Veteran’s Day Discounts 2019

I’m excited to share these amazing discounts!

Veterans Day discounts and meals at restaurants…

Hometown Buffet – November 11, 2019
Active duty, reserve, or retired military personnel in uniform or with a valid ID receive 15% discount on Military Mondays (Every Monday including Memorial Day) at Hometown Buffet. Be sure to ask your server for more details. Visit the BJs Wholesale website for details. http://www.hometownbuffet.com/military/

Old Country Buffett – November 11, 2019
Active duty, reserve, or retired military personnel in uniform or with a valid ID receive 15% discount on Military Mondays (Every Monday including Memorial Day) with up to four members of the family at Old Country Buffett. Be sure to ask your server for more details. Visit the BJs Wholesale website for details. http://www.oldcountrybuffet.com/military-2/

Applebee’s – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a limited menu at participating Applebee’s on November 11. Dine-in only. Visit the Applebee’s website for details.

Chili’s Grill & Bar – November 11, 2019
All Veterans and active duty military personnel can get a free meal on Veteran’s Day Monday, November 11, 2019, at all participating Chili’s Grill and Bar restaurants. Please call ahead to your local Chili’s restaurant if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day meals. Visit the Chili’s website for details. https://www.chilis.com/restaurant-events/veterans-day

Baker’s Square – November 11, 2019
All Veterans and active duty service members receive a free meal on Veteran’s Day (November 11, 2019) from Baker’s Square. Visit the Baker’s Square website for details.

54th Street Grill and Bar – November 11, 2019
Veterans + Active Duty military personnel who dine inside a 54thStreet Grill and Bar  receive a free entrée up to $12 on Veteran’s Day (11-11-2019). Visit the 54th Street Grill and Bar website for details.

Golden Corral – November 11, 2019
Military Veterans, retirees, and active duty members are being offered a free sit-in “thank you” dinner on Monday, November 11, 2019, from 5pm -9pm. For more details visit the Golden Corral website. https://www.goldencorral.com/military-appreciation/

Red Robin – November 11, 2019
Veteran’s and Active Duty Military are being offered a free dine-in Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries on Veteran’s Day, 11/11/2019. Visit the Red Robin website for details.

Mission BBQ  November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty members will receive a free sandwich and slice of cake (while supplies lasts) at Mission BBQ on Veteran’s Day, 11/11/2019. Visit the Mission BBQ website for details.

O’Charley’s Restaurant  November 11, 2019
Veterans of the armed forces and/or officers still serving, you can enjoy a free meal at O’Charley’s this Veterans Day, with several fan favorites from the restaurant’s menu to choose from. Visit the O’Charley’s website for details.

Grub Burger  November 11, 2019
Veterans and active military members can get a free meal at a Grub Burger Bar location on Saturday, November 11, for Veterans Day. Visit the Grub Burger website for details.

IHOP – November 11, 2019
All Active duty and Retired Veterans in observance of Veteran’s Day, November 11, are invited to come in to IHOP and enjoy a “free” breakfast. Visit the IHOP website for details. https://www.operationmilitarykids.org/ihop-military-discount/

Lucille’s BBQ  – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military will enjoy a complimentary dessert with proof of service on November 11. Visit the Lucille’s BBQ website for details. https://www.lucillesbbq.com/promos/military-family-month

Fogo De Chao –  November 8-11, 2019
Veterans and active duty personnel receive discounts on November 8-11, which includes 50% towards their meal at Fogo De Chao, in addition up to three of their guests enjoy 10% off. Visit the Fogo-De-Chao website for details.

Texas Road House – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active military receive a free lunch on November 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at all Texas Roadhouse locations. Visit the Texas Road House website for details.

TGI Fridays – November 11, 2019
Military guests with a valid military ID will be treated to a free lunch menu item up to $12 on November 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. These guests also will receive a $5 coupon for their next meal at Fridays. Call your local TGI Fridays for details.

Subway – November 11, 2019
Military Veterans with a valid ID are being offered a free six-inch sub on November 11 at select locations. Call or visit your nearest location for details.

Outback – November 11, 2019
Veterans with a military ID can get a free Bloomin’ Onion and non-alcoholic beverage on November 11, and 20 percent off their check Nov. 12 to Dec. 31. Call or visit your nearest location for details.

BJs Restaurant Brewhouse – November 11, 2019
Military and Veteran’s with a valid ID are being offered a free entree up to $14.95 and a free Dr. Pepper beverage on November 11. Call your local BJs Restaurant Brewhouse for details. https://www.bjsrestaurants.com/VeteransDay

Bandanas BBQ Restaurant – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military are being offered a free meal on November 11. Call or visit your nearest location for details.

Manhattan Bagel Company – November 11, 2019
All active, former and retired military personnel with valid identification are invited to enjoy a free bagel and cream cheese at Manhattan Bagel Company’s participating locations on Veterans Day November 11.  No additional purchase is required. Call or visit your nearest location for details.

Houlihan’s – November 11, 2019:
All military members – both active-duty and Veterans – will receive a free and complimentary meal on Veterans Day. Guests must come with proof of duty by an I.D., photo in uniform, earning receipt or any other form of proof. Call or visit your nearest location for details.

Bombshells Restaurant & Bar – November 11, 2019
Veteran’s families and active service members receive free meals at Bombshells Restaurant & Bar on November 11 from 11 AM – 2 AM.  Please call ahead to your local Bombshell’s restaurant if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day meals.

California Pizza Kitchen– November 11, 2019
Veterans and active U.S. military members with proof of service have an invitation to enjoy a complimentary meal from CPK’s Veterans Day menu at all participating California Pizza Kitchen locations nationwide. Please call ahead to your local California Pizza Kitchen if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day meal.

The Chop House – November 11, 2019
Veterans receive a 50% discount with a valid military ID on November 11. This does not apply to alcoholic beverages. Please call ahead to your local Chop House if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Cici’s Pizza – November 11, 2019
All active duty or retired military with a valid military ID are being offered a free pizza buffet on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Cicis Pizza if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Connors Steak & Seafood – November 11, 2019
Veterans with a valid military ID receive a 50% discount on November 11. This offer does not apply to alcoholic beverages. Please call ahead to your local Connors Steak & Seafood if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Cotton Patch Cafe – November 11, 2019
All Veterans and active military members are being offered a free Chicken Fried Steak or Chicken Fried Chicken with a drink on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Cotton patch café if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Famous Dave’s – November 11, 2019
Military personnel and Veterans are being offered a free meal on November 11th at participating locations only. Proof of military service is required. Please call ahead to your local Famous Dave’s if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Farmer Boys – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service get a free cheese cheeseburger on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Farmer Boys if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service get a free lunch or dinner entree on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Firebirds Wood Fired Grill if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Fired Pie – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service or are in uniform on receive a free entree November 11 for Veterans Day. Please call ahead to your local Fired pie if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Joe’s Crab Shack – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid ID will enjoy 20 percent off on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Joe’s Crab Shack if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Little Caesars Pizza – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid ID will 
receive a free $5 hot-n-ready lunch combo.On November 11, from 11am to 2pm. Please call ahead to your local Little Caesars Pizza if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Logan’s Roadhouse – November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service will receive a free American Roadhouse Meal on Veterans Day. Please call ahead to your local Logan’s Roadhouse if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Luna Grill – November 11, 2019
Veterans, military service men and women with valid proof of service will receive their choice of a complimentary meal when they purchase a meal from November 9-11. Please call ahead to your local Luna Grill if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Menchie’s – November 11, 2019
Veterans, military service men and women with valid proof of service will receive the first 6 ounces of frozen yogurt free on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Menchie’s if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt – November 11, 2019
Retired and active duty military with valid proof of service will receive a free froyo at participating locations on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

 

Veterans Day discounts at grocery stores

BJs Wholesale – November 11, 2019
Active duty military personnel and Veterans receive discounts on November 11, 2019, at BJs wholesale, which include 30% off standard membership fees. Additional incentives like extra money off coupons are occasionally offered for new members. Visit the BJs Wholesale website for details.

Publix – November 11, 2019
Veterans, active military, and their families receive 10% off purchases on November 11, 2019. Exceptions apply. Must show Veteran or military ID, discharge documents, or driver’s license with Veteran designation. https://ww4.publix.com/pages/veterans-day-discount 

Hy-Vee  November 11, 2019
Veterans and active duty military with valid ID receive
 a free breakfast buffet during regular breakfast hours from 6am to 11 am on November 11. Please call ahead to your local Hy-Vee if you have any questions about your Veteran’s Day Discount.

Veterans Day discounts for haircuts

Great Clips – November 11, 2019
Veterans and current military members can visit a U.S. Great Clips salon on November 11 to receive either a free haircut that day or the free haircut card to use at a later date. Visit the Great Clips website for details. Visit the Great Clips website for details.

Sport Clips – November 11, 2019
Some locations will be offering free haircuts on November 11. Visit the Sports Clips website for details.

SmartStyle Hair Salons  November 11, 2019
Current or former military members, and veterans are being offered a 10% discount off any services and professional products on November 11. Please show proof of service to receive this special discount at participating salons. Walk-ins welcome. No double discounts. Discount may vary per location. Visit the SmartStyle website for details.

Veterans Day health

American Family Care  November 11, 2019
Veterans are being offered free flu shots on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11. Veterans interested in obtaining a free flu shot are encouraged to visit AFCUrgentCare.com to find the nearest American Family Care. Visit the American Family Care website for details. (Reminder, Veterans receiving health care at VA are eligible for Free flu shots at your local Walgreens)

True Rest Float Spa – November 11, 2019
Free True Rest Float Spa 60-minute float session for active duty military and Veterans.Visit the True Rest website for details.

Veterans Day discounts in retail

The Home Depot – November 11, 2019
Veterans are being offered a 10% military discount on in-store purchases on select items. All veterans are eligible for this discount during the Veterans Day weekend. Visit the Home Depot website for details.

Walgreens – November 8-11, 2019
20% off for military, Veterans and their families. Walgreens also provides free flu shots for VA-enrolled Veterans. Visit the Walgreens website for details.

Rack Room Shoes – November 11, 2019
United States Military and families with a valid ID receive 10% off your entire purchase on November 11. In store only. Visit the Rack Room website for details. https://www.rackroomshoes.com/military-discount

Dollar General – November 11, 2019
Veterans and families receive an 11 % discount on qualifying items in store and online. See website for details.

Rack Room Shoes – November 11, 2019
United States Military and families with a valid ID receive 10% off your entire purchase on November 11. In store only. Visit the Rack Room website for details. https://www.rackroomshoes.com/military-discount

Living Spaces – November 4-24, 2019
For every purchase of a select Revive product, Living Spaces will donate a mattress to a Veteran. Qualifying Revive products range from select mattresses to adjustable bases. Learn more: https://www.livingspaces.com/event/buy-one-give-one/veterans

Kohls – November 11, 2019
Kohl’s is offering double its military discount for Veterans Day, increasing it from 15% to 30%.

Bed Bath and Beyond – November  9-11, 2019
Military guests with a valid military ID or Bed Bath and Beyond VetRewards Card will receive 25% off your entire in store shopping cart from November 9-11, 2019. Call or visit your nearest location for details.

Veterans Day Discounts on travel

La Quinta – November 11, 2019
Veterans and their families who book and stay at La Quinta hotels in the U.S. and Canada can take advantage of the 15% off military discount in light of Veterans Day on November 11. Visit the La Quinta website to book.

Legoland – November 11, 2019
Each U.S. service member on Monday, November 11, can receive a free American flag wristband and flyer (describing the discounts and events of the day) at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort ticket window. A wristband entitles the wearer to the special discounts on November 11 only. Visit the LEGOLAND Florida Resort website for details.

Harley Davidson Museum  November 11, 2019
All active military, Veterans and their families can gain free Museum entry into the Davidson Museum with valid Military or Veterans ID for 1 additional adult and up to 4 children 18 years old or younger On November 9-11. Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum website for details.

National Parks – November 11, 2019
Over 100 national parks will waive admission fees on November 11, 2019, in honor of Veterans Day. Contact your local park for information.(Disabled Veterans eligible for free National Park Service Lifetime Access Pass)

Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia) – November 9-10, 2019
Veterans and disabled Veterans will receive one free admission ticket to Six Flags Over Georgia with a valid Military ID card or DD214 and can purchase an unlimited amount of additional tickets for family members or friends at 50% off plus tax per ticket.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, California) November 9-11, 2019
Proud to offer active military members, Veterans & first responders free admission when visiting during Heroes Days. Additionally each eligible hero may also bring up to three guests for half price each plus city fee. All participants must present proper First Responder ID, Military ID, or DD-214 at time of purchase.

Six Flags Great America (Chicago, Illinois) November 9-10, 2019
On November 9 & 10, all active members and Veterans of service will receive free admission to Six Flags Great America. All you need to do is bring your proof of service to the park to receive a free, complimentary ticket for access. Also offering discounts on up to four companions.

Grace for Vets – November 11, 2019
Veterans and service personnel are being offered a free car washon November 11, 2019. by Grace for Vets. They are a non-profit organization who has gotten together over 1,500 independent car washes in four countries, to offer this service. Visit the Grace for Vets website for details http://graceforvets.org/

New Year’s Beef Tenderloin

Ingredients: (all found at the commissary)

•1 whole beef tenderloin (set out for one hour prior to cooking)

•kosher salt

•a store bought pepper grinder (full of peppercorns!)

•Kerrygold butter at room temperature

•fresh rosemary for garnish

Utensils: roasting pan with rack, parchment paper, serving platter

~Preheat your base housing government issued easy bake oven to 475 degrees and pray it will fire up.

~roll out a large piece of parchment paper on your counter.

~generously grind pepper from your pepper mill covering the majority of the paper. Sprinkle the kosher salt on top of the pepper and gently mix around with your hand.

~generously massage the room temperature butter over the surface of the tenderloin both top and bottom.

~roll the buttered beef back and forth on the parchment paper until the entire surface is covered with salt and pepper. Gently press the pepper/salt mixture into the beef.

~place the tenderloin on the rack in the roasting pan. Be sure to tuck the thinner end-piece under for more even cooking.

~for a rare to medium rare outcome, place the roast in the oven for approximately 22-25 minutes.

~pour a glass of wine and don’t move. An overcooked piece of meat could spoil your event. Distractions are many… stay close, you won’t regret it!

~have your meat thermometer ready looking for a temperature of 135 degrees for medium rare.

~allow the tenderloin to rest for 15 minutes prior to carving.

~serve on your favorite platter and garnish with large sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

FORCE PROTECTION, BOO REJECTION

I live on a military installation. Have I mentioned that before? I believe I have.

For years, I have witnessed the delightful Halloween tradition of booing in military housing. My kids love it and harass me from the first day of October on as to when I think we might get booed ourselves. 

Booing consists of placing (under the cloak of darkness) a fun treat on a neighbor’s porch. There is always a note with instructions on how to pay the fun forward. In turn, neighbors post on the neighborhood Facebook page their surprises as well as a thank-you or two. Newly PCS’d families get to know the current residents and a natural neighborhood bond begins to form.

While exciting and fun, booing has its downside. One year it may be my children, frozen with fear, refusing to get out of the car as we approach our targeted house. Because it is late, I’m in pajamas (my Mother says that is pedestrian) and I’m forced to run onto a neighbor’s porch so as not to ruin the moment. The next year, it’s me driving away too quickly thinking I have all the children but in fact I do not. Before you judge, imagine seven children jumping into a car screaming GO! GO! GO! It all gets very confusing. I quickly glance in my rearview mirror and see child #5 frantically running after the car. In an instant she is gone having flipped over a hedge hidden in the October darkness. 

Childhood memories my children.  You are welcome.

Where are the MPs when all this is going on? I ask myself that very same question every single year.

With each boo after-action and a newly presented game plan, I convince myself and the children it will be different, but it never is. I’m a glutton for punishment and the shattered dreams that only a made up Hallmark holiday can bring.  

There was however, one year that still remains our most memorable for the most unlikely of reasons.

The month of September was coming to a close and the boo harassment package, compliments of my children had begun. We chose our families, mapped out our game plan and went shopping. Some years we choose new families whose children might appreciate feeling welcomed after yet another military move; but this particular year, we chose the best friends of two of my children. Because of this, I went a little overboard. I purchased above and beyond what I should have and was happy to do it. Candy, toys, a small piece of clothing…all shoved into the boo buckets.

Proud was an understatement. Dressed in black, I piled six ninja children into my  15 passenger van and began the slow creep through housing. My kids were phenomenal. No crying, no falling, no freezing in fear, no forgetting part of the team. 

Mission accomplished.

The next morning I went over to one of the homes and let the mom know it was our family that had booed them. We were (and still are) good friends and in a prideful moment I wanted to hear how truly awesome her family thought our boo bucket was.

“Oh, it was you?” she asked with eyes downcast.

“Yes! What did you think?”

“Well,” She began sheepishly. “My husband refused to allow the children to have it and he threw it all away.”

“What? Why?”

“Anthrax.”

Wait. What? Wait.

“Anthrax?”

I live on a military installation. Have I mentioned that before? I think I have.

Level intensity. High. All day, every day.

I walked away and while disappointed, understood the mindset of her husband. What I know to be true is that every man and woman that wears the uniform in this great country of ours is a shepherd at heart. They are always watching, always observing, always ready to protect.  In that moment, I realized that our military professionals cannot separate who they are moment to moment. A protection mentality is at the very core of their being.

Having never donned the uniform, I cannot fully appreciate nor understand why anthrax contaminated candy immediately came to my neighbor’s mind. I will say with confidence though, as an American citizen with Marines as neighbors, I will sleep soundly this Halloween night.

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Military 1st Thank You Card Design Contest

MINNEAPOLIS (July 11, 2018) – Country Inn & Suites® by Radisson has launched its Military 1st Thank-You Card Design Contest to help in the creation of new thank-you card designs honoring United States’ service members. Four winners will have their designs featured on cards that will be available at more than 450 Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotels around the U.S. for guests to write messages to U.S. troops around the world.

“Since launching our Military 1st program last year we have collected thousands of thank-you cards from our guests around the country,” said Ken Greene, president, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group. “We are humbled to play a small part in helping to share our sincere gratitude to those who make big sacrifices on our behalf.”

The contest is part of the Military 1st program, which is a partnership between Country Inn & Suites by Radisson and Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude annually sends 250,000+ individually addressed care packages to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to veterans, new recruits, first responders, wounded heroes and their care givers. Every Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotel in the U.S. has a thank-you note station in the lobby area, giving guests the opportunity to show their gratitude to America’s heroes. Messages are collected and delivered inside Operation Gratitude Care Packages to troops serving overseas.

As part of the Military 1st program, active military, veterans and spouses receive a special military rate on hotel rooms for leisure travel and are automatically qualified for an upgrade to the best room available (subject to availability during check-in).

“We are excited to partner with Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, giving their guests the opportunity to express their appreciation to those who serve,” said Kevin Schmiegel, Chief Executive Officer of Operation Gratitude. “Providing opportunities for our nation to say ‘Thank You’ to Service Members and their families is critically important, because so many grateful citizens want to do so, but many don’t know how.”

The contest runs until July 31, 2018, and entries can be submitted via the Radisson Facebook page.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

“The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.

Just then the Witch – to satisfy an itch went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.

And oh, what happened then was rich.

The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch.

It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch,

Which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch.”

-The Wizard of Oz

As I sit on my porch sipping coffee and pondering my military life I hear it.

 

You know what it is. That hauntingly familiar sound of gears grinding, sticks shifting and plumes of exhaust pluming. It slowly rounds the corner wanting nothing more than to engulf everything I hold dear in life and once, having satisfied its bloodlust, simply drives away.

It is the dreaded moving van.

 

If only for a moment my skin becomes clammy and a slow dizziness overtakes me.

Then, I suddenly remember we are not due to move this summer.

Well that was an uncomfortable moment. More coffee?

Our turn will be here before we know it so I’m always mentally preparing myself.

Part of my mental preparedness comes in the form of motivational sayings from my active duty husband. Lucky for all of us, many of the quotes come from his highly respected and motivating Marine boot camp Drill Instructor. The man had a way with words. Such a wordsmith was he that were I to post them, women would blush, gentleman would yell, “here, here now!”  and my blog would be removed from the interwebs all-together. I give you a palatable family favorite…

“If you ain’t cheatin,’ then you ain’t tryin’.”

He was right you know. With verbal judo as his weapon of choice, the DI impressed upon my then 18 year-old husband a powerful life lesson. While in no way implying nor suggesting unethical behavior, he was simply teaching think outside of the box and get creative with the task at hand. Though a situation may appear difficult or even unsurpassable, you must make it work for you. You mold the situation into a desirable option often, not always, with a positive outcome.

It was just last year that we moved and the year before and two years before that. So, the tale I tell is still so very fresh in my mind.

A cross-country move for many is a life goal on the very top of one’s bucket list. But, for military families, it can be an annual necessity of life whether by planes, trains or automobiles. When we hear the words cross-country, thoughts of car sick children vomiting, less than savory motel rooms, wrong turns taken (even with a GPS) and radiators exploding in the desert all come to mind.

Not for me. I embrace the words of wisdom delivered so many years ago by that warrior god walking the grounds of Perris Island.

I made a decision then and there to make our 7th cross-country the experience of a lifetime.

The house was packed out, the moving van had pulled away and the kids were ready to go. We hopped in our two vehicles and set a goal of 8 hours without stopping. Oceanside, California to wherever 8 hours with too many kids and animals to count would take us that day. Slow and easy was the mantra for our upcoming adventure.

Around hour 4 we reached Yuma, Arizona and small dark clouds began to swirl in the distance. A few lightening strikes, nothing I hadn’t seen before.  Fascinating and frightening all at the same time.  I love a good desert lightening show, I thought.  This trip is going to be epic.

Suddenly the clouds became dark and ominous. Dust Devils began to form with jack rabbits darting to and fro. Something was afoot! In an instant a wall of sand, rain and cloud came barreling down upon us.  I immediately lost sight of my husband and our 6 other children. (Side note – I am capable of riding with only one child at a time.  Apparently, that is my limit. I chose child #5 thinking I had chosen well only to learn later that I had not). As the storm surrounded us, we lost complete visibility.

Blackout.

Tumbleweed, small rocks and debris were all striking the windshield with bands of rain, then sand then rain again. In this kind of situation, one must make the decision to either maintain speed and risk hitting someone who has stopped ahead of you or slow down and risk being hit from behind. I was tailing my husband closely and watched as my 5-year old’s chubby little hand thrust the dog dish out the window and in a gust of wind he lost his grip. The metal dish bounced on the interstate creating sparks then shot up and hit my windshield. I hit my brakes just in time to see a desert antelope springboard off my car hood, then to my left there was a desert tortoise laying on his back laughing at me. To my right stood a frontier Army ghost brigade at Parade Rest and just as I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my sweet Auntie was directly above my car riding a bicycle waving at me. With the mercy of sudden distraction, I frantically waved back. It was at that moment Auntie slowly morphed into my husband’s former DI. He was riding atop a tank and called out to me, “If you aint  cheaten,’ then you ain’t tryin!”

“Jesus take the wheel!,” I screamed as I slammed on the brakes throwing my right arm across Rebecca  to brace her for impact.  It was at that point I noticed she was laughing hysterically while filming me with her Iphone.

I repeat, I chose the wrong driving companion.

“Stop filming me and call Daddy right now,” I yelled.   She quickly dialed his number and my combat hardened husband dryly answered, “Hello, this is Dad, how may I help you?” In my unglued state I screamed, “I cannot drive in this!” He calmly replied, “Just follow the white line on the right until we get through the storm.” So that’s what I did. I followed that white line all the way off an exit down a service road into a zero-visibility gully not knowing if I had level ground or a 30-foot drop on either side of me. I looked up the embankment just in time to see the red tail lights of the family roadster slowly fade into the storm.

So, this is how it ends? Very disappointing I thought to myself.

I turned to my daughter (who was posting her film) and inquired, “any ideas? I’m tapped out.”

She calmly replied, “get back on the road Mom.”

And so, I did.

As if being shaken from a deep sleep, in an instant we pulled out of the bands of dust, rain and wind into a clear, starlit night.

We pulled over at a rest stop and engaged in lively discussion with another motorist only to find out we had driven through a Desert Monsoon. Raise your hand if you have ever heard of that.

Exactly, me neither.

I became a different person that evening. I am now a white-knuckled driver who pulls over at the slightest change in cloud formation. I cannot watch The Mummy and I’m still mad at my daughter. I have yet to watch the Scorsese-esque film she created that night but maybe someday.

We never did find out why sweet baby CJ threw the metal dog dish out the window, perhaps he was aiming for the desert antelope.

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

Semper Fido

A guide to traveling with pets during your PCS

Every summer, all across this great nation, thousands of military families receive Permanent Change of Station orders or what we refer to as PCS-ing. While many  hop a jet plane to locations far and wide, some of us engage in the great American past time of the cross-country road trip.

Orders have been cut, it’s time to move and thoughts of what to do slowly flood the mind.

Will we live on base, rent out in town or perhaps buy a new home? Are the schools desirable and will they offer the classes my child needs? What about clothes? Are we moving from flip flop central to a place that requires sub-z gear? To say there is a lot to think about is truly an understatement.

As you’re on the computer conducting searches of every kind, you feel a furry friend slowly glide by your leg. The cat! What am I going to do with the cat? Or perhaps you have a dog, or two dogs or a cat and a dog and 3 goldfish.

Your move just went next level.

Our pets are family members and for some, our fur babies. As you begin your plans for the upcoming move, do not leave pet accommodations to chance.

So, the mini van is packed, everyone has claimed their seat and the dog is perched on suitcases in the very back, ears touching the car roof. You take one last pic of your old house and jump into the running car when that familiar smell of dog-kid-sweat-feet hits you. My husband calls it stank soup. I call it my life.

It’s going to be a long ride.

Of our 15 moves thus far, 8 of them involved a pet in tow. While planning a few of those many moves, I just did not have time to think about our pet. I have always considered them part of the kid count and it was simply a matter of coercing Fido into the car. One of our dogs personally completed 5 cross country moves. The very definition of a salty dog!

In the beginning for us, most motels would allow pets in “pet only” rooms which often were pretty disgusting. There was a time where many base lodging facilities had pet accommodating rooms but I haven’t seen them lately. I sure hope that some still exist.

During one of our cross-country moves, we were chugging along and were quite fortunate to find motels and hotels that allowed our dog. On night 4 of our journey, we were in Texas and reserved a room at the base lodge. As we received our keys around midnight, the desk clerk asked, “Oh, you don’t have an animal, do you? We have a no pet policy.”

Everyone…back in the car.

Something I never stopped to consider was where do the animals go when we stop to eat? Everyone looks forward to that hour where we get out of the car, stretch our legs and catch a

breath of fresh air. What do you do with a pet?

Answer: You take turns walking him while the rest of the family stares at you through the restaurant window.

The struggle is real.

The few times we decided to leave the dog in the car, she did not react well. We made sure she was safe and comfy but like many animals, she would let us know when she was irritated. Occasionally, she has engaged in some very unsavory behavior while in the minivan alone. Occurrences that could never be discussed in polite company. She was definitely angry and she let us know it from both ends.  It was quite impressive for the short amount of time we left her. (I always try to pull the positive from a negative situation).

It is imperative that you do your homework before the moving van pulls away! While many military moves revolve around a family reunion or a famous American landmark, a pet owner’s route is often dictated by how many four-legged friends they keep company with.

Sigh. My life is not my own.

I was so excited when a friend in the unit told me that Holiday Inn Express hotels are pet friendly. (This is not an ad- just advice).  They charge a small fee per animal and it is simply added on to your total bill. Sure enough we made reservations from Southern California to Washington, D.C. and had no trouble. It really was quite remarkable to be able to simply walk the dog into the room with us.  We were shocked to see however, that our dog has mad attitude. While visiting New Mexico we worked our pet friendly hotel in with a sightseeing expedition to the Carlsbad Caverns (For many years I actually thought they were in Carlsbad, California…). We toured the caverns for several hours only to return with concerned staff politely letting us know that man’s best friend had continuously barked the entire day. I was mortified. BUT, thank goodness we were at a hotel with likeminded people!

A few tips prior to embark:

1.  Complete all of your vet visits to include vaccinations PRIOR to leaving your current base.

2. Purchase a 6 month supply of flea/tick and heartworm meds from the base vet PRIOR to leaving your current duty station. Pet meds are lost in the sauce during a pack out so it’s best to keep them close at hand.

3. Get your pet micro-chipped as soon as possible (it is a base regulation if you plan on taking military quarters) and always hand carry your pet’s records. It makes pet registration so much easier when you are attempting to move into military housing or register at pet lodging. Pet registration is one of many required steps when moving onto base. Also check into breed restrictions for the base you are relocating to. Military housing may not even be a consideration for you.

3. Pack your pet their own suitcase. To include food, extra leashes, collars, toys, food and water dishes. Don’t forget the snacks and perhaps a fancy outfit. You never know.

4. If you plan on living in temporary lodging while waiting for a rental or base house, consider kenneling your dog in a “pack” kennel. The dogs run in a pack on parcels of land. We have used them on both coasts. Very cool! There are amazing pet hotels, for cats, dogs and other species with AC, outdoor play time and swimming pools as well! They ALL require documentation of up-to-date vaccinations and medications. No exceptions!

5.  Keep in mind your pet is NOT a dependent. You cannot submit receipts for any pet costs that I am aware of to include travel, lodging and kenneling.

6. Never sneak your animal into a hotel or base lodge knowing it is against the rules. Some people have severe allergies and will possibly react to your pet long after you have checked out. The staff often recognize military families and you embarrass us all when your behavior is less than stellar! (I’m older than you, I can say that!)

If you simply cannot move both family and pet together consider looking into a pet relocation service. They will gladly guide you on how to meet up with your pet on the other side of your PCS. You can also find installation guidelines both at the base veterinary office and online.

While moving with pets can be difficult, I encourage you to work it into your PCS plans and enjoy the ensuing adventure.

Semper Fido!

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

FREE VITA TAX PREP ON BASE

Yep, you heard that right!

At this very moment there are uniformed warrior-gods not only ready to engage the enemy, but prepare your taxes (which can be quite the battle too).

Many U.S. military installations across our great nation and around the world are collaborating with the IRS to offer free, in-person tax preparation services for active duty members, retirees and dependents. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA, our active duty and their families have one less thing to worry about in a lifestyle that can often times be filled with uncertainty.

According to Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, the Executive Director of the Armed Forces Tax Council, “Taxes for military members are complicated, noting frequent moves, deployments and the fact that tax laws change every year. The VITA preparers receive extensive training through the Defense Department and the IRS on the situations faced in the military community, such as combat zone tax benefits, extensions to file and pay, and special rules for the earned income tax credit.”

Have I had my taxes prepared by VITA? You bet your sweet return I have! (Full disclosure: a few years back I went to the dark side and had my taxes prepared by a national chain. In fact, I paid the fees to have 4 years of VITA returns checked. Not a single mistake was found. Very impressive to say the least.)

Gather your tax information for the past year (and an up-to-date power of attorney if your spouse is deployed) and head on over to your local VITA offices. Make sure to bring along your bank information that include routing numbers, as well as original social security cards of all dependent family members.

You will find professional, uniformed personnel under the guidance of an expert overseer that are able to file both federal and state returns. The entire process is free, all you have to do is make that appointment!

The deadline to file this year is April 17 with military members serving outside the United States receiving an automatic two-month extension.

VITA is a wonderful way our country gives back to our service members and their families who sacrifice so much.

So get going!

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

Irish Soda Bread

You will never find a group of individuals quite as diverse as the United States military. So celebrate it!

Every year, wherever we are stationed, I share my cultural upbringing by hosting a St. Patrick’s Day meal. Whether potluck at the unit spaces or in our home on base, it’s always a joy to bring people together to experience a foreign tradition.

With that, I thought I would share my Irish Soda Bread recipe with you. Enjoy!
Irish Soda Bread
4-41/2 cups all purpose flour
1-4 Tbsp sugar (depending on your desired level of sweetness)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold butter
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk
1 XL egg
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk lightly. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or fork. You want the butter to be pea-sized. Whisk lightly.
3. In a liquid measuring cup measure out the buttermilk and add the egg. Lightly beat together and set aside.
4. With your hand, make a small well in the center of the dry mixture. Slowly begin pouring the egg/buttermilk into the well while mixing the mixture with your free hand. You may use a wooden spoon if preferred. It will be very sticky.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and begin kneading while shaping into a loaf. Score the top with a sharp knife creating an X. This allows the heat to reach the center of the loaf.
6. Bake on your parchment covered cookie sheet for 40-55 minutes. After 30 minutes test doneness with a sharp knife directly in the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean the bread is done.
7. Serve warm or room temperature with fresh butter.
Notes: I made 3 loaves last night and one this morning. Less sugar creates a more rustic flavor while more sugar creates almost a dessert like bread. Sometimes I add raisins (1 cup), currants (1 cup) or caraway seeds (2 tsp). These must be added during the wet mix process.
When baking for a large unit event, I will cook up to two days prior and wrap tightly with multiple layers of plastic wrap. You can also bake and freeze for up to two months in advance!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

Welcome Home Commitment

The year: 2005

The place: El Centro, California

The temperature: a balmy 115 degrees

If you have never heard of El Centro, think the desert scene in Star Wars, Return of the Jedi (it was filmed there) – and we’re talking surface-of-the-sun hot. We were on the tail end of our 5th cross-country Permanent Change of Station (PCS) from Virginia to California with our (then) 5 children and one dog. A proper Saharan caravan on its last leg.

It was then that our minivan tires began to give. I remember looking behind from the front-seat of our car with concern, and seeing five red-faced children staring nervously back. They were dripping with sweat in our vehicle-turned-sauna. Our panting dog sat atop a stack of suitcases, like some busted-up driveway lion, guarding nothing in particular. We had turned off the air conditioner, as it was serving no purpose other than raising our engine temperature. Outside, it was simply too hot, and the system could not keep up.

But suddenly, on the horizon – an oasis! Wait a minute…is it a mirage? No! A Walmart Super Center!

To us wayward travelers, it was as if we had stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth. We limped into the auto bay, handed over the keys and apologized to the mechanic for the yet-to-be identified smell of the interior. I considered pulling the food off the dash board and then thought hmmm – warm lunch for later. I walked away not caring if I ever got back into the van again.

As I watched my children frolicking in the freezer section, I pondered our current situation. We had prepared for the move and traveled so far only to be caught off guard. Again. We were stuck in the moment, with a most unlikely sanctuary suddenly appearing.

For many Veterans, transition may be like a desert experience. After years of forward progress, professional success and reliable constants, they come to a sudden stop where there appears to be no help in sight.  An abrupt halt they thought they were prepared for but perhaps were not.

Our military and their families acknowledge there are certain constants in this lifestyle of choice. We know a deployment is always in our near future, as well as moves, multiple school changes for our children, and an ‘interesting’ housing choice at each station. Let’s not forget the most important constant of all: separation and retirement. You might be Captain America right now, but at some point, the military is going to break up with you. It is a reality.

While meeting sudden, emergency needs like ours in 2005, Walmart also recognizes the long-lasting constants. They recognize that life can get hard, and they recognize the connection between their company and Veteran hiring needs.

In 2013 the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment was started in an effort to identify and hire Veterans. Leaving the military can be one of the most difficult transitions a Veteran will face, and Walmart guarantees a job for all eligible, honorably discharged U.S. Veterans separated from active duty since Memorial Day of 2013. The company has a goal of hiring 250,000 Veterans by the end of 2020 and have already reached over 75% of that goal.

According to the Department of Defense, more than 1,300 new Veterans and their family members return to civilian life every day. 1,300! The transition from active duty to civilian life can be difficult at times, and for some, debilitating. Walmart is attempting to bridge the gap understanding the elite nature and capabilities of our Veterans and their spouses. They recognize the honorably discharged Veteran is a highly-trained, expertly skilled leader with a desire to achieve, long after separation from the military.  The company has recognized the need and recently announced that it has hired more than 194,000 Veterans and promoted more than 28,000 to positions of greater responsibility nationwide since 2013.

But wait…there’s more…Walmart is not done yet.

In a first-of-its-kind event, Walmart co-sponsored Veteran EDGE, a three-day conference and training summit dedicated to Veteran-owned businesses.  The corporation is passionate in their desire to assist Veterans and their spouses in search of meaningful careers not just through their hiring programs but also through entrepreneurial efforts. An all-in for Veterans not simply to find them a job but to assist them throughout their entire career journey.

Through a partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, Veteran EDGE was held February 16-18 in Austin, Texas.  The conference targeted Veteran and military spouse small business owners from across the country by providing opportunities for networking and the sharing of business ideas.

More than 5 million Americans are employed by the more than 2.5 million Veteran owned businesses in the U.S. generating more than 1.1 trillion in sales annually. Needless to say, Veteran owned businesses play a vital role in our nation’s economy.

And I should point out that fewer than 1% of our country’s citizens currently serve in the armed forces.

For Veterans and their families, transition can be a very unstable and constantly shifting environment. But, Walmart recognizes the value in supporting and hiring this superior group as employees and potential leaders of their corporation. And just as they worked to get us back on the road to our new duty station, so Walmart works to get our Veterans on their way to a bright future.

Consider the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment an anchor and a new constant in your time of transition.

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

To learn more about Walmart’s Veterans Welcome Home Commitment and overall support to veterans, service members and their families, visit www.walmartcareerwithamission.com

To learn more about the first-of-its-kind Veteran EDGE event, visit https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/veteranedge/