By Sarah Horrigan, Family and Morale, Welfare and RecreationNovember 6, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - It's the last week of the month, and for many Army spouses, it's time to celebrate. Another month of deployment is completed, and Darlene Marshall, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR), Blue Star Card Program coordinator, warmly greets spouses as they arrive at the Nehelani Club for the "Big R: Countdown to Redeployment Party."
She hands each a sign reading "We Made It 7 Months!" and encourages them to smile big for the camera, reminding each spouse to e-mail this picture to their Soldier downrange. Attendees then go inside to enjoy a child-free evening out, with free pupus and a competitive game of Pictionary.
The monthly Big R Party is just one of the many benefits and activities associated with the FMWR Blue Star Card program. Implemented in 2004, the Blue Star Card program aids spouses and families of deployed Soldiers. The card provides discounts at FMWR facilities, free and discounted child care, and various opportunities to spend time with other spouses.
The program is a joint effort of all FMWR facilities with the primary goal of supporting families and thanking them for the sacrifices that they go through as a spouse, son or daughter of a deployed service member. FMWR realizes the difficulty of deployment and is committed to doing its best to make deployment in Hawaii as pleasant of an experience as possible.
In an effort to do so, the Blue Star Card program offers many events and activities for families. In addition to the monthly "Big R" countdown party, activities include preview nights at Army Community Theater and bus trips to Hale Koa, Ala Moana Mall and Pililaau Army Recreation Center. Cardholders are also given specials at large FMWR events, such as reserved seating areas or discounted or free ride and game tickets. All Blue Star Card activities not only offer a free and fun experience, but, more importantly, allow for the unique camaraderie and support that is only found with others who truly understand what it means to have a loved one deployed.
Veteran Blue Star Card holders will notice many new expansions to the program. Child care options have increased abundantly, and cardholders now receive 16 free hours of care and additional care is only $2 per hour. Children enrolled in full or part time Child, Youth and School Services receive a 20-percent discount and registration fees are waived for two youth team or individual sports and four free School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills (SKIES), classes for all cardholder children.
Additionally, the Army Family Covenant provides $1 off bowling coupons and $10 off golf coupons, which can be downloaded from the Blue Star Card Web site.
"It is a privilege to be able to give back to our families of deployed Soldiers," said Marshall, who is also the spouse of a deployed Soldier.
Blue Star Card events
What we've done in 2008...
Aca,!AcBig R: Casino Night, Mai Tais and Makeovers, Pick, Play and Party Bingo Night, Blue Star Card Idol Night, Drawing Due Night, Game Extravaganza Night, Wheel of Fortune, Operation Rising Star and Family Feud, Fashion Fall Out
Aca,!AcHale Koa and PARC beach trips
Aca,!AcHawaiian Waters Adventure Park trip
Aca,!AcSpouses and the City, Ala Moana Mall and Living History Day bus trips
Aca,!AcSelf Defense seminar
Aca,!AcLetter writing and Create-a- Card at the library
Aca,!AcArts and Crafts Scrap and Social and Tile Mosaic class
Aca,!AcWalk off the Wait at Makapuu Lighthouse
Aca,!AcVIP Seating Area at the Montgomery Gentry concert
Aca,!AcFree Tickets at Family Fun Fest
Aca,!Ac4th of July Spectacular VIP package
Aca,!AcPreview Nights for "Aida," "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Oliver"
Aca,!AcFree Carnival Rides at
Central Oahu Carnival
Aca,!AcDiscounted Oktoberfest tickets
For more information on the Blue Star Card program visit www.bluestarcardhawaii.com.
Editor's Note: This article was run in a special insert of the Hawaii Army Weekly, the post newspaper for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, in honor of the one year anniversary of the signing of the Army Family Covenant. To view the entire insert, visit www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/sites/commander/armyfamily.asp.