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.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Employment Opportunity in FLO

Family members returning to the Washington, DC area may be interested in applying for the full-time Program Assistant (GS-7) position in FLO. The incumbent is responsible for front desk receptionist services, serves as back-up to the Executive Assistant, and provides part-time program assistance. The application deadline for this position is 5:00 p.m. ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
For details and application instructions, please visit FLO’s website. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Enhancing Your Resilience

Why highly resilient people still need to enhance resilience

Visit Beth Payne’s Fostering Resilience blog

I recently read a compelling New York Times article about a Navy Seal commander, Cmdr Job W. Price, who committed suicide in Afghanistan in December 2012. Navy Seals are among the most resilient people I know. They are selected for their resilience and receive extensive training designed to maintain what the military often calls hardiness or grit. Yet, after losing four members of his team, months of over work, being isolated by his command position, and feeling the impact of the death of Afghani children, Cmdr Price’s resilience had eroded so much that it became a mental health condition that lead to his death.
In the article, I could see that Price displayed behaviors that are common characteristics of low resilience including an inability to sleep, becoming isolated, persistent illness, and moodiness. Well meaning senior leaders reminded Cmdr Price that he needed to sleep, eat well, and exercise but did not suggest other activities that are necessary to enhance resilience. Colleagues noticed Cmdr Price’s troubling behavior and repeated asked if he was ok, but Price always responded that he was fine. No one delved deeper to help Price recognize how far his resilience had slipped or urged him to seek mental health treatment, including medical professionals treating his physical ailments.
Cmdr Price’s death was a tragedy that reminds us that even the most resilient people can lose that resilience under the right circumstances and we all must constantly work to enhance our resilience to counter the significant emotional events we face. Those of us in high threat and dangerous environments, particularly those in leadership positions who are responsible for the lives of people on their teams, need to be particularly attentive to maintaining our personal resilience. We also need to seek mental health care more quickly and encourage colleagues and teammates to seek care when we see signs of low resilience that may become a mental health condition if left unaddressed. America lost a hero in 2012, but we can honor Cmdr Price by taking resilience seriously, learning from his life, and helping others seek the care they need so we don’t lose anymore heroes.
How does this story of our SEAL colleague’s death impact you? How can we remain vigilant of the cumulative impact of demands on our own resilience (and of others) while in the midst of trying circumstances?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wednesday, Feb 3 - 9am-10am ET - NEW DAY/TIME for FLO WEBINAR

The new rescheduled day and time for the webinar is

Wednesday, February 3, from 9am – 10am ET.

The webinar will be recorded. If you are interested on receiving the link please send us an email to FLOAskUT@state.gov

we will send you the link as soon as it’s made available to us.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mark Your Calendars! Webinar: "Enhancing Stress Resilience for Kids" - Wednesday, January 27 9:00-10:00 a.m. ET

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

“Enhancing Stress Resilience for Kids”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
9:00 -10:00 A.M. ET

Department of State, FLO Room 1239

This session is designed for an adult audience and will address the challenges 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 trainer from MHN (a Health Net company) will facilitate the discussion.

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 U.S. 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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

IQ: Information Quest presents a Webinar

IQ: Information Quest presents-
Webinar:  Building Self-Confidence    Tuesday, January 26 from 1 to 2 pm ET

In order to handle today's challenging situations, we need to be at our best and believe in ourselves.
This webinar will outline why confidence is so important and how to continue feeling strong and empowered. We will have an interactive, engaging conversation that will help you feel more self-assured, both at work and at home.


IQ is the Department’s comprehensive and confidential resource and referral service that offers support to employees and families searching for ways to balance the demands of their professional and personal lives. They have a wealth of information on many topics, including 30 minutes of free consultation with a lawyer.  They also provide emergency child-care backup (5 days per year of child-care).To request customized research and referrals, email the Specialist directly at Specialist@LifeCare.com or call 866-552-4748. Specialists are available any time of the day or night, every day of the year.  Use the following to log on to their website: www.worklife4you.com: screen name: statedepartment; password: infoquest.  Referrals through IQ offer discounted rates for continued service.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Posted by Beth Payne on Monday, January 4th 2016     

Most people who work for the State Department will find themselves in a crisis at one time or another. Most of the time the crisis will be unpredictable. Whether you find yourself in a city during a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or civil unrest, it is very important that you and your team maintain your resilience so that you can respond to the crisis effectively and achieve U.S. foreign policy goals.
Here are some tips on how you can foster resilience during a crisis:
§  Focus on people first: The highest priority in a crisis is the safety and security of the team. Take the time to ensure that everyone has what they need to feel secure. Let people leave if they need to.

§  Ask for help: One of the best ways to maintain resilience during a crisis is to ask for help and resist the temptation to prove how capable you are by going it alone. Many Department bureaus can send TDY support if requested and are happy to walk you through best practices and lessons learned. Be proactive early on and get the help you need.

§  Create work schedules and rest breaks: While a crisis often requires 24/7 work coverage, that doesn’t mean people should work non-stop. Develop clear work schedules that incorporate time for rest breaks, meals and relaxation. Make people who are not scheduled to work go home. Some people like to stay where the action is, but they can be distracting and will then be over tired when it’s their turn to work. Leaders should designate deputies so they can also take time to eat, sleep, and relax.

§  Communicate extensively: Effective communication is critical in a crisis and err on the side of over communicating.

§  Manage Washington: In a crisis, senior officials in Washington crave information and details. Channel communications through a central point of contract or location so that employees aren’t distracted by constant requests from Washington. Everyone should regularly feed information to the designated Washington point of contact so officials are satisfied. Don’t allow a vacuum to develop.

  • Eat and drink: Provide fluids and healthy food and the time to eat. Minimize caffeine and sugar since these only provide a temporary boost followed by a significant drop in energy. If you want to have snack foods, bring in fruit and nuts instead of candy and chips. Avoid alcohol during the crisis. Alcohol will mask, but not reduce stress, and can have a negative impact on the body in times of stress.

  • Have fun: Even though you find yourself in a life or death crisis, there is still room to have fun and laugh – find it. However, be sure your humor is culturally sensitive.

What helps you stay resilient during a crisis?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

RESUME WORKSHOP - Foreign Service Youth Foundation

FSYF Resume Workshop- THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, January 03, 2016 1:00 PM / Lisa Mooneyham (Admin)

FSYF invites high school juniors and seniors as well as those already attending college to join us for our first Resume Workshop. This three hour event will cover best practices and techniques that will give you the tools to document your education, prior work experience, and highlight the special skills you have accumulated as a Foreign Service youth. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Unaccompanied, But Not Alone.....

Unaccompanied, But Not Alone: Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays - DIPNOTE 
(U.S. Department of State Official Blog)

December 24, 2015

The nature of diplomacy has changed since the events of September 11, 2001. Today, a number of State Department employees serve around the world in roles where their jobs and living situations lack many of the simple creature comforts and normalcy we are generally accustomed to. And in many cases, for matters of safety and security, these employees are asked to serve in difficult circumstances without their loved ones nearby. The individuals who choose to serve on unaccompanied tours – whether in Kabul, Islamabad, Baghdad or any number of other high-risk posts – are doing an amazing service for our country.

Holiday ornaments hang on a Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., December 3, 2014 

As we approach this holiday season, we are reminded of the importance of keeping the children and families of our diplomats serving on unaccompanied tours in our thoughts. Although these family members are not deployed themselves, they – like loved ones – are serving their country and also deserve our thanks for the sacrifices they make in the name of diplomacy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poses for a photo with the families of U.S. government employees on assignment at unaccompanied posts around the world, who endure long periods of separation from their loved ones, even at the holidays, at the annual Unaccompanied Tour Holiday Family Reception at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on December 16, 2015. [State Department photo]

This sentiment is the driving force behind the Office of the Chief of Protocol’s annual holiday reception for these important members of the State Department family. It allows us to extend our thanks in person for the sacrifices these family members are asked to make when their loved ones take on duties that require them to be apart for extended periods of time. Secretary Kerry captured the sentiment well in his remarks last week when he said, “I express my personal, deepest affection for and gratitude to every single one of you for serving your country the way you do. It’s a remarkable gift, and we treasure it.”
This year, we were proud to host a performance by three members of the Tony Award®-winning Broadway hit “Matilda the Musical.” It excited us to see the joy in the eyes of the children in attendance as they decorated craft keepsake boxes to preserve their most treasured items for sharing with their parents upon return from their tours abroad. Our annual reception is only one way the State Department recognizes the sacrifices of these children while their loved ones are serving abroad. As Secretary Kerry noted, “We aim to help people through difficult times here at the Department.” 

The cast of the Tony Award®-winning Broadway hit Matilda, the Musical, performs the popular song "Naughty," at the annual Unaccompanied Tours Holiday Reception at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on December 16, 2015. The holiday reception honors the families of U.S. government employees on assignment at unaccompanied posts around the world, who endure long periods of separation from their loved ones, even at the holidays. [State Department photo]

Through the Medals and Certificates Program, the Family Liaison Office (FLO) has arranged for nearly 6,500 medals to be awarded to children as symbols of our appreciation for their service to our country. The medals are a tangible recognition that children are doing their part here at home while their parents serve this country abroad. FLO also provides year-round support to these families through workshops, counseling and coping skills sessions, networking activities, and offers online resources to support the unique challenges parents and children involved in unaccompanied tours may face.
I join Secretary Kerry and the broader State Department family in expressing my personal, deepest affection for and gratitude to the growing number of employees and families who are separated during unaccompanied tours. Know that you are in our thoughts today and every day of the year, and we wish you a joyous holiday and happy New Year.

About the Author: Ambassador Peter A. Selfridge serves as Chief of the Office of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy, healthy holidays

'Tis the season of joy and togetherness - and crowds, lines, overspending, and too much togetherness, at times. It's little wonder that so many of us feel stressed during the holidays.
This month's Member Pulse digest features tips on how to have a healthy, happy holiday. Just click on the titles below to go directly to the articles.

  • Ahhh....mazing gifts to soothe stress
    So, you've made your list, checked it twice, but still don't know what to get for that special someone? If the last few months have been stressful for him or her, a soothing gift may be just the ticket, especially during a busy holiday season. Read on for some ideas to relieve stress.
  • Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping
    With the holiday season comes increased demands on your time - such as hosting, shopping, baking, cleaning, and visiting, just to name a few. These practical tips can help keep stress and depression at bay.

  • Wellness coaching for stress management
    Is the stress of the holiday season wearing you down? A personal wellness coach can offer extra support to help you make a plan for stress management.* 

Monday, November 9, 2015

For all unaccompanied posts (partially and fully) please RSVP to FLO by November 20, 2015 with your completed contact form

Friday, October 30, 2015

On October 21, MHN and FLO held a very successful webinar on “Parenting during Times of Separation”. We discussed the different aspects of successful parenting during an Unaccompanied Tour or a separation due to an evacuation.

If you were unable to attend, write to FLOaskUT@state.gov to obtain the workbook and transcript from the session. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

OBC Resources for Kids

OBC Resources for Kids

The Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) is a welcoming place for the whole family. Its children's activity workbook, Where in the World Are You Going?, is available both online and in the OBC to help children ages 3-8 deal with an international move. The OBC also offers Culture Grams*, an online resource for kids to learn about the people, history, culture, and more in countries around the world. To access the site, log-in with: Username: OBC; Password: countries. For more information, contact the OBC at FSIOBCInfoCenter@state.gov. (*Note: Culture Grams is for U.S. government employees only.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

TOMORROW...Changing Careers: New Ideas and Trends-Webinar

Changing Careers: New Ideas and Trends

Join FLO’s employment team and Hanna Morgan, the “Career Sherpa,” for the webinar, Changing Careers: New Ideas and Trends. Ms. Morgan will talk about how companies are using different strategies to find their next great hire. She will also discuss where companies are looking and what job seekers can do to better position themselves. This will include the newest trends of visual resumes and online portfolios—why they are important and what to include.

When: Wednesday, October 28 at 8:30 a.m. (ET)
RSVP: FLOGlobalWebinars@state.gov

Log in as a "guest" at http://deptofstatehr.adobeconnect.com/changingcareers. Please use your name and post. Participants will need a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and speakers. Only the presenter will be able to speak; however,    the chat function will allow you to post questions during the Q&A session.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

One Week Away - Register Today!

FSYF College Workshop with Becky Grappo 

Sunday, October 25, 11am - 2pm at Oakwood Falls Church

Every fall FSYF hosts an in-person college workshop at Oakwood Falls Church to address issues directly related to Foreign Service youth and the college application process. The program is appropriate for high school students of all ages and their parents. FSYF is delighted to have Ms. Becky Grappo, President of RNG International Education Consultants, and member of the FSYF Advisory Council return to facilitate this program for the third consecutive year. The cost is $15 per person for members and $30 per person for non-members. Lunch is included with this event. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Register and Pay Here

The FSYF 2016 Academic Merit Award Application is Now Available!

Since 2010, FSYF has been recognizing Foreign Service high school seniors and gap year dependents for their outstanding achievements through the FSYF/GEICO Academic Merit Award. This year FSYF is offering a one-time only competitive merit based award with a first place prize of $4000 and a second place prize of $2000.

Deadline for application is Monday, February 8, 2016

Winners will be honored at the FSYF Youth Awards Ceremony at the Department of State in July 2016.

More information and the application form
FSYF Meet-Up Events Continue in the Fall

These events are an opportunity for FSYF members in the DC Metro area to connect with each other. If your family has recently returned from overseas, is new to the FS, or just wants to enjoy a casual FS social opportunity, please join us:
This Sunday! Fall Scarecrow Making Event on Sunday, October 18, from 1pm to 4pm: If you have a pre-teen/tween child and live in the D.C. Metro area, please join FSYF in Arlington, VA to make a front-yard Halloween strawman. Bring a pair of blue jeans, a long sleeve button-up shirt, and a pair of pantyhose. FSYF will provide the straw to stuff inside and safety pins/twine to connect the pants and shirt. This fun hands-on event will take place at the Arlington Forest Shopping Center on Arlington Blvd/Route 50 located a half-mile west of FSI (look for the Outback Steakhouse sign). Meet in the open-air courtyard (or on the covered walkway if it is raining). Arrive anytime between 1pm and 4pm. Space is limited and advance registration is required. FSYF is requesting a $5 donation to help cover the cost of the straw. Register and Pay Here

FSYF Pre-Holiday Potluck Dinner on Saturday, November 14, from 4pm to 6:30pm: FS High school age teens and their families; welcome the fall season by sharing a pre-holiday potluck dinner. Make new friends and enjoy sharing time with other FSYF families. This event is taking place in Rockville, Maryland, and is being held at the private residence of one of our members. Please bring a beverage and a side dish to share.  RSVP is requested by Friday, November 13. RSVP Here
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, an adult 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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Family Liaison Office and MHN 
are offering an interactive webinar

“Parenting During Separations”
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 
9:00 to 10:00 a.m. ET

The October 21st session will discuss successful parenting during times of    separations.  A participant workbook accompanies the session and individuals are encouraged to request a copy before the session by writingFLOAskUT@state.gov.

Remote or In-Person Participation:                                          Participants may attend in-person or virtually. Virtual participants will need a  computer with a high-speed Internet connection and computer speakers. Only the presenter will be able to speak. The chat function will allow you to post questions during the presentation. To participate in the webinar visit:

Enter as a guest and type your first name and your post or future post. The
session will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET and will last one hour. It will be held in room 1239 of the Harry S Truman building. In-person participation: RSVP to FLOAskUT@state.gov. If you do not have a state badge or diplomatic passport, please let us know so someone will be available to escort you.

If you have questions: Please direct questions or in-person RSVPs to FLO's Unaccompanied Tours Team at 202-647-1076 or email FLOAskUT@state.gov 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Foreign Service Youth Foundation College Workshop

Sunday, October 25, 2015
11am to 2pm
at Oakwood Falls Church (State Room)

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation’s (FSFY) annual fall college workshop will again address the perennial issues directly related to Foreign Service youth and the college application process.  This year, Becky Grappo, President of RNG International Education Consultants, will facilitate the event. A former Foreign Service family member, Ms. Grappo has lived in eleven countries outside of the Unites States.  Her background includes teaching at U.S. public and international schools, working on education and youth concerns for the Department’s Family Liaison Office, writing about the issues associated with educating and raising children and teens in an internationally mobile lifestyle and raising three global nomad children abroad.  

The topics to be covered during the afternoon will relate to the mobile FS youth experience, and may include:
  • Interruptions in curriculum and extra-curricular activities
  • Challenges regarding teacher recommendations
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) vs. Advanced Placement (AP)
  • Planning college visits from overseas
  • Standardized testing issues
  • State residency requirements
  • Deciding upon and planning a gap year

Fees (Includes Lunch)
FSYF Members: $15 per person
Non-members: $30 per person

Additional information and registration can be found at http://www.fsyf.org/CollegeWorkshop.

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, an adult 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