A Financial Education Event
     

Give to our Heroes and Heroes at Home This Holiday

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What does Giving Tuesday do for our Heroes? Here’s a recap of our last tour season.

Heroes at Home completed their 26th event on 17 bases in 4 countries when they blew into Pensacola Naval Air Station like a storm—actually, the Tropical Storm Gordon. The Heroes at Home speaker team barely made it to Florida ahead of cancelled
flights and delays to stay at Pensacola Naval Air Station and provide free financial education to the Airmen, Sailors and Marines stationed at that base. The morning of this free event, the base was closed, due to the storm to “all non-essential personnel.” But since financial readiness equals military readiness, the Heroes at Home event was deemed an essential event and it’s speakers were given Distinguished Visitor status.

In the military, a service member must maintain financial health or they could lose their security clearance. If a military member has excessive debt or other money issues, they could be a target for compromised security and they are kindly asked to leave the military since they cannot hold their security clearance. This is one of the many reasons financial education is so very important to our young military members.

Our audience consisted primarily of Airmen who were going through Combat Systems Officer Training, to become Electronic Warfare Officers and Navigators. Since flying was cancelled, we had almost all the students present from the CSO course and they were enthusiastic and engaged with the program. The audience was almost all servicemembers in uniform and they primarily ranged in age from 23-25. They seemed eager to begin their military careers financially healthy.  They were released to come to our program during the duty day because of the importance given to financial education by the Command. They left excited and with autographed copies of 200 books for the 200 servicemembers present. Many expressed gratitude for our sponsors and our speaking team who weathered a near hurricane to provide this essential education.

Our four top level speakers trained the audience in budgeting, how to purchase a vehicle without excessive debt, how to plan for retirement, how to build savings, and other special financial programs only available to military audiences.

Thanks to donors like you, this program was executed flawlessly, and was the 26thand final event at 17 bases in 4 countries. This was also the conclusion of a very successful 2017-2018 Heroes at Home world tour.

Later that night, we were staying on base when the storm gained force, the entire base population lost power and we were in the dark for many hours. But once the lights came on at 1:30 AM, we were back on track to get home that day.  We could see how valuable our time had been at Pensacola. Many thanks to donors like you for helping to sponsor this event and for making a difference in the lives of our young servicemembers.

Many Easy Ways to Contribute

  • Amazon Smile – Sign up to support Heroes at Home, 501(c)(3) at amazon smile. From that point on, every time you shop at amazon, year round, just click on the amazon smile link and our Heroes benefit. Don’t worry, we won’t see how much you purchase, so we won’t spoil any holiday secrets!
  • Giving Tuesday on Facebook – On Tuesday, December 3, Facebook will match your donations, so please donate today!
  • Heroes Come First – If you are military, veteran, first responder, medical professional, educator or clergy, then you qualify for up to $2000+ in a cash back check when you buy, sell or refi. Plus, Heroes at Home benefits when you use our link.

For more information on Heroes at Home or to make a donation, go to www.heroesathome.org

8 Ways to Thank a Veteran Today and Every Day

 

As far a military families go, I’m brat, a grandbrat, a wifebrat and a mombrat. Yes, military service runs deep in the Kay family. My Grandpa died as an aircrew member in WWII; my dad retired as a Chief Master SGT in the US Air Force; my hubby flew fighter aircraft in the Air Force for 30 years; one of my sons graduated from the Naval Academy and is an active duty Marine; another son graduated this year from the United States Air Force Academy and is at pilot training; and my youngest son is a junior at WestPoint. So when it comes to thanking our troops for their service, I really appreciate those of you who take the time to say thanks.  Here are some more easy ways to express your appreciation:

1.       Say “Thanks” – The fact that you are reading this blog, indicates that you probably already thank those in uniform when you see them. When people say “Thank you for your service” to my Marine son, he responds with, “Proud to serve.”  Be sure to also thank family members, including parents of service members, for the way they serve by supporting their military members. You can also say thanks by donating to Heroes at Home, which provides financial readiness for military readiness. In our Heroes at Home events I explain that when people say thanks to them, it’s their way of being patriotic.

2.      Say “Welcome Home” – As we all know, the Vietnam War was not a popular conflict, and those who served were greeted with jeers, taunts or just plain apathy. There are also those who returned from the Korean War who were never properly welcomed back. So when you see an older vet, ask them what war they served in and if it’s one of those two, then ask one more question, “Were you ever welcomed home?” If they say, “no” then simply say, “Well you have been now, welcome home soldier, thank you for your service.” I’ve done this many times and all were deeply thankful for the sentiments, and some were so deeply moved, they even had tears in their eyes. In our Heroes at Home Events, I encourage our young service members to welcome home these Veterans and just how much it means for someone currently serving to thank those who have served.

3.      Pick Up Dinner – Every year, restaurants give free meals and discounts for Veterans and those who are serving now and at The Military Wallet, you can get this year’s update. But why not keep it going year round? Once a year, or more, depending on your budget, pay for a military member’s meal. You may see a service member with his or her family or a group of military dudes and dudettes in a small group at a restaurant. Don’t go up to the soldier, sailor or airman to ask if you can pay for their meal. Instead, go to the manager or the waitress and ask for their bill, then pay it as you leave and tell the waitress to give them a simple message: “Thank you for your service.”

4.       Operation Gratitude – During Veterans day week, our USAFA parents club volunteered to help put together care packages for the troops. Lots of volunteers put together over 7,000 care packages in one day! Each time I went through the assembly line with my boxes, it took all my self control not to slip that package of Rocky Mountain Factory fudge into my pocket. You can also donate DVDs, Girl Scout cookies, trial-sized toiletries, candy, scarves, gloves, small stuffed animals, books and more to the effort.

5.      Mow A Yard – Or rake leaves, or plant rosebushes, or paint an outhouse, or… you get the idea, for the military family of a deployed service member in your neighborhood, church or community.  When Bob was gone and I was left home alone with a house full of kids, I really appreciated that help. The best help comes from people you know, where that military family is comfortable knowing you are not a creeper!

6.      Donate Your Old Cell – If you are like most of the Kay family members, you get a new phone about once every 18 months or so (it seems to be an inalienable right in our clan). Instead of trading in when you trade up, give it to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

7.      Calling All Coupon Queens – I started out in the financial area as a Coupon Queen and eventually evolved to “America’s Family Financial Expert” ®. Along the way, I’ve encouraged families to donate their expired coupons to military units overseas. They can use your castoffs for up to six months past the expiration date. For more information, email us at assistant@elliekay.com and put “Expired Coupons” in the subject line.


8.     
Care for Critters – If you are like my hubby, you are a critter person. He sits in his easy chair each evening and instantly—voila!—three mini schnauzers appear in his lap. They were his constant pet therapy when he broke his back a couple years ago, thereby ending his career as a fighter pilot. If you love critters, then you can offer to provide foster care by taking in a dog or cat of a wounded or deployed military member while he or she is receiving medical treatment or on duty.  For more on this, go to Guardian Angels for Soldiers.

Thank you to all our Veterans and their families, and a special thanks to my husband, LTC Bob Kay, the World’s Greatest Fighter Pilot for his 30 years of service, to my Marine, Airman and Soldier. I’m so proud of all of you!

Ellie Kay

www.elliekay.com

Service Academies and Military Funded Education

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 I recently spoke at Congresswoman Katie Hill’s (25th Congressional District) Military Academy night.  The audience members were parents and students in high school.   These federal academies are highly competitive and look at the whole person. So it’s not enough to be a brainianc (super smart), they are also looking for students who are exceptional in the area of athletics, community involvement and leadership.  In return for this amazing education valued at $450,000, your student will be required to serve in the military for their “commitment” period. The commitment is a minimum of 5 years of service and can be longer, depending on a number of factors in regards to additional training after graduation.  If you have a “hero at home” who wants to go to a service academy, there are several things to keep in mind.


One of the first places to visit is your service academy’s admissions site:

USAFA – The United States Air Force Academy

USNA – The United States Naval Academy
USMA — The United States Military Academy

USMMA  The Merchant Marine Academy

USCGA    Coast Guard Academy (does not require a congressional nomination)

From Prospect to Appointee:  

  • Prospect: A student who has filled out the initial response form showing interest. This means they are essentially on an admissions mailing list. You can fill this out as early as middle school by going to the academy’s website.
  • Applicant: The individual has filled out a pre-candidate questionnaire and provided initial info on PSAT/SAT/ACT scores, grades and extra-curricular activities. This is usually done NO LATER than the spring of their junior year. This is also the time to contact your congressman and senator in regards to a nomination. In addition, if the student’s parent is qualified for a Presidential nomination, (see nominations and appointments below) then the student can contact the academy directly to pursue this nomination as well.
  • Candidate: To move from applicant to candidate indicates that you have cleared your first competitive hurdle. This step is decided by the Academies admissions staff in the early summer of a student’s Senior year. Not all students will get to this point, but this is when they will be interviewed by the Academy Liaison Officer (or the equivalent). It is from this list that appointments will be offered as early as the fall. For example, one of our sons was offered an USNA appointment by October.
  • Appointee: This means that the candidate has been offered an appointment into the Academy. They can choose to accept it or turn it down, but it means they have not only received an official nomination, but they have also been approved by the Academy’s admissions board and offered an actual appointment.

The Essay

It’s never too early to begin to think about what you would like to write in your admissions application essay. These are very important and should be well thought out before submitting. Be sure to have you liaison officer review it before you submit it or ask an academy graduate to help. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a faculty member from your school review it as well. More eyes on the project can mean a broader perspective, but it still needs to be your own voice, so you will have the final word on the essay.

Memorial Day and #HonorThroughAction

Gold Star Family

Being part of a gold star family is like being part of an honored and exclusive club—but one that no one wants to join. The gold star indicates that a member of that family died while serving their country. We are a three-star blue star family, which means that we currently have three family members serving with sons in the Marines, Air Force and Army. We’ve weathered deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq—praying our way through each day they were there. We never want to add another gold star to our family.

Yes, our family is a gold star family because of my Grandfather, SSGT Walter Rawleigh, a bombardier on a B-24. He was on his 47thmission in Madang, Papua New Guinea. Fully gassed and loaded with bombs, the “Cisco Kid II” had an engine malfunction on take-off and crashed into an encampment of Seabees having breakfast. Ten members of the crew and 165 Seabees suddenly died that day. Obviously, I never knew my grandfather and my dad was a young child when his father perished. I know that my father, Chief Master Sgt Rodger Rawleigh, USAF (Ret) was inspired to serve because of the fact his dad never came back from war.

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is about gold star families and should not be confused with Veteran’s Day. The latter is a day which honors all who have served in the United States military. A memorial is a remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It’s not a day to say, “Happy Memorial Day,” even though many Americans have a day off. Many will use that time to picnic and enjoy their families and friends. In fact, the original tradition of this day was to eat a picnic while sitting on the grounds of a cemetery.

This national holiday was first recognized by Congress in 1971 and before that time it was known as Decoration Day, which originated shortly after the Civil war. Besides my Grandfather’s tragic accident, 645,000 Americans have given their lives in defense of our freedoms. What can we do to appropriately honor those who died? I’m glad you asked.

 

The Poppy

 Honoring our fallen with a poppy is a tradition that was inspired by the poem crafted in 1915
entitled, “In Flanders Fields.” It was written by Lt. Col John McCrae after he lost a friend during WWI.  McCrae’s poem inspired Moina Michael, an American professor and volunteer for the American YWCA, to write a response poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith,” vowing to wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

Michaels campaigned to have the red poppy adopted as a national symbol of remembrance and, with help from Anna Guerin and the 1920 National American Legion Conference, the poppy became the official symbol of remembrance.

But it’s not limited to our country, the poppy is used as a symbol of remembrance all over the world. Along with the American Legion, we encourage people to wear or display a poppy on this weekend to remember those who lost their lives in battle.

 

Virtual Poppy Field

I invite everyone to join the conversation online using #honorthroughaction and share your story. What does Memorial Day mean to you? Who are you honoring? You can visit www.poppyinmemory.com to dedicate a digital poppy to a fallen hero or as a gesture of appreciation for those who have sacrificed all. It only takes minutes to participate and I want to thank USAAwho are sponsoring this initiative and for all their help in Heroes at Home.

Honor the fallen today.

Ellie on Fox News Network!

I came home from Fort Polk, LA to a message from The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. They had a family they wanted to help recession proof their life. I packed my bags and left the next day for New York. My hotel was in Times Square, so I shielded my eyes from looking at the N-ked Cowboy (and instead saw the N-ked Cowdog) and made my way to the Stage Deli for some pickles and cheesecake.

Here’s a link to the show we did with the Payne family. They were fantastic and when they showed up, the father did not have a job after much searching, they had their five beautiful kids in tow and their house was in foreclosure. Here’s a link to their story.

http://www.mandjshow.com/videos/part-2-recession-proofing-your-life-with-mj/

And it’s cool to report that this story has a happy progress report after only one week! Here’s the note I got from Jefri and Tymika:

This is Jefri Payne from Indianapolis, IN. My wife (Tymika) and I were on the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet with you last Monday. I am writing to thank you for all the wisdom, advice, and most of all the encouragement you shared to help us improve our lives financially. Things have started to improve for us. I started a new job Wednesday as a substitute teacher in the local school district. I have signed on with Career Builder to improve my marketability. Tymika is clipping coupons like a madwoman. We took our children to Wal-mart with the gift card and treated them to some new clothes, shoes, and groceries. We have spoken to a certified mortgage loan officer about our mortgage situation. After reviewing our paperwork, she discovered that we have been overcharged. To top things off, the realator who got us in this house was put in jail for mortgage fraud. When everything is said and done, we will be paying 50% less per month and possibly credited all that we have paid thus far. I am looking forward to things turning around completely. — Thank you, Jefri and Tymika Payne!

So take courage, Mr. & Mrs. America! Your “low point” may simply be your “turning point” toward a road to recovery!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
http://www.elliekay.com/

Michelle Obama to Meet Ellie Kay & Discuss Military Families??

Sometimes I hear that I’ve been featured in the media and didn’t know it until someone told me. This happened last month with The Today Show and The New York Times. Sure, in some cases like the NYT, I posed for photos in my office, but I still didn’t know when it would run. But this past weekend this phenomenon bordered on the absurd when I was on The Happy Homewives Club radio show and the host asked me, “So what was it like meeting with Michelle Obama?” I was speechless.

It’s one thing to be featured in the media and not know it, but it’s quite another to have a meeting with the future First Lady and not know it! I blurted out, “I didn’t meet with Michelle Obama! Why did you think I did?” She went on to say, “I got a press release from the DNC that said, Ellie Kay to meet with Michelle Obama and discuss military families.”

So, I’m waiting for the call (and I may be waiting a while) but I think someone (besides me) may be confused. After writing the book Heroes at Home and speaking to military families around the world about their finances and lifestyle, I do have a few things to offer up to Mrs. Obama that I think can help her understand what military families are facing and how she can make a positive impact in their lives.

Veteran’s Day is tomorrow and I’d encourage you to not only say “thank you” to a man or woman in uniform, but I’d say take it a step further–thank those military families for their contributions as well. After all, they are the Heroes at Home.

To all veterans–past and present–and to their families I say, “Thank you for your service.”

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

http://www.elliekay.com/

Dr. Laura features Ellie Kay’s “Heroes at Home”

Today, Monday, November 17th, Dr. Laura is featuring my book, “Heroes at Home” on her radio show and will give away 30 copies of the book. So call in today and get your free copy! http://www.drlaura.com/reading/. Her son is an American paratrooper and there’s nothing like having your baby go and jump out of a perfectly good airplane to make you want to reach out to other military families and help them!

That’s what I did last week on Veteran’s Day when I was on Midday Connection, a large national radio call in show. One of the callers was Kelly, a girl who had read “Heroes at Home” and was in the audience when I spoke at the Stryker Brigade in Alaska two years ago. It was a horrible, no good, very bad time for these families as their military members, who had been gone a year, came home and were sent back for another four months. Donald Rumsfeld was sent out to play “clean up” batter and the community of Fairbanks, Alaska brought me out to play “pinch hitter.” He spoke of “reasons” and I spoke of “reality.”
On the phone, Kelly thanked me and talked about what it was like for her and her husband during that time and how our “Heroes at Home” team made a big difference. I remember telling them not to vent on their spouses in Iraq, but to tell them three simple things, “I love you, I’m proud of you, I’ll be all right.” Then when they came home from Iraq, they could let him change diapers.
Later in the program, a female soldier called in who was also in the Stryker Brigade during that difficult time and shared the perspective of what it’s like from the other side of the ocean. She said she remembered hearing what our team did for the families during that trip and thanked me from a soldier’s perspective.
Finally, Bill called and gave us a retiree’s perspective. His voice sounded so feeble, but Anita, the host, and I quickly realized it sounded that way because he was emotional. His quietly told us that he (and others) had been honored at a special Veteran’s Day event at a local middle school. Anita had to drag his own story out of him because he was too humble to let us know that he was a tail gunner in B-17s in WWII. He said, “This program, what they did for us, was very meaningful.” Then he began to cry. It was a powerful moment. Somehow, I held it together enough to thank him for his service and Anita had to cut to a break because she, too, was feeling the power of a grateful heart.

Calling All Military Spouses!

We are a proud military family as many of you know! My hubby became a fighter pilot in the 80s and has loved every one of his 5,000 hours in the air. Philip, our second oldest son, is at USNA(Naval Academy) and plans on becoming a Marine Corp aviator. The next two sons (still in high school) want to go to USAFA (Air Force) USMA (Army) or even USNA. By the time we’re done, we’ll be a joint force (purple) family! But it runs in the family. My dad is a retired Chief from the Air Force and my Grandpa was a bombadier in WWII. In fact, we can trace our roots all the way to the Mayflower (John and Priscilla Alden) and they are peppered with service members.

My profession revolves around money matters but my passion revolves around military families. Heroes at Home, is now in the hands of over 100,000 military members and their families, making a huge difference in lives. I’ve spoken directly to the troops as well as to their spouses everywhere from California to China and from Germantown to Germany. Ellie Kay bylines are in Military Money (Kiplinger), Operation Homefront, CincHouse.com, and Military Spouse. All of this is because I believe in and support our military members. I want to bring that message directly to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In these travels, I have found listening ears as the presentation seeks to encourage and inspire those who put service before self. I know that the WWII generation has been called “The Greatest Generation” but when I look at the young private, stationed in Germany who has to leave his pregnant wife to go to Afghanistan–and he does so willingly and with honor. When I see the airman who volunteers for his third tour in Iraq, knowing it has the possibility of being his last. When I look into the eyes of a 21 year old woman, who proudly tells me what company she’s with and when she’ll go remote to Korea. When I see this generation making the sacrifices that would have made their great grandparents proud. It’s then that I have to say that we’re looking at America’s Greatest Generation. It’s important that we support them. The men and women who serve in our military today–and their spouses are the greatest. I salute them. I thank them every chance I get–whether it’s on tv, in person at a Heroes at Home event or in the airport. I encourage you to do the same.

I just got back from TRADOC (a major Army command in Ft. Leavenworth) and once again, I saw the greatest generation in action. The Heroes at Home speech I presented is the same one I’ve given to over 100,000 military members and their spouses–one event at a time. I don’t do it for the standing ovations. In fact, I’m convinced that those standing O’s aren’t for me at all. I think that my verbal affirmation of the fact that “America loves you, we’re proud of you and together we’ll be all right” is the reason they stand. Not to single out a keynote speaker, but to applaud the fact that the sacrifices they make have value and meaning–it’s worth it. They stand as a team and as a family.

While at TRADOC, I met a team of people also interested in improving the quality of life among military personnel and their families. In an effort to better serve the military, a research group at the University of Kansas is calling for military spouses to complete a survey. Your anonymous response to this research project will help in the implementation of the Army’s new Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program.

If you just want to leave a post and thank someone for serving, you can do that here on my blog. With Veteran’s Day coming up next month, I think saying “thanks” to a military member or their family is a perfect way to celebrate!

May God Bless America,

Ellie Kay
http://www.elliekay.com/

Ellie In Germany — I LOVE the Army!

I’m in Germany to speak to the military and their families stationed around Katterbach. They put me up at Colmberg Castle in a sweet suite that overlooks the village….oh, my, goodness–what a view out of my window.

We toured the village and I snapped this photo of the Kathy Wohlfahrt Christmas Village and I caught the reflection of the beautiful building across the street. Believe it or not, I actually found the small 1/2 price clearance section in that story (even though it was written in German, I can sniff out a bargain anywhere). I bought many small gifts there and will get a tax back break when I take my receipts to the airport. This was true when I traveled in Israel, too. So be sure to see if the country you visit has tax back offers and get the information from the merchants so you’ll be equipped at the airport to get your refund.

The last photo is me in the wrong kind of stocks! I prefer the financial ones. We toured the criminal justice museum and saw forms of “justice” throughout the ages including iron maidens and chastity belts. I would have been a criminal during the 1700s when drinking coffee was outlawed in this part of Germany and they had official “coffee sniiffers” to find you out! I also would have been forced to wear the “flute shamer” for musicians who sang or played musical instruments badly.

I talk to the military audience tomorrow night and I’m so honored to be able to give them a good work in due season–they need all the encouragement they can get in the midst of the sacrifices they make for all of us.

Wilkkomen!

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

The Greatest Generation – Proud of our Military

It’s past midnight in Germany where I just spoke to the military spouses in Katterbach. They are facing multiple deployments into downrange, sometimes high risk areas and many are so young.

This is YOUR current Army and military, an all volunteer force–they know the risks and take them anyway. You would be proud of what I saw in the spouses…–courage, strength and hope.

Truly, the sacrifices we call upon them to make has got to mean I just spoke to “The Greatest Generation.”

I so admire these heroes.

The message I brought them was from YOU, America. I told them that we loved them, we are proud of them, and together we are going to be all right.

Please remember the families of the Katterbach area as well as all military members and their families in your prayers.

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
http://www.elliekay.com/

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