Sunday, March 27, 2011

Military Stresses and Highlights

Every job and every lifestyle in the entire world has its pros and cons.  Every job and every lifestyle has its own way of doing things; its moments that stress you out, and its moments that make you so proud to be in that job or lifestyle.  The military is no exception to this.
I'm a big fan of the show "Army Wives". I caught the preview for tonight's episode after catching up on last week's that I had missed and it got me thinking.  In tonight's episode, someone has died in action and they are dealing as a community with this tragic loss.  The number one hardship of the military life, in my opinion, is the fact that this isn't just something that happens on TV, this is real life.  As a military spouse, you will have people tell you that they understand how you feel.  Whether it be long-distance relationships, jobs that take them away a lot, risks, etc. they'll say they know how it goes.  The truth is...they don't.  Most long-distance relationships have a lot of communication, be it via email, phone calls, Skype, visits here and there, etc.  Military long-distance relationships often don't have that.  There are times when months go by without hearing your loved one's voice.  And long-distance relationships in the military often come with that big fear that your loved one isn't coming back.  Our military significant others signed up to leave the families for months at a time and enter into a war-torn country, possibly to sacrifice their life.  No one can really understand that except for someone who lives this life.
The military life isn't all stress, though.  Take the National Anthem, for instance.  It's played before all major sporting events, some concerts, etc. and most people don't think all that much of standing up and waiting for the song to end so they can move on to see whatever attraction they are at.  When you become a military spouse, however, that song takes on a whole new level of feelings.  In college I had gone to several sporting events and never really put all that much thought into the National Anthem.  Now, I get chills when I hear it and I feel a sense of pride that no one can understand except those of us who signed up for this life.  For, my husband is the one who signed up to serve the country, but I'm the one who signed up to support him.
There's a reason when a service member retires that both he, and his wife, are recognized and given certificates from the President.  It's a lifestyle where both sacrifice and both serve.  It's a lifestyle that comes with a lot of stress and a lot of pride...but it's one I wouldn't give up for the world.

Friday, March 18, 2011

a special Flashback Friday

Yesterday was the 2 year mark for F. St. Patty's Day of 2009 was when my husband swore in to the United States Air Force.  18 more years to go! As much stress as the Air Force often puts in my life, I am very proud of my husband and I am also proud to be his wife. :) Happy 2 years of service, dear! I love you so very much!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Dream Sheet...dream or depressing?

Ask anyone in the military and they can tell you about PCSing and dream sheets in quite some detail.  They can tell you that PCSing is a military way of saying 'moving' and that it happens every 4 years at the latest.  They can also tell you that the dream sheet is, essentially, a list of a service member's top choices of where to go next.  Even before I was a military wife, I experienced the dream sheet when we made our choice to come here to Wright-Patt.  F was emailed a list of places he could possibly go and we chose our top eight, with number one being our most desired pick.  The Air Force then tried to accommodate our desires and, as luck would have it, we ended up getting our top choice.  However, that doesn't always happen.
F still has three years here at Wright-Patt but we've already begun talking about the next PCS because it never hurts to start doing research early.  Also, F knows it's going to be a really big deal to me.  With the first dream sheet, F wanted to go to Patrick AFB in Florida.  I, on the other hand, wanted to stay near home.  So I voted for Wright-Patt.  F knew that moving away from my family was going to be really hard on me so he changed his top pick to be Wright-Patt for my sake.  I really appreciate this but I know he really wishes he could be at Patrick because that's what he wanted before me.  So I've been warming myself up to the idea of moving to Patrick in 3 years.  However, no matter how hard I try, I get really nervous about living somewhere with severe storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes all without a basement.  I already don't feel safe in my house here in Ohio because of the lack of basement, how is that really going to make me feel?  And I've found that I've been getting more homesick instead of less, so how will being too far to visit home often feel?  While I know we still have time, I can't help but feel all the emotion and nerves building up already.  Really, I just wish we could go home...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Military Working Wife?

I own a small library of books about marrying the military.  I even have some that are specific to the Air Force.  They all say the same thing, that a career is possible for a military spouse but is hard to get.  I read that fact over and over and still didn't process it.  I didn't even process it when we moved here and I noticed almost all the wives I know stay home and don't work.  I still kept on applying for jobs and trying to understand why I was having no luck.  I later realized my address is recognized as the base so it was very easy to see that I am a military spouse.  While many companies claim they don't discriminate, really, they do.  Why hire someone who you know for a fact is going to leave?  So I asked a friend to use their address on my resume.  Changed my address and still no luck.  Maybe it's just my career field, but it's been frustrating trying for almost a year now with no luck.
So I've decided to take matters into my own hands.  My mom is really good at knitting.  She taught me once back in high school.  I remember thinking it was kind of fun but I never really picked up on it...I was far too busy flirting with boys and going out with my friends to sit around the house and knit.  As a result, I still remember the basic concepts but it's all rather rusty.  However, after my mom promised me a "refresher course", I've decided to start my own business.  Nothing major, just an Etsy shop (possibly Facebook too) where I'll sell things that I knit and possibly some other crafts too.  I figured I love being crafty so why not make some money off of it?  And it's an easy job to have in the military because it's all online so, no matter where I move, I can take my business with me.  Also, when the time comes for kids I can work through my pregnancy and I can continue to work even when the baby comes.  I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom so this job will allow just that...working from home!  I may not make a lot of money off of this idea but it's something to do and even just a little extra spending money would be nice.
I've also considered, when I get the knitting down pretty well, making little baby hats and/or blankets to donate to the base hospital for the babies in NICU.  I'm hoping my shop catches on and can maybe be a somewhat big business.  I'm thinking I will start with blankets, scarves, hats, washclothes, and dish towels and go from there as I get better.  I also may add in some of my other crafts...I guess we'll see where this adventurous idea takes me!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Air Force Family

There are a lot of times where the stress of military life gets to me.  Times when I wish I was with my friends, times when I miss my family, times when I wish we had beaches here like we do back home, times when I wish we had a better house, times when I wish we could just go back home. In all this stress it's easy to think poorly of the military lifestyle and to wish we were out of it.  But then, every once in awhile, I get reminded of what makes this lifestyle kind of amazing...the Air Force family.  The Air Force has thousands and thousands of people working for it or married to it, all over the world.  Yet, we're all connected no matter where we are stationed.
Last night my neighbors and I went to look at some stuff on the curb that a man PCSing had put out for people to take.  I ended up with a nice bookshelf and a reminder that only in the military life can you just take something from someone's front yard and walk home with it without anyone raising an eyebrow.  After getting that bookshelf, I ended up spending a couple hours at my neighbor's house hanging out with them and another friend.  We had a lot of laughs, and some snacks as well, and it was relaxing and fun.
Then today I went to lunch with a group of officer wives.  Most of them were old enough to be my mom, yet we were all equal.  No one looked down at me for being "so young" or for having a husband a few ranks below theirs.  We just enjoyed food and company and talked about Air Force life and things that only a military spouse could understand.
Both last night and tonight reminded me how truly blessed I am to have the Air Force network.  Someone once told me that being in the military requires you leave your family back home but it gives you a new family, a network you would have never known otherwise.  And, in that network, you develop some of the strongest bonds of your life because all you have is each other to rely on and to get through everything together. I never fully understood what that person meant back then. Now? I completely do.