Skip to content

The Military Family Vaccination Problem

February 5, 2015

I’m pretty diligent about keeping our family’s vaccination records but I bet there are not a lot of people that are so diligent.

In most provinces, you get a small folded bit of paper at birth (actual size 10x15cm) on which to record all the vaccinations for your entire life. You must keep this little paper safe at all times and take it with you to every immunization appointment.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 16.51.53

What if the vaccination card is:

  • stored in a pocket and goes through the wash and gets destroyed?
  • kept in your wallet and your wallet is stolen?
  • is just plain old lost?

Ah, you’re thinking you just go to your family doctor and he/she will have all of the records.

Not so fast!

If you’re a military family, you may have just moved and you don’t have a family doctor. You can’t get your medical records shipped from your old doctor because he/she will only ship them to a new doctor. There is also the possibility that you got your vaccinations from a public health nurse or school nurse who doesn’t necessarily pass on the information to your family doctor. You might try to get the information from the public health unit in your former province but if you don’t have your health card number from way back then, your records probably won’t be found.

To make matters worse, vaccinations schedules are different in almost every province.

The main immunizations (diphtheria, pertussis, polio, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella) are pretty much consistent. However, the schedule of other vaccinations such as chicken pox, HPV, Hepatitis A&B are different or are optional.

Canada has an immunization schedule tool but it is useless you were born before 2009 or if you’ve lived in 4 different provinces and, heaven forbid, you move from one province to another when you’re in the middle of receiving a series of vaccines.

What happens if parents don’t bother to keep records and have moved frequently?

Canada, you NEED a national health records system.

What are your suggestions to make immunization and health care better for Canadian military families?

Lots of Big Girl Panties

January 21, 2015

Lauren over at The Military Wife and Mom provides a list of reasons why being a military spouse is so hard.

I agree that it takes a whole lot of courage and lots & lots of big girl panties!


The Most Fun Job at Imjin Barracks

November 22, 2014
Wines, Ports, and Sherries

Wines, Ports, and Sherries

Because of the Statute of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the reciprocity between Canada and the UK, dependants (spouses, children) of Canadian Armed Forces members are eligible to receive work visas for the duration of their overseas posting.

If dependents wish to get a job in the UK they must apply for a National Insurance Number, the equivalent to Canada’s Social Insurance Number. It is a straightforward process. I applied for my own number and my son obtained his number as well.

I applied for a few jobs in the local area and I registered with a couple of temp. agencies. I also applied for a job as a cashier/clerk at the Innsworth Special Store, a little duty-free shop at Imjin Barracks in Innsworth. The shop is administered by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services and offers duty-free products to foreign military personnel serving with NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC).


I am happy to announce that this is my one-year anniversary of working at the Innsworth Special Store. Being a cashier/clerk at this store is one of the most fun jobs EVER because I’m able to apply a wide base of knowledge.


I am able to apply all of the experience I gained when I was running my own business. We think about brand management, financial statements, and customer engagement and satisfaction. My chain of command is a filled with really cool people; open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. We listen to each other. We discuss options. My bosses clearly explain why certain things must be done a certain way but they are also willing to take new ideas up the chain of command if they feel those ideas are in the best interest of the business. It is really an entrepreneurial environment.

Organizing & Productivity

The store has only been operating for two years. This means I have had the chance to organize and implement procedures to increase productivity. From ordering product to final sale, we’ve been simplifying and streamlining. I’ve had the opportunity to write standard operating procedures and establish a records management system for both paper and electronic records.

Customer Engagement

Spirits and Beers

Spirits and Beers

Strict laws laid out by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) mean that only entitled persons assigned to one of the authorized NATO delegations at the ARRC are permitted to purchase duty-free alcohol or tobacco goods from the Innsworth Special Store. Additionally, entitled persons must adhere to their ration limits.

Because of the HMRC regulations, we have a finite number of customers. We get to know them and their families. We can tailor our line of products and our communications to ensure our customers are satisfied. Every few months some people are posted out and new people arrive. It is hard to say good-bye to our customers but already I’ve received invitations to visit Greece, Italy and France.

Learning New Things

We sell wine, beer, spirits, tobacco products and fragrances. I have to know about all of these products to make recommendations to customers. I am enjoying researching about how all of these products are made, learning how brands differ from one another and doing personal testing of many of the products too!

This is a GREAT job and I’m really lucky!

P.S. For the past year I have also been privileged to write about organizing and productivity with a great team of people at!

One of our visitors

One of our visitors

Remembrance 2014

November 11, 2014

It is always particularly difficult for me to write about Remembrance Day; to thank all of those who gave their lives for our freedom and way of life. This year it is even more difficult as we lost two Canadian soldiers on home territory to violence this year.

My deepest sympathies to the family, friends and brother-in-arms of WO Patrice Vincent and Cpl Nathan Cirillo.

Training for combat is also very risky so my sympathies extend to to the family, friends and brother-in-arms of Pte. Steven Allen this year as well.


Je me souviens.

Book Review: dependent

July 31, 2014

dependent book cover


When 45-year-old Ellen Michaels loses her husband to a tragic military accident, she is left in a world of gray. For 25 years her life has been dictated by the ubiquitous They—the military establishment that has included her like chattel with John’s worldly goods—his Dependents, Furniture, and Effects. They—who have stolen her hopes, her dreams and her innocence, and now in mere months will take away the roof over her head. Ellen is left with nothing to hold on to but memories and guilt and an awful secret that has held her in its grip since she was 19. John’s untimely death takes away her anchor, and now, without the military, there is no one to tell her where to go, what to do—no one to dictate who she is. Dependent deals with issues ever-present in today’s service families—early marriage, frequent long absences, the culture of rank, and posttraumatic stress, as well as harassment and abuse of power by higher-ranking officials. It presents a raw and realistic view of life for the lives of the invisible support behind the uniform.

My review

In her book “Dependent,” Brenda Corey Dunne paints a realistic portrait of the day-to-day life of a military spouse – a dependent. Brenda does an excellent job of describing the emotional conflict within the main character Ellen – from the sadness of abandoning her career to the joy and pride of raising her children. Over the course of the story we see Ellen come to terms with her choices and draw strength from her experiences.

There are scenes in the story that I’m sure every military spouse has experienced:

  • Overhearing vicious gossip in the ladies’ room
  • Participating in banal conversation at an official function
  • Struggling to make the military housing office understand that the broken furnace needs to be repaired in the middle of winter
  • Trying to make ends meet with only one income

The story flashes between past and present. Chapters are titled based on the house Ellen lived in at the time (House No. 13, House No. 2 etc.) but the reader never really finds out in which cities Ellen has lived. As a military spouse myself, I understand why. It really doesn’t matter which city you’re in. Each geographical location has its own challenges and you’re never there long enough to get used to it anyway so does it really matter what city you’re in?

This is a well written book to which every military spouse can relate. It is also a book that military spouses can give to their non-military family and friends and say, “Here is a window into what my life is like and these are some of the things I struggle with.”

I read the book in three hours. I couldn’t put it down.

From one “Niner Domestic” to another, Thanks Brenda!


Where to find “dependent”

Click on these links to find “dependent”


brenda dunneBRENDA COREY DUNNE, trained as a physiotherapist, worked several years as a Physiotherapy Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before meeting the love of her life, RCAF Colonel Tom Dunne, and becoming a military dependent herself. Due to posting this summer, Brenda and her family recently sold their small hobby farm in Eastern Ontario and successfully drove across Canada hauling a horse in a trailer.

After 1 year in England

July 13, 2014

One year ago today we moved to England. So much has happened since then. It seems like “ages ago” and “not long ago” at the same time.

The children have settled into school and made friends. They were reluctant to leave Canada but they have come to realize that moving was a great choice for them. They have visited Germany and Switzerland, and one has also been to Spain. These are not opportunities they would have living in Canada.

My husband has a great job. He gets to work with military members from several NATO nations. Each person has a unique perspective to bring to the tasks and while it may take a little longer to reach the end goal, the results are stronger and more robust.

I’ve got a great job. It’s part-time so I get to be with the children both before and after school. The team I work with is super supportive, I’m learning so much and the clients I get to interact with bring joy to my day. I’m even earning more than when I owned my own business!

I’m grateful we’re here!

Things I Like About England

May 3, 2014

Grocery Delivery
Most major grocery store chains provide home delivery service. Logon to the store’s website, click on the products you want to add to your shopping cart, select a delivery period and check out. Often you can get everything you need within 24 hours.
Most stores have a minimum order amount (around £25) and if you buy a monthly deliver pass (£10/month), all deliveries for the month are free if you buy over £40. With a physically fit husband and two teens in the house, it is pretty easy to buy £40 of groceries per order.
At first I was worried about the quality of the fresh produce that would be sent but I watched the “personal shoppers” in the store one day and found that they were as selective as me. Now I exclusively buy groceries online.

At first it was nerve-wracking driving a right-hand drive car on the left-hand side of the road but now that I’m comfortable with it, I’ve noticed something great. People here drive better than most Canadians. They “merge like a zipper” on the highways. They move back to the slow lane when they are done passing a vehicle. They drive at reasonable speeds (130kph on highways) and generally respect the speed limits where they are posted. They are courteous and respectful.

I commute to my part-time job on my bike. It is a 7km round-trip. I can cycle almost all year round. There are some days when it is raining too hard for me ride my bike though. Motorists are respectful of cyclists. They will wait behind me and go around when it is clear and I don’t get crowded into the ditch.

School Uniforms
Both children wearing school uniforms has simplified many things. The kids find it so much easier to get ready for school in the morning because they know what they have to wear. Back-to-school shopping is easy. We just go to the uniform store and pick up what we need from the list. Laundry easier to do and there is less of it.

What do you like most about where you live?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers