Military

Celebrate Parents of Military Men and Women: The Forgotten Heroes

Military Appreciation

Sgt. Nick Daniels and Ginnie Ann Daniels (mom) immediately before his wedding. 12/31/1999
Photo Courtesy of Ginnie Ann Daniels

The parents of the brave men and women in uniform who defend our nation deserve to be honored for their great sacrifices and all they do to support those who have and are serving our country. One of the most powerful ways to show appreciation to our servicemen and servicewomen is to honor their parents. Without question, we have the best military in the world. What makes our military the best in the world is the quality people who constitute it. Unfortunately, we often fail to pay homage to their parents—the individuals who produce these quality men and women.

Ginnie Ann Daniels, an Arkansas mom with a son in the military, has committed herself to passionate support of active duty military men and women and veterans. Mrs. Daniels has engaged in numerous efforts to evince her gratitude to those who have and are serving in our military. For example, she partnered with the Wounded Warriors Project to have parking lot signs posted in prominent places, including Walmart and the South Arkansas Art Center (SAAC) in El Dorado, Arkansas, that acknowledge the immense sacrifices veterans injured in combat have made. Ginnie understands that we should never forget to honor and care for our nation’s veterans.

Military Appreciation

Ginnie Ann Daniels posing for a picture at South Arkansas Art Center for a sign honoring wounded combat servicemen and servicewomen.
Photo courtesy of Ginnie Ann Daniels

Sergeant Nick Daniels, Ginnie Ann Daniels’ son, has and is serving tours of duty in some of the most dangerous regions in the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. On yesterday, Ginnie and her husband celebrated their 42th wedding anniversary. Imagine how difficult it is for this loving couple to be separated from their son who is bravely serving our nation. Yes, they are proud of their son and the hero he is. This, however, does not make it any easier for them emotionally as they acknowledge the dangers Sergeant Nick Daniels faces in regions like Afghanistan and Iraq. His parents have to employ just as much faith as he does to maintain hope and courage while he serves.

Parents of military men and women are heroes too. The economic, emotional and physical sacrifices they have to make are highly commendable and not many would welcome those sacrifices. Although these parents are not physically on the battlefield with their son, they certainly are in spirit—not a moment goes by where they are not thinking about him, supporting him and praying for him.

Take a moment to contemplate about how difficult it is for Sargent Nick Daniels—a parent himself—to be separated from his young son while he’s serving. As a loving father, you know it’s a tremendous sacrifice to miss so many important moments with him. Also, consider the tremendous sacrifices his wife is making.

Military Appreciation

Sgt. Nick Daniels makes a surprise visit home to his wife and son in Houston, Texas.
Photo Courtesy of Ginnie Ann Daniels

While Mrs. Ginnie Daniels has been successful in numerous efforts to express meaningful appreciation to our servicemen, servicewomen and veterans, she has met some opposition and lack of support for her commendable work. For people who are devoted to the type of patriotic work she is involved in, we should do all possible to help her succeed.

Let’s keep Ginnie, her husband, Sergeant Nick Daniels, his wife and their entire family in our prayers. Today, we salute this wonderful family!

If you would like to make financial contributions to the family of Sergeant Nick Daniels, please feel free to contact me at antoniomdaniels@gmail.com, and my staff and I will provide you with the information necessary to submit your contributions directly to his family. Money is one gift we can give to the family to show our tangible gratitude and support for their noteworthy sacrifices.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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4 Benefits of Joining the Military

Military Men

(Photo Credit: Soda Head)

Some people join the military to serve their country, while others do so to travel the world. But a 2014 RAND Corporation study revealed that most enlistees today do so for economic reasons.  Older recruits (those who enlist well after high school graduation and into their mid-20s) comprised 56% of cadets in 2009, the latest data available.  That number is well above the 1992 level, when only 35% of cadets enlisted in their mid to late 20s.  One-third of those who joined in 2009 said they did so because there were no other jobs they could find at home.

Regardless of the reason you join, there are many benefits available to veterans when they return home from their deployment.

Here are four of the most useful benefits:

Educational Benefits

No matter what branch you join, veterans will have a plethora of options to help finance their college education.  Most service members can take advantage of the Military Tuition Assistance Program.  Each branch has it own eligibility requirements.  For instance, the Air Force covers all active duty and reserve personnel up to $250 per semester hour, or $166 per quarter hour.  The Army makes the benefit available to reservists as well.

The Montgomery GI Bill is available for up to 10 years after discharge.  Most veterans today must reduce their military pay by $100 per month for the first year of service, which is their contribution to the fund.  Veterans are then eligible for up to $1,368 per month in benefits for four school years.  The Post 9/11 GI Bill is another option for all veterans who have served at least 90 days since September 10, 2001.  The best part about the latter is that the benefit can be transferred to a spouse or child if you do not use it yourself.

Retirement Savings

All active duty personnel and reservists are eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  It’s one of the most economical savings plans available.  The typical 401(k) charges annual fees totaling up to 0.63% of assets, according to the Investment Company Institute.  The average net expense ratio for the TSP program was 0.029% in 2013.

Veterans have a choice of five different mutual or target-date funds, with a maximum annual investment of $17,500 in 2014.  A ROTH TSP is also available.

Discounts

Your peers will hold you in high regard when you return from deployment.  A 2013 Pew Research survey found that 78% of Americans believe members of the military make a significant contribution to society. Businesses also respect veterans and show their respect by offering discounts on their products and services to them.

Harley-Davidson offers a 5% discount on merchandise purchased through its military exchange. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members get a 10% discount on Lifelock Identity Theft Protection. Motel 6, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Disney World, Avis, and thousands of other businesses offer discounts as well.  Though most companies make their discounts known, you may have to ask a representative about military discounts in some cases.

Tax Breaks

Federal law allows military personnel to maintain residence in one state even if orders move them somewhere else.  This means you can be shielded from state taxes even if you are deployed to a high-tax state.

For instance, if your permanent residence (domicile) is in Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, or another state with no state income tax, you are obligated only to that state’s tax laws and not the state’s laws where you are deployed.  Your spouse is also covered by this statute.  If the state you’re deployed to has more favorable tax laws, you may claim that state as your domicile and be obligated only to its tax laws.

Of course, tax laws are quite complicated, so check with legal assistance on base for further details.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison