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Feeding the Soul and the Family

 Posted by on March 15, 2016 at 15:29
Mar 152016
 
Guest Blogger Stacie

Guest Blogger Stacie

Blogger Biography: Stacie met and married her soldier in Arizona and went to the recruiter with him, where he said, “I’m not in, if you’re not in. Are you in?” After saying yes and spending 23 years in the Army, within the next eight months he had retired, begun a civilian career, and both their college aged kids moved out. This left them nearly empty nesters, except for the dogs. Formerly an avid sports and stage mom, hanging up her keys to the swagger wagon enabled her to concentrate more on work and life after the Army. Stacie hopes to one day have a chicken coop and fill it with hens she intends to name after country music stars.

I had a fantastic media career during my journey as an Army wife. I loved what I did and then one day, Operation

Iraqi Freedom happened. My husband was gone, my job required more than 40 hours a week, and my kids really needed me. Eventually, I quit my job and had to figure life out again. I bounced between jobs for a while, finding things I could do while the kids were in school. I liked working, but I was missing the satisfaction I got from radio. I needed something more than a regular job had to offer and wanted to try out being my own boss. Working from home fed my soul and saved my sanity, even though it took me years to map it all out.

When I began working from home, I was a virtual and personal assistant. I became certified through our post’s Army Community Service office and bought a great computer. Within a few weeks, I was working with a few remote companies and several in town. My specialties were blogging and small business support, but I would take on almost any task a customer requested.

After a cross-country PCS, I was unsure if I wanted to try to restart my business. The recession hit my industry hard, and people stopped hiring for work they could do themselves. The few clients I had before leaving our last duty station were all local, and needed me in person. In a new place and searching, I saw a bracelet pictured on a friend’s social media page and knew I had found my newest adventure!

I joined a jewelry direct sales company in August of 2010 because my love for their sterling silver military charms was instantaneous. Initially uncertain if the sales field was my thing, I eventually just went for it. I had tried direct sales twice previously, but it never seemed to suit me. After these last few years, I am incredibly happy with my decision to become a consultant. I was very fortunate that I was able to begin growing my team nearly immediately, and can speak from the sincerity when I say that I work with some of the most amazing women anywhere.

Having had two successful home-based businesses, I have learned how to manage working at home. It is a delicate balance between responsibilities, but can be managed by anyone if you decide to go for it.

An encouraging spouse is always a great start. Be open and honest with each other about expectations, work hours, finance, and how the new job will impact the family.  When the entrepreneur and the spouse have a firm understanding of the business and its potential, it helps both parties.

In addition, having a clear vision of how finances will be impacted by the new position will take a lot of stress off the family. Starting a new business can take commitment of more than just time. Assets are frequently necessary and, most commonly for home businesses, are borrowed from the family budget or savings. Knowing how much of the business income is marked for reinvestment in the business and how much is used as a paycheck alleviates confusion and helps set realistic objectives.

Finding Your Passion Through Entrepreneurship

 Posted by on February 18, 2016 at 15:38
Feb 182016
 

Blogger Biography: Dana Lofties Reeder, CEO of Reeder Consulting: College & Career Guidance, is an education advocate helping individuals determine their natural abilities for college and career success through proven assessments. Dana created her company to help people “Proceed with Confidence” on the path of life.

The journey to finding your passion, when starting your own venture, is often times a struggle. For some  individuals, entrepreneurship may be a lifelong dream. For me, I got frustrated and that’s where my story begins.

Throughout my entire professional life, I’ve believed “You must give to receive.” It’s my personal motto. Giving of my time and talents led me to get a master’s in guidance and counseling. I began working at a university at 21, instilling leadership and volunteer development skills in college students. It’s always been who I naturally was. Living the military life and moving to locations where I wasn’t able to continue my career due to country agreements, I began the slippery slope of losing my professional path. Like many other spouses, I never saw it coming.

One day I decided to write a letter to Dr. Jill Biden. I thought the experience I had was something someone should hear about. I have always admired Dr. Biden because she kept her own identity during her husband’s career. Never really thinking I would hear back, I actually did. Well, sort of. Rosemary Williams, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy sent me a wonderful letter, which I still have today. But that’s not where it ended. A month later, my phone rang and it was Ms. Williams. A letter and a call — that’s impressive! Anyone who has had the wonderful opportunity to get to know her will understand her communication is always done with approachability and compassion, not to mention great humor. She signs her monthly newsletters with “Yours in the Fight” because she genuinely cares about military families. How can you not adore her? But in that conversation about the struggles of professional paths for career spouses, she asked me if I had ever thought about starting my own business because of the wealth of experience I had. That resonated with me, and for the first time, I took my husband’s advice and decided to begin my own company.

Taking Charge of Your Own Destiny:

1. Determine your passion: When I first started my company, because my background is so diverse, I struggled to be “focused.” Find one thing you are really great at and focus. In the middle of the night, I literally woke up and knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what my concept was going to be. It was 1) needed, 2) low competition, 3) and had a mission of changing lives. When you lay in bed waiting for the morning to come, you know you’ve picked the right path. Many times I don’t wait for the sun to come up — just ask my husband.

2. Use the available resources: Almost every university has a small business development center with the sole purpose to help you! Don’t be afraid to reach out and have them help you begin the process. They help you fill out paperwork, guide you to other resources and plug you into the massive amounts of networking opportunities. Getting an LLC costs about $300 and that is good for the lifetime of your company. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to begin a business with today’s technological world. Reach out and take advantage of getting free certifications, which provide you access to city, state and federal contracts, if that’s your market. In addition, connect with organizations that offer expert business mentors. There are also companies that put on numerous free webinars targeted at small businesses. Quality feedback, experienced guidance and hard-to-hear advice from mentors is critical! Pick wisely.

3. Volunteer in your communities, not just on base: This is such an important piece of maintaining a balanced professional life. Most importantly, it helps grow your personal and company brand while giving back to our military cities. But do it only if you are truly interested in the mission. While volunteering to help a business do some marketing, I met a man who was part of the local Chamber of Commerce. Before I knew it, I expressed my interest to be involved and within two months became the Chairman for the Chamber of Commerce. Because of volunteering, I was given an incredible opportunity for an even larger volunteer opportunity.

4. Network, network, network: There is nothing more debilitating than walking into a professional networking event without knowing a soul — but it matters. You want people to put your face with your company. I try to attend as many of these events as I can, however, I’m also an extrovert. My favorite event is “Speed Networking.” It’s an opportunity to sit down and pitch your business in a speed dating kind of format. You learn about them and they about you, and then you exchange business cards. In addition, I talk to professionals, individuals and groups about using social media for professional networking. Many people who aren’t proponents of social media often confuse the different platforms. Bottom line: they are not all equal. Use the ones that are 100 percent professional or you are wasting free marketing by not engaging, not to mention you are missing out on connecting with great individuals.

5. Keep learning: The journey of owning your business means you must stay up to speed on industry standards, changing trends, technology, and social marketing. I always say, “Learning never ends!” Make time to create your own professional development institute whether it’s online courses, formal classroom options through continuing education departments at universities or within school districts, one-on-one methods with industry experts, or reading books. Don’t get so busy you forget to feed your own professional soul and curiosity. I think of my business model as a footstool. One-third of my time is on the business, one-third is on networking and volunteering, and one-third is spent on education.

My company motto is “Proceed with Confidence” because I absolutely believe when you are pursuing your natural gift in life; you do just that — have confidence. It exudes from your pores. You walk taller, you speak more compassionately and you view the world clearer. And those qualities are the best gifts you can give yourself and your customers.

Disclaimer: Publication on the Blog Brigade does not constitute official endorsement of personal blogs or websites on behalf of the Department of Defense.

*If you are interested in starting your own business as a military spouse, reserve your seat for the 2016 entrepreneurship webinar series.

 

Caregiving of our Parents

 Posted by on October 12, 2015 at 08:00
Oct 122015
 

Blogger Biography: Stephanie Hughes-White is a marketing and communications professional with experience in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She is a proud Navy spouse for over seven years and currently resides with her husband in Connecticut.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we never expected that our lives would take the path it did. We knew the strains that the service would put on our upcoming marriage and life together with my then fiancé’s overseas deployments. The difficulty of spending time together was consistently an issue. However, we knew we could persevere. What we didn’t know was what lay ahead.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease shortly before we were married. Within less than a year, the disease started to have some serious effects on him. We made the decision that I would help take care of him at home and fly away for periods at a time to help my mother. This was not an easy decision for my husband and I. He was busy with his military service and I, with my career. But, family is family. Putting my father into a care home was not an option any of us wanted.

Over the next few years, my trips to my father increased and the time with my husband decreased. We were spending less and less time together. My husband liked to phrase it as “my family deployment times.” He was so incredibly supportive even though it was difficult for me not being there at home for him.

I learned to have more patience, which I never thought I had in me. My father ended up in a wheelchair and started to need care in every way. Finally, when my father passed away, my mother and I were by his side and, as difficult as it was, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was one of the most amazing men I knew and I would have done anything for him.

The strain that this can put on military couples could have ended in divorce. However, we are better people for having made the sacrifice of time together for the greater good. Just remember there are resources such as the Military OneSource and Fleet and Family Support Program to help provide guidance and support.

Caregiving is something that is becoming more and more common today. It is not to be taken lightly. The impact on those needing help and to your family can be incredible. I think of it as giving back to my parents for all they did for me.

 

You Can Do Anything 2 Times, Right?

 Posted by on October 6, 2015 at 10:56
Oct 062015
 
Guest Blogger Julie Green

Guest Blogger Julie Green

Blogger Biography: Julie GreenI am mom to one hot mess of a toddler, wife to a Navy sailor, and dedicated mosquito slayer (I am on the marketing team at an outdoor pest control company.) I love writing about life, whether that’s being a working mom, a military spouse or just being a woman — beautiful chaos and hilarity ensues with all of that.

 

The days and nights leading up to a deployment can be the hardest on your heart. There is a clock above your head that ticks louder and faster as the date draws near. Sometimes you aren’t sure you can handle the pressure, but you do. The date comes…and then goes. You watch the plane take off, you watch the ship sail away or you drive away from the base wondering how you’re going to get through this deployment.

The first couple of months actually fly by, and I sit back and think, “Man, I can do this. I’ve got this.” I let myself free float out of protection mode and into automatic pilot. And while I do in fact “have this,” I hit a mental wall a few weeks ago. I find myself feeling very lucky because I have a job I adore and an insane 2.5 year old that keeps me busy — very, very busy. From the time he wakes up in the morning until I lay down at night, my days are full. Of course, I think about my husband all the time, but I’m going 100 miles per hour. I’m distracted. And for the first couple of months I put my son to bed and find anything and everything to do to keep moving. You would think my house would be spotless, right? Ha. I wish. Turns out my after-hour distractions do not include cleaning or laundry. I digress.

One evening I check the mail, and I have a letter from that sweet husband of mine. I’m reading and smiling because he starts telling me all the things he misses about me. He misses earrings not making it to the jewelry box, soda cans all over the house and the string of clothes on the floor that stretches from our bedroom door all the way to the shower. (He must love me if he is misses my annoying habits.) But in the letter he asks me, “What do you miss most about me?” I read this, fold the letter up and immediately go about distracting myself.

This nags at me for a week. I find myself thinking about it driving, in the shower, on my lunch break. What do I miss most? I come home one evening and after getting my child to bed, I pour a glass of wine and revisit the letter. I come to my answer, get out a pen and a paper to write him a letter back — and the floodgates open. Thankfully I have an amazing sister who sits on the phone with me and lets me ugly cry my way through the first “I miss him so much I am physically hurting” night and then has me laughing hysterically by the end of the conversation. It happens, but it passes.

These are times it is important to lean on the support system you have. Sometimes these people aren’t the family you’re born into —they’re the connections you’ve made along this journey. Maybe that connection is another spouse from the command, with whom you have lots in common, or the coworker who has been through umpteen deployments. Maybe, like me, it is your sister who has no idea what you’re going through, but just loves you and lets you vent.

If you’re wondering what I miss most — to answer the big question — it is being his wife. I miss the quiet moments in the evenings spent with my legs draped over him on the couch— me on my tablet and him watching yet another military movie. I miss waking up in the night and hearing his slow, steady breathing, and cooking dinner at the stove when he comes up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist (while sneaking food off the counter).

It isn’t fun to think about (especially when you have six months of the deployment left), and I don’t even make it through the letter that night. But, while sharing a cup of coffee with a veteran spouse and telling her about the letter and my fears, she asks me if I had blogged about it. She reminds me that writing is cathartic for me and says maybe I should consider it. It could help not only me, but others going through the struggles of deployment. So here I am, deleting and re-writing, inserting, and copying and pasting my way through a really hard blog post.

That’s life though, right? Trying to delete, re-write, and copy and paste things so they look really pretty when, in fact, life sometimes just isn’t really pretty. Some days are good and some days are rough. Yesterday marks three months, and my son and I are doing awesome. If we made it through the first three months, we only have to do that two more times, and you can do anything twice. Right? I feel blessed that I found that husband of mine to love and miss — even if he comes with a side of deployment.

 

 

Aug 132015
 

Blogger Biography: James Hinton is an Army veteran who hangs his cowboy hat in Idaho. He spends his time writing on veteran’s issues and attempting to teach his four daughters to call cadence while walking to the bus stop.

 

I made a mistake. I made it for reasons that made sense at the time, but it was a mistake. I’m hoping my story will help you avoid making it as well.

I enlisted in the Army back in 1998. At the time, I was looking for work and for training I could take back with me to the civilian world. I found, to my surprise, that the military was what I needed. I’d found myself in a place where I knew my role and purpose, my needs were met, and most importantly, I was part of something far larger than myself.

After my six was up, I reenlisted, intending to make a career of it. I’d already had two combat tours under my belt, so I knew the bad as well as the good. For me it was worth it. This was the life for me. I was going the full 20, and possibly even 30.

The mistake                                                                                                                  

It didn’t happen. Just as I was looking to get my E-7, a doctor at Darnall informed me I was done. My third combat tour had left me with permanent respiratory and back damage. I was no longer medically fit for service. Within a few months I was wearing civvies and wondering what in the world I was supposed to do. The monthly check I was getting for my disability was nice, but I couldn’t live on it, even if I wanted to just sit around at home (I didn’t).

I had a problem. While I had great Army skills, I was coming up short on the skills needed for the civilian world. Sure, I had been a non-commissioned officer, or NCO. I had demonstrated leadership skills. But leadership in what? The civilian world didn’t need armament dogs. In my job search I kept encountering the same thing. Unless I wanted to start a job in unskilled labor, I needed to go back to school.

The Army had, for years, been providing me the opportunity to pursue an education. I’d earned a few college credits that helped in my pursuit of rank, but it had never been a serious pursuit by me. Now I was finding that people really wanted someone with a college degree and that I was well removed from their expectations. It took three years for me to make up for that mistake, working what barely survivable jobs I could while studying late into the night for exams and writing papers.

Don’t make my mistake

If you happen to be like I was, an enlisted soldier, marine, sailor or airman planning to go all the way, it’s very tempting to make the same mistake I did. It’s easy to assume that life will be accommodating and let us make it to that 20-year letter. We’re young, we’re strong, it’ll happen.

Only, it might not happen. You could find yourself injured as a result of combat, an illness or even just a silly little accident. If it does, you need to be prepared.

There are no excuses to avoid being prepared. These days a large number of accredited and respected institutions are offering classes online that can be taken whenever, wherever. If you are thinking you can’t take classes because you could be deployed overseas in a month, wrong. If you have a laptop and a chance at Internet access you can take the classes with you without an interruption. You can attend class from your home, your barracks, your hooch, or the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent — better known as MWR tent — of a forward operating base.

Some programs seem obvious when considering what online offerings might work well for a deployed, enlisted soldier. Norwich University offers programs in Military History, for example. NCOs with a bent for leadership can prepare for a civilian career in management with an MBA from the University of Alabama. Many vets, and not just 31Bs, consider going into law enforcement. The University of Cincinnati has an online degree for that.

Officers aren’t exempt from this. Sure, you already have a degree, but how well will that degree set you up for the future? If you suddenly find yourself out in the civilian world, will your education help you stand out, or simply make you another run-of-the-mill candidate? Set yourself apart by continuing your education with advanced degrees.

Maryville University offers online degrees in nursing perfect for an officer, with 66 series of military occupational specialties. It might seem like this would be an impossible degree to achieve online, but so long as you are working in a clinical setting (such as a field hospital in Afghanistan or at a clinic stateside), you can qualify to participate in the program. A 67E can easily transition into a civilian pharmacy career through the University of Florida. Having a master’s in medication therapy management will put you right at the top of the list for employers who need to comply with Medicare Part D requirements.

Be prepared

I failed to be prepared. Though I had the drive and leadership skills that makes a veteran desirable to employers, I did not have the degree that got me interviews. My “trade” was not applicable to the civilian world, and so I found myself in a position where I was a trained leader, but didn’t have skills to lead in a civilian job. It took three years to overcome that lack.

You can avoid my mistake. You may believe nothing can stop you from that 20-year letter, but things happen. Just like the Army requires people to have a will prepared for the worst, you should be prepared for an early and unexpected discharge. Don’t be like me, only finally able to find work three years after my expiration term of service. Get schooled, get a job and soldier on.

 

 

10 Tips for Making New Friends

 Posted by on July 22, 2015 at 17:04
Jul 222015
 

CeceliaBlogger Biography: Cecelia Curtis is a marketing and communications professional and a proud military spouse. Cecelia’s husband of 12 years, Bryan, serves in the U.S. Air Force and is currently stationed in Miami, Fla. In Miami, Cecelia enjoys singing, writing, jogging, water sports and lots of sunshine.

 

There are countless quotes about friendship. “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves,” “Friends are angels here on earth,” and my personal favorite, “Good friends are like bras — supportive, never leave you hanging, make you look good and are always close to your heart.” The point is that most people recognize that true friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts.

Friendship is especially important for military families since we often live far from family. Our friends become our family. Yet, making friends can be challenging for some. Building true friendship might be a bit tricky at times, but it is definitely worth it. After all, everyone needs a good friend, or two or three, who we can share this crazy, fun military life with from time to time (because, let’s face it — at least one friend will PCS before you do).

If you’re new to an area or you’re just looking to make new friends, consider the tips below:

  1. Open up. Opening up to someone new can be scary and you may feel a bit vulnerable. It is mutual openness and vulnerability that ultimately creates the lasting bond of friendship, though. Should you open yourself to everyone? No. When making new friends, be wise.
  2. Go. It can be really tough to make new friends if you never meet new people or if you don’t interact with the people you already know. So, get out of your comfort zone. Try a new restaurant, join a book club, go to the gym, or check out your church’s Bible study. And, if someone invites you to something, go.
  3. Make the first move. Someone has to. If you meet someone who seems nice, fun or interesting, ask him or her out. Don’t waste time with, “We should get together some time.” Go straight for the invite, and make a solid plan.
  4. Don’t judge. Do you have a long list of things you’re looking for in a friend — married, between the ages of 28 and 32, has 2.5 children, works in your unit or your spouse’s unit, etc.? Oh, live a little. It might be fun to be around someone who’s not exactly like you. Plus, your differences might actually be opportunities to grow and to complement one another.
  5. Don’t move too fast. As tempting as it might be, it’s not always a good idea to share your most intimate thoughts with a brand new friend. Don’t hide who you are. Again, just use wisdom.
  6. Skip comparisons. Do you often find yourself comparing yourself to others? That can make things a bit awkward if you do so out loud. Instead of comparing yourself to others, learn to appreciate the differences in others.
  7. Be thoughtful. Does your new friend have a birthday coming up? Go out and celebrate. Did your new friend just get a new job? Congratulate him or her. We all know how great it feels to be recognized on our special day. So, share the love.
  8. Reciprocate. Don’t just take, give. If someone always calls, emails or texts you, it’s time for you to reciprocate. If your new friend has repeatedly cared for your children so that you can have a date night with your husband, consider repaying her kindness. It’s not about keeping score. It really just goes back to being thoughtful.
  9. Be loyal. The quickest way to lose a friend — new or old — is by gossiping or otherwise failing the loyalty test. As your friendship grows, you will learn what your friend is most sensitive about, what type of humor he or she has, what you can share with others and even which photos you can share on social media. Until then, play it safe. Keep what happens between the two of you between the two of you.
  10. Have fun. If there’s no fun, there’s no friendship. Yes, each friend is different and each friend will likely meet a different friendship need or bring out a different side of your personality. However, you should genuinely enjoy being around your friends. So, relax, laugh, take a few selfies and have some fun.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. Making new friends might take a bit of work, but once you have found someone who is supportive, never leaves you hanging, makes you look good and is always close to your heart, you’ll know that true friendship is always worth the effort.

Guest Blog | Family of Two

 Posted by on January 27, 2015 at 09:00
Jan 272015
 

CeceliaBlogger Biography: Cecelia H. Curtis is a marketing and communications professional with experience in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. She is also a proud military spouse. Cecelia’s husband of 11 years, Bryan, serves in the U.S. Air Force. Cecelia and Bryan currently live in South Florida, just outside of Miami.

“So, when are you planning to start a family?” If I had a dollar for each time someone asked me this question, I’d be an incredibly wealthy woman. OK, maybe not, but I’d surely be able to buy an incredibly nice pair of shoes.

The thing is, my husband and I already are a family in my mind. It’s been over 11 years since I said “I do,” took my husband’s last name, and drove away from my parents’ house in a moving truck bound for my husband’s apartment (my new home). Since then, I have affectionately called my mother-in-law, “Ma,” while my husband calls my parents “Mom” and “Pop.” My husband and I file taxes together, PCS together, travel the world together, laugh together, cry together and pray together. So, the idea that we have not yet started a family is just perplexing to me. We are not waiting to start a family. We are a family!

Of course, I know what people mean when they ask the “start a family” question. People want to know when I’m going to have a baby! So, I typically just say, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe soon.” (And, for the record, that’s the truth!) That answer works well in most circles, but in the military environment, it’s not always that simple.

Everyone loves babies, but the military community seems to really love babies. So, when I tell people in the military community that I don’t have children, it’s not uncommon for me to hear things like, “Oh, you mean you don’t have children yet,” or my personal favorite, “Well, what are you waiting for?!” I’ve learned to just accept it for what it is — a way to make conversation, search for common ground and share life experiences.

My life experiences may not include children just yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything in common with military spouses who do have children. It just means we may have to work a little harder to figure out what our shared life experiences are. As we are getting to know one another, I might ask you some of the following questions. Are you from the northeast section of the U.S.? If so, you’ll find that we have that in common, and I hope you are prepared to discuss the difference between a hoagie and a sandwich with me. Have you lived overseas? If the answer is yes, please know that I’d love to hear all about your adventures while sharing a few stories of my own. Have you volunteered lately? If so, where? I want to hear all about how you’re serving the community and how I can help. Do you love to sing, ski, swim, jog, or travel? I sure do. So, let’s plan to do something fun together soon. Do you love your service member? My guess is yes, which means we have lots in common.

The military community is a traditional one, and I absolutely love that. Sometimes, though, our traditional community fails to recognize that service members’ families are not all the same. My family of two may not be exactly the same as your family of four or five or six, but that’s OK. This is part of what makes our U.S. military great — diversity. Despite various differences, our service members proudly serve alongside one another. And, their families — with or without children — proudly support them as they do. In this way, our families aren’t that different after all.

 

 

Guest Blog | #MyMilFam Supporting Spouse Careers

 Posted by on November 30, 2014 at 10:00
Nov 302014
 

Guest Blogger:CharLine Vinson

My military family month contribution may be a little different than some of the others. Sure, I am a Marine wife married to a man with no military family history and I have no family in the military, either. I am also the mother of three children — Chaun 12, Jesslene 6, and Shylon 4 — who have moved to four states in six years, with all of the grief and adventure that implies. But, I felt compelled to write not so much to describe the decade of my husband Steven’s service or the six years of our marriage and military family life. I’m writing to say thank you to the country and the military for the programs supporting spouse education.

I think the general public is aware about the GI Bill available to the members of the armed services themselves, but less widely discussed is Spouse Tuition Assistance. It’s called MyCAA and it was re-activated four years ago to contribute to education and training for spouses of junior enlisted members, junior warrant officers and junior officers.

I’ve taken advantage of the program to help fund my education as a pharmacy technician. As soon as my youngest starts kindergarten next year, I will be ready to go to work full-time.

There are many programs I’m grateful for – specifically those that occupy and support my children on base – Learning Time at the library and activities with the Armed Services Young Men’s Christian Association. But I think I can make that case that no program is as critical to the future of my family as the program that allows me to advance my career and create still more possibilities for my children. I hope this blog entry will make more couples aware of the program, so the same opportunities might be available to them.

 

Guest Blog | Welcome Back Home

 Posted by on November 29, 2014 at 11:15
Nov 292014
 

Guest Blogger:  Salyssa Camacho

My contribution to the Military Family Month observance comes with equal measures of pride and grit, along with a chaser of relief. My husband just completed the first deployment of his six-year Navy career. It lasted seven months and it took him to Japan, Guam and Singapore. As any military spouse can appreciate, the deployment took me to new adventures, too.

My husband, Jeremiah, and I are high school sweethearts born and raised in Oklahoma. My husband came from a military family, but I did not. We have a six year-old daughter and four year-old son and live in base housing outside Naval Base San Diego. I love my husband for more reasons than I can count. But after his deployment caused me to appreciate the many little things he did around the house that went unnoticed, I know I love him more. He covers so much – from managing our family’s finances to putting giggles into our children’s lives.

My daughter is without a doubt a Daddy’s Girl. She is normally a motivated student, but struggled a bit during his deployment. I’m grateful to the military families who surround us and who know the ropes and who led me to resources on base, especially the work of the resiliency team. It has a program to train civilian teachers to identify and support military children who are dealing with the stresses of a parent’s deployment. The program works with children ages three and above and focuses on four core skills: communication, problem solving, regulating emotion and setting goals. My daughter was one of the only military children in her school and I know the program will be a lifeline to the many military children who come after her.

The happy news for our whole family is that my husband is back. My daughter is her vibrant self again and I look forward to my husband immersing himself in all of the roles I used to take for granted, but never will again. We thank him for his service to the country and most definitely to our little family in San Diego.

 

Guest Blog | #MyMilFam Always Flexible

 Posted by on November 28, 2014 at 09:30
Nov 282014
 

Guest Blogger:  Faith St. Thomas

Semper Gumby. As an Air Force brat, who married a sailor, I know with a certainty that flexibility is the secret sauce of military life. My husband is a Chief Petty Officer who had deployed five times in Panama and in and around the Strait of Hormuz, before we met. Then, we married and had the luxury of an assignment in Washington, where my husband came home for dinner every night.

It is the point of military readiness: be prepared when duty calls. If I needed confirmation of that point, I got it just weeks after we found out I was pregnant with multiples. Tony got new orders to deploy. I moved in with his parents, who were career Army. They knew how to see me through what would be a very difficult pregnancy. It would give us all our beautiful little Isaac and soon after he was born, we would join my husband at Yokosuka in Japan.

Two years later, it’s a strain on my family to be so far from Isaac during developmental milestones, but he has settled right in and moves effortlessly through Japanese culture. It is a charmed start to his life that will no doubt pay incredible dividends as he grows older.

As for me, I am a former Navy civilian employee. Jobs for spouses stationed in Japan are scarce and childcare is scarcer still. So for now, I am content to raise Isaac and mentor the wives of new petty officers who arrive on base. We founded a spouses club at Yokosuka some months ago. Serving alongside these women is a tremendous honor. They are smart, hard-working and so resilient it can be easy for them to take themselves for granted. If my work and history are to carry a message to them, it would be that Semper Gumby doesn’t mean Semper Solo. Not only is there an accidental but strong support network of spouses always available in a pinch or in times of stress, there are military services created to help nurture emotional stamina. Military family wholeness is a critical foundation for military readiness. Taking care of ourselves – and asking for help when we need it – is our duty as we support the service members who serve the nation.

 

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