Ally’s Perspective: Military Kids

Ally, age 9,  wrote this fictional story to help her cope with her dad being deployed, and we were thrilled to hear that he just surprised everyone on Friday by coming home early from his 9-month deployment! Ally has a genetic condition called EEC syndrome and is blind.  She reads and writes in Braille.  Be sure to check back on our blog next week for Ally’s mom Kristin’s perspective!

ally school photo


To Be Like Dad

In a far, far away city in California, a little girl sat on her daddy’s knee.

“And the people got off deck and found the other people just waiting to board…” recalled the girl’s dad.

“Tell me more tell me more, please, oh please, Daddy,” the girl said.

“Maybe tomorrow night,” said the girl’s dad.


The girl’s name was Dani. She was in first grade and had always wanted to be a sailor like her dad. She was working hard at her goal and sometimes she’d “play ship” with her two friends, Kaya and Sue.

When Dani got up the next morning, her eyes were barely open. She walked downstairs and said, “Daddy, Daddy! You’re here, you’re still here,” said Dani.

Dani got up at 5:30AM so she could see her dad before he left. She did not mind the early wake-up call because she still wanted to complete her goal. She practiced by getting up very early to go to work.

“My little Daniella, are you ready for work?” asked her dad.

“I salute you, sir,” said Dani.

Dani knew that when her father called her by her real name that it was important.

Many years passed and Dani was getting ready to start high school.

“I will go check the mail,” Dani said to her mom one day.

Dani skipped across the side path and got the mail. She opened the letter slowly.

Dear Daniella Smith,

I am proud to say that you have made it into the US MILITARY Training of young adults, 9th graders and up. You will be with a trainer and will go away to DC for your one year long training. I hope you can make it.

Director of Training, US MILITARY
“Yes!” said Dani.

She ran back to the house.

“Dad, look at this!!!” Dani screamed. “A letter came for me from the US MILATARY TRAINING SCHOOL back in DC. It’s great! It’s amazing! It’s one of the most special things that’s ever occurred in my life!”

“I’ll tell everyone to come over for dinner,” yelled mom from across the room.

“Oh thanks!” said Dani.

Everyone came for dinner. It was quite a feast! There was orange chicken, tomato soup, corn on the cob, baked cheese sticks, country fried green beans, sweet potatoes, fried rice, orange juice, coke, apple cider, and butter pecan pie for afterwards.

“Let’s cheer for Daniella!” said all of the family members. “Let’s cheer for Daniella!”

Dani felt so happy that her family members were feeling proud of her. Her friends, Kaya and Sue, came too.

“Three cheers for Dani! We’re so happy for you!” they both said.

Dad gave her a hug and said, “I’m proud to call you my daughter.”

Dani replied, “I’m proud of you too, Dad, and I want to be just like you.”

Dani’s goal of being a sailor in the US Navy was actually going to happen.

airshow daddy ally

James’ Perspective: Military Kids

James offers a unique perspective as a military child during the Vietnam war.

“Thank you so much for thinking of, and asking for, the experiences of military kids.

I’m now in my fifties, and am the youngest of three children of a Navy
family– my father was a career physician in the Navy Medical Corps and
retired as Captain in 1973. He passed away in 1979.

So, my “military brat” experiences were from the Vietnam era, which was an
interesting time…

As a family we followed the news of the war very closely and even had a map
of Vietnam taped to the kitchen cabinets while we lived in La Jolla CA in
1967-69. I recall looking at the map and learning the names of various
towns in Vietnam as reports came in. At the time my father was practicing
at the San Diego Naval Hospital. Though many years have passed, I still
feel the sense of the anticipatory tension in our family as we wondered if
the next orders would be….

…and they were in 1969. My father was ordered to NAS DaNang for a
12-month tour.

While the orders offered the opportunity for our family to return to
Philadelphia (which we preferred over southern CA), it carried the threat
that I would never see my father again.

To this day when I deplane in the Philadelphia airport I feel the mood, see
the terminal with its waiting areas, benches, planes, the way it looked
that late summer day in 1969 as my father boarded the plane that ultimately
would lead him to DaNang. Watching a parent go off to war is something a
kid never forgets, I guess.

There’s another side to this, though, that’s also worth mentioning–that
is, while I was a brat of a Navy family, the Navy stepped in as a family as
well. My father’s colleagues all supported us that year–just the
knowledge of being with people who “know” what you’re feeling and
experiencing was a great comfort.

So it seems that military tradition is still alive today, as evidenced by
those of you who are taking the time to read all these messages from us
brats and sharing them with others. We all have each other’s backs.”

Adrienne’s Perspective: Military Kids

Thanks to Adrienne Stravitsch for today’s perspective…

“I didn’t grow up in one house on Main Street, USA. I didn’t even do all of my growing up in the USA. I didn’t go to just one school, attend one church. I don’t have that “one bedroom I spent my whole childhood in.” I didn’t have one consistent set of friends during my childhood years.

I lived in at least ten different homes. I grew up in a small starter house in San Antonio, Texas, in a duplex in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and in Blackhawk Village in Seoul, South Korea. I grew up in Italy, with Venice practically in my backyard. Other places, too. My family divides our chapters of memories based on our location at the time. “Remember in Benning, how we….” “Remember that time in Rucker….”

I said good-bye to friends, turned down achievements, accomplishments, coveted positions in school. Because the Army was moving us again. I spent weeks, and sometimes months, without my father. I stood proudly by him when he received promotions. I had a passport at the ripe age of ten. My youngest sister was barely a year old when she first received one.

I lived behind barbed wire. I learned at an early age that that piece of laminated paper was like my soul–I should never lose it. I had my father’s social memorized for as long as I can remember. His “last four.”

stravitsch2 - released

I proudly watched my father serve for 23 years in the United States Army, and what a fine officer he was. With all the moving, leaving, hardship, and tears, it was at times such a tough life. I said good-bye and lost touch with countless people. I cried in high school when my best friend called me from his house for the last time. I knew I’d likely never see him again. The editor in chief of the school newspaper–“No, thank you. I’m moving this summer.” Ripped my heart out. All the times I watched my father leave for days, weeks….months. Wonder how my mother could stand sleeping in a bed alone.

I’d do it again. I loved it.

I am resilient. I am strong. I am proud. I am an Army brat.

I got the boot when I was a Senior in college. I turned 24, and without any hesitation, the Army cut me off. I had lost all military privileges, my healthcare, my ID card. I felt totally lost. The life in which I’d grown up–the comfort of barbed wire, the love of the Army family–I was now separated from it. It was a huge transition for me.

And then I met him. The man who stole my heart.

I did not realize initially that he was a Soldier. Not at first. But, I was so relieved to learn it. When I realized that this was the man I would marry, I was so grateful he was active duty. I was so excited that he was a United States Army Soldier. I was so proud. I can do this, I thought.

We now have three tiny girls of our own. One has watched her father leave for war for a year, even before she knew what any of that could mean. She screamed for her daddy as he walked away from us in the airport following R&R, wondering why he wouldn’t turn around and come back to her. The other saw her Daddy for the first four days of her life, and then he left her. Both have experienced four moves, four homes. They are four and two years old. This summer, they will say good-bye to their best friends next door. And they will probably never see them again.

They will attend different schools–many schools. They will turn down accomplishments, achievements, and honors. And they, like their mother, will do it with a smile outside and a heavy heart inside. They will carry that sorrow with them forever, but stand with pride that they did. They will watch their father pin on new ranks, and stand proudly with tears in their eyes. Because they get it.

They will again watch their father leave for war. So will the youngest. All three of them will stand there, wondering why he has to go, but still standing firmly for their Daddy. They will cry at night, when no one hears. They will push through, praying and hoping he comes home. And, when they are old enough, they too will fear the door-bell ringing.

They know the comfort of barbed wire. They will have their laminated paper soul. Know their father’s “last four.” They will divide chapters by location. Know the bittersweet smell of cardboard and tape. They will sit around, someday, and see who can remember the most telephone numbers or street addresses from their childhood.

And, despite the hardship, someday they’ll be grateful for this life. Because it made them better people.”

My girls are resilient. My girls are strong. My girls are proud. My girls are Army brats.

stravitsch - released

April is the Month of the Military Child. These military kids don’t have any choice in living this life, yet so many of them do so with a strong and resilient attitude. We thank our Veterans. We thank the spouses. These children deserve a huge thanks, too.

For more adventures about life as a mother, spouse, and military family check out Adrienne’s blog at

Ella’s Perspective: Military Kids

Ella (age 8) submitted the following about why she likes being a military kid.


“I like to be a military child because I travel all the time. I like to know that my dad flies the dolphin helicopter. It is fun to be in a military family. I like that my dad is in the military.”

The Cummings’ Perspective: Military Kids


Here is what the ladies of the Cummings Family had to say about military life.

Genevieve, age 7

“The good and bad about being a military kid is we have to move a lot. Moving is hard work, seriously. You have to pack up all your things and say goodbye to friends and then make new friends. There is a lot of sitting in the car or the airport and wait and wait and wait when you have to move across the country or around the world. But it is fun to meet different people and make new friends. And it is fun getting to go different places and live in new houses. And then your dad has to go away a lot. I don’t like that part of being a military kid. But when Dad is home, we get to do things together, and I like that a lot.”

Annabelle, age 5

“Well, being a military kid means you make new friends and you can hear the bombs from Daddy’s work. You have to live a long ways away from your family and if you want to see them, you have use the computer to talk to them, or ride on an airplane, or ride in the car for a long long time. I like getting to live in different places, and go do fun things. Being a military kid is the best.”

Lauren, proud Navy wife and mom

“We are a family of six, and we are a successful, well-adjusted military family. With all the excitement and stress that comes from military life, we try to keep things simple and calm on the home front… as simple and calm as you can with 4 kids and a neurotic dog in tow.

I knew from the moment I met my husband what I was in for. We dated for almost 5 years, 4 of which were long distance. My husband claims he was testing me to make sure I could handle the lifestyle. I like to think I passed with flying colors.

By nature, I am a planner and researcher, but I have learned to also be flexible. I try not to stress about the next PCS, or the next deployment, or the 18 month work up that leads to that deployment. It is my job to keep my family happy and functioning. I am under the mindset we will make the best of any situation, and when you stop worrying and stressing, you can focus on all the positives and create lasting memories in otherwise difficult times. My family is my job, and they are my number one priority.

When I first started to think about the question, “What is it like to be a military family?” I asked my daughters, 7 and 5 their thoughts on the subject. They talked about moving and saying goodbye to old friends, but getting to make new friends. It made me feel good they did not have really any negative comments on the subject. I also had to agree with them. Moving is probably the biggest hardship on our family. When I think of moving, I immediately go into research and planning mode. I need to find all there is to know about a potential hometown. I want to know the houses, the school districts, the preschools, and activities, etc. What is the best transition for my kids, and how does that line up with my husband’s report date? I look at it like a big puzzle and I need to figure out how to make all the pieces fit together. That can take some doing when you have 4 kids.

As for everyday life, we try to be quite normal and stick with a routine. We eat dinner as a family, we do activities as a family, we explore and we plan outings as a family. When our service member happens to be working away from home for extended periods of time, we try not to disrupt our daily lives. We make the necessary adjustments and include him through pictures, videos, and daily chats via the web.

I am immensely proud of my children. They have only known the way of the military child, and handle it with style and grace. They have made friends for life, as have I. The military has afforded us the opportunity to experience the world many would never see in a lifetime. And while we make great sacrifices by being a military family, we appreciate the time we are together, the friendships we have forged, and the world at our doorstep.”

Genevieve and Annabelle at the Daddy-Daughter dance

Genevieve and Annabelle at a Daddy-Daughter dance

Jacob’s Perspective: Military Kids

Today’s post was written by Jacob, a college student, about how life as a military child has shaped the adult he’s become.

“It was once a huge obstacle. It has become a great strength. It has left me lonely, and it has given me great friends. It has made me scared, and it has made me laugh. It has made me sick, and it has healed me. It has helped form my character, focus my direction, and change my world view. This obstacle has helped me become the young man I am today. What is the obstacle? It is simply living life as a military kid.
Many people cannot understand why a parent would choose to move their family every few years to a new neighborhood, new school, new everything. Military kids must develop a unique set of personality traits to adjust to the strains of this lifestyle. For me, those traits became 1) finding an appreciation for different cultures, 2) finding the courage to step out and try new experiences, and 3) holding on to the personal standards I have set for myself.

I have lived in seven different cities, including two on the tiny island of Guam. I have attended seven different schools, each campus with a different feel. Without an ability to appreciate different cultures and individuals, I would not have been successful in finding my niche in all these different cities and schools. Being a military kid has opened my eyes to the value of each individual culture, and I know I will carry this attitude with me on any college campus.

Secondly, being a military kid has helped me find the courage to step out and try new experiences. This is sometimes difficult to do because every new location means finding that courage again. General George S. Patton once said, “Accept the challenges so you may know the exhilaration of victory.” In other words, if you don’t put yourself out there and try something new, you may never know the feeling of overcoming that fear. As I have grown, I have overcome that fear in athletics, academics and extracurricular activities. I know that I will continue this trait as an undergraduate as well.

Being a military kid has also helped me solidify my personal ethics and standards. The military is a tight community. Right and wrong are pretty clearly defined. Respect for others is admirable, but it is the respect I have set for myself that has allowed me to maintain a level of inner strength no matter where I live. Balancing an appreciation for others while holding firm to my own beliefs has made a significant impact on how I view life.

What will the next obstacle be in my life? I do not know. However, I do know that the strengths I have developed living life as a military kid will help me succeed. Without a doubt, an appreciation for different cultures, the courage to try new things, and maintaining high personal standards will be beneficial traits regardless of any challenges I may face.”

Jacob and his father at the 2014 JROTC Ball, where he received a medal and award from AMVETS

Jacob and his father at the 2014 JROTC Ball, where he received a medal and award from AMVETS


Celebrating Our Military Kids

Happy April 1st! No matter what Mother Nature’s doing, the calendar says spring, and I keep looking out the window for green grass, buds on the trees, and dandelions sprinkled around my yard. I know they aren’t the most popular, but I just love the bright little pops of yellow sprouting up everywhere!

Of course, this might be because my son likes to give me bouquets of dandelions for my little vase by the window, and I like to weave them into wreaths for my daughter’s hair while my youngest son tastes several.

Fia Dandelion

But I also love looking out my window at the dandelions because they are indeed very much like my littles, growing up in a military family.

The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.


All of our military kids are truly special, and April is all about celebrating our littlest heroes!  Whether you are a military child, have a military child, or just happen to know one of these amazing kids, here are some things you can do to participate in the celebration:

  • SHARE your story
    CallDibs is celebrating our military kids’ perspectives this month!  Write an essay, create a drawing, make a list of advice, take a picture of a past project – anything that you feel represents your unique experience related to military children.  Share your thoughts with your friends, parents, teachers, and US!  We’ll be featuring a variety of perspectives from our community, so check back daily!  If you’d like a chance to be featured on this blog, please submit your perspective to for consideration by April 4th!
  • Wear PURPLE
    Purple is the color that represents all branches of our military: green for Army, red for Marines, and blue for Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Although April 15th is the official day, we encourage you to “Purple Up” all month long to show your support! RELATED: Operation Purple camps for military children and their families.
  • Vote for your favorite PHOTO
    We are hosting a photo contest for our Call Dibs users!  Photos were submitted in March, and have been uploaded to our Facebook Page. Vote by ‘liking’ your favorite photo between now and April 29th, and the winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card.  Good luck, everyone!
  • ATTEND an Event
    Your MWR, base Youth Center, or school liaison may have information on events, camps, workshops, concerts, and more.  Also check out to search for event calendars by state.
  • THANK a military child
    It’s so important to remember all the little things our kids sacrifice, often with no choice in the matter.  A simple gesture can recognize their strength and sacrifices, give them a boost of confidence and pride, and show that they are not forgotten. Need some ideas? Plan special one-on-one dates with your kids, send handmade cards or drawings to friends who are military children, volunteer at your local USO, volunteer to be a TAPS mentor, or simply offer a handshake or hug.

 A HUGE THANK YOU to ALL our military children from the CallDibs team! It’s going to be an exciting month!


Lydia DiCola Call Dibs, Military Content Manager

Lydia DiCola
Call Dibs, Military Content Manager

Month of the Military Child 2014: Perspectives

As a team deeply connected in the active military community, we get very excited about Month of the Military Child! This year, we’ll be taking a spin on the traditional approach by offering our community’s various, unique ‘Perspectives‘. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be sharing personal, first-hand accounts from children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and teachers – all about their perspectives regarding military children. It will be an informative and moving month, so stay tuned and SHARE with your community.

If you would like to submit an essay about your experiences as a military child, a parent of a military child, or just as someone who knows one of these special kids, please send it via email to for consideration.

Last year we had great success featuring the photo and story of a military child every day. This year, in celebration of Month of the Military Child 2014, we are holding the #MilKidStrong Photo Contest! So get into those hard drives and photo albums and find any picture you feel illustrates #MilKidStrong. It can be a photo of your parents as children of active duty Vietnam soldiers, it can be your sweet baby sitting in daddy’s boots, or a teenager involved in community service. It’s all about perspective, and that perspective is up to you!


Please submit all photos to us via our Facebook page in a Private Message or email at (You will receive a reply from us with a Photo Release Form that must be completed before we’ll be able post your photo in the contest.)

All photos will be uploaded to our Facebook Page in an album on 1 April 2014 by 1200pm EST. Voting will begin immediately and will be calculated by the number of “likes” each photo receives from the community. So share your submissions and show off your photo for the 2014 Call Dibs #MilKidStrong Photo Contest. The picture receiving the most likes by 1200am EST on 29 April 2014 will be announced at 10am on 3o April 2014. The winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card and the chance to be featured in a Tshirt fundraiser.

We can’t wait to share all the creativity and perspectives that military kids demonstrate throughout their lives!

Pits and Pendulums: Military Cutbacks

Don’t worry, this isn’t a high school lit class. I am not going to go into a deep literary analysis of one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most prolific tales but recently the title and general gist of this story keep coming to the forefront of my mind. Any guesses why?

The confusion, the punishment, the loss of sensation – they all come to mind as people are trying to grasp their brains around the upcoming boards determining who will be cut from the Army in the predetermined year groups.

I don’t mean to make this a dire report of impending doom, but more of a comedic relief in some dark, twisted way – because that is how I feel. It’s a bit scary and on a raw emotional level – it’s all twisted.

Historically, the military has seen waxes and wanes in size, military cutbacks most often occurring after major wars and conflict. It happens. In the civilian sector, people face lay offs and downsizing frequently, forcing families to make dramatic changes. I take nothing for granted. I was recently talking to my grandmother about the upcoming downsizing and she told me that my grandfather had been laid off 8 times in his lifetime. They had 5 kids, they tightened resources, and it always worked out. I look at this and think, ok, we only have 2 kids, we both have higher level education degrees – we will be ok and we will make this work.

Contrary to my rational reaction, my raw emotional reaction (once again) is to be defensive. HOW on earth can you ‘fire’ someone who missed FIFTEEN months of his first born’s life? HOW can you ‘fire’ someone who has lost friends in combat? HOW can you ‘fire’ someone who has handled a battle buddy’s’ suicide? Will a ‘cut’ from the force be a final draw for individuals already teetering on mentally stability? Has anyone looked at the need for transitional support for these soldiers and their families? It’s kind of like being pushed into a dirty, dimly lit pit and feeling your way around. At this moment in time you don’t really know where you are going but must proceed as if hope will prevail, yet all the while feeling the faint whoosh of the Pendulum at your neck.

So what do we do? We plan and we organize our resources. If anything as military families, we know how to rise up in the face of adversity and make the most of what we have. We draw together resources and research options. My spouse and I have started looking at our finances, paying off debt as fast as we can using the Dave Ramsey “snowball” effect. We engage in regular conversations about our options for employment, location, reaction time, timelines, etc…. We are amping up resumes and updating LinkedIn profiles. Our extended families are aware that we may be making a huge life transition next summer. In this case the “hurry up and wait” mentality is a benefit. Plan now, be prepared, and when the news arrives – you’ll be set either way.

Even though Poe’s Pit and the Pendulum had a military connection in a very different time and a very different place (imbedded with a few literary vs. historical liberties), it was fiction. I am not an “alarmist” by nature, but this, my friends, is reality. So how are you feeling? What steps are you taking to prepare? Please use this as a sounding board, conversations need to start now. No complaining and spewing hatred that will get us nowhere fast. We need to seek support and encouragement from each other as we move forward, and some of us move on to new adventures.

Erica McMannes Call Dibs, Brand Manager *Proud Army Spouse*

Erica McMannes
Call Dibs, Brand Manager
*Proud Army Spouse*

Who’s Talking at TED Talks?

Who is TED?

TED is not actually a super smart guy with great connections spreading ‘ideas worth sharing’ all over the world, but rather something that began as a one-time conference on different topics in 1984 and quickly became an annual conference in 1990. TED (Technology, Education, Design) has grown into a flourishing non-for profit organization, finding the cutting edge experts on important issues and ideas.

In a widening global platform of internet virality, it’s often hard to know what is worth your time and what you should just pass by without a second thought. If you have not yet heard of Ted Talks – they are among the most influential dialogues and speeches making impacts on social relationships, educational approaches, technology advances, environmental resources, political endeavors; you name it, there is a probably a Ted Talk on the topic.

(Cool trivia fact – TED and Call Dibs were both started in Monterey, California. It’s just another sign that great things are ahead for us!)

We’ll be featuring a Ted Talk monthly here on our blog. We’ll be choosing topics that can apply to the military community or just your daily life. If you have a favorite, please comment below with the link. If you’ve never heard a Ted Talk, just stay tuned, sit back, and enjoy!

Our first installment of “Who’s Talking?” will be a Ted Talk featuring Amy Cuddy.

Dr. Cuddy is a professor and social psychologist at Harvard Business School. Her research on non-verbal expressions of power has afforded some ground breaking insights and explanations that are relevant in just about every facet of day-to-day life.

As we travel and move throughout our military adventures, we meet people and experience many new social situations. What better to know than how our body language affects others and how we can cue others into what we are saying non-verbally. Cuddy explains how her research has empirically verified that certain specific types of body language shape who we are and have the ability to influence positive outcomes for us. The base summary of her discourse at the Ted Global event in Edinburgh, Scotland, is that engaging in “power poses” or dominant postures for as little as 2-minutes a day can decrease your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), increase your testosterone levels, and increase your appetite for risk.  Who doesn’t need a little less stress and a little more excitement in their lives? The most immediately obvious use of this model for veterans or service members transitioning out of the military, as well as military spouses seeking employment, is to engage in “power poses” to prepare for job interviews.  Dr. Cuddy, along with Dana R. Carney and Andrew J. Yap, have confirmed that employment of this technique definitively improves the performance of job seekers during interviews. Cuddy summarizes the key aspects of the research with,  “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

If you only watch one Ted Talk, make it this one; the guidance and advice that Professor Cuddy offers has the ability to dramatically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes as you move forward in your careers and personal lives!

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