The Holidays and The Military Family

The views and opinions reflected expressed herein are of that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect Naval Services FamilyLine. 

Christmas is just six days away, tomorrow is the last day of Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa begins the day after Christmas.  Traffic is heavy, retail store lines are long, postal services are working overtime, and you may be wishing there were two of you to get everything ready.  Especially when your spouse is away for the holidays. 

As a Navy family for nearly 20 years, we have been very, very lucky.  Of myhusband’s many deployments, we have only been separated by an ocean at Christmas one time. That year, we put the Christmas tree up very early, and kept the tree up until he returned home from deployment.  I remind myself often how fortunate we have been, as I know many military friends who will celebrate the holidays without their spouses, and in some cases, Gold Star Spouses and families who will never have that privilege again.  As I think of those spouses and families, the tears return, and the typing stops for a moment. 

Our Navy community is not limited to a specific zip code.  Navy families live all over the world, inside and outside the borders of the United States.  Many will celebrate the holidays in the company of their entire family.  Many will celebrate the holidays in a foreign country, where our customs and traditions will most likely differ, and will long for the chance to be wherever they call home.  There is an old adage, “home is where the Navy sends us”, but in our hearts, we almost always know where home really is. 

For this Navy spouse, home is still just five minutes up the street.  It is my childhood home that my parents purchased in 1976, and the one we sold after their sudden deaths a few years ago.  It was where we celebrated the holidays, and made priceless memories in the mountain of wrapping paper that formed after all the gifts were opened, while “A Christmas Story” marathon played all day long in the background.  My mother died 5 days before Christmas, and the holiday is now both joyful and sorrowful for me.  I can no longer visit the house I loved so much, but I can continue the traditions I grew to love as a child with my own family as an adult. 

But I am just one of thousands and thousands of Navy spouses this holiday season, and yet we all have one thing in common: making the holidays as merry and bright as we can regardless of our location, destination, or situation. It’s simply what we do for our families. 

So this year, as I have done for so many years before, I will make my mother’s Christmas cookies, we will serve a large breakfast on Christmas morning and then snack on our favorite holiday munchies - as my mother called them - throughout the day.  “A Christmas Story” will play in the background, and my husband and I will be in no hurry to clean the wrapping paper off the floor.  I will make bows the way my mother taught me, and I will enjoy thinking back to my father picking out all the cashews from the snack mix, or how he always tried and always failed, to be the lookout on Christmas Eve.  I can’t help but smile as I think back to that particular memory.  Or the way they both lit up watching our children react to the missing cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer.  All of those traditions, those memories, I carry with me today, and will carry on for my family.  No matter where the Navy takes us.

We would love to hear how you make the most of your holiday season as a military family!  Please comment below with advice, support, or to extend a holiday greeting to friends and family around the world.

Guidelines for the Spouses of Chief Petty Officers:  For Spouses by Spouses

Heads up, CPO spouses:  changes are on the horizon!  About 15 years ago, Naval Services FamilyLine composed and printed a wonderful resource still used by many CPO spouses today, Guidelines for the Spouses of Chief Petty Officers.   This booklet is part of the free Guideline series offered by Naval Services FamilyLine and is most often presented to CPO Selectee Spouses when his or her loved one has been selected for the rank of United States Navy Chief Petty Officer. 

It’s no doubt an exciting time for those spouses and the booklet proves to be of great help at just the turn of a page.  To this day, I still turn to my now very worn copy when preparing to attend any military function, social event, or when I am uncertain of formalities in a proposed situation. 

But times they are changing,and Naval Services FamilyLine is preparing to update the current edition of the booklet and we’d love to hear from you! 

What do you like about the booklet?  What needs to be included circa today?  Social media did not exist the in form that it does today. What information or suggestions should be made regarding use of social media - both personal and public postings?  Think:  what happens at the ball doesn’t always stay at the ball.

The booklet has proven to be of great benefit since it was published, and we want to ensure spouses continue to learn from each of the available Guideline Series publications for many more years to come. 

We look forward to your honest feedback and thank you for your help in this very special project.  Navy Chief, Navy Pride! 

Here’s to a great Navy day,

Dear New Military Spouse:  This Is My Promise To You

Dear New Military Spouse,

I write this letter to you with great hope as you enter an exciting, unfamiliar world known as the military lifestyle.  You and I will one day meet, most inevitably at a command function or a family social event.  You will probably be nervous, skeptical, and perhaps feel a bit uneasy at that first event.  I dare say this because that’s how I felt so many years ago.  But let me make you aware of the amazing family you have married into.  The military family - or in my case, the Navy family - knows no limits.  We are stationed all over the world.  We come in all different shapes, sizes, races, and sexuality.  Many have children, some nuclear, some becoming parents in other amazing ways.  Yet we are bound together by one immeasurable, unbreakable bond, and this is my promise to you: 

I promise to introduce myself at command events or social functions.  I will ask you questions because I want you to know you are an important part of the command family.  I will ask you questions about you. 

I promise to extend an invitation to the next Family Readiness Group meeting.  Whether you choose to attend on a regular basis is up to you, but I want to help introduce you to some of the many resources available to you as a military spouse, and the opportunity to meet other spouses from the command. Bonus: snacks are usually provided. 

I promise to open my Rolodex of information to you.  No one military spouse has the answer, no matter how long he or she has been a part of this lifestyle.  But I have met some of the most amazing people since marrying my husband, and I am happy to direct you to them should you ever require their assistance or services. 

I promise to provide local information.  Moving to a new city, new state, or even new country can be scary.  I will help you find a Target, Starbucks, Walmart, the NEX, and the base commissary. 

I promise to make sure you have an understanding of what emergency services are available to you.  You will quickly find that your Command Family Ombudsman will be your lifeline in times of crisis or emergency.  I will gladly introduce you to the Ombudsman if it helps. 

I promise to support you.  I do not care what rate or rank your spouse is, you have my unconditional support. 

I promise to stand by you.  You are a part of a fiercely independent, yet dependent family.  We will rally around fellow spouses in times of sadness, emergency, or crisis.  You will never be alone, 

I promise not to judge you.  Oh the mistakes I made as a new Navy spouse!  I was corrected, I was made to feel dumb for simply not knowing.  You have my word that I will not do the same.  I will offer guidance.

I promise you this won’t be easy. But I swear to you, it will be worth it. 

I promise you will make some of the most wonderful friends you could ever hope for.  Perhaps I will be one of them. 

I promise to hold your hand on the pier. We will laugh together through the tears and will rejoice in their Homecomings. 

These promises will be upheld by all spouses, near and far, young and not-so-young.  We are your new family and we are excited to welcome you to it.

With my kindest regards,
A Navy Spouse

Becoming A Leader Of Character

We have a very special invitation for all military spouses!  Naval Services FamilyLine C.O.R.E. is excited to welcome Dave Anderson, graduate of The United States Military Academy at West Point, and best-selling author of Becoming A Leader Of Character:  6 Habits That Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home.

This exciting, one night only event, is open to all military spouses.  A welcome reception will begin at 6:00 p.m. with heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages, and will be followed by an inspiring message from Dave Anderson.  The event will conclude with an opportunity to speak with Dave Anderson in an open question and answer forum.

To register, please complete the online registration form: Event Registration Form.
For additional information please contact We look forward to your company for the evening! 

September 11, 2001:  We Will Never Forget

Our parent’s and grandparent’s generations can still recall where they were and what they were doing the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Many of us can recall where we were and what we were doing the moment the Challenger fell from a picture-perfect sky.  Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing the moment we learned of the attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Many of us had spouses and loved ones deployed, myself included. We were millions of Americans who watched in shocking disbelief, through tears of fear, anger, uncertainty, as we witnessed the horror unfold. We grieved the loss of over 3,000 Americans and prayed for those missing in the tremendous destruction. We prayed for miracles.

And from the rubble and ruins, Americans rose together. We joined together without words and opened our homes, our hearts, and our communities to strangers. We embraced the afraid and confronted the fear. We resolved, as a nation, to never let those who perished be forgotten.

The images of unimaginable destruction were soon a backdrop to images of citizens, of all races and nationalities, helping their fellow man. Everyday individuals became extraordinary heroes.

I have no doubt that I will never forget the very moment I saw the second tower hit, or news of another plane headed towards our nation’s capital. And I surely won’t forget the stories of true heroism of those on board United Airlines Flight 93. I am very proud of the way we came together as one nation, and I vow to always honor the memory of those lost and pray for those who grieve all these years later.

We, The United States of America, hold you in our hearts and promise to never forget.

- Emily


Welcome to season!  This is an exciting time for you and your family, but you may find this is also a time of unfamiliar and uncharted territory. Your spouse will be busy - very busy - during what is affectionately known as “the season”.  It is during this time that your spouse will be part of rigorous training, physical fitness challenges, seemingly unusual traditions (seriously, what’s with the eggs?), and their physical, mental, and emotional capacities will be tested. 

They are becoming stronger.  They are becoming more determined.  They are learning to work fluidly with those who they will soon call brothers and sisters.  They are becoming United States Navy Chief Petty Officers.

But in the meantime, they are exhausted.  We hope you, as the spouse, have a good support system in place to assist you during this period of transition.  You may have questions, concerns, or frustrations.  You may find yourself angry with the process.  I assure you, this is all very commonplace and you are not alone.

Naval Services FamilyLine, with the assistance of C.O.R.E. units around the world, work collectively to make this process easier for you.  We are here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and offer guidance. 

If you did not have a chance to participate in the online webinar or attend an annual CPO Selectee Spouse Conference near you, we encourage you to reach out to Naval Services FamilyLine or your closet C.O.R.E. group.  Additionally, we suggest ordering your copy of Guidelines for the Spouses of CPOs.  The helpful booklet is available for free and is full of everything you need to know from the time the good news is received to the day of the pinning - and beyond! 

Your spouse needs your support and encouragement now more than ever, but you are not to be excluded from needing support, too.  We are always standing at the ready to be of help and are always here for you in friendship and support.  You’ve got this!

Navy Chief, Navy Pride!
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and his wife, Mrs. Elka Franco-Giordano, share a moment with the CPO Selectee Spouse Conference guests in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano, and his wife, Mrs. Elka Franco-Giordano, share a moment with the CPO Selectee Spouse Conference guests in Virginia Beach, Virginia on August 19, 2017. 

Navigate the Military Lifestyle with COMPASS

Want to learn more about our COMPASS Program? Watch this video created by our talented team in Guam.

Commissary Policy Changes

The Defense Commissary Agency used their Facebook page to announce a policy change regarding coupons and special orders. This change will limit special orders for large quantities and limit returns of “unreasonable” quantities to discourage patrons from purchasing items for resale or excessive monetary refunds. The change will also prohibit shoppers from having multiple or split transactions with coupon “overage.”

According to the DECA website commissaries “redeemed nearly 100 million coupons in fiscal 2013 for a customer savings of about $91 million. DeCA ranked sixth among U.S. retailers in coupon redemptions in fiscal 2012.”

Visit the DECA Facebook page for more information at

Military Spouse Employment Resources

MOAAA recent survey conducted by the Military Officers Association of America and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University revealed that 90% of military spouses are underemployed, meaning that they are more educated or more experienced (or both!) than their current position requires. 45% of respondents reported difficulty in finding work that matched their skill or education level or their schedules. While these numbers are discouraging, there are many resources available to help military spouses find meaningful employment, including the ones listed below.

Career One Stop
Tools to help job seekers, students, businesses and career professionals.

Military Spouses’ Corporate Career Network (MSCCN)
MSCCN is a non-profit organization that offers no-cost services to all military-affiliated spouses, retired military spouses and caregivers to war wounded heroes.

Military Spouse Employment Partnership
MSEP is a targeted recruitment and employment solution for spouses and companies that connects military spouses with employers seeking the essential 21st century workforce skills and attributes they possess.

USA Jobs
USAJOBS is the U.S. Government’s official system/program for Federal jobs and employment information.

The Family Employment Readiness Program (FERP) provides workshops to help spouses plan a career, launch a job search, write the resume, learn interview techniques, find information on federal employment, conduct self-assessments, set goals and even take vocational tests. FERP also offers computer tutorial programs to help spouses build technical skills. Learn more about FERP at

Many Reasons to Join Us At COMPASS

If you haven’t attended a COMPASS session, maybe this feedback from participants in Charleston will help convince you to register.

Participants were asked what was their favorite thing about COMPASS:

  • Meeting military spouses both new and old. It was informative without being overwhelming.
  • The binder! Being able to have an organized method of info.
  • Meeting other wives
  • Love the friends(meeting other spouses), food, and Chaplain talk. COMPASS was amazing!
  • I loved the maturity, organization, and lack of rank/rate for the women…it makes everyone feel equal
  • bonding with new, knowledgeable friends over good food
  • Childcare
  • New people and the Chaplain
  • The volunteers, in other words…everyone. You welcomed us like family and were always friendly, thank you.

Participants were also asked about two things they learned:

  • One of the things that had me so worried was deployment. Just hearing about it sent chills down my spine. Coming to Compass it has cleared so many of my fears and answered my questions. Thank you so much!
  • Things to do in the area and how to communicate better with everyone
  • Resources available to military families- FFSC and NMCRS
  • Emotional aspects of deployments are normal and I am really not alone and DLA
  • Moving requires a good sense of humor and deployments
  • there are many factors to consider when you move and hassles that come with housing, environments, parking and financially. Deployments can be really rough.
  • there are a lot of resources available for spouses and places to visit in Charleston
  • Checklists can be my best friend regarding deployments and moving. Healthy communication is key to maintaining sanity and healthy relationships.
  • How to PCS and remain calm and what to expect on deployment.

To learn more about COMPASS or to register for a class in your area, visit

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