Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Will Always Love You Finn

It is with a sad heart that I write today's post. Yesterday my family and I said goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Finn.

We've known for some time that we were going to need to say goodbye but it doesn't make it any easier. My entire family came together - all of us from a distance - and yesterday our sweet puppy was put to sleep.

Last night, my parents went on the same walk they normally do, for the first time without Finn. They walk along a pier. When they approached the pier a dolphin crested and followed them for the entire length of the walk. Cresting every few seconds, playfully weaving along.

My mom came home crying. She said that it was beautiful to see. I thought - could it have been in the spirit of my beautiful dog? It may sound stupid to some, but part of me thinks that it was like he was saying his last goodbye.

Rest in peace Finn. We will always love you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Military Brats Build Invisible String of Support

All military brats are eventually faced with a tough decision - to join or not to join. To carry on the family tradition or pave their own way in the civilian world. Many military brats become military service members themselves; some marry into the military. And then there are the others. I'm part of the others, the part who chose to go it alone. I am a civilian.

My entire family is spread throughout the U.S. and somehow we get by just fine. As a military brat, I have become accustomed to only seeing my family once or twice a year. I have learned to deal with the separation, in good times and in bad, with the understanding that our family can never have a sense of normal - we have a normal, it's just a military normal.

This situation has allowed me to form a solid wall of strength and independence. It has also allowed me to fully appreciate the people I love who are closest around me, and even those who aren't.

I feel that through the years, I've built an invisible support system across the nation. Best friends in all areas - east coast, west coast, south and the north. Where it snows often. Where the sun rarely ceases to shine. Some military brats, some civilians who have adapted to my unique lifestyle.

Most recently, I've come to an unexpected roadblock in my life. It is during these times when I feel my friends and family are the closest to me, though their physical location is remarkably distant. They have an amazing way of making me feel like they're with me when I need it the most. When the pin drops, they come out of the woodwork.

I'm so fortunate to have the invisible string of support, those who won't hesitate to shout my name from the rooftops, those who never question my character and those who are a constant reminder of a brighter tomorrow.

While one of my life's adventures have ended, I have no doubt that I'll find another. Another adventure that is sure to lead to even better things. Another adventure that will continue to teach me life lessons and shape the very fiber of my being. And I have no doubt that my invisible string of support will be on board for the ride.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scholarships for Military Brats - Apply! Apply!

So, you're a military brat, graduation is just months away (seriously, it's March) and you've decided to be a civilian. Need cash? Sure you do! What college bound, non-military contracted kid doesn't? I say this with a smile because this was certainly me!

If you fit this category, check out Homefront America. They're currently accepting scholarship applications from eligible military dependent children.

They give away the American Patriot Freedom Scholarship to "dependents 17 to 21 years old who plan to pursue a degree from an accredited college, university, technical or vocational school in the fall of 2009 or spring of 2010."

They're generous - a total of 25 winners will receive $1,000 scholarships each. So start filling out those applications (visit get them postmarked by April 24. The lucky winners will be notified mid-May.

Don't forget to check out what scholarships are also available to you through on-base facilities and organizations such as the commissary and the wives's clubs. They're also generous as well and have a smaller competition pools since they focus on individual bases versus military brats worldwide.

Good luck future graduates!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Recalled Military Mother - Remember SERVICE BEFORE SELF

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, Storked, and she discussed an article she read about a military mom who was recalled to duty.

Here's a summary of the article if you don't have time to read it. There's a prior military woman who lives in NC. She served the Army for four years and was honorable discharged. Like ALL prior members, there is a possibility for her to be recalled. She was - called to report to Fort Benning, and isn't happy about it. Thing is, she has kids now. And apparently her husband travels a lot. Being away from them is "not an option."

So, in her first report back in, she drove about 400 miles, through a snow storm and brought her kids along. She's filed several appeals as to why she can't possibly be recalled and all were rejected. When she gets to Ft. Benning, they will let her know their decision.

The Associated Press piece reads, like most news of late, as a melodramatic movie script. She had to fight through an insane snow storm. She so doesn't want to have to go back into the Army. She's devastated to leave her children. The Army is the bad guy.

Seriously? No, I mean, seriously? As a military brat, I feel like I have the authority to sound off on this. Firstly, the piece is ridiculous and all it does is paint this horribly unfair picture of what happens to prior servicemen and women nationwide. Because, FYI folks, THIS happens to everyone. Men, women. Families of 6. Single people. This woman is not going on some plight by herself. And not to mention, we ALL drive hundreds of miles for everything in the military. Again, she is not alone. And we don't complain.

And reading this, and hearing this makes me angry. Firstly, I have the utmost respect for all mothers worldwide. Being a mother is a sacred thing and not one LIKES to be separated from their kids.

BUT, she chose to join the military and she knew and understood everything that goes along with it. The military is not a job, it is a lifestyle. A commitment. And I don't even want to hear her complain.

And as a military brat, I understand what it's like to have parents not there. Let's talk about the time my father was in the land of sand and my brother graduated . . . HIGH SCHOOL. Or the many birthday, soccer games, every day occurrences that he missed. We NEVER complained. Ever. And we are the kids. It is the nature of our lives. And we had mad respect for our parents who were sent away. Don't even get me started on the families who have TWO military parents. Their kids don't complain either.

Additionally, you may think that I'd like the Army to make her go. BUT, I don't. I don't want someone who's heart isn't in the right place, over with all the other men and women deployed who's hearts are in the right place. She doesn't deserve to serve with them. They wouldn't want her.

An old saying, from my favorite Army Ranger in my life, is SUCK IT UP AND PRESS ON. Life happens. The military is your life. You can't just pick when and where it suits you. There is a reason why we say service before self. Think about that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stimulus Pkg May Help Military Families Who Are Selling Homes

Ahh, moving. The one word that is at the top of every military brat's minds. Two or three year rotations. Inevitable. Exciting. Difficult. I could go on for hours. If you're in the military, or part of a military family, you truly know the drill. You also may be able to pack up your entire life in less than 24 hrs. We're pros.

With the housing market being the way it is, and the economy seemingly hidding under the world's imaginary covers (I'd hide there too for the record), many military families have begun to dread PCSing. Buying a house at a new station is always a risk, but sometimes that risk pays off, and then again sometimes it doesn't.

For all the families who are looking towards a PCS and have begun planning, here's some positive news I'd like to share from It's been reported that the new stimulus bill may be helping you out when it comes to selling your homes.

"The stimulus package includes $555 million in aid to compensate military service members who are given orders and must sell their homes for less than market value. The Department of Defense would reimburse the individuals for up to 95 percent of the loss if the homes were purchased before July 1, 2006. The department could also elect to purchase the homes for up to 90 percent of the fair market value."

As of right now, everything is in a holding pattern until the DOD figures out which "value" it uses as a benchmark - in today's market, or the market condition at the time of purchase. This could result in tens of thousands of aid being delivered to our military members who need it most! Fingers crossed, I'm hoping that this helps many of you and maybe even my family who weren't able to sell their home two years ago before PCSing.