Military Lifestyle Series #5

Happy Monday Everyone!  Its been a crazy last couple days here in the District, which is why things have been a little quiet here on Cammo Style Love.  We had a massive storm, leaving millions without power here in the area.  It was absolutely terrifying!!  The wind was hurricane force and it literally littered our house, cars and yards with tree limbs and branches of all shapes and sizes.  After waking up the next morning and learning about all the devastation and destruction I was so grateful that the giant tree in our yard didn’t get uprooted, like so many other huge trees in our very neighborhood.  But anyway, so happy that we are here and safe and we are one of the lucky ones with power.  What better way to celebrate then another installment of my military life series.

This post is from new blogging buddy discovery of mine.  I happened upon her blog only a couple months ago and was hooked!  Absolutely lovin’ it and she has inspired a few blogging ideas of my own (with full credit of course!).  She’s amazingly fit women, and wonderful mama to their darling daughter and a super wifey to her super hubby!!!  She’s a fellow mil-spouse and has some awesome tips for you fellow spouses out there!!

Hi everyone!  I am SUPER excited to be guest posting for Rheanna today.  My name is Madeline and I blog at Food, Fitness, and Family.  I mainly write about good food, sweaty workouts, and life as a family of three but at the center of it all I am an Army wife raising an Army family.  As any military spouse knows marrying into the military thrusts a never-ending cycle of changes upon as, and we, as women, adapt and move on.  One of the biggest changes a military family can face is a PCS (permanent change of station).  Having done this three times in the last three years I am no stranger to packing up our lives and starting fresh.  Our most recent PCS was 2 months ago to Fort Stewart, GA.  One of the hardest things about moving is leaving an established social network and heading into the unknown.   I jump in feet first when I get to a new duty station and establish a new social network as soon as possible.  These are some tips that have worked for me when trying to meet friends at a new duty station.
1.      Check out your FRG.  Before you gasp and say “not the FRG!” hear my out.  An FRG is a family readiness group designed to support the families.  While not every FRG is a good one there are many many out there that are.  Before you make a judgment on your new FRG try it out.  Then before you write it off because you don’t like it, try to get involved.  Seek THEM out.  They might not have your contact info yet or know you’re there to welcome you.  Send them an email and ask for the information.
2.      See if your installation has a spouses’ club.  Most duty stations still have some sort of volunteer spouses’ club.  Some still have them as officer or enlisted spouses’ clubs but more and more they are being combined into one.  There is typically a monthly luncheon that you can attend.  Again, don’t knock it until you try it 😉
3.      Check out  It’s a free service for forming groups.  If you have kids this is a great way to see if there is an established playgroup at your installation.  I have found 3 here at Fort Stewart already.  If you don’t have kids but have some sort of passion, like running, see if there’s a running group nearby. 
4.      Host a BBQ.  Your spouse has it much easier when it comes to making new friends because they are thrust into a new unit where they see people every day and can pick and choose who they want to hang out with.  Mooch off them.  I always invite my husband’s friends, WITH their families, over for a BBQ.  I have made some of my best friends this way.  The added bonus is that since our spouses already got along it opened the door to a lot of “couples” functions.
5.      Go in with an open mind.  True friendship often comes in the unlikeliest places.  Remember that every other military spouse at your installation has been thru what you’re going thru.  I would like to think we are pretty welcoming bunch. 
6.      Pay It Forward.  Once you’ve been at your installation for a while and you have grown your network of friends, reach out to the new wives.  Remember what it felt like to not know anyone and be the person welcoming them to the area.  Invite them out to coffee.  Pay it forward.
Any-who … thanks Rheanna for letting me hang out in your corner of the blogosphere for the day.  J
What tips do you have for spouses moving to a new duty station?  How do you go about meeting new people?
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Military Lifestyle Series #4

Happy Sunday everyone.  I hope this new post finds you all in good spirit this wonderful weekend.  Happily I have a new guest post in my Military Lifestyle Series.  I actually had the extreme pleasure of meeting Kris last month at the mil-blogging conference.  So, not only is she a bloggy friend, but she’s now a real-life mil-spouse friend; and I am happy to count her as such.  Hopefully we’ll get to meet up again soon!  I am so excited to bring you the guest post of another National Guard Spouse.  Kris is a wonderful blogger and you can find her over at The New Normal, which was also a finialist in this years Mil-Bloggie awards!  Go Kris!!  She brings a great perspective that I know so many others out there experience.  They are a traditional National Guard family, and also joined up after marriage, which I think is a whole different ball game.  She didn’t marry into this, this was a post-marriage decision and I think that’s pretty amazing.  Anyway, I could go on and on……but I’ll let Kris.  Enjoy!

That’s me and Kris rockin’ the white shirts, and another mil-blogging pal!
         Hello!! I’m Kris from The New “Normal.” Thank you, Rheanna, for allowing me to guest blog today about our crazy military life! We are an Army National Guard family living in the lovely Midwest. My husband and I have been married 11 years and we have been an Army family for just about 5 years now. It’s definitely been 5 years full of ups and downs with the military, but it is a part of our life that I wouldn’t change for anything and despite all of the obstacles, it has been one of the best decisions that we made as a family.
        When I met my husband, he had mentioned the fact that joining the military was something that he has always dreamed of doing. Having no one in my family or circle of friends with any military experience, I thought he was crazy. Why would anyone want to do that? That was back in 1997. Fast forward to September 11, 2001. We had been married a couple of months and after that tragic day, talks of my husband’s wish to join the military resumed. Sadly, as a selfish new wife, I did not want to think of my husband in that role and put him off a little longer, saying I wanted kids first. 6 years and 2 kids later, my husband finally told me, “If I never join the Army, it will be something that I regret for the rest of my life.” I knew then how much it meant to him and I fully supported his decision, so at 27 he headed off as the “old man” (as the drill sergeants called him!) to Basic Training for the Army National Guard. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, and in this case I couldn’t more agree because knowing what I know now, I wish I had been more supportive of my husband’s military dreams when we first met. When it comes to the Army, he excels and it is his passion. And in turn, it is something that I love for our family as well.
My husband decided to join the National Guard rather than Active Army because of family ties. He is an integral part of his family’s small business and did not feel like he could completely walk away from the civilian side. We had also established a home in our current city and he did not want to disrupt our family life. He saw joining the Guard as the best of both worlds; he could fulfill his duty with the military while remaining in the civilian world at the same time. This has been a decision that we waver on constantly and at many times wish that we had chosen to go Active Duty when he first joined. There are many benefits to being a Guard family – we do not have to move every few years, we choose where we want to live, my career can thrive – and I am grateful for those opportunities.
Life with the National Guard also brings about difficulties that at times are very frustrating. My husband’s current unit is located two hours from our home. Due to this, I do not participate as I would like to in the FRG and other unit events. I am one who loves to get involved and get to know people. Since many of the Soldiers in the unit are spread all over the state, the families rarely have the opportunity to get together, which made the deployment difficult for me. I wanted to reach out to the other wives. We all needed support but with there being such great distances between many of us (and a non-functioning FRG at the time) we found that extremely difficult. This made the time during our recent deployment very lonely and isolating at first. I felt like I was the only on going through this situation and that no one, try as they might, really understood what our family was going through. Thank heavens for all of the wonderful milspouse bloggers who became my support network during this time! Without this amazing community, I know I would not have survived our deployment as well as I did!
We find that being in the National Guard is a strange occurrence to many people around us on the civilian side. Many do not know just what they Guard is and we are asked lots of questions. We have found that most think that with the Guard, you do not deploy often, or at all, and that it really is just one weekend a month and two weeks a year. It always makes me laugh when people ask about that, as in the 5 years that my husband has been with the Guard he has been away for training for close to 3 years of that time! After the deployment, most people assumed that since he was not active Army that his returning home meant he has fulfilled his service obligation and now he was done. They were shocked when we would tell them that he wants to make it a career path and that he will definitely deploy again. At first I found the questions very frustrating, but then I began to realize that people asked their questions mostly out of genuine curiosity and that I was just like them once. Now I answer honestly and attempt to give them a better picture as to what the National Guard is and does. 


Life with the Army National Guard brings its challenges, but “the grass is always greener on the other side” and I know that Active Duty Army has its many difficulties as well. Despite not being located near my husband’s unit, a base, or other military families, I do enjoy that we do not have to move every few years and our kids can remain in the school and house that they have always known. At times I do wish we could move around the country or overseas, but then again I have never had to deal with a PCS so I really have no idea how difficult that is! I love the fact that we are a military family but can still remain with our feet in the civilian world as well. I am proud of my husband and the choices that he has made to serve this country. It’s been a crazy 5 years, but years that I look back on with fond memories and cannot wait to see what the future years will bring!
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Military Life Series #3 OCONUS

Welcome to the third post in my Military Life Series!  I hope you can check out the previous two posts from A Boy, A Girl and The Marine Corp, and Aim High Erin.  The goal of this series was to focus on and highlight situations within the already crazy military life, that just make it that much more crazy.  I know, before I got myself really connected with some fabulous military girls I frequently  felt lost and alone.  Was anyone else going through what I went through?  So these posts are a way to connect people, to show them that they aren’t alone and to help them through a situation in life.  I know there are other people in the same life situations as these fabulous ladies!
I’m so happy to have Lynn here for my third guest post.  If you get a chance to go check out her blog I know you’ll love it.  She’s super great.  Here’s a little bit about her:
Lynn is mom to an incredibly charming, mischievous 18 month-old boy and a dog who hates the rain. She blogs at http://wanderlynn.wordpress.combecause she still hasn’t figured out how to not do some kind of work on the computer since leaving her marketing job when the little guy was born.
She and her husband, an officer in the US Air Force, just celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary at a rather fancy restaurant in the east of England. She’s a Midwestern girl who sometimes misses the soul-warming heat of her college days in the South.
My Military Life – Getting that Overseas Assignment
By wanderlynn
A big thanks to Rheanna for asking me to write a guest post about our military life overseas!
The prospect of seeing the world was dazzling when we got married, me just out of grad school and him just out of training. Then this strange thing happened, where our Big Adventurous Military Life started off as anything but. As in, we started off with more than half a decade in Omaha, Nebraska.
We settled in nicely there. I began my marketing career, got involved in a variety of community projects, and made friends. We got used to regular deployments and not seeing each other for about one-third of each year. We were DINKs (dual income, no kids) in an awesome neighborhood, and started to believe we’d never leave.
It wasn’t until we had two dogs and an infant that we learned we’d be moving to England. (Isn’t that how it goes?)
The news was thrilling in the exciting-scary kind of way. We were finally leaving! And going to ENGLAND! But we’d have to sell rent the house, and pack it all up, and fly overseas with a 6 month-old boy.
The concept of moving seems simple. Pack, move, unpack. The reality is vastly different. There are a ton of moving parts in getting everything and everyone from Point A to Point B, particularly if there’s an ocean involved. Toss in a healthy dose of unfamiliarity with processes and destinations and, BAM!, you’ve got yourself one heck of a mess.
Being a novice mover (but a professional project manager), I was stunned to discover that there was no “account manager” or point person for the giant cluster that is moving. Rather, I was not prepared for that person to be me, and to have to balance those duties with full-time care of an early-mobile infant.
Of course, there was a deployment hanging over it all. Perhaps I was pushing off full responsibility to my husband to take advantage of him while I could, up until our 10th day in our new, empty, English house.
Ultimately, the transition was challenging mostly because I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to blame it on the fact that our household goods took three months to arrive, making it impossible to feel like “home.” But the truth is, I had no idea what to expect and was embarrassingly unfamiliar with the processes and offices involved. It felt like there were a million moving parts that somehow intersected at our house while flailing wildly in every direction.
We received information booklets and checklists from so many places – Airman & Family Readiness, the vet office, Pass & Registration, the housing office, the medical group, the squadron, the VAT relief office (which, thankfully, provides relief for Britain’s 20% sales tax on many large purchases) … sometimes there was conflicting information, sometimes information was flat out wrong. And usually an office was closed or a person wasn’t available.
Next time around, I intend to take the PCS bull by its horns and handle the frenzy with authority. And you bet I’ll make plenty of phone calls to get my program straight before I start running all over base to do it!
There are certain things, though, that you just can’t anticipate.
How hard it is to miss your family and not be able to pick up the phone to call any time of the day (that is, unless they’re cool with calls in the wee hours of the morning).
How hard it is to miss your family and not be able to hop a cheap flight or take a long car ride to see them.
The lost feeling many of my friends here share, from not working after having established ourselves in challenging careers.
The intense feeling of isolation of the stay at home mom of a young child, without your “village,” in a new country, while your husband is away for months.
But we get by. We adapt to this “normal.” Then we hop cheap flights to Europe to squeeze it in while we can. And before we know it, the tour is up and we do it all again… maybe closer to home?
Thanks Lynn and have a fabulous Friday everyone!!!
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