Since 2004, the day I said “I DO” I became a military spouse. Before then I was a military girlfriend, and made the decision with my now husband to enter into this lifestyle. I was excited about it and ready to be all in. However, I didn’t enter into a typical active duty lifestyle. What I entered into was the Active Guard Reserve lifestyle of the Air National Guard. Every morning he put on his uniform and went into work. But the work he went into was on a teeny tiny Guard base in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have a host of military support non-profits located near us. We had no commissary, exchange or base housing. It’s this feeling of belonging, but being on the very edge of the group you belong to. You feel isolated and alone, especially when it comes to activations and deployments. Many states try very hard to assist those of us that are remotely serving. We had great doctors and hospitals we accessed through Tricare Prime Remote, and the local WalMart had a card we registered for and carried around that gave us tax-free status. But when it came to programs for our children and our families, we were severely lacking.
It was during these early years that I started this blog. I began an endless searching for support organizations that helped families like mine. Gathering resources and housing them here on this blog. I knew that I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way and I wasn’t. It even came to my attention that there were service members in my husband’s unit who didn’t even live in the same state, or had to get on a plane to come to drill. It would be about five years and we would become that family. There are obvious flaws in the system, and families fall through the cracks. And you can’t always rely on the idea that, “Well, they are a National Guard family, they probably live in their ‘hometown’ or with their extended families.” We definitely did not, and after many years I discovered that that was more common than I realized. What are some of the most important take-aways one should understand about the National Guard (and Reserves) life?
We are both Military and Civilian, balancing between these two lives.
There’s a significant lack of understanding coming from the civilians AND fellow military
Programing available to National Guard and Reserves can be significantly different
Transitions can be quick and drastic! When a active duty service member deploys their transitions are difficult but transitioning quickly from civilian life to military life when there are no standards for support.
Fighting an uphill battle because of the change of National Guard life over the years. When talking to leadership, or those involved in the advocacy circle, you may be dealing with folks who served over twenty years ago, when things were very different. I have experienced this before and its a difficult conversation to have.
So what can you do to combat this?!
TELL YOUR STORY!!! Don’t stop telling your story!! If you ever want to write about it let me know. Homefront United Network is always looking for guest bloggers and writers to tell their story. Even if you don’t think you are a writer, try it!!!!!
TAKE THE SURVEY! The Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey is a survey that tells your story. It gets into the hands of non-profits, advocacy groups and those involved in the political world.
It’s Military Appreciation Month and its time for the Military Family Lifestyle Survey! I have been involved with this survey for about five years now. Each year I have seen it grow and its reach spread further and further. The potential impact for this survey is huge! Individuals with significant power to affect the welfare of military families see the results of this survey. It goes a long way to educate individuals on the needs of military spouses, service members and even military children! It is a leading resource for policy makers, corporations and non-profits. Taking the survey is a way for your voice to be heard!!!
In 2016 the survey provided us with some very valuable information. Across the board Military Pay/Benefits was at the forefront of military spouses, service members and veterans minds. The top five concerns for military spouses were as follows – military pay and benefits, spouse employment, change in retirement benefits, Impact of deployment on kids and family stability. One of the most astonishing, yet not shocking, results was that 88% of survey takers felt like those in the civilian world did not understand the sacrifices made by service members and their families. Survey results also include information about military kids, retirement, suicide, mental health and caregiving.
After 15+ years of war military families are tired. Our emotions are raw, issues of mental health are at the forefront, and we don’t want to be forgotten. While 77% of those surveyed are happy with their military life, 72% believe that the current optempo causes an undo amount of stress for a healthy family life. That is a very relatable finding. We love our military life, but it can be exhausting for our families.
If you want your voice to be heard, and for that voice to have a real impact on military support this is the best way to do so. This survey goes directly into the hands of those that can make a difference and they do read it! Keep sharing your story and never stop!
Don’t miss your chance to give your story a voice, a voice that has the potential to make a real impact! And if you take the survey you are entered to win a $100 gift card!
On the first Thursday of the month come join us in ‘Rewind 365’!
It can be something you posted on your blog a year ago, a memory, a photo or even a video taken a year ago!
This is what was going on with me a year ago:
So What Happened With You A Year Ago Today?Join in and “Rewind 365” days and tell us what you were up to A Year Ago Today!
It’s all simple:
1. Follow me! 2.Tweet your post and tag me @RheChristine #rewind365 3. Create a Post with a picture, a memory, or even a previous blog post from 1 year ago, make sure you include our button so we have more people joining every week. 4. Leave your link below!
Hopefully I’ll be able to resurrect this little post here. I always think its fun to look back on where you were the last year, how big the kids have gotten. Occasionally I’ll even come across a really sweet memory that I haven’t thought about in awhile. So, the point is its really fun and you know you wanna!!
A YEAR AGO TODAY…… This month we were celebrating a fun event done by Blue Star Families called Books on Bases. There was crafts and facepainting and book reading. The kids absolutely loved it and it is one of the coolest things BSF does. I am actually getting ready to do one at a local base here in a couple weeks so it should be exciting.
And just for fun I thought I’d post last year’s First Day of School picture. Look at my little first grader! Las year he wanted to be a meteorologist. While he is still a super huge fan of the weather, you should check out what he wants to be this year on my New Beginnings post, as part of my 2014 Blogger Challenge, which I’ve totally been slacking on this summer.
so that’s where we are and where we’ve been! grab a button and join in the fun all month! Link up and tweet #Rewind365 and tag me!
Summer is well under way. Time for family vacations, weekend getaways and days with no school where mom is endlessly searching for ways to fill the time. I can assure that is me, sitting at my computer, finding ways to frugally shake things up on the very hottest of days. thankfully the Blue Star Museum’s program is around this summer! In May I attended the event launch for this wonderful program for military families, which is available to all Military families – Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve – available from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I especially appreciate that the folks at the National Endowment for the Arts have gone out of their way to include ALL military families!!! This warms my heart. Blue Star Musuems is a made possible through a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, Joining Forces, MetLife Foundation and all the wonderful museums that are participating in this great program. The program has tripled in size, which means so many more experiences for families all over!
me and fellow Millie, Jen, who is our Social Media Manager (Blue Star Families)
Listening to Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde inspire our young guests!
Blue Star Musueums provides the opportunity for many military families to experience things they might not be able to. Experiencing the arts can be expensive, and I know for me personally that has been the reason why we have put off visiting these types of places at all, or as frequently as I might like. While many of the museums in my area are free, they have still made it a point to be a part of this initiative to spread the arts to military families, by providing special programs and assistance to them. The Smithsonian in particular has created an educational program that video conferences to children stationed at military installations all over the world. They have also created a reintegration program for Wounded Warriors. Tours and outings to art programs and events are provided to get them out in public settings that are safe and relaxing.
I challenge you to check out this program and make it a part of your summer vacation. It is invaluable experience for the whole family. While this program is geared towards families, the hubby and I have been known to visit museums on date night once or twice. This program is for everyone.
Visit the National Endowment of the Arts’ website and click on your state for a list of museums in your area, and enjoy your summer with the arts!
Happy Hump Day Ya’ll (have you seen that Geico commercial? Oh man, I laugh so hard EVERY time I see it). Its been two weeks since the 4th of July but I never got to share with all of you how we spent our day. The Fourth is a difficult holiday to be so far away from my family. It sounds silly, because I know that holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving should be hard too. They are, don’t get me wrong, but the Fourth is really, really hard. We are such a “tradition is important” family and we do the same things every year – parade, eat, some of us go to a movie, camp out at the fireworks viewing area way early and talk, play cards, eat dessert. Its so much fun and I miss my parents, my sister and my Aunt and Uncle.
What I am thankful for is the new family we have found here. It is so vital to the life of a military family (or a family that happens to move to a new location without family or a prior support group). Last year we went to a parade in one of the nearby towns and had a BBQ and very awesome “never allowed in California or Nevada” fireworks. Our neighbors/adopted family have taken care of us since we moved here practically and I can’t even tell you how grateful I have been for that. This move has been way more difficult then I ever imagined it would be and without them it would have been much harder.
So, how did we spend our very Patriotic Day this year?
Walking down Constitution Avenue in DC! Yep, you read that right! My two oldest joined me with my awesome Blue Star Families friend while we marched down the middle of DC with the MilKidz Club. It was such a strange and crazy experience. I really hope that I never lose the awe-factor when it comes to living here. Everything I do and experience almost leaves me breathless. Visit Blue Star Families, MilKidz Club page and look for a chapter in your area. It’s great for kids! The organization of the parade was really good, but I thought we were there far too early, especially with small children. I was really glad I had decided to leave Phillip home with Mr. Air Force. They had lots of doctors and EMTs at the end of the parade with misting tents (that weren’t misting enough) and warm water and gatorade (not good). Some local fireman also were spraying water with a huge fan that actually was so much better then the misting tents. It really sucked that we had to walk so far to get to a metro, but other than that it went really well and I was super proud of my kids.
After that Daddy came and rescued us with Chick-Fil-A and cold water and lemonade. We went home and rested and got ready for our friends to come over. It still is crazy to me that we ended up living across the country with someone I’ve known since I was a Senior in High School; and my sister and his brother were very good friends. It’s pretty crazy. His wife is amazing and we are besties. My neighbor and her little boy came over as well. Then we ventured out for Fire Works this year at a local high school. It was incredible!!!
No pics of the actual fireworks (who seriously hasn’t seen a firework), because I was actually enjoying them. It really cracks me up to look around and see everyone with their Phones and IPads taking pictures and videos of the fireworks instead of actually watching them. It’s a sickness seriously.
Are you a tradition person? How was your 4th of July?!