MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service

Today marks the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service. It’s on this day that Americans across the country honor Dr. King’s legacy by reaching out to serve others in their communities.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” At FamilyLine, we rely on volunteers to mentor spouses attending Spouse Leadership Courses in Newport, Rhode Island and COMPASS classes around the world. Volunteers donate their time and talents to conduct spouse seminars, compile workshop materials, edit publications, and much more. Today we would like to thank them for their dedication and support of the FamilyLine mission to empower sea service families and encourage everyone in our military family to reach out to others in our community. To find a service project in your area, visit

Military Family Appreciation Month

Each year the President of the United States recognizes the many sacrifices made by our military families by officially proclaiming November to be “Military Family Appreciation Month.”

Military families exemplify the courage and resolve that define our national character. For their country and their loved ones, they rise to the challenges of multiple deployments and frequent moves—spouses who care and provide for children in their partners’ absence, kids who make new friends and leave known comforts behind. They are the force behind the force, patriots who support their family members in uniform while enriching the communities they call home.

Businesses and organizations around the country use this proclamation as an opportunity to honor our military families with much appreciated discounts and special events. As a community, we also have an opportunity to celebrate each other for our strength, resiliency, and commitment to our country, service members, and fellow spouses. No one knows more than a fellow spouse how difficult - and how amazing - this life can be. Take this opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with others. Volunteer with a spouse club or organization or join us at COMPASS!

What should I wear to the Khaki Ball?

“What should I wear to the Khaki Ball?” is one of the most frequently asked question of the CPO Training Season. According to the Guidelines for Spouses of Chief Petty Officers, a good rule of thumb is to “dress to the uniform.” The service khaki uniform is considered a daily wear uniform so it would be appropriate to wear a dressy dress or pantsuit. Here are a few examples:

CPO Khaki Ball

CPO Khaki Ball

CPO Khaki Ball

Should your installation decide to have a Chief’s Ball instead of a Khaki Ball, your Chief will be wearing the service dress uniform. As previously advised, you should “dress to the uniform.” It would be appropriate to wear a formal evening gown, as shown below.

Chiefs Ball

Social Customs and Traditions of the Sea Services is also a great resource for information on attire guidelines and etiquette.

Special thanks to Mrs. Suchniak, Mrs. Benz, Mrs. Fran, and Mrs. Schwartz for sharing their photos. You all look beautiful!

CPO Pinning Ceremony

Phase II of the CPO training season is nearing an end and it will soon be time to welcome our newest Chief Petty Officers into the CPO Mess.

This event is called the Pinning Ceremony. The ceremony, steeped in tradition, is a time honored event where the Commanding Officer and Command Master Chief or Chief of the Boat musters the crew so all can witness this transformation to khaki. Each new Chief is recognized and will receive their anchors and cover. Families and guests are invited and encouraged to attend in order to share in this major milestone.
- excerpt taken from “Guidelines for the Spouses of Chief Petty Officers”

Senior Airman Barbara Patton of AFN Misawa shared the video below. It offers a glimpse into the ceremony and the significance of this event.

We made it. It was a very humbling experience. Through the last six and a half weeks we struggled, we had to pull together, and in the end, it was all worth it.
- Chief Montalvo

FamilyLine’s Guide to Volunteering

Cesar is a different kind of Military Working Dog

As a non-profit organization, FamilyLine relies on volunteers to accomplish our mission of empowering sea service families. We have over 400 volunteers assigned to duty stations around the world that provide the sea service community with information, resources, and mentoring. While most of our volunteers are military spouses, some are active duty personnel, military children, and even four-legged family members like Cesar. For military families that are accustomed to frequent moves, volunteering is a healthy way to embrace your new community, avoid isolation, and build a great resume. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started:

1. Identify a cause or organization that you’re passionate about.
Your time is valuable so choose something that is worth your time and energy. Do something that makes you smile!

2. Use your skills but don’t be afraid to learn new ones.
Volunteer opportunities that take advantage of your skill set are ideal to keep from getting rusty, but think of every volunteer position as an opportunity to build your resume.

3. Be professional and honor your commitments.
While you may not be getting paid, there are others depending on you so it’s important to keep your word. And, you never know, your volunteer activities may lead to a paid position.

4. Be realistic about how much time you have to offer.
Non-profit organizations will gladly take every minute you have to volunteer but you will enjoy the experience more if you don’t feel overextended.

5. Have fun!!

Service With A SmileCat naps are essential

Cesar practices “Service with a Smile” and believes cat naps are essential to a healthy working environment.

Top 10 Things All New Navy Spouses Should Do

Lt. Kelly Lanning and his new wife, Megan O’Brien

1. Ask your spouse to enroll you into the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

  • All spouses of services members are eligible for TRICARE, the military healthcare system, but they must be enrolled in DEERS to qualify.
  • Locate your local ID Card Office.
  • Bring a copy of your marriage certificate.

2. Obtain a military identification from your local ID Card Office.

  • This is necessary in order to receive the benefits of a military spouse. The identification card will allow you access to the base, military exchanges, commissaries and it is your medical card.
  • Locate your local ID Card Office.
  • Bring your birth certificate, marriage license, photo identification and Department of Defense Form (DD) 1172, filled out by your spouse.
  • All family members age 10 and older must have a military identification card.

3. Register your car on base.

  • Locate your base Security Office
  • Expect to bring your driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance.
  • Check to see if you are expected to bring any additional papers.

4. Ask your spouse to list you as a beneficiary on their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI).

  • This is done by your spouse updating his or her DD Form 93

5. Memorize your spouse’s social security or military identification number.

  • Your spouse’s number will be used as your insurance number and allow you to receive other military benefits.

6. Know your sailors rank, rate, the department or division they work in, along with their email address, mailing address and the name of their command.

7. Know who your command ombudsman is and how to contact them.

8. Find out if COMPASS classes are offered in your area.

9. Familiarize yourself with the information and resources Naval Services FamilyLine has to offer.

10. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!

Part Two - “Mentoring”

Now, who is this “we” I keep mentioning? Naval Services FamilyLine. Before I took on the office of Chairman, I spent a few months doing a little marketing research of my own.  It seemed most of you thought of us as
(a) A phone number you call if you had a question
(b) We were once navy wifeline association.
(c) Others simply didn’t know the organization at all.

But, many of you will know one or more of our components just not the parent organization, so let me explain…

We were founded in 1965, as the Navy Wifeline Association, by the likes of Mrs. Arleigh Burke and other navy wives.  And, yes, we were once a phone number to call with questions as well as we produced a few publications that answered a lot of basic inquiries.  The name was changed, in 1997, to Naval Services FamilyLine.

Who are we today?
We are the founders of the COMPASS courses, taught in 17 places around the globe - this intro to navy - 3 day course is a popular start for new navy spouses. They cover everything from moving to reading an LES, local information…etc. Childcare and snacks are provided. These classes are mostly taught at the base support centers.  We rely on Naval Services FamilyLine volunteers for this entire program.

The Command Spouse Leadership Course and Command Master Chief Spouse Leadership Course are in Newport, RI. Our steering committees report back to FamilyLine and give great input on keeping the curricula current in those classrooms. Those committees also provide at least two volunteer mentors for each week of class taught.

The Guideline Series of publications; (many of these are outside on our table for you to peruse) - you may also order them for free through our office or download them as pdf files from your computer, tablet or smartphone.  Some of the titles are; Guidelines for the Spouses of Chief Petty Officers, Guidelines for the Spouses of Commanding Officers and Social Customs and Traditions. I must also mention our larger, “flagship” publication that is filled with helpful information; Sea Legs. We’ve been promoting and producing this component the longest.

Our newest component was added many years ago but has evolved recently to be a wonderful one-stop shopping for advice on organizing seminars, workshops, etc. to promote spouse leadership. The CORE Online Library has been developed to reflect the efforts by many of the CORE groups out there in the fleet concentrated areas - CORE stands for the Continuum of Resources and Education - meant to be an outreach to all spouses interested in developing leadership / coping skills. This part of our new website is a great source for templates on these topics.

Speaking of our new website. You will be among the first to see here our new and greatly improved site. We encourage you to visit it, explore and recommend!

FamilyLine through the aforementioned components mentors spouses and families of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.  Please remember us when you’re mentoring a younger, newer, inexperienced spouse or protégé....we can offer a number of services to get them on the right track.  Let us help you be a better mentor! Feel free to visit our office, join us as Field Rep, help out with a COMPASS class, promote more people attending (with their spouses) the CSLC and CMCSLC, help us raise funds to keep printing our publications, spread the word about our publications, website and online library!

In closing, I have a story of mentoring.

A young, Navy wife went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were difficult for her. She was tired of deployments, military red tape and the challenges of military life. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

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

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point, grandmother?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

The coffee bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

So, which are you?  The carrot, the egg or the coffee bean?
Ask this of yourself and your protégé‘s.

Thank you for inviting me today.

Mentoring Sea Service Families Since 1965!

First of all, let’s make something clear. I, PERSONALLY have not been mentoring sea service families since 1965 smile  But, Naval Services FamilyLine has!  We are proud of our heritage - having been founded by the likes of Mrs. Arleigh (Bobbie) Burke and others, in 1965, to support the families of our active-duty, sailors, marines and coasties!

But, mentoring is what we do - and we do it well after almost 50 years!  So, yesterday, I spoke to the Naval Officer Spouse Club of D.C.  We met for lunch inside the beautiful, new clubhouse of the Army/Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA.  There were about 50 navy spouses in attendance.  The topic of my lunchtime speech was “Mentoring”.  Below, you will find my Part One of my summarized remarks.  Enjoy and come back soon to read Part Two!  Go FamilyLine!

“Mentoring” (Part One)
Speech 1/31/2013
Gina Buzby
Chairman, Naval Services FamilyLine

“We will go over two points: 
What is Mentoring?  and How can Naval Services FamilyLine help make you a better mentor?

The original concept of a mentor was based on a character from Greek mythology, namely, Homer’s story of the Odyssey.  Within this legend, a goddess appears in different forms to help guide, protect and support the journey of the main character of the story.  This all-knowing and powerful figure that Homer describes as “Mentor” has shaped our modern day expectations and perceptions of what a mentor does-or more importantly what a mentor should do.
We typically think of mentoring as a valuable facet of the business world, where a basic definition of a mentor is one who helps you reach career goals.  But, today, we are focusing on mentoring in respect to helping each other cope with the challenges of a military lifestyle.

My personal definition of a mentor:  Someone we have something in common with, who has more experience in that area and is able to communicate those lessons learned to you – without authority – but with friendly guidance.”  Mentoring relationships are those in which a more experienced person (young or old) acts as a guide, role model, teacher or sponsor of a less experienced person (protégé’, mentee, or mentoree).
Mentors provide proteges with knowledge, advice, counsel, support and opportunity in the protégé’s pursuits.

I am sure you all have had some wonderful mentors, both men and women, young and old.  I have as well. - In my early years, as a career woman and as a navy spouse.
These are my “Top Six” / favorite, most-appreciated and most-forwarded pieces of NAVY SPOUSE advice…

1) Be yourself – (Consistently be true to yourself – be authentic!
2) Tell yourself - this isn’t rocket science.  (If you are newly married, if you are new to the navy, if you’re entering into a new role,- whatever the situation, you can figure this out – be confident).
3) Ask yourself - what can we do to make this fun – (alleviate the stress when at all possible).
4) Semper gumby! (Always flexible) (Never fall in love with your plan, because your plan is sure to change).
5) Never wear your spouse’s rank helps someone truly in need.
6) Remember humility. (You are not above others - and should never consider yourself such. You make mistakes too and you should share them - they make you more approachable.

These have served me well over the years. I know all of you could add a much longer list.  So, we’ve put together a starter list of some popular pieces of advice SEE ATTACHED PDF FILE.
And, we would like to hear from you about your favorite pieces of advice given / received.  Email us your advice so we may add it. we would like to keep a running list that would be accessible on our new website and social media.

Collection of Mentoring Advice (PDF)

(Stay tuned for Part Two)