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MMP# 990: Defenders Gateway

On today’s NEW episode: Mission: MilSpouse Command Team interviews special guest is Carol Watanabe, founder and CEO of Defenders Gateway.

Carol Wantanabe is the founder and CEO of Little Patriots Embraced and Defenders Gateway, both St. Louis-based organizations that serve military members and their families.  She is a successful businesswoman with a long history of supporting military members and their families.  She retired from marketing over 20 years ago to dedicate her time to her family while simultaneously working in their family business and ensuring that Little Patriots Embraced thrived and establishing Defenders Gateway to embrace military, veterans and first responders and offer free resources for them and their families.

Listeners, if you would like to learn more about Defenders Gateway and the work that Carol and her team has put into this resource app, you can connect with them through social media and on their website.

Podcast Partner:

We would like to thank today’s Podcast Partner, First Command Financial Services. To find out more about First Command Financial Services, you can connect with them online at

Thank you, First Command for empowering military spouses around the world!

Resource Recon with Callie and Sarah

Over at the Mission: Milspouse website we are constantly updating and adding information. If you look at our Resource list you can scroll down through 17 different categories.  This week’s Resource Recon is all about PCS season and Tricare changes. Blogger Rebecca Dills writes in her latest

“As the summer begins, household goods are being packed and shipped to new places all over the world. The excitement of a new duty station also brings the dread of transferring your Tricare health care which can be daunting when managing multiple family members. Below are some tips to help ease your TRICARE stress”. 

Rebecca goes on to discuss several PCS-related Tricare challenges, such as changes to your enrollment, finding new providers, and what to do if you receive a bill.

Empowerment Patrol Report with Amanda

Today we are showcasing our Everyday Empowerment recipient, Maureen Haney.

Nominated by Jolene, we’ve learned thatMaureen is a military brat turned milspouse! She has been instrumental in spreading the word all around the world about a free online tutoring service for military families through Not only do we connect on our shared love of supporting military families, but our parents also live in the same small town in Wisconsin! Maureen can always make me smile, she is creative and I appreciate her depth and knowledge of the military community. How lucky am I to know her!”

On behalf of Mission: Milspouse, thank you so much to Maureen for doing your part to empower military families all across the globe.

News 6 with Emma

Here is this week’s News 6 mashup of stories for the week of June 5, 2023, straight from M:M News 6 Correspondent, Emma Tighe:

Marines Left Leaderless

Anyone who has been to their fair share of change of command ceremonies would have noticed things were a bit different at Marine Gen. David Berger’s ceremony last Monday.

While he celebrated the end of a four year stint as the Marine commandant, there was no one to receive the colors or make the introduction speech as the new commandant. Instead, his assistant commandant Gen. Eric Smith accepted the colors, but no orders were read for him to assume the command.

The parade field now stands empty with no one to take the reins for the first time in one hundred and thirteen years. Smith now stands in limbo, doing the duties of the commandant but not officially appointed as such, a job that the senate holds.  “To make sure that there is no confusion: All orders, directives and guidance in effect this morning remain in effect, unless I direct otherwise,” Smith told the crowd attending Berger’s retirement ceremony. “Further guidance to the force will follow.”

Berger could not stay and hold down the fort until an official assignment because protocol calls for no more than four years in the position. Smith’s life has gotten a bit more stressful as he unofficially learns his new role while also doing his old job and no official staff to help Delegate tasks. 

While the senate grapples with political standstills, many major officer promotions are put on hold. In the meantime, the Senate is hoping to get around the standstill by voting on individual nominees one by one instead of needing a unanimous vote for all at the same time. “I can give guidance to the force as the acting commandant, but it does not carry the same weight, quite, as commandants’ planning guidance,” Smith said

His official title is the one he has carried the last few years; ACMC.

 “That is my title, and one that I’m proud of,” Smith said. “You can also say ‘Devil Dog,’ ‘leatherneck,’ ‘Marine’ or ‘Trish’s husband.’ I respond to all — probably most proud of the last.” The last time the Marines were commandant-less was in 1910, when when Maj. Gen. George Elliott aged out of the job and the Marine Corps did not have a replacement ready. Maj. Gen. William Biddle became commandant three months later, according to Military Times.

While the military is no stranger to being a playing card for the powers that be, here’s hoping it reaches a happy ending soon and Gen. Smith can add Commandant to his many titles!

Find out more at military

EFMP Standardizes Regulations 

Exceptional Family Members Programs families may soon see sunny skies ahead.

This program exists in some form throughout every branch but has always varied in policies and regulations from branch to branch, even duty station by duty station. This chaotic approach to the program has often caused more headaches than help to the 110,000 families that are enrolled. This headache may soon be a distant memory in the wake of new defense department guidance. This guidance is set to standardize regulations across all branches and locations.

This will also spell out one clear and precise enrollment process, which also has often varied and led to more confusion than help. This is a welcome change for a program that is mandatory for beneficiaries that are eligible.

“This is exciting news for families enrolled in EFMP,” said Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military and community family policy, in DoD’s announcement of the changes. “These enhancements demonstrate that we are listening and focusing on ways to help families thrive in military life.”

One of the most welcome changes in this new policy involves “warm handoffs.” This means the losing installations efmp program will hand off the enrollees case file to the gaining installation program. The hope is that this will decrease wait times for specialized care and help the members transition from one base to another smoothly. A 2022 survey showed that families are waiting an average of four months to resume specialized care when they pcs.

“Enrollment in EFMP provides families access to critical services and support, no matter their service branch or location. We will continue our work to enhance EFMP to better serve our military families,” said Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, in the DoD announcement.

The assignment coordination process will also be improved, becoming more open and clear with the families about the process and the ins and outs.

“This ensures the family’s special needs are considered during the assignment process,” said Tomeshia S. Barnes, associate director of DoD’s Office of Special Needs, in the announcement. “Enhancements include each service branch using the same criteria for determining the availability of services and the ability for service members to request a second review of assignment decisions. “Importantly, service members now learn the reason for declined orders,” Barnes said.

Other changes are as follows:

♦ At least one personal contact with every family must be completed each year by the EFMP family support provider assigned to them.
♦ Requirements for disenrolling a family from EFMP are spelled out.
♦ Respite care changes will be implemented in a phased approach..

While EFMP does much good, it can also leave families feeling stranded and isolated. These new protocols are looking good and if implemented well, can make EFMP a much less daunting ordeal.

Find out more at military

Beat the Summertime Blues with Blue Star Museums!

Did you know that museums around the country offer free admission for military service members and their families from Memorial Day to Labor Day? Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families, museums generously donate their time, spaces, and resources for our military families every summer in what has become one of my favorite summer pastimes.

“Blue Star Museums invites military personnel and their families to experience the many wonders our nation’s museums have to offer, whether it’s a glimpse into the past, an encounter with awe-inspiring art, or a moment of discovery,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “These opportunities enrich the lives of military families and build meaningful connections within their local communities.”

“Museums are a spectacular place to find a sense of belonging, create connections, and have meant so much to my family over the years,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, founder and CEO, BSF. “That is why this partnership means so much to me personally, and since 2010, to the Blue Star Families organization. We are proud to partner with the National Endowment of the Arts for another great year of Blue Star Museums across the country.”

There is no sign up or enrollment necessary, just show your government issued military ID card and you are on your way!  You can find all the museums listed at

It’s a perfect way to get out there and explore your new area after a PCS, occupy kiddos during deployment, or go on an SFRG field trip! My family and I have been to children museums, living history museums, art museums and science museums through this program!

So get out there and check out these amazing museums, and maybe learn a little this summer break!

Find out more at

This Day in History 

On July 17 1955 Disneyland opened its doors in Anaheim, California. This pioneer of a park opened the door to Disney theme parks being built all over the world including Florida, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai.

This was the only Disney park, however, that Walt Disney himself got to see open. His vision started as a small entertainment center adjacent to his film studio in Burbank, California, but his dream soon outgrew a movie lot space and the plans were moved to an orange grove outside of the city.

The park has been visited by over 17 million people and employs 65,700 people to keep the park up and running.

Fun fact: future president Ronald Regan anchored the opening ceremonies of the park, as he was a friend of Walt and still very much in his television era. It probably was the highlight of his life, including becoming president. Don’t fact check me on that. 

Unfortunately for Walt, the opening day was a bit of a disaster and called “black Sunday” by Disney executives. Some hiccups include people climbing over fences to get in, this going way over max capacity, asphalt still wet that ladies heels were sinking into it, parents throwing their kids over lines to get on the carousel, and a plumbers strike that led to no working water fountains at the park.

Walt decided to take this disaster in stride by declaring that opening day was just a run through and the REAL opening day was the following day, July 18th, which ran much smoother.

Sure, Walt.

You can check out more of this week’s top stories here.

Thank You

Thank you for tuning into this week’s episode. Please leave a five-star rating and review on Apple podcasts, then send us a screenshot of your review to or DM us on Facebook or Instagram @missionmilspouse to receive a special in-real-life gift as a thank you on behalf of MM. We appreciate your engagement and support.

With over 159 years of military spouse experience and 68 PCSes under their belts, the M:M Command team is the ultimate Battle Buddy to help navigate Milspouse life. Powered by volunteer spirit and optimism the M:M Command Team could run a small country, but instead are dedicated entirely to the global empowerment of military spouses to help them conquer adversity, foster confidence, and thrive in this military life.


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MMP #1037: Homeschooling for Military Families

MMP #1037: Homeschooling for Military Families

The Academic Rescue Mission and Chula Vista Christian University exist to offer K to college educational opportunities to help rescue the most anxious, depressed generation in the history of our nation.

MMP #1041: The Milspouse Transition to Civilian Life

MMP #1041: The Milspouse Transition to Civilian Life

Anna Larson, the founder of Milspouse Transition, is on a mission to help military spouses around the world navigate successfully out of active duty military life and on to finding new adventures. They do this by providing tools, resources, information, and community to support every military spouse the way they need it.

MMP# 1040: A Follow Up With Ken Fisher of The Fisher House Foundation

MMP# 1040: A Follow Up With Ken Fisher of The Fisher House Foundation

In today’s episode, Lindsey Rauch our Deputy Director of Marketing, will share with us an interview with Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation. In his interview today, Ken will share the latest on Fisher House’s work supporting military families, and how to support military families beyond the military holidays. The Fisher House is best known for its network of 97 comfort homes where families of wounded, injured or ill service members and veterans can stay at no cost while their loved one receives treatment far from home.

Mission: Milspouse is a
501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

EIN Number: 88-1604492


P.O. Box 641341
El Paso, TX 79904


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