Oh Field Training

It is FTX (field training) season meaning that units are gone for days or weeks at a time. Our time came last week and honestly I took it harder than I thought I would. James was only gone for a week but the day before he left and the first day he was gone were hard for me. Who would have thought?

I wasn’t expecting to be upset because well, I got through 8 months of deployment. 8 months of being apart, of dealing with everything on my own, etc. So a week? No problem. Until I realized the morning before he left that I wouldn’t really see him – between work and my night class that day meant when I got home we’d go right to bed. And in the morning he’d wake up at the crack of dawn to go for the week.

I know, I sound a bit dramatic. And that’s not my favorite thing to do, but anytime apart can be hard. I missed the little things, like: watching Parks & Rec after dinner (we’re almost caught up with the current season), laughing together, cooking up something delicious, and just hanging out. I also realized that I needed to deal with the lawn. Aka learning to use our lawn mower.

But it’s work so what can I do? Nothing. Continue moving forward with life. Continue reading “Oh Field Training”

Military Monday: Are spouses entitled to salutes, extra pay?

There have been some crazy articles in the Military Spouse world lately asking for benefits that I have NEVER EVER heard of. And they are sounding like crazy people so let’s break them down (and apologies in advance but I rant a bit):

An officer’s wife wrote into a Navy publication upset that she/her car were no longer being saluted at her duty station when she drove on post. Personally I’ve never experienced this when I’m in the car by myself. When my husband is driving us onto post he is saluted, but salute a wife? I didn’t even think this was a thing. Apparently it is…kinda.

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On Ketchup-Gate

I know Thursdays is usually reserved for food and drink posts but I’m making a slight exception. I mean this is about ketchup…but it’s mainly military.

Some of you may have heard about Ketchup-Gate, it’s on about every military spouse related website out there. It was named by NextGen Mil Spouses after this article from the Washington Post about how commissaries are a huge part of defense spending and basically how some are trying to eliminate them. It focuses on the apparently 12 varieties of Ketchup at the grocery store. But there have been others, like this one from HuffPo which cost some uproar in March.

KetchupThere have been lots of responses to these, but the most recent and a great argument is from Amy Bushatz on SpouseBuzz with her open letter to those that are so vocal about the “lavish” benefits military families are entitled to, from pay to on-post grocery stores. After reading the whole article from Washington Post – I can say that I think looking for a better financial model for the commissaries is a good idea but fully eliminating them would not go over so well. Let me share a story:

Continue reading “On Ketchup-Gate”

Living the Garrison Life

Apologies for the lack of military-esque posts lately. To be honest I’ve been a bit busy. But also, since James isn’t in school or deployed I have realized that we are living the garrison life. One that includes training at times but just feels like a “normal” life, since he is home around dinner time and on weekends. In some ways it just seems like what life would be like if we weren’t military, except his days start wayyyyy earlier than most work places thanks to PT. We’re each busy with work, me with school, and both of us with keeping up with our friends. But let’s see if I can explain what life is like stateside.

Living the Garrison Life More Than A Military Spouse
Us on a hike recently. Photo by Jessica Hall

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The First Army Family Goodbyes

My husband switched battalions last month and I am finding it a bit sad, even though we haven’t PCS’d, we just switched buildings basically. But I find it really sad in some ways. I grew very close to the other spouses of our first unit. James was on a trip to West Point when we should have been farewell’d from the unit, so we did it a month later, and I’ll be farewell’d at the next Coffee Group, after totally crashing last month (!). And while most of my friends are still around JBLM like we are, there are no more FRG meetings or events with them. Sure we will all still hang out but it’s hard to cut that cord. I can’t just hang around and crash their events (although I really want to). It’s just not my place. And to make it worse others are PCS’ing or leaving in the coming year, one has already left!

With ladies from our first unit (+ some other excellent friends) at my birthday party. Photo by Bethany Lackie.
With ladies from our first unit (+ some other excellent friends that I’ve met here in WA) at my birthday party. Photo by Bethany Lackie.

Continue reading “The First Army Family Goodbyes”

West Point through the Eyes of a Girlfriend

About five years ago I took the train from NYC’s Grand Central Station to Garrison, NY on MetroNorth for the first time. Little did I know that the trip would become a regular occurrence over the next few years.

My first trip to West Point
My very first trip to West Point. Photo by Jessica Hall

I dated James throughout his time at West Point, from plebe (freshman) year through graduation. While we did not qualify for the 2% that make it from high school through graduation, we were pretty darn close having met in October of his first year. Continue reading “West Point through the Eyes of a Girlfriend”

Learning to live together…again

When James returned from deployment it was pure joy. But we’ve both had to give and get from each other to make sure that living together still goes well. Things have definitely changed in our lives since before deployment so figuring out new schedules and chores can cause some bumps in the road. Here are some things we’ve been doing to ease those bad days and make them all good:

Photo by Jessica Hall
Photo by Jessica Hall

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Oh the FRG

There are good and bad stories about FRGs. I was nervous to join ours at our first duty station, mainly because I just hoped I would like the other ladies and make friends, and fortunately my first experience was fantastic. From our Battalion Commander and Sgt. Major’s wives on down we had a welcome and opening support network. The other spouses are funny, honest, and down to earth. And I count some of them as my best friends. I served as a POC (Point of Contact) for nearly a year for about 12 spouses in our company, as well as helped out at a number of social events, and attended memorials. I got really involved in our FRG and throughout the way I saw and heard a ton of stories, and learned a lot. At one point my friend joked that I was an FRG Leader in Training since I was such good friends with all of our FRG leaders. It really just happened that way but it was funny. Of course the FRG wasn’t perfect, and there were days when I got frustrated, but here’s what I have learned about successful FRGs and what I think they should be, during a deployment or not:

A sign our FRG had made for our homecoming ceremonies after deployment.
A sign our FRG had made for our homecoming ceremonies after deployment. Photo by Jessica Hall

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Lessons from the MOAA Spouse Symposium

Last week I attended the MOAA Spouse Symposium on careers. The day was full of information, some new, some not, but overall it was a day full of learning.

Photo Courtesy MOAA
Photo Courtesy MOAA

The day started off with a panel discussion about what employers want to know about you. We also heard from Senator Patty Murray, a number of employment experts in various sessions, military spouses that have made their own careers, and policy officials on what states and the country are doing to support military spouses. Here are my top takeaways from the day: Continue reading “Lessons from the MOAA Spouse Symposium”