The Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center releases its newest anthology, HOST NATION HOSPITALITY.
When US military troops serve abroad, they are often accompanied by their families. Host Nation Hospitality presents more than a hundred first-hand stories and commentary documenting their living and working experiences in all parts of the world. There are memories dating from the rubble of World War II to the present. The stories come from US and Host Nation perspectives and cover topics from friendships to fiascos.
Compiled by MAMF’s 2020-2022 Writer-in-Residence Valerie Bonham Moon, editors Circe Olson Woessner and Allen Dale Olson, and illustrator Joan Y. Olson, this book is a companion to Schooling with Uncle Sam, MAMF’s tribute to the 75th anniversary of the Department of Defense world-wide school system for the children of military personnel. Schooling is available on Amazon.
HOST NATION HOSPITALITY is available on Amazon and other book retailers.
Some quotes from the anthology:
“When they asked me for my “shot record,” I was bewildered as I had never had a shot in my life. That first day, they gave me Tetanus, Small Pox, Yellow Fever, and a TB test. Thankfully, no horrible reaction resulted!”
“The village custom is to gather everyone together during the Qingming Festival for a communal dinner, a ‘block party’ as it is known in the USA. We walked down the road to the community center where dozens of tables and red plastic chairs were waiting for the entire population of Baiqi.”
“The first night my mother went to cook dinner in our new flat, we learned a lot! For starters…there was a coin-fed meter in the cabinet under the stove burners. When Mother went to cook, she first had to feed the meter a few coins. If cooking took longer than expected, and she used up her gas purchase, the gas burners on the stove would start to go “pop-pop-pop” as the gas ran out. Like most folks back then, we learned to keep a cup in a drawer near the stove with coins to feed the meter.”
To purchase Dear Military Teen, click here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“The motto, E Pluribus Unum, means ‘out of many, one.’ The museum’s latest project E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE Under Pressure — gives title and substance to a newly-released multi-faceted study exploring if the many do indeed become one,” Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director of the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) explains. “E Pluribus Unum: GRAICE under Pressure curates, in one volume, stories from hundreds of military-connected individuals based on their service experience seen through the lenses of GRAICE (Gender; Religion; rAce; Identity; Culture; and Ethnicity.).”
The 276-page book results from MAMF’s most ambitious undertaking to date. The museum team and the museum’s Veteran•Family•Community Collaborative used an anonymous survey and written essays to answer a series of questions based on a simple theme: How do MANY become ONE without losing ONESELF. “How,” Woessner asks, “do we unite in service and still keep our personhood?”
The “GRAICE Project” involved hundreds of people, including a team of university anthropologists who analyzed the data and sorted it into specific categories in line with topics in the book. In addition to the book, the museum will present a series of podcasts and social media stories.
The book contains art by Brandon Palma, a military brat artist, and compositions by the museum’s two Writers-in-Residence, Valerie Bonham Moon and Connie Kinsey, who wrote essays on single-word prompts. Woessner adds that “almost two dozen other military-connected authors aged 9 to 91 also wrote essays on the same topics –almost like chapter bookends– different generations and perspectives, and these varied voices tell their stories, the good, the bad, the in-between, and the truly awful!”
“During the first 14 years of my life,” Connie Kinsey says, “I had 24 home addresses and experienced things much different from my civilian counterparts. This project is a serious look at life in a military environment as experienced by Brats like me. The stories are heartwarming, thought-provoking, and insightful. This book should be read in small doses, picked up, set down, digested, and revisited.” Valerie Bonham Moon adds, “It’s also a professional analysis of contemporaneous social pressure that affects the people affiliated with the services.”
The project was grant-funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New Mexico Humanities Council, and the McCune Foundation.
Woessner says that proceeds from this book and other MAMF publications help support the museum’s literary projects and residency programs. To buy a copy of E Pluribus Unum, please click the link:
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!
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!