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Memorial Day: The Why and The How

Those of us in the military community have a deep sense of what this 4 day Memorial weekend really means. We remember best friends lost in battle, family members who gave their lives in ultimate sacrifice for our Nation, and a rich history of generation upon generation of men and women who have provided us the liberties, rights, and freedoms we exercise today.

Memorial Day started as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will intheir own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo-which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866-because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

**Remember to fly your flag on Memorial Day. The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon on Monday. It should then be raised to the top of the staff. If you raise your flag Monday morning (as opposed to having an illuminated all-weather flag you leave out all night), you need to raise it to the top of the staff and then lower it to half-staff from there.**

This blog content was adapted from a beautifully written email message from Loren V. Heckelman, Captain, USN (Ret.)

 

Rental Scams (Guest Milspouse Bloggers!)

Military spouses know how to get things done and are continually obtaining knowledge and skills as veteran movers and world travelers. Knowing how to not only move and keep your sanity in check but also protect your family is not always as easy as it sounds. So today we’d like to share a great blog from The Military Property Project. It is a new and emerging project, developed by two Army spouses, Amy and Lauren. Between the two of them they have PCSed over 15 times and personally manage over 10 properties country-wide. They understand the constraints and hurdles military families face because they experience them first-hand!!! So without further ado, we offer you: Rental Scams: Are you Falling for One?

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They were also featured here by NextGenMilSpouse for their up and coming project!!

Four Apps to Get You Through Severe Weather Season

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As a (former) professional meteorologist, people love to ask me what weather app I use. I giggle inside because that’s like asking a surgeon what sort of knife she uses!* Military families often find themselves facing some unfamiliar weather patterns. For example, moving from San Antonio to Boston taught me a lot about snow…and measuring it in feet.

Before we get started, I feel like I should make a bit of a public service announcement.
• During severe weather events, always pay attention to your local media. Resources like The Weather Channel and the apps I mention below will not be able to give you as specific information as your local TV station or weather radio.
• Take a moment to review the National Weather Service’s Weather Ready Nation website. Make sure you know where you will go and what actions to take during different weather events. (Fun fact: Tornadoes have been documented in every state! No one is immune!)

And now, the four best weather apps to get you through severe weather season (and beyond)!

#1: iMap Weather Radio
iOS, Android
$9.99
This app is the ultimate weather radio! Whether you’re at home, at work, or traveling, as long as you have your mobile device, this app will alert you to severe weather in your area. You can set favorite locations to monitor multiple locations. This is great to see if family members are being affected by severe weather. You can customize notifications, so you only get the alerts you want. It will even read the text out loud!

Free Alternative: It’s not an app, but check out Interactive NWS or iNWS from the National Weather Service (the government agency that issues watches, warnings and advisories). Using this web app, you can set it up to send you emails and/or text messages when there is severe weather in one or many areas you specify. Locations can be a city, zip code, landmark, county or custom drawn area!

#2: RadarScope
MacBook, iOS, Android
$9.99

This one is for the true weather weenies out there. If you don’t know the difference between radar data and satellite data, see the free alternative below. This is pure radar data on the go, friends. If you want to know what the temperature is going to be tomorrow, don’t ask this guy. However, if you want to know what velocities look like on that hook echo forming two counties to your southwest, this is your app! From the RadarScope website: “These aren’t smoothed PNG or GIF images, this is real Level 2 and Level 3 radar data rendered in its original radial format for a high level of detail.” It even includes the Dual-Pol products. Set up a favorites list to quickly toggle between radars.
Pro tip: Download the iPad app and get the iPhone app for free! #winning

Free Alternative: I get it, not everyone needs to (over)analyze every storm. If you just want to see if it’s raining somewhere, try iWeathr.com (not a typo, there is no second “e”). Again, technically not an app, but it is designed specifically for iOS devices. So pop open a browser on your mobile device (they target iOS users, sorry Android friends!) and head over to iWeathr.com and select your desired location.

#3: mPing
iOS, Android
Free

Help us help you! The Meteorological Phenomena Near the Ground (or mPING) app is less about providing you with information and more about you providing the scientists with data! So if your witnessing weather happening in your location, use this app to report what you’re observing. Report types include: rain, snow, hail, wind damage, tornado(!), flood, landslide, and reduced visibility. Your reports will be use to help meteorologists improve weather predicting technology. I encourage you to be sure you sure of what you’re witnessing. (For example, if you’re in Boston and it’s January and there’s ice falling from the sky, that’s sleet, not hail.) You can also see a map of what other people are reporting.

#4: iOS native weather app
On all iPhones

When it comes to just checking what the temperature is outside before leaving for work or seeing what’s in store for the next five days, it’s hard to beat the native weather app on my iPhone. It says the data comes from Yahoo! which may mean it comes from Accuweather or some other source, but it works for me.

If you have an Android device or are interested in other options, there are a seemingly endless supply of weather apps that will tell you current weather and a 5-7 day forecast. I always recommend people visit weather.gov, the website of the National Weather Service (NWS). They don’t have a mobile app (yet), but your taxpayers are paying for these forecasts and, as a former employee of the NWS, I know the forecasters there are the best in the business.

So there they are! Obviously there are a lot of weather apps to choose from, but these are the four that I use. Do you have a favorite weather app that isn’t listed here?

*I say that but when I was asked to come up with five, I could only come up with four that I actually use. The point is, you need different apps for different use cases.

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Veronica Holtz holds a B.S. in Meteorology and an MBA, both from the University of Oklahoma. She enjoys traveling and staying active. She currently works as a Technical Writer in Boston where she lives with her USAF husband, Mike, and their cat, Pants.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day! Granted, sleeping in our house alone is small potatoes compared to hearing bombs outside your bedroom, but the subtle and not so subtle sacrifices we make at home are important, too. We are the ones left behind managing a life created by and made for a couple. We are maintaining a house and home, which is often a new house with new (and perhaps unfamiliar) responsibilities in a new area. Something is noticeably missing in our daily routines, and we don’t always have a built-in support system – we have to go out and find one or create one. We keep spirits up, keep chaos down, and strive to be that steady rock for our service member, children, and other military families. We deal with “single” lifestyles, but with the under-lying knowledge that the love of our lives is in danger. You don’t have to have children to appreciate the sacrifice, either. Before we had kids, my husband was stationed in Texas, where his deployment schedule was “4 on, 4 off”.  Of course, we all know that “4 off” was really just code for “busy, not deployed”. During his homeport time, my husband spent every 5th night standing watch on the ship, and there were many 1-2 week underway periods and trainings to prepare for the next deployment. We were newly married, and my husband spent less than half of our first two years with his wife. I got a cat to talk to. And discovered wine.

We are “the force behind the force” and proud. Very proud. In addition to our own families, military spouses also take care of each other. “Neighbor” is a pretty broad term when it comes to our community. We are all neighbors, no matter our physical locations. No matter if our own spouse is deployed, or if we have kids, or if we are having a rough time adjusting, every military spouse I know will step right up to help a fellow spouse or family. We ask our friends (of friends, of friends) for advice and help, and share an automatic bond with people living the same lifestyle. We show up with dinner for a stranger, advice for a newcomer, and outreached hand for fellow mil spouses. There is no other community like it.

So from the bottom of our hearts here at Call Dibs, we hope everyone takes a day to recognize the spouses; even if your service member is deployed and you simply treat yourself to dessert and a quiet reflection of “Yes, I am AWESOME!” Because you REALLY are!

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Lydia is a proud Navy spouse of 9 years, and has been with her husband since she was 16. They have 3 children, ages 5, 3, and 2. She earned her BA in Elementary Education, but decided to become a stay-at-home-mom after having children, and has found a new passion for helping military families at Adjacent Applications. A Chicago native, Lydia feels at home on a warm beach with a cup of coffee. Or a tequila sunrise.

PCS Season

Happy May 1st, or what we call PCS Season! For many military families, that means HAPPY PCS PREP MONTH!  Summer moves require spring planning, and if you’re looking for tips, you’re in luck – we have lots!  Even if you’re not PCSing this year, we’re including all sorts of things throughout May and June to help you welcome your new neighbors as well.

If you are itching to start RIGHT NOW (and we know you are!), check out our previous posts:

How to Move It Without Losing It: tips for making it through the madness

PCSing with Little Kids: the best little helpers….

PCS Survival Kit has everything you need for camping in an empty house while you wait for the truck.

Friendating tips for meeting new people and expanding your support network.

Are you a professional who will be looking for a job in your new area? Try Military Spouse Marketability Part 1, and Part 2.

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Mary’s Perspective – Military Kids

Mary has been married to an active duty service member for over 21 years, and their family has quite a few moves under their belt!

“I’ve moved over 15 times, and our oldest finished high school (all 4 years) at one duty station after enrolled in 6 schools K-12th grade. Our youngest has been in 4 schools, and now finishing 8th grade homeschooled. Like some homeschoolers, it’s difficult to a) move from your friends, b) homeschool, and c) find a new support group to bond with. We’re still looking at involvement locally.

We’ve found military life is a true blessing to families. The support you get is personalized at different locations, some better then others. We’ve had and have some fabulous friends due to our locations in the military.

Some family members don’t understand our benefits, our blessings. For instance our son received the post 911 GI bill for college, and he doesn’t have a clue how blessed he is compared to other students on campus.

Our daughter is involved in a girls’ organization, like Girl Scouts, that has some homeschooled, and some military gals, too. Very accepting to new girls. We were blessed, thanks to the Internet, to find Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV), and were able to discover a homeschool support group on the local base and also in our town. We are also a part of Immanuel Bible Home Educators Group, which offers many activities like State Geography and International Nights, father-daughter dance, mother-daughter tea, playdates, computer classes, etc. all free with active participation.

It’s hard when a teen has to leave their friends, starting again in a new neighborhood, school, church, life. Even myself have noticed this past move, after living somewhere over 4 years is difficult.”

Kristin’s Perspective – Military Family

Earlier this month, we featured Ally’s Perspective, a fictional story written by a 9 year old girl to help cope with her dad’s deployment. Kristin is Ally’s mom, and offers her perspective on being a military family with a special needs child.

“When you become a military spouse, you know “going into it” that this life might take you to live in exotic places – perhaps overseas or in Hawaii – and a downside might be that you’ll often live very far away from family.  You’ll know that your military service member will often be away from you and your children for long periods of time, but you won’t truly know what a six or nine month separation feels like until you have to do it for the first time and you don’t realize how difficult it is to explain the concept of time it to a toddler or a Kindergartener or even a third grader until that moment happens to you.  Throughout your life as a military spouse, you’ll encounter numerous events that you never thought you would have to handle alone and you’ll pat yourself on the back for those you accomplish singlehandedly – like putting up a live Christmas tree by yourself – and you’ll probably curse the high heavens for those times you feel like “this isn’t fair” – like dealing with rats in your garage… You’ve probably heard the phrase “life is a roller coaster” and yes, it’s full of ups and downs.  However, life as a military spouse is like an EXTREME ride on a roller coaster – full of the highest highs and the lowest lows.

xmas girlsAs a Navy spouse for over eighteen years and the mother of two daughters, I’ve had my share of highest highs and lowest lows.  However, one of the most significant events in my life occurred when my second daughter was born in December 2004.  My dream of having another “perfect” baby with a button nose, rosebud mouth, and the proverbial “ten fingers/ten toes” vanished in an instant. You can imagine my shock when my youngest daughter was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and just two fingers on each hand and two toes on each foot. I remember crying, “Why? Why? Why? What’s going on? What happened?” to everyone in the delivery room. Between the emotional strain of labor and delivery and the shock of our newborn having multiple birth defects, my husband actually passed out in the delivery room and the spent the next three days in ICU having suffered a traumatic brain injury. My daughter spent a few hours with me before she was taken to the NICU so they could monitor her vitals and attempt to feed her.  Three out of four members of my family – myself, my husband, and my newborn daughter were all patients at the same hospital. My oldest daughter was three and a half at the time and was being cared for by family members at home. I was the first to be discharged from the hospital after her birth.  As I exited the hospital, leaving my husband in the ICU and my daughter in the NICU, I could barely comprehend how our lives had changed so dramatically in the three days since I had walked into that hospital with my husband at my side and my daughter in my belly.  The highs and lows of those three days imprinted my mind forever.

In the weeks that followed, we learned that Allyson had a genetic condition called Ectrodactyly-Ectodermal Dysplasia-Clefting Syndrome (EEC Syndrome).  This syndrome is characterized by missing or irregular fingers and/or toes (ectrodactyly); abnormalities of the hair, nails, teeth, and sweat glands; cleft lip and/or palate; distinctive facial features; and abnormalities of the eyes and sometimes the urinary tract.  My husband eventually recovered from his head injury and returned to flying status fifteen months after Allyson’s birth.  Our “new normal” life had begun.

A few years later, Allyson’s vision began to deteriorate due to unexpected complications associated with EEC Syndrome.  By age four, she was legally blind and now reads and writes in Braille.  However, Allyson is a remarkable girl with a spunky personality and a lot of determination.  There’s nothing that she thinks she cannot do!  She’s had more than thirty surgeries (I’m not exactly sure how many because she’s asked me to stop counting them!) over the past nine years and has endured more tests and doctors’ visits than most people see in a lifetime.

As a military spouse and as a mother of a child with special medical and educational needs, both experiences are full of “high highs” and “low lows” which sometimes conflict with each other.  When I was asked to write this piece, I was full of ideas about which angle I should take and how I could offer wisdom to other spouses who had experiences similar to mine.  I wanted to write something witty and insightful; something entertaining, yet poignant, and I struggled to make this article sound “just right.”  Then…last week happened and the theme became clear: high highs and low lows.  Here’s our story:

Last week, my husband was due to fly home from his nine month deployment aboard an aircraft carrier.  It was unexpected that he was offered the opportunity to come home on the early detachment two weeks before the ship pulled in.  We decided that we would surprise our daughters (ages 12 and 9) and not tell them about the early homecoming, just in case something changed at the last minute.  Obviously, this was a “high high” for us!  However, the day before he was scheduled to fly home, there was a chance he wouldn’t make the flight because high seas were preventing liberty boats from taking sailors off the ship –  potential “low low”.  He ended up flying home early and he made a video announcing his surprise that I played for my daughters just hours before he was scheduled to land.  The shock on their faces was priceless and I’m so glad we were able to pull off the surprise!  For military families, a reunion after a long separation is one of the most special experiences we get to enjoy… adding the element of surprise just sweetens the deal!

Four days after my husband’s surprise homecoming, Allyson was scheduled to have eye surgery – a routine procedure that she’s had several times – to treat glaucoma in both of her eyes.  Obviously, this surgery was scheduled before we knew my husband would be home, so Allyson and I made the 500 mile roundtrip alone to Baltimore, MD for her surgery.  Nothing unusual occurred during surgery and we returned home to my husband and older daughter that night.  The next day, Allyson complained that her vision was blurry, but I thought nothing of it since she was just one day post-op.  When she came home from school the day after surgery, her vision wasn’t any better and she was having a lot of difficulty navigating the familiar environments of our home and at school.  Even though Allyson is legally blind, she is able to see details of objects up close and is so comfortable in her familiar environments that sometimes we “forget” that her vision is limited because of how independent she seems.  We became alarmed when she told us “I can’t see” and it was obvious that she had suffered a significant loss of her functional vision.  She had never experienced this side effect during previous surgeries so I called the doctor who suggested we return to Baltimore for tests to rule out anything catastrophic.  We had hit a new lowest low… and right on the heels of our highest high just a few days before.  Allyson and I made the trip to Baltimore once again two days after her surgery to hopefully find answers to this new problem. While many years have passed since Allyson first lost her vision and we’ve dealt with that pain, have accepted it and have moved past it, this was a real blow.  She was acutely aware of this change in her vision and how it limited her ability to do all the things she’s accustomed to doing.  Our spunky and determined girl was now frustrated, sad, and sullen.  The return trip to Baltimore ruled out any significant changes to her eyes that might be causing this “new” vision loss.  We’re now in a ‘wait and see’ and ‘hope that this is temporary’ mode… it’s definitely put a damper on life as we knew it and we wonder about the new challenges that might lie ahead for Allyson.  As the week has progressed and we’re on vacation with family over Spring Break, there has been little improvement to Allyson’s vision.  While we didn’t sink to a new lowest low (we came close), the thrill of homecoming  just a few days ago has worn off as we’ve been dealt another card that makes us ask “why?”

rally family edit 21This past week was our example of how military families and families with special needs children have to adapt and it illustrates how our lives are often turned upside down in an instant.  Does this happen to other “typical” families in our society?  Sometimes… but I think you’ll find more frequent occurrences of highest highs and lowest lows in military families just because the nature of the lifestyle we lead and because of the uncertainty that accompanies this lifestyle.  You’ll find high highs and low lows in families with special needs children because you spend so much time working and trying to reach certain milestones or overcome specific obstacles that the majority of your time and energy is focused on a single task.  When a special needs child eats without gagging for the first time or is able to sit up unassisted or speaks the first intelligible word – that’s a huge victory worthy of a celebration!  When you combine the military family with the family with special needs children, you have the unique opportunity to witness both extremes of highs and lows… and even in the same week!

My best advice to others is to celebrate what you have today because you can’t change yesterday and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  Embrace the roller coaster in your life and grin ear-to-ear as you hit the crest of the highest highs and hold on for dear life during those deepest lows.  Neither one is everlasting… there’s always next week.”

 

Stephanie’s Perspective – Military Family

Last week, we hosted a small group of families with young children. One couple walked in without their daughter, and when I asked where she was, the wife casually replied that they’d left her with her grandmother. Envy shot through my heart. Not just envy that they could so easily call up a loving caregiver with no notice, but also envy that their daughter, and those of many of our civilian friends, see their extended family on a weekly basis.

Print 3x5My husband has been in the USN for almost 18 years, and only in the last two have we joined the ranks of military parents. We had our daughter while stationed overseas. For the first ten months of her life, we had no sitter options. When we returned to the U.S. nine months ago, we began the hard task of trying to find a trusted sitter so we could have a rare night out. And I experienced that scary, military mom moment of being faced with the line, “Local Emergency Contact,” on all paperwork relating to our daughter. What local contact? We just moved here. For the first few weeks, until I meet another mother in church or at the park, there are no local, emergency contacts. I write those words, knowing there is one major exception. Our military family.

That family is everywhere we go. In fact, my “Local Emergency Contact” became a military mom we knew at a duty station 10 years ago who now lives in our current area. We may not have seen her in 10 years, but she would gladly help us out by caring for our child if needed. Or loan us items while we’re waiting on our personal property shipment. I’m finding that it does take a village to raise a child, but our village is not made up of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I wonder sometimes, in what other job does a person’s coworkers become their supportive family, the village helping to raise one another’s children.

With our daughter still so young, we have yet to enter the challenges of explaining to our child why she, yet again, has to leave her friends and home. She doesn’t know that she’ll always be the new kid. We are just now entering the stages of having to find another doctor for her, then another, rather than her seeing the same pediatrician for 18 years, as I did. But what she gains is the chance to see and experience the world. Her passport arrived in the mail when she was five weeks old. At 19 months, she’s visited seven countries and by age two, she will have visited seven U.S. states. She may not remember these amazing adventures, but they won’t stop as she grows older. She will live in different parts of the United States, and get the chance to see just how different and wonderful and unique our great nation is. The Lord willing, she’ll live overseas again one day. She will have friends and “family” all over the world. And I hope and pray that one day in her future, she’ll tell us how much her military kid upbringing added to her life.

I lived a childhood far removed from the military life, growing up in the same house, in the same town, with the same people. The parents of my friends had been my parents’ childhood friends. Each time we move, as I unpack, I pull out my photo of my four year old Kindergarten class. I can name each child, since I graduated high school with 98% of them. Sundays meant dinner at Grandma’s house. Birthday parties were chaotic, crowded celebrations filled with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and since there were so many of us, we had a celebration about every two weeks.

Nora wearing a dress crocheted by her great-grandmother over 65 years ago

Nora wearing a dress crocheted by her great-grandmother over 65 years ago

Sometimes I long for that life for my child. I worry. Perhaps this military life that results in such absence from the people who love her most in the world is doing her a disservice. But then I get a reminder that we are not alone. Yesterday, a military spouse friend and I drove an hour south to visit a mutual friend, another military spouse, who had flown cross-country to visit her son and his family. This woman had previously given us one of our most treasured baby gifts – her prayer card with our names on it that she used for four years, after learning of our long time struggle to have a child. She’d been praying for our daughter to come into this world all that time, and upon our daughter’s birth, she sent us the prayer card with a ribbon tied around it. And so, yesterday, I remembered once again that while parenting as a military family comes with a unique set of challenges, we are so blessed in return with the experiences we can give our daughter and a larger “family” than we ever dreamed possible.

Emily’s Perspective – Blended Military Family

Emily is a Navy wife writing about her experiences as blended military family and shared custody when one home keeps changing.EmilyGoolsbyEngagement22“I met this handsome young man when I was 16 years old. We dated for a few years and then went our separate ways. Then, nine years later we ended up running into each other in our hometown of Cookeville, TN. Next thing you know, we were married within a year in 2012. Since then life has been somewhat of a whirlwind. Within the past 12 months, I have basically found myself married to the love of my life and headed out on the adventure of living the military life.

We are a fun-loving, adventurous family of four. My name is Emily; I am a registered nurse and work in the field of neurology. My husband, Justin, is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. Next is my amazing, carefree, and loving six-year-old stepson Grayson. Finally, last but not least, is our four-legged furry golden doodle, Bear.

312213_10100320420457082_1218537700_nAs far as life goes for the military child, I will let you hear it straight from a child. Grayson says, “I know my daddy has to be far away sometimes in other places, because he protects the world from bad guys. I like coming to stay with my daddy because he is always moving and I get to make new friends. I cannot wait till I get older so I can be like my daddy and join the Navy. I want to be a pilot, firefighter, police, and help other people.”

There are challenges being in the military and having a child that spends time between two different households. All of us involved do everything we can to make it work. We have spent many weekends on the road traveling back and forth to meet one another. No matter how far away we move, or how long my husband’s deployment may be, we always make sure Grayson is first. If it means we have to drive overnight to pick him up, schedule an unexpected flight, or simply just chat with him on the phone or online, we always make sure we are there and available for him. I feel the military life has had a positive outcome on Grayson; he has become extremely adaptable when it comes to being with a new group of friends, daycare, or attending a new school. He is always willing to jump right in and introduce himself. He also gets excited when we get to pick new orders. We will soon be relocating to San Diego, California, and as Grayson puts it, “We get to go to the beach everyday.”

Skyping with Daddy

Skyping with Daddy while he was in Afghanistan

Through this year we have endured a major health scare, an active shooter situation, and my first time being this far away from family. All I can say is that I could not have done it without the support of our military family. Whether it is just someone to talk to, babysit, share a meal with, or just listen to me ramble, they have always been there. The military has put us through some challenging times, but it has also brought us closer as a family. It has given us the opportunity to see some amazing places, and meet people from all walks of life. Mostly it has allowed Grayson to see so much of the world, build his confidence, and make all kinds of new friends. He is only six and I cannot wait to see all the positive influences the military will have in his life as he grows into a young man. We could have not picked a greater life than that of a military family, and we are grateful for all the experiences, travels, and opportunities it has blessed us with, and look forward to many more.”

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Kristin’s Perspective – Army Brat

I’m an Army Brat… hand written letters, moving, new friends, lots of adventures, crying in bed, the Cold War, Chernobyl, Leavenworth, housing, family far away… just a few words that popped in my mind. I guess I’m an Army Brat of the 80s and 90s who calls San Antonio home. In a professional setting, it makes me happy to meet another brat. We’re proud people, and as soon as I meet another one at work, we try to find a common duty station. I get to throw in Camp Humphreys, Korea, from time to time since I visited my brother while he was stationed there.

imageIt blows my mind that some people have never been out of the country and let alone their state in some cases.  Forget Foursqaure badges- I have a badge the human eye doesn’t see at first glance. Last year I wrote a blogpost about returning to my birthplace for the first time since 1981; never thought that would happen. This year my mom gave me two bins of photos. Years of memories that she hadn’t placed in photo albums. Pictures of diversity, happy kids, Girl Scouts, family visits, and trips sat in these bins. Memories I had forgotten until this year. Pictures of homes I’d never see again, but lots of smiles.

IMG_1199Growing up as a military child is hard, but you couldn’t tell from the photos. My dad provided an amazing opportunity to us. He worked hard and took TDY as my mom stayed home with us to keep us grounded. We were fortunate to never have my dad deploy like children do now. It makes our tough times seem silly and petty. But nonetheless, our home is where my dad, mom and brother can come together for laughs and tears. Our home isn’t a structure, but us together. That’s where I’m from… a family not a location.

To all those Military Brats wishing they could go back “home”, have a Skype call with family and friends. Share the memories, a few tears and joys of your experience this month. Take the time to write a letter to send in the mail. Reconnect with an old friend. But never forget who you are because there are others in our community who need us. Find a military child or family service in your area and consider volunteering or donating to the support groups helping other military brats.”

Not sure where to volunteer? Try these wonderful organizations:

Blue Star Families

Our Military Kids

Operation: Military Kids

National Military Family Association

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