energy manufacturing and logistics company. With a portfolio of Midstream, Chemicals, Refining, and Marketing and Specialties businesses, the company processes, transports, stores and markets fuels and products globally. As one of the largest finished lubricants suppliers in the U.S., Phillips 66 Lubricants is known for manufacturing and marketing high-quality base oils and sophisticated formulations in three lubricant brands: Phillips 66®, Kendall® Motor Oil and Red Line® Synthetic Oil. These premier products reach across every key market sector, including automotive, trucking, agriculture, aviation, power generation, mining and construction. For more information, visit Phillips66Lubricants.com and like us on Facebook.

Would you Buy a House without a Realtor? The Top Five Ways Military Recruiters are like Realtors

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Man in a blue suit sitting at desk with computer paperwork and glass of water

Would you purchase a house without consulting a realtor? What about transitioning out of the military and starting a civilian career without the help of a military recruiter?

Brian Henry, Senior Vice President at Orion Talent, breaks down the top five ways military recruiters are like realtors, and how you can utilize this resource to achieve the best possible outcome – a rewarding career after the military.

A trusted advisor to help steer you in the right direction.

“A realtor knows his/her market, and a good one is going to get to know his/her client and understand their wants and needs, and then offer solutions that align with their stated goals,” Brian explained. “They have years of experience in the market and can advise their client to zero in on the right locations and types of housing that will meet their need.”

Similarly, a military recruiter has experience in their niche of the job market and has worked with hundreds of different companies and types of jobs. “After getting to know a candidate’s background and preferences, they are able to provide insight on the types of roles that the candidate is qualified for and confirm the expected salary ranges and availability of those opportunities in the locations the candidate desires,” Brian stated.

While anyone can browse the internet and search for homes for sale, a realtor will use his/her established network to streamline the process and find “off-market” deals or hot leads on houses that are just coming on the market.

“In a similar manner, job seekers can engage with an experienced military recruiter who will have access to ‘off market opportunities,’ and many other positions that have an urgency to hire,” Brian explained.

Their fees are not paid by you, but by the client companies.

As a home buyer, you get the services of a professional realtor, but their commission is paid by the seller. As a job seeker, you get to tap into the services of a military recruiter and all those their team without having to pay anything for that service.

In the case of military recruiters, the company that ultimately hires you will pay the fee for the services of the military recruiter. “Contrary to some myths, that fee is NOT taken out of your salary. It is a fee negotiated between the recruiting firm and the company that is typically a percentage that is based on your first year’s base salary,” Brian explained. “The higher your salary, the higher the fee to the military recruiter. Truly a win-win scenario!”

They do the heavy lifting.

A realtor will scour the MLS, coordinate with sellers and other agents, and schedule a day of house hunting, getting you access to pre-selected homes to see first hand outside of an open house setting.

With a military recruiter, you can get similar filtered access directly to the decision makers inside a company. “At an Orion Hiring Conference, you are not just attending an ‘open house’ or job fair. You are invited to a professional event with detailed information sessions, interview preparation seminars and scheduled one-on-one interview sessions with the company representatives you have been matched with, based on your background and preferences,” Brian said.

Additionally, military recruiting firms have a staff of Account Executives that are working every day to find new companies with vetted openings. “In the case with Orion, those companies are specifically interested in and want to hire candidates with a military background,” he explained.

They help with every step of the process.

A realtor will work with their client all the way through the process from finding the right home, negotiating and writing up the offer, and finally closing the deal.

A military recruiter is there to do the same thing, from resume and interview preparation, specific company briefings, giving feedback throughout the process, and providing assistance in negotiating and accepting a position. “Another benefit of using a military recruiter is that the military recruiter is likely to have inside knowledge. They may know if you are competing with three other candidates for the same position, give you key advice that helps you win the job, or help you in a situation where you have multiple offers come in at the same time,” Brian added.

They help land your new career – and are there if you need help in the future.

A realtor builds their business based on referrals. They want to put you into a home and deliver a great experience, and their hope is that you will refer your friends. Also, when the time comes for you to sell your home, they hope you will come back to them for your next move.

Similarly, military recruiters thrive on recommendations of past candidates. “The best thing a candidate can do to ‘pay’ the military recruiter for their services is to refer others,” Brian explained.  “The relationship with the military recruiter does not end with taking that first job. We have seen many candidates promoted to Hiring Managers and come back to us looking for people to add to their team. In cases where someone needs to make another career move, they can quickly re-engage with the military recruiter to kick start the next search.”

Source: Orion Talent

Man Taught Himself to Play the Trumpet Solely So He Could Play Taps for Fallen Soldiers

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Gary Marquardt In Full Dress Uniform Playing Trumpet For Fallen Soldier

It’s never too late to pay your respects to the fallen – and for Gary ­Marquardt, that meant learning to play the trumpet at 66 years old.

Marquardt was just a youngster when he enlisted in the military and waited to be drafted for the Vietnam War. Due to a bleeding ulcer, however, he was deemed unfit to serve.

Years later, he finally found a means of atoning for his guilt over not being able to fight alongside his fellow soldiers.

In 2014, Marquardt had been attending the funeral of a military friend when he was stunned to hear a mechanical recording of a bugle playing taps. He couldn’t help but be bothered by the lack of live music to honor a fallen soldier – so he walked into a music store and started learning to play the trumpet.

Much to the dismay of his wife and neighbors, Marquardt practiced day and night.

“It was awful,” Marquardt’s wife told KARE11 with a laugh. “Seemed like every 15 minutes, it was all the time. We were all hoping he would get better. And then he did.”

Sure enough, Marquardt managed to become a bona fide trumpeter. He then started using his newfound skill to visit local cemeteries and play taps at the gravestones of recently deceased veterans and soldiers.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Sailor Spotlight! Navy Information Systems Technician Participates in Humanitarian Efforts in Malaysia

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Steven Maciel

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Stacy D. Laseter

MALAYSIA, Philippines – Navy Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Steven Maciel, a native of Yorba Linda, California, is participating in Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific region.

As a member of the Pacific Partnership 2019 team, Maciel is one of more than 500 U.S. service members, volunteers and partner nation personnel taking part in a variety of projects including medical training, veterinary services, engineering projects, disaster response scenarios, and a variety of community outreach engagements.

“Joining the U.S. Navy has been one massive adventure, I never thought I’d learn so much in less than two years of being in,” Maciel said. “I’m proud to be able to serve my country while gaining a wide range of life experiences.”

Pacific Partnership is the U.S. Navy’s humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific region.

Source: Navy Office of Community Outreach

Communicating with Veterans in the Workplace—A Guide for Supervisors And Managers

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female supervisor shaking hands with veteran employee

Creating a well-functioning and welcoming work environment for veteran employees can improve the work environment for all employees. Effective communication has been shown to lead to improved performance and morale.

Following is a list of communication tips that managers or supervisors may find helpful when bringing veterans on board at work.

General Communication

Be straightforward and direct in both written and spoken communication.
✪ Listen when you are not speaking. Paraphrase and reflect back what someone has said to make sure you understood correctly.
✪ Keep your voice volume at a moderate level.
✪ Avoid using an angry, threatening, or demeaning tone of voice.

Assigning Tasks

✪ Be clear about your expectations. Specify what you expect an employee to do or accomplish with a task.
✪ Consider giving written instructions or expected outcomes of a task.
✪ If you are unsure about your clarity, ask the employee to summarize what you have said and are requesting of them. Confirm or correct the employee’s response.
✪ Clearly designate responsibility for tasks and projects, especially when assigning a task or project to a team of employees.
✪ When assigning work to a team, make sure there is an identified leader or point person.
✪ Make sure deadlines are clear and manageable.

Communicating Limits and Standards

✪ Set clear limits and observe them. Be consistent.
✪ Be clear about standards for promotion.
✪ Give praise and recognition for work well done.
✪ Be clear about the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
✪ When correcting an employee, that at the base when you get your discharge papers, and learn to ask for everything. Asking for an opportunity shows you are eager and motivated to get to work. While not second nature, this mindset will pay dividends.describe what can be observed, not what you suspect.

Managing Conflict

✪ Do not avoid or ignore conflict.
✪ Have a plan or process for managing conflict. Make sure employees know this plan so they can act appropriately when conflict arises.
✪ Check with your Human Resources office to see if your company already has a protocol for how to deal with conflict, or if there is someone to help deal with conflict in the workplace (e.g., an ombudsman).
✪ Have the discussion in a neutral setting that allows for privacy (e.g., a conference room with a door).
✪ Identify the goal of the discussion (e.g., gathering information, generating a solution) and stick to the goal.
✪ Focus on the facts and the identified problem.
✪ If multiple people are involved, let each person have time to describe what he or she sees as the problem. Use a time limit if needed.
✪ Listen actively and paraphrase what was said. Ask for clarification when needed.
✪ Do not focus on emotions or the person.
✪ Use objective, professional language.
✪ Avoid judgmental comments or making generalizations.
✪ Do not interrupt or let others interrupt.
✪ When generating possible solutions, be flexible and offer options when possible.

How to Address a Performance Problem

✪ Identify the changes in performance that need to take place for the employee to be successful.
✪ Meet with the employee to discuss the performance problem or deficiency. Do not wait until a performance review. Use a private setting (e.g., an office with a door) in order to protect confidentiality and to maintain the employee’s dignity.
✪ When meeting with the employee, explain, in detail, the performance issues and explain why it is important for the performance to improve and meet the job standards. Be specific. Stick to the facts. Have documentation available. Discuss the performance issues and behaviors, not the person.
✪ Gain agreement on the deficiencies and agreement on the standards the employee must achieve.
✪ Focus on the performance standards required for the job.
✪ Agree on solutions and ask what the employee needs to perform the job successfully, such as more training or other resources. Agree on the plan and the time frames expected for improving the performance.
✪ Advise the employee of the consequences if the performance does not improve.
✪ Set up regular feedback meetings with the employee to discuss the progress (i.e., every Friday to go over the week’s results).
✪ If the employee does not meet the expectations outlined in the plan, consult with your Human Resource office and follow your company policies and procedures on the next steps (e.g., written warning, suspension).

Source: va.gov

3 times you can skip the cover letter—and the 1 time you absolutely shouldn’t

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young man typing a cover letter

Some job listings will say “cover letter required,” while others don’t include any mention about it at all. When it comes to the ladder, many applicants often wonder, Should I submit one in anyway?

It’s a competitive job market out there, and hiring managers and job recruiters today spend about six seconds reviewing each resume. According to Glassdoor, a job search and salary comparison website, approximately 250 resumes are submitted for each corporate job listing, and only five or so candidates will be called for an interview.

So when is it necessary to send a cover letter? Here’s the thing: Hiring managers love them — they get you noticed quickly, show you’ve gone the extra mile and demonstrate how much you really want the job.

A bad cover letter, however, can hinder your objectives.

Don’t submit a cover letter if…

1. You have no interest in personalizing the cover letter
Many applicants will Google “cover letter examples,” pick one in a rush and model their cover letter after it. By doing so, not only will it be evident that you submitted a cover letter designed for mass distribution, but you might have overlooked some mistakes, like addressing the letter to the wrong person, company or even listing the wrong position you’re applying for. (Trust me, this is something hiring managers see all the time, and it’s absolutely cringing. It also takes away from their valuable time that could be spent reviewing your resume.)

2. You don’t have anything new to say
Hiring managers expect to read a compelling and impressive cover letter, not an exact replicate of your resume. (Think about how you felt when writing your personal statement for all those college applications; it was a big deal and you knew the admissions office were looking for someone who they’d feel proud to have representing their school). It’s no different with cover letters. Do you have any unusual hobbies that led you to be interested in the field of work you’re applying for? Is there a backstory that explains why you admire the company? Whatever you write, just don’t elaborate on your job history and skills (that’s what the resume is for).

3. You only have ideas on how to improve the company
Save the problem-solving suggestions for the job interview (that is, if you’re luck enough to get one), when you’ll 100 percent be asked those similar questions (i.e., “what would you improve about [XYZ]?”). A cover letter can be used as an opportunity to demonstrate your job knowledge, but don’t use it as an outlet to tell your prospective employer what they are doing wrong and how to fix it. No one likes hearing negative things about their business from a stranger, even if your feedback has merit. Curiosity, humility and tact will trump a “know-it-all” every time. Focus on the positive aspects and potential solutions for the business.

When to include a cover letter

Notwithstanding the above, the only time you should submit a cover letter is when you have valuable information to share that’s not conveyed in your resume. I’ve hired many candidates based on something that stood out in their cover letter.

Here are some examples:

1. A personal connection or referral
If you were personally introduced to a hiring manager (or someone high up in the company), always acknowledge that relationship in a cover letter. Who made the introduction? How you know them? Why did they think you are a good fit for the role? A personal referral goes a long way, so don’t miss out on capturing the advantage.

2. You have a history with the company or hiring team
If you have any link to the organization, it’s essential to connect the dots. Did you intern at the company? Did you cross paths when you worked for a supplier, a competitor or even a team member in a previous company? You never want to surprise the recruiter and have them hear about the connection from someone else; getting ahead of it will make you an exciting candidate and demonstrate that you’re a transparent and a proactive communicator.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

Free for Active Duty Military: National Veterans Memorial and Museum

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Veterans-Memorial-museum

National Veterans Memorial & Museum (NVMM) recently announced that it will offer free entry for any US Military Veteran, Active-Duty Military Member and Gold Star Families.

The NVMM is the first and only nationally designated museum in the United States dedicated to honoring veterans, and just opened in October 2018 in Columbus, OH.

A few key highlights visitors and locals can look forward to:

  • A Museum About Veterans and For Veterans: Exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates created an exhibition that is focused on the people – the soldier, the military personnel, the family member of a veteran – and their narrative journeys. Through personal artifacts, imagery and videos of veterans telling their story in their own words, the exhibitions draw in visitors and give them a sense of what veterans have gone through during their military service, highlighting the historical and contemporary examples of veterans’ stories. Rather than focus exclusively on combat and war, this exhibition narrative will explore the transformative experience of military service while connecting it to the broader idea of public and community service. The aim: to stimulate an ongoing dialogue to increase connections between civilians and veterans.
  • Pioneering in Education – Finally a Platform for Vets’ Stories to Be Told and Heard: The NVMM is the only place where the stories of our veterans, their families and the fallen – across all branches of service and all eras of conflict – are told together. The museum bridges historical events to current concerns and strengthens understanding and respect between veterans and civilians. This cultural institution stands as a place of inspiration for all visitors to come together as one people with a common bond and a shared pride in our veterans.
  • A New Architectural Icon: The building architect, Allied Works Architecture, has designed aNational Veterans Memorial Museum massive concrete arch structure (made up of a whopping 28 million pounds of concrete) with a glass curtainwall system and spiral processional, rising to a rooftop sanctuary – truly setting this museum apart The landscape architect, OLIN (the masterminds behind Bryant Park and Columbus Circle), designed the surrounding 2.5-acre Memorial Grove as a place for reflection. At the center of a circular path, there will be a grove of trees, designating the area as a sacred place to honor and memorialize veterans.
  • A Unique Philanthropic Effort: Most fundraising projects are fueled by a group close to a cause – this is a unique exception. While many veterans have played a critical role in the project’s bottom line, the largest private investors – Les and Abigail Wexner – committed to the project not because of particular ties to the military but because of their strong commitment to the community. They invested in the cultural credibility of the Region, and in the importance of not only supporting our veterans, but educating the public on their stories and service. The project received more than $82 million.

For more information visit; National Veterans Memorial & Museum.

11 Ways to Celebrate Yours During Month of the Military Child

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Month of the Military Child

April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community. Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

The Month of the Military Child is part of the legacy left by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He established the Defense Department commemoration in 1986.

DoDEA joins the Department of Defense and the military community in celebrating April as the Month of the Military Child. In DoDEA communities around the world, our most essential strategic imperatives are: establishing an educational system that progressively builds the college and career readiness of all DoDEA students; and establishing the organizational capacity to operate more effectively and efficiently as a model, unified school system. We aim to challenge each student to maximize his or her potential and to excel academically, socially, emotionally and physically for life, college and career readiness.

Throughout the month, DoDEA will encourage schools to plan special events to honor military children and have administrators and principals incorporate the themes of this month into their every day duties and responsibilities. These efforts and special events will stress the importance of providing children with quality services and support to help them succeed in the mobile military lifestyle.

Tips for you and yours:

1. Wear Purple

April 15th is Purple Up! Day, an opportunity for Americans everywhere to show support for military children. Pick your favorite shade of purple and wear it all day long to raise awareness of the sacrifices military families make, but especially kids. Let your child know you’re wearing purple especially for them.

2. Have a Special Date Night

With life’s chaos, it can be challenging to spend quality time with your children. This is especially true when you’re a military family just trying to get through a long deployment  or settling into a new duty station. Let your child pick a place to go and treat them to a date night. If you have multiple kids, do this with each of them individually.

3. “Share Your Story” Project

Your school-aged child might have the opportunity to do show and tell or another similar project. Use this as an opportunity to educate other students and teachers about Month of the Military Child. If your child goes to a DoD school, encourage them to do a fun presentation on all the places they’ve lived.

4. Create a Scavenger Hunt

This activity is especially fun if you’ve just relocated to a new duty station. You might do it on base in a safe place like the commissary or exchange. Create a list of items for your kids to find. Have players take pictures of items or collect listed objects. Set a timer and see who finishes first! Set behavior expectations as well prior to starting.

5. Be Genuine

Sometimes you just want to do the dishes, laundry, and a million other items on your to-do list. If sitting down and playing a board game sounds boring, but your kid would love it, give it a try.  Genuine encounter moments (call these GEM for short!), are when your kids get your full and undivided attention. Be in the moment and watch how your kids open up.

6. Host a Photoshoot

Let your child wear that colorful tutu or awesome superhero cape for a photoshoot. Call in a professional photographer or snap pics on your phone.  If you want to get super creative, have your kids help you create a backdrop and pick out props for their photoshoot. Bring in their closest military friends, too, for double the fun. Be sure to send the pics to your service member if they’re deployed.

7. Be a Guest Speaker

Young kids love to show off their parents. Whether you’re a military spouse or service member, offer to be a guest speaker in your child’s classroom during the Month of the Military Child. Share your experiences, and open the floor for discussion about military life.

8. Ask About Their Feelings

Whether it’s over dinner or a visit to an ice cream parlor, ask your kids how they’re doing. Let them lead the conversation, but sprinkle in questions like “How does that make your feel?” or “What do you think about ______?” Listen, verify, and validate their feelings. You’ll be surprised what they are willing to share if you ask in the right setting.

9. Connect With Other Military Families

When you spend quality time with other military families with kids, it can help your own child or children create their tribe. This is especially true for families within the same unit or platoon. As deployments come up, your kids can learn and grow together in the ways of military life.

10. Friday Fun

For the month of April, let your child decide what you do on Friday nights.  This will let them feel like they have a say in what family does, when they so often don’t. Consider all requests thoughtfully and make modifications as necessary. Movie nights, ordering take-out, and water balloon fights in the yard are a couple of ideas to get started.

11. Get Teachers Involved

Ask your child’s teacher if they’d be willing to plan some lessons around the military. This might be especially interesting for children to learn more about military life operations. If your family has a favorite book about deployments or military life, offer to let the teacher borrow it for a lesson or two.

Continue on Sandboxx to read the complete article.

Sailor Spotlight! Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel Bueras Serves at Fleet Weather Center San Diego

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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Dunn, Navy Office of Community Outreach U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez

SAN DIEGO – Most Americans rely on weather forecasts to plan their daily routine. The U.S. Navy is no different. With numerous ships, submarines and airplanes deployed in the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s area of operations, sailors stationed at Fleet Weather Center San Diego, make it their primary mission to monitor weather conditions in support of the fleet’s daily operations.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel Bueras, a 2014 Mission Viejo High School graduate and native of Trabuco Canyon, California, is one of these sailors serving at the Fleet Weather Center, providing full-spectrum weather services to shore-based commands and afloat naval units.

As a Navy aerographer’s mate, Bueras is responsible for providing weather forecasts for the safety of aviation operating along the west coast of the United States.

Bueras credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Trabuco Canyon.

“I played soccer growing up and was always a team player willing to do whatever the team needed,” said Bueras. “I approach my Navy service with the same attitude.”

Additionally, sailors serving with the Fleet Weather Center ensure naval installations, contingency exercises and operations are able to facilitate risk management, resource protection and mission success of fleet, regional and individual unit commanders.

Fleet Weather Center San Diego provides U.S. and coalition ship, submarine and aircraft weather forecasts including en route and operating area forecasts. In addition, they deploy certified Strike Group Oceanography Teams and Mobile Environmental Teams from the commands to provide tactical warfighting advantage for strike and amphibious forces afloat through the application of meteorological and oceanographic sciences.

“Naval Oceanography defines and applies the physical environment for the entire Navy fleet from the bottom of the ocean to the stars,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “There isn’t a plane that flies, a ship or a submarine that gets underway without the sailors and civilians of Naval Oceanography.”

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means Bueras is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades, according to Navy officials.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Bueras is most proud of earning Blue Jacket of the Quarter honors.

“It felt nice to have my hard work recognized,” said Bueras.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Bueras, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Bueras is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“My two older brothers are in the Navy and they always speak highly of their Navy experiences,” said Bueras. “That made my decision to join much easier.”

Submitted by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Dunn, Navy Office of Community Outreach
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez

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