My Letter Featured in the Marine Corps Times

 Last week I found myself even more frustrated that our country is more informed about the Earthquakes than the current situations in Iraq and Afghanistan –> affecting our country, citizens, and military directly. Most people can tell you how many deaths resulted from the earthquakes but are completely unaware of how many casualties have occurred within our military since January (79 by the way, according to iCasualties). I don’t mean to disregard or minimize what has happened, however I don’t agree with our Military being so involved when there are bigger issues that need to be dealt with regarding our country. I wrote a Letter to the Marine Corps Times stating my opinion and it is now featured in this weeks (March 8th, 2010) edition.

You can click the title for the direct link to the letter, but here is what it says:

END QUAKE RELIEF NOW

At what point did our US Military become the world’s first aid kit?

It is truly sad and devastating what has happened in Haiti and Chile. Two countries in less than two months that have been hit by destructive earthquakes which have left millions of people displaced and homeless and thousands dead.

However, I do not understand President Obama’s decision to send out our military to Haiti with such force and for this long. With the most recent earthquake in Chile, our President promised to send out our troops if we are needed – but how long can our country do this for?

Our military already is stretched thin with the current events happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. There just aren’t enough of them to go around. 

Troops with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Sailors on the amphibious ship Bataan, one of the first ships to arrive in the wake of the earthquake, had only been home for some weeks from a seven month deployment prior to receiving 24 hour notice to deploy again. Those Marines and Sailors are also still out there with no return date in sight.  Not only is this strenuous on our service members, but also to their families as well.

Our country has agencies, such as the American Red Cross, that are funded and prepared to assist in these kinds of natural disasters. Our military should not be obligated to take upon the task of humanitarian relief for extensive periods of time. I can very well see how this deployment can be a noble and dignified one, but it is not enough to justify a mission so costly, both monetarily and physically, on a military that already is having difficulty sustaining the current tempo of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. They have a larger role to play and a truly more important one that relates directly to our country’s citizens, safety, and freedom.

Of course that is the edited version. This is my entire original letter:

END QUAKE RELIEF NOW

At what point did our military become the world’s first aid kit?

It is truly sad and devastating what has happened in Haiti and Chile. Two countries in less than two months that have been hit by destructive earthquakes which have left millions of people displaced and homeless and thousands dead.

However, I do not understand President Obama’s decision to send out our military to Haiti with such force and for this long. Neither was I surprised with the most recent earthquake in Chile that our President promised to send out our troops if we are needed – but how long can our country do this for?

Our military is already stretched thin with the current events happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. There just aren’t enough of them to go around.  The Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Sailors on the USS Bataan, one of the first ships to arrive in the wake of the earthquake, had only been home for some weeks from a seven month deployment prior to receiving 24 hour notice to deploy again. Those Marines and Sailors are also still out there with no return date in sight.  Not only is this strenuous on our military but to their families as well.

It is understandable to send out our military to assist in security and stabilization but it has to come to a point we need to say “you welcome and goodbye”. It is well over 40 days now that Haiti has a military presence even though the earthquake has faded from news headlines and just about all the media that was out there reporting, blogging, and tweeting daily have returned home as well. I find it difficult to swallow that we can be in another country so long but when Katrina hit New Orleans– our military, the USS Bataan specifically, was given orders to pull out after only spending 19 days providing humanitarian relief.

It is time we get the military home and back to focusing on issues that affect our country directly. Our military along with their families have been on a consistent deployment cycle for a couple years and now is not the time to take upon unnecessary duties.

Our country has agencies, such as the American Red Cross, that are funded and prepared to assist in these kinds of natural disasters. Our military should not be obligated to take upon the task of humanitarian relief for extensive periods of time. I can very well see how this deployment can be a ‘noble’ and ‘dignified’ one but even so it is not enough to justify a mission so costly, both monetarily and physically, on a military that already is having difficulty sustaining the current tempo of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The bottom line is they have a larger role to play and a truly more important one that relates directly to our country’s citizens, safety, and freedom.

Calling all Military Spouses, Girlfriends, Fiancés, Children, Friends and Families: NEED YOUR INPUT!!

Hello Everyone!!

I haven’t been able to ‘post’ anything lately because I have been preoccupied with a couple of projects and ideas I’ve put on the back burner. Now with the hubby re-deployed and with being in a new location (still quite unfamiliar with) I decided to attempt to use my time wisely and take advantage of solidarity and make it as productive as possible!

One of those projects is putting as many creative ideas and activities families and friends (specifically children) can do independently and together during times of deployment. Now, I know – we military wives are very creative during these times 😉 I have come up with quite a few of my own and others I have searched for as well. But I would love more!!

So here is my question to you:

What is your favorite activity, creative idea, gift, surprise, care package theme, and/or homemade letter/card that you sent or did while experiencing deployment on the homefront??

It can be ANYTHING! Please email me your idea at: Homefront_wife@yahoo.com

I am truly so excited to get this project going and out there to the public!

Thank you all for your support and suggestions!!!

PS: Book Review!!! A great book for military children!

“The Little Marine and the Flag” by Carissa J. Marine

My girls received this book as a gift and they (mainly my oldest – who can understand more) was so excited to have a book where she felt she could relate to. It’s a great, cute, and educational book every military child should have – especially children in U.S. Marine Corps families.

Here is an excerpt from the Website The Little Marine:

Every morning the Little Marine wakes up to the sound of a trumpet playing.  Jumping out of bed, he looks out his window over the trees to where his daddy works.  As he watches, he sees a huge American flag being raised up a very tall flagpole.  He loves seeing that big flag.  He often tells his daddy that he wants to go see it and stand under it some day.   

Author Carissa Marine invites you along on the Little Marine’s quest to learn more about the American flag.  Entertaining for young readers, The Little Marine and the Flag is a must read that also reminds even adult readers of treasured American values. 

 

Again, I can’t say how great this book is –  so far it is still the book of choice for bedtime story in my house!

You can go to The Little Marine site to purchase it or check out your local bookstore, like Books-a-Million.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!! 🙂

An Open Letter to the Military: Regarding the Recent Deployment to Haiti, Rumors, and the Homefront

Dear Military,

As you know, it has been about 20 days since my husband deployed to Haiti. I am almost 100% certain that the inbox of our FRO (Family Readiness Officer) has been inundated with inquiries regarding our service men’s and women’s return date. I, as a spouse and a mother of two little girls, am not immune to the desire to know either but have moved away from asking since I can already predict the answer is not yet known. However, this does not eliminate the frustration and anxiety that I and other spouses are currently experiencing. 

It is obvious to those involved that our stress and overwhelming dissatisfaction about this deployment is more so in relation to the fact that our men and women just got home from their recent 7 month deployment. It is a constant fear of mine, as well as voiced in other spouses, that our ‘family time’ will be cut short or worse non-existence upon their return due to the realization that they must start ‘work-ups’ to deploy again in the near future.

With the rumors looming around us like a plague it is easier said than done to not grab a hold of one and hold on to it until it is shot down. At times, for me, it can make a huge difference in my day to follow a rumor for a couple of hours instead of looking into an endless tunnel with an indefinite end. Occasionally, I even welcome them – even more so to get me through the ‘rough days’. Currently, the rumor that has grabbed my attention is that some spouses have been given a return date. It would truly be infuriating to know that a selection of spouses is receiving more information regarding homecoming while other spouses are counting up days instead of having the opportunity to count down. Although my logic comforts my emotions in the belief that this too is nothing more than a rumor – it still is very challenging to overlook.

I am aware that representatives of the unit are not authorized to provide specific dates and/or information until they are given permission to do so. Reflecting on the circumstances and the barriers around the deployment, I began to contemplate ideas or ways we as spouses can be alleviated from the stressors of this current situation. I understand with a full heart of compassion that Haiti needs the help of the International community to assist them in returning to, at minimum, what their world was like seconds before the earthquake. I am proud to be part of a nation that can assist in this mass effort providing extraordinary and grand humanitarian relief. I am aware, via the news and updates from the CO (Commanding Officer), that our service men and women are consistently and productively providing this assistance where needed as well as supporting NGOs. What would be reassuring at this time for us spouses on the homefront, and to say the least – encouraging, maybe to tell us what the determining factors are in regards to the length of this deployment? Is there a list of areas/towns in Haiti that need to be visited first? Is there a group of NGOs that must be assisted? Is there a goal of how many people of Haiti need to receive direct assistance from us? At this point – anything is truly better than hearing nothing. Speaking for myself, I feel that if I received an update more often, even to say that ‘nothing new is known’, would be more consoling than passing another day with silence amid incessant rumors.

Nevertheless, I appreciate and applaud the rapid planning and organization of the upcoming “Family Appreciation Day”. My daughters and I are truly looking forward to having a delightful time as well as the given opportunity to meet other spouses and families in which empathy can be utilized at its best. This being the first event I am attending, since recently moving into the area, I am unaware if there will be Chaplains and/or counselors at hand to casually introduce themselves and “check-in” on us spouses and children and possibly go as far as extending their therapeutic services. With the present unexpected back-to-back deployment along with the added strain of it being ‘indefinite’ it should almost be anticipated that risks of anxiety, depression, and even alcohol and drug abuse may be high amongst family members. I say this not only as a  licensed professional in the field of mental health but also as someone who is facing these circumstances and know what a difference it  would make to hear someone come to me and say they understand how difficult this can be and simply ask me how I am doing.

I hope that my letter does not find you bothered by my spoken standpoint for my desire to know something that may very well be unattainable, but with that, I hope you can also understand the position I speak from. It would be more than a blessing to just have my husband home already, but as I mentioned – at this point knowing anything is better than knowing nothing.

Until then, my prayers are with him, the entire military, the people of Haiti, and the families of those here on the homefront. I not only pray for strength but that we may also continue and strive to be optimistic during this fractious time.

Sincerely,

A Military Spouse

What America forgets….

It’s been a bit over 2 weeks since the earthquake hit Haiti and not only is it fading from the news headlines but just about all the reporters that were out there reporting, blogging, and tweeting daily have returned home as well – leaving it almost impossible to get even a glimpse of what my husband is seeing, experiencing, and may be doing out there without having to go thru many Google searches on the unit or ship. Yes, the military has its site we can read articles on (but never really say anything new besides fluffy “this is a wonderful deployment” stuff) and see pictures as well as the Ship having a fan page where there is a post almost every night  – but it’s not enough.

This ‘indefinite’ deployment is not only difficult because my husband JUST got home from his 7 month deployment but also because we have no light at the end tunnel. My youngest daughter who is 2 was just beginning to get used to him and then for her – he just disappeared AGAIN. My oldest is more resilient than I at times, but it does not cease her from asking while out on base:  “why are there other marines still here (in USA)?? Why didn’t they go??” She feels her time was cut short with her daddy – especially since they were beginning their weekly daddy/daughter ‘dates’.

Yes, I can very well see how this deployment can be a ‘noble’ and ‘dignified’ one but even so it is not enough to heal the wounds my heart now has in having to fix my broken family AGAIN. I get that Haiti needs help and I understand with a full heart of compassion that the people have less than nothing today, tomorrow, and probably next week but I want my husband home, not only for me, but mainly so my girls can know  who he is AGAIN. I want my girls to know what daddy loves to do after work, what daddy’s favorite breakfast meal is, to hear his stories FROM him, and so on.

I want Haiti to get all the help possible to make the country better than it was seconds before the earthquake hit but I want my husband to be a father in person to my girls more. I don’t know why the powers that be decided it would be a great idea to re-deploy a unit that just got back not even 6 weeks ago and even more so why they would make this an ‘indefinite’ deployment with the knowledge that ‘work ups’ for their next deployment was in the near future. I feel forgotten – I feel my girls were forgotten, my mother-in-law was forgotten, my sisters-in-law, my brothers-in-law, my family was forgotten. How is the great ‘American Family’ supposed to grow in love and respect if we are never together?

And for all those people who loooovvvveee to say: “Well you knew what you were getting into when you married him (a military man)”. YES I DID but it didn’t turn me into an emotionless zombie! Wouldn’t it be just a little bit odd if I happily waved my husband goodbye and rushed him out the door saying: “go do what you signed up for – happy you’re leaving – see you when they send you back!” with an impatient smile???

Um, yea – trust me I’m fully aware that I married a deployable man but I am allowed to miss him and I am allowed to want him home ESPECIALLY since he just got home from a 7 month deployment. ALSO, for you’ sayers’ of that retched statement, I’m curious to know what it is you tell mothers, sisters, brothers, and children when they exclaim wanting them home too? You certainly can’t use the “you know what you were getting into” with them.

It also is truly a stab in the heart when fellow Americans can’t support us wives, girlfriends, fiancés, mothers, and children when we miss our men and express our natural-normal emotions. A little compassion at times would be nice. It’s even more heart-wrenching when a person, who claimed to be a Navy Vet, crudely told wives on a website “suck it up people! They’ll get home when their job is done! Am not joking & as a US Navy Veteran I am NOT stating an opinion. None of you were issued in their sea bag – there are bigger fish to fry. Get control of yourselves people!” (and yes that is a DIRECT QUOTE ) I was shocked that someone would even go that far to say such a thing. So is he suggesting I turn to my crying 2-year-old as she asks for her daddy and tell her ‘get a hold of yourself’?? It’s clear, to me at least, that this person must have never had anyone that cared about him enough to miss him while he was gone and thus why he has his sour note but people like this – to me, your simply unforgivable.

It takes a lot of strength, patience, and love to be a military wife, this is known already, but what a lot of people don’t know is that piece of respect, honor, and pride is just as loud and clear when our husbands are home or deployed. We miss and wish them to be home but not once, not ever, not even a millisecond do we not have pride in our men, honor our country, and respect the military. THAT to me is a challenging emotion that I face daily and even more so on deployments and thus far, my 6 ingredients of a military wife are all there – STILL.

So while I hope days go by quick, I find myself in a battle of not wanting to wish my life away either – this is just ‘it’ for now. I don’t know how long my husband will be gone, I don’t know what he is doing, I don’t know when my girls will see their daddy, and I don’t know if there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. This is just the story of the “I DON’T KNOW DEPLOYMENT”

“Patience is nothing but the art of concealing your impatience”

~ Guy Kawasaki

New Year, New Home, New State, New Blog Post, and New Deployment

So after I pulled all the cobwebs and used a compressed air can to blow off the tall amount of dust on my blog – IM BACK!  Or more like (as I prefer to call it) , “My Verbal Rebirth” (yes yes – I so prefer that better)

Any who – instead of boring you with why and what and the blah blah’s about and reasons I have not written in so long I’m just going to tell you all about whats happening and whats happened that is relevant to whats happening.

Well the husband returned safe and in one piece from Deployment early last month (December 2009). Our family was joyful and thrilled to have him home, especially for the holidays. Our girls have enjoyed every minute of having their “daddy” home that it still causes me to tear up at the sight of their happiness.

In addition, after spending the holidays with our very loving family and friends in New Jersey – we loaded up our lives into cardboard boxes, put the girls in their most comfy jammies and we hit the road. Off to begin the new year on a road trip to our new home, new lives, and new chapter of being together again. We drove straight through the night and all I could do was imagine and plan ideas in my head of all the wonderful experiences we are going to have together in our new home. Did I mention I love decorating too? I pretty much had every room set up and color schemes picked out before we were even got out of NJ!

We arrived at 5am extremely tired and went straight to sleep (on the carpet) but of course only after looking and inspecting every closet room and corner of the house (all with our 2 little girls trailing behind us just as excited). We woke up a couple of hours later motivated and the movers began to transport in all our furniture and belongings.

We spent the entire first week unloading boxes, building furniture, putting away clothes, and organizing evrything with the new layout of the house. The kitchen was the first room in the house to be completely done – not because I started cooking or anything but because I knew exactly how I wanted decorated!

The girls adjusted great. My oldest went to her new school and loves it. She is excited every morning  to get ready. They both love their new rooms and are indulging in all the toys that had been placed into storage throughout my husbands deployment.

The following Monday my husband went back to work after his post-deployment leave. My oldest had become accustomed to having her daddy home during the day that before school and after school she would say how much she missed him and can’t wait for him to be home from work. The next day, as I couldn’t decide where to put all my useless ‘stuff’ I had CNN in the background and I heard that Haiti was hit with a very strong earthquake. Not much else was reported at the time and there was no videos or pictures but all I could think was how sad for this to happen to a country where people truly have nothing to begin with and here I am complaining that I dont have enough room to store everything. I then shut off the TV and went to make dinner. As the night fell I signed on to my Facebook account and there is where I saw friends looking for their own loved ones in Haiti and desperately asking people to donate money to charities. It was there that I felt it closer to me than before. I now know someone who directly has family that was affected by the earthquake – basically feeling, that could have easily been me.

The next couple days I felt like I was struck with a big boulder in my chest and found myself having to remember to breathe. As I watched the news like a devoted sports fan follows his team into the playoffs – my husband came home on Thursday with confirmed orders that he was being re-deployed to Haiti for humanitarian relief the NEXT day. We had one day to prepare – to explain to our oldest daughter – to discuss finances – and to well, eat dinnertogether as a family. This is probably one of the most emotionally challenging experiences I will deal with, not so much just for me, but in helping my daughters get through this. As of now we have no return date and no way to countdown how long he will be gone for (something not very comforting for our oldest daughter). She does understand what has happened in Haiti and wants help for the people who are suffering – its just that, as she says it: “daddy just got home – its not fair”.

Now  don’t get me wrong – I am proud we come from a country that is willing and able to help Haiti – believe me I watch the Haiti coverage almost 24/7 even though it is now fading from the headlines. My heart aches for the families, children, women, elderly – all of the people of Haiti. I wish I could do more! All I can do is to continue to pray that more aid goes their way and that the country of Haiti will be better than ever before when it’s all over.

It will be one week tomorrow that my husband has been re-deployed. Our family’s reunion was short-lived (only 6 weeks!) but I have my faith and know that I an my girls will be okay. I have loads of challenges ahead of me with being completely new to this area and only knowing my neighbors – I just hope once we are completely settled (since I still haven’t completely unpacked) we will venture out more and have a more steady routine. But of course, never fails, in only the 6 days that my husband has been gone things have already broken! Like important things – the car and the phone. I’m seriously scared to wash clothes or turn on the dish washer!

So for now, I will keep Haiti and all those providing relief in my prayers, I will try to stay strong, I will continue to have my faith that God will take of me, and just keep telling myself:

“Things need to be difficult, before anything gets easy.”

The song that keeps me going…and looking up….

Calendar Countdown

calendar

Halloween is over! Woo-hoo! Now don’t get me wrong, my daughters and I love Halloween. We very much enjoy costume shopping, decorating, and (of course) trick-or-treating. It was a very crazy last few weeks of October (thus why no recent blog post). But, I’m back and super excited that the month of October is finished!

You see, when my husband first deployed my oldest daughter would ask how long her daddy would be away – when we would tell her about 6-7 months you could see her heart crushing because to her 6-7 months felt like an eternity (which I could understand because I too felt the same). So we came up with our own calendar for when “Daddy Comes Home” to help our daughter better understand how long daddy will be away.

Here is Our Countdown:

Mother’s day (May)

Kindergarten Graduation (June)

Independence Day (July)

Family Vacation in Spain (August)

Back to School (September)

Mommy Birthday and Halloween (October)

Nana’s Birthday, Uncle’s Birthday, and Thanksgiving (November)

Her Birthday (December) 

And then daddy will be home for Christmas!

 

Yesterday was Nana’s birthday, so now we are awaiting my brother-in-law’s birthday this weekend and then just Thanksgiving and our daughters oldest birthday (which is the first week of December). So basically, my husband is coming home soon!!! (yay) You can only imagine how excited my daughter is. All she keeps saying is – “Thanksgiving is in 2 weeks – 2 weeks – only 2 weeks” and I know that really translates to: ‘daddy is almost home’.

And of course, with the excitement of homecoming around the corner also comes a whole load of other emotions too – for both my daughter and I which I will be talking about in my upcoming blog posts.

Coming back to my routine blogging from neglecting it for some days now, I feel that it still fits everything going on in my life currently because it’s as though a new chapter is being written about my life on the homefront. Even though the actual deployment may be coming to an end, I know (very well) that experience is yet to be over when my husband is home and that even more chapters will be written.

Until next post…