Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Step in the Right Direction

This blog has become a bit of a sanctuary for me. This and Twitter. Both allow me to connect with the military community in a way that I didn't think was possible ten years ago. It's allowed me to bridge my two worlds together. It's allowed me to hold onto something that I struggle to keep at the center of my life everyday - my strong military heritage.

During the last semester of college I took a writing class that was awe-inspiring. It wasn't a surprise to me that I enjoyed writing, but what was surprising was what this professor got me to write about. Myself. I decided then that I wanted to share my experience with others.

In our world today, almost everyone has a unique story to share. The gentleman who lived in the Midwest on a farm his entire life. The New Yorker longing to escape the massive amounts of concrete. Everyone's life is special.

What this class did was show me that my life was truly interesting. Where I've been, where I started and how I got here. Someone who didn't even begin her life as an American. So many countries. So many houses. So many schools. At the root of it - the military.

Flash forward four years later and I'm finally giving the project the attention that it deserves. My life has been special and it is time for me to share it with the world. Particularly the other military children - past, present and future.

I'm currently working on a book proposal and channeling my creative energy into my first few chapters. I will fill the pages with the story of my journey, my experience, my path. How my entire existence revolved around being a military brat and how that affects me still even today. And even though many like me have shared their story before, the brilliance of the situation is that no two military brats are the same. Our stories will be entirely different.

I'm happy to share with you what will hopefully be a new beginning for me, and a step in the right direction. And, in the end, if I only write it for my friends and family, if I only write it for military family support centers, if I only write it for myself, I will have still written it. It is my hope that by sharing my experience, other military brats around the world will not feel like they are going it alone. Many brats have come before us, and many brats will come after us. But we're all connected.

Military OneSource Launches New Column that Focuses on the Education of the Military Child

Military OneSource, which prides itself on being the round the clock resource for all military families, has just made itself EVEN better. I'm a fan of the website - I think it can provide a great deal of support for active duty personnel, their spouses and their families. I'm particularly fond of their Blog Brigade.

Today, the announcement of a new column caught my attention. Titled, "Schoolhouse Rocks: The Teacher Is In," the column will focus on the "spectrum of issues that face the military child over the course of their education."

At the helm is Navy spouse and teacher Casey S. and she states that it is her goal to "help you become your child’s strongest advocate." Today's first post calls on all military parents and invites you to comment about the topics you'd like to see addressed.

So take time this week to pop over, welcome her, take their first survey and leave a great topic suggestion. You military children will thank you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grey's Anatomy Finale Military Twist

I am a fan of Grey's Anatomy. It's hard to find a twenty something female in the USA who isn't. But last night, as I tuned in for the season finale and the departure of two main characters, I would have never guessed the military twist.

I am personally sad to see George, played by TR Knight, leave the show and was very surprised to see his ending. After interacting with a wounded solider from Iraq that was willing to do anything to get back into active duty status, George hears his patriotic call and enlists in the Army. We learn that he is to report to duty the following day.

Upon learning of O'Mally's decision a wave of disconcern, shock and anger washes over his closest friends. Several of George's friends discus how he'll do in Iraq and one exclaims "he'll come back in a body bag."

One character who took it especially hard was Callie, his ex-wife. Callie, along with Miranda and George's friends plan an intervention for later that day. They feel desperate to explain to him that this is the biggest mistake of his life.

When Callie informs her girlfriend, Arizona, of her disapproval of George's future occupation Arizona firmly tells her that she thinks that his decision is "awesome." Callie erupts in anger, in total disbelief that Arizona doesn't understand. We learn later that Arizona DOES understand when she tells Callie that her brother fought in Iraq and came home in a casket because there weren't enough doctors there to save him.

I thought that the show did an amazing job of depicting this scenario. Many families, friends and loved ones experience this situation every year. As a military brat, I've seen first hand the negativity expressed when such an occasion occurs. And as a military brat, my answer to someone's call to duty is, just as she said, AWESOME.

I know that because of my military background it is more natural for me to look at joining our nation's forces as a positive and amazing choice. After all, my father and brother both serve. But, it never ceases to amaze me how civilians react when they learn that someone they loved has joined. It's almost automatic - anger, disapproval, a strong desire to talk them out of it. Such a harsh extreme. And none of them stop to realize that it is that person's own decision. That their loved one feels like this is their path.

I was so very pleased to see that the show shed light on both perspectives. So, like Arizona, I would very much so like to stand up and shout from the roof tops to those enlisting and joining the military, YOU ARE AWESOME.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Ahh, Mother's Day. The one day a year that everyone on the planet simultaneously thinks about their mothers. After all, everyone has a mother.

When I was growing up my mother was, and still is, a military spouse. So it comes as no surprise that the things I'm most grateful to my mother for are all wrapped up in my military childhood. My mother truly is one of my heroes.

She is my definition of a Super Mom. A Mom who can move us from country to country - without my Dad.

The woman who promises that this move will be an adventure. The woman who gives me the biggest hug in the world after I say goodbye to my life and get on a plane and make that move.

The woman who reminds me, on my first day of school, that I'm a champion. That I've done this so many times before. That I can do it again.

The keeper of happiness. The woman who fills my life with optimistic thinking when I feel so alone and everything around me is strange, unfamiliar and very different. The woman who is a solid wall of strength when my father is so very far away, for so very long. The woman that holds our family together when we're all at a distance geographically - even still today.

The woman who really knows who I am, where I've been and the many steps it took to get where I am today. The woman who knows where it all began. The woman who knows my entire world and carries it with her. She is the gateway to things and places long forgotten - things and places that I'll never be able to revisit.

Some people are lucky - they get to live near their mothers for the course of their entire life. I'm not as lucky. My parents live on the opposite side of the nation, and yet I feel so fortunate, because for right now at least they don't live on the opposite side of the world. I can call my mom daily if I want which isn't something I could do a few years ago. I can call her and she's in the same time zone. I can take a three hour plane ride and be at her front door. While she may be far away, for the first time in many years, she's much more reachable.

My mother is an amazing person and I am so very thankful to have her. Happy Mother's Day Mom. You're the best.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Military Spouse Day: First Lady Promises More Support

Today is Military Spouse Day. Military Spouse. Two words, unbelievable meaning. To understand the true meaning of the title you must be part of the military community. To understand the true meaning of the title is to be in awe of some of the strongest and bravest men and women our nation has ever seen.

Being a military spouse is so much more than being a spouse. Friend. Caretaker. Supporter. Military families wouldn't be families if there wasn't a military spouse. The saying, behind every great man there is a great woman, is especially true in military families. I truly believe that behind every great military member there is an amazing military spouse. Male or female.

There was a recent survey done by Blue Star families that reveals that 94 percent of military families feel as if the country doesn't understand their challenge. The struggles include moving, finding schools, jobs and childcare. Most importantly, these challenges are faced when their spouse is deployed which can make the challenges significantly harder.

First Lady Michelle Obama took time to address this statistic yesterday during an interview with The Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. She said that she was "surprised" and that the "administration is moving ahead with concrete measures to make military families' lives a little easier."

Measures include 2.9 percent increase in salary for service members and an investment of $80 million for career development and training for spouses. Obama also stated that she feels like the communities across the nation can also do something to improve the situation.

"There's also a separate call to the nation that has nothing to do with the government," she said. "It's what we do in our own neighborhoods that's also an important part of what this community of families needs to feel."

When asked about how she felt about the special day Obama said, "It's a wonderful recognition, but that's just one day. We should be doing it every day."

I couldn't agree with her more. As a military brat, I know that I could not have succeeded in a military family without my amazing mother. Military spouses are what I call silent service members. They may not wear BDUs but they have their own special uniforms. Invisible uniforms. They may not wear ranks or pins. They may not salute. They have never taken an oath to serve the military formally, but they did when they said their marriage vows.

And when their husband or wife goes into battle, so do they and so does their family. They endure the battle of keeping their family strong and positive. And just as their husband or wife spend every day protecting the men and women of our nation, they too set out on a mission of protection. To protect their families, to protect their fellow military spouses, to provide their families a sense of normal. To me, they are the unsung military heroes.

Thank you to all of the military spouses stationed throughout the world. Without you nothing in a military family would ever run smoothly or ever seem normal. Your sons, daughters, spouses and military community owe you everything. You hold us all together. And for that . . . you are our heroes.

*** Please take time to pause and remember all of the military spouses who lost their military service members this year. Thank you for enduring the greatest sacrifice any spouse can endure for our great nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families today and always. ***

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

JetBlue Salutes Our Armed Forces

I'm always a big fan of giving shout outs to companies that give back to our military families. I was very happy to hear today that JetBlue is offering an amazing deal to active duty military throughout the month of May.

In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, JetBlue is offering active duty personnel $1* fares for domestic, nonstop flights, for a limited time, departing from the two JetBlue cities nearest to our nation’s capital: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, VA, and Richmond International Airport (RIC) in Richmond, VA.

Please click here to see the rules and regulations - including the date parameters. Act fast folks, these $1 deals are going fast.

Additionally, JetBlue is also donating $15,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project to further honor the nation's men and women in uniform.

The Wounded Warrior Project most recently received national attention at the Country Music Awards. They are an amazing non-profit organization that was created to honor and empower wounded warriors.

From military families across the nation, we thank JetBlue from the bottom of our hearts for their amazing deal and generous donation. We also thank the Wounded Warrior Project for helping our most deserving Americans and their families during the hardest times they may ever face.