BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Posts Tagged ‘family’

The Families of Our Fallen Military: Rebuilding Lives After Loss

Posted by YWM on May 2, 2012

Bonnie Carroll
Founder and president of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post, April 17, 2012

It starts with a knock at the door. Two uniformed officers are standing outside, and they ask to come in. Before they speak, the family knows what will be said. They are just hoping it’s not true. Then they hear the words, “We regret to inform you…” and the life of a military family is changed forever.

The death of a loved one in service to America starts a military family down a new path — one of grief and loss. We embrace and support hundreds of these families through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). It is a unique journey that requires specialized care and support.

Several factors make military loss unusual.

Death while in service to country can happen in many ways. Service members die from many causes — they die in combat, training accidents, suicides, homicides or illness, both in war zones and elsewhere.

From 2001 to 2011, about 16,700 American service members died worldwide. Less than 30 percent of these deaths (about 5,000), even with two wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, happened in combat or by hostile act. Currently more service members are dying by suicide than in combat in Afghanistan.

Public meaning is associated with the death. It is a death in service to country. Language like “paid the ultimate sacrifice” assigns greater meaning by society to the death. One survivor said, “It felt like he belonged to so many more people than just our family. He belonged to the community too.”

In the rocky days following the worst moments of their lives, surviving military families organize funerals, speak in sound bytes, are photographed by the news media, and lead the community in mourning. If the death carries stigma, such as a suicide, the family often carries additional emotional scars.

Death impacts many people in a family. On average, at least 10 people are significantly impacted by the death of a service member. They are wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and a wide range of relatives.

We intake on average seven new people a day at TAPS, who are grieving the death of someone who served in the military. At least one to two of them will be grieving a death by suicide. For many of them, calling TAPS may be the first time they have ever talked with someone else who understands what military loss is like.

The grief journey can be complicated and last for years. More than 80 percent of our families are grieving a death that was unexpected, traumatic and often violent. These circumstances leave surviving families more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues. It takes five to seven years, on average, for people to reach a new normal, following the sudden death of a loved one.

The military family loses its identity and can struggle. The spouse and children left behind after a military death also lose their identity as a military family. They lose the supportive and structured lifestyle of a military family. And may move to a new community where they know few people, or return to a “hometown” they have not lived in for many years.

Their military identification cards are changed, and they are forever labeled as survivors of someone who served and died — literally stamped “deceased.” Children may lose the last home they lived in with the person who died, as well as their friends from school, teachers and other community support, at a time when they need these touchstones the most.

One young widow who lost her husband in combat in Iraq while she was in her twenties told us, “I always thought that the military would tell us where we would live. After my husband died, I had to figure out where to go for myself, and define what our lives would become. On top of that, I was coping with his death and taking care of our infant daughter. The decisions felt overwhelming, and even paralyzing.”

Thankfully, they don’t have to make this journey alone. At TAPS, our 24/7 resource and information helpline fields 21,000 calls annually. We offer regional seminars for adults and good grief camps for children around the country and throughout the year. Our online chat room, message boards and email support groups buzz with activity daily. TAPS care groups link survivors in communities across America and our peer mentoring program pairs up newly-bereaved survivors with others who have experienced a similar loss.

They’re people like Elizabeth Church, who was eight months pregnant when her husband died by suicide. She found a supportive companion in Carla Stumpf Patton, who years earlier, had also lost her Marine husband to suicide when she was eight months pregnant. Carla understood what Beth was going through, in a way that few other people could. With care and support, Beth is building today a new life for herself and her daughter.

With care and support, surviving military families are able to work through their pain and remember the love that they shared with their service member. They can even celebrate the life that they shared with that person who died and share their journey to help others.

Bonnie Carroll is the founder and president of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). She is the widow of Army Brigadier General Tom Carroll, who died in a military aviation accident in 1992 and she founded TAPS in 1994 alongside other military families. TAPS offers comfort and care to anyone grieving a loved one who died while serving in the military. More information about TAPS is available at www.taps.org. Bonnie is also a member of  the Joining Forces Mentoring Advisory Council.

Posted in Families, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military Families, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Not an Obama Thing; It’s a Families Need Healthcare Thing

Posted by YWM on March 7, 2012

Remarks delivered by

Byllye Avery, Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices for Health Care
at the HERvotes Press Conference March 1, 2012

In 1970, three organizations, National Women’s Health Network, Mergerwatch and Avery Institute for Social Change founded Raising Women’s Voices to make sure women’s voices and needs were a part of health care discussions and reform legislation.

We are pleased to join HERvotes at this press conference because of its commitment to look at the full spectrum of women’s lives and all of the issues facing women and their families.  Because we know that everything is interrelated.

Women’s health care is under attack at the local, state and federal level, with direct aim being taken at reproductive health.  While reproductive health is important to us other issue are also important such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, prevention services, violence against women, maternity care, and most importantly access to affordable quality care.

What good is it to live in a country that brags about having the best health care in the world if you can’t get it?  We measure our health care system from the wrong end of the stick.

The Affordable Care Act (ACE) is one of the best pieces of legislation ever passed, since Medicare and Social Security. It has the potential of providing affordable care, well-women services, ending discrimination in care, and enforcement of best medical practices.  It can do for the health of women and their families in this country what Title IX has done for women in sports.

When I talk to women of color they understand and fully support ACE.  It means health coverage and access that can improve qualify of life for themselves and their families.  This isn’t an Obama thing; it is a families need healthcare thing.

We need the ideological attacks against women’s access to reproductive services and the hostile legislation targeting women at all levels of government to stop.

We say to the press – Talk to the Women.  We demand that politicians start focusing on the tough domestic and global issues our country faces and we say to them – Stop your cowardly firing at women’s health from the comfort of your cultural war bunkers.

We are proud that Bylly Avery is our guest blogger today.  She is truly an historic woman living in our time.  Ms. Avery, Founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the National Black Women’s Health Project,  has dedicated her life to helping and inspiring women.  A winner of the MacArthur Foundation Genius award, she has been honored more times than we can list but here are just a few: Lifetime Television’s Trailblazer Award, Essence magazine Award for Community Service and the President’s Citation of the American Public Health Association.  She is a clinical professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard School of Public Health.

Posted in Families, Health, HERvotes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – Acknowledging Homeless Women Veterans

Posted by danielleac on January 2, 2012

Read the latest article of BPW Foundation’s every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.  If you are a women veteran who would like to share your story, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email dcorazza@bpwfoundation.org.

Acknowledging Homeless Women Veterans

by Debbie Metcalf (as printed in the Asheville Citizen-Times)


The horrible situation of being homeless — not having a place to call your own, to lay down in your own bed, make coffee in your own kitchen, and play with your kids in your own den — is made worse if you’re a homeless female veteran, by feelings of embarrassment for being in that situation and anger for having faithfully served our country and still not have a home when you get out.

They come in all shapes and sizes, with varying goals for their lives and differing ideas on how to best attain them. Some of these women are mothers with dependent children to care for. Some are going to school to further their education and increase their work skills. Some of these women are victims of sexual harassment and abuse while serving in the military. Some are addicts and alcoholics. Some are religious and some are not. Some are gay and some are straight. Their lives are as varied as ours.

But their life experiences are very different from ours in that they are experiencing a form of betrayal that most of us have never known. They came home from service in the military to a society that seems to ignore the fact that women have played a vital role in the U.S. armed services for many decades. And contrary to popular thought, women have always been exposed to and participated in very dangerous situations in the military. These women have been injured and experienced loss and sadness while working to serve their country, just as the male veterans. Now, they are homeless.

Asheville is a great area to live and work. We have so many philanthropic organizations that assist people in need. I’m a proud native of Asheville. There are nonprofits dedicated to protecting our rivers, mountains, downtown, greenways, animals, civil rights, air. We have nonprofits to protect handicapped persons and victims of domestic violence, rape, PTSD, child abuse, hate crimes. We also have nonprofits that offer assistance to homeless individuals. The problem in Asheville is that homeless male veterans have a specific place to call their own, whereas homeless female veterans do not have such a facility. The federal government has extended grants to nonprofits to assist homeless veterans in our area. The males have the Veterans Restoration Center at Oteen that houses only male veterans. The women, however, are allocated only 10 beds at the Steadfast House, a homeless shelter that houses all homeless women. Many homeless female veterans are discouraged to accept this housing because of the stringent interviewing process that many feel discriminates against them. These female veterans are also many times left out of the loop about veteran issues and programs available to assist women to achieve their goals in becoming self-sufficient. The homeless female veterans in our area need a transitional facility that serves only veterans and provides information related to their veteran status. It’s only fair.

Homeless female veterans have unique experiences and needs from the general homeless female population. We are committed to doing what we can to bring greater equality for these women. They deserve a group working for them, since they are being short-changed by the existing organizations that are funded to assist homeless vets. It’s the age-old problem of sexism in our society. Women who have served in the military are victims of a patriarchal culture that devalues their worth, minimizing their involvement in the service of our country. We need to stand up for these voiceless women who are living at the mercies of a patriarchal organization and get them some real help; the kind of help that will get them out of their current situation and into a place of their own. They have much to offer society. But first we need to offer them a hand-up so they can get their lives back in order.These women need clothes to wear to job interviews. They need transportation to appointments and sometimes assistance completing applications for housing, food assistance, school, employment. They need a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night, until they can get a permanent place of their own. We are working to make that happen.

For more information on the effort to end homelessness among the women veteran population in Asheville, contact Debbie at mzdjm@live.com


Posted in Families, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Too Soon To Tell?

Posted by danielleac on August 4, 2011

By Danielle Corazza

After reading “Do Gen X Women Choose Work Over Kids?” I had to chuckle. Again, it seems these pundits are missing the mark by such a wide margin about women’s maternal decision make process. I don’t agree that Gen X women (roughly age 33-46) are choosing not to have children; they are instead choosing when to have children.  While I admit that my evidence is antidotal, it certainly seems to make sense to me and many of my friends.

In today’s world, where birth control, education, and advanced fertility procedures with high success rates are common knowledge and universally accessible, why would a woman begin her family before she’s had a chance to build a secure future for her potential family? There’s no rush.

If you look at the basic timeline, it all makes sense. High school graduation at 18, graduate school completion by 23 or so, internship and first job till 25, job of choice by 26, and ten years of enjoying the perks of success (read: paychecks that cover more than your basic bills!), and you’ve got a woman who  is roughly 35. Medical science says that exponential increases in birth defects due to a woman’s age do not begin till 42, while fertility peaks around 35, leaving a nice 5-7 year window for women to start their families making the statistics that the article quotes, that 53% of Gen X women are childless, true, because half of that small cohort hasn’t reached their optimum (as determine by them and not the pundits) childbearing age yet.

In addition, many Gen X women watched their mothers struggle, divided by opposing desires to work for financial gain and security, yet yearning for the choice to raise their own children. Given a different scenario and armed with the knowledge imparted by their mothers, Gen X women are doing both – waiting till they have earned enough career and financial stability to afford themselves the luxury of choice, then in some cases exiting the workforce to raise their children during their formative years (0-5), and re-entering the workforce at will.

This Generation is also faced by a very different reality than the Boomers, who commonly expected to work their 20 or 30 years and retire comfortably on their defined retirement plan after earning the gold watch. Gen X has lived through the disappearance of pensions and company retirements and are faced with the knowledge that they must work till their 401Ks can support them – for many, this means 40 plus years in the workforce. With careers of that length, a few years out may not have (and should not have) as negative an impact on careers as it once did.

All in all, I think the writer’s perspective that a woman must choose one or the other, kids or career, is far-reaching at best, although only time will tell – because Gen X still has many child-bearing years left!

Posted in Baby Boomers, Families, Feminism, Gen X | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – No One Told Me

Posted by danielleac on July 4, 2011

Read the latest installment of our every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.  If you are a women veteran who would like to share your story, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email dcorazza@bpwfoundation.org.

No One Told Me
by Ginger Miller

I joined the Navy to get the GI Bill to go to college….mission accomplished…well almost. The GI Bill seemed like a sure fire way to get ahead of the game, after being discharged out of the Navy. Yeah that’s right, get out, go to college, and then get a good job. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy!

No one told me about the years of backlog with filing claims at the VA Regional Office, and no one told me that my husband, who was my knight in shining armor, would come back from war a changed man suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

No one told me that there was a strong possibility that I, an honorably discharged disabled female veteran, could become homeless, and that I would have to work three jobs, go to school full-time, take care of my  husband with PTSD, and my 3 year old son, all while living in sub-standard housing conditions.

No one told me during the three-day transition course provided exiting military members that I really wasn’t prepared for the real world and that, there was a strong possibility that my life would be turned upside down for years to come.

No one told me that I would cry out to God after 20 years of marriage, wanting to know if my marriage was a blessing or a curse.

No one told me that God would light a fire up under me to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and at risk veterans.

No one told me that through my efforts to reach out and help other veterans that my healing process would begin.

No one told me that I would reach the lives of so many veterans in need.

No one told me that through my advocating efforts that I would be appointed to the Maryland Caregivers Support Coordinating Council and the Maryland Commission for Women.

No one told me that one day I would be standing next to some of our country’s greatest senators at a senate press conference, advocating to save the HUD VASH Voucher program.

No one told me that I would one day pursue a master’s degree in non-profit management.

No one told me that the little boy who was once homeless with his parents, both disabled veterans, would grow up to be accepted into the University of Maryland at College Park, with aspirations of becoming an anesthesiologist.

No one told me, but now I know, I will stand on the rooftop and tell every veteran, male or female, that there is help available.

I will tell them about the resources to help them make a smooth transition from active duty to civilian status.

I will tell them that there is hope, because I made it and they can too.

I am Ginger Miller, Disabled Veteran-Wife-Mother-Caregiver-Advocate-Commissioner and President  & CEO of John 14:2, Inc and I am on a mission to help my brother and sister veterans so that they will never have to say, “No one told me.”

Posted in Diversity, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Women Business Ownership Changing the Rules of the Game

Posted by ptanji on April 18, 2011

I just listened on National Public Radio to Donald Trump’s quasi announcement of his intention to run for president in 2012.  He says and I’m paraphrasing: “I know business people in New York.  They are ruthless, cutthroat, and I want them negotiating for this country.”  He says America is too soft when it comes to negotiating.

Oh dear lord, help me to love Donald Trump and all business people who run their companies this way.  If women want to change the way the business world works we have to start our own businesses.  Imagine our own workplaces where we recognize the needs of men, women and their children by embracing their whole selves at work – by recognizing that women breast feed and care for their children and sometimes the children just might have to come to work with us (cutthroat – I don’t think so).  The marketplace is not run by hearts — its run by heads like that of Donald Trump, who view employees as pawns in a chess game.   Manipulating employees every move — using a paycheck as a carrot — to ensure a winning strategy.  And, let there be no mistake.  Business is a game.    A game that women did not create and were not invited to when the wheels  of free market, trade, etc. were put into motion hundreds of years ago.

Its going to take guts to change the rules.  And, its going to require women (and men too) to do business together to change the rules. Trying to sell products to the status quo isn’t going to cut it. Asking the status quo to hire more women in leadership, to place them on boards isn’t going to cut it.  I just read the  The Women in Leadership, April 2011 report which notes:  “stalled progress and missed opportunities. Only eight of the Minnesota’s top 100 publicly held companies experienced a net gain in women corporate directions in 2010”.   Gee — I think we’ve heard that song before.  Time to change the tune.

Women have to take the lead of business owners like Tami Simon of Sounds True, Colorado, Ni Suphavong, of Jade Logistics, Minnesota, Kim Jordon, New Belgium Brewing Company, Colorado.  These women are game changers! At Simons place of business you will find infants, and dogs!  At Jade Logistics, you will see a business model where the community is very much a stakeholder in the success of the business.  At New Belgium Brewing Company you will find a culture that is passionate about the environment.  These women and their companies are not intimidated by the “‘cutthroat, ruthless” dealings of the Donald Trumps of the world.

In the 1980’s, we business women, donned our business suits and floppy bow ties.  Today, we wear flamboyant scarves, 5 inch heels, and low necklines.  But, its going to take more than a costume change to move women into the corporate suites.  Its’ going to take a movement of brave, beautiful, strong women ready to bring their hearts and sometimes even their children to work.  Let the new games begin!

Posted in Feminism, Successful Workplaces, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

News to Chew On: Link Love for Lunch

Posted by sherrysaunders on February 25, 2011

Woman by woman the VA is changing its culture [Salt Lake Tribune]

Homeless women veterans: Americans latest war casualties [Suite101.com]

Microfinance programs for American women [Huffington Post]

Women want jobs based on their merit [Forbes]

The political attack on working women and families [Huffington Post]

Must women entrepreneurs learn to “bluster”? [BusinessWeek]

Female vets have harder time finding jobs [KAIT 8]

Soldier Mom deploys for 4th time [Army Times]

Unemployment challenging gender roles [Chicago Tribune]

Study of working moms nauseates [Boston Herald]

America last among peers with no paid federal maternity leave [Bloomberg]

Flawed study on women and science careers gets wide media attention [Womens eNews]

Finding homes for women vets and their children [Huffington Post]

Women who out earn their husbands [Slate]

For female reporters a war on many fronts [NPR]

Female owned business responsible for job creation in US [PRLog]

The state of women leadership around the world [Forbes]

Veterans and advocates condemn military’s failure to stop rapes [NewsChange]

How the green economy can help low income women [States News]  

Men bounce back faster after recession’s uneven blows [BND]

Pentagon now supports bill to protect troops’ child custody rights [Stripes]

NPR Series the Changing Role of Women in the Military:
Part I The roles of women in the military and combat [NPR]
Part II First female Silver Star award winner since WWII, a reluctant hero[NPR]
Part III Ret. Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught remembers her “different” military days [NPR
Part IV A soldier’s life for mother and daughter [NPR]
Part V – In the Army it is lonely at the top for women [NPR]

Posted in Economy, Feminism, Homelessness, Link Love, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

News to Chew On: Link Love for Lunch

Posted by sherrysaunders on February 4, 2011

Women doctors face pay gap [Wall Street Journal]

Children’s body mass rises longer mom works [Los Angeles Times]

Paid family leave’s secret weapon: men [SFGate]

Admiral Mullin: Workplace flexibility focuses on families and children [DOD]

New government program to help women small business owners [Washington Technology]

Men, women flip the script in gender expectations [USA Today]

Black History Month: remember black women [Clutchmagonline]

New campaign alerts women to realities of heart disease [USA Today]

Why women can’t raise capital for their businesses [Bnet.com]

Minnesota may repeal its Fair Pay Act [Benefits News]

Defense Department to begin DADT training in February [Goveexec.com]

Women veteran’s health care facts and statistics [VA]

$100 million gender discrimination suit filed against Toshiba [Reuters]

Advise for women wanting to found a “Start Up” [Business Insider]

Women: We aren’t there yet [Dayton Daily News]

Gender Gap: Will US women ever progress? [FMLA Blog]

Retaining women workers makes good business sense [Baselinemag]

Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions [New York Times]

Posted in Link Love, Pay Equity, Small Business, Successful Workplaces, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Seeking Middle Ground with the Tiger Mother Controversy

Posted by egehl on January 21, 2011

As a single woman with no kids I am hardly the target demographic for Professor Amy Chua’s wildly controversial memoir about Chinese-style parenting entitled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”.

Nevertheless the premise of the book has intrigued me because I think it touches upon more than just parenting, but also the notion of how to appropriately challenge ourselves to be our best.

There is no doubt the book has its shock-and-awe moments especially through the lens of our westernized culture, and the overarching view that children should have uninhibited fun and the freedom to be themselves.  While I certainly don’t want to squash our freedoms while growing up, I think as adults we must continually be mindful of our own self-autonomy and goal setting, and that ability starts in childhood. 

Therefore I think the themes of this book can have implications beyond just parenting and insinuate that encouraging our children to strive and expect their best can better prepare them for the trials and tribulations of adulthood.  Granted I think there are ways to interact with children in much less stringent and judging ways so it poses the question of what is the right method to foster self-worth and motivation?

Overall I think Chua’s book has sparked an important dialogue to force us to reexamine how children are being raised, whether we agree with her methods or not.  Her decisions, which are extreme, to disallow her children to go to slumber parties and play dates, accept nothing less than an A, and prohibit the engagement of many popular American activities could be an opposing view we all need to hear, if nothing else, to initiate food for thought. 

Her methods and attitudes may be outlandish, but perhaps we should consider the underlying premise of why she does it—mastery leads to fun and enjoyment, not the other way around, and we are better when we push ourselves to be our best.

Chua’s message that success requires effort is coupled with the message that the child has what it takes and will always exhibit strength if inspired.  I think all children have amazing talents and as adults we should be mindful of how we can help our kids not only reach their goals, but maximize their abilities even beyond their wildest imagination.  Perhaps there are ways to employ some of Chua’s methods in a more tempered fashion.  Children need loving, supportive encouragement to realize their true potential and it’s important they receive that early on in life.  Because that skill set will come in handy once they’re adults and will have to self-motivate and battle their own inner critic.

I am not condoning or necessarily agreeing with Chua’s methods, but I think the book has unearthed a worthwhile discussion.  Maybe there is a middle ground that can be reached somewhere between the often lenient attitudes of Western parents and the overly strict actions of Chinese parents.  Instead of hours of video games or brutal piano practicing, maybe there’s a mix of both? 

Parenting is something that will always continue to evolve and be organic in nature based on our present culture and how each generation reacts to it.  So methods that strike a chord and challenge our traditional views I think only serves us in positive ways because it forces us to take a step back, reevaluate, and either be fine with maintaining the status quo, or perhaps adjust to ideas outside of the mainstream. 

What do you think about Chua’s book and parenting style? 

Are there aspects about her methods that you agree with? 

Do you think there is a middle ground between Chua’s methods and American styles of parenting?

Posted in Families, Lifestyle | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Face AIDS on World AIDS Day

Posted by joyinhome on December 1, 2010

HIV/AIDS is nature’s oxymoron. Sex is supposed to bring forth life, but now, it can potentially destroy it. Let’s ALL stay safe. Know your status. Get tested. Drop the stigma. Face AIDS.

A global snapshot:

  • 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide
  • 2.1 million of those are children under 15
  • 2.9 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2009
  • 1.8 million people died from HIV-related causes in 2009
  • 67% of the people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Young people account for half of new HIV infections

What will you be doing to commemorate the day?

More at The Red Pump Project.

Posted in Advocacy, Education, Global, Health, HIV AIDS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »