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State of the job market

Last week, I watched the State of the Union address: The yearly event set aside for the president to make like a cheerleader and the opposing political party to make like an oil painting. No matter who’s in office, I’m inspired when the commander in chief makes a speech summing up what is best in our country and how it can improve. Likewise, I’m amazed at the determination of lawmakers in the other party to remain unmoved.

Over the past 10 years or so, presidents have learned that one way to get a State of the Union ovation from both sides of the house is to mention military heroes. This year was no different.

Stuck on you ... and your furniture

As one military wife expressed it this week, a tiny sticker can tell huge stories. That proved true, as readers responded to last week’s column about inventory stickers, a constant of military life. I received so many messages via email, Facebook and the Spouse Calls blog, with comments both funny and poignant, that I wanted to share some of them:

Beverly Pitts: Those stickers are like my kids’ stuffed animals. They mate and multiply overnight. Just when you think you have found them all, another one shows up. Then you get orders, and the process begins again.

Taking inventory

I found it while cleaning house last week. I moved the kitchen trash bin to vacuum in the corner, and there it was: a little blue sticker.

It was imprinted only with a number — “120” — but I recognized it immediately. You would too, because you’ve seen thousands like it in a variety of colors: an inventory sticker.

Preparing for the worst

The folder is labeled “Pallbearers.” It holds the names of my husband’s closest friends and a list of his favorite hymns. We stashed it, along with our wills, in the back of a file cabinet several years ago. It is a testament to our recognition that the worst could happen, though its location probably shows we don’t want to be reminded too often.

Army wife Nickayla Myers-Garner has a constant reminder. Her husband, Capt. Mark Garner died in Afghanistan in 2009. Nickayla said she and her husband had prepared for that possibility before his deployment, sparing her some stress and confusion after his death.

Stand and deliver

Exquisitely coiffed and elegantly clad, they glittered in formalwear and dress uniforms, every medal and ribbon in place. Their faces were expectant, polite, noncommital.

They were there for a night out, a break from the kids, a meal they didn’t have to prepare or carry out. Food and drink, prizes, music and dancing awaited them. Only one thing stood between them and a good time -- me.