Calling All Branches of Guard and Reserve Spouses!!!!!!

When you think of the National Guard and Reserve what do you think of? Commercials talking about citizen soliders, the phrase “The weekend a month, two weeks in the summer,” and those people called out for earthquakes, riots and floods. But there is so much more to who we are and what we do.

Are you a Guard or Reserve Spouse of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy or Marines? Do you live within driving distance of Bordentown, NJ? If you answered yes then you’ll want to continue reading. Words can not express how excited I am about a special event coming to New Jersey in a little over a month. For all of my years as a military spouse I have felt a twinge. One that has stayed with. One of being alone, different and out of place. I have never quite met any common understanding of military life as the wife of an AGR, then Active and now Traditional Status Airmen.We did all of this while remotely stationed at a location with no base housing, no commissary or exchange, or any support programs to speak of. The past fifteen years have been all about learning and adapting. It’s also been about feeling left out, desperately searching for support, hearing the word ‘No’, and hearing the phrase “You’re not active duty so we can’t help you.”

When you are in a room full of military spouses at an event you are more than likely one of a few that are just like you, if not the only one. People don’t understand, even those that you think should often have no clue what its like. Events held for Military Spouse inevitably end up having almost nothing relevant to your struggles, and to hear of an event just for you is just something that rarely happens.

But the wait is over! On September 22 an event is being help for spouses of all branches that are Guard, Reserves, or remotely stationed. At this event you will have the opportunity to network with other spouses, talk about your struggles, learn about resources that are available to you….but most importantly I hope you gain the confidence to advocate for yourself.

If you or someone you know are a Guard/Reserve Spouse, or are maybe on orders isolated away from a traditional base consider coming or spreading the word about SpouseTalks. This interactive event is designed to focus on the unique experiences that make up our unique lives. Each person brings their own unique story to the table and we want to hear that.

Stop by and like Homefront United Network’s Facebook Page, as well as my National Guard/Reserves/Remotely stationed specific page – National Guard Families

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Military Support Series – “Our Military Kids”

Jumping back into the swing of things, I am so very happy to bring to you the third installment in my Military Support Series.  In light of April being the Month of the Military Child, I thought what better organization to highlight first this month then Our Military Kids.

Our Military Kids Logo

Our Military Kids, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to provide support and recognition to military children. This may include children ages 3 years through the 12th grade of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members, along with children of Wounded and Fallen Warriors from all branches of service. The grants to children pay for fees associated with athletic, fine arts, and tutoring programs. Our Military Kids’ grants keep military children engaged in activities of their choosing, helping to relieve the stress of separation from a parent by providing a positive distraction, minimizing emotional destabilization, building self esteem, and enabling academic achievement.
 Our Military Kids provides tangible support to the children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and Military Reserve personnel through grants for sports, fine arts and tutoring that nurture and sustain the children during the time a parent is away in service to our country.
Last month I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and have lunch with Linda Davidson, co-founder of OMK.  It was truly amazing to hear the story in person, to talk about the direction and how the direction has grown and changed over the years.  To talk about the future and what other things this wonderful organization can accomplish.  Starting as a group of people who sought to serve the children of Guard and Reservists in the State of Virginia only, then growing nationwide, and not stopping until OMK began helping the children of Wounded Warriors as well.

me and Linda Davidson
Linda, and the amazing staff, Board of Directors and volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide grants of up to $500 to cover six months of extra-curricular activities for a child of a deployed service member, who is deployed for 120 days or is one of two missions overseas totaling 180 days in a one-year period and there are at least 30 days remaining, and the child will start the activity before they return home.  The grants are to support athletic activities, fine arts and also tutoring.  Most of us that are military-connected know what its like to have a loved one gone, even if its only for a two week training or field mission.  Regardless of the length of time, when it involves children its difficult.  Two weeks, two months or a year, to them its all hard.   I have personally experienced so many different types of separations and they have all been hard on my children, especially when they are too young to really understand anything.  We haven’t been lucky enough to be a recipient (because I didn’t know about OMK!!!  Crazy!!), but I know that it would have been such a blessing.  One day maybe OMK can expand to include Guard and Reservists families that are in unique situations like prolonged TDYs, Geo-Bachelor, shorter stint missions and more unique situations that I know are out there.
Our Military Kids conducted a survey of recipients (in both the Guard/Reserve and Wounded category) to garner more insight and information into the lives of these families and the effect that it has. 
  • 82% noticed an increase in the stress or anxiety level of their child during the parent’s deployment
  • 97% indicated that participating in an activity benefited their child
  • 100% found the grant application process easy
  • 99% reported that participatin significantly contributed to the overall well-being of the entire family
  • 99% thought the Our Military Kids program should be continued and made available to other families
 My little Military Kid

If they surveyed me I’m sure they would find very similar responses.  My kids are involved in Martial Arts and Awana.  I know that having those things, that pattern, that stability in their lives is incredibly valuable to my children.  The support that they find, that is extremely difficult for those of us not attached to a larger unit and/or on a substantial base is beyond words.

To learn more about Our Military Kids, please visit their website and here are some special links!

Press Release – Business support OMK (if you’re in the VA read this!!!)
Donate to Our Military Kids
Vehicle Donation Program
Our Military Kids Facebook
Our Military Kids Twitter

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Guest Post – A Boy, A Girl, and the Marine Corp

Hi everyone!  I’m kicking off my military life series with a new bloggy mil-spouse friend from over at A Boy, A Girl, and the Marine Corp.  The goal of this series is two part – first, to talk about unique situations with the military and highlight different portions of them just so that people can learn something.  Secondly, maybe someone out there in that same situation is struggling, hopefully from this series you will find that you are not alone.  There are other amazing women out there that are living the same life you are!  This is an amazing post and I hope you take the time to read every word.  Its amazing.

A Boy, A Girl, and the Marine Corps

A Girl is a 20 something blogger who began blogging in 2008 as a means of coping with a deployment.  She is a Vet Tech by trade and loves her work in Emergency and Critical Care.  She is married to a 10 year veteran of the USMC reserves, whom she meet shortly after he returned from a deployment.  They have been married for four years, have three, very bratty dogs, and are currently trying to muddle through the aftermath of a difficult deployment for both. 

Check out the Girl’s FB page here

Stuck in the Middle

My weird life as a reservist wife and how I found where I belong

I sat down to write and nothing came to me.  How is being a reserve wife different?  How is our life affected by being a reserve family?  Is there a difference at all between reserve life and active duty life?

Let’s start with the most common question I get asked.  We’ll start with the very basics.  How is my marriage affected by my husband’s military service?  Then the inevitable, “Oh.  Is that different than if he were active duty?”   Yes, I suppose it is.  But would a civilian know the difference?  Probably not.  The main difference I find myself explaining is that I do not PCS.  Ok, so I use the word “move” but it’s because my friends give me blank stares when I speak military.  Heck, I still stare blankly at my husband when he speaks military and I’ve been with him for 6 years and married for four.  But no, I do not PCS.  Ever. 

The other main difference in our life is that my husband has two jobs.  Every morning he wakes up, gets dressed and drives to his civilian job and talks with his civilian friends and does his civilian things.  Then he comes home, says hello with a wink and a kiss on the cheek and immediately turns on his computer and begins the military side of his day.  He has word to disseminate, he has emails to read and respond to, this Marine or that Marine needs this or that.  He has this call to make, he has this checklist to edit.  In actuality, he usually comes home and winks at me and kisses me on the cheek in lieu of a verbal hello because he’s talking to a Marine.  I know the a lot of wives say their husbands mistress is the military, heck, I’ve said it, but the truth of our life is that I am the mistress because my husband was married to the USMC long before he met me.

We have a constant battle in our life.  I call it the “Why? Battle”.  Why was I left alone in the ER when a bookcase fell on me and we thought my arm was broken?  Why isn’t my husband home?  Why are we broke again?  Why isn’t The Boy here today?  Why did I RSVP for just one?  It’s a battle with my husband and everyone we know.   The reason is because we live a civilian style life.  We own a home, we both have civilian jobs that are not military related and we have NO military neighbors.  I don’t even live near another military spouse from our unit, the nearest one to me is over an hour away.  Most are 3 or more.  By all outward appearances, my husband’s only dead giveaway to being a Marine is the hair cut and his impeccable posture.  But our internal life is very military.

My husband and I didn’t spend our first anniversary together until our third year of marriage.  He almost always misses my birthday and every other major life event.  He hasn’t met more than half of my family (or has only met them once… at our wedding) because he NEVER makes it to any sort of family function.  We constantly don’t get paid when we are supposed to for his service, he deploys, and nearly every inch of spare space we have in our Townhome is used to store his gear and various other things he’s acquired in 10 years of service.  The bulk of our good friends are people he’s served with, or still does.  More than 70% of my FB friends are Marines and spouses.  And, for the most part, we see the same unique challenges standard in military life

Some key differences are, we don’t get a uniform allowance, or anything of the kind.  We only qualify for Tricare when he is activated, there are not many, if any, groups that will help us when the military screws us over and, sadly, we are often not accepted by many people in the military community.

I often feel like we are in a strange place of limbo.  The military thinks the hubs civilian job should make up for all that we don’t qualify for, his civilian job (and mine) seem to think we have some secret access to all the money in the world through his military service.  I often find myself very, very, very, VERY jealous of active duty spouses.  You’re probably laughing at that.  I think I would if I wasn’t in my situation.  I don’t PCS every 2 years, I don’t say goodbye to my support system and have to build another one quickly.  I don’t have to find a new favorite restaurant that serves my comfort food when the hubs is gone.   Those things are all true, more true than I care to admit.  But the reality of my life is that I don’t have a support system, I have a house and three dogs when my husband is deployed.  And that is it.

I think that is probably the most unique challenge to reserve life VS active duty or simply being a civilian.  We are caught in the middle somewhere.  We often get treated like we are not military, but civilians definitely do not understand our life at all.  And because of this middle ground we stand on, I don’t have a solid support structure.  My civilian friends do not have any clue what I’m going through.  But I don’t have a base full of other spouses, or even a community of military families to look to either.   When my husband deployed shortly after our wedding, I was lost.  There I was, in a new house and town, just me and my new puppy.  When you don’t have solid access to the support you need, you become independent, as ANY military spouse can tell you.  But what do you do when that independent life you are leading also means, you have absolutely no one in it that can even try to empathize?  I learned to navigate Tricare on my own.  The military base near me has nothing to offer when it comes to help regarding benefits.  I found out the hard way… Well, honestly, EVERYTHING.  What I wouldn’t have given to have had someone to turn to and say, “Well, geesh, today just sucks, just because,” and have them be able to read my mind as to why.  And when I wanted to punch civilians in the face for being insensitive or just simply not understanding, I would have loved someone to turn to and say, “Really!?” And have them be able to laugh and say, “You get used to it.”

Instead, my best friend, who I did volunteer work for, fired me the day I kissed my husband for the last time and watch him board a bus that would take him to the plane that would fly him to his station in Iraq.  The reason?  Because I told her I couldn’t make a few phone calls because I was stressed.  When I asked her to understand why, she told me she couldn’t possibly, because her husband wasn’t deployed.  Not only did my heart break, but it was that moment that I realized what it meant to be a reserve wife, caught in the middle of two worlds.

I feel very fortunate to have found blogging, which I had never even heard of until a month before the husband left.  I started a blog, not caring if anyone other than me ever read it.  I poured my heart out into an online super secret, super public journal.  I’m positive that I was laughed at constantly, but I was also understood.  The follies of being a new military spouse navigating this strange world on my own and stumbling constantly on the way were, in no doubt, sadly hysterical, but I also found kindred spirits in the spouses of people I’d never met.  I found a world where it didn’t matter if I was reserve or active duty, what mattered was that I was a military spouse.  In my day to day, I feel stuck in the middle, trying to find a balance between two very different worlds, neither of which feel I am wholly a part of it, but when I’m in the milspouse blogging community, I’m just a millie. I’m just A Girl, who loves A Boy, who is married to the Marine Corps.

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