Tijeras, NM – “Pandemic or not, permanent home or not, we’ve made it through eleven years,” said Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Founder and Director of the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). “We’ve won national awards, published books, produced documentary films and a play, conducted classes and workshops, book and film discussion programs, and lived our goal to honor military families and preserve their legacies while sharing their stories and educating the public.”
Woessner says she is grateful to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History for hosting MAMF’s first-ever exhibit. “In fact,” Woessner says, “the Nuclear staff taught us how to be a museum. We were just a handful of educators, civil servants, and military veterans none of whom had had any museum experience.”
On March 23rd that early connection continues with an exhibit of information panels about women inventors in honor of Women’s History Month done in cooperation with the Nuclear Museum. “Even though we’re a small volunteer organization,” she says, “we manage to host rotating exhibits on various subjects and maintain permanent exhibits on what it’s like to be a military kid or a military spouse and the experience of working in or attending schools in the world-wide Defense Department School system.”
This year, MAMF would like military-connected families from all over to send a birthday greeting or postcard to the museum, sharing a short military memory for its “Postcard Project” collection. Over the decade, the museum has collected hundreds of postcards, each telling a short memory about military/family life—memories of WWII to the present.
MAMF maintains a special collections library which includes folios of first-hand stories by military veterans and family members going back to World War I and has artifacts collected by teachers and military family members from all parts of the world. Woessner explains that MAMF has been fortunate to have support from “New Mexico Arts, the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for State and Local History, and many donors and friends.”
MAMF publications and social media outlets proclaim the museum’s values – to welcome everyone regardless of age, ancestry, disability, national or ethnic origin, race, religious belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, political belief, or veteran status.
Birthday greetings and postcards can be mailed to MAMF at 546B State Hwy 333, Tijeras, NM 87059
An anthology of first-hand stories by teachers and students who experienced the DoDEA school system around the world during the years from 1946 to the present has recently launched on Amazon and copies have been mailed to the 58 author-contributors to the book so they will have them in time for the October observance of DoDEA’s 75th anniversary.
Schooling With Uncle Sam was compiled by Circe Olson Woessner and Allen Dale Olson, a father-daughter team with a combined total of 70 years of affiliation with the schools known today as DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity). Includes a Foreword by DoDEA Director, Tom Brady, and artwork by Joan Olson and information from the museum’s schools exhibit.
The anthology presents nearly100 first-hand stories and comments in a 346-page anthology by former teachers and students with experience in the world-wide K-12 school system operated by the Department of Defense since the end of World War II for the children of U.S. military personnel.
DoDEA will launch a press release and an anniversary web page on October 12th to commemorate the opening of the first schools in Germany, Japan, and Austria. Throughout the rest of the school year, they will roll out print and digital products to call attention to this special anniversary. Follow the DoDEA webpage to find links to organizations such as ours, to the anthology, and to the history and legacy of people and events that have helped preserve DoDEA history.
SCHOOLING WITH UNCLE SAM not only tells the history of the system but also opens windows on what it really is like to teach in or attend a typical American school on a military installation overseas. There are laughter and thrills, smiles and fears, adventure and tranquility highlighting the unique relationships among teachers and students.
Some early reviews read:
“It is after midnight and I’m sitting in easy chair reading the wonderful stories/memories written in this book… enjoyed 36 glorious years with DODEA. I miss those days. Thank u for giving all of us a time to reflect on our own experiences and relish reading the stories of others!”
“My copy came yesterday and I stayed up all night reading it! Wonderful, wonderful stories by such fabulous people! Thank you to everyone for sharing your memories! ❤️❤️❤️”
To buy the book, please click
The play SHOUT! was inspired by Inner Voices, a story written by Army veteran Theresa Duke for the Museum of the American Military Family’s anthology, SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writing by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services. Lora Beldon, the 2017-2019 museum Artist-in-Residence and museum Director Circe Olson Woessner co-edited the anthology.
Inner Voices had exceptionally compelling dialogue and Beldon and Woessner agreed the story would translate well on stage. Playwright Melissa Rayford seamlessly wove together multiple stories contributed by service members, military spouses, brats and allies into a strong, thought-provoking and poignant piece.
Beldon says, “Shared stories help build and define our identity…help communities learn from each other. People who haven’t experienced what LGBTQ veterans or their families have, can better understand and learn about the subculture through the play.”
In 2018, SHOUT! and the museum’s companion exhibit Still Shouting – Memories from Inside the Closet received the American Association for State and Local History’s prestigious Albert B. Corey Award, gaining national recognition for the museum.
SHOUT! debuted in Richmond, VA, on September 22, 2019 and received positive reviews.
Rayford, who also directed the Richmond performance said, “It is our hope…that we create a production to be used by any theatre group wishing to produce this subject matter.”
While the 2020-2021 Covid pandemic sidelined further stage performances, it did not stop Beldon and Woessner from collaborating with Dr Deborah Cohler (San Francisco State University) and Dr. Erica Chu (Truman College) to create educational materials based on LGBTQ and military history and stories in the script to help enhance the audience experience and to provide further education by facilitating post-play discussion.
In December 2020, Los Angeles based director, Herb Hall led nine actors in a virtual reading of SHOUT!.Navy veteran Kayt Peck reviewed the online reading saying,
“I applaud the Museum of the American Military Family in their efforts to acknowledge LGBTQ service members, especially those who spent years, even decades serving in silence, protecting a country that did not recognize them as worthy citizens. This remains a dedicated mission for the Museum even as Covid makes live theatre an impossibility.
“SHOUT! accomplishes a critical need by making discussion of gays in the military not simply a discussion of a concept but also showing the impacts on real people and acknowledging the talents and dedication of LGBTQ service members. Those talents help make the military the efficient and effective component of society that it can and must be.”
Hall will be directing a virtual one-day matinee performance of SHOUT! on June 27, 2021 at 2 PM PDT. The museum board and cast are raising funds to cover expenses through a dedicated fundraising platform.
Air Force Spouse Aimee Hanebeck, one of the many volunteers working tirelessly to ensure the play moves forward says,
“This is an important work of theater and a source of great pride for the museum to have curated the stories for the play. In this innovative time of a post-Covid exposed world, artists have found ways to bring their craft to their audience, and as such, SHOUT! will be available in an online performance.
We would like to invite you to be a part of this project. As a nonprofit, the museum is sustained entirely by donations from patrons. In order to uphold the dignity of this script, we have set a goal to fairly compensate the actors and staff, record the performance, and make it available for greater circulation and for use in academic and corporate settings.”
Volunteers have set up a dedicated Fundly account, and anyone who contributes to it will receive a link to the June 27th performance.
The museum is a 501c3 all-volunteer non-profit located in Tijeras, New Mexico, seven miles east of Albuquerque. Visit the museum’s webpage to learn more about SHOUT!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 15, 2021
Military Family Museum in Tijeras, NM Reopens with Exhibit Honoring Children of Military Families
TIJERAS, NM—In honor of the “Month of the Military Child” in April, the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF), located in Tijeras, NM, is featuring its “Military Kids Lives” permanent exhibit – a compilation of photos, documents and stories from those who grew up in the military, along with research from the nation’s leading subject matter experts. After over a year of being closed due to COVID restrictions, MAMF is now reopen Friday and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and by appointment.
“As a child connected to the military, I understand first-hand the feeling of being 10 and old enough to get a military dependent ID card – a rite of passage, a passport to freedom, and the certainty that I was on my way to becoming a grown-up,” said MAMF founder and director, Circe Olson Woessner, ND. “MAMF connects people like myself who have had similar experiences, always living with the uncertainty of not knowing where you’d be in a year. It’s important for New Mexicans to understand the sacrifices military children also make. This exhibit provides stories with which you can connect and appreciate.”
As part of the exhibit, MAMF is also showcasing books by and for military children (“brats”). MAMF is asking former or current military brats to create a photo book of their life experience as a child which will become part of the exhibit.
The exhibit contrasts and compares the experiences of Hudson Philips, a brat in the 1930’s and 40’s, with those of author Bernard Lee (1950’s and 60’s) and Dwayne Dunn (1980’s and 90’s). Elva Resa Publishing House and Military Kids Lives Magazine are also featured on panels discussing their military child-centric publications.
Visitors can expect to see artifacts, clothing, and books donated by brats who grew up in military families – from Thailand to Texas, Norway to Libya, throughout Europe, the USA, and the Far East.
The exhibit is sponsored, in part, by Home Depot, Daisy BB guns, GCC, Rio Grande Credit Union and Chameleon Kids. Because MAMF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we suggest a $3 per person admission fee.
Month of the Military Child was established in 1986 by Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger to recognize U.S. military children who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces. As part of that effort, April 30 is recognized as the official “National Military Brats Day.” It is estimated there are around around 15 million military brats in the U.S.
MAMF is NM Safe Certified for COVID-19 Safe Practices. All visitors must wear masks. Per public health orders, MAMF will operate at 33% capacity.
MAMF is located at 546B State Route 333, Tijeras, NM 87059, next to Molly’s Bar.
March 10, 2021
For immediate release
Contact: Dr. Allen Dale Olson, (505) 400-3849, OlsonAllen@msn.com
MILITARY FAMILY MUSEUM SPECIAL HOURS FOR TENTH ANNIVERSARY
In recognition of its tenth anniversary, the Tijeras-based Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) will open from 1:00 to 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, March 20 and 21. Following Covid protocols, visitors will be limited in number and must wear masks and practice social distancing. MAMF docents have received state certification in Covid practices.
On display will be artifacts from around the world, including garments, tools, and instruments from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, unique items such as a model of the infamous Nazi concentration camp at Flossenheim and some military uniform buttons from the American Revolutionary War.
Visitors can browse in the special collections library and review exhibits illustrating the life of a military kid, the special challenges and achievements of a military spouse, and a description of the world-wide school system operated b y the Department of Defense for military kids.
MAMF was founded on March 23, 2011, and its founder and executive director, Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, says “we would love to receive birthday cards in the mail or by visitors dropping them off during a visit.”
MAMF is at 546B State Highway 333 (Old Route 66) in Tijeras (right next to Molly’s famous destination bar). Admission is $3.00 per visitor. Additional information: www.militaryfamilymuseum.org.
by Allen Dale Olson, Secretary
Museum of the American Military Family
It was probably sometime during the fall of 2010 that I first heard my daughter, Circe, mumbling to herself about a medal for military mothers. Her older son had been deployed to Iraq, and like most mothers of those in military combat zones, she was worried about him. Never mind that her husband had been deployed several times, it’s different when the soldier is your child. “We military moms are tough,” she told me, half-jokingly, “we should get some sort of medal.”
It wasn’t really a medal she was thinking about, but rather, something much bigger. “There must be a museum someplace,” she said and launched another search. Having grown up with my wife and me in military communities, she had heard many speeches and read many publications about the importance of family to a military man or woman. “But there are no museums for military moms,” she sighed. “Or for the spouses or kids. There are museums about battles, squadrons, companies, and ships, but not one museum completely dedicated to the people who stand behind those soldiers, sailors, and airmen.”
A long pause. “So, I’ll start one.”
At first, I considered that comment one of those usually harmless unmeant promises, but a few days later when I asked her about it, I thoughtlessly added that it seemed like something I’d like to help her with.
That conversation resulted in a flurry of calls and talks with her friends and work colleagues and she and I meeting with state officials in an effort to find out how one starts a museum and then operates it after it has been founded. On March 23, 2011, under the business name Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center, we received our tax-exempt status as 501 c 3 and our CRS numbers and documents from the state Public Regulatory Commission and we had a museum, on-line only–with no funding or supporters, but a museum nonetheless.
Ten years later we have three galleries, a special collections library, and a gift shop in a vintage house along Old Route 66 near Albuquerque. We have an operating budget, some volunteers and an enthusiastic and dedicated board of directors. We have permanent exhibits illustrating what it’s like to be a military spouse, or a military kid, and one telling the history of the world-wide school system for military children operated by the Department of Defense. We have a series of revolving exhibits dealing with subjects such as addiction and recovery, military family life overseas, and G. I. humor.
We conduct town hall meetings bringing together the veteran and civilian community for discussions ranging from thoughts on war to helping veterans and their families re-integrate into civilian communities, and we work with the U.S. Immigration Service to host Naturalization ceremonies for military spouses. We have produced documentary films and published a number of anthologies, all first-hand stories about the challenges and achievements of military family life.
From the beginning, we made sure that all our programs, classes, and special events were free to the public. Our board of directors are all volunteers, and we have no paid staff. We have managed all our affairs because of donations and grants.
We have moved three times in our ten years and have now outgrown our current home. Finding a suitable place within our means is our highest priority going forward. We have been blessed with encouragement and cooperation with other museums in the area, and we owe a great deal to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History for hosting our first-ever exhibition and whose staff taught us much about running a museum.
Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, says she is grateful for all the volunteer and professional guidance she has received during the past decade and looks forward to a post-pandemic future of still more programs.
For a complete picture of everything about MAMF and its blogs and podcasts, visit www.militaryfamilymuseum.org.
Military Museum in Tijeras, NM Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Call for Stories from Military Families
by Erica Asmus-Otero
The Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF), located in Tijeras, New Mexico – is celebrating its 10th anniversary in March 2021.
In celebration of the anniversary, the museum is asking military families, both active and retired, to submit a memory to the MAMF about their military service on a postcard or birthday card.
“We want to connect with families through their stories and cards but cannot have a big celebration out of an abundance of caution with the pandemic,” said museum founder and military family member, Circe Woessner.
Founded in 2011, the MAMF collects, preserves and displays memorabilia and nostalgic stories donated by military families, providing ongoing support through podcasts, books, and other mediums.
“Many Americans don’t understand the sacrifices that the families of service men and women make – how many times their families are uprooted, have to assimilate with new cultures and customs, make and lose friends, and change schools or jobs on a regular basis,” said Woessner. “The MAMF brings to life the stories of these families through their memorabilia, while providing a support network of families who can truly relate with the many challenges and emotions we’ve all experienced.”
Postcard and birthday cards will be accepted throughout the month of March and will be carefully curated in a commemorative 10th anniversary album and posted on the museum’s Facebook page: @MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily. Birthday greetings can be sent directly to: MAMF 546B State Highway 333 Tijeras, NM 87059.
By W. Umber
Ask your financial advisor about a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) also known as a Charitable Giving Fund. These accounts are setup through the financial services firm of your choice (Fidelity, Ameriprise, USAA, etc.). You can fund this account with cash, stock, or other assets such as IRA minimum distributions, and you recommend an investment strategy once the assets are irrevocably transferred to the DAF. The tax deduction for the charitable donation is taken at the time the assets are transferred into the DAF. Assets can continue to grow in value (tax free) depending on the investments you choose. There may be other tax benefits depending on your situation.
Once the DAF is funded, you recommend “grants” or donations to your charity. You can give anonymously, in memory of someone, or in support of specific projects. The grant is made directly to the charity—no credit cards, checks, or websites to sign up for! You will have a permanent record of the gifts you have made through the fund.
Essentially, this is like having a mini-foundation that you fund and control. Check with your financial advisor to see if this is a good strategy for you, and don’t forget that you can donate to the Museum of the American Military Family through your Donor Advised Fund!