Sunday, March 6, 2011

What is an Apheresis Donation?

What is an Apheresis Donation?

Christina M. Callisto
Freelance Writer
Published in Military Voice & Community News May/June edition, 2010
Every other week, I chose to leave comfort of my home to endure a slight inconvenience for a little over an hour in order to save the life of a stranger I will never meet. One more day of life will be given to locals in my area who will never know who I am or why I helped them. After a tragedy, my gift may even be shipped around the world.
An apheresis donation is similar to a whole blood donation. Your blood has four parts: red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma. The red cells carry oxygen around your body, white cells fight infections. Platelets allow your wounds to clot, while the plasma is the fluid that caries all of these cells and more. The apheresis process draws your blood just as with the whole blood cycle. However, the blood is spun in a self-contained, sterile, single-use packaging within a machine. The donation is separated and collected while the rest is returned to you.
Apheresis usually collects either plasma, platelets, or both. I donate platelets. After registering, reading over the medical and travel restrictions, answering a health history questionnaire, and having my blood pressure, temperature, and iron count tested and recorded, I can relax on a comfortable recliner in front a TV offering endless channels or a collection of movies to entertain me. Speakers are even built into my chair so I can listen without headphones if others are also watching a TV. I opt to turn on the heating pad and grab a blanket. Nice and cuddly as I would be in my house, I can enjoy a few shows and save a few lives. Then I am treated to a drink and some sweets. If it’s during a meal time, you might be lucky and able to grab a donation of food brought in from local restaurants. Locations usually have free stuff to choose from as a thank you. I have gotten gas cards, movie tickets, t-shirts, and restaurant vouchers, all donated by local merchants and other sponsors.
I won’t lie; the last thing I want is to be stuck with a needle. I was lucky enough to be blessed with wonderful veins, so I opt for a two arm draw. This also means two needles. Find a comfortable position, a needle prick, and it’s over. Squeeze a squish ball every few seconds to keep the blood flowing and get lost in your movie. Many people chose to use one arm, which takes longer, but allows them to read. I have seen men in business suits reading over memos, Airmen in uniform flipping through military and local newspapers, college kids studying notes before a test, and grandparents taking a break from retired life and enjoying a novel.
You could say such donations are in my blood. My mother and father are lifelong blood donors. Both hate needles, but endure it to help others. I find apheresis much less draining (no pun intended), and I am able to donate more often, two weeks as opposed to 56 days, as the body can replenish the platelets faster than all of the parts which are included in a whole blood donation. Whole blood is able to last slightly longer than platelets, which must be used within five days before they are no longer healthy. I chose apheresis over whole blood because, when the call goes out after a tragedy, many people find the strength to donate blood. But who hears the silent call of a mom suffering with cancer or a child who cannot play with friends because of a debilitating blood disease? Burn victims, leukemia patients, bone marrow transplant recipients, the list is endless.
There are so many personal calls that go unheeded. This is why I make an apheresis donation. I also chose this because so few people know about it or are willing to take the time to help those who suffer every day. Please consider this the next time you are thankful for all that you have.
Northwest Florida Blood Center
American Red Cross
May 1, 2010 at 3:17 am

Spouse to Spouse: Never Alone In The Military

Spouse to Spouse: Never Alone In The Military

Christina M. Callisto

Freelance Writer
Published in Military Voice & Community News March/April edition 2010 and the Town Crier
After three years of dating, as a brand new military spouse at age 26, with jobs at Eglin and Hurlburt, I thought I was prepared for my husband’s first deployment. Boy, was I wrong! Seven months, no big deal…until the loneliness set in. When you aren’t used to it and are forced into it, silence is not golden, it’s deafening.
A friend introduced me to the Emerald Coast Writers group, a non-profit consortium of writers of all skill levels, abilities, and genres in this area. Members are retired, young moms, middle-aged dads, homemakers, snowbirds, and military, both active duty and retired. Some are high school grads, others have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and at least one has a PhD yet they are all equal in their common interest: writing.
Through ECW I was put in touch with author Vicki Hinze, spouse to a former Special Ops officer. I was so excited to contact someone who knew what I was going through and survived it! I had seen her books in the library but never knew she shopped at the same stores that I do. We chatted on the phone and through email; she was so welcoming.
I learned that her successful writing career, over 20 novels published with a contract for three more, started when her husband PCSed to follow AFSOC from Scott AFB to Hurlburt. Like many spouses, she stayed behind to sell the house, let the kids finish the school year, and she continued working her full-time job (a blessing many of us struggle towards). With the stress of juggling kids’ activities, work demands, and preparing the house for open-house showings all by herself, writing became her me-time outlet. By working late nights and getting up in the wee hours before dawn, Hinze finished her first book in four months–one month shy of the family moving to the new base.
Although seemingly “unqualified” to be an author, she was undeterred. Writing helped her through the loneliness and anxiety of another military PCS and move. These military life trials had colored her experience and allowed her to reach out to other spouses and service members through her books. I still was not convinced she was the woman next door who would say hello while watering her plants. That is, until I heard the following story.
Hinze’s military-themed writing began in 1994 during a trip to the commissary. While grabbing items off the shelf to fill her cabinets she overheard a young couple debating between buying a jar of peanut butter and a can of tuna; purchasing both was not an option for their budget. Stunned, disgusted at the forced choice on food, and outraged that the heroes both active and on the homefront would need to go without basic necessities let alone the comforts many take for granted, Hinze called her editor and scrapped her current contract for a novel with a military-theme revolving around women. Her publisher agreed and fully supported the change. Her successive books dealt with active-duty service members, custody battles and divorce, romance, biological warfare, TDYs, alcoholism, deployments, risks, and the varied dangers inherent in service. Hinze’s single point in all of this was not to sell books, although that was a plus. It was to help the general public see that these hardships exist and understand that military families face specific stresses and dangers every day. This is what made Vicki Hinze a real person, a neighbor, a mom, a spouse, in my eyes.
She used her strength to bring awareness to a much ignored aspect of life, of my new life. She has used a number of pen names for different book series, but when it came to her twelve (so far) military books, no other name but her own felt acceptable. Hinze was on a personal mission and she wanted to stand behind the things expressed and to be an active advocate in the struggle to raise awareness on the concerns and welfare of military families. My new family.
Since I was very young, I’ve moved around quite a bit. A job search brought me to this area, thanks to the bases’ missions. Hinze’s family moved from Mississippi to California to Illinois and finally to Florida. She hailed from New Orleans, Louisiana while her husband was and is a Texan at heart. She confided to me that the varied cultures and lifestyles both of her own family and that of the wider military family helped to broaden her perspective. All of this helped expand her insight and creativity and aided in building relatable, empathetic characters.
After learning all this in bits and pieces, I couldn’t wait to meet the person. I wanted to pick her brain for every joy and heartbreak she sustained as a military wife with a full family. I am glad she will be attending the ECW Conference in April so I will have three days to chat with and learn from her. My husband and I would like to have a family some day, but he was deployed to Afghanistan one month after we wed. I have so much to learn, but now I know as a military spouse I am never alone. In the wee hours of the morning, I can pick up one of Vicki’s books and know someone is with me in this.
Emerald Coast Writers Inc.
Vicki Hinze
April 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

A Pavlovian moment: Zumba at the grill

As today was Saturday, I found myself at work stocking the beer cooler. My coworker had the tunes bumpin and as I straightened up to stock the shelf above my head my song came on. It’s what I will forever refer to as the “hotel-motel” song. It is actually called “Hotel Room Service” and is preformed by Pitbull. I just looked it up.

Continuing, my shoulders shift, knees bend, my hips move to the groove and I realize I am having a Pavlovian experience. Shock! This is one of my favorite songs from Zumba. My shoulders, hips, and legs were moving to and setting up the steps I learned in my Tuesday Zumba class! I spent the next few hours going over everything I know of the Pavlov experiments, which is quite a lot thanks to the History Channel and History International, my fav. Invariably the domesticated silver fox slipped in there.
I really believe the removal of this song and one other has lead to the severe lessening of my opinion for Zumba. Yeah, I understand things have to get changed up, the instructors get bored, and the same moves over and over and over will not help your body get tone consistently. The strobe light was clutch, too.

The whole experience almost happened again with Shakira’s “She Wolf.” Fortunately, I was carrying boxes and spared myself the embarrassment of breaking into dance in front of customers, who probably would have loved it. I was in a different part of the building for “She Wolf” so it was a bit more of a surreal experience. I knew I knew something was going on, but wasn’t sure I knew how I knew. You know? The music was far more muted as I was not standing under a speaker this time. But then the refrain was there and I noted the response was significantly minor compared to the hotel-motel song. Here is a link to the “She Wolf” video. WARNING: It’s racy! Very racy! Even I was shocked! However, I will have you know most of her moves I have done in my yoga/palates/tai chi class. Strap some sexy heels on a gorgeous bod and it looks a bit different than a fully clothes goddess (myself) on a yoga mat sweating to death in a hot room full of others enjoying the torture. Just try this class and you will understand. You will also be able to dance similar to her:
I like “She Wolf” but not as much as whatever the other one is that Lee is forever asking me about at any point in time accept when it is on during Zumba. As my friend Mike will recall, I was a fan of the voluptuous Shakira before she stated singing in English and showing all of her bones for lack of curves. So I will repeat again, Lee, I have no idea which song it is but its not whatever you are trying to sing. And you are probably right, we did hear it in my car, along with all of her other songs. Let’s try again. Often.

I did bring to both her and my attention that the problem of the “which song is it anyway” is that we dance to a mix of a bunch of Shakira songs. Mike, you would still be impressed that I sang all the words in English to the Spanish version of  "Eyes Like Yours,” “Ojos Asi” !!!! Yes, I specifically put the “!!!” outside of the quotation marks. But that song is the full version.

Of course, DJ would not be surprised. And I am forever indebted to him for sending me the video of her “Whenever, Whereever.” It did not have the intended outcome, as it was revolutionary for me. And I loved the change! All of my roommates have cursed him for it as they have had to endure endless loops of play.

So to recap, Zumba is good, and I clearly don’t go out dancing enough if I break out awesome moves at work. A total waste.
June 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

A *living* victim of road rage!

Well I was threatened today: I better be glad she didn’t have her heat on her or I would be dead right now.

Apparently this woman did not like that I pulled out onto my street about 6 houses and 1 street width, not including the one I was turning off of, away from her and prohibited her from continuing her crazy breakneck speed. The entire road is posted for 25mph about every 4 houses. I have lived here for three years, I know where each ones is. We have an elementary school and a church on my road two houses down from my place where the speed limit slows to 20 mph.

I made sure she was far enough away when I pulled out, put my blinker onto turn right and immediately pulled into the paved area to turn into my place. I heard her horn from house 6. And her breaks locking at house 2 and the rubber on the road at house 1 when I was already in my right merge. I knew if there was an impact it would be on my left side, a scraping crush. How did she get from house 6 to 1 – she clearly saw me if her horn was blaring (unless she was paying attention to something else?) – having to slam on the breaks if she was going 25 miles an hour? Even at 35 there was plenty of time! I went one car lengths distance. It’s a slight Z where the road doesn’t go straight into my parking lot- but almost!

No impact.

Instead of being a good mom, she tails me until I park, pulls up and starts screaming at me and slamming her hand against the seat saying something about she has a kid in the car. I can see its head moving around, I believe it is a boy about 4 years old, probably younger. All I said, calmly, was “25 miles per hour. “ “F- that! F-ing 25 miles an hour! … kid…. f-….” When there was a lull I calmly repeated “25 miles per hour.” Not surprising, she was enraged all the more each time I said that. The passenger seat was being hit so hard it was bouncing back into her arm, something I have only seen in vehicle crash tests.

I then see her reaching around for something, white papers flapping into the air. I am about to reach for my cell phone to call 911 when she says ” You better be glad I don’t have my heat on me or you’d be dead!” and flies out of the parking lot. I mean bat out of hell speed!

My next thought was If I was shot in my car, my milk, the only reason I went out, would spoil before someone would have found me. My husband is deployed, the neighbors were out on this beautiful early afternoon Sunday. In retrospect I am surprised I remained so calm. I got the groceries out of the car, which took two trips, and locked the front door when it was all in. I had to call someone so I phoned L and explained it to her. Then I freaked out! It all came out. She says, ” It’s time to move! Get out of that area! You were so right, they do need speed bumps! But we all have road rage stories like that. I don’t know if I told you when…”

After I talked about it I was fine again. I left the house for my Apheresis platelet donation at the NWFL Bloodcenter where I was told my blood pressure was great. I had, of course, told them the story. They could apparently see on my face something was amiss.

Now I am home, all alone, and worried. Have you ever been threatened like that before? I could have jumped from my car to my window. That is how close I was to my place. She saw where I can be assumed to live. I would have kept going, but what if she was actually going into the next lot and I would have been exacerbating the situation by continuing on?

Interestingly enough, she never called me any names. None! I can think of a string of words that could have been used. But none were. This leads me to believe that she wasn’t actually angry at me, myself, perhaps, but at her situation which would have been causing her to feel the need to drive at such excessive speeds in a residential area. Perhaps she was a worried mom scared that her terrible actions could have caused her the life of her child at such an impact. I can only hope. I am truly far more worried that child is living with an addict. Exactly what would cause someone to be that aggressive. Aggressive speeding and driving. Slamming the seat so hard it actually was bouncing back. I would never have screamed like that or been so violent with a child in the car or anywhere near the area.

I am only assuming she was the parent. “Kid” was the word repeated, not son or daughter or even child.

However, I am alive. I am safe. And I am going to forget the nice townhouse I just saw for rent a block away from here. As my husband, God love him, said, “We need to get away from the Walmart. It is just too close. We have seen this neighborhood decline and its just time to go.” I really hate to admit that it is true. This was such a nice area. I also really do not want to associate this kind of behavior with a company or location. I have shopped there, many decent people do. But the community built closest to it is gated.

Boy, it’s times like this I wish he was home. Like this? I have never been threatened before! I hope this never happens to you. Or to me ever again. I need some cookies and milk!
June 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

Athena’s birth: to the ER, Stat!

It all started about 9 pm last night. The tension was building in the back of my skull, like a ring from ear to ear along my hairline. As time went on it continued to move along my head and then bang around to different spots on my skull.

Now, I have had these before. But this was something altogether unreal. I took an RX I have for it. Nothing, so, as per directions, I took the second dose two hours later. It was getting worse with each passing moment. This thing was too much for my heavy duty rx.

Athena. That is it! This is what Zeus felt when she was brandishing her weapons, fully clothed in Battle Armour ready to burst forth from his split skull. Minerva, how could you? Hephaestus, where are you when I need you?!

11pm. The tears start to well. I am really sick of this. I break down when I can hear my mother’s voice like a bubble above my head advising me to drink some chamomile tea. I make it, a mixed brew for night time. It is soothing. So now I am fully exhausted, welcoming sleep and the pain is intensifying.

Back and forth from the bed to the couch, I change clothes a million times and adjust the air conditioning to see if warmer or colder would be better. Lights on, lights off. Music on, music off.
Insomnia. I start to clean the room I had earlier torn apart. If I am going to up with insomnia and I am going to make it do my bidding.

The nausea comes on. I hear my friends voice saying she was just praying to die with the horrible case of the belly big she had just gotten over. Maybe that is what I have? Nope, migraine. I have no lower “belly” issues but the overwhelming need to vomit the void in my empty stomach.
I send off a brief email to work explaining about the migraine making me ill and I might not be into work as I haven’t slept all night.

Tears and whimpering come on around 2am and last for two hours. It’s so bad I can’t see anymore and want to pass out. I have been debating going to the Base ER for a few hours now, but what could they do? Like a cold, oh its a headache, nothing here, go back home and suffer…?

Well, finally about 4am I can no longer take it and I just need someone to be around me. I was trying to hold out until the offices might open for the reg dr on base. MIGHT being the operative word. I was supposed to get a call from someone on Monday, so maybe, just maybe… It was just too much for me. Luckily, no one is waiting and it seems really, really quiet. I get in and am so exhausted and in pain I realize I have no idea how I got there. Obviously I drove myself, ID shown at the gate and parked. But I was so preoccupied with the pain none of it had registered in my short term memory.
The situation explained, my bp is way up to 150, not the usual 120. Not surprised. The Dr comes in eventually and I explain it all, show him the rx I took. Yup, I brought it, and I even highlighted the important areas on the info sheet folded inside. -Yes, I do read them! You should to! I explained how I was afraid bc another of my Rxs listed on there can negatively affect and be affected. ER DR had never even heard of my drug, “must be pretty potent stuff if I haven’t heard of it here…”

“Well it’s crap” was my retort, more to myself than to him, as tossed it into my bag. Dr explains that although my dr said not to take anything else with it, I could have in fact taken more pain killers. Great. But he finished with not all drugs work for everyone or on all receptors. This I already knew.
Since I had to drive myself the available options were limited to two. As it was presented to me, the ones which would have worked best would require a driver for me. Yay, deployments! I wanted to scream I AM ALONE! HE IS DEPLOYED AND THERE IS NO ONE TO DRIVE ME AT THIS HOUR OR I WOULD NOT HAVE DRIVEN MYSELF IF IT WAS THIS BAD! The options include a pill which may or may not work based on the effectiveness of my Rx for this particular migraine, or a shot in the bum of a regular painkiller. His suggestion was the shot bc it was more guaranteed. I took it.

The pain! The needle stick was rather squintee as it was a thicker gauged needle,I felt my face pucker. But it was not the worst needle I have had to endure. Then the contents spreads out. A long list of profanities I did not realize I was capable of came out of my mouth. The Pain! Pain for Pain! The irony! I stood there poised over the bed for a bit and then suddenly it was all gone, except for the pain in my head. That was still as prevalent as ever. The relief of the liquid being absorbed into my muscle was amazing.

15 to 20 mins and it should start working. So I called my parents house on the drive home. I know they will pick up. Or I will keep calling until they do. The beauty of house phones. 530 am. 630 am there. Dad was up. He was up two hours ago when I was pulling into and out of my parking spot debating if a trip over to the ER was worth it or just a stupid waste of more painful time. Oh well.
So he talked to me over the course of the drive home. He mentioned I could have called a cab. That had never occurred to me. Even though I see a cab every day, living a few places down from me. But I would have had to call it, drop me off, pick me up. With the pain I was in, I hadn’t even thought of that and may not have even been capable of those instructions.

I was able to go to sleep a while after I got home. My glorious, long awaited respite was interrupted twice. My work cell called and I groggily got up to answer it. It wasn’t the ringer of the phone in the mountain sandbox, but it might just be. I missed it and didn’t recognize the number. No message. Blissfully passed out again the number calls, again. This time I answer it to find a very courteous man explaining he dialed the wrong area code. Same number. I was in such need of sleep that I was able to shut out any further noise once my head hit the pillow and my arms curled around my over sized bear under the covers.

I woke around 9 am and made an apt to get something that works. No more ER trips for me! Forget that! At least I did not have to pay for any of it. I can’t wait for you to be home! When does this ever happen? When you are not around… figures.
June 8, 2010 at 6:06 am

Tops in Blue 2011

Tops in Blue
Christina M. Callisto Free Lance Writer
Published in the February/March 2011 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
"We Believe"
“Tops In Blue, is an all-active duty US Air Force special unit made up of talented amateur performers selected for their entertainment abilities.”
 It was 1953 when the Worldwide Talent Contest was conducted by the Air Force under the then Major Al Reilly to recognize airmen with entertaining talents ranging from singing to acting to instrumental and production skills. The purpose was to provide entertainment for the families of Air Force personnel stationed across the world and so the term “family entertaining family” was coined.
The best of the best were chosen from this contest and would form what is now known as Tops in Blue. Members of the cast and crew needed to setup, preform, tear down, and travel to the next location with amazing speed and precision ensuring the maximum locations visited and that each location would see a new production.
The caliber of quality and dedication to its mission caught the attention of Ed Sullivan who invited the Tops In Blue to his “Toast of the Town” in 1954. At the time it was estimated that 15 million views watched from their homes. Cross county notoriety did not stop the Tops In Blue from performing around the world. Four years later the group had traveled to bases around the world entertaining almost a million Air Force family members.
World events enabled the Tops in Blue to produce records and films in the late 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. These professional films, and even television shows filmed in the late 1960s, continued to bring excitement and joy to the Air Force families. When the group was able to tour again the whirlwind traveling entertained 42,000 military personnel. Special programs were even created and performed for isolated locations and during the long winter seasons.
Clamor for the Tops In Blue had increased to a fervor and by the 1980s it was decided to create two touring groups to reach more bases across the world. The group was invited to special events and even the Bob Hope Birthday Special. Nearly 400,000 people had gathered at the Washington Monument to celebrate July 4th and partake in a special performance of the Tops in Blue. What may have been the widest reaching production for the United States citizens was when the group was invited to perform at the half-time show during Super Bowl XIX in 1985.
The 1990s saw the mission expand and the two groups were combined into one large traveling show to entertain in numerous former Soviet Union countries as well as for Air Force personal stationed at Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, among others. After the turn of the century Tops in Blue were the first good-will force to perform in Kyrgystan, Afghanistan, Qatar, and Pakistan.
Their mission for the last 55 years has been to serve as an “expeditionary entertainment unit to provide quality entertainment from within Air Force resources for the Air Force family, with priority to Air Force personnel stationed worldwide at remote and deployed locations while simultaneously promoting community relations, supporting recruiting efforts and serving as ambassadors for the United States of America and the United States Air Force.”
Catch the Tops in Blue presenting “We Believe” at Hurlburt Field at the **************, on Friday March 11,2011. The show starts at 7 pm and is open to all DoD ID cardholders and guests. Admission is free, but no alcohol, coolers, or pets permitted. For more info call 884-7594 or visit
"We Believe"

Emerald Coast Writers Inc.

Emerald Coast Writers Group

By Christina M. Callisto Free Lance Writer

Published in the February/March 2011 issue of the Military Voice & Community News

CALLING ALL MILITARY, active duty and guard of all branches, spouses, dependents, retired, and GS and NAF employees:

If you have ever wanted to share your experiences, write a memoir, fantasy novel, or short stories, the EMERALD COAST WRITERS group is for you!

ECW is a non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing, educating, and promoting established and aspiring writers of all ages and experience levels. In addition to regular meetings, ECW sponsors workshops, critique and study groups, and open-mike discussions. Members are active in community outreach, speaking at local schools, offering mentor programs for young writers, and Q&A sessions with professionals in the publishing industry. The annual ECW conference features best selling authors offering workshops to help you hone your craft as well as prominent agents and editors ready to hear your pitch.

ECW members connect through a Yahoo group, Facebook, and an email list, sharing life and writing experiences, current and past works, and industry news. Members are welcome to join critique groups meeting bimonthly, one in Shalimar and the other in Niceville, Florida. Current members have included active duty and retired, military spouses, teachers, professors, stay at home parents, snow-birds, returning tourists, and those juggling full time and part time jobs. To name a few, award-winning author Vicki Hinze was a military spouse when she began writing thrillers with strong female protagonists. Charles Davis, author of Growing Up in Pensacola, is himself former military. The military is well represented in ECW keynote speakers, among them Stephen Coonts, author of Flight of the Intruder, Jeremiah Healy, creator of the John Francis Cuddy PI series, and Joe Weber who The Press in Atlantic City, NJ, touts as writing with a “pace faster than a heat-seeking missile.”

ECW meets monthly at the Shalimar Town Hall. Anyone interested in writing from novice to number one on the NY Times list is welcome. Find us on Facebook and check out our website for information on future meetings and breaking news about the 8th Annual ECW Writers’ Conference to be held to be held on the 8th and 9th of April at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island.

Eglin Vet For Our Pets

Eglin Vet for our pets
Not credited but printed with my permission
Published in the February/March 2011 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
Our pets are our families. While some would rather favor one over the other, they have nevertheless helped us relax and exercise through countless moves, holidays, and deployments. But where to get the best care of them?
Look no further than the Eglin veterinarian at the 96 Force Support Squadron Army Veterinarian Treatment Facility. While its primary mission is to take care of the Eglin and Hurlburt working dogs, the clinic is also open to our best friends. They do not offer bathing or nail clipping, but care for pets of active duty and retired military personnel include rabies vaccinations, outpatient treatment, heartworm checks, and general immunization.
If you are worried about moving or have a roving cat or dog, the Eglin pet Vet offers an affordable HomeAgain microchip implantation system and American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery (AKC CAR) database enrollment.
Interested? Pets are seen by appointment only at Building 888. Eglin Vet hours are 7:15 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday, closed federal holidays, and can be reached at 882-8250 or 882-2233. This is not an emergency facility but you can find the number for the Emergency Veterinary Clinic, which is 850-729-3335. For more information on the AKC CAR program, visit

Taking Advantage of Military Discounts

Taking Advantage of Military Discounts
By Christina Callisto
Published in the February/March 2011 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
With January over and the New Year’s resolutions to control spending made, the winter months still have vacations dancing in our thoughts. Here are a few discounts to help your budget and simplify vacation ideas.
Brides Across America provides free wedding gowns to qualified military brides.
Lowe’s & Home Depot offer an extra 10% off to active-duty military members, National Guard and reserve members, retirees, honorably discharged veterans and immediate family members.
Restaurants to check out include: Arby’s, Back Yard Burgers, Burger King, Captain D’s, Chick-Fil-A, Denny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, IHOP, KFC, Pizza Hut, Quizno’s, Sonic, Taco Bell, and Whataburger. Check for specific days or times for discount availability.
Services to look into include Geico , Jiffy Lube, Meineke , and Sears Portrait Studio.
Looking to stay in or want a day trip? Try Blockbuster, local movie theaters, Ripley’s attractions and museums, and professional and semi-pro sports teams. Some events at the Pensacola Civic Center provide volunteer opportunities to military members and offer free events in return.
Need a deal on a gift? Try Apple Computers, AutoZone, Bass Pro Shop, Bath and Body Works, Big 10 Tires, Champs Sports, Dell, The Discovery Channel Store, Dress Barn, The Finish Line, Foot Action, Footlocker, Gadzooks, GNC, Goody’s, Hot Topic, Jockey, Lerner, Michael’s, NAPA Auto Parts, New York & Company, Pac Sun, Payless Shoes, Play It Again Sports, Pure Beauty, Sally Beauty Supply, Spencer’s Gifts, Suncoast, Timberland Outlets, and Wilson’s Leather.
All Federal employees are able to get a 15% discount on their personal cell phones by calling their carrier and mentioning the “Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 – Discount to Federal Employees Past and Present.” You will need to know the military member’s supervisor’s name, phone number, and full address, so that his/her military status can be verified. Use the following contact numbers: Cingular – 800-319-6393, Sprint – 877-812-1223, T-Mobile – 866-646-4688, Nextel – 800-639-6111, and Verizon – 800-865-1825.
Be sure to ask for a military discount wherever you go here locally and around the country. While not all restaurants, service centers, or products are included, it never hurts to ask and a little leg work can save a few bucks all year round.

From Seoul to Saigon

From Seoul to Saigon
By Christina M. Callisto Free Lance Writer
Published in the October/November 2010 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
Sandra Davis is a quiet local celebrity. Perhaps you saw where Pensacola Junior College (PJC) recognized and honored her during National Women’s Month in 2003 for her unconventional careers. She may be better known around these parts for her time as Dr. Sandra Lockney-Davis, retired District Department Head of the Learning Resources Centers at PJC. While there, she authored an article in the journal Community College Libraries entitled, “Surviving Hurricane Ivan at Pensacola Junior College, Pensacola, Florida.” Not surprising, she and her husband, Charlie Davis, a local author, joined the Emerald Coast Writers, a non-profit organization for established and aspiring writers.
Sandra was named an honoree for the 2003 National Women’s Month program called “Guts, Glory, and Lipstick” at PJC. As an honoree she was expected to speak to the students and faculty. In humor typical for Sandra, she focused on the lighter side of what it was like for a female to live in Korea 11 years after the war and in Vietnam while the war was raging.
The presentation was based on the time she served as a civilian in the Army Special Services, the replacement for the Army Morale Division and the precursor to the current Army MWR program. Sandra was just one of approximately 12,000 civilian and military females who served in Vietnam. More specifically, she was one of only 600 Special Services personnel who served in Vietnam from 1966-1972. These women coordinated programs for troop morale and entertainment in the service clubs, libraries, and craft shops, harmonizing USO shows, Army Soldier Shows, and the Army Exchange which evolved into AAFES, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Well more than fifty civilian women were lost, never to return to the homefront. Unfortunately, accurate numbers remain scarce. They were the ensurers and continuants of esprit de corps for our troops. These women were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for soldiers who were doing the same.
After a year-long tour in Korea, Sandra was offered a position for a single year tour in Vietnam. The war was on when she stepped onto Vietnamese soil and she remembers living there through the Tet Offensive. Her outpouring of patriotism was inspired by her father, Lt Colonel William J. Lockney, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who saw action in World War II, Korea, and eventually Vietnam.
These women of Special Services were honored at the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1993. It is located at the site of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Those able to attend listened as Admiral William Crowe, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the historic event. Sandra L. Davis was one of the Special Services women who received a personalized Certificate of Appreciation signed by Les Aspin, U.S. Secretary of Defense. A special publication was produced for the surviving honorees: Vietnam Women’s Memorial: A Commemorative. You can find more of her life and volunteer service in her memoir, due out soon, as well as in selected chapters of her husband’s book, Growing Up in Pensacola, by Charlie Davis.
Sandra will present her story again at the Gulf Breeze Historical Society. This time her program and PowerPoint presentation are entitled: “So, What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like this? From Seoul to Saigon.” This happens to be the title of her memoir which is now in the editing stage. The presentation will be on Tuesday Oct 19, 2010 at 7:00pm at the Gulf Breeze City Hall. All are heartily welcome to attend.

Spouse to Spouse: Key Spouse Program

Key Spouse Program

Spouse to Spouse: Key Spouse Program
By Christina M. Callisto Free Lance Writer
Published in the October/November 2010 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
“Welcome to the Air Force family! Someone will contact you shortly.”
This is what the Key Spouse is for. A welcome to a new life style, a new location, a new mission.
“Someone will contact you while your spouse is deployed.”
The Key Spouse Program is the Commander’s program to specifically address concerns and needs of the dependents of Airmen throughout the Air Force. It’s the official communication network for spouses: official selection of volunteers, official oversight, and feedback right to the Commander. Military personnel have a First Sergeant to go to. Key Spouses are there to help you to get to what you need, help you to understand, and help you and your family through each phase of deployment and PCSing. They want to make sure you know all there is and have smooth transitions through military life.
Deployment is where Key Spouses shine. Some people have only work, others have kids, many juggle both. Each situation has its own needs. Perhaps you are also in the military. Who can you talk to? Who will listen to your troubles or help break up the loneliness when a spouse is remote? Are others experiencing what you or your kids are going through? Where can you share great news and funny pictures? Have a “grievance?” Keys work with you and the chain of command or necessary base agency. They will be your eyes, ears, and speak up for you.
When your Airman is deployed, the Key is there so you have someone for each of these questions and more. You may only need them once or twice during a military career or each and every deployment. The Key Spouse(s) will call periodically until homecoming to see how you are and if you need anything. Be honest. Let them know your stresses and joys, share how your children are handling the separation. Set up a schedule for contact (each week or every other) and the method (phone call, email, website, etc.). It truly helps the days and weeks pass by so much faster when you have a “hello” to look forward to every once in a while.
You do not need to deal with the anxiety or fear that may crop up by yourself. Face to face, email, phone, text, and social websites are just a few ways you can choose to be contacted and to make contact.
Depending on the size and need of the squadron or group, the number of Keys varies. Key Spouses can be husbands or wives, civilian, active duty or retired, enlisted or officer. They care for us so our spouses focus on the mission with the knowledge that the family is safe and looked after at all times. The Airman and Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) can put you in touch with your Key Spouse(s).
“As a dependent, who can I ask?” As an official unit representative Key Spouses are conduits of information. Passing along base and squadron updates, programs, resources, and contact numbers, fact support is the obvious part of the job. But the emotional and social support is greatly needed and often goes untold and unknown. This is what we as spouses need the most: the open door policy with peace of mind. Keys are available but they are not taxis, babysitters, or councelors.
As with life in general, what you put in to it is what you get out of it. Take advantage of everything that is offered to you and your family by the base, the squadron, and the Airman and Family Readiness Center. And keep going back. Let them know what you think, what you liked, what isn’t working, what you need and what you want to see more of. Remember, this is all for you and your family.

5 dollar pitcher Movie Reviews: Hot Tub Time Machine

5 dollar pitcher Movie Reviews: Hot Tub Time Machine

This movie is utterly ridiculous from the get go. Some almost-40s guys (John Cusack, etc. ) decide to party it up one more time for old time’s sake in what was an awesome place in their 80′s high school days after one of them almost in inadvertently but mostly on purpose fails at committing suicide after drunkenly rocking out in a car in a closed garage. The town in run down, the place is a mess. Everything that could be ruined is.
So they get trashed in the hot tub, which was disgusting when they got there… It transports them back to “the year” and the butterfly effect takes place. The real difference is how they choose to act on what is happening. It’s a should we do what we want or what we know we should? And when is enough enough?
Apparently life gets in the way and they all suck at being friends; its just a matter of how the others take it. Lucky for them all, going back in time sets up an even better life for them to return to at almost 40′s.
All are happy and the random nephew finds his daddy. The end.
I say cult classic. Definitely has funny moments but a totally random premise. I laughed out loud throught it. The one liners are great.
The best part was when I was walking out with L and the guy behind me says at normal volume, “wow that’s a really flowery dress. “
I actually reply (what?!)…”Yes it is. Thank you” while continuing to walk down the steps and overhear him saying he likes it to one of his buddies (what?!). L says something about him being a Motley Crue fan (movie reference, what?) and that I am walking taller. I was thinking about how my husband would like this dress and I was not going to tell her that I am in heels, so yes I am taller than her at the moment. Although she is rockin the Zumba sneaks and is smokin hot in the workout outfit!
It’s 5 dollar pitcher girls night, after all. A wicked end to a funny, ridiculous movie. The random slings from the jerk character are just funny. They make it. It’s a good movie to watch if you are ever thinking “what ifs” … you will realize it would have happened some way or another… whether you did it or someone else did. Better to just let it be and move on.