Tag Archive | military wife

Deployment Support in the Civilian World

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Many, if not most, military wives go through deployment living around others who totally “get it.” They live on post near other families in their unit, or they at least live in the vicinity of the installation where the military population is quite high. However, this is Mark’s second deployment and the second time that I’ve gone through deployment in a civilian setting. Since college graduation, I’ve been living at home with my parents and younger siblings so I could pay extra on my hefty student loans and not bring SO much debt into our marriage.

While being around family during a deployment is a great thing, it is also very different from living within a military community. They see what I go through, yet I understand and accept that they will never truly “get it.” So I have had to make an extra effort to gain military-related support during Mark’s tours of duty. For some this might be a daunting task, but because I love people it has been an adventure! For those who are a little more shy about meeting new people, reading blogs, books, and joining online communities is a good start. (A great resource is Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members.) Recently I found a Meetup group called the DFW Military Wives, Fiancees, and Girlfriends Network. They have events in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for military families from all branches! Sometimes the get-togethers are as simple as having finger foods, cracking open a bottle of wine, and chatting for hours on end. But doing that is so comforting for a military wife’s heart! The other ladies can understand exactly what you are experiencing and can give advice on how to deal with difficult situations. I also began this blog during Mark’s first deployment and am now the Blog Assistant Coordinator for the Army Wife Network‘s Loving a Soldier blog as well.

Deployment is also an opportune time to improve myself and accomplish important goals. The first time around, my general goal was to find extra work and make more money to pay off a large chunk of student loans. In those five months (November 2011-April 2012), I paid off over $12,000 in debt (which included paying off my car)! During this deployment, I wanted to be more specific and varied with my goals. They include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Finish saving for our church ceremony and wedding reception (DONE!)
  • Reduce my student loan debt to $55,000 (which entails continuing to do extra work…after college graduation 4 years ago, I had $140,000 in debt)
  • Read 1-2 personal/career development books per month
  • Connect with at least 2 friends per month
  • Blog 2-3 times per week
  • Take 10 Krav Maga self-defense classes
  • And of course, actually set a date and PLAN our wedding so we can have it very soon after he returns!

Everyone Serves elaborates on how to cultivate a healthy level of self-care, on pages 56-63. Spending time with friends is something I needed to actually schedule this time. I have a tendency during deployment to work until I am burned out, so I learned the hard way that it is important to just chill out sometimes. I also gain strength from my faith and prayer. What happens to Mark during deployment is totally out of my control, and so my faith sustains me when times get rough. I also make sure to recognize that what I CAN control are my own actions and goals, and I focus on improving myself each day.

~Malori~

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Last Friday (8/9/13), I toured the George W. Bush Presidential Library with my friends Ashley and Carolyn. It was great!

Follow Blue Star Families on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and build a support network so you can keep your family and personal community strong throughout the duration of the entire deployment life cycle.

Please click HERE to view my disclosure statement, in compliance with FTC guidelines.

Military Mondays: The Harsh Realities of War

I’m one of those spouses who WANTS to know exactly what happens in war.  I don’t know how common that is, because I have heard both sides: needing to know and not wanting to know.  It all depends on personality and your coping style, but my coping style definitely hates being left in the dark.

I’m the Army wife who is attracted like a magnet to the TV when the word “Afghanistan” or “terrorism” is mentioned; I’m the Army wife who watches documentaries like Battleground Afghanistan and Restrepo; I’m the Army wife who would prefer to read a raw, honest saga of a journalist embedded with fighting soldiers, rather than the latest issue of “Military Spouse Magazine.” (Disclaimer: That is not a rip against the magazine, it IS a great resource and I enjoy their articles!)

Furthermore, I don’t just want to know what happens in war generally.  I want to know specifically what is happening to my own soldier.  I know to not pepper him with TOO many questions, but when he opens up about combat (whether it’s about his previous tour or his current one) I listen attentively and soak up every word.  I want a visual picture painted in my head.  I want to know when things get really bad.  But most of all, I want to understand what he is going through.

But that is where I get tripped up and frustrated.  The cold fact is that I will NEVER understand.  No matter how many times he repeats his stories, no matter how deep he may let me look into his soul, I will NEVER GET IT.  Only another veteran can completely understand him.  Only another veteran can look at his eyes and know the pain he’s suffered.  Only another veteran can say, “I get it. I know.”

I DON’T know, and during Mark’s first deployment that especially caused me great anguish because it was a very rough tour.  He was violently engaged with the enemy.  He was knocked out in a rollover accident.  He had to shoot a puppy to death because it might have been rabid.  He looked death in the face numerous times.  Those are things I cannot fathom, even though I wish I could.  There have been times I’ve truly wished I could go to Afghanistan, just so I could understand him better.  In all honesty, if I had the opportunity to travel there as an embedded journalist, I would.  And at one point, I was trying to get a contractor job over there so I could quickly pay off my student loans…but also so I could see a TINY bit of reality.

However, one of the puzzle pieces to being a good military wife is to understand what my role is.  My role is to be his support, his rock, his love.  My role entails being patient, unshakeable, and a good listener.  He may be a warrior in the traditional sense of the word (his name even means “God’s Warrior”), but in my own way, I am a warrior too.  We each have unique warrior qualities that complement each other and give strength where the other is weak.  Even after our military life is over, we will fearlessly face life head-on….together.

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Blue Star Families: Everyone Serves Blog Series Premiere

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Welcome to the Blue Star Families deployment series!  Every week for the next five months, I and four other military spouse bloggers will be writing about our experiences with the deployment process in conjunction with the e-book Everyone Serves.  I’d first like to give a huge thank you to BSF for accepting me as a blogger and to my Army Wife Network colleagues for letting me know about this opportunity!  I’d also like to give a shout-out to the other military wives participating in this series: Jennifer, Jacey, Julie, and Reda.  Please check out their bios HERE!

Until a few years ago, I never thought I’d be an Army wife.  The military just wasn’t something familiar to me.  I was born and raised near Dallas, was homeschooled until college, and had a serious relationship with my violin, which I’ve played since three years of age.  The violin was my childhood passion, so I made the decision to pursue a degree in violin performance.  I graduated from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 2009, returning to Texas because I got a desk job.  I got into a normal routine: working at the office, exercising (sometimes), paying my student loans on time, spending time with family and friends, reading, being a news junkie.  I was comfortable and settled….

…until I was introduced to the military.  Mark and I met online in March 2010, and a few weeks later, we met in person for a date.  He drove three hours to meet me, and that in itself was impressive!  However, I also was impressed by his intellect, his passion for our common beliefs, and his dedication to his job as an Army officer.  (Oh yes, small detail – his looks were quite striking as well!)  That first date led to many more, and a few months later, we knew that we had met “the one.”  We were engaged in December 2010, and this month (June 2013) we tied the knot at the courthouse.  Upon his return from deployment, we will have our church wedding and then ride happily into the sunset.

But, as we all know, military life is never that easy.  Deployment inevitably returns.  Lives are in danger.  Stress is a daily visitor.  The word “Afghanistan” pops out in the news like a neon sign.  But yet, we continue to live this life – not just in survival mode, but in thriving mode.  From the beginning of my military journey with Mark, I looked upon it as the biggest adventure of my life, as a unique opportunity to rise to its challenges.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced moments of feeling completely overwhelmed – but at some point, there is a chance to coast down the other side of the mountain.

This, our second deployment, has just begun – and I have to say that saying goodbye the second time around is much harder than the first.  But what is exciting to me is this: I also have the chance to share my experiences so that others won’t feel alone in the tough times.  I have an opportunity to serve my country and fellow military spouses by opening up my heart through the passion I have for writing.  For that, I am truly honored and grateful.

~Malori~

Follow Blue Star Families on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and build a support network so you can keep your family and personal community strong throughout the duration of the entire deployment life cycle.

Please click HERE to read my disclosure statement, in compliance with FTC guidelines.

Military Mondays: Fond Memories, Exciting Future

This year will be one filled with a lot of “lasts.”  The last time to celebrate Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with my maiden name.  The last year to teach my students.  The last time to go on a summer road trip with my family.  The last chances to do fun things around the Dallas area and to see my sister to perform violin in recitals.  Today, as I sat outside with her, my mom, and my grandma eating snow cones, she said, “It sounds like you’re dying!”

Snowcones

I had to laugh because it did sound like that.  And in a way, I will be dying – to my current way of life when I become an Army wife….and I am so excited!

That doesn’t mean I won’t miss things.  I will always keep fond memories of my time in Texas and with my family very close.  But it is almost time to close this chapter of my life and move on to the next one, and honestly, I have been longing (yes, DYING) to turn the page.  I have to give The Warrior major props, because he has been SO much more patient than me.  He has been able to see the big picture, which is why we have waited “so long” to get married.  But it has been the best route and I know our future is that much brighter because of his insistence of being deliberate and detail-oriented.

Today, I thought it would be fun to outline 10 things I will miss, and at the same time, 10 things I am REALLY looking forward to:

THINGS I WILL MISS:

1) My family – parents, brothers, sister, and relatives in the north Texas area

2) The greatest state in the union, TEXAS!  And my hometown, pretty much the best city in Texas. :)

3) Seeing longhorn cattle as I drive along the road

4) Celebrating every holiday and birthday with said family and relatives

5) My co-workers and friends

6) Tex-Mex food

7) Being a delegate to the district and state GOP conventions

8) Texas/southern culture

9) Getting under my sister’s skin by acting annoying

10) Nice amenities in the area: my church, gym, upscale grocery stores, etc.

 

THINGS I AM SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED ABOUT:

1) Being The Warrior’s wife!!! :)

2) Moving all over the country and hopefully the world

3) Getting more plugged in to the military life

4) Paying off my debt and living a debt-free life with The Warrior

5) Not being 3 hours away from The Warrior

6) Having little warriors – I mean, kids ;)

7) Cooking for and creating a home(s) with The Warrior – basically, being the HH6 (Household 6)

8) Making awesome Army wife friends

9) Escaping the awful Texas heat

10) Serving my country as a military wife :)

I love seeing that huge grin of his...can't wait to marry this guy :)

I love seeing that huge grin of his…can’t wait to marry this awesome guy :)

The things I’m looking forward to definitely outshine anything sad that I might experience.  Feelings of sentimentality are normal and okay, but it is important to not let them be overpowering.  There will be challenges in the Army life, but I can’t wait to face life head-on with The Warrior!  We have a wonderful future ahead of us.  :)

~Malori~

Happy Armed Forces Day 2013!

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May is full of patriotism!  It’s Military Appreciation Month, and celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day – which is today!  It was created on August 31, 1949 by Defense Secretary Louis Johnson to replace the separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days.  (The Marines still officially celebrate Marine Corp Day.)  For more on the history, visit http://www.defense.gov/afd/history.aspx.

Yesterday, I was blessed to spend time with a small group of ladies who all “get it.”  I recently found a Meetup.com group in the DFW area for military wives, fiancees, and girlfriends, and last night they held a casual get-together.  I decided to go, so I brought a bottle of white wine and an appetizer to share, and gathered with the other ladies at the group coordinator’s home.  It was SUCH a wonderful, refreshing time!  We ended up hanging out for 5 hours just talking, laughing, and enjoying the food and drinks.

Almost all the Armed Forces branches were represented: we had a Navy Reservist wife, an Air Force wife, an Army medically-retired wife, an Army girlfriend, and me, an Army fiancee.  Even our ethnicities were diverse: German, Spanish, and Asian were included in the mix.  But the bond that I felt with each one was incredible, even though I had just met them.  Our ties to the military drew us together and created a special sisterhood.

We talked about a large variety of things, from our men’s deployments, our experiences with deployment, marriage issues, the great things about being a military wife, and other things non-military related.  But one of the best moments of the evening was when the Navy Reservist wife was explaining something about her husband’s Afghanistan deployment, and I had a lightbulb moment and exclaimed, “Wait, really??  I’m so glad I’m not the only one who experienced that!”  Of course I’ve read about other wives’ experiences online, but this was where it all clicked.  There were MANY other instances where one of us would be explaining something, and we’d all nod and say, “I know exactly what you mean” or “I’ve felt that exact thing, too” or “My husband acts the exact same way.”  There is such comfort and encouragement in those moments; you feel that you are not alone, even though you’ve always known it intellectually.

These ladies just “get it.”  I could tell they all love their guys very deeply, but at the same time, have a confident independence about themselves.  It is ironic that the military calls wives “dependents,” when they are really not dependent at all!  As much as we love our soldiers, we live with the knowledge and confidence that if, God forbid anything would happen to them and they would never come home, we would make it okay.  We would be able to pick up our emotional pieces and have a good life, which is exactly what they would want us to do.  At the same time, living with this knowledge makes us that much more thankful and appreciative of the precious time we have with them, and we love them with a fierceness that others might never experience.

We know what it is like to be proud of our Armed Forces, and today we salute each one of them.

~Malori~

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

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At Wife of a Sailor, she is hosting a “link-up” for Military Spouse Appreciation Day!  Head over there to read her blog and find links to other fantastic military wives’ blogs.

I first want to give a shout-out and huge THANK YOU to military spouses today across all branches, and also to all those who are married to retired veterans.  You are the vital glue of the military, and it is amazing to see all the wonderful ways in which you support your servicemembers.  Your praises are left unsung much of the time, and your bravery and strength are oftentimes underestimated.  Today is all about you, so take time to celebrate each other and your accomplishments!  I cannot wait to join the ranks of “military wife” along with you.

So while I am not yet a spouse, I am on my way to becoming one next spring!  Right now, however, I stand beside you all as a proud Army fiancee.  The Warrior and I met online 3 years ago, and after just a few months of in-person dating, we knew that each other was “the one.”  In December 2010 he proposed (on one knee and I said yes!), and last year he completed his first deployment, in Afghanistan.  It was pretty rough at times, but it gave me a good taste of what military wives go through.  He has been back for one year and is getting ready to be deployed again.  While this tour of duty will be longer than the first one, I am looking forward to again keeping busy and accomplishing many important things such as paying off more student loans and PLANNING OUR WEDDING!  We have much to look forward to and I will be counting the days until he gets back and we are married.

Happy Mil-Spouse Appreciation Day!

~Malori~

Wordless Wednesdays: My Life Right Now

Okay, technically I’m cheating on this “wordless Wednesdays” thing since there are words on these pictures- oh wait, and I’m writing something right now.  I just can’t help myself!  Perhaps I should call these “ALMOST Wordless Wednesdays”….

Mil Orders ecard

Start Book

~Malori~