Published: June 13, 2013
The evening event was studded with stars. Most were twinkling overhead, but quite a few were shining on epaulets among the attendees. Diamonds glittered as well, on rings, tiepins and brooches.
Music was provided in the open air by “The President’s Own,” the United States Marine Band. The American flag entered with fanfare to the tune of George M. Cohen’s “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” as the color guard marched across the green grass. When the phalanx reached the center of the parade ground, there was a brief silence before the band began to play the national anthem.
Published: June 5, 2013
Lately, I’ve been making appointments to look at houses and condos. I’ve been taking photos of rooms and appliances. I’ve been asking nosy questions about basements: “Does it flood?,” and parking: “Is it on the street only?” I’ve been driving through prospective neighborhoods and checking out porches (no couches, good) and driveways (rusting cars on cinder blocks, bad). I’ve interviewed both landlords and tenants.
Yes, we have orders. The moving truck arrives in a few days, but none of the prospective homes I’ve been visiting are a good fit for my family. I’ve been participating in a phenomenon that I suspect is unique to our way of life: house hunting by proxy. I’ve been looking at prospective homes for other military families moving into my neighborhood, while friends near our new assignment in Illinois are checking out prospective houses and neighborhoods for us.
Published: May 30, 2013
Military families are usually traveling families. We’ve been to a lot of places, and we’ve experienced catastrophic events in several locations. We’ve hunkered down through typhoons in the South Pacific and hurricanes on the East Coast. We’ve been taken by surprise more than once by earthquakes. One fearful storm struck close to home on May 20 when we were driving down a sunny highway in Texas.
Our far-flung life has planted our young-adult children in California and Texas, while our home base is in Virginia. Last month we traveled to the heart of Texas for our oldest son’s college graduation. After that celebration, my husband and youngest son flew directly to Virginia for work and school. I stayed in Texas a day longer — with my mom and my daughter — to help the graduate clear out of his apartment. That hard work done, the four of us hopped in the car and headed north.
Published: May 24, 2013
Julia Gibbs is an Army wife stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala. Last year, while living in Germany, she flew to the States to visit family with her two small children. On the last leg of their journey, they had an unexpected companion, and Julia wrote a story about their experience. She generously allowed me to share it here in Spouse Calls. Julia writes:
After a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call, hours of standing in line holding my 2½ -year-old on my right hip while holding the hand of my four-year-old; after an 11-hour fun-filled trip of spilled drinks, Disney movies, crayons, lost sippy cups, pull-up nightmares, plane-toilet drama, and tears of joy, we finally landed in Atlanta. We all took a deep breath of relief when we made our connecting flight to Pensacola, Fla.
Published: May 15, 2013
Speaking from the Pentagon, the director of an office handling family policy for one of the under secretaries of defense fielded questions from military spouse bloggers one day. The topic was moving, that recurring challenge of military life.
One question concerned transition issues for families with special — specifically about wait-list — frustrations for state benefits, like Medicaid for disabled individuals. Military families often spend much less time in a state than it takes to reach the top of a waiting list, so moving to a new state means moving to the bottom of a new waiting list for needed services — just one of the hurdles for military families with special needs.
Published: May 15, 2013
Emily Fertitta is a Marine Corps spouse, a busy mom and a member of the Department of Defense Military Family Readiness Council. The council includes representatives from the DOD, military family organizations, active duty members and military family members.
“The family members bring a wide range of expertise and experiences to the table,” Emily said. “The spouses have been pushing for the council to increase the frequency of meetings … To me it’s very important that we meet as there is a lot of information to be shared and this helps us guide our recommendations.”
Published: May 9, 2013
The poets say spring is the time for love. The pollen count insists it’s sneezing season. And then there’s spring cleaning. No conversation about cleaning and organizing among military spouses can be isolated from preparing for the next move, another rite of spring.
Lydia DiCola is a Navy wife who represents CallDibs, a free online marketplace for military families to buy and sell to each other, like an online garage sale for military neighborhoods.
Published: May 3, 2013
Dear New York Times Magazine book critic:
I just received an advance copy of a book by Navy wife Sarah Smiley, “Dinner with the Smileys,” which hits bookstore shelves next week. The book is a touching and forthright account of the way Sarah and her three boys filled her husband’s spot at the dinner table during his yearlong deployment. It’s about the dinner guests, including teachers, authors, athletes and lawmakers who shared a meal and became friends with the Smileys.
Published: April 23, 2013
I saw her as I walked into the dining room at a military spouse conference: A lone woman at a table for eight. Young, stylish and self-assured, she had toned arms that would make even Michelle Obama envious. She’d probably be more comfortable with someone her own age and fitness level, not me, I reasoned.
A buffet plate in each hand, I scanned the large room for another place to sit. I was about to veer left when our eyes met and she smiled. Too late to turn back now. I smiled back, approached her table and asked if I could join her.
Published: April 19, 2013
Army wife Karen Francis said she thought it was great that the Army devoted a whole duty day last year to suicide awareness. “Suicide Stand Down” was a service-wide mandatory training day conducted in September, the Army’s response to the alarming suicide rate among brothers and sisters in arms.
Francis couldn’t help wondering about Army spouses and children. Though family members were welcomed at the event, the program and timing — on a weekday — were not suited to them. She was concerned that suicide and its effects on military family members was not being addressed.