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

The Forgotten Spouse – a MilSpouse Appreciation Day 2013 – *linky*

Today is MilSpouse Appreciation Day.  It may seem silly to some, but as long as there is a National Hot Dog Day why not have a special day to show appreciation to Military Spouses around the world, for the role they play in keeping the homefront united.  All over organizations are and bases are honoring spouses with events, outings and gift baskets.  This year I set out to accomplish something that I felt was sorely missing from the days’ events.  There is a group of forgotten spouses.  I know because for a very long time I’ve been one of them.  This isn’t mean to be a big ‘ole pity, feel sorry for me, give me free stuff party.  The truth is, I’m very blessed.  Blessed by family, friends and those my husband has served with that have become family.  That doesn’t change the fact that a large group of spouses are largely forgotten.   So when I discovered many events were excluding traditional Guard and Reserve spouses from events around the DC area I decided to try and do something about it.  While every group can not meet the needs of every person, its a slippery slope.  It creates the standard that its okay to forget them and other people pick up on that stuff.  I decided to put together gift bags for these special spouses but quickly ran into a wall.  See, we were collecting donations for two groups of spouses.  Every donation that came in was given with the specific directions that it be provided to one group of spouses and not the Guard or Reserve spouses.  I was shocked.  I don’t know why…I probably shouldn’t have been.  The population as a whole is largely uneducated when it comes to the National Guard and Reserve, this also included other military members.  If this weren’t true there wouldn’t be any need for the bumper sticker “One Weekend a Month, two weeks a year my A**.”

 This attitude is real and is occurring everywhere.  For the majority of our career we were remotely stationed on a Guard base.  I use the word “base” lightly….very lightly.  All that was there was the work buildings.  We had no housing, no child development center and no commissary (closer than 2.5 hours away).  I went through an active duty life with no active duty help.  No moms night outs, no Operation Shower, no free Christmas trees or other events to deal with deployments, travel or anything else.  We didn’t have a lot of programs out there, mostly because I think people didn’t realize or ask….or know much else past the fact that it was a National Guard base.  What they didn’t realize that there was a huge proportion of full time people stationed there.  My husband went to work every day in a uniform.  This is the problem that I am seeing over and over again.  I see it in blogs of MilSpouse friends.  I see it in articles and in the conversations of people I’ve met.  It hit me harder when it was translated in a much bigger level to me in the form of two donations for eight gift bags.  The amazing author Geri Krotow, which I’ve mentioned on here before, donated some of her books.  And then my friend at Blue Star Families was able to put together some great stuff for me.  I will be able to bless some military spouses and I’m thankful for that.

 The point of this is to charge you all to remember those that are forgotten.  Every spouse is unique in their own circumstances.  Some branches and career fields deploy more frequently and for longer than others.  Some hardly ever deploy.  Some are firefighters and others work in finance.  They are all equally important to make an effective force.  Without one part of the wheel it wouldn’t role.  The Coast Guard might be a part of Homeland Security, but that doesn’t make them less military.  Have you seen some of the stuff those guys do?  I know that the “war between the branches” is mostly done in jest and fun…..but there can be damaging consequences to those words.

If you know a Guard or Reserve spouse, say a special thanks to them.  Not because they are more special or better than other spouses, but because they deserve as much thanks as any other spouse out there.  Because when their husband was in the field or on a deployment they might not have been within drivable distance of a base to have a mom’s night out.  There might not be an frg to keep them in the loop, or tell them about special events.  They might have to figure out how to pay for uniforms and equipment because it isn’t issued.  Thank them for their own unique experience….as unique as the wife of a Marine, the wife of an officer, an enlisted, a dual military marriage, a recruiter’s wife, a fighter pilot’s wife and any other essential part of that wheel. Happy MilSpouse Appreciation Day to all my millies out there!  I love you and am so thankful for all you, those I know and those I only know through that special millie connection.

 I’m linking up today with Wife of a Sailor!

Continue Reading

Military Monday: Lets Make a Readiness Folder #militarymonday

I’m no stranger to the “going it on your own” life.  In more ways then one it applies to the military life.  For some it is the very essence of their world.  For those of us in the National Guard or Reserves world it can be a daily thing.  Having been stationed fairly remotely, without the conveniences of a standard base, find the kinds of support many of my online friends talked about was difficult, if not impossible.  I have a couple of friends who aren’t even stationed in the same town, or even the same state, as their significant others unit.  Many National Guard and Reserve Units are lacking in the support department, don’t have FRGs and don’t have the resources to provide remotely located spouses with the guidance they need to navigate these tricky waters of MilSpouseDom.  For those that are girlfriends or finaces the waters can be even more treacherous to explore.

So, what can you do to stay afloat?  One thing you can do is put together a Family Readiness Folder.  I happen to extremely blessed with a husband who actively makes sure I’m connected in some way to his Unit, and he has an amazing boss, who feels more like family then a co-worker, having been the rock I’ve leaned on whether he knew it or not.

What makes a good Readiness Folder?

Contact Information is Key:

Gather together key contact information from your husband, the base website or anyone else you can get it from.

1. Family Services Contacts

  • Family Programs local 
  • Family Readiness Assistant
  • Youth Programs
  • Air Wing Family Programs Coordinator (or other branch Equivalent)

2. Support Services

  •  Military OneSource Consultant
  • Transition Assistance Advisor
  • ESGR (Employer Support Guard/Reserve
  • TriWest (for your area)
  • ID Cards/DEERS
  • Survivor Outreach Services
  • American Red Cross

3. Wellness Team

  •  Director of Psychological Health
  • Military Family Life Consultant (adult/family & child/youth)
  • Chaplain
  • Personal Finance Counselor
  • Suicide Hotline (national (800) 273-TALK)

4. Yellow Ribbon Program contact info

5. Your local unit or operations group contacts

  • Group Commander
  • Squadron Commander
  • Operations Support Commander
  • Director of Operations
  • First Sergeant

6. Track down the list of FRG or Key Spouses, or maybe your s/o’s buddy’s spouse or significant other.  Finding a connection with another spouse, girlfriend or family member connected to your husband is important, even if its just one.

Pre-deployment Information Form

Find one of these and fill it out before a deployment.  This will have important information  for the unit, like deployment location and time information, who your family is, who your child are, emergency contacts, information about you so that you can be located and specific concerns about the deployment.  It is important that you are kept in the loop during a deployment.

Important Dates

Include an important dates section in your folder – drill schedules, special events, or local events that might be helpful to those stationed near you, and for those that are not.  They may want to make the trek closer if there will be special base events or holiday events (especially for families).  Our local base had Easter, Halloween and Christmas events for the kids.  There is also usually a unit BBQ.  For the National Guard many states have a State Military Ball where all branches affiliated with the Guard and Reserves in the area are usually invited.

What My Family Should Know:

This is a guide for all the things you should know, your family should know.  It is also a great way to get the conversation going about topics no one wants to talk about.  Lets face it, who really wants to have a conversation about funeral arrangements before anyone is actually passed on.  Talking about those things is important none the less. For me, I wanted to confidently be able to stand my ground and specifically state that I knew exactly what my husband wanted.  This may also force your significant other to have this conversation.  If I could recount the stories that I’ve been witness too where that was never discussed and problems arose.  Contact information going unchanged – never being changed from a parent to a wife, and other similar situations.  Being married to an Eagle Scout, being prepared is a mantra around here.  It never EVER hurts to be prepared…it can always hurt to be unprepared.

Here’s a link to a packet if your unit doesn’t have one.  I can also probably get one of mine, so please feel free to email me if you feel the one linked to doesn’t work for you.

Other Notes:

Many Family Readiness Groups on base have booklets for deployments and info ones to have around all the time.  Seek them out.  If you aren’t near your husband’s unit, but you are near another base, reach out to them!  Currently we are nowhere near hubby’s home base, but close to so many.  I am always actively seeking programs that we are eligible for.  We have full rights to the MWR too.  Last year we got a pool pase for a great deal.  Sure it wasn’t the local neighborhood pool that I could walk to, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper.  If you’re a mom look for a local MOPS group.  The base here has one, but there is bound to be a local church that hosts one.  Each one is different, and while all of them are faith-based,  they are all different.  Seek out other Moms groups in your area as well.  There was more than one in the area we were in previously, faith based or not.  They are out there!  Look online for military support groups, or facebook. While many can have drama (what doesn’t in life anymore), I can tell you that I have made some amazing friends that I have 6yrs later, and many I eventually met in person.  These ladies were my saving grace at times and I couldn’t be more thankful.  Find out if your area has a local Blue Star Families.  They have been an amazing connection for me.

So, I hope this helps and is a place to start for you.  Please do not hesitate to contact me for clarification on anything listed here, as well as help tracking down the information for your local area.  If you’re totally lost and wouldn’t even begin to know where to start PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE email me and I will help you!!!

Continue Reading