Some thoughts this Memorial Day

Well it’s Memorial Day and I had wanted this to be my week for my Military Life Series (check out the first post here). I sat down to write my post, about my strange military life but I kept hitting the backspace key, typing more and then deleting more. It’s too hard. My life is hard, the hubby is gone a lot and I respect the USAG and OPSEC and I guess I’ll just leave it at that. I will say for our time in the service we have been far away from any sort of military community. No commissary, no PX, no real Family Services to speak of and that has been one of the hardest parts recently. Before we had kids I really could have cares less. I got myself involved where I could; and far less people had kids so it wasn’t an issue for me. After having kids that got harder and harder. I was grateful for what I had and tried not to dwell on what I didn’t. I’ve been through deployment time alone, tdy alone, other various trips and I’ve survived. I know I’m not alone. I know others walk with me an have walked before me. I know I’m far top sensitive about things too. The war between the branches bothers me, even though I know somewhere inside most branches respect each other for the tasks they do to provide support for and protect each other. The looking down upon of National Guardsmen and women bothers me because it usually comes from a place of not knowing.. There are full time men and women who provide support every day for the war, amazing things that go unnoticed and not talked about. There are traditional Guardsmen who do the same. Just because they don’t put on a uniform every day doesn’t mean they are any less deserving of our love, support, admiration and respect. For the most part I think (at least I hope) they do.

On Saturday we had the honor of hanging out in Section 60. We were going to lay some yellow roses on a couple graves. It was perhaps the most humbling and connective feeling I’ve ever had. I walked among friends and family with their blankets laid out, their folding chairs, friends toasting beers to their buddies and thousands and thousands of little flags blowing in the light breeze. It made me think that everything else just doesn’t matter. Rank, pay, job, branch…..none omit matters here. I met a new family of a fallen soldier who came up to me as we were laying flowers on our grave. It was an instant connection and now I’ve added that soldier to my list. Among others we visited we remembered Lance Cpl Daniel Bennett and Sergeant Sean Ferguson. This time I also wanted to find grave sites baring our last name and my maiden name. We did and the kids laid flowers on there as well. We talked about honoring those who keep this country free and in their little 3 and 5 year old brains they understood for just tht moment. I saw an older gentlemen salute the gravestone of someone. I don’t know what the connection was but it doesn’t really matter. It was the most moving thing to me that day.

This morning I also had the honor of attending the Air Force Memorial wreath laying, with special recognition given to The Tuskeegee Airmen, the men and women of the Mighty 8th, and the forgotten Flyin Tigers who protected and flew over China during WWII. It was a beautiful ceremony a during taps my adorable son joined the others in a hand salute. I couldn’t snap a picture, which was a bummer as a snap happy mama, but it was meaningful to me and several others who saw him do it.

So this memorial day I am grateful. Not just for my husband, but my grandfather Sergeant Major George M. who served in the Army National Guard in the Korean War and my other grandfather who started in the Army Air Corp in WWII as a top turret gunner and ended his career as a Master Sergeant in the Army, and my Great Uncle who was KIA and MIA for a period of time in WWII. I am grateful for the two graves we discovered today, who share our names. One gentleman Served in Company E, 7th Infantry Division and died in 1891. The other was a Major who served in Korea. Its a connection to our past. Even though we probably aren’t related to these two gentleman, its still an honor nonetheless. So I close these thoughts, grateful for where I am, grateful for what I come from and what I can pass on to my children. Grateful that I am here in the DC Metro area and can be a part of these things. So glad that my child, even though they are mostly too young to really understand, can be a part of it as well.

And on this memorial day, some treats for those that are still serving (and anyone else that might like to take advantage of this stuff):

If you saw my post about meeting Scott, director and producer of Act of Valor, who might have seen the trailer and heard that the DVD/Blu-Ray are set to come out in a couple days. Well, 20th Century Fox would like to provide my readers with a coupon code for the film which releases on June 5. Please enjoy $3 off and free shipping with coupon code “VALOR” valid 5/19-6/17 at I also wanted to let you know about JollyBox. It is a pretty awesome company that puts together and delivers themed care packages to your deployed loved one! You can leave it up to them, and you can fill out a special survey so the box can be customized for your loved one. You can also include a special personal note. For just $25 you can have your very own JollyBox created. I know that I love the fun of making my own care packages, especially including the kids in it. In fact we just did one for a very close friend. But sometimes it might be nice to have one sent out during a time when I might be on overload with running things around here by myself. I think its a great idea! I could also see it being amazing for the adopt-a-soldier program that I work with through Soldier’s Angels. I also have a coupon code for you with JollyBox! You can get $10 off your first month just by entering “First10” during your check out! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your memorial day coupon treats from Cammo Style Love!

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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.

Blog Hops Everyday and A Mommy's Blog Design Friday Blog Hop

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Month of the Military Child Giveaway!

Well April is almost over, how did you show your appreciation to the Military child in your life? We did a lot of family tim with the kids, which we try to do anyway when Daddy’s home. I think once the kids are older we’ll really be able to do something specifically special for them in relationship to their military service. Its kind of hard I found when they are five, three and six months old. LOL! I never really thought much about it, but their concept of our military life is fairly innocent and my three year old has no concept of it really – other than recognizing the “army men” walking around her everywhere (Yes, all uniforms are Army men). If you would like more information or to search for ways to assist the military child in your life please check out my ‘Military Resources’ tab. As a close to the month of April I have a wonderful review and giveaway of two wonderful products geared toward the military child. And let me just say, first off, that was so honored to be a part of these two items and, now, share them with you.
 The first item is Cooper and Me and The Military. I absolutely love this book, but I love the story behind Cooper and Me almost more. Here’s a little bit about the Cooper and Me books. In 2010, 11-year-old Alexa Peters, along with her mother Monique Peters, found a meaningful way to turn her passion and love for writing and drawing into an opportunity to “give back” to other kids. Starting at a very young age, Alexa created illustrated stories about her daily experiences, and from the pages of her sketchbooks came the idea for her first book, Cooper and Me. The story of a little girl’s fears about starting school evolved into a timeless tale about overcoming separation anxiety and trying new things – basic emotions all people experience throughout their lives – but this time, written by a child, for children. As retold in Cooper and Me, Alexa’s own story had a “happy ending” – a clever, compassionate solution that involved taking a small replica of her beloved pet to school with her. The first book introduced the family’s real-life dog, Cooper the Labrador Retriever, and the mother-daughter team began imagining a series of stories featuring Cooper that would engage little kids while guiding them through the ups and downs of daily life. In addition to the original Cooper and Me, four more story books are set to publish throughout the next twelve months, all containing relatable life lessons inspired by Alexa’s experiences, with illustrations based on her drawings of Cooper. To enhance the fun and learning potential of the series, each Cooper and Me story is accompanied by three original, infectiously upbeat songs and narration. The music is written and performed by Bridget Mason Doran, a music educator and founder/owner of Tiny Tunes. Team Cooper was further expanded with Jennifer Scarpa, who brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience from public school programs that address social/emotional learning. Jennifer and Monique met while collaborating on other education projects and soon realized they shared a vision for helping children develop the skills and resilience to handle various life experiences. To ensure the series reflected Cooper and Me’s core mission, Monique and Jennifer set up an educational advisory panel to oversee the development of the books’ supplemental learning components for children and adults. The panel consists of Karen Lunny, who also serves as editor, Ann Mele, and Carolyn Olivier, all educators with a passion for early childhood learning. The Team Cooper creative team is rounded out by Nicolette Pappas, a contributing writer to the Cooper and Me series, and Christie Holmes, our art director, also known as the Iconista. Christie has retained the charm and spirit of Alexa’s original drawings as she has extended their use to the website and other graphic applications.

What an amazing story. Cooper and Me is also dedicated to Philanthropy and that is another amazing part of the Cooper and Me Story. This is a sweet little story that is great for lots of ages. My five and three year old sat and listened to the story and both were able to understand what they story meant and how it related to them. They recognized the uniforms and both commented on how that was like Daddy. The drawings are simple and sweet, with great colors. I love this book and its a great addition to our military books for children. I highly recommend you add this book to your collection. One reader will have the chance to win this book below. Buy it: You can buy a copy of Cooper and Me and the Military here for $12.95

The next it is a new item from a company called Troop Paws. I was contacted by Troop Paws to review a new product aimed at Military Children. Here’s a little bit about Marlene and the Troop Paws company.

 I understand the importance of giving back, which is why for years now I have been baking cookies for the troops as a sign of support for our servicemen and women. My passion for our brave troops led me to a factory that manufactures uniforms for the military. It gave me the idea to create a stuffed animal for military families and friends. The courage of family members left behind is so admirable that my hope is that loved ones find strength and comfort in this personalized keepsake. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Folds of Honor Foundation and Treat The

For years Marlene has been devoting her time to making life for our men and women serving overseas, a little sweeter! I really love that not only is this company is devoted to Military members and their families, but it doesn’t stop there. She just keeps paying it forward by donating a portion of the proceeds to Treat the Troops and Folds of Honor. Please check them out as well. Here is what I received from Troop Paws:

This is an alternative to some of the other similar items out there for kids. I’ve seen lots of things that are like this, but NOTHING like it. I love that it is a dog first off! My kids thought it was pretty darn cool – a dog with daddy’s uniform. And the little place to put a picture is the perfect height for my little guy on the floor. Its a great size, perfectly huggable, and way bigger than similar items on the market. It come with a collar and its own dogtag, with the Troop Paws logo on it. It is really super cute, amazingly made and it truly is a great product. It is available in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine camouflage. Each one with an clear pocket for your Troops picture. Buy it: You can head to Troop Paws and order one for $29.95. If you are Navy you may be able to find yours at your local Naval Exchange.

But it:  If you don’t win or would like to go ahead and buy one for you or a friend TroopPaws have offerend a special discounted price to my readers but clicking here!

Win it: One lucky Cammo Style Love reader will be able to win a Troop Paws puppy in their respective branch camouflage. Good Luck!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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We stand behind them, but we are NOT silent!!

I wanted to add something to my post, after the fact…..things apparently got out of control. I made my initial post in response to a fellow mil-spouse, who I 100% support in her feelings…but apparently it got crazy and now Military Wives are going after each other. Why are we so divisive? If you agree, great. If you don’t agree, that’s great too. But in the midst of all this it has become about so much more than what it originally was. So I guess I feel like I want to clarify myself. I speak for me, and me alone. What originally had me so angry was the repeated emails to someone who didn’t want them. The emails to someone who shouldn’t have received emails, repeated emails! I do reviews, I’ve been pitched. I would expect respect and if I decline that should be it. I guess that was my problem with the situation. That’s what got me so mad! Its reality tv, it wouldn’t be there if there wasn’t an interest. Clearly someone is watching these things, otherwise they wouldn’t be around. Someone somewhere expressed an interest in this show, and more power to them if that’s what they want to do. I personally wouldn’t be involved, but that’s me. I feel like there’s a difference between doing your job and needlessly bothering people who clearly don’t want to be involved. Some people just need to learn tact. That was my original message and I just want to make sure that gets across. Its a free country, people can do whatever they want to do. That’s what our men are fighting for. There are so many ways to be divisive and I’ve seen them all, especially in the military world. From My branch is better than yours, to my husband deploys longer than yours….we are experiencing this so that means our experience is worse than yours. Its just sad and ridiculous. While some situations do deserve a certain amount of reverence and respect and far beyond my fairly normal military life, it looses its importance and respect when it is cheapened by “one-uping”. If I was being harassed by someone I would hope that someone would stand up for me.

< I had originally written this out probably about a week ago, I was mad about something but didn’t know what to do with what I was feeling. Its a complicated situation, but a fellow mil-spouse bloggy friend got the ball rolling and I’m jumping on there with her. Before I present my own personal rant let me share hers. Please check it out, and you can read the email and more. Thanks girl!! I’m sure now you’re wondering what’s got me so upset…because I can’t even remember the last time I posted so much as a negative review of anything. I just usually don’t. It was brought to my attention by my fellow blogger than an email has been appearing in the inboxes of many mil-spouse bloggers. The gist of the email is that a certain broadcast company (CBS) is contacting widowed mil-spouses about a tv show, basically a dating show. Let me first state that Erika is not a widow. So clearly this person is not doing their homework. In my mind I’m thinking “how the heck can you not tell that she’s not a widow.” Did they not event take a second to look? Next I’m thinking, I don’t even know if I could figure out how to even approach someone about something like this that I didn’t know. I mean, this is beyond disgusting. I wanted to respond to this news that I heard, so I began frantically searching the internet to verify this (not that I didn’t believe Erika, but the fact that it seemed so ridiculous in my head that I had to see it with my own eyes). Its a real thing people and I just can’t even begin to tell you how red and how hot my face got. I recently was touched in an indirect way by a mil-spouse who lost her husband. I remember getting the news and it was horrible. I instantly just couldn’t breathe. All these thoughts just started swirling around in my head, “is she okay, I hope she’s not alone, why did this have to happen,” and the like. I have thought to myself, “what if this happened to me?” Its safe to say that this is a regular thought in the life of a mil-spouse, or anyone with a loved one serving in the military. I know it sounds morbid to civilians, but there are times when I think and pray about that specifically every day. I’ve actually thought in my head, “what would I do,” “how would I tell my children.” I have been fortunate to be able to read and hear the stories of amazing military spouses who are widows. There strength and amazing ability to stand strong and write about what they’ve experienced is beyond words to me. I could only hope that if I found myself in this situation that I could be even remotely like them. My struggle with talking about this and getting mad about it was that I haven’t walked in their shoes, I don’t know. I imagine people saying, “who the heck are you, you don’t know.” No, I don’t, but I call these women my friends. Not because Ive actually ever met them, or talked to them. They don’t even know me. But there is a bond, an instant bond, so strong between military-spouses. I have recently become part of a group of blogging spouses. I haven’t met any of these ladies but talking to them is like talking to someone that I’ve known for forever. There is so much that is shared experience between us, that there’s no need for explanations, or questions. So, as Erika, and many others of us have said, “you mess with one of us, you mess with us all.” It’s a bond unlike any other. This show, and CBS, absolutely disgust me. If they don’t want to be involved leave them alone. Incessantly bothering them is disrespectful and rude. This hits a little too close to home and you are sorely mistaken if you don’t think they we aren’t a force to be reckoned with! We will stand up, and we will speak up! I urge you to please read Erika’s post and take action yourselves. I have never met Erika in person either, but I count her among one of my mil-spouse blogging buddies, someone I would drop anything for. That’s what we do and that’s what I’m doing now.

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