Archive for Military Spouse

All the Comforts From Home for Our Soldiers #ComfortsFromHome

Soldier homecomings always get me right in the feelings. I know that aching hole in your heart when your soldier is away and that elation when he returns home.

When my husband was deployed, I was carrying our first child. So, there were plenty of distractions as I went to midwife appointments and put together baby furniture.

I also stayed active in our community, volunteering with the Family Readiness Group (FRG), tutoring at-risk kids at the local high school, and organizing projects with the Junior League. And I went out with friends to concerts and dinners and craft fairs (where I could find more baby furniture).

Still, there was nothing that could replace my soldier in my life. He was always on my mind, no matter where I was. I lived for his e-mails and our Skype sessions. As soon as he would call, I felt like I came alive. Hanging up felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I sent him whatever I could–vacuum-sealed treats, a little “picnic in a box,” some holiday decorations for special days–but there is nothing quite like being there together…and warm food outside of mess hours, and hot showers, and a nice comfortable bed probably rank up there, too.

We dreamed of his homecoming. I had so many welcome surprises planned, including all the comforts of home he missed so much overseas. Life overtook us, though–our daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and my husband’s homecoming was for her open heart surgery.

Of course, we all got the best gift–our family reunited! Still, I love seeing soldiers get the full treatment I would have loved to have given my husband when he returned home.

So, I am excited to see “A Hero’s Welcome” on November 11 (very appropriately, Veteran’s Day), 2014, premier on some of my favorite networks, including HGTV, Food Network, and the Cooking Channel.

Marie Callender’s, the USO and an army of experts from food, home and travel provide the comforts of home for one special returning soldier.
The one hour television special, “A Hero’s Welcome,” will be hosted by Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible, Genevieve Gorder from HGTV Design Star and Gary Sinise, award-winning actor and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Visit ComfortsfromHome.com to learn more about how you can join Marie Callender’s in helping to bring a little bit of home sweet home to our U.S. service men and women overseas.

Tune-in as Marie Callender’s, the USO and an army of experts from food, home and travel provide the comforts of home as only Marie Callender’s can, in a truly heartwarming homecoming you’ll always remember.

“A Hero’s Welcome” will welcome one special soldier back to their family in a national television event airing on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014. The one-hour TV special will air across a range of your favorite networks including HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, DIY Channel, and Great American County.

I have been selected by Tap Influence to be a spokesperson for Marie Callender’s While I have been compensated for my time, my opinions are my own.

Drill Gremlins

The drill gremlins (the slightly less nasty cousins of the deployment gremlins) were out in full force this past weekend.

husband-on-drill-here-let-me-get-that

First, I got stuck on the icy roadways. Only a fortuitously placed tree stopped my car from falling into a ditch. I spent two hours trying to dig the car out and broke a shovel in the process. I carefully dug out each wheel, rocked the car back and forth, and made some progress only to get stuck again in a new spot. Finally, I straightened out, backed down, got a “running start” and freed myself.

That night, I had to find the energy to take my daughter to the sweetheart dance. A lot of fun but I was wiped out.

The next morning, we rushed out to take my son to soccer practice (which he normally does with my husband). When we returned, we had no heat and I had to do battle with our oil company. They were supposed to deliver the day before and didn’t. The kids were freezing but we had to stay home so the mechanic could restart the heater.

Do you find that when your spouse is away lots of little things break and go wrong? I’m not sure if more things go on the fritz or if it just seems that way because he isn’t here to help fix the problems!

Getting out – Part 2

So your time as a military family is drawing to a close. As was suggested in the first part of this series, you’ve bulked up your emergency fund, paid down your unsecured debt as best you could, considered additional sources of income, dusted off and updated your resume, and done what you could to increase your job skills. Excellent work! Now it’s time to consider a few details that are often overlooked in the transition out of military life. I like mnemonics so we’re going to stick with the ‘vowels of transition’ here: A, E, I, O, U…and sometimes Y.

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Military Spouse Resolutions

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions – we all know what is said about good intentions. But I’ve been doing some serious self-assessment and taking a good, hard look at the last 14 years of my life as a military spouse and I have a few things I think it might be wise to address. So here goes:

1. Less Facebook and more face-to-face.

I’m an introvert by nature but I fake extrovertedness (is that a word?) pretty well. However, given the choice, I’d much rather stay home where I’m comfortable rather
than head to FRG functions, military social events, or anything having to do with my husband’s work. Part of it is a self-defense tactic – it’s easier to move multiple times
if you have fewer connections at a duty station. Regardless, it’s not the best way to go about ‘blooming where you’re planted’ (a goal of mine) so it’s time to step out of
my comfort zone and get involved.

2. Choosing to be ‘better’, not ‘bitter’.

There are many aspects of military life that are complaint-worthy. You know it. I know it. Everyone who lives this life knows it. So what good does it do to
whine about the separations, the long hours, the pay fiascos, and the unrelenting goodbyes? It’s preaching to the choir. And what a depressing choir that can be. Some
people are bitter by nature. Some people are bitter by habit. It’s time to kick that ‘i’ to the curb and choose a new vowel – ‘e’…as in bEtter. Yes, separations are rotten.
But what can you do to thrive while your spouse is gone? The goodbyes are awful but the hellos can be wonderful if you let them. Most of the time, it’s perspective that
makes the difference. And that perspective is a conscious choice…sometimes daily and sometimes hourly.

3. Become ‘visible’ again.

There has been a lot of talk of late about the ‘invisible military spouse’ – how we, as spouses, tend to get lost in the shadows of our military member. The attention
is lavished on them. The homecomings are about them. The worries over mental health are about them. And, while I’m not downplaying the sacrifices my husband
and the rest of our servicemembers make, it’s apparent that no one is going to advocate for us. So we’re going to have to do it ourselves. So it’s time to step out of
those shadows. It’s time to turn a bit of that focus on to ourselves and our health and wellness. I’m not advocating leaving the kids at home for hours on end so you
can spend the day shopping and hanging out at the spa all the time (though that does sound lovely, doesn’t it?). But there’s a lot to be said for eating right, getting
some exercise, trying to get a good night’s sleep, seeing the doctor when necessary, and finding a moment here and there where you can just relax. For some of us,
that moment might be after the kids are in bed, before you tackle the dishes or the laundry. For others of us, it might be asking a friend to swap childcare duties one
day per week so you can grocery shop in peace or grab a coffee and read a magazine. Whatever it is that affords you a moment of peace (as long as it’s legal and healthy!) then do it! Taking care of ourselves means that we are better equipped to take care of those around us. And if you need help – whether it’s the help of a friend or family
member or that of a medical professional, there is NO shame in asking. There is strength in recognizing that need and there is strength in asking for that help.

Those are my top 3 ‘resolutions’ this year. Each of them will require a conscious decision on my part EVERY DAY. And there will be days I fail. That’s ok – no one is
perfect. Not even the General’s wife. Happy 2013!

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Real Military Spouses Know the Meaning of “Community”

If there is one thing I know about this wild journey as a military spouse, it is that I could never have done it alone.

When my husband took that bus ride to Basic Training in Fort Benning back in 2003, I felt so very alone. Here I was, in New York, surrounded by friends and family, at the start of a fulfilling career in teaching and I could barely sleepwalk through my day. What would my life be like? What was expected of me? What would I do? Could I keep working? Would I be able to do this…any of this?

So, I turned to what would soon be called “social media and networking”. I joined discussion boards and I found people like Katy Jane (aka Mommy CPA) and Homefront Six and so many others who I still chat with on Facebook almost a decade later.

My journey brought me to Fort Hood where I met the women who would stand by me and yes, sometimes even carry me, through the next four years. These are the women who would join me on my quest to find the best Thai food in Central Texas, select the perfect gown for the military balls, cry with me through deployment, swim with me while I did handstands in the pool at 38 weeks pregnant to try to turn the baby, and even drive me to the hospital when my water broke at 3 a.m.

During this time, I started this blog, my first blog, about the Military Spouse Experience, the “Army Wife Life”, before I ever knew there was such a thing as blogger communities, before I ever knew I would one day be paid to blog.

How much easier would this all have been if I had women like Krystel, publishing tips and telling it like it is on Army Wife 101 and RealMilitaryWives.TV, and Traci, sharing guidance for FRG leaders along with her personal journey on Fabulous Army Life.

To this day, it is these women I turn to when I need to know just about anything…from the mundane (how do I get stains out of my daughter’s tutu?), to the frivolous (does this dress hide my mommy belly?), to the essential (how do I get in touch with my husband during an emergency?). These are the women who will reassure me that if we’ve been through a deployment, we can do anything. And they are also the same women who will tell me that, um, maybe I need a new shade of make-up that doesn’t make me look like a ghost.

This is what Word of Mouth Marketing is about–real people, giving real advice. This is my Circle of Influencers…these are my friends.

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Now, I’m curious. What do you love most about blogs and blogging? How does social media and the connections you’ve made enrich your life?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogFrog. The opinions and text are all mine.

Casualty Notification is a Sacred Duty — Not a Facebook Poke

As a military spouse, I spent my husband’s deployment terrified that I would see the black sedan drive down my street or that there would be a knock on the door and I would open it to find a chaplain and a casualty notification officer.

At least I could lay down some of the burden at night–there is a window during which notifications are made. This may seem like a trivial thing if you haven’t spent a year on edge but, trust me, it is some small solace to know you will not be woken or startled at 3am by a phone call or a knock on a door.

That is, unless, another soldier or family member takes it upon him or herself to text message you or notify you via Facebook.

What a horrible thing to do to a military family member!

While it is true that no form of notification can bring the soldier back to life, casualty notification procedures are in place for a reason.

  • The procedures ensure no false notifications. By notifying someone independently, you have disrupted the entire system and created an environment where rumors thrive.
  • You do not know how someone will react to the shock. Fainting, going on a rampage, driving off the road–these are all plausible responses to casualty notification. Let the trained professionals be there to handle it.
  • How someone finds out may affect long-term processing of the grief. People always remember where they were when they found out big news. The ceremony and respect of the official notification system, and the support that the military immediately offers, may ultimately help the family member process the grief. Maybe you do not buy this but it is NOT your call. You do NOT get to take that away from these families.

When a soldier is catastrophically injured or killed in action, his base is supposed to go on communications black-out. There should be a total lock-down of all telephone and Internet signals. And all soldiers and family members should know not to discuss casualties prior to official notification of the next of kin.

Yes, we all knew when someone had been killed in action when no one had any calls that night. Yes, the waiting was tense. However, that is a small price to pay to know that the proper respect will be paid to a fallen hero and his family. We owe our brothers and sisters in waiting at least that much.

(DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

Military Moms Are My Heroes

“Is Daddy coming home?”

My husband is off on a month-long National Guard drill and “Is Daddy coming home tonight?” became, “When is Daddy coming home?”, and eventually transformed into, “Is Daddy coming home?” Asked at least 20 times each day by my two eldest.

The last time my husband was gone this long, he was deployed to Iraq for a year. He missed our entire first pregnancy, the birth, and most of the first three months of our first child’s life. At the time, people said, “I don’t know how you do it!”

But all of that is nothing compared to explaining to young children why Daddy is not there to cheer for them, to dry their tears, to lift them up. Even a month is challenging–I can barely imagine the fortitude required to guide children through a year-long deployment.

Although I know that you find the strength you need, I really admire the resourcefulness, the strength, and the love of military moms.

They cheerfully put up the countdown calendars and mask their own uncertainty.

They reassure their children and swallow their own fears.

They do bath night and homework help and garbage night. And then, after they get the children to bed, they clean the house and pay the bills and fix the toilet.

They are the provider, the nurturer, the disciplinarian, and the cornerstone of consistency the children need.

It is a duty I pray I never have to fulfill but I hope, if I do, I do it half as well as the moms I have had the honor to call my friends.

Military Moms aren’t just married to heroes. They are heroes!

Photo by FamilyMWR

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Disclosure: This is post is Sponsored by Allstate. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own. Official Contest Rules

Enter to Win An Ultimate Fan DVD Prize Pack: Army Wives: Seasons 1-5!

Army Wives: The Complete Fifth Season is available on DVD starting Sept. 27 and I have a giveaway for you courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s ABC TV on DVD!

Army Wives: The Complete Fifth Season (Release Date: September 27)
This exciting DVD debut showcases each emotional moment from the lives of the military families at Fort Marshall, SC in the riveting fifth season. The women’s friendships continue to grow stronger as they band together through their most difficult challenges yet, including life with a newborn, career changes and the tragic loss of a loved one. This collective release allows fans to own every heartfelt episode, plus never-before-seen bonus features.

DVD Bonus Features Include: “Hangin’ At The Hump: A Candid Conversation With The Cast of Army Wives” – The cast of Army Wives participate in a roundtable conversation where they share their thoughts, experiences and the impact the show has had on them, the community and real Army Wives.

Giveaway Prize: One Army Wives Ultimate Fan DVD Prize Pack: Seasons 1-5

To Enter: You may enter any or all of the following ways and you may do so up to once a day for a total of 1-12 possible entries. For each entry, you MUST leave a separate comment on THIS POST as I will be drawing the winner from the comments.

  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know a moment from Army Wives that really spoke to you.
  • Share the giveaway on any social network where you are allowed to do so.

Prize will ship to US only. Giveaway ends September 27, 11:59 PM EST.

Rock You Like a Hurricane: National Guard Duty Calls

My husband was supposed to have National Guard Drill this weekend.  They cancelled it because the public transportation has all been shut down in the New York Metro Area due to Hurricane Irene and many soldiers rely on public transportation to get to drill.

So, we were excited to have him home all day on Saturday.  An hour ago, he received a call that he is being activated to help with the emergency efforts.

We are, ourselves, directly in Hurricane Irene’s path.  At this point, it looks like a weak category 1 hurricane will hit mid-Long Island sometime tomorrow morning. If it hits around 8am, the South Shore will have high tide.  If it hits closer to 11am, the North Shore will have high tide.

I am about a mile away from the beach and the low-lying areas in my village have been evacuated.  We’re up on a hill, though, so we will most likely be fine.  My parents are visiting so I will have help with the kids.

We may be incommunicado for a few days but I will try to send out smoke signals after the hurricane passes, when I can, to let everyone know we are okay.

Stay safe, everyone!

Supporting Military Families Should be a Priority

While I take a brief maternity leave, I am feature guest posts like this heartfelt response from Fallon Wharton of Fallonella’s Almost Fairtyale to the discrimination and challenges many military spouses face in the workplace and elsewhere.

The article about Employee Rights and Military Spouses on ArmyWivesLives.com really bothered me, probably because it hits so close to home regarding a military spouse desiring a stable career of their own while support their husbands stable, yet ever unpredictable military career.  Technically, military spouses are not supposed to be discriminated against when it comes to employment because of our spouse’s career, but so often we are. Even if we keep mum regarding our personal life employers are going to notice on our resume that there we have moved, possibly every couple of years, and the very perceptive ones will realize that each move was around a Military Installation. I have no doubt this is frustrating for those families that need and want to bring in two incomes. The Military spouse all ready sacrifices so much of their own life for that of their spouse’s, on top of that we have to worry about being viewed differently in our workplace or potential workplace due to our spouse’s chosen career field to work for our country. The ever sacrificing military spouse shouldn’t feel forced to live in fear of losing our job or the ability to be hired for one soley because our loved one has chosen such an honorable yet challenging career field, none of which defines our experience, education, or skills. If it defines anything, it defines our loyal, strong, and loving character to support another human being in such an ever changing and important career.

The author suggests living by the adage “Loose Lips Sinks Ships,” and therefore suggests not talking about our personal life with our interviewers or coworkers as it could jeopardize getting a job or being promoted with in one. I know that I am naturally social, shy at first, but very open and friendly none the less, and the thought of having to be so guarded about normal everyday things signifies a somewhat lonely life in my eyes. Sharing your life with you coworkers, on any level, builds camaraderie, as well as levels of trust and though this may not be entirely lost on the Military Spouse in the workplace, it certainly isn’t entirely fair that they aren’t able to operate in the same way that others are on a day to day basis. Granted, overtime the Military Spouse’s work will speak for itself and hopefully they can slowly but surely begin sharing aspects of their life they’ve felt they had to keep quiet in order to keep their job, income, and family safe of discrimination. Though, take the woman in the article, maybe it’s best to never let your guard down and instead always keep half of your life hidden. I don’t know the answer, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see employers’ point of view of not wanting to hire and train someone only to lose them in 2 years. With that said, there is no guarantee of any length of employment with anyone that is hired, not just the military spouse.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden visit Sesame Street on Monday, April 18, as part of the White House's "Joining Forces" Initiative and Sesame's military families project, to tape Public Service Announcements asking all Americans to support our military families. © 2011 Sesame Workshop. Photo by Richard Termine.

Our First Lady, Michelle Obama along with Jill Biden have taken notice of our ever sacrificing Military Families and the disconnect between the families within the military and our fellow American families. The Joining Forces Initiative “Aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society to ensure military families have the support they have earned.” It’s evident that our First Lady has recognized that the families ‘serve’ as well, and she has asked others to help their fellow military families, though my question to all of you out there is, what would help you out the most?

Would it help to just have someone shovel your snowy driveway? Or make a meal a week? Or take your kids for the night? Or, could it just simply be having other women (or men) over for coffee and conversation since you may be in a new place and not live on post? I think if there is a call to American’s from our First Lady to help the families behind those serving, then we need to help them understand what would is actually considered help. Maybe it’s just a simple thank you and acknowledgment of our sacrifices as well, since spouses can often feel overlooked. Either way, I’m extremely curious to hear what would help our fellow military families because though I’m an Army wife, my husband and I only have ourselves and a gorgeous grey chihuahua to look after, so I wouldn’t even begin to understand the complexities, stresses, and day to day strength needed for those of you who have so much more to juggle when the title of Mother that is also attached to military spouse.

This initiative also excites me because bringing about such awareness, and calling on those within our country to take notice of those within the military family could quite possibly aid in the employment issue that many military spouses must deal with, as with the woman in the,  Employee Rights and Military Spouses article. Perhaps, this initiative along with increasing awareness will allow those around us to not easily discriminate and instead look beyond the Army Combat Uniform wearing spouse of ours, or insert your spouse’s branch uniform, and instead view our skills, education, drive, and overall abilities when it comes to getting and/or keeping employment.

I love that Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden are using their positions as a platform for such an important cause. Like it or not, there is a disconnect among Military Families and the rest of our society, this isn’t to say it’s because our fellow American’s are bad people, in fact I think they’re great people and are very thankful for our service men and women, but also may not always know what to do as the Military is its own language and may be often misunderstood.

Mrs. Obama mentioned the fact that she has heard more than once that the Spouses of the Military have such a hard time having their own career. I must say, “cheers!” to the recognition for those of us who dream of our own career filled lives. Mrs. Obama has said (excuse the paraphrase) “Our Military Spouses are some of the most well educated and well-rounded individuals we have in our society,” and she is right. All of you military spouses need to remember that we have to stick together, keep each other motivated, and remind each other how very special, unique, strong, intelligent, and beautiful we all are, after all we’re fighting a fight too, just not one that most people see.

We also need to voice what we want or need when it comes to ‘help’ from others. Again, it could be simple or complex, but if we don’t speak now that Mrs. Obama is trying to uplift us then we won’t get what we truly need, and again, it may only be a simple thank you for the hardworkof supporting your spouse. We are afterall, “The force behind the force, and they too are the reason we’ve got the finest military in the world.” Thank you, President Obama.

From one MilSpouse to another, THANK YOU, I know this military wifestyle is often exciting and offers us a lot of different life experiences to check off of our bucket lists. However, it doesn’t come with sacrifice and a lot of strength, so thank you to those before me who have served for many years setting the example that it can be done, and done well.

Much love!

Signing off –

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About the Author:

Fallon Wharton is a proud Army Wife who holds a degree in Mass Communications / Journalism and has her own career aspirations.  She enjoys writing poetry and short stories that draw upon her experiences and she blogs at Fallonella’s Almost Fairtyale.