VA Benefits ID Card

VA Benefits ID Card

Introducing the VA ID card! Are you a Veteran of the United States military, and weary of carrying around your DD 214 for proof of your service? Often times, discounts are available to you if you show proof, or you are eligible for programs and opportunities because of your service. The Veterans Administration has recently introduced an ID Card that can be carried in place of your DD 214. Learn more here!

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Business Spotlight: Military Kids' Life

Chameleon Kids Military Kids' Life

At a recent business conference in the DC Metro, I had the brief opportunity to meet Janine Boldrin, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Chameleon Kids. My radar is always finely tuned to those who are serving the military community and after speaking with Janine, I knew I wanted to feature the Military Kids' Life magazine on the blog!

1. What was the reason behind the creation of Chameleon Kids?

About 6 years ago, Amy, a friend at the duty station where we were living, called me about an idea she had for military kids. She knew I wrote about military life and wanted to get my opinion on her idea. We talked about the concept (a book for military kids to get them excited about the moving process) then nothing ever came of it.

Years later, I was writing an article with ideas for activities with military kids. I thought of Amy's idea and reconnected with her. The initial idea (a book) was transformed into an overall concept of "Encouraging kids to find the bright side of their military life." The entire thought came from our own experiences as military families.

We felt the only message our kids were getting about military life and family was that it was hard, we were broken, and it was going to mess them up. However, we looked around us and saw thriving families. Yes, we have our problems (and unique ones because of military life) but the message our kids were getting did not match what we needed them to hear.

You live up to the messages you are repeatedly exposed to!

Our magazine (MILITARY KIDS' LIFE), posters, buttons, etc... was born out of our central concept of finding adventure as a military family and focusing on the bright side.

Military Kids Magazine

2. How did you and your co-owner meet?

Our kids went to preschool together! Amy and I lived on West Point when our husbands were instructors at the academy. We actually didn't see each other in person again until months after we started the company. Amazingly, her husband got stationed where we were living right when we got orders to move near D.C. So we crossed paths but don't live in the same place!

3. What was the most difficult story or concept you've had to cover in the magazine?

Divorce as a military family. It is a concept that many of our kids wonder about - am I still a military kid if my parents get divorced? And how does that all work. The answer: Yes! You're a military kid. And, yes, it can be difficult and confusing for sure. We had a mom who had gone through divorce conduct an "interview" with her kids and we talk about it in our last issue.

Military Kids Magazine

4. If you give parents of military kids just ONE piece of advice, what would that be?

Can I offer two?

Be sure your military kid knows that you struggle too. They need to know they are not alone. This means sharing your own (age-appropriate and child-temperament appropriate) struggles with military life and connecting them with other military kids who can talk about their struggles and accomplishments. Our magazine meets that need by coming right too them with those stories and triumphs!

And point out the bright side. You don't have to go overboard (it is a balance) but point out the good before the bad about the next duty station, plan adventures together as you cross the country to visit a geographically separated parent, and share your joys about service and pride in your military family.

5. Tell us a bit about your own story and connection with the military.

Both Amy and I have active duty Army husbands. Each of us has been doing the military family life thing for over a decade and have a total of 5 kids between us. Amy is a teacher and I'm a freelance writer, which is the perfect fit for the type of business that we started. Our kids and family are just like so many in today's military experience. Deployments. Moves. Uncertainty. Struggles. Joys. Medical challenges. Learning issues. School concerns. So we feel a real connection to the topics we write about and are passionate about our purpose.

6. What are some of the amazing qualities that military kiddos possess?

The one thing we've learned is that not all military kids are the same. While some are very resilient, others really struggle. Some love to move, others dread it. They can make friends fast or not make them at all. So I hesitate to label them with a set of qualities since that may invalidate what some of them feel about military life (Shoot, I'm not resilient so I'm not a "good" military kid.)

But what I will say is that the qualities of our military parents hugely impact the experience of the military child. This has been shown in study after study. If a military parent shows resilience, positivity, and adapts to change, then, many times, their child will most likely adopt these characters.That is why it is so important that we, as parents, take care of ourselves and get the support and encouragement that we need - so we can have the energy to put the "oxygen mask" on our kids too!

Subscribe to MILITARY KIDS' LIFE magazine, the only print magazine for military kids. They encourage the bright side of life for military kids!

FEELING LUCKY? Enter to win a gift subscription of Military Kids' Life by leaving a comment on our Facebook Page! Simply tell us in the comments what branch of the military you have an affiliation with, with details of the service! The giveaway will close on December 20th at midnight.

The MilSpo Project, Meet Elizabeth Boardman

Meet Elizabeth Boardman, the co-Founder of The MilSpo Project, a Realtor in North Carolina, Navy wife and creator of Southern SloMo Party! The MilSpo Project exists to empower and educate milspouse (*military spouses) entrepreneurs through live leadership events, online educational resources and local chapter meet-ups. Elizabeth Boardman The Milspo Project

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A poet, which was strongly influenced by my love of Shirley Hughes. I was also a Catholic School girl K through 12, and during middle school I was convinced I wanted to be a nun, then in high school a missionary.

How did you and Nicole meet?

Nicole and I met at a Monday night meet up of military spouses. I knew I was going to be her friend when we started talking about the correct use of possessives in the English Language.

What was the NUMBER one reason behind the creation of The MilSpo Project?

Unemployment and underemployment is a very real challenge facing military spouses, which is why many of us choose to start a business. At the Milspo Project we believe entrepreneurship is only solution to the unemployment epidemic, which is the number one reason we started, and the main motivator that keeps us going day to day.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as you've grown your community of women?

We have experienced amazing growth in our first year, the biggest challenge is putting the right communication and follow up methods in place while running our individual businesses outside of the Milspo Project. We are currently a two-woman team, and we have run ourselves ragged a few times this year by putting too much on our plates. Also, fundraising is one of the hurdles we have yet to master. The biggest takeaway for me has been realizing (in Keith Ferrazzi’s words) that you can’t be everything to everybody at all times. We are looking to expand Team Milspo this year because at some point you realize you can’t do it all, especially if you are trying to grow!

What are you most proud of when it comes to The MilSpo Project?

It is not so much what I am proud of, but of whom. I am proud of the women who make up the organization, especially our chapter leaders. I have never met a more hard working, generous and intelligent group of women.

What is one piece of advice you would give a military spouse with big ideas for a project, business or non-profit?

Fear is a liar. Anything you can dream, truly is possible. Try and find an intersection of passion and enterprise with a big “why” and you will be sure to soar. There are so many seats for influencers (especially female influencers) at the table, so pull up a chair! Also, the more niche you can get about your message and your business - the more success you will find.

Tell us a bit about your own story and connection with the military.

I became a military spouse five years ago when I fell in love with a soon-to-be Navy sailor. Love at first sight is real.

What are some of the amazing qualities that military spouses possess?

Military spouses are loyal, creative, hard working, frugal, social and selfless. They also understand sacrifice in a very real way because they live it.

What is one thing very few people know about you?

That I have more than 8 nicknames, all of which I legitimately answer to.

What is your all time favorite way to spend a Saturday morning?

I like to workout early in the morning, shower, and get back in my PJs and read a good book cuddled up in a blanket on my coach. Then a late brunch with my hubby makes for the sweetest kind of Saturday.

The MilSpo Project

Are you a MilSpouse and looking for support, connection and opportunities? Join a local MilSpo Project Chapter or take part in the Book Club (there are some FABULOUS books on the list!)!

Thank you Elizabeth for allowing us to get to know you a bit and share about The MilSpo Project!

Heroes Caring Community

In our efforts to save our local HEROES as much money as possible (and thank them for their services), we are beginning OPEN ENROLLMENT to all business owners, services providers and companies willing to give a discount to any HERO enrolled in the Heroes Home Advantage program. caring community

If you own or work for any of the following types of companies, or know someone that does (please share this blog post!) and are willing to offer a small discount, please contact us ( and be a part of our Heroes Caring Community.

• Accountants

• Alarm/Home Security Companies

• Appraisers

• Appliance Stores

• Architects

• Asbestos Mitigation

• Attorneys (General Practice, Real Estate, Family/Divorce, Wills, Trusts, Estates & Probate)

• Auto Body Shops & Repair

• Auto/Car Dealerships

• Auto Mechanics

• Baby-Sitters

• Banks (Personal & Business)

Heroes Home Advantage Teacher

• Builders (New Home & Improvements/Add-ons)

• Cabinet Supply & Installation

• Caterers & Party Planners

• Carpenters

• Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

• Carpet Supply Stores

• Chimney Cleaning and inspections

• Chiropractors

• Cleaning Services

• Clean Out Companies

• Computer & Networking Servicing

• Concrete, Cement & Pavers

• Construction Contractors

• Countertop Supply & Installation

• Credit Unions

• Day Care

• Deck Construction/Repair

• Dentists

• Dermatologists

• Doctors

• Driveway Companies

• Drone Services

• Dry Cleaners

Heroes Home Advantage Firefighter

• Dry Wall Companies

• Electricians

• Engineers (Civil & Structural)

• Estate Sale Companies

• Event & Community Centers

• Excavating Services

• Fencing Companies

• Financial Planners

• Fireplace Supply & Repair

• Flooring Companies

• Florists

• Furniture Stores

• Garage Door & Repair

• Garden & Nurseries

• Geological & Soil Testing

• Glass Shower Doors and Custom Glass Companies

• Gyms & Fitness Centers

• Hair Stylists

• Handyman Services

• Hardware Stores

• Home Inspectors

• Home Stagers

• Home Warranties

• HVAC Companies (Heating & Cooling)

• Insurance (Auto, Health, Homeowners, etc.)

• Interior Designers

• Jewelry Stores

• Landscape Stores

• Landscapers

• Lawn Care

Heroes Home Advantage Law Enforcement

• Lighting Stores

• Locksmiths

• Massage Therapists

• Masonry

• Mold Inspection & Mitigation

• Mortgage Lenders

• Movers (local & national)

• Mud-Jacking Companies

• Music (DJ & party services)

• Nannies

• Notaries

• Office Machines (copiers & printers)

• Office Supply & Furniture Stores

• Optometrists

• Orthodontists

• Paint Stores

• Painter

• Pediatricians

Heroes Home Advantage Health Care

• Pedicure Shops

• Personal Trainers

• Pest Inspection and Control Companies

• Pet Fence Companies

• Pet Kennels

• Pet Sitters

• Photographers

• Plumbers

• Pond Companies

• Pool Contractors

• Pool Care & Supply

• Pressure Cleaning

• Printing Companies

• Property Management

• Radon Inspection & Mitigation

• Rain Gutter Installation & Repair

• Restaurants • Retail Stores

• Roofing Companies

• Senior Living Communities (Convalescent Homes & Assisted Living)

• Septic & Sewer Companies

• Siding & Stucco Contractors

• Sign & Banner Companies

• Snow Removal

• Spa & Tub Supply/Service

Heroes Home Advantage Military

• Sprinkler/Irrigation Supply/Repair

• Stock Brokers

• Storage Companies

• Structural Inspector and Company

• Surveyors

• Tax Exchange (1031 Tax Exchange Consultants/Accomodators)

• Tailors

• Tile & Grout Contractors

• Title & Escrow Companies

• Trash Disposal & Hauling Services

• Veterinarian

• Video Services

• Water Damage Remediation

• Wedding Planners

• Well Inspection & Testing Companies

• Window & Glass Supply

• Window Covering Supply & Services

• Window Cleaning

Once we hear from you with your interest, we will be in touch to obtain your logo, website and contact information so that we can feature you on our Heroes Caring Community site! THANK YOU in advance for partnering with us to save our heroes even more of their hard-earned money!

If YOU are a Veteran or active duty military, in Law Enforcement, Firefighter or First Responder, a Health Care Provider or Teacher, please contact us to find out how to register for these amazing savings.

Honor Flight

One of the most fascinating things about living in Northern Virginia is how close it is to Washington DC, with all of its monuments and history.  One of the newest monuments is the World War II Memorial, located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

I recently had the privilege of welcoming about 80 veterans as they arrived at Dulles Airport on an "Honor Flight."  It was a happy experience, and at the same time very emotional watching these brave old men and, yes, women too, who served their country so long ago to help save the world.
The Honor Flight program is a non-profit group with different chapters all over the United States that began in 2005, soon after the World War II Memorial was opened. What began as a charity to fly elderly veterans of World War II to DC for free for a day or two to see their Memorial has now grown to include younger veterans of the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Honor Flight Dulles Airport
All three local international airports (Reagan, Dulles, and Baltimore) see Honor Flights arrive on a regular basis throughout the year.  As the planes land and taxi across the tarmac, they pass beneath honorary cross-streamed water arches blasted from the airports' fire truck hoses.
Honor Flight Dulles Airport
Then, as the veterans exit the plane they are greeted by hundreds of cheering volunteers with welcoming signs and banners, music, and American flags waving.  It really is special seeing the look on the veterans' faces as they walk past the cheering crowds, or are wheeled past in wheelchairs by their family members or caretakers.  Some are smiling ear-to-ear while others are silent with tears of joy and appreciation.

Next, they are all loaded on charter buses and whisked away with a full police escort to DC where they will visit the memorials created in THEIR honor. They spend plenty of time viewing each memorial, reminiscing and sharing memories. As everyone tours from memorial to memorial, strangers stop the veterans on a regular basis to shake hands, give hugs and say "thank you" for their service.  Finally, they return to the airport with much of the same fanfare with crowds of volunteers to cheer them as they depart.
Honor Flight
It's always nice to have extra cheers for the vets as they have this experience, and I promise it will be a great experience for you, too!  If you would like to learn more, please visit Volunteer positions include sending off the veterans at the airport in the morning and welcoming them home at the end of the trip with a cheering reception; answering office phones and entering application info into the data system; mailing requested material and purchased merchandise; as well as contacting veterans and guardians to make arrangements based on our projected flight schedules.
Honor Flight
Also, if you ever get the chance, be sure to check out the documentary "Honor Flight" about the program.  It's really a touching film! Thank you to all veterans who have served!
Honor Flight

VA Loan Benefits 101

Veterans and Active duty military deserve affordable home ownership. You’ve served your country, and you should know how you can achieve significant savings when buying a home! Over 50% of all veterans and active military personnel do not understand the benefits and ins/outs of a VA Loan, and we are here to help answer your questions! military veteran heroes home advantage



You can finance 100% of your home purchase price with no money down. You will not be required to have private mortgage insurance (PMI), which all translates to money saved up front as well as on a monthly basis!  Because the government backs your VA Loan, lenders have greater confidence, which means your loan and interest rates can compete with other loan types, such as conventional or FHA.

military veteran heroes home advantage


You do not have to qualify at the same credit score or have loads of cash saved up and can be approved for a VA Loan when you may not have otherwise qualified for a conventional loan. Additionally, you may use your VA Loan benefits many times over! (You may be required to make a down payment if you borrow more than your entitlement.) Also, while the Montgomery GI Bill expires 10 years after discharge, the VA mortgage benefits never expire!

While it is a common myth that you can only have one VA Loan at a time, the actual fact is that as long as you don't exceed your maximum entitlement, you can have multiple VA loans. You simply must be able to afford all payments.

The funding fee can be rolled into your loan (typically 2% of the loan) and for anyone with service-related disabilities, the funding fee is waived.

military heroes home advantage veterans


Did you know that the VA Loan benefit also allows for refinancing? Currently, you can hold a credit score as low as 660 and be approved for the IRRRL program (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan). Typically, no appraisal is required and the process is very streamlined (typically just a copy of the original Note and current mortgage statement). 

In addition, the funding fee is reduced to .5% of the loan amount (which can be financed) AND the closing can be structured for zero cash out of pocket with a fast closing, in as little as two weeks from application!


The VA loan is for single family homes, in move-in condition. You will not be able to use your VA loan benefits for a home that has multiple repairs needed. Very few know this, but you can STILL use your VA benefits even after a foreclosure or bankruptcy!


heroes home advantage

Click here to learn more about the Heroes Home Advantage program, where we give back 25% of our commission to heroes who work with us, or here to learn about the 8th & Home preferred lenders, all of which are experienced with the VA Loan program.


Heroes Home Advantage

  I am proud to give away 25% of the money I make!

Wouldn't you agree there are SO many ways we can give back in our community? Volunteering to spend time during a neighborhood cleanup, holding a coat drive for the needy or serving soup at a local shelter are some of the most common ways. Other opportunities exist like reading books at a nursing home, walking dogs at the local animal rescue or even working at your polling place on election day.

As a proud resident of Loudoun County, I have chosen several key ways to give back to my community. I volunteer at Boulder Crest Retreat, serve on the Outreach Committee at our local middle school and participate in several non-profit committees of local business associations. I’m super excited, however, to share with you all about one of the most unique ways I’ve chosen to give back!

Todd Hattaway (Husband), US Marine Corps

Heroes Home Advantage

Barb Musselman Smith (Stepmother) US Air Force

Heroes Home Advantage

We honor military service members on the 4th of July and Veterans Day. We pay tribute to our teachers and school administrative staff during Teacher Appreciation Week and we say “thank you” to police, firefighters and first responders on 9/11. However, on the days in between, it is quite easy to go about our day and navigate through our schedule without giving much thought to those who serve our country and communities.

Unintentionally, we are simply caught up in the business of our calendars and the normalcy of our lives. We forget to say a simple thank you to those who serve our country and communities as a regular practice.

Part of my job description as a real estate agent and relocation professional is to help families find home. My clients and I think beyond the open layout of the kitchen and even investigate deeper than simply finding the best school district. We work together to establish some out of the box thinking when it comes to the topic of finding the right community for each family. I recently began brainstorming how I could best offer my services and give back at the same time, and was thrilled to discover Heroes Home Advantage.

Heroes Home Advantage offers an opportunity for those in the real estate industry (mortgage lenders, real estate agents, home inspection companies, etc.) to give a percentage or fixed amount from their commission or offer discounts when a HERO works with them to buy or sell a home. Sounds fantastic, right?

Heroes Home Advantage defines a HERO as any military member (active, reserve or veteran), health care professional (including dentistry), police force, firefighters (volunteer included!), EMTs and other first responders as well as teachers and other school administration staff members.

When I work with a client who qualifies as a HERO, I am truly honored and excited to give them 25% of my commission earned from their purchase or sale of a home. Consider a home with a $250,000 sales price. That HERO receives approximately $1,875 of my commission back to them on closing day!  Even more, when a HERO client works with one of the service providers in my network, they stand to receive a $250 Lender Credit, a $100 Attorney Fee Credit, a $50-$250 Title Fee Credit or Gift Card … the list goes on and on!

Heroes Home Advantage Naomi Hattaway

It’s stressful enough to begin the process of buying or selling a home. It’s the least I can do to say “thank you for your service” in the form of a financial gift at the end of our journey together. It is truly an honor to give back in this way, to those who give of their time to serve our community and country.

To learn more about the Heroes Home Advantage, call me at 571-482-7356.