The new blog is called Footprints in the Sand (I know, original) and my hope is that it becomes somewhat of an on-line Bible study. I've sent out emails to some family and friends and I'm putting it up here in case anyone wants to pop over and check it out. I've posted an intro and the first month's reading plan. My goal is to post each day on the chapters that are assigned to that day. We'll see if "life" gets in the way.
Gain points when you receive cards from:
- dentist, insurance agent, hairdresser, dry cleaner, mailman: +0.5
- your mom: +0.5
- another relative: +1
- friend, via email: +0.5
- your boss: +1
- friend you see at least 1x/week: +1
- above, with reference to an inside joke: +3
- long-distance friend, devoid of any personal message: +2
- above, with personal message of at least 3 lines: +5
- anyone who includes a handwritten personal note of ore than 5 sentences: +5
- long-lost friend who hasn't been heard from in 20 years: +10
Lose points when:
- card and envelope are the same piece of paper: -1
- signature is imprinted rather than handwritten inside card: -2
- photo is of a helpless pet in a holiday costume: -3
- your name is spelled incorrectly: -4
- card plays annoying music that cannot be turned off: -4
- highly religious card that celebrates faith other than your own: -5
- card is the same one you received last year: -6
- return address label was provided by charity to which sender may not actually have contributed: -7
- family newsletter contains the words gallbladder, spleen, or gout: -8
- family newsletter is from ex who is (not so) subtly gloating over recent wedding and cushy new job: -10
- long lost friend who hasn't been heard from in 20 years and is asking for money or a place to live: -20
- gilded envelope: +0.5
- handwritten return address: +1
- card in which all family members appear to have signed their own names: +2
- newsletter of family photo in card: +2
- card with moving parts: +3
- handmade card:+4
- oversize card requiring extra postage: +5
- card sent from foreign country: +6
- newsletter with humor at progeny's expense: +8
- card with check, cash, or gift certificate: +20
How did you do?
Negative Points: Whoops! Did you forget to send out cards last year? More importantly, did you give the mailman a holiday gift?
0-20 points: Not too shabby. And you still have time - cards will probably trickle in until 2009 (or later, depending on when I get mine out!).
20 points and up: Well done! Looks like your mantle boasts cards aplenty. You're a shoo-in for Miss Congeniality.
(stolen shamelessly from Real Simple magazine)
What. A. Year.
Here's hoping that 2009 isn't quite so...crazy. I spent the last 1/2 of 2008 feeling as though I was drowning. My goal is to avoid that in 2009. Don't get me wrong - I can't stand to stand still. As much of a homebody as I am, I have to get out of the house on a regular basis - even if it's only to hit Starbucks or the beach. But there were weeks where we only had 1 meal together at home and that is not acceptable.
So 2009 will be calmer. More even. Less insane.
Yeah, right. Who am I kidding?
You’re not gonna be happy unless you’re going Mach 2 with your hair on fire.
But I'll try.
I finally got my Christmas cards ordered. Don't judge. Not only do they say "Merry Christmas", they also say "Happy New Year" and, since it's not quite the new year, I'm ok. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. Once they get here, I'll get them addressed and sent out with our annual update letter. And then it will be time for our local NYE tradition of Old Spaghetti Factory, catching the City Lights on the last night before they take them down, and then ringing in the new year lighting off fireworks with friends from church.
In the meantime, the house needs a thorough cleaning (and de-cluttering), I have a sewing machine that is begging to be used, and I might even get back into blogging a bit more. Who knows? I have several mainland trips coming up this year that I am looking forward to. Might even be able to get me some In-N-Out AND some Beau Jo's pizza. YUMMO! And there's a possible Dining In coming up as well. THAT should be interesting...
So stay outta trouble people! And no one fall over from the shock of the fact that I posted twice in one day.
Yes, we lost power last night. Whoop-de-doo. You'd think O'ahu had never, in the history of the island, lost power. Good GRIEF. Yes, it was an inconvenience. But at least it wasn't 100*. or -20*. And it was TWELVE HOURS! C'mon. You'd think Hurricane Katrina had come through, the way people are carrying on. It's ridiculous.
"I feel lost. We have to buy candles," said Akina. "Hopefully they can get something up and running. We'll play board games by candlelight until then."
Seriously? You're telling me you had NO candles and NO flashlights in the house? You live on an island that deals with power outages on a pretty regular basis and has been in the path of several major hurricanes and you have no candles? At Christmas time even?
Way to be prepared, people. Sheesh.
As for us, we had a lovely meal of leftover minestrone soup, cornbread muffins, and salad by candle light (after grabbing the flashlights that we have in just about every room in the house in order to get the candles from the cabinets along with the matches) and then played card games until bedtime. It's not hard to be prepared.
Earlier today, I was having issues accessing my email inbox. The program kept telling me I had incorrect login credentials. Every once in a while it does this - just a minor hiccup in the server or whatever. I tried logging out and logging back in a few times but I had things to do so I shut off the computer and headed out.
Came home this evening and fired my sweet Mac back up and attempted to log in to my email once more.
I have new messages waiting for me but all of my archives are GONE.
GONEGONEGONE. Gone like the wind. Not there. Crap.
220 messages in my inbox alone. Six or seven folders including FRG information, mailing addresses for anyone I've sent a Christmas card to in the past 10 years and anyone who's moved in the past 10 years, messages from MacGyver while he was in Iraq...GONE.
I have an email in to tech support for my email server but I'm not holding out much hope. *sigh* In the grand scheme of things, it's really not a big deal. I don't know that there was much in there that I cannot live without. But there were things in there that I used - addresses, a recipe for a great tater tot casserole, some DITY move information, etc. Nothing major but surely inconvenient.
I'd really like the emails from MacGyver back.
It's been raining a bit around here. Started about 3am Thursday morning and has pretty much rained on ever since. Today is round 3 and it's showing no sign of letting up. Several communities here have had to deal with some pretty serious flooding. Our church is having flooding issues as well. Not fun.
Thankfully we live on a hill and are therefore not prone to flooding. However, with the amounts of water we've had, our front yard lakes up pretty quickly. I'm waiting to see the animals begin to pair up and then I think I'll start working on that ark. Always fun around here...
I've been to many balls in my life: fraternity formals, ROTC balls, Warrant Officer ball, Aviation Balls. All were ok. A few were fun.
This one was the best.
And the Cav guys behaved. Mostly.
The Hillclimber grog. In a bubble window, no less.
The head of the Hillclimber Veterans' Association flew in for the ball.
One of the reasons it was such a good time was because of good friends.
One of the biggest reasons that ball was so successful was because of this guy. And as a thank you, he got to re-rearrange the "fruit salad" on his coat. Guess he shouldn't have taken it off in the first place.
Ok, maybe the Cav guys didn't behave...
Of course, when the troop commander misbehaves, it's 'monkey see, monkey do'.
The shirt says "Party Shirt. My HOT date". Heh.
And it just went downhill from there.
I have no decent shots from Nashville's primarily because I was unable to figure out how to operate the camera by that point in the evening. Thank goodness for my designated driver or else I'd still be down there. Heh.
And formal portraits are pending...because we forgot to pick them up at the end of the evening. Whoops.
US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.
Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
So, how well will you do? Take the Civics Test and see how you rate. Can you beat my 81.82%?
The latest news on the US-Iraq pact does not change things for MacGyver. Might change the nature of the deployment but other than that, everything else is still on track. Which is ok with me. Really.
I know that's odd. But I made peace with the fact that MacGyver will be heading back a long time ago. In fact, when the whole Guard thing popped up last week, I found myself actually uncomfortable with the idea that MacGyver would possibly NOT deploy. Odd how the mind of a military spouse works. Seems that the possibility of MacGyver getting out and being able to go Guard at this point in his career is slim at best. But that's ok.
In other news, I passed 1,000 posts last week. It was a Project Valour-IT post which made me smile. The fundraising drive is on-going and there's a long way to go.
I keep meaning to take a picture of MacGyver in one of his newest shirts. Actually they are about 6 weeks old. The night that he came home from his shoulder surgery, it dawned on us that he was going to have a very tough time putting on shirts. And it dawned on me that I was blessed to have someone in my life who created a company to meet just that need. So I dropped Ginger a note and asked her if she had any shirts lying around that she could bear to part with. And she did. She was kind enough to pack up several and ship them on over.
Sew Much Comfort has made our lives SO much easier. Thank you, Ginger and ALL of the people that make up SMC. The even cooler thing is that just by MacGyver wearing the shirts, word about SMC has gotte out around here. The ortho department knows about them, we'll be donating the shirts to the Physical Therapy department once MacGyver is done with them.
I was talking with MacGyver the other evening about my attitude toward the political world. It's going to go one of two ways - I'm either going to jump in with both feet and go completely on the offensive or I'm going to retreat into my hole for the next four years. Right now I'm leaning toward the latter. Just seems easier. Especially if we're struggling to keep our heads above water.
Which I'm not sure that we are but it sure feels like it. Things are getting tighter. Costs are going up here faster than pay is. The electricity rates are outrageous and have been for a few months. Gas prices have eased a bit but the state is facing fiscal shortages left and right. The other day, I read that the DOE here is $24 million THIS YEAR. That means they can't pay the transportation bills and food bills. Good thing my kid doesn't ride the bus or eat school lunch.
We're cutting expenses where we can. Gymnastics is on hold for now (partly for financial reasons but mainly because we need a break from the go-go-go of the week). We're putting up a clothesline in the hopes of cutting our electricity bill. Lots more eating at home rather than eating out. Christmas will be modest (which it usually is) which, if you ask me, is a blessing. And when MacGyver deploys, I'll be canceling cable (woohoo!!!). EBay and Craigslist are our friends and once the new year starts, I'll be picking up the pace on my subbing.
I'm mailing in my application for the EMT program as soon as MacGyver's commander signs off on the form (so I can qualify for resident tuition). We'll see how that goes. Hopefully they won't try to make me retake Anatomy and Physiology.
Ball is coming up soon. A chance to get dressed up and be Princess-like. This is the first time I've been involved in the planning and it's been...interesting. Can't say I'd like to do it again. But I'm glad I've done it. In the end, it should be a wonderful evening. Assuming the Cav guys can behave.
Christmas is beckoning. Several friends, for a variety of reasons, have their trees up. I'm itching but doing my best to wait until after The Most Adored Food Holiday to put it up.
It's been a rough week. I had every intention of jumping into the Army's effort on behalf of Project Valour-IT with both feet.
And then I got the text message while I was at church on Sunday. Our friend had been injured.
There was mention of a broken leg and injuries to his hand.
He was being prepped for evacuation to Germany.
And then there was silence.
He's ok. Thank goodness. No word on the long term prognosis with regard to his injuries but he's alive and that is THE most important thing. But his recovery may take a while. And while he's recovering, he may need some help. Which is where Project Valour-IT comes in.
Here is the bulk of the post that I made for the Project Valour-IT fundraiser last year. It still holds true today.
One of the things that MacGyver and I have talked about it how we would handle things should he be injured in the line of duty. It's not a pretty conversation - things like that never are. But I am not a fan of surprises so I'd rather discuss this now, before he deploys.
Those of you who know MacGyver know what type of person he is. He is a very "hands on" type of person. He works a LOT with his hands. He is a mechanic by nature - at the age of 2, he took apart a transistor radio while he sat in his crib. Our 2 car garage is full of his projects - the BMW 2002 that he is restoring, the Yamaha YSR 50cc motorcycle that is his labor of love, the oddball projects that he always seems to have more of than time - and his tools. His hands are strong. Not necessarily big - small, in fact, for someone who is almost six feet tall. But they are powerful hands with scars that show where he has been and what he has done. Each scar has a story. There are the scars that have come from working on our cars (we don't own new cars...). There are the scars that have come from working on helicopters. There are the scars that have come from who-knows-where. It's not uncommon for MacGyver to come in and be bleeding and not know how he got hurt.
We've talked about the different injuries that can be sustained in combat and the one injury that worries him most is the loss of his hands or the loss of the use of his hands. He can deal with spinal cord injuries, shrapnel injuries, leg injuries. But to take his hands away from him would mean taking life away from him. He's a strong man but it would take every ounce of strength he has (and then some) to overcome that.
When CPT Z was injured, it really illustrated how big a challenege it is to function without the use of one's hands. They do SO MUCH over the course of a day - things you don't even THINK about. Here is just a small sampling of the things I did with my hands this past weekend :
rubbed sleep from my eyes
brushed my teeth
washed my hair and body
buttoned the button on my shorts
brushed and dried my hair
typed e-mails to friends and family
typed a blog entry
chatted on IM
made a few phone calls
put on my makeup
fixed my children waffles for breakfast
brushed my daugther's hair and teeth
tied her shoes
opened my purse
buckled my children in their car seats
started the car
cleaned the laceration on Little Man's toe
bandaged Little Man's toe (three times)
wiped tears from Little Man's face
And the list goes on and on. How many of those things - little things, really - could I have NOT done had I not had the use of my hands?
Think about not being able to do those things AND not being able to be in contact with friends and family across the globe. Let's face it...most of us are (or were) military families and very few of us live close to friends and family. So the phone and the internet are incredibly important to us. Imagine how important those things would become if you were trapped - literally - in a hospital bed on the East Coast...thousands of miles from anyone you know...with a debilitating injury and no way to speak with family and friends without the help of another person.
How helpless and frustrated would you feel?
Tie your hands behind your back for a moment and then try to interact with the world.
Not easy is it. And you're not injured. You're not hurt, scared, or alone in a place you don't know.
There are 4 days left in this fundraiser. Sgt. Hook had a good point - if everyone who reads my blog (I average about 80-100 hits per day) were to donate just a couple of bucks - say $5 - that would just about raise enough money to purchase one fully-loaded laptop computer with software. Five bucks. That's not even lunch money anymore. It's a latte at Starbucks.
The next person that needs that computer could be MacGyver. Or someone close to you. Five bucks is nothing compared to the freedom and independence and healing that computer would provide.
This year, everything hits a little closer to home. Like text messages during church. I don't know if Eric will need the help of Project Valour-IT but if he does, it is because of people like you that he will get what he needs.
Please give. Give until it hurts. THEY did.
I've done this in the past but I'm going to do it again.
I want you all to do me a favor this week. I want you to think about your hands. I would love for all of you to make a list of all of the things you do with your hands this weekend (keep in mind my mother-in-law reads this blog so let's keep it to a PG-13 rating...).
I dare you.
Post your list in the comments section.
Then, think about all of the things in that list that you could not do without your hands. Or your arms. Or your upper body.
You couldn't scratch an itch.
You couldn't button your fly.
You couldn't wipe your own rear end.
You couldn't wipe the tears away from your child's face or your loved one's cheek.
You couldn't dial the phone, type a letter, send an e-mail.
How would you stay connected to the outside world? How would you stay connected to your friends you left in the field?
Think about THAT for the the next few days...
Project Valour-IT - voice activated software and laptop computers (and Wii game systems and personal GPS units!) for our wounded soldiers. It's the least we can do.
Time to put your money where your mouth is. Click on the Project Valour-IT box on the sidebar to your right.
I have. Will you?
I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept of Thanksgiving only being a few short weeks away. Probably because I'm still in shorts and flip flops. Rather than spend gobs of money on food that will eventually become leftovers, I think we are going to be heading over to the DFAC (dining facility) on post. I've heard the food is outstanding (B...there's that word again!) and the company will be great.
We'll be cooking plenty for Christmas Eve and Christmas so I feel no need to go all out for Thanksgiving.
Work (subbing) is good. I'm working sporadically which is fine with me. Like I said, I'm kind of stingy with my free time so I'm not feeling a burning desire to work every day that I can. Once we get past the holidays, I'll start aiming toward the higher end of my goal (10 days/month).
MacGyver's shoulder is still there. He starts physical therapy soon which will be good. He went back to work this past week and it's nice to get back into something that resembles "normal" around here. No idea when he'll start flying again - my thought is that won't happen until sometime next spring at best.
We've had some interesting possibilities land in our laps this past week. If anyone has any information on life in the Guard or Reno, Nevada...drop me a line (homefrontsix @ yahoo.com...no spaces). It's nothing solid at this point - just possibilities and something for my obviously underworked brain to churn over.
The rugrats are good. Staying busy with the usual things that rugrats stay busy with. Growing like weeds. I need to find the Halloween pictures and get those up.
So we're still here. Not much to report. Sorry about that!
The course at the local community college is a 20 credit course and runs M-F from 830-330. After-school care is covered for the kids. And I'm eligible for resident tuition which is nice. So hmm...
Subbing is going well but, should Senator Obama get elected, I'm not going to continue to work - no point in doing so because it would put us up in to the next tax bracket and the cost of that completely offsets the benefit of working. So no thanks. Instead I think I'll pursue something that I've wanted to do for a VERY long time.
I'm going to print out and drop off my application and my transcripts and see where that puts me (there are some prereqs that I've met but might have to plead my case as they were met more than 5 years ago). Should be interesting!
I could tell you how I am fundamentally opposed to the concept of "income redistribution". You want money? Work for it. If you are truly unable to work, the role of the government isn't to coddle you or pay for you to sit and do nothing. The role of the government is to make it POSSIBLE for you to do SOMETHING.
That's it. Nothing more.
Those that are unWILLING to work for themselves are NOT entitled to MY money or that of my neighbor, my pastor, my doctor, or my financial advisor. And, while I find it deplorable that CEOs of failed companies are walking away with millions of dollars while their investors are watching their investments shrink faster than my wool sweater in the dryer, the ONLY people to blame there are the boards that authorized the payments in the first place. It does NOT entitle ANYONE to claim the profits of any large corporation as their own, simply because they want them.
Instead, Krauthammer brings my focus back to the biggest reason my vote was cast for John McCain...
Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the past year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of "a world that stands as one"), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?
The rest, as they say, is gravy.
McCain's selection of Sarah Palin has excited me about politics in a way that nothing ever has in the past. I could try to articulate my thoughts on Mrs. Palin and her candidacy for the Vice Presidency but Lex does it SO much better (as usual). Thanks, Lex.
I'm done discussing politics. I'm done thinking about politics. I've voted. My opinions will not change anyone's mind if they haven't already done so. I hope you all vote. Regardless of who you cast your vote for, I hope you vote.
My daughter started Kindergarten when she was just 4. She's not particularly gifted (well, I think she is but I'm biased) but the state we live in has a very relaxed age requirement for children starting Kindergarten. She she started when she was just 4. When we get ready to leave this state and move to another state, my daughter faces the possibility that the new school she will start at might very well hold her back for no reason other than her age.
Never mind the fact that she can read at a 5th grade level (she's in 2nd grade). Never mind the fact that she is doing just fine in 2nd grade math, language arts, social studies, and science. But because she did not turn 7 until several months into the school year this year, she could be placed a grade back. Military students face this possibility, and many others just like it, every day.
Thankfully there exists a piece of legislation aimed at easing transitions for military children switching schools. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children adheres to an armed forces adage: Recruit the servicemember, but retain the family.
Developed by the Council of State Governments, education experts and the Defense Department, the Compact on Education Transition for Military Children addresses common problems that affect military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments.
According to the Council on State Governments,
Military families move between postings on a regular basis. While reassignments can often be a boon for career personnel, they often wreak havoc on the children of military families. Issues these children face include: losing and making new friends, adjusting to new cities and bases, and changing schools. While the armed services have taken great leaps to ease the transition of personnel, their spouses and most importantly children, much remains to be done at the state and local levels to ensure that the children of military families are afforded the same opportunities for educational success as other children and are not penalized or delayed in achieving their educational goals by inflexible administrative and bureaucratic practices.
The average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school, and most military children will have six to nine different school systems in their lives from kindergarten to 12th grade. With more than half of all military personnel supporting families, the impacts of reassignment and long deployments are key considerations when making long-term life choices.
Specific impacts on military children include:
- Transfer of Records
- Course Sequencing
- Graduation Requirements
- Exclusion from Extra-Curricular Activities
- Redundant or Missed Entrance/Exit Testing
- Kindergarten and First Grade Entrance Age Variations
- Power of Custodial Parents While Parents are Deployed
The new Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children addresses these issues, as well as compact enforcement, administration, finances, communications, data sharing and training.
Specifically, the compact will address four key areas:
- Graduation Requirements
Compacts such as this one are the most powerful, durable, and adaptive tool for ensuring cooperative action among states. The develop and enforce standards while providing an adaptive structure that can evolve to meet new and increased demands over time. Unlike federal solutions that often dictate unfunded mandates, interstate compacts provide a state-developed structure for collaborative and dynamic action and can often preempt federal interference.
This compact became active when the 10th state enacted it. Currently, there are 11 states that have enacted this compact:
- North Carolina
It has passed one chamber of legislature in four more states and will be considered by at least six more in 2009.
Should you like to learn more about this compact, I would encourage you to watch the video that the Council of State Governments has up - it is incredibly informative. And if your state has not yet already enacted this compact, I would highly encourage you to learn more about this compact and to contact your state representatives and urge them to do so.
Cross-posted at MilitaryConnection.com
Work has picked up, which is good. But I'm finding that I am stingy with my free time and jumping back into the working world isn't as easy as I thought. But the money is good so I can't complain.
MacGyver is still home on convalescent leave. His shoulder is healing nicely, as far as I can tell. He'll start physical therapy in a few weeks. In the mean time, he's trying to find things to keep himself busy which can be interesting. Currently, he's trying to repair our dead fridge which has led him to an instructional video on YouTube given by a guy in India about repairing refrigerator compressors.
MacGyver has outsourced himself to India. Lovely.
Went camping with a bunch of the teens from church. I like camping (definitely my father's daughter on this one. Mom doesn't do activities that don't have running water and indoor plumbing.) and we had a blast. Literally. I think I lost a few freckles from all of the blowing sand (we camped at the beach). But it was a blast, nonetheless.
The FRG is coming along pretty well. Several spouses have stepped up to get involved which has been a huge blessing. My co-leader (yay!) has more ideas than there are minutes in the day and is an excellent salesperson, solicitor, and volunteer-getter. I'm just the admin. Which is just fine with me.
I've stepped up to take on the Military Ministry at our church and we kick that off here soon. I'm hoping to do just half as well as the woman that started this ministry and I'm excited to be doing this BEFORE my husband deploys again next year.
And, in case I didn't have enough to do with my free time (all 13 seconds of it!) I've also agreed to head up the Christmas play. Whee!
Is it New Year's yet?!?
Seriously. I'm tapped. I'm trying to cut a few things out - the side job, gymnastics for the kids, etc. but I still feeling like I'm treading water in combat boots. I'm sure part of this is the fallout from dad dying? I don't know. Again, I apologize for the lack of posting. I'm stalled.
Stop it Hugh! There has to be something more constructive to do with your time.
On a more serious note, I want to say thank you for all of the kindness you've shown me and my family over the past week. Even though my Dad was 80 and not in the best of health, I miss him terribly and I know my mom misses him even more. Your prayers, flowers, kind thoughts...they all mean the world to me and my family. Thank you. I'll tell you more about my dad when I'm able to do so without crying on my keyboard.
In the meantime, Hugh...you really need to find a more constructive outlet for your life thank stalking me!
I woke up crying late at night
when I was very young.
I had dreamed my father
had passed away and gone.
My world revolved around him
I couldnt lay there anymore.
So I made my way down the mirrored hall
and tapped upon his door.
And I said "Daddy, I'm so afraid
how will I go on with you gone that way?
Don't wanna cry anymore
so may I stay with you?"
And he said "That's my job,
that's what I do.
Everything I do is because of you,
To keep you safe with me.
That's my job you see."
Later we barely got along
this teenage boy and he.
Most of the fights it seems
were over different dreams,
we each held for me.
He wanted knowledge and learning.
I wanted to fly out west.
Said, "I could make it out there
if I just had the fare.
I got half, will you loan me the rest?"
And I said "Daddy, I'm so afraid,
there's no guarantee in the plans
I've made and if I should fail,
who will pay my way back home?"
And he said "That's my job
that's what I do.
Everything I do is because of you
to keep you safe with me.
That's my job you see."
Every person carves his spot
and fills the hole with light.
And I pray someday I might
light as bright as he.
Woke up early one bright fall day
to spread the tragic news.
After all my travel, I settled down
within a mile or two.
I make my living with words and rhyme
and all this tragedy
Should go into my head and out instead
as bits of poetry.
But I say "Daddy, I'm so afraid,
how will I go on with you gone this way?
How can I come up with a song to say
I love you?"
That's my job, That's what I do
Everything I do is because of you
to keep you safe with me.
That's my job you see.
Everything I do is because of you
to keep you safe with me.
I'll miss you, Daddy. I love you.
Fifteen years. As a commenter said over at Blackfive, they were in a place they shouldn't have been doing something for a man in the White House not worthy to command them. Without the support they deserved or needed.
Yet they went anyway.
MSG Gary Gordon
SFC Randy Shughart
SSG Daniel Busch
SFC Earl Fillmore
SFC Matt Rierson
MSG Tim "Griz" Martin
75th Ranger Regiment
SGT Dominick Pilla
CPL Jamie Smith
SPC James Cavaco
SGT Casey Joyce
PFC Richard Kowalewski
SGT Lorenzo Ruiz
Task Force 160 (SOAR)
SSG William Cleveland
SSG Thomas Field
CWO Ray Frank
CWO Elvis Wolcott
CWO Donovan Briley
10th Mountain Division
SGT Cornell Houston
PFC James Martin
During the course of my crazy day today while picking up my car at the hospital (MacGyver drove himself to his surgery because my schedule didn't allow me to drive him myself. Therefore I had to then be driven to the hospital to pick up the car before I picked him up 7 hours later.), I came to realize that there was a screw embedded in my right front tire (passenger side).
Drove it home with no problem. When I got the call to go pick MacGyver up from the hospital, the tire was still fine and no idiot lights on the dash came on to alert me to any problem. Of course, by the time we came back out to the car, the tire had begun to deflate (I think I dislodged the screw on the way back to the hospital) and my idiot light was on.
I stopped at a gas station and filled it back up and we limped home. Sometime either this weekend or next week I will take either the wheel (if I can find time to swap it out with the spare) or the entire car to the shop on post to have them either fix the tire or replace it.
JUST what I want to spend $100+ on right now. Whee.
Anyway, (there is a point to the story) I went out to swap cars around so that I can drive MacGyver's car to take the kids to school this evening. It's a manual so HE isn't going to be driving it for at least 6 weeks. I popped the garage door open and as I went to step out - BAREFOOT - I happened to look down...
I about wet myself. I literally was about to step on the nasty little (well, not so little) bugger. He's a good six inches. I managed to leap out of the way and NOT scream like a little girl at the top of my lungs though there was a loud gasp. They are FAST suckers...something I did not know. He scurried about while I tried to figure out what to do about - or TO - him. Finally I decided to sweep him up into a bucket because I don't want to just shoo him away and have him lurking about my house. Nor did I feel like busting out to the blowtorch and cooking him right then and there. Though that is the fate most likely to befall him.
So he's currently sitting in a bucket (no, he cannot scale the sides and escape) out in my front yard. Tomorrow, when MacGyver is a little more lucid, I'll break out the blowtorch and do away with him.
The cool thing is that, now that I've had an up close and personal experience with a centipede, cockroaches really aren't all that scary anymore.
UPDATE: He's still in the bucket. I made MacGyver go and look at him and he was impressed with it's size and the fact that I managed to a.) not scream like a girl and b.) get him into the bucket. I'm liking the bleach idea mentioned in the comments more than I like the idea of cooking him. We'll see. The kids were impressed with him too and announced that neither of them were afraid of centipedes...in buckets.
As for the tire...it's still flat but I did pick up a repair kit per Sly's suggestion. We'll fix it this weekend. Which is good because I miss my car and I'm not a big fan of driving MacGyver's.
MILITARYCONNECTION.COM JOINS FORCES TO HOST WEBATHON WITH THE BOB HOPE USO & CBS RADIO TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
September 26, 2008 - MilitaryConnection.com, a “portal of all things military” and a corporate member of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program is pleased to be airing a Webathon that will raise funds for the Bob Hope USO. The Webathon will take place this Wednesday, October 1st from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
MilitaryConnection.com is proud to be joining forces with several of the premier CBS Southern California radio stations including KRTH-FM (K-Earth 101), KTWV-FM (94.7 The WAVE), KLSX-FM (91.7 Free FM), KFWB-AM (News 980) and KNX-AM (News 1070). In addition to MilitaryConnection.com, the event will be live on Newsblaze.com, TalkingWithHeroes.com and RealMilitaryFlix.com and will be powered by Stickam.com.
Go check out the rest of the story over at Military Etc....
But I think that is where I am right now. It was a great conference and I'm already looking forward to next years (and grateful that it looks like it will be in DC). But I'm a mess and I need to take a break.
I'll be back eventually, I think.
"Talk amongst yourselves."
It was incredible, once again, to meet so many people whom I admire. And it was great to reconnect with old friends. I'm already looking forward to next year.
In looking back at last year's MBC posts, I realize that this year's conference had a decidedly different feel to it. Partly due to the change in location and partly due to the fact that it was a slightly different crowd. I'm sure there is more to it but those were the two biggest factors, in my opinion.
As wonderful as it was to have hooked up with BlogWorld Expo, I can't say I am fan of Vegas when it comes to the MilBlogging Conference. I think that Washington, D.C. was a better location. I understand that logistically, and probably financially, it made sense to do it in Vegas (not to mention the fact that it's a heckuva lot easier to fly from Hawaii to Vegas than it is to fly from Hawaii to D.C.) but I'd prefer to have it in D.C. There's just something about D.C.
The panels were pretty good. I think the second panel actually answered the question posed in the FIRST panel better than the first panel answered it's own question. When you have to ask yourself whether you're still relevant, chances are that you are not.
I do think that the panelists in Panel 1 did a good job of clarifying their thoughts and explaining their individual motivations for blogging. Greyhawk pointed out that readership numbers are not the significant metric when it comes to justifying a blog. And CJ really got at the heart of the matter in that he will never set foot in a psychologist's office and that his shrink is at WordPress.
***My plane is about to board so I'll continue this later...***
Continuing on with Panel 1...Ward Carroll does not need to moderate any more panels. Ever. He fails to understand what "moderate" means and, on several occasions, overshadowed the panelists and the discussion with his sidebar comments and pot-stirring "insights". The point of a moderator is to facilitate the conversation, not dominate it.
The discussion came up concerning the reason for the decline in blogging by those IN theatre. Career concerns were put forth as a reason - pressure from above and concern over the career ramifications were set forth as a possible cause. Semper Fi's husband suggested an alternative theory - that it is not a strategic level issue but more of a tactical issue (and forgive me if I messed that up. I can't recall exactly what he said and I'm waiting for clarification which I'll post once I get.).
Secretary Geren made the point in the third panel that soldiers who blog from in theatre are the best ambassadors for the Army (when it's done properly). And he's right. But blogging while deployed is a risk and one that not many - especially senior NCOs and the lower enlisted side of the house - are willing to take. I would love to see more senior NCOs blogging - I think that their insight into the situation on the ground at that moment is priceless.
Bouhammer made the point in Panel 4 that, as opposed to the rate of information flow back in WWII (think "Letters From Iwo Jima"), blogging captures today what happened TODAY. He made the point that it was like comparing Generation Kill and Band of Brothers in terms of how quickly the stories are now told. In fact, I think they are told SO fast that many of fail to grasp just HOW important those stories are until a little bit of time has passed and perspective has been gained.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering what John Donovan was talking about when he referred to the "mall guard uniform" in his question to GEN Bergner, here you go:
***Looks like my flight from LAX to home is finally about to board (we've been delayed by over 4 hours on top of a 4 hour layover. Ick) so I'll stop now and write more later. Stay tuned! ***
Chuck Z lost out to a blogger who was ordered o stop six months ago. It's a real shame because aside from my personal crush on him, I really love the way he writes. If Carren ever dumps him, My hooker husband may have to change to an "open Marriage."
***edited to add that I have photographic proof of many things including the fact that I did not write this post. IT was a 3-time loser that did.
JP's showing us a clip from the bit done by Deb Scranton on "Bad Voodoo's War".
JP says it was a lot more fun to do BVW because he isn't able to put those types of experiences into words. Greyhawk comments that, in watching BVW, he recognized some friends from his time over there. Small world.
Christian, what were you thinking when you decided to go to Iraq??
He was pissed that he didn't get to embed on the first round for the invasion. It was (is?) the biggest story of the century and he wanted to be in on it. He went as a "SOJO" - solo journalist. That's the beauty of modern technology. The support structure is now sitting right there in your laptop. Anyone can be a multimedia journalist and makes a much more compelling story for the reader.
The DoD wants to send jounalists to Iraq but there is still an accreditation process in place that makes it tough. Blackfive and their staff are working to provide another avenue.
Toby says that it's beautiful but it sucks that bloggers aren't getting embeds like they should. However, we're able to fill that gap with something other than a mainstream media voice.
Jack Holt finds that the liability is the big stumbling block right now. The one question that most commanders have before they allow an embed is do they have insurance in place? They want to know that everything is squared away and that you're not going to be left hung out to dry with a big medical bill.
Toby relates an incident in which they got hung up behind a convoy and an IED hit a bus filled with women and children rather than the convoy. They offered aid and were riding high on their actions. That night the WaPo reported that Toby's unit attacked the bus. The story got skewed and Toby and his men were hung out to dry. However the bloggosphere afforded Toby and his unit the opportunity to set the record straight. The milblogging community got behind Bad Voodoo in a big way.
QUESITON: Any pressure from above?
TN: Obviously there is OPSEC. Didn't want anything to distract from ability and lethality. Once the command was convinced of that, it was a go.
BH: Never really had a problem with it. The only time censorship was an issue was from his wife.
QUESTION: JP, what differences did you see between your deployments?
JP: Didn't see much change. Had to consider the fact that his family read what he wrote so there was always that consideration.
BH: Blogging now captures today what's happening on the warfront TODAY. As opposed to letters from previous wars that sat for years before they were captured for history. It's captured raw, unedited. But it's NOW, not 20 years later. Generation Kill versus Band of Brothers. We'll know tomorrow what happened today.
QUESTION: Do you think that someday blog writings will be the "first hand sources" that come with history textbooks?
QUESTION: Did your families watch the film before it was screened? And how did they feel about it?
JP: They all cried a lot during the screening. But it gave them a much better understanding of what we were doing.
TN: They did watch it and they did get a better understanding. But he's still in the doghouse for not communicating effectively with his family what he did before the screening. His website became somewhat of an FRG site in that everyone read it.
QUESTION: When you're over there, doing your thing, do you have kind of a different view as a blogger? Do you look at incidents with an eye toward blogging?
BH: Went with a stack of 3x5 cards and would write down highlights so he wouldn't forget (too many IED hits...his memory is shot) so that he could come back and write about it.
TN: There's a beauty of the relationships built in combat. That's part of bridging that cultural gap. It's important thing for them to understand. Situations can provided some levity. Shows good guys having fun while still doing dangerous work.
CL: Everything is blog fodder. Many a port-o-potty was put up for a caption contest. There is no better notebook than a videocamera.
BH: Writing about difficult events can be therapeutic but it's also very hard to bring those demons out.
QUESTION: Afghanistan. Thoughts?
BH: All the bad guys that left Iraq have moved in to Afghanistan. Germans lost their first soldier in ______ years. We've set the record for number of losses already this year. Partly because there are more of us there. And partly because they've lost in Iraq and they've moved on.
And we're on to the MilBloggies.
Still no dice on getting the BWE site or Twitter. Grr.
We're currently waiting on the live feed for the Bloggers' Roundtable panel. This panel is hosted by Jack Holt from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and features the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren. Additional panelists include Ward Carroll and John Donovan.
Secretary Geren is on the line.
Ward: How would you rate your own internet savvy?
SG: Uses the internet a great deal. Blogging isn't something that he was really familiar with until just a few years ago. References Dan Rather's undoing by bloggers. "I don't know what a blog is but I know that Dan Rather does." He encourages the senior leadership to embrace "new media".
Ward: What are your personal frustrations with how your top concerns have been handled by traditional mechanisms?
SG: Interest in "new media" wasn't really fueled by any frustrations per se but more just a realization of the rise of "new media" and it's value. He sees it as an addition to what we're doing and a mechanism to reach families.
John Donovan: How do we change the culture at the O-5/O-6 level or do we just wait some of those guys out?
SG: General Caldwell is making inroads in that area. There are generational challenges. He now sees blogs as an important part of his information-gathering. Yes, his generation has had difficulty in embracing the "new media". But there are now senior leadership and THEIR WIVES that blog!
JD: Do you think you've satisfactorily set the stage so that, no matter what the new administration embodies, that the ball will continue to roll?
SG: I think so. General Caldwell has really made inroads. But he's not the only one talking about it. Significant inroads have been made but we're not where we need to be.
QUESTION: Has the Army given any thought to publicizing blogs outside of the military (i.e. the general public)?
SG: Hadn't really thought about this before. The sense is that, particularly for the 30 and below set, MSM is much like the Model T Ford in terms of where people get their news.
QUESTION: Has there been any talk about trying to come up with a common set of rules with regard to blogging amongst the services?
SG: No. Each branch is going to have different criteria. Each service is going to customize the guidelines based on how they see the mission requirements and how they relate.
QUESTION: What kind of follow up do you have in place to pursue ideas brought forth in roundtables to make sure that the concept presented is fully understood and isn't misconstrued or misinterpreted?
SG: In a previous roundtable, the issue of reaching out to parents was brought up. Getting back to the person who raised the issue and let them know what is being done and look for clarification is necessary but not yet really done.
QUESTION: There is no methodology to train the soldier on how to blog. How do we make this happen? The Army doesn't train people on the ONE TOOL we use every day.
SG: You're right - there is no mechanism in place for that. Our senior enlisted and officers think that they will never get in trouble if they keep their mouth shut but then the Army story isn't told. We have to get away from the "zero defect" mindset. The best people to tell the stories are the ones that are out there, every day. They are the best ambassadors for the Army. How we get a culture that is willing to take risks in that respect is a big challenge.
I have to say, this is the 4th or 5th time I've been involved with Secretary Geren and I am never disappointed with him.
Chief of Public Affairs, US Army General Bergner
QUESTION: (John Donovan) What's up with the "mall guard" suit that the Army seems to be moving to in terms of uniform?
GB: Feedback has been strong but there is logic behind it. But that's the direction the Army is going.
QUESTION: Would the Army be willing to issue and "Outstanding Blogging Medal"?
GB: One of the challenges we have in this institution is getting a new idea into the Army and also getting an old idea out. Our ability to move forward is really the nature of the challenge. We will find a way to recognize those that are telling the Army story. All of us want to tell the story.
QUESTION: What about the interagency aspect of all of this? Are there any efforts in that regard?
(sorry, I missed the answer...got distracted.)
Time to browse the exhibit hall.
What are some of the "hot button" issues for families and your audience?
Sarah: It's interesting how we will write anything for everyone. The biggies are ones that are really personal - the things that you NEVER talk about like how many of us sit home and plan our husband's funeral or divulge the innermost details of reunification.
Mrs. G.: Dawn Patrol is a great resource.
FbL: Project Valour-IT started during Hurricane Katrina and had a rough start. So the idea came about to pit the services against one another to raise monies for PVIT. And the fundraising exceeded everyone's wildest dreams.
How does the milblogging community fill the gap for the parent community?
LAW: ArmyWives (the show) has a line..."It's a totally different muscle" in reference to sending a child into combat as opposed to sending a spouse. Parents are different than spouses. They are not often on the radar with regard to the military.
Mary from MilitaryOneSource is speaking about the new stuff coming up including TroopTube (as an alternative to YouTube), a blog site called GoalPost, moderated online counseling, and HeroHelpers which will be coming online in the next few weeks.
LAW: Is MilitaryOneSource.com available to parents?
Mary: It's not a black and white area. Depends on the level of support being offered to the servicemember. There are resources for parents on MilitaryOneSource.
QUESTION: Are there any communities out there that try to form a support structure for veterans? Are there any plans to expand those communities to veterans from other wars?
Sarah: When a blogger who was a military member exits military service, it's not like they are then erased from the milbloggosphere.
John Donovan: You're not always going to see what's going on. It's multi-variant, multi-faceted and you don't see it up front all the time. Many things are behind the scenes.
For some reason, I can't get into the BlogWorld Expo's site or Twitter...and it's really ticking me off. Other sites come up just fine. Grr.
We're breaking for lunch.
JP is hilarious. And not only that but he brought his MOM with him and the image of her hanging out at the pre-party last night (at The Penthouse Club) was priceless. Way to go ChipperD! It's nice to have him here instead of overseas, getting shot at.
JP's covering some of the highlights of the past years of milblogging:
* the DoD's update of the OPSEC command, requiring military bloggers to register their blogs with their command
* milbloggers met with President Bush in 2007
* Andrew Olmestead's passing in January 2008
* March/April 2008 MattMattMattMattMatt
* Soldiers' Angels, ParentZone, SpouseBuzz, etc.
And now we're on to the first panel. Ward Carroll is moderating with Matt from Blackfive, Phil Carter from Intel Dump, CJ Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective, and Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette. The topic is "Are MilBlogs Still Relevant?"
Ward talked too long. Introductions from all panel members. I didn't realize that Greyhawk had been blogging since early 2003. He mentions that it's getting harder and harder to find bloggers that are actually blogging from IN theatre. There are a variety of reasons for the decline. Phil started in November 2002. He remarks on the gap that exists between the less than 1% of citizens of this country that serve in the military and the rest of society and how blogging, and milblogging in particular, needs to adapt and adjust as time goes on.
And on a side note, the internet connection in this room (not sure if it's expo-wide) SUCKS.
Matt was mobbed by a group of adoring fans as he arrived here at the expo. He's reviewing the reason (Matt Schram) that he started blogging and how the effects of blogging have had positive effects worldwide. He's now discussing the future of Blackfive - credentialing people, embedding them in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how Blackfive is morphing somewhat into something that resembles the MSM. And it scares him. It scares me too in a sense. It's a slippery slope and I'd hate to see something like Blackfive turn into something that it was designed to counter - the MSM.
So, does it matter? Are milblogs still relevant?
Phil: Yes. This election provides an opportunity for discourse between the 1% in the military and the rest of the society. Keep the war on the front pages.
Ward: Is there part of Obama's campaign that is trying to use the milbloggosphere to get Obama's message out there?
Phil: Yes. Both campaigns are. And both see the importance of it.
CJ: The relevancy issue is about as broad as the variety of blogs themselves. As long as blogging is relevant to the blogger, it doesn't matter whether anyone else sees it as relevant. "I'll never set foot in a psychologist's office. My psychologist is at WordPress."
Greyhawk: Is pressure from above a significant factor in the cause of the decline in frontline bloggers? Readership numbers are not the significant metric. It's not "how many" readers but WHO are the readers.
Ward: Matt, what are your concerns?
Matt: Besides the Penthouse Club...as long as we can still reach out to those within the military community and help them, it doesn't really matter if the rest of the world cares. That's as relevant as he cares to be.
QUESTION: Do you think the blogging community can use the need for support to push for support for those returning? And if so, do you think the blogworld community can move from simply talking about the issue to actually implementing support groups within the milblogging community?
Greyhawk: It's already been done - in a disorganized organized way: Military.com, Soldiers' Angels, Project Valour-IT, SpouseBuzz, etc.
CJ: His decision to become a 1SGT was made in order to be able to influence and support the troops. The emails from troops that he gets shows that he IS supporting troops, in addition to supporting himself.
Phil: We're seeing a new way of organizing. Groups like Wounded Warrior Project are relying on a new way of getting word out and accessing support that eliminates a great deal of overhead due to the personal and viral nature of how support is coming about.
John Donovan: His blog has allowed him to get with his CongressCritter and allowed him to influence his VA region, etc.
QUESTION: How do we organize all of these resources so that everyone has common access to them?
Phil: It's jazz, not symphony. The nature of these resources is resistant to top-down organizational structure.
(It all goes back to Matt's idea of Small Spheres of Influence.)
QUESTION: What was your target audience and how has it changed due to the unintended consequences of blogging?
Matt: It was a lot easier to get noticed back in the beginning. The biggest unintended audience was his mom. That's when he changed his "blogging voice".
Phil: We've been able to help the MSM get the story right or call them out on it when they get it wrong.
Greyhawk: When the numbers started coming in, he changed his blogging style. He began to self-edit more and increasingly put more thought into his posts. The realization came then that the "bad guys" started reading. He references the Rick Rescorla post and how one of the first commenters on that post was Rick's wife. People you write about will find you.
QUESTION: MilitaryOneSource is a perfect answer to the first question of the panel. They are looking to use the milblogging community and the social networking sites to spread the word.
QUESTION: Carren Ziegenfuss remarks about how, when Chuck was wounded, writing on his blog was therapeutic for HER. And had she not done that, she wouldn't be a part of SpouseBuzz. What kind of impact does the involvement of families have on you as a blogger?
CJ: "I wrote to be able to talk to 'someone' without talking to 'anyone'". Blogging is his way to be able to talk to those close to him without having to do so face to face.
Greyhawk: It's an interesting side effect to get emails from families seeking help. Or those who joined the service because of what they read at Mudville.
Phil: "It's a tough question about how much light you want to show." He didn't blog much from Iraq as he didn't want his family and friends to worry. It's an interesting that so many in the military are willing to share with EVERYONE.
Matt: The Army is one big, frickin' bureaucracy and you're not going to see it take those kind of risks.
Phil: Until you see the metrics for promotion and selection change, you will not see this become mainstream.
CJ: The higher-ups support blogging but there's still a reg out there that stands in the way. The support hasn't trickled down to the lower levels.
The discussion ensues about the conflict between the strategic level and the tactical level in terms of support for blogging.
And we're on break.
And that was just the warm up. There are more where that came from and I think I see a Project Valour-IT fundraiser in the making. I think I can sell some of these pictures for a pretty penny...heh.
Case in point: I went over to the convention center to register early as I am planning to help out at the registration table for tomorrow's MBC. Didn't want to get stuck in any more crowds than is absolutely necessary on this trip (which is another post in and of itself). As I'm walking in, I see none other than Hugh Hewitt off to my right on the phone. I must have been staring at him because he looked up and smiled and gave a small wave.
Eek! Too cool! He's one of my favorite bloggers/radio talk show hosts (I'm hoping to meet Dennis Praeger as well...eat your heart out, Jay) so this was definitely a highlight. Listen to me...I sound like a goofy 10 year old at a Miley Cyrus concert. Sheesh.
It was still cool though.
Stay tuned for more updates...
The new template I want to use for my blog is giving me FITS. I'm about ready to chuck it and just stick with the old tried and true basic blogger template. What's really frustrating is that when I preview the code in my test blog, it looks JUST FINE.
When I copy and paste (altering NOTHING) to damn code to my regular blog, it's FUBARd.
I. DON'T. GET. IT.
I know just enough .html to be dangerous. Which isn't a good thing. Thank goodness for the "preview" option! I've narrowed it down to a slice of code that seems to be causing the problem (though I can't be 100% sure so I'm still digging through the rest of the code) but I can't figure out what to DO about it.
Crossing The Bar
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
"Crossing the bar" refers to the death of a mariner. The phrase has its origin in the fact that most rivers and bays develop a sandbar across their entrances, and "crossing the bar" meant leaving the safety of the harbor for the unknown.
The Bloggers Roundtable provides source material for stories in the blogosphere concerning the Department of Defense (DoD) by bloggers and online journalists. Where available, this includes transcripts, biographies, related fact sheets and video.You can access the transcript and mp3 audio file of this roundatable by visiting the DoDLive webpage.
Among those involved in this particular Roundtable was the Secretary of the Army, Mr. Pete Geren. I have had the pleasure of meeting Secretary Geren in person as well as participating with him in a previous Roundtable and this time was no different. He introduced the topic by saying that this was
an important opportunity for us to look back on 25 years of the Army Family Action Plan. General Wickham initiated this with a -- with a very prescient white paper that he wrote 25 years ago, and did an extraordinary job of looking into the future and laying out for us the challenges we would face, as an Army, as we moved further into this century.
And the Army, over the last several years, has been stepping up to this challenge, making -- doing everything we can to provide Army families a quality of life that's comparable to the quality of their service. But we recognize there's more to do, and the great folks that are with us today are some of those that are helping us respond to the needs of families and helping us understand the needs of families.
There were several of us on the panel and some very good questions were posed. In particular I asked how the Army manages to strike a balance between the family-life programs that AFAP has been so good about pointing out the need for versus actual military funding. Because, let's face it, as wonderful as those programs are, my overriding concern as a military spouse is the safety and welfare of my husband - that he have the best equipment and training available to him so that he can not only do his job well but also stay safe and come BACK to us when he's done.
Secretary Geren responds:
Anytime you have to live within a budget you have to make hard choices. There's no doubt about it. Always the first priority of our Army are the men and women in harm's way. We can never take our eye off of that ball. That's got to be where every day you wake up, what can we do for the men and women that are in harm's way and do everything we can. Now, that doesn't mean that you can ignore other important aspects of the life of the Army and family support is a huge part of that, and over the last couple years we've more than doubled support for families. We've worked hard to move those family support programs from the supplemental -- (inaudible) -- into a -- to the regular budget and into our five-year budgeting cycle and have been successful because we recognize how important that is.
But I can assure you that we never take our focus off the men and women who are in harm's way. That is our top priority. But an important part of supporting those men and women in harm's way is making sure the families have the support that they need, and General Wickham 25 years ago wrote that the family support is a readiness issue. If you are in harm's way and you're having to worry about whether or not your children are in good schools or the housing (they're in that it be safe ?), their neighborhoods are safe, it's going to impact readiness. So just from a readiness standpoint family support is critical. But our commitment to family goes beyond that. We believe we've got a moral commitment to the families. They're volunteers just like the soldiers are and they're carrying a big part of our nation's burden particularly during these very challenging times. But your point is well taken. We can never take our eye off the ball of the men and women whose lives are on the line for us. We've got 250,000 soldiers in 80 countries around the world today (varying ?) threatening environments and we -- that is our obsession.
In addition to my question, there were some phenomenal questions from the other panelists. One question had to do with PTSD/TBI (post-traumatic stress disorder/traumatic brain injury) support for the spouses whose loved ones are dealing with these issues. And not only is there support for spouses in these situations but also is there any kind of effort being made to connect these spouses WITH one another for added support?
Another question focused on the servicemembers that do not have spouses but DO have families (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.) that want to be involved and crave the information that has traditionally been reserved for spouses.
One participant asked how the DoD and the VA were planning on handling the "bubble" of servicemembers that have gone through the military service and what the plans were to help with the transition from military to civilian life.
These roundtables are a wonderful way to be able to bring issues to the forefront of a discussion with people involved at some of the highest levels of decision-making within the military and the Defense Department. I would encourage you to go and either read the transcript or listen to the audio archive of the discusison. And, should you have questions that were NOT addressed, please feel free to post them in the comments and I will do my best to bring them up should I get the chance.
Cross-posted at Military Connection.
If you notice bugs or issues as I upload the new template, let me know in the comments. Also, could you be kind enough to let me know what O/S you're using and what browser? Thanks!
Our friends were involved in the recovery effort. All four on board were married with children. A fund has been established to help the families of those lost.
Now would be a good time.
Even if you're not the praying type, good thoughts are needed.
Friends of ours are involved.
If you're looking for a career change, or just a career, you should go check it out!
Our friends brought water skis and took us out for a run. I've never been water skiing nor wakeboarding nor tubing. We never did boats and the closest I've come is jet skiing (which I adore and MacGyver and I are always on the lookout for some of the old standup jetskis on Craigslist that don't cost an arm and a leg). I am always up for new stuff so I decided to give it a try and it was a blast! I was worried I wasn't going to be able to get up at all but I managed to get up on my first try. Didn't stay up for long but I made it up!
Our friend who was driving the boat and giving instruction has the heart of a teacher so he was very good at explaining what to do and how to do it which made things much easier. I wrenched my shoulder pretty good on the first try and it's pretty sore right now. We'll see how it feels in the morning.
This family that invited us to go with them are awesome. I love how they just embrace life wherever they are. I'm very much a "bloom where you're planted" type of person - I think it's necessary in order to be "successful" in military life - but this family is the epitome of that.
I have several friends that are not the "bloom where you're planted" types and I have a hard time understanding how a person functions like that. Don't get me wrong - I've not liked every place we've lived while in the military nor do I like even the "good" places 100% of the time. Even our dream location will have it's drawbacks. But I can't spend months or years bemoaning the location I live in and I can't sit around waiting for "the next place we live" to be better. If I did that I might as well curl up into a ball and try to sleep the days away.
Not my style.
So I get out. I learn about the place we're living. I find things to do. I do my best to meet people. I try to put out of my mind the fact that we will be leaving here someday - probably sooner than later - and others may very well do the same. Military life is very much a "live for the moment" life. If you spend your time waiting to be in a "better location", you'll wake up one day and find that 10 years have slipped past you and all you have to show for it are a few lousy T shirts and not a lot else.
I'd rather look back on those 10 years and remember the time we went snowmachining (that's "snowmobiling" for those of you that don't live in Alaska) in -20* weather at the unit Christmas party or the time I had a massive snowball fight in the parking lot at swim practice or the time we took off down to Orlando while living in Alabama to go to DisneyWorld because the tickets were free. Or what about the time the kids and I jumped in the car and drove with friends from church (in Alabama) to New Orleans because there was a Mervyn's there and because I wanted FOR REAL beignets from the French Quarter? Who knew that a year later, the French Quarter would come really close to being wiped off the map??
Or what about the time MacGyver and I took off up to Chena Hot Springs for our anniversary? Or the trip to Talkeetna during HART (high altitude rescue team) training? Or jumping the rock at Waiamea? Or driving the road to Hana? Or finding our favorite bagel place down in Nashville? Or touring the plantation in Franklin? Or the beautiful homes we toured in Eufala?
NONE of those memories would exist if I had sat around moping over the fact that we weren't where I absolutely wanted to be. Not one.
Bitter or better. It's a choice. Choose a vowel.