Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find tips from the field, websites and information, home is where the hooch is suggestions, upcoming programs and events and follow our book club. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOaskUT@state.gov.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

FSYF Summer 'Meet-Up' Events Return! During the summer months, FSYF hosts meet-up events at fun, local area venues for FSYF families. These casual events do not require a reservation or registration! For more information contact FSYF at fsyf@fsyf.org 
"The Army Blues" at Lubber Run Amphitheater, Friday, June 19, 8pm: The U.S. Army Blues, part of the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own", is a premier jazz ensemble.  Join other FSYF families at this free performance under the stars in beautiful Lubber Run Park in central Arlington (two blocks north of Route 50/Arlington Blvd.) at North Columbus St. & 2nd St. North.

About the Foreign Service Youth Foundation: Since 1989, FSYF has helped Foreign Service youth embrace the adventure of an internationally-mobile childhood by encouraging resilience and fostering camaraderie.  Global programs include: a Foreign Service youth-written newsletter, a parent newsletter, five annual contests,and two scholarships for college-bound seniors.  D.C.-area events include: re-entry seminars for high school and middle school students, a college admissions workshop, teen/tween game nights at Oakwood Apartments, and a FAll welcome back picnic.  FSYF also assists FLO and AAFSW in providing emergency support to families evacuated from overseas.  For more information, visit www.fsyf.org. CFC code 39436.

Friday, May 22, 2015

FSI - Transition Center is offering a free seminar:

May 30 Morning & Afternoon | Our Going Overseas SuperSaturday includes four FREE non-tuition courses for adults and children addressing both the psychological and the logistical preparations necessary when planning an overseas move. The highly interactive presentations in each course introduce all ages to the impact and logistics of an impending international move and help families and couples plan together. See below for which of the courses best meet your family's needs. See the course page for registration instructions.

Morning Options: 9:00am–12:00pm
  • Going Overseas for Families: This workshop designed for families addresses the concerns and excitement around the coming international move and makes them think about how they plan to prepare for it. Specific sessions focus on making transitions and dealing with stress. Children in grades 2-12 attend this class along with their parents.
  • Going Overseas for Singles and Couples without Children: In this interactive workshop, individuals and couples discuss the four stages of moving and brainstorm methods to manage stress and communicate effectively through the transition.
Afternoon Options: 1:00pm–3:30pm
  • Going Overseas: Logistics for Adults: For the afternoon session, adult participants attend this session to receive invaluable information on the logistics of moving overseas and learn the "nuts and bolts" of making this move.
  • Going Overseas: Logistics for Children: Children in grades 2-12 will be introduced to the logistics planning necessary for their international move. The children engage in thinking about the impending packout and prioritize what they would like to take with them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New Course for High Stress Assignments!!

FSI Announces: Pre-Deployment Preparation for 
High Stress Assignments (MQ940)

June 3, 2015 ~ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
July 8, 2015 ~ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This course has the simple goal of empowering employees and/or couples to be better personally prepared for an extended assignment to a high stress post. You will learn and examine the successful strategies of Foreign Service employees and couples who managed to find a way to survive a high threat assignment.
Course Objectives:
1.      Understand, predict, and plan for the underlying dynamics of decision making, separation, deployment and repatriation from a high stress assignment.
2.      Become familiar with the full range of resources available to both employees and family members related to an unaccompanied tour.
3.      Develop productive communication and dialogue patterns that are mutually sustaining for all phases of a high stress assignment.
4.      Understand the unique stresses on family members as well as employees during an unaccompanied tour and develop a mutual plan to protect the relationships involved.

Who should attend: 
Open to Foreign Affairs agency employees and couples with an onward assignment to a High Treat Post.

At the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Foreign Service Institute, Arlington, VA in room E2118.

How to Register:
·         State Department Employees may follow this link -http://reg.fsi.state.gov/CourseCatalog.aspx?EventId=MQ940
·         EFMs register through the employee’s CDO/Training Officer
·         All other USG employees and EFMs must submit an SF-182

For questions about this seminar please contact Laura Miller at MillerLE@state.gov.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to make stress your friend

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend- 
Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Click on the link below to find out how to make stress your friend.

Revolutionary way to look at stress

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ops Center FAQs

                                 Click on State Magazine for full article

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Family Liaison Office in partnership
with MHN (formerly Managed Health Network)
presents an interactive workshop

“Enhancing Stress Resilience for Kids

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
9:00 -10:00 A.M. EST
Department of State, FLO room 1239

Remote participation:
You do not have to attend in person.  This workshop is available virtually.  Virtual participants will need a computer with a high-speed internet connection and computer speakers. The “chat” function will allow virtual participants to post questions during the presentation. There is a workbook to use during the workshop.  Please contact FLOaskUT@state.gov to request a copy.

                                        Who may participate?
This program is open to all US government employees, their family members, and Members of Household.  It may be especially useful to those affected by long-term temporary duty (TDY) and permanent change of station assignments to unaccompanied posts or high threat posts.

                                         How to participate:
Contact FLOaskUT@state.gov to participate in person.    Virtual participants will log on to https://deptofstatehr.adobeconnect.com/r23k31mdibr/Enter as a guest; type your name and your current or future post. 

If you have questions: Please contact FLO's Unaccompanied Tours Support Team at 202-647-1076 or 1-800-440-0397 or email FLOAskUT@state.gov. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pre-Deployment Preparation for High Stress Assignments

Pre-Deployment Preparation for High Stress Assignments

Dates in May, June, and July 6:00pm–9:00pm | This course has the simple goal of empowering employees and couples to be more psychologically prepared for an extended assignment to a high stress post. Part of the course will focus on practical considerations in preparing for and sustaining an unaccompanied assignment. Both employees and family members who attend will better understand the challenges of maintaining the health and well-being of relationships with spouses, children, siblings and others who will await the return of the officer. The Department is asking officers to go to posts that are known to be difficult and appreciates the sense of service and courage of those officers willing to serve. No one wants an officer's sustaining personal relationships to be sacrificed along the way. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Breaking News           Breaking News
Stress Resilience for Kids
  Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. (ET)

 This session is designed for an adult audience and will discuss the challenges our children face in today’s busy world. The one hour interactive workshop will provide ways for parents to identify signs of stress in their children, discuss how adults’ and kids’ bodies react to stress, and provide techniques to reduce stress. A participant workbook accompanies the session and individuals are encouraged to request a copy before the session by writing FLOaskUT@state.gov.

New Format! Adobe Connect allows us to interactively communicate with you via the chat function anytime during the webinar. No training or experience necessary, just log on. A trainer from MHN (a Health Net Company) will facilitate the discussion.

Participants may attend in person or virtually. Virtual participants will need a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and speakers.

To participate in the webinar virtually, go to: 
Department of State Webinar: Enter as a “guest”,
type your first name and your current post or future post.
The session will begin at 9:00 a.m. (ET) and will last one hour.

      To participate in-person: RSVP to FLOaskUT@state.gov. If you do not have a Department of State ID badge or diplomatic passport, please let us know so someone will be available to escort you. It will be held in Room 1239 of the Harry S. Truman Building.    
      Please direct questions or in-person RSVPs to FLO's Unaccompanied Tours office at 202-647-1076 or email FLOaskUT@state.gov.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

FSI Announces: Encouraging Resilience in the Foreign Service Child (MQ500)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Raising resilient children is a common goal of parents, doing so in the Foreign Service context poses unique challenges and opportunities.  Join us and other nomadic parents to explore means to foster resilience in your child(ren).

This workshop will include:
·         A panel of Foreign Service Third Culture Kids (TCKs)
·         A wide variety of tools parents can use to model and nurture resilience presented by a psychotherapist who herself is an EFM and parent
·         Tips and ideas for mitigating the challenges of raising transient children

Who May Attend:
Open to all Foreign Affairs agency employees (FS and CS) and adult eligible family members (EFMs).

Where and When:
At the Foreign Service Institute, George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Arlington, VA on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 6:00 pm- 8:30 pm in room C3116.

How to Register:
To register please email the name of participant(s), agency affiliation, and preferred email contact to FSITCTraining@state.gov.

Tuition: No Charge


For questions about this workshop please contact coordinators at FSITCTraining@state.gov.

For more information about other Transition Center programs and training classes for personnel, family members and members of household, see our website at http://tc.fsi.state.gov/

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Passport Acceptance Day at Washington Passport Agency

On Saturday, April 25, the Department is hosting a Passport Acceptance Day at the Washington Passport Agency from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  This event will offer appointment and walk-in services for applicants using Form DS-11 (all first-time applicants, all minors, and applicants who are not eligible to use Form DS-82) who want to apply ahead of the summer travel rush.  

Applicants must be eligible to complete, execute, and submit Form DS-11, and have no immediate travel plans.  Passport processing time is four to six weeks.  Expedited processing, will call service, and same-day passport issuance will not be available.  Individuals who want to renew a passport using Form DS-82 should apply via U.S. mail. 

Event:                 Passport Acceptance Day

Date:                   Saturday, April 25, 2015

Time:                   9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 

Washington Passport Agency
600 19th St, N.W., Sidewalk Level
                            Washington, DC 20006

Appointments:   Please call 1-877-487-2778  

Payment:             Check or money order only

For more information on how to apply for a U.S. passport, including necessary documents and fees, please visit Travel.State.Gov.  U.S. citizens may also obtain passport information by phone, in English and Spanish, by calling the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Family Member Employment Forum

                 May 14, 2015
                 9:00am - 1:00pm
                U.S. Department of State
                George Marshall Center
                21st Street and Virginia Avenue NW

                Washington, DC

               Event Information and to Register:


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coping with stress

On April 14, 2015 FLO& MHN presented an excellent session on 

Coping with the Stress of Change

If you missed the session but would like a workbook please write us at FLOaskUT@state.gov

If you would like more information on resiliency please visit Beth Payne’s blog Fostering Resiliencehttp://wordpress.state.gov/fosteringresilience/

Handout D. from MHN's Coping with Stress of Change Workbook
                               Active Relaxation Techniques.
Progressive Relaxation
This technique is often most useful when you tape the instructions beforehand. You can tape these instructions, reading them slowly and leaving a short pause after each one.
Lie on your back, close your eyes.
Feel your feet. Sense their weight. Consciously relax them and sink into the bed. Start with your toes and progress to your ankles.
Feel your knees. Sense their weight. Consciously relax them and feel them sink into the bed.
Feel you upper legs and thighs. Fell their weight. Consciously relax them and feel them sink into the bed.
Feel your abdomen and chest. Sense your breathing. Consciously will them to relax. Deepen your breathing slightly and feel your abdomen and chest sink into the bed.
Feel your buttocks. Sense their weight. Consciously relax them and feel them sink into the bed.
Feel your hands. Sense their weight. Consciously relax them and feel them sink into the bed.
Feel your upper arms. Sense their weight. Consciously relax them and feel them sink into the bed.
Feel your shoulders. Sense their weight. Consciously relax them and feel them sink into the bed.
Feel your neck. Sense its weight. Consciously relax it and feel it sink into the bed.
Feel your head and skull. Sense its weight. Consciously relax it and feel it sink into the bed.
Feel your mouth and jaw. Consciously relax them. Pay particular attention to your jaw muscles and unclench them if you need to. Feel your mouth and jaw relax and sink into the bed.
Feel your eyes. Sense if there is tension in your eyes. Sense if you are forcibly closing your eyelids. Consciously relax your eyelids and feel the tension slide off the eyes.
Feel your face and cheeks. Consciously relax them and feel the tension slide off into the bed.

Mentally scan your body. If you find any place that is still tense, then consciously relax that place and let it sink into the bed. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Forget.......

Coping with the Stress of Change


Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. (ET)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Facing the unexpected emotions of grief

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.
As an oncologist, every day I see people who have cancer struggle with death and dying. Every day, I also see families struggle with the inevitable end of life — families who aren’t really prepared for the avalanche of emotions that sweep over them when the final moment comes, even if they knew death was imminent.
I know how challenging and devastating the raw, intense emotions of grief can be, because it’s happened to me.
I went for a run one frigid winter morning nearly 30 years ago. When I got home, my son, Ed, then 18, compassionately broke the news — my mother had died. Even though my mother had struggled with breast cancer and alcoholism, the news struck me like a two-by-four whipsawed across my abdomen. I felt drained of every ounce of vitality. It took all the energy I had to keep from slumping to the floor. As the hours evolved into days, it became exhausting — even physically painful — to make any decisions. Our family was completely unprepared for the feelings of confusion and disorganization following the news.
Easing the healing process of grief
Painful as my own grief was, my mother’s death gave me new insight on dealing with grief. Although there are no quick fixes for the anguish after a loved one’s death, I learned that you can take steps to make the coping easier. Here are my suggestions:
·        Actively grieve and mourn. Grief is an inner sense of loss, sadness and emptiness. Mourning is how you express those feelings. You might plan a funeral or memorial service, wear black, and carry a somber demeanor. Both grief and mourning are natural and necessary parts of the healing process after a loss.
·        Acknowledge your pain. If you don’t face your grief, your wounds might never quite go away. Accept that the pain you’re feeling is part of dealing with grief and moving toward a state of healing and acceptance.
·        Look to loved ones and others for support. Spending some time alone is fine, but isolation isn’t a healthy way to deal with grief. A friend, a confidant, a spiritual leader — all can help you along the journey of healing. Allow loved ones and other close contacts to share in your sorrow or simply be there when you cry.
·        Don’t make major decisions while grieving. Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions. If possible, postpone big decisions — such as moving, taking a new job or making major financial changes. If you must make decisions right away, seek the input or guidance of trusted loved ones or other close contacts.
·        Take care of yourself. Grief consumes a significant amount of energy. Your will to live and ability to follow normal routines might quickly erode. To combat these problems, try to get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Consider a medical checkup to make sure your grief isn’t adversely affecting your health — especially if you have any existing health conditions.
·        Remember that time helps, but it might not cure. Time has the ability to make that acute, searing pain of loss less intense and to make your red-hot emotions less painful — but your feelings of loss and emptiness might never completely go away. Accepting and embracing your new “normal” might help you reconcile your losses.
Losing a loved one is devastating. Someday, however, the sun will shine again. The day will seem brighter and your life will go on — even if it’ll never be quite the same.
Edward T. Creagan, M.D.
Division of Medical Oncology
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
reprinted from MHN Member Pulse Digest March 2015 for more information on MHN please write FLOaskUT@state.gov 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Recognizing Depression

Depression is serious but can be treated. More than a blue mood, depression can change thoughts, feelings and actions, and also how your body feels. Depression is a disease, and it takes more than just “toughening up” to manage it. Without treatment, symptoms can last for months, years or one’s whole life.
Depression comes in many forms:
·         Depression can occur all of a sudden for no clear reason.
·         Stress can trigger depression.
·         Some people feel depressed once in their life; others feel that way often.
·         Some people’s symptoms are so strong they cannot function as usual.
·         Other people can still function but do not feel well.
·         Some people have bipolar disorder (also called manic-depressive illness). They feel “low” at times and “high” other times.

Getting help
Depression can lower your ability or interest in getting help. You may feel tired, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. For that reason:
·         You may need help from family and friends to find treatment.
·         You may be so depressed that someone must take you for treatment.
·         Don’t ignore suicidal thoughts, words or acts.
·         Seek professional help for depression.

The signs of depression
The following are some of the symptoms you may feel.
·         Sadness for longer than two weeks
·         Irritability
·         Frequent crying
·         Fatigue
·         Guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
·         Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
·         Chronic aches and pains that don’t feel better with treatment
·         Eating problems (loss of appetite or weight, or weight gain)
·         Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
·         Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
·         Problems sleeping (insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping)

When should you seek help
Call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or talk to your primary care doctor if you have been feeling any of the above signs of depression for more than two weeks, or if they are hurting your work or family life. You can use the checklist as a starting point with your doctor or EAP for identifying depression. A good diagnosis involves a total physical checkup and a review of your family’s health history.
Depression often co-exists with other medical, psychiatric or substance abuse disorders. In those cases, depression is often not treated or even recognized. Even when depression occurs with other problems, it can usually be treated. The effective treatment of depression often seems to help other conditions to respond better to treatment as well.
This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.
 MHN Member Pulse Digest March 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Breaking News             Breaking News
Coping with the Stress of Change
  Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. (ET)

       In this session we will discuss the challenges of change, identify different aspects of the change process, describe ways to modify your stress responses to change, and present options for making the most of change. A participant workbook accompanies the session and individuals are encouraged to request a copy before the session by writing FLOaskUT@state.gov.

       New Format! Adobe Connect allows us to interactively communicate with you via the chat function anytime during the webinar. No training or experience necessary, just log on. A trainer from MHN (a Health Net Company) will facilitate the discussion.

      Participants may attend in person or virtually. Virtual participants will need a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and speakers.

     To participate in the webinar to:                                      Department of State Webinar: Enter as a guest, type your first name and your post or future post. The session will begin at 8:00 a.m. (ET) and will last one hour. It will be held in Room 1239 of the Harry S.Truman Building.   

To participate in-person: RSVP to FLOaskUT@state.gov. If you do not have a Department of State ID or diplomatic passport, please let us know so someone will be available to escort you.

Please direct questions or in-person RSVPs to FLO's Unaccompanied Tours office at     202-647-1076 or email FLOaskUT@state.gov.