When summer hits, the kids are off, your spouse’s PTO is saved up and the promise of a fun adventure is on the horizon. A trip to Washington DC could serve to be a rewarding experience for the whole family. Not only do you get to feel the heartbeat of America, but you can also dive into its deep history.
Before booking your trip, here’s what you need to know and some spots to put on your itinerary.
Planning your trip
DC has a lot to offer the common traveler. From the White House and Capitol to the presidential and military memorials. With so many attractions and potentially not a lot of time to see them, it’s important to narrow your choices and focus on a specific aspect of the city. Let’s get down to how to plan your trip.
AFBA travel benefits
If you’re an AFBA member, you have certain travel benefits you should take advantage of before booking anything.
- Car rental discounts: While DC is notoriously easy to walk through and shared rides are abundant, you may consider booking a car rental. This can be helpful if you want to stay somewhere outside the city and visit surrounding sites, want to make DC more accessible on your own time or have specific travel needs like wheelchair access.
- Armed Forces vacation club: From hotels to exclusive discounts, any member of AFBA can benefit from starting their itinerary with this one-stop-shop website.
- Wholesale hotel rates: Receive wholesale rates at over 600,000 hotels around the country — that’s 60% of any hotel on the list!
All of these advantages can put your trip on the right foot.
What to bring and not bring
Traveling comes with it a host of decisions, but here’s what to bring and leave behind on your trip.
Summer in DC is known for its humidity and average temperatures falling between the high 80s and low 90s. These two weather conditions combined make for summer storms as well. So, pack your raincoat, a good pair of walking shoes and your favorite breezy summer clothes to make this trip the best one yet.
DC is also a fairly large city, and it could get confusing if you’re not familiar with the area. Map out where each site and attraction is beforehand so you’re not wasting your time zig-zagging across town. If you book a tour, be sure to mark where the guide will meet you.
The top museums and locations to visit
Along with the main attractions like the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, here are the best places to see if you’re a military history enthusiast:
- The Korean War Veterans Memorial.
- National World War II Memorial.
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
- National Museum of the United States Army.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- National Museum of the United States Navy.
There is a lot to do and see when you visit Washington DC. Once you have your itinerary planned out, enjoy the music, food, art and culture of the area.
Virtually everyone has used insurance at least once. It comes in a wide range of forms covering practically everything, from life and auto insurance to protection for parcels in the mail. You can even insure items like your watch or smartphone against being lost or stolen. The list may genuinely be endless.
If it can be insured, someone probably offers coverage for it. But do you regularly compare your insurance needs with the insurance you own? Are you getting what you need at the right price?
Do you need life insurance when you’re young (you do) or should you wait until you’re older? How likely do you think you are to be in an auto accident? Are you covered if you become ill or injured and need an emergency room visit or hospitalization?
Depending on the answers to questions like these, you may wish to alter your insurance plans. That’s what National Insurance Awareness Day — observed on June 28 every year — is for.
Insurance has been available for thousands of years
Some of the earliest civilizations had insurance. Somewhere between 4000 and 3000 BCE, Babylonian sea merchants would purchase bottomry contracts. These had a ship’s owner use their vessel as collateral in exchange for a loan including interest. If the ship was lost at sea or heavily damaged, the insurer would be out of luck; but if the ship returned safely in good condition, the loan and its interest would be repaid.
Marine insurance continued to develop in new forms across the world, including in ancient Greece and those who traded with them. The Romans, while they were busy revolutionizing civilization, invented life insurance.
In the 17th century, the famous and still-existing Lloyd’s of London was founded. Its founder, Edward Lloyd, would gather information about shipments from docks and compile them into the Lloyd’s List publication. While its information-gathering is a little more sophisticated than when it began, Lloyd’s List is still being updated today.
Why evaluate your insurance needs?
First, consider what you want to be insured. Medical bills and your automobile are some of the most popular options. Other types such as life insurance are all too often passed over.
Even if you have all the insurance you need, you may be paying too much. Rates are constantly changing, and it’s worth the time and effort to shop around for the best price.
If your life circumstances change, so should your insurance. Have you taken a new job that requires driving in dense traffic? Has your health changed? What about your marital status? Many life events warrant taking a fresh look at your insurance options.
You don’t necessarily need to shop for a new insurance provider and go through the paperwork all over again. You can talk to your current company and ask if they have other choices or promotions that might better suit your life situation. Many insurance companies allow you to customize your plan online.
Seeking out other ways to lower your insurance costs is something else to consider. Have you purchased a new car with advanced safety features? Bring it up with your auto insurance company. Are you taking care of yourself better? Maybe hitting the gym more, eating well and better controlling your weight? You could be eligible for health insurance discounts.
Look at your insurance options on National Insurance Awareness Day
It’s strongly recommended that you take the time annually to look at all your insurance options and find the best policies and rates that fit your specific needs.
Perhaps the most important thing you get from insurance is peace of mind. Knowing you’re covered in the event of an incident makes you feel better with less stress and worry — which can mean a longer lifespan and better overall health.
There is still a strong stigma attached to mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to help shatter that perception and inspire those who need it to seek out help.
One group that experiences increased rates of psychiatric illness are first responders and armed forces servicemembers, especially those who were in combat. Too many suffer in silence, though they don’t have to, as there are many programs available specifically for veterans and first responders alike. Operation Resiliency is one such example that aims to help servicemembers deal with mental health issues by encouraging interaction between soldiers who share bonds forged through combat in the military.
The underlying concept behind Operation Resiliency is that soldiers who form bonds in combat can help each other cope with trauma. Operation Resiliency hopes to assist both active duty and veteran service members better manage their mental health by bringing them together with no-cost retreats close to their homes. They also follow up with these individuals in an effort to keep connections strong among these soldiers.
Since the end of 2022, Operation Resiliency has served 468 service members. The project aims to hold six more retreats throughout 2023.
The origin of Operation Resiliency
The concept for Operation Resiliency came from Sarah Verardo, whose husband, Mike, was badly wounded in Afghanistan.
Verardo served in Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. This unit fought in the especially deadly Arghandab region in Afghanistan, where nearly half of the soldiers in the team were awarded Purple Hearts. When several of these infantrymen committed suicide, Sarah called retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Donald McAlister, first sergeant for Bravo Company in the Arghandab. They conceived of Operation Resiliency as part of their joint belief that they should do their part to prevent further tragedy.
McAlister led the first retreat for veterans in Bravo Company in North Carolina, where nearly 100 veterans of the company showed up. He believed he should lead them with full transparency of his own difficult reality to encourage others to do the same. “…Leading by example was being open and honest, and letting them know that mentally, physically, I’ll never be the man I was before…But at the end of the day, that’s OK…I told them, ‘You know, it’s OK for us all to not be OK, as long as we, as long as we acknowledge it. We can see the enemy, see what’s coming at us,” said McAllister, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Psychiatric illnesses are not a sign of weakness
One in five adults suffers from mental illness, as claimed by the National Institute of Mental Health. This statistic is the same for first responders and those who serve in the armed forces. No one — no matter how tough the person may be — is immune, and no one can “power through” psychiatric disorder through sheer force of will any more than they can a broken leg.
If you’re experiencing a crisis or if you feel you may hurt yourself or others, you can dial 988, which connects you to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Calling 911 is also an option.
Bravo Company is an example of the strongest among us recognizing their experiences and reaching out to their combat brothers for relief. Programs such as Operation Resiliency give these soldiers hope — which is what they require most in their time of need.