Dear Friends,
 
As we look forward to the start of our holiday season, some of you may be embarking on a holiday without your loved one at home. Others may be restarting traditions with a loved one who was gone last year. The lives of military and veteran families are filled with many opportunities to start anew. 
It is our team's great honor to serve Michigan’s military and veteran families and we are thankful for all of you who have joined HomeFront Strong, who are still thinking of HomeFront Strong, and who are sharing our program with others. This is the season for warmth, peace, and friendship and we wish all of that for you this year.
 
Warmly,
 
The HomeFront Strong Team
Skills Reminder: Coping Strategies
Do you remember talking about Coping Strategies in your HomeFront Strong group or when you completed the program online? Coping was discussed in Session #3 and Coping Strategies are listed on page 28 of your workbook, if you need a refresher. 
It’s common to think of coping strategies as something we only need during stressful times. But coping skills can also be useful during the good times and can help us stay more present in positive moments. There are many different coping skills—taking a walk, talking to a friend, breathing deeply, journaling, reading, soaking in the bathtub, exercising, or listening to music, to name a few.

While many of us use similar coping strategies, what is most helpful is personal, and can vary day-to-day. You can use your personal coping strategies to build resilience during difficult or stressful times and also during non-stressful times for a feel good moment in your day. This is a great time of year to identify which coping strategies you already use, as well as which ones you’d like to use more often! 
Where in the Mitten?
Where We've Been: We've been busy! Here are a few places we've recently visited to share information about HomeFront Strong:
 
  • HomeFront Strong in-person groups in Lansing and Ann Arbor

  • VCATs 9, 4, 8, 9, and Motor City VCAT

  • National Guard Yellow Ribbons, Detroit

  • Air National Guard Yellow Ribbon, Battle Creek
  • Strong Bonds Events, Traverse City and Bellaire

  • Coast Guard Station, Port Huron

  • Hero Fest, Lansing

  • Camp Liberty Open House, Brooklyn

  • MSU Veterans Picnic, East Lansing

  • Veteran Educator Consortium, Rochester Hills

Where We're Going: Over the next few months, HomeFront Strong will be at many events throughout the state, including:  

  • Selfridge FRG Holiday Party

  • Howell Unit Holiday Party

  • 182nd Holiday Party, Bay City

  • Grand Ledge Holiday Party

If you have a holiday party or other activity scheduled and are looking for information about programs that support spouses and families, reach out to us and see how we can help at your next event. Contact Ali at (734) 998-5827 or HomeFrontStrong@umich.edu .
Resource Corner
This busy holiday season can be easier to navigate when you have meaningful resources at hand. Here are a few resources that may help you make the most of this season:

Harvest for Heroes: Each year the Veteran Community Action Team in the Southwest Michigan area (VCAT 9) helps veterans, service members and their families prepare for a festive Thanksgiving through their Harvest for Heroes event. This year, Harvest for Heroes will give away 150 turkey baskets to military families on Monday, November 19. For more information and to register, click here or contact Joshua Parish at (906) 430-1679.
Project Evergreen: If you are a military family with a deployed spouse and are trying to find ways to maintain your lawn or if you anticipate a need for basic snow removal services, consider registering with Project EverGreen’s Green Care for Troops or S nowCare for Troops programs . (Or register for both!). Click here for more information.  
If you are looking for additional support for the holidays (or if you are looking for ways to support other military families for the holidays), now is the time to register for these programs:

Adopt-A-Family : Volunteers of America’s Adopt-A-Family program creates sponsorships to support veterans and military families. Families who need support can receive food, toys, and clothing for the season. Visit the program's website to learn more or to register.

The Michigan National Guard Adopt-A-Family Program: This is another opportunity for families to receive assistance or to support another military family. Families who submit an application will be confidentially connected with support in the form of money, food, or mentorship. Contact the Family Programs Office at (517) 481-9889 or visit the program's website to apply for assistance or to support another family.

Operation Homefront Inc.: This national organization offers both Christmas dinners and toys for families. Visit its website to learn how to volunteer or how to register for assistance. (Operation Homefront Inc. is not affiliated with HomeFront Strong.)
Did You Know?
Have you heard of Veteran Community Action Teams (VCAT)? VCATs offer opportunities for programs in your community who focus on or have a special interest in working with veterans to collaborate and share ideas and resources.
Our team regularly attends VCAT meetings throughout the state. New information for military and veteran families is often shared at these meetings. VCAT meetings are open to the public. Have you considered attending your local VCAT meeting to learn more about resources in your area? Visit the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency's website to find when the next one is scheduled in your area.

Here are a few things that have been shared at local VCAT meetings that might apply to you and your family:

New Commissary Rules : Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and all service-connected disabled veterans, regardless of rating, as well as caregivers enrolled in the VA's Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program, will be able to shop at Defense Commissary Agency stores and military exchanges. If you have never been to the commissary at Selfridge ANGB or to either of the exchanges at Selfridge or at Camp Grayling, now may be your chance.

VA Healthcare Access : Veterans enrolled with the VA’s Healthcare Priority Groups 1-5 have no copayments for the first three urgent care visits. To find a VA in-network Urgent Care facility near you, click here or call (866) 620-2071.
Join Us!
We are starting in-person HomeFront Strong groups in Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids. Do you live in these areas? Do you know another military or veteran family who could benefit from HomeFront Strong? There's still time to join our next groups! Contact Ali at 734-998-5827 or email HomeFrontStrong@umich.edu to learn more.
Program Pics
Our child team volunteers do a great job of balancing skill building with fun
These adorable eagles were made by a family and given to our child team volunteers
"Thankful Trees" the child participants made during a group session to compliment one of the HFS grounding strategies
What the room looks like for our in-person groups
In-person groups include a shared meal for participants and their children each week
HomeFront Strong is part of Military Support Programs and Networks (M-SPAN) , a collection of military mental health programs within the University of Michigan Depression Center .
HomeFront Strong
2025 Traverwood Dr., Suite C | Ann Arbor | MI | 48105