Tag Archives: military

One of the many. An Army unit casing their colors (aka flags), and getting ready for a deployment. Flags will be uncased at the deployment location, and then brought back home when the unit returns.

Roller Coaster Ride

It has been three weeks since my last posting…. almost an eternity in the blogosphere. The past month has been full of emotions, crazy busy schedules and a lot of traveling. A while back I wrote about the military life , as well as encouraged my faithful readers to ask what they would like to know about this painfully wonderful lifestyle. Jenni was curious to know about our abilities to influence decisions regarding deployments, duty stations, and such.

Well, the life in military is a roller coaster ride. Fun one, though. That’s a good starting point.

Deployments are decided on a very high level, so there really is no way to get out of them, or decide when to deploy. In fact the only decision that we can make is to volunteer to join a deploying unit. When the time is to go, it is time to go. Personal situations, own desires, or just “I-don’t-feel-like-going” attitude don’t make any difference. So when we get the orders, that’s it. There will be that dreaded, horrible, miserable day of tearful see-you-laters. There will be white busses taking the loved ones away. And there will be the joyful day of homecoming when life starts to fall back on its tracks again.

Duty stations, on the other hand, are slightly different regarding the preferences. There are something called  branch  managers who figure out the manning for different duty stations. With some luck we are able to pick one of the favorite locations, and then there are times when we just go where we are told to go. While I don’t know too much about the enlisted service members’ duty station selection process,  they often have possibilities to pick their favorite at the time of re-enlistment. The first duty stations right after the Basic training (aka bootcamp) and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) are simply assigned – no preferences there. The assignment is based on the military’s needs and person’s specialty. So if your Mom&Dad live in Alabama and sister in Louisiana, it has no impact at all on Army’s decisions and you can find yourself dealing with the -40 temperatures at Ft Wainwright in Alaska. 

While the Army’s needs are always the highest priority, in the Officer world our wishes have been heard. With the latest move we were looking at a post in Kansas as our first option but then the Army kindly showed us their cards with even better location options where we then were able to pick an amazing location for us. In fact Army tries to accommodate personal wishes pretty well – whenever it is feasible from the mission point of view. Frequent moves every few years are a blast if you ask from me, and a great way to see the country (or world) as well as do a really good inventory of all property.  Do I really need this not-so-gorgeous TV stand anymore? Nope. Get rid of it. 

For some people being part of something this big is a huge stressor. They get anxious over the facts that the spouse’s job may entail… but similarly, the civilian workforce is not fair at all. People get laid off, they have to move to new places for better opportunities… life is.

My personal advice for dealing with the military is to pick your fights smartly. I absolutely refuse to stress over things that I can’t change. Instead, I am picking the silver lining in everything: whether it is the deployment (there are silver linings even in deployments), new duty station, whatever the military life may bring to us. It all just needs a good amount of self-confidence, strong will, and a happy heart. It sounds like a cliché, like too easy. But in all honesty, even military life is just life so why not to enjoy it.

But dear readers, keep the questions coming …. I am happy to write these military themed posts every once in a while.

One of the many. An Army unit casing their colors (aka flags), and getting ready for a deployment. Flags will be uncased at the deployment location, and then brought back home when the unit returns.

One of the many. An Army unit casing their colors (aka flags), and getting ready for a deployment. Flags will be uncased at the deployment location, and then brought back home when the unit returns.

Piano getting packed.

What Is Military Life Like?

Someone asked me a while ago to write about the military life:  what is it like here in the US . There is so much to tell, so much to write. Hence, I am gonna make it a bit easier for myself, and throw a question back to you all – what do you want to know about the military life?

Shortly, military is a lifestyle and calling, way more than just a job. It is not something that people should choose “just because”  - the career gets pretty taxing very quickly if the heart is not in it. Furthermore, dealing with the organized  structure  of the military takes a certain kind of person to make it successful and rewarding. Lots of decisions are made for us, and there can be very slim chances to change them. Staying flexible and having an open mind helps  tremendously  to deal with the  uncertainty  that this life  brings  along. 

There is uncertainty related to everything in our life: duty stations, deployments, training schedules. Everything. Military families move frequently – every few years depending on the specialty, career phase, and most importantly the needs of the military dictate it all. Since 2001 the deployments have been frequent business for our service members. These “extended business trips” to foreign countries and combat zones can last anywhere from a few months to over a year. Separations are no fun at all but then on the other hand, in my opinion, they are part of the deal so it is better just to suck it up and carry on. My personal philosophy for life has always been to pick my battles wisely. There is no sense to spend time and energy by stressing and worrying over things that I can’t change. Maybe that’s why I don’t see the military life that much of a burden but instead, it is quite an adventure. The best way of living.

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” ~John F. Kennedy

 

And after all, the amazing moments of homecomings and reuniting families make it all awesome. Just like these Super Bowl commercials so well show it. (Don’t miss The Game on Sunday – GO HAWKS!!)

But now the ball is on your court: what do you want to know about the military life?

 

Civilian and Military Lives …

Every once in a while I see blog postings and articles regarding the topic what   not to say to a military spouse. Last time was a few days ago when I saw one of these postings titled ” Top 10 Dumbfounding Things NOT to Say to a Military Wife “  on SpouseBuzz.com.   Yes, military life is significantly different from civilian life: where civilian counterparts meet their future spouses in college, get their degrees, get married, buy a house with white picket fence, get a dog and then two kids – and live in the same area for decades, military families pick up their lives every few years, and bloom wherever they are planted by the line of service they are associated with.

Those two worlds can be -and actually are- very, very far from each other. It can be difficult for civilians to understand what the military asks from the service members. Why people voluntarily sign up to put themselves in harm’s way. Simply, why they do what they do. But I don’t think military spouses should get irritated when our civilian friends ask questions about our life and lifestyle. In fact I find it annoying when I see these articles advising what not to say to military spouse. Both military and civilian life have their ups and down, own unique challenges.

I do not mind if someone asks me how I deal with my husband being gone every once in a while. Or when/if he is planning to retire from the military. Or if someone invites me to visit, or wants to visit me when my husband is gone, I am more happy to take the offer. Obviously I am not thrilled about him being gone but on the other hand I have been gone quite a bit for my work as well, so as mature adults we just deal with the separations caused by our careers. At the end of the day, we chose this life: my husband wants to serve the country that we both dearly love, and I chose to marry him, knowing his dedication for our country.

I must have most awesome friends on earth because I have never had to think that they are asking dumb questions about military life.  Even if they have asked questions such as the ones mentioned in the article on SpuseBuzz.com. Actually, quite opposite: I am happy to answer their questions, and I am glad they ask. That tells me they are curious and most importantly they care. And time to get off my soapbox.

Sale Pending

Some things are getting very real in life, and new adventures are about to start. For past six months we have been living a geo bachelor(ette) life on the opposite sides of the country. We have been privileged to see each other fairly often but still nothing replaces the family life – being able to share the regular stuff like emptying the dishwasher, grocery shopping, …. Those little things start to mean a lot when you can’t do them for an extended period of time.

Earlier this month our household goods started their long journey to Lower 48. A few days ago we found out that they have made it to the final destination. Soon our new home should be ours. Lots of changes there…. And then a week ago we got an acceptable offer on our house in Alaska. Things are moving fast: home inspection was done already, new owners are making plans for some home improvements, and I am frantically packing my suitcases and getting everything out of the house.

I was already starting to stress over the house sale and was anxiously waiting for offers. However, everything seemed to turn out to be the best – once again. Timing for closing of the old and new houses couldn’t be any more perfect. One day I will learn to trust the life more, and stress less.

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We Pick Up Our Life

Boxes and packages.

Boxes and packages.

… just to replant ourselves elsewhere, and bloom wherever we are planted. In the military, moving is part of the life – whether or not we like it. We go to places where the military needs the service members, and unlike people sometimes believe, we do have limited saying regarding to our locations. Earlier this month our household goods aka HHG, or life, was packed up by movers, loaded into crates and sent to Lower 48. A month later we will (hopefully) get re-united with our possessions again – in the beautiful state of Tennessee.

 

 

Piano getting packed.

Piano getting packed.

Boxes ..... and packed sea kayak.

Boxes ….. and packed sea kayak.

Moving trucks picking up our stuff.

Moving trucks picking up our stuff.