Tag Archives: military

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Don’t Be That Spouse

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This is why I love running…

In fact I was tempted to label this blog entry as  Don’t Be That Wife but even once I am trying to be politically correct and not to get too much into stereotypes. Well, I might …. after all. At least a little .

Earlier I have blogged about military life , and what it is like when one family member has signed the dotted line, promising to serve this country. This time I will talk a bit more about spouse’s role in the equation. My thought-provoking writing idea came yesterday when I was running and chitchatted with an Army guy.

On a gorgeous Satruday morning I decided to take Tassu out to a trail run with me. Sometimes it is more of a jog and stop than run and stop, thanks to the beagle nose that gets way too occupied with all the smells. Most of the time he keeps running pretty nicely: he knows that there will be a cool down when he can do all the sniffing in the world. What I have noticed over the years as a Beagle Mom, beagles are the cutest dogs ever, easy discussion starters (single folks, get a beagle ;-) ) and ours always gets tons of compliments for his good behavior and handsome looks. Yes, ours has been trained ever since I got him as a 12-week old puppy, and he exercises frequently so he is in a good shape with the shiny coat.

When I was getting organized with the running gear, dog & dog’s leash, another truck similar to mine pulled next to us, and this young soldier was climbing out in his ACU’s (military uniform) grabbing his backpack to run with.  He started talking to me, and as we ended up heading to the trailhead at the same time, asked if he could run with us. I never have anything against running buddies since the dog is pretty quiet while we are out.

First of all, I have to give props for the guy, he was able to keep up with us for four miles albeit I did run slower than normally. The first 2-mile loop the young man was able to chat with me, second loop was way more quiet and on the third 2-miler he let me go. I didn’t want to tell the poor guy that once a week I run with a 20-30lbs vest or backpack 6-7 miles faster than I did yesterday.

I am a Curious George, no surprise there. So of course I went and asked where the soldier was from, what he does and all that regular military chitchat. He goes on and on telling about his family, his wife, and their duty stations. Without even thinking, I just bluntly asked why his wife is not running or walking with him on a beautiful, gorgeous day like yesterday. After this question I really didn’t get a chance to ask anything else.

The young man went on and on telling how his wife doesn’t care about being active but how she rather sits at home or goes to the movies, shopping… Yesterday morning when there was blue skies and sun shining, his wife had opted for staying at home instead of joining the exercise with her husband. According to the husband, his wife has never been into outdoors, working out or staying in shape. Obviously at this point I have a mental picture of a larger-size lady sitting on the couch and eating bonbons all days long. I don’t know the lady, I can only make assumptions based on my stereotypes but one thing I know …..  why wouldn’t you go out and enjoy a gorgeous day with your husband?

Military life can be hectic sometimes. It can be demanding for the relationship with the extended times spend in separations because of the duty requirements. So when there is a chance to spend time together, I wonder why the couples wouldn’t do so.  Exercising is actually one of the best ways to stay also mentally fit . And no, I am not talking about training for marathons or triathlons, or puking at the Crossfit box, or doing anything extreme but it can be  just simple things such as hiking, walking, jogging, …… the options are unlimited. Physical activities and outdoors have such an amazing impact on our mood and general wellbeing. Time spent with the loved combined with all the positives of exercising — how could one say no to that?

It is good to remember though that there are lots of military spouses who are extremely active, enjoy sports and outdoors and love to stay in shape. Based on my everyday observations, without any scientific analysis though, those folks who engage in some kind of exercise seem to be the toughest ones, not only physically but especially also mentally. And then there are always  stereotype spouses with the aforementioned bonbons. I don’t know if the stereotypes make the minority or majority but…. I dare say that don’t be  that spouse whose husband tells to a random running buddy how he wished his wife was a bit more active. Although it is your choice, for a second I actually felt sorry for you and your husband: you don’t know what you are missing if you just stay at home doing nothing.

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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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