The Military-Related Post I Write Every Year…..

Every year I feel like I write a post like this, whether here or on other outlets that I write for (like this one on Homefront United Network).  Seriously, it boggles the mind that this is even still a discussion but it seems as if several times a year I come across someone saying, or writing, something about this topic that makes my blood boil.  Yet again I run across someone talking about how the National Guard isn’t the Military or “its just not the same,” or my absolutely favorite “there ARE some National Guard and Reserve spouses who qualify (as milspouses).”  What?!  I can’t even people, I mean seriously.  In this day in age, after this many years of war why say things like this? 

The last one most recently was a blogger.  There was so much within me that just wanted to word vomit all over this person.  Her struggle, while specifically her family’s transition from full-time to a traditional Guardsman, was real it just kept coming across terribly.  These are real people that are being talked about and the words can hurt.  It’s not even this specific case because I know it was part personal, and part a full lack of understanding.  But its this line of thinking that concerns me.  It’s what I constantly feel I am fighting in any advocacy I do.  If this is how people begin to view, or keep on viewing us, we will continue to be in serious trouble.  One of the most disturbing things about this is one phrase spoken to me, that continues to stand out to me this day.  “Well, when your husband deploys you’ll get lots of support.”  For one, that makes me laugh because if they don’t know I’m here when I’m actually here, how will they know I’m there when he’s gone?”  So many organizations are unaware or don’t know what to do with singular Guard families, or ones that are remotely located, who are seeking help.  This also bothers me because in the Active Duty world (that I had been a part of up until recently) you can receive support and help any day of the week, whether your husband deploys frequently, ever, or regardless of the type of job you have. For the most part I can access many things because I’m close to a base, but there are still lots of things that are unavailable to me.  And its not like I can get a “my husband’s civilian career is just like his military career” waiver.

It’s not even about the things.  I don’t need a baby shower, or a free Christmas tree, or school supplies for my kids.  It’s the respect and the understanding.  If you can so flippantly suggest that not all National Guard/Reserve Spouses are military spouses then that is concerning.  I can admit that I struggle with the transition myself.  I don’t see my husband in his uniform as often as I once did, and I don’t have “unit or squadron” friends.  But its still a part of my identity.  No one, even a full-time military spouse should let that be the only part of your identity, but no matter how big or little a role it plays it is still a part of who you are.

So, if you are reading this and struggling with this very thing, don’t.  YOU ARE a military spouse, no matter if he puts on that uniform every day, on a weekend here and there.  Whether he’s a pilot, in medical, admin or finance.  No matter what that is still a part of your identity and you should be proud.  This is something your spouse volunteered for, and you as well.  No matter the involvement your spouse is still important and is valued by many people.  You are valued, and so is your family.  Thank you for your service, no matter what that looks like.

One Fight, One Force
Go Guard!

post signature
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Continue Reading

Behind the Scenes of the USO Gala

Last month I had the amazing opportunity to attend the USO Gala here in Washington, D.C.  It was probably one of the highlights of the year for me.  Aside from getting to see Mr. Air Force dressed up and shaking hands with the All State Guy, I spent the evening in the company of some of the bravest men, and their beautiful families.  The USO is dedicated to serving those who serve, and they bring together a whole team of those that stand right along side of them.

Hanging with the spouse of the Soldier of the Year
while she gets pampered! 
The amazing coordinator backstage!

Behind the scenes of the Gala, the USO partners with P&G so that the spouses, significant others, family and recipients can get some extra special pampering before the evening.  A nice relaxing shave for the men was available, which was a newer addition to the pampering room, as well as make-up and hair for the ladies.  This is such an amazing display of care and support towards our service members and their families.  It is done on a small scale, and there was no hoards of media present at this.  It was a blessing for me to be able to attend and watch these ladies get pampered.  Mostly because I’d been where they were.  Military spouses and families share a special sort of connection.  There is so much between us that doesn’t need to be said because of so many shared experiences.  I admire some of these women though because they had experienced the injury of their husbands, the heroic actions in extremely high stress situations, and yet remained centered.  As I stood watching two in particular, so young and relatively new in their life as a Millie, the love that radiated between them was remarkable.  The strength of their hearts.

The Family of the Volunteer of the Year
{source: Mr. Air Force}

This didn’t just go for the spouses of these men.  There were several families, in-laws, parents and sisters present as well.  I knew what they felt for their sons, son-in-laws and brothers.  It is the same feeling that I have when I look at my husband.  It’s a combination of pride and awe.  What they sacrifice for us, the pressure they are under, the figurative and literal mountains they must climb.  The sister and mother of one of the recipients said, “I don’t know how he does it?”

Rebecca, checking out her new do
{source: Cherie Cullen}

But if you spoke with these gentleman they would tell you that they were just doing their jobs.  This award isn’t for them, its for those that didn’t make it and it’s for every other guy in their unit that would have done the same thing.  That was the sentiment echoed throughout the night, and the thing that stayed with me as I left.  When I spoke with mothers, fathers, sisters and in-laws.  All of them were in awe of their loved one.  Pride poured from them, if not with their words, but their demeanor.  They deserved the pampering and P&G made that happen, without masquerading it before the public.  No press, no shouting it from the rooftops.  The hair and make-up people that are involved in this behind-the-scenes endeavor have been doing it since the beginning (most of them anyway).  They do it once and keep coming back.  Some of them are military connected, but some of them aren’t.  Being a part of this is the highlight of their year, and its not because of any recognition they get.  The joy that they get to see on the faces is worth much more than any press release. 

 The Family of the Seaman of the Year
{source: Mr. AirForce}

I can’t wait to experience next year, to see the joy on the faces of those that are there. 

post signature
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Continue Reading

Military Support Series *Veteran CareGiver*

Last week I had the amazing pleasure of hanging out with some great ladies at the Care Giver’s Resource Fair at Walter Reed.  I had never heard of Veteran Caregiver, so I knew I had to add their group to my list of resources to share with my amazing readers.  So lets hear a little bit more about this amazing group.
 The basics of it is this….what happens “AFTER”?  That seems to be a simple question, but in reality, for many veterans and Caregivers its the complete opposite of simple.  What do I/We do now?  That’s where Veteran Caregiver comes into play.  
This site is a bridge for caregivers and veterans alike. It is a safe place to air questions and frustrations on and offline, but we also provide individualized assistance when you’ve hit the wall. As a veteran or a caregiver of a veteran, your life may be significantly altered by injury, illness, or aging. If you’re feeling isolated or alone, want/need people around you who “get it”, and you’d benefit from networking with peers and professionals, community health and recovery resources, you’ve come to the only site of its kind. VeteranCaregiver is here to fill the need for acknowledgement, mentoring as only peers can do, and to provide accessible support from others who share or can address your challenges.- Linda Kreter -Founder & CEO
It is a virtual community that provides a connection.  With so much of this world “virual”, with social media being the way to go, I think this is a stupendous idea.  So many of my friends have been found and developed through social media.  Its like the key to the city for Military Spouses, especially those of us who have been situated in isolated areas as I was for so many years.
Simply go to Veteran Caregiver’s website and register to start!
Continue Reading

How children deal….


 Over the many years of our military life, we’ve experienced many days, weeks and months without daddy.  It’s interesting how children evolve in their understanding.  Military kids are quite a breed of their own.  They experience things not a lot of other children do, and they adapt in their own ways.  One particular time in our life that comes to mind was when my oldest was about 4.  Ami was not really aware nor did I think she cared much.  At that point in her short little life it was all about mommy.  Brian, however, didn’t handle it quite as well.  He never wanted to leave me, even to be in the next room at Gymboree.  He was sad and cried all the time.  He couldn’t, however, explain it to me all that well.  He knew daddy was gone and thought he was in the computer.  I remember breaking down in Gymboree when my friend was visiting, trying to manage things.  Pretending like I had it all together when clearly I didn’t.  I think there was some lingering depression and just the fact that I couldn’t help my son.  The pressure on moms in general is undeniable.  We want to provide stability and happiness to our children; when we can’t it wrecks havoc in our mom brain and heart.  I had no other real support do to the nature of our location, and I didn’t have a lot of friends whose husbands were with mine.  Most of them weren’t married or were married to other service members.  The load was too much to bare and I kept it all in.  In turn I think whatever the kids were feeling was compounded by the feelings I thought I was keeping to myself.  They are pretty smart little devils aren’t they?

                   Getting in a little wrestle time

                                                                                                                           Daddy’s Home!
So now, during this most recent time apart I have a 17-month-old, an almost five-year-old and an almost seven-year-old.  Phillip is aware in his own way, and I notice it way more than Ami at his age.  Every time the phone rings he says “daddy daddy!”  He checks the bed and the closed bathroom door.  Brian is more talkative and obviously his understanding is way more developed than when he was 4.  He discusses it with his school counselor and his other military buddies at school (school counselor = amazing support).  Ami, so far, isn’t displaying any issues, verbal or otherwise.  However, her relationship with her daddy has recently developed into that typical daddy/daughter thing so we’ll see if that changes.

 of course, Murphy’s Law applies – via a hole in the chin

All I can do is take this one day at a time.  My support system here isn’t well developed, but what I do have is wonderful.  I recently just met a lady (while volunteering) that lives a similar life to mine.  She has young kids and doesn’t have support system that is connected to her husband’s career ( like me), which is different then a separate support system).  It was a little God moment.  I didn’t have to take this volunteer slot, I didn’t know much about her.  I also didn’t know I would need a ride to another metro station because the one where I was at was closed.  Sometimes its those little moments that you least expect, that don’t seem all that important, that make all the difference?

 post-deployment trip – my favorite picture ever

Have you noticed changes in your kids over the years?  How do you handle it?
What about little moments…..what’s your deployment “little moment’?

Continue Reading

I took the pledge….have you?

This week is Military Saves Week.  Have you heard of Military Saves?  You may have seen flyers, banners around your installations.  You might have even been somewhere where a Military Saves Conference was being held.  Earlier this week I was sitting at a table for Blue Star Families, a fabulous organization for which I do most of my volunteer work, at a Military Saves event in the DC area.  It was only the first day, but I was bummed to not see as many young people as I had hoped.  Although, it should be noted that frequently this area, especially the location I was at, isn’t the frequent stomping ground for young service members.  I know they are here though.  That is really who I think we should be focused on.  I would say, that just from regular conversation in life, most young people do not thinking about retirement and the future.  Military Saves is about much for than that, its about debt reduction and saving in general (which let’s face it is hard unless you are in a two income household).

Getting Military service members to save and invest in the future has been a difficult task over the years.  First reading about the statistics in this article, it was a shock to me.  Mr. Air Force happens to be investment/retirement minded, almost entirely thanks to his Dad, who is also very investment/retirement focused.  It takes commitment and resolve to accomplish it.  Many people that I’ve met with have expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of money we Military members get paid.   I guess maybe if you were just looking at numbers, and thinking about CEOs and Dr’s and what not, we don’t.  But, I think if you were to consider what we get, great health care, a housing allowance that usually covers rent, plus some (at least it always has for us), and some of the other things we should be so lucky.  I mean we make enough for me to stay home, raise three children and live quite comfortably.  We go on dates, vacations, buy clothes and are great.  We don’t own a home, but that’s not in our cards right now.  That’s not the season in life we are in.  I could write a whole post about the misconception that owning a home is everything.  Young people falling all over themselves to own homes, instead of “throwing away money on rent”, because they think its what they are supposed to do. 

Happily, articles are reporting that as of last year more service members are participating in the TSP.  As long ago as 2011, we were seeing a record increase in Service member participation in the TSP, about 40%, and with the option for ROTH accounts being available to most Service members, last year, savings is happening all around.  Kate, who writes for (whose articles I love, btw), released a great article about planning for your future, what she would tell  her younger self about saving.  It’s been in the works for several years to modernize the TSP program, make it more accessible (in the realm of thought for younger service members) for those with no real experience or knowledge about investments and retirements.  Here’s hoping that automatic enrollment for service members (as it has been for Federal civilian employees) comes along soon.  As it is TSP is taken right out of your paycheck before you even see it, which I think is helpful.  I think you would have more service members taking part in thinking about their futures if they didn’t have to think about enrolling themselves.  Its very similar to my thoughts on the National Association for the Air and Army Guards (EANGUS).  If you attend the conferences (which we did for several years), most of those that attend are in their 40s +.  I would wager most younger members of the Guard (both branches) don’t even know what EANGUS does.  They do all that lobbying that makes our lives better.  Why aren’t more young people involved in that?!  The same goes for investing in your future.  The after….Military life won’t be forever.

Have you heard of Military Saves?  Visit their website and take the Pledge!  If you have heard of Military Saves, did you attend an event, have you signed the pledge?  What are you doing to change your future?

Visit Military saves online.

Continue Reading