On or off post? What's the best location for your family? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Considering where to live? Take a look at this list of common pros and cons. After all, a housing situation is one that should not be taken lightly. Even if a location will be short-term, there’s no reason to give up preferred amenities or preferences!


Thankfully, military families are given a choice on where they’d like to live. Take a look at the rundown of each scenario in order to find the best overall housing fit.

The pros of living on post

Living on location can come with a number of perks, including standby maintenance, a choice at housing sizes or styles, and avoiding the hassle of paying.

-Safety Factor: Living on post means background checks before folks can enter the premises. Guards at the ready, etc. If you’re headed to an area where safety might not be as high as you’d like, remember this.

-Nearby Amenities: Pools, parks, rec centers, and more, all within a few blocks!

-Choice of Sizes and Styles: Usually by rank, military members and their families can choose from a few styles of homes.

-Less Work in Requesting Maintenance and Payments: Repairs, maintenance, and more, is there at the ready.

-Access to Social Events/Ability to Make New Friends: Living on post means you have neighbors who are in a similar situation to you. Let the kids play and make nice with the folks on the street for quick friendship opportunities.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

The cons of living on post

On the flip side, there can be stress and red tape when moving to on-base housing. Consider what could go wrong before committing to your next home.

-So. Much. Paperwork. As with anything military-related, there’s paperwork galore!

-A Lack of Communication Between Civilian Housing Management and Military Rules/Entities: Many on-post housing entities are run by civilian companies, which can lead to misunderstandings or discrepancies in military standards.

-Inability to Get Away From Work. For the Service member, it’s riiiiiiight down the block.

-Possible Wait Times or Unavailable Units: There are busy moving seasons, which can mean a backlog of available houses, or that the house you want isn’t available at all. This is a common scenario when waiting to move on post.

-Additional Standards That Must be Followed: There are rules on yards, pets, and more. When living on post you’ll have to pay close attention so as not to break any ordinances.

The pros to living off post

Living away from base comes with its own positives. Determine if this is a move you’d like to make.

-Freedom!

-Opportunity to Invest. Ready to buy? With off-post options, the real estate market is your oyster.

-Getting Away From the Office … and away from military life. Sometimes you just need a break.

-More Housing Choices in Price and Location: Scan the neighborhoods and find the spot that best suits you and your family’s needs. For instance, not having next-door neighbors, etc.

-Can Potentially Save Funds: With more choices comes more pricing options, too.

The cons to living off post

Here, too, come potential downsides. Be sure to weigh the possible risks.

-You’re On Your Own: When dealing with a bum landlord or testy neighbor, you have to go about things the old fashioned way. There’s always JAG, but you’ll have to do the legwork.

-Distance From Work: Remember that living off post comes with a daily commute.

-Distance From Community Events and Programs: It can be harder to stay in the know or get to on-post events when you don’t live within the action.

-Removal From Community: In the same light, it can be harder to feel included or involved when living as a civilian.

-Stigma: When applying for housing, dealing with neighbors, etc., there could be a stigma involved with military life.

When choosing your next housing situation, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each scenario so you can find your best housing outcome. But wherever you decide, home is where the heart is.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

3 military spouses you need to know on MilSpouse Appreciation Day

When I was a young military spouse, I aspired to be the quintessential image of “the military spouse” I envisioned. These people were strong and capable; they could handle any crisis thrown at them; they were flawless and supportive and picture-perfect.

Now that I am nearly 18 years into this military gig, my idea of the military spouse has evolved. But the one constant is this: These women and men are strong, capable and supportive individuals. They are the people behind the scenes of our service members, the ones keeping families afloat and holding down the homefront.

That’s why I love Milspouse Appreciation Day – it’s a day to celebrate us!

At The Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, I have met more strong milspouses who are doing amazing work in their communities and in the world. Milspouse entrepreneurs are combining both military life and entrepreneurship. 

For this year’s Milspouse Appreciation Day, here are three milspouses you need to know  – three women finding success and validation in their journeys. They are balancing all of this and quite frankly, making it look easy (although I know it is not!).

  1. Felicia Jackson, owner and inventor of CPR Wrap

The invention of CPR Wrap emerged from a truly life-changing moment. Felicia Jackson was trained in CPR but when her toddler son went into cardiac arrest, she froze. Her husband quickly jumped into action, but this moment changed her life. “As a soldier, my husband was taught to overcome and react strategically to various situations and because of this, we have a thriving 20-year-old son today.” Military life trained both of them to adapt, overcome and be prepared – and it led Felicia to develop CPR Wrap.

CPR Wrap is a translucent overlay that guides anyone through the four American Heart Association CPR steps. It is made with medical-grade materials, AED compliant and packed in an easy-to-store, compact design.

When asked what she, as a successful milspouse entrepreneur, would advise to younger milspouses, Felicia stated, “I would advise any military spouse, young or seasoned, to not wait until everything is perfect. Take matters into your own hands and get the information you need and execute! We are all learning and you will never have all the answers; just be open to learning and use the military community for mentorship, advice and connections.”

Find out more about Felicia and CPR Wrap here.

  1. Colleen Marchi, owner and creator of Magical Order of the Brave Knights

For Colleen Marchi, service to others and the community has been in her blood. Her mother is a teacher, her father a psychologist, her oldest brother is a firefighter, and her other brother went to West Point and became a pilot in the Army. She met her Army husband while earning her Master’s in psychology, and she was drawn to his dedication to service, too. 

But military life is hard, and it was during a deployment the idea for the Magical Order of Brave Knights was born. Colleen’s youngest son began to experience separation anxiety. She tried everything to help him feel safe and protected to no avail. Finally, after one night of being up multiple times, Colleen came up with a solution. She created the Brave Knights to help children give up their worries and ultimately overcome them.

“The Magical Order of Brave Knights was created with the intent to help develop strategies to conquer separation anxiety and nighttime fears and replace it with happiness and blissful sleep. Our Brave Knights offer your child friendship, devotion, love and guardianship all through the night.” With Sir William the Brave Knight, a flashlight and her book, Colleen is helping military kids overcome their fears and supporting the community.

Colleen noted one of the most important military mottos, “Adapt, improvise, and overcome,” is also perfect for entrepreneurs. “I have learned to pivot, adapt, improvise and overcome all the obstacles that inevitably come my way in business. This resiliency and service mindset is what makes military spouses the best entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about Colleen and the Magical Order of Brave Knights, click here.

  1. Megan Malone, owner of The Akazi Project

The heart of The Akazi Project is women: in the name, the founders and the people who benefit from the sales of their products. For Megan Malone and her business partner, the desire to help women in Malawi with access to medical care led to the Akazi Project. This jewelry line works collaboratively with female crafters and miners from Malawi and Guatemala by giving jobs and skills and profits back to their communities.

Megan has been married to her Navy husband for 13 years and credits the lifestyle with giving her the flexibility and adaptability necessary for entrepreneurship. But, she also wants milspouses to know you can have your own life outside of the military, something her business has given her. 

“You are your own person, not your partner’s work…I think it is so incredibly important to remember you have your own value and it’s MORE than okay to invest in yourself. I asked myself early on, ‘What is your own personal call to serve?’ and for me, it is my work as a public health practitioner but also as an ever-evolving person looking to achieve my own goals.”

For more information on Megan and The Akazi Project, click here.

These spouses are the embodiment of strong, milspouse entrepreneurs and community leaders. While each has her own business and niche, they all show us military life can be an asset in our personal and professional lives. For Milspouse Appreciation Day, we hope you draw inspiration from them and from yourself.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army says it needs more entrepreneurs

The military needs innovative ideas from small businesses and entrepreneurs now more than ever, said Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.

McCarthy spoke Feb. 21, 2019, at Muster DC, an event in the nation’s capital for military veterans aspiring to be entrepreneurs.

“If you look at the history of the Department of Defense, we were at our best when entrepreneurs were doing business with us,” he said.


As an example, he cited that the first jeeps for World War II were actually designed and built by a small motor company called American Bantam in Butler, Pennsylvania. Later, the design was shared with Willys-Overland and Ford to produce the jeeps on a larger scale.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

1941 American Bantam Jeep Prototype.

DOD was at its best when small businesses brought their ideas and “partnered with big corporations to scale out those ideas,” McCarthy said.

“We got away from that for the last several decades,” he said, adding the Army’s practice has been to put out 1,000-page requests for proposals, or RFPs, specifying the exact size and weight of each component of a system.

Businesses maybe had a better solution, he said, but they would never share it, because that’s not what they were incentivized to do.

That culture needs to change, McCarthy said, and that’s one reason the Army Futures Command was organized. It’s why soldiers have been placed alongside tech innovators at an “accelerator hub” in Austin, Texas.

The purpose of Futures Command is to drive innovation, he said, “so that we can do business faster. So small businesses don’t get their cash flow crushed waiting years for us to make a decision.”

Out of more than 800 programs that the Army oversees, eight have been granted a special “transactional authority” to do business differently, he said.

The Futures Command has eight cross-functional teams: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, Army network, air and missile defense, soldier lethality, synthetic training environment; and assured positioning, navigation and timing.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

A soldier with the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade loads a Stinger onto an Avenger Air Defense System during a live fire training exercise at Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, July 24, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Rachael Jeffcoat)

The Army needs a “quick win” in these eight programs, McCarthy said, in order to change the acquisition culture and to keep ahead of near-peer adversaries. The U.S. military has enjoyed a vast technological advantage for years, he said, but competitors are quickly catching up.

McCarthy said he’d like to see soldiers in accelerator hubs across the country so entrepreneurs will have easy access to pitch their ideas.

Entrepreneurs who are military veterans have an advantage, he said, because they are resilient and can deal with stress. They know how to organize and plan.

When getting ready to leave the Army, where he served as a Ranger, McCarthy said at his first interview in Manhattan, he was asked what he knew about finance.

“I said, ‘Nothing. But I know how to plan and I know how to organize and there would be nothing you can put me through that I hadn’t been through already in the form of stress and pressure,'” he said.

After the interviewer stopped laughing, McCarthy said he took a chance and hired him. The company even held the job open for a year, because soon afterward, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred and McCarthy agreed to stay in the Army for a deployment before going to work in New York.

Veterans are not afraid to engage, he said, and have commitment. “Nobody wants to follow a leader that hedges,” he said. “They want somebody that’s playing ‘double-in’ every day.”

Veterans have some of the key attributes business leaders need to have, he said, “especially if they’re going to start their own business.”

Other talents the Army needs most right now include systems engineering and software coding, McCarthy said.

Weapons systems are sophisticated and have millions of lines of coding, he said.

Most failures of weapons systems in the past came from not having the right systems architecture, he said, which resulted in weapons not being able to communicate with other platforms.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The best backyard games come from Scandinavia

The best backyard games, the ones that earn a coveted spot in your warm weather rotation, are casual activities that work as well for crowds as they do for one-on-one matchups. While we won’t ever turn down a game of cornhole, kanjam, ladder toss, and horseshoes, the best backyard games and lawn games come from Scandinavia. Why? Simple. Because of their soul-witheringly long winters, Scandinavians know how to celebrate summer. That celebration often includes participation in simple, fun games that lend themselves to hours of time on that oh-so-important sunlight. The games on this list exist are those that require you to throw one thing at a set of other things. They’re easy to pick up but still require skill and, when the time is right, lend themselves to serious competition. Think cornhole gets competitive? Try a game of Kubb or Mölkky and get back to us. Here are a few games to consider adding to your backyard this summer.


On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Yard Games Kubb

The Swedish game Kubb dates back more than 1,000 years, when Vikings first conceived of the game as a pastime during those, long light-filled summer nights when they were finished sinking Skeggøx into the chests of their enemies. Legend has it, they’d lob the skulls and limbs of their slain foes across a decreed playing area; eventually, over centuries, it evolved into a more civilized game. In recent years, its exploded in popularity. Modern Kubb sets are, thankfully, made of carved wood instead of cadavers. Each contains 10 wooden blocks, called kubbs, as well as a foot-tall king (marked by a set of points to designate a crown) six tall blocks, and six skittles, the latter of which are used to demarcate a playing field. Once the field is set up properly, the object of the game is to lob kubbs in an attempt to knock down an opponent’s pins and, finally, their king. Accidentally knock down the king before the other pins results in an automatic loss. Simple, but good for hours of warm weather entertainment.

Buy now for .99.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Molkky

More or less a mash-up of cornhole and bowling, Mölkky is a Finnish lawn game similar to Kubb. Twelve slim, numbered pins called “skittles” are set up on the grass. Teams take turns throwing a wooden block, or karttus, at said pins in an attempt to knock them down. The team who is first to knock down 50 points worth of pins wins. As is the case with games that have been around for a very long time, the rules vary and some are more complicated than others. Regardless of which you follow, the outcome is the same: fun.

Buy now for .97.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Schilte Sjoelbak

A board game that can be played anywhere but is best befitting of the backyard, Sjoelbak is the Dutch version of shuffleboard. It consists of a 16-inch wide, 79-inch long wooden board and 30 wooden pucks. Each side of the board has four wooden channels; players take turns sliding pucks, trying to get them in appropriate lanes. After three rounds, the pucks are totaled (scoring is a bit confusing, but the rules are explained here) and the winner is decided. Again, it’s quite simple. But set up the board on a back table and don’t be surprised if it’s played long into the evening.

Buy now for 9.00.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Thoughts on how to be a badass military spouse

Being in the military is hard. I served in the military for 13 long years, and I know how demanding and exhausting that job is. But, do you guys want to know what’s hard too?

Being a military spouse.

Being a military spouse comes without a title, without a rank, without the specialized training, and most of all, without the brotherhood that accompanies the life of an armed forces member and that, my friends, is not easy. Out of all the jobs that I have done in my life, and believe me when I say that I have had my share of challenging and insanely stressful jobs, being a military spouse has been, by far, the most difficult one.


I still remember when I became a military spouse 21 years ago. By the time I became Mrs. Morales, I was already a hard-core soldier. A soldier that had been trained to go to war, trained to kill, trained to survive in the most difficult situations, but also trained to save lives. Yes, I was trained to be a combat medic in the Army, a job that I enjoyed doing with all my heart, but one thing the Army never trained me for was becoming a military spouse, which I became when I was just a 20 year old kid.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

U.S. Army Spc. Leo Leroy gets a kiss from Regina Leroy and a bow-wow welcome from dogs Yoshi and Bruiser at a homecoming ceremony on Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 28, 2009.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sharla Lewis)

My friend, the spouse of a Foreign Service Officer, asked me once how it felt to be a military spouse, especially during war time. When she asked me that, I realized that, as much as I wanted to tell her how it felt, I didn’t have the words to express all I wanted to say, so I froze, and after a while, she changed the topic and I never got the chance to give her an answer to her difficult question. But, now that I think about it, I do have an answer.

Military spouses come from all backgrounds, and all of us characterize ourselves as strong individuals who are not only capable of running a household by ourselves, but who are also experts at making miracles out of nothing. I’m sure that most military spouses out there will agree with me. But, those of you who are not military spouses may be thinking, what’s wrong with that? Well, let me tell you.

Have you ever been in a position where being strong is the only choice you have even when your entire world is collapsing on top of you? Well, that’s what military spouses do every single day, and the difference between our service members and us is that, we don’t get trained for such challenging job. We are just expected to perform the job and move on.

As a soldier, I had many great and challenging experiences, but nothing could ever compare to living at home as a military spouse. There were many times when my husband was overseas when I questioned my commitment to the military, and no, I don’t mean my commitment as a soldier, I questioned my commitment as a military spouse.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Capt. Lucas Frokjer, officer in charge of the flightline for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, reunites with his family after returning from a seven-month deployment with HMH-463.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob Barber)

I still remember the time when my husband was sent to West Africa for 18 months. Those 18 months were the longest 18 months of my life. At that time, I was not only serving in the military myself, but I immediately became the sole caregiver of three children, who needed my full attention and my full support, but three children who also used to go to bed, every single day, crying because they didn’t know when or if their father was going to come home again.

How did I survive those 18 months under those circumstances, you may ask? Well, let me tell you; I became a functional zombie. A zombie who was able to keep three children alive, keep a household running while serving in the military herself, but most important of all, able to stay strong amid all the challenges that came into her life during those 18 months. Challenges that I had zero control over them, but that I knew I had to overcome not only for the well-being of my children, but also for the sake of my marriage. And again, that’s a job I was never trained for.

The bottom-line is, Marielys the soldier was a very strong individual, but Marielys the military spouse had to be even stronger. I wasn’t trained for this job, but I did it proudly so that my husband could go and serve his country without having to worry about anything other than the mission he was assigned to do. And for that, I can proudly say that I am not only an Army veteran, but I was also A Badass Military Spouse.

Marielys Camacho-Reyes formerly served for 13 years in the US Army, first as a Combat Medic and later on as a Human Resources Manager. She also served in the US Army for 21 years as a Badass Army Wife. She is currently a stay home mom and a member of the Vet Voices Program in Central FL.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

5 activities for rainy days at home

When spending more time at home, especially with kids in tow, outside time can be essential to getting through the day. But when rain strikes — or the cold makes its way back into our supposed spring — weather throws an entire wrench into the mix. That means finding new and creative ways to stay busy all day long. From playing indoor games, to streaming movies from resources offering up free material during the pandemic, you can use these tips for a household that’s happily entertained.


Cooking

The best part about cooking is that once you’re done, you get to eat! Keep your kids — or just yourself — busy with cooking, baking or all of the above. Get creative with whatever ingredients are in the house (it’s weird times when it comes to groceries these days!), or opt for family faves that everyone will love, like desserts, dinner and more. This is no DFac experience, of course, so pull out all the stops and truly enjoy your time.

Grab an apron and put on a favorite song and spend a few hours in the kitchen to pass this rainy, dreary day!

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Make a fort

Set up a tent inside the home, or even in the garage. Suddenly every activity is fun and overt, simply because you’re playing with toys in a tent! Parents looking to make real soldiers out of their kids can even encourage an outdoor tent to teach survivalist skills that can be used later in life. However, there’s a fine line between fun and ridiculous tasks, walk it lightly.

Either way, marshmallows are encouraged.

Science experiments

Make a tornado in a jar. Explore with sensory bins. Drop food coloring into different liquids, mix colors to make new colors, and more. Put your best Pinterest searching skills to work and find fun science experiments that can keep kids of all ages busy throughout the day.

Or, for the adults among us, see what cleaning supplies you can make from items in your house.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Stream free resources

Now more than ever you can find tons of free content online. Get your use out of your Internet subscription and take advantage of unique content you can’t normally watch!

For instance:

  • Frozen’s Josh Gad is reading bedtime stories
  • Trolls is Free for Download
  • The Metropolitan Opera is streaming past performances
  • Classic sporting events and documentaries can be streamed

Pick your poison! There’s so much free stuff to choose from right now, you can truly take in some new scenes, without ever leaving the comfort of your cozy living room.

Look at old photos

Who doesn’t like looking at days of the past? Pictures are a fun reminder of who and where you used to be. Previous duty stations, old friends and younger days abound. With kids, you can tell stories about each picture for a fun way to teach them about their past and yours, too.

How do you stay occupied on a rainy day inside?

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Navy’s oldest nuclear-powered attack sub completes final deployment

The US Navy’s oldest nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine wrapped up its final deployment Sept. 8, 2019, after sailing around the world.

Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia completed a seven-month, around-the-world deployment when it returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the Navy said on Sept. 9, 2019.


On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

The USS Olympia returns home following a seven-month deployment.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Gray)

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

The crew of the USS Olympia returns home from a seven-month deployment.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro)

The powerful sub “completed her final deployment after 35 years of service, circumnavigating the globe in seven months starting from Oahu, Hawaii, transiting through the Panama Canal, Strait of Gibraltar and Suez Canal,” Cmdr. Benjamin Selph, the sub’s commanding officer, said.

Selph said the sub and its crew worked visited various allies and partners during the deployment, at times engaging other navies, such as the British Royal Navy. “We joined the crew of HMS Talent in a day of barbeque and friendly sports competitions of soccer, football and volleyball,” he explained.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

The crew of the USS Olympia moors in Hawaii following a seven-month deployment.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro)

Selph said that “sailing around the world in our country’s oldest serving nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine is a testament to the durability and design of the submarine but also the tenacity and ‘fight on’ spirit of the crew.”

Master Chief Electronics Technician (Radio) Arturo Placencia, Olympia’s chief-of-the-boat, said the boat and its crew “performed with excellence,” adding that “for everyone onboard, this was the first time we completed a circumnavigation of the globe.”

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Sailors assigned to the USS Olympia load a Mark 48 torpedo from the pier in Souda Bay, Greece, July 10, 2019.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelly M. Agee)

The War Zone, a defense publication, tracked the Olympia’s travels from Hawaii to the Western Pacific and through the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal. The sub then conducted operations in the Mediterranean before heading to the Atlantic, passing through the Panama Canal, and sailing through the Eastern Pacific to Pearl Harbor.

Source: The War Zone

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

USS Olympia returns home following a seven-month deployment.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Gray)

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Sailors load a Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile aboard the USS Olympia as part of the biannual RIMPAC maritime exercise.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Even in the final years of its more than three decades of service, the Olympia remained a symbol of US undersea power. For example, last summer, it became the first US sub in 20 years to fire a Harpoon sub-launched anti-ship cruise missile. The US military is building this capability as it confronts great power rivals with capable surface fleets.

Source: Submarine Force Pacific

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Electronics Technician (Nuclear) 1st Class Todd Bolen hugs his girlfriend at Olympia’s homecoming.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro)

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Cmdr. Travis Zettel, commander of the USS Bremerton, left, hands the Rear Adm. Richard O’Kane cribbage board to Cmdr. Benjamin J. Selph, commander of the USS Olympia, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Lee)

In Navy tradition, a lucky cribbage board belonging to Cmdr. Richard O’Kane, who was dealt an incredible winning hand before his Gato-class sub, USS Wahoo, sank two Japanese freighters in 1943, was passed from the USS Bremerton to the Olympia when the latter became the oldest fast-attack sub. Before it is decommissioned, the Olympia will pass the board to another sub, reportedly the USS Chicago.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

A deployed carrier has a coronavirus outbreak. Her husband is on board.

Imagine your spouse or family member is deployed on a carrier. Now, imagine it’s during a global pandemic, which has notoriously infiltrated cruise ships, rendering hundreds of passengers ill. Finally, imagine you learn that your loved one’s ship is impacted by scrolling through Facebook and reading a headline.


Unfortunately, this imagined scenario is one military spouse’s reality.

Elizabeth (whose last name we won’t use for personal security reasons) was looking at Facebook, taking a much-needed break from quarantine with her four kids, when she saw a friend (whose husband is deployed with hers) had posted an article by Business Insider that immediately stopped her scroll: “There has been a coronavirus outbreak aboard a deployed US Navy aircraft carrier.” The article states that there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the USS Theodore Roosevelt – Elizabeth’s husband’s ship.

Her heart sank. “We haven’t heard from them in awhile,” she said in an interview with WATM. “Anytime anything noteworthy happens, communication goes down whether on purpose or by coincidence,” she shared. She immediately got on the phone with other spouses to see if anyone had heard through official or personal channels what was going on.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Communication varied. One spouse got a voicemail from her sailor that he was fine. Another received a quick email saying there were only two cases on the ship, while one other had heard 15 sailors had it. This rumor mill is exactly why comms are shut down, to prevent misinformation for families desperate for an update.

When asked if she was upset she hadn’t heard from her husband, Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, I’m not surprised,” she said. “He’s a team player. I know he would make sure all of his people had a chance to use the phone or email if there was an opportunity to do so before he did. He’s been in for 14 years and he’s been deployed a lot — he’s had almost six years of sea time. Really, this is not even the worst communication he’s had on a deployment. I’ve gotten used to that — nobody has all of the information; you just hope for the best and wait for your family member to contact you.”

But in the meantime, Elizabeth feels the weight of the gravity of the situation.

“I’m trying not to go into panic mode yet,” she said. “It’s the military, you just don’t know, but I hope if my husband was sick, someone would tell me.” Elizabeth also wants to know what protective and preventive measures are being taken. “It sounds like from the article that the sick sailors were medevaced and now it’s just business as usual. But in my mind, the likelihood of it being isolated is very small. They’re on top of each other in close quarters and there are 5,000 of them. They use the same phones, touch the same doors, eat together, share work space. It’s a floating petri dish. I want to know what they’re doing to sanitize. How closely they’re monitoring things. Is someone asking them every day? Are they taking temperatures? Are they really doing everything they can to keep our sailors safe?”

While Elizabeth is worried about her husband, she also has a healthy dose of perspective and a great sense of humor. She’s thankful to be surrounded by family and a community that continues to support her. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said. Elizabeth and her husband have a five year old, three year old and twins who are just one and a half. “We had a lot of time on shore duty,” she laughed. “We got cocky thinking we would have one more and then boom: twins.”

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

When asked how she’s really coping with four kids in quarantine and a spouse deployed on a “floating petri dish,” Elizabeth took a long sigh but said, “Honestly, I feel like military spouses are better prepared for this than anyone. With military life, we spend a decent amount of time figuring it out on our own. I wouldn’t say this is even the most isolated I’ve ever been. The ‘not knowing what’s going to happen,’ not knowing what the schedule is going to be in a few weeks or months, it’s par for the course for us. I’ve been through the ringer enough times with the Navy, but for a lot of our friends, this is their first deployment. Mostly my heart has been with the ones who haven’t been through this before because I remember how it felt when all of this was new.”

Elizabeth shared the importance of reaching out. “Military community is so, so important. I love that the word encourage literally means to impart courage … that’s who the military spouse community is for me — it’s courage by proxy. The news is full of stories of women who are worrying they might be forced to give birth alone due to coronavirus restrictions, but military spouses have been giving birth to babies without family or husbands there, often overseas, for as long as time. They’ve moved alone, pursued careers alone, overcome all of these obstacles. One of the things you deal with is that feeling of isolation, which is so perfectly themed for where we are in the world right now. But you’re never really alone.”

Elizabeth continued, “It was so hard to hear the news of coronavirus on the ship, but it was so great to be surrounded by so many people who exactly know what we’re going through. There is strength in numbers. We’re not the only family going through this. We’ll be okay.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

19 perks of having a deployed husband

Shaw Air Force Base is known by those stationed there as Separates Husbands And Wives. Between the Red Flags at Nellis, the endless human centipede of exercises, and a deployment, my husband Mike was gone over half of our days during that assignment. It was there I learned what it meant to be alone even while in a marriage, but I dealt with it by finding pockets of positivity. Deployments are tough, but if you look, you can find some gold nuggets in that steaming pile of anxiety poo.

Here are some perks to having a deployed husband:


1. Twice the closet space.

He doesn’t need to know that his pitted out Yuengling shirts are getting boxed up with collegiate football hats of schools he didn’t attend in order to make room for my legion of maxi dresses. The flannels, however, can stay.

2. Suddenly, the toilet paper roll lasts longer.

Turns out if your partner spends as much time on the toilet as a small construction crew fed on chicken fried steaks and protein shakes, the t.p. budget shrinks when he leaves. That newfound cash can be spent on regular pedicures, or a reasonably priced used Lexus.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
(U.S. Army photo by Sarah Pastrana)

3. You can take up the whole bed.

I call my favorite position, Drunken Starfish.

4. Retail therapy is fine!

His income is tax-free, and now I need a new credit card because the strip on my old one is wearing out.

Photo by USFS Region 5

5. Less frequent leg shaving.

That is, until your nephew feels your shin and asks, “Why does Aunt Rachel’s leg feel like a pine tree?” Twerp.

6. No bras in the house.

The bra hits the floor before the alarm goes off. I could set a world record for how fast I can unclasp my underwire and pull it out through the bottom of my shirt.

7. I can sleep better through the night without a 200 lb. land manatee flopping around next to me.

Not to mention the pillowcases are significantly less sweaty.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

8. No sound of velcro in the morning.

SSSZZZCCCHHHTTT!!!

9. Cereal for breakfast. Cereal for lunch. Cereal for dinner. 

Honorable mention goes to chips and salsa.

10. Let me introduce you to “The D Card.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was worried every day for his safety, and wished time would speed up for him to come home, but the ultimate reward for enduring a deployment is getting to play the “D Card.” Fewer phrases pack a punch harder than these four words: My husband is deployed.

11. Priority vacation days at work.

When everybody is trying to take off for the holidays at the same time – wham! – I play the D Card and skip to the front of the line. No way am I missing Mom’s orange fluff at Christmas to decorate a tree by myself.

12. People put you on a pedestal just for being present and fully dressed.

Trust me, it doesn’t always happen.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

13. Sometimes patriotic strangers pay for your drink.

One man tried to pick up my tab without me seeing. Little did he know I drink enough scotch to ration a ship full of sailors across the Americas, so he kindly paid for half. God bless you, citizen.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

14. It shuts down unwanted attention from men.

I remember being asked, “How come your man’s not out with you tonight?” (First off– ew.) When I dropped the D Card, it abruptly came to a halt. There’s no comeback. Then I did the Hammer Dance to the tune of “U Can’t Touch This” and got myself some jalapeño poppers.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

15. You get a hall pass for mood swings.

WHICH I DON’T F*CKING HAVE!

16. You can zone out at work hassle free.

All I have to do is pull up an article about F-16s, maximize the screen and then stare out into space. My boss thinks I’m anguished about my deployed husband, when really I’m thinking about Downton Abbey, or why white queso tastes better than yellow queso. But truthfully most times I’m anguished about my deployed husband.

17. Nice people send you nice cards.

One of the best things, truly, is finding out how big your friends’ hearts are. People send you cards and care packages, and a few more ambitious friends fly out to visit. I was touched to find out I had a group of friends who started a secret thread to coordinate when they could visit me so it was spread out over the deployment.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

And so…

Is it indecent to use his time in combat to make my pain a little less difficult? I don’t think so. Deployments are dark times. It’s something those of us have earned through tears and sleepless nights when something goes bump outside the bedroom window. I remember driving over to my friend’s house one night because her neighbor wouldn’t stop being a creep, knowing her husband was away. We stayed up on her back patio with shotguns across our laps until we ended up making margaritas and playing Yahtzee until 3 in the morning.

If you’re the one left behind, it can feel like half of your puzzle is missing its pieces. For me, a gold-medal overthinker, I questioned who I was as my own person and why I couldn’t seem to handle life, which made me feel even worse about myself. I refused to feel helpless, but there it was. We had built a life for two, and I was forced to fly it solo. So no, I do not feel bad about playing the D Card.

But the biggest high of having a deployed husband is when you lock eyes across the hangar at 2 a.m. after seven months. Your heart pounds as you watch that tan flight suit cut through the crowd of hundreds, and you finally get your kiss, bristly though it may be.

Damn deployment ‘stache.

MIGHTY CULTURE

3 steps to survive holidays as a new milspouse mom

Oh the joys of the holidays! The fresh pine in the air, peppermint flavored everything and attempting to figure out the schedule to see all the relatives in a short period of time.

Surviving the holidays is challenging enough as it as, but as a new mom, the holidays are even more stressful. Germs aside, there is so much to think about when it comes to your new little present this year. While this time is filled with cheer, family, and love it can also feel overwhelming very quickly. Hopefully these tips may put your mind at ease to create a more peaceful and enjoyable holiday season.


On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

(Photo by Bruno Martins)

1. Set boundaries early

Establish boundaries as soon as the family starts discussing plans for holidays. If you and your spouse decide that you are going to spend Christmas day at your home, then DO NOT change your plans. Keep the holidays reasonably stress free for your family. It is a huge hassle to drive all over town to every family members’ house, have a full day with a happy baby, not to mention constantly getting in and out of the car seat.

Talk to both sets of grandparents and try to get them on the same page of where you all will see each other for the holidays. If any of you are like my spouse and I managing two sets of divorced parents, we have already laid down the law that we will not be spending our Christmas day driving between 5 homes. If leave time is not conducive to the holidays, then let your family know and throw out the invite for them to come visit your home. Don’t be afraid to be assertive to help create a more peaceful holiday experience for you and your family.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

(Photo by Sharon McCutcheon)

2. Keep your family as top priority

The biggest thing to remember during the holidays is to be a little SELFISH and not feel guilty about it. During the holiday season, everyone wants to be surrounded by family, but do not make decisions based on guilt. Make time for the family members that mean the most to you, and let your family know what your plans are, but don’t lose your sanity just to please everyone else. The happiness of your immediate family is what is most important, especially if you are on a super short leave period. If your spouse is not in town for the holidays, still run through your holidays plan with them so they feel included even when they are many miles away.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

(Photo by Oleg Sergeichik)

3. Don’t forget to enjoy the day!

The stress of creating a magical first holiday year for your newborn could take over the enjoyment of the day, but soak in the moments with your little one while they are still little. Take many, many pictures, and be safe this holiday season.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

These military spouses ran for political office in 2020, and won

Three military spouses recently ran for political office in their local communities and won their campaigns in the most recent November election.

Kalish Morrow, a Navy spouse currently stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, was elected as the City Councilperson for Hanford, California. Although Morrow was not always involved in politics, her work as a small business owner in Hanford motivated her.

“As a business owner, I got involved with our Main Street program and quickly started seeing the issues our small businesses faced with onerous red tape and high fees,” she said.

“In 2016, when a seat opened up on our city council, I threw my hat into the race.”

However, Morrow didn’t win that election. She ran again in 2020, with support from the Libertarian Party.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
Kalish Morrow, Hanford City Councilperson (elect). Photo courtesy of Kalish Morrow

“My campaign had a huge focus on the voice of the people … and rallied community involvement through leading by example,” Morrow said.

She spent her campaign doing things like organizing park cleanups, building with Habitat for Humanity, and driving donated items out to Fresno for victims of the recent wildfires over the summer.

Although her background as a military spouse did not have a direct effect on her decision to run for political office, Morrow does believe her experience with the military lifestyle will impact the way she leads her constituents.

“Over the years I’ve had to learn how to compartmentalize and keep moving forward when things get difficult,” Morrow said. “I’ll be stepping into a big role right in the middle of COVID and when the effects of the shutdowns begin to take its toll on the economy. My biggest job … will be to make sure the city keeps providing important services to its people while not placing any additional financial burden [on the people].”

Morrow learned a lot during her two campaigns in 2016 and 2020, but her biggest takeaway is that votes are about the people.

“Votes are earned one person at a time,” she said. “People do not like their votes are taken for granted so they appreciate you taking the time and putting in the painstaking effort of going and meeting with them to show you truly care about your community.”

For military spouses who are also interested in getting involved in politics, Morrow has a few pieces of advice.

“Above all else, you must knock on doors. It sounds tedious … but … people appreciate your willingness to take the time and meet with them personally,” she said. “[Also], having an organized campaign with a great campaign manager. … Your team is precious and vital to a successful campaign.”

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
Kalish Morrow, Hanford City Councilperson (elect) and some of her volunteers. Photo courtesy of Kalish Morrow.

Morrow also suggests military spouses get involved in their city councils if they are interested in making a change in the community, even if you will only be there for a short time. She recommends going to the city council and county supervisor’s meetings, or join a citizen’s advisory board. You can also attend local meetings.

She also notes that getting involved in the local community helps military spouses meet other like-minded people they might not otherwise have the chance to meet if they stay in their little military bubble. Those connections can become valuable tools if you’re interested in getting more involved in politics in the future as an elected official.

Allison Russo and Erin Pare, both military spouses, also won elections in their local communities on opposite sides of the political aisle.

Russo, a military spouse of a combat veteran, was re-elected as the state representative for the 24th District in Ohio. She first ran for the position in 2018 and flipped the seat from Republican to Democrat in that election.

“My plan was never politics, but as a combat veteran’s wife I have seen firsthand what a call to duty looks like. I know that to make a difference in your community, you have to know when to stand strong for what you believe and when you must put aside your differences to work together,” a statement on Russo’s campaign website said.

Erin Pare, a former Army spouse of 12 years, recently won the North Carolina State Representative seat for District 37 running as a Republican. She and her husband have strong ties to the small community of Holly Springs, North Carolina, where they live and own a sporting goods store. As a small business owner, Pare found herself wanting to make changes in policies regarding small businesses in their area. Her platforms include a pro-growth economy, education, public safety and more.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

popular

5 tips to make your next military ball a disaster

With your next military ball around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you can ruin the whole event. With a few ill-timed drinks and a flair for the dramatic, your entire night can go up in flames, so long as you try hard enough!


Jot down these disastrous effects for a quick way to turn any military ball terrible.

Talk smack!

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
“Your gunny’s wife is sooooo pretty. Don’t you think? You do, don’t you?!”

That one guy who made everyone mad? Or the investigation that’s ongoing and hush-hush? Now is the perfect time to bring it up. Loudly. Ask for all the juiciest gossip and pass it along to the high ups. Be sure to sprinkle your own opinions and conspiracy theories for maximum effect.

Who’s calling JAG? Get the press involved. WTF Moments will be in the know if you have anything to say about it!

Wear the wrong kind of undergarments

We’re talking a too-small strapless bra that cuts off circulation, layers of Spanx that require you to get completely naked for a bathroom break. Maybe one of those pasties that comes unstuck right in the middle of your main course. Get creative! The worse the fit and function, the rockier your night will fare! Dresses with heavy sequins or glitter that trails your every move are also among top contenders.

Drink ’til you drop

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
Shots are ALWAYS a good idea. Always. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Chug a lug! Nothing screams “disaster” quite like throwing up after on your spouse’s boss. Extra points if you can get a few of them with your booze-soaked contents. Where’s the general at, anyway? Take shots — the louder you are about it, the better. Shots! Shots! Shots! Don’t forget to make your way up to the grog, either. Your night will not be complete without it, obviously.

Rub ALL the pregnant bellies

See those sober ladies watching you with wide eyes? It’s because they want you to rub their growing bellies for good luck. They won’t say it, but it’s all they can think about. Talking to each in-utero babe will bring added wonder to your night of joy. Unsure if it’s a baby in there? Better rub that belly anyway! How else would the night remain as one of the worst of all time?!

Help yourself to the desserts

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?
I mean, you gotta soak that alcohol up with something (Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh on Unsplash)

Did you know that when you arrive, dessert is already on the table? Get there first, and you can have your pick of the lot. Or better yet, you can just have it all! Be sure to stack up dirty dishes and to discuss — loudly — how good it was to finish dessert for the table. Leave the napkin for later, though; chocolate on the face will help complete your overall vibe.

Ready to have your worst military ball yet? Best of luck to all who stand in your path — in fact, it’s best to push them out of the way — especially as you run to the stage for an impromptu speech. Stiff arms out and spirit in your heart.

Godspeed on this terrible endeavor.

And as always, ‘Merica!

Feature image: Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

International task force concludes “dark web” operation, 179 arrests and 500 kilograms of drugs seized

The Department of Justice Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team (J-CODE) and Europol on Tuesday announced the conclusion of Operation DisrupTor, which resulted in 179 arrests throughout the world and the seizure of $6.5 million in cash and virtual currency, 500 kilograms of drugs, and 63 firearms. According to a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) press release, the operation was “a coordinated international effort to disrupt opioid trafficking on the Darknet.”

The joint international task force developed follow-on intelligence after completing Operation SaboTor on March 12, 2019, where they infiltrated and shut down the notorious dark web e-commerce site, the Wall Street Market (WSM). According to a DOJ press release, the WSM was “a sophisticated online marketplace available in six languages that allowed approximately 5,400 vendors to sell illegal goods to about 1.15 million customers around the world. […] WSM functioned like a conventional e-commerce website, but it was a hidden service located beyond the reach of traditional internet browsers on the Tor network, a service designed to conceal user identities.”


“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in the press release. “The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries—with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well—shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.”

JCODE Operation Uncovers Darknet Opioid Traffickers

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Operation DisrupTor was conducted throughout the world with arrests executed in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany. Out of the approximately 500 kilograms of drugs confiscated, 274 kilograms were seized in the US including opioid prescriptions such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and its street version, heroin. Methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and “medicine containing addictive substances in the United States” were also among the drugs seized.

One of the raids conducted through the joint efforts of the FBI, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in support of Operation DisrupTor took place in Southern California. The Los Angeles J-CODE team successfully apprehended members of the drug trafficking organization that operated under the code name “Stealthgod” on the dark web. This group is suspected to be one of the largest methamphetamine distributors that J-CODE has apprehended so far. According to the DEA press release, the group conducted “more than 18,000 illicit drug sales to customers in at least 35 states and numerous countries around the world.”

Former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the establishment of the FBI-led J-CODE on Jan. 29, 2018, in a press release. Since then, J-CODE has taken down several dark web sites in an effort to combat the opioid pandemic and the people responsible for it. J-CODE has expanded its partnerships to both domestic and international allies for operations like DisrupTor and SaboTor.

On or off post? What’s the best location for your family?

Law enforcement on scene in Southern California after one of the raids on the “Stealthgod” drug trafficking network. Photo courtesy of the FBI/Flickr.

E-commerce sites like the WSM are hosted on the darknet, also known as the dark web, which functions like the regular World Wide Web but with encryptions to disguise the users on it. The darknet was previously a stronghold for both criminals and noncriminals. Besides criminals using it to prevent law enforcement and/or the mainstream media from identifying illegal transactions ranging from sex trafficking to illicit drug sales, political dissidents have used the darknet to keep their identities secret.

Sessions had a stark warning for criminals on the dark web after announcing J-CODE. “Criminals think that they are safe on the darknet, but they are in for a rude awakening,” he said in the press release. “We have already infiltrated their networks, and we are determined to bring them to justice. […] The J-CODE team will help us continue to shut down the online marketplaces that drug traffickers use and ultimately that will help us reduce addiction and overdoses across the nation.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


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