What are military brats like when they grow up? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

What are military brats like when they grow up?

The term “military brats” is familiar, unifying and isolating all at once. Military brats have a subculture all their own. Although they didn’t choose their upbringing, they’re often proud of their family’s military roots. The effects of military lifestyle during childhood are profound. Psychologists have established that parental absence and military spouse stress during deployments lead to increased levels of anxiety in military children. 

Interestingly, psychologists have yet to study exactly what happens to military brats when they grow up. Military brats simply aren’t tracked once they outgrow the title. Based on anecdotal evidence and studies on child development, however, here’s what we’ve discovered. 

The good 

Resilience and adaptability

The stats don’t lie. Military families move, on average, 10 times as frequently as civilian families. This equates to once every two to three years. It usually takes a few months to settle into a new home. It takes even longer to make solid friendships and get used to a new school. Military brats learn through experience to adapt to change and acclimate quickly in new environments.

Discipline and hard work

Military parents are often labeled as “strict,” but it’s only because they tend to expect their kids to follow the rules. They also learn by example; military families go where the military needs them to go at a moment’s notice, without question. Military life isn’t for the faint of heart, but watching your parents make a commitment like that and follow through makes a lasting impression.

Tolerance

The military has, historically, been somewhat ahead of the curve in terms of racial equality. Troops work together to serve a joint mission, and they become brothers and sisters regardless of ethnicity or race. This culture applies to families living in military housing, too. Military brats are military brats; they grow up playing with whomever is available, and their families all have something in common. As a result, they are likely to be stronger proponents of diversity later in life. 

Good at teamwork

One of the pros of having a parent who’s periodically deployed is that children learn to be active participants in their household. For months at a time, military spouses function as solo parents. To keep the gears moving, kids are required to do their part to help. They’re often expected to pick up the slack around the house, assisting with younger siblings, doing daily chores and taking more responsibility than an average kid would. When they grow up, they’re unlikely to become a slacker in group projects. They’re used to pulling their own weight, and it will show when they hit college or get their first job.

The not so good 

For the most part, the positives outweigh the negatives. The downsides to military life are very real, however, and what a military brat turns out like depends greatly on their individual experiences. Some adapt well to military life, while others struggle with behavioral problems.

Anxiety

The most frequently reported negative effect of growing up as a military brat is anxiety. Deployments are hard on military spouses, and they’re often equally hard for children. As kids mature and become aware of the risks their parent’s deployment brings, they can become fearful and worried. The stress of frequent schools can also trigger anxiety. For some, this results in behavioral problems in school and slipping grades.

Interestingly, the emotional impact of deployment can be mitigated, at least in part, by the parent still at home. If the acting caregiver is calm, positive and present, kids are more likely to make it through each deployment in a healthy mental state. 

Hyper-independence 

Though seemingly counterintuitive, military brats have the potential to become hyper-independent. Because they can’t rely on many constants in their life, they may lose trust in others to provide stability and comfort. Again, this depends greatly on individual experience.

An adjustment to civilian life

Most military brats carry their military brat status for life. Somewhere between the ages of 18-24, however, they age out of their dependent status. They face a similar adjustment period as military members do when they retire. They’ve likely lived with military support for all of their lives, and learning the ins and outs of the civilian world can leave them feeling shell-shocked.

The bottom line

military brats
These stats from 2017 demonstrate the scope of the issue. There are many military kids out there who may need more, or different, support than they’re receiving.

The ups and downs of military life have a profound effect on the children who grow up with it. And those children grow up to become adults. There are thousands of former military brats out there, and it’s critical that we further explore how military life affects them long term. 

What is clear is that the length of deployments and the conditions at home are strongly correlated with the child’s mental state. Because of the physical and emotional disruptions of military life, the fundamental tenets of parenting that we all try to follow become even more important. The stability, presence and support of military spouses can reduce the effect of deployment on their kids. With that in mind, it’s crucial that military spouses have a support system of their own. For more mental health resources, Veterans Families United has several helpful connections.

MIGHTY CULTURE

To DITY or not to DITY?

With each set of PCS orders, I wonder whether we should consider a Personally Procured Move (PPM), which is the official name of what most of us call a DITY, or Do It Yourself move. It’s tempting — you hear stories of military families making tons of money, and it seems like there is less chance of damaged goods. If you’re considering a DITY move this PCS season, here are six questions you need to ask yourself:

How much reimbursement will you get?

For most people, the main reason to consider doing a DITY move is to make a little money. Before you get started, be sure you understand exactly what you will and will not receive, whether you do a DITY, a full government move, or something in between.

All service members who are executing PCS orders are entitled to a wide range of travel entitlements, including:

  • temporary lodging,
  • monetary allowance in lieu of transportation (technically called MALT, but often just called mileage),
  • per diem for travel days,
  • dislocation allowance.

When you do a DITY move or a partial DITY move, you’ll also get an allowance for moving your belongings, based upon the distance and weight moved. From that allowance, you pay all the expenses of the move: packing materials, hired help, the actual transportation of your goods, and unpacking. Any excess reimbursement beyond your actual expenses is taxable income.

Contact your personal property office to be sure you understand your entitlements and the reimbursement requirements for your branch, including when you need to have your vehicle weighed (empty/full/both? start/finish/both?).

Can you manage an upfront cost?

All branches have a process for getting an advance of a portion of your anticipated move reimbursement, but it doesn’t always work out as expected. If you decide to do a DITY move, you should plan to pay for all expenses out-of-pocket and expect that it may take months to be reimbursed.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Is moving yourself realistic?

Doing a DITY move is work, especially if you have a lot of stuff or heavy things like a piano or old-school entertainment center. Do you realistically have the time, mental energy and physical strength to pack up everything you own, load it safely onto a truck — or into a moving container — and unload it all on the other end?

Do you have a lot of professional gear?

One major limitation of a full DITY move is there is no way to separate out professional gear weight. Service members and their spouses are permitted to deduct the weight of certain specified work-related items from the overall weight of goods. Separating professional gear is a big help if you are close to your weight allowance.

Will you be able to keep track of the paperwork?

DITY moves require extra paperwork and receipts, particularly when you go to file your income tax return. You’ll need weight receipts to get reimbursed by the military — requirements may vary by branch. Then, because DITY reimbursements are taxable income, you’ll need all your expense receipts to deduct from your income.

TIP: Experienced DITY movers recommend a designated folder or envelope for receipts, but also taking a photograph of every single receipt when you get it. Upload the picture to the cloud to ensure you’ll always have access to a copy.

Have you considered a partial DITY?

One of the easiest ways to get the benefits of a DITY move without the work is to do a partial DITY, which separates your move into two parts. The government movers take care of the things you don’t want to move, and you get reimbursed for the portion you do move. A partial DITY is a good solution if you aren’t sure you want to do a full DITY, or if you have certain items you want to move yourself.

DITY moves are a good option for different situations, but they are a lot of work and they may or may not make money. Understanding the reimbursements and the process will help you decide if it is the right option for you.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

30 travel deals for military families

As the world opens back up, use these military discounts to get out there. Keep a little extra money in your wallet, and remember that it never hurts to ask if a military discount is available. 

Planes, trains, and cars

Airfare discounts for military families

Many airlines offer discounts to military service people and their families. Unlike government fares, military fares are set aside by airlines for military personnel on leave. To take advantage of the rates, call the airlines directly to inquire about a discount. 

Space-Available flights

Service members and their families can use Space-Available flights to travel around the country and world at little to no cost. Though often unpredictable, military flights are perfect for families with flexible schedules and great planning skills. Contact your closest Air Mobility Command passenger terminal for specific information. Most terminals have a Facebook page where they post flight information, including their 72-hour flight schedule. More information and eligibility requirements can be found here

Baggage fee discounts for military families

Many airlines—Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, and JetBlue—will waive or discount baggage fees for military families. After booking a flight, check the airline’s rules for checked luggage.

Travel perks through American Express Platinum

American Express now waives its annual fees on its credit cards, including its Platinum credit card. The card provides concierge booking services, five times the points for flights, worldwide airport lounge access, a $200 airline fee allowance, monthly Uber credits, and reimbursement for the TSA Precheck fee. Apply for the credit card and be sure to request its service member benefits.

Travel perks through Chase

Chase now waives its credit card fee for the elite card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for military members. The card comes with a variety of travel perks, including a $300 travel credit, Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit, car rental privileges, and complimentary airport lounge access. Apply for the credit card and be sure to request its service member benefits.

AmericanForcesTravel.com

This new travel booking website, the co-brainchild of Priceline and the Department of Defense, provides an easy platform where military families can easily access unique rates on hotels, airfare, rental cars, vacation packages, and cruises. 

Amtrak rail discounts for military families

Military families are eligible for a 10% discount on the lowest available fares, and military children up to 12 years old are eligible to receive a 10% discount on top of the standard children’s 50% discount. 

Greyhound fare discounts for military families

Active and retired military service members and their families receive 10% off full-price tickets when purchased at the station.

USAA car rental discounts for military families

USAA touts that it can save people up to 25% on car rentals, or even up to 35% if the car is paid for in advance. Plus, fees for additional drivers are waived. 

Lodging discounts for military families

Sandals and Beaches Resorts

The all-inclusive resort company offers a year-round 10% discount that is added to any existing promotional rate for all military personnel.

DOD lodging

The DOD has hundreds of places to stay around the world, sometimes in basic accommodations and other beachside condominiums, all for military-only guests and at genuine deals. 

Armed Forces Vacation Club 

Wyndham Worldwide Corporation offers a free membership program to military families. These condominium-style timeshares are located around the world for prices as low as $349 per week. Applications are required.  

Prestigious military clubs around the world

For a nominal membership fee, military families can gain access to Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco, only a few blocks from the Golden Gate Bridge. Reciprocal clubs around the world include the Victory Services Club in London and New York Athletic Club in Central Park.

Vacation for Vets

The nonprofit In Honor of Our Troops Foundation offers free weeklong vacation accommodations for active-duty service members once a year. Restrictions apply.

Free and discounted campsites

Fees at various campgrounds across the nation are eligible to be waived or discounted. For instance, state parks will often waive day use and camping fees on a walk-up, first-available basis and via reservations if a military ID is presented. Tents for Troops is another nationwide program that connects the military with a minimum of two-night complimentary RV and tent sites. Other camping organizations, like KOA, may offer discounts on a location-by-location basis.

Adventure discounts for military families

Military Epic Pass

The following resorts offer the Military Epic Pass, which costs $189 for active-duty, retired military, and dependents, as well as $579 for veterans and their adult dependents: Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado, Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado, Vail Ski Resort in Colorado, Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe and Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont. 

Discounted ski passes for the 2021 winter season

A variety of other discounts are available on the slopes, including:

Check specific sites for details. 

Free admission to select amusement parks

The Waves of Honor program permits any active-duty military, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman and three of their dependents to one free admission per year to Sea World, Busch Gardens, or Sesame Place. Guests must present a military ID to participate and need to apply for the program in advance online through its Troop ID program.

Blue Star Museums

Museums across the U.S. commit to giving military families free access. 

Veterans Advantage membership

The Public Benefit Corporation provides a wide variety of discounts ranging from car rentals, hotels and resorts, dining, movies, and especially for theme parks including Universal Parks, Six Flags, Seaworld, Legoland, and more.

Dollywood theme park discount

For country music fans and adrenaline junkies alike, Dollywood offers 30% off a one-day theme park ticket to active duty, retired, disabled veterans, reservists, and dependents. 

Govx.com

This internet retailer website not only provides discounts on tactical gear, tools, and accessories but also on travel-related items like rental cars, hotels, cruises, and theme parks. It also offers discounted tickets for sports events like baseball, basketball, or hockey games in addition to race registrations and concerts. The membership is free.

Free National Parks pass

The annual pass, normally $80, is free for active-duty military members and dependents including Reserve and National Guard members. Obtain the pass in person at any recreation site by showing a valid form of military ID.

Legoland amusement parks discounts

Both Legoland resorts offer 10% off admission tickets for active military personnel when purchased at a ticket booth when a valid military ID is presented. Legoland Florida Resort & Water Park, though, gives active-duty service members free admission to its park without any restrictions or blackout dates and can be redeemed at the ticket booth. 

Knott’s Berry Farm military discount

This California amusement park offers discounts on admission tickets to active-duty personnel when a military ID card is presented. They also offer a Military Tribute Days program that gives free admission to active-duty service people, retirees, veterans, and one of their guests on specific days throughout the year. 

Princess Cruises military benefit program

Princess offers up to $250 in onboard spending money, depending on the length of the stay, for free. The benefit must be applied for in advance no less than 14 days from the departure date.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival offers reduced deposits, free room upgrades, and up to $50 onboard credit for trips booked months in advance. One must submit documentation to prove eligibility in advance otherwise benefits could be rescinded.

Food discounts for military families

Major restaurant chains like Hard Rock Cafe and Applebee’s often offer a significant discount on the overall bill if a military ID is presented before paying.

Retail, gas, and camping discounts for military families

With the Good Sam Club membership, which is more than half off its normal cost of $29 for active-duty military, people can access discounts on fuel at Pilot Flying J gas stations, Camping World SuperCenters, Good Sam parks and campgrounds, and other retail locations. 

Disney military discounts

Walt Disney World offers special military pricing on four- and five-day tickets that include the Park Hopper option so families can come and go from resorts as they see fit.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Adam Driver’s TED Talk voices regret of any vet without a combat deployment

Before he was wielding lightsabers in Star Wars or blowing up Twitter with Marriage Story, Adam Driver was a Marine with 1/1 Weapons Company, 81’s platoon, out in Camp Pendleton, California.

“I joined a few months after September 11, feeling like I think most people in the country did at the time, filled with a sense of patriotism and retribution and the desire to do something,” he stated in his opening remarks.

He joined the Marines and found that he loved it.

“Firing weapons was cool, driving and detonating expensive things was great. But I found I loved the Marine Corps the most for the thing I was looking for the least when I joined, which was the people: these weird dudes — a motley crew of characters from a cross section of the United States — that on the surface I had nothing in common with. And over time, all the political and personal bravado that led me to the military dissolved, and for me, the Marine Corps became synonymous with my friends,” he shared, voicing the brotherhood that many veterans feel while in service.

Then, months before deploying to Iraq, he dislocated his sternum in a mountain-biking accident and was medically separated.


My journey from Marine to actor | Adam Driver

www.youtube.com

My journey from Marine to actor | Adam Driver

“Those never in the military may find this hard to understand, but being told I wasn’t getting deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan was very devastating for me,” he confessed.

Those of us who wore the uniform but never deployed know exactly what he means.

It’s a different type of survivor’s guilt, a common response to surviving a life-threatening situation. In this case, it’s about not even going into that situation. In the eighteen years since the 9/11 attacks, our military has kept a high deployment tempo. Many of our friends never returned.

And for those of us left behind — whether because our mission was elsewhere in the world or, like Driver, we were medically ineligible for combat — well, it’s a shitty feeling.

“I have a very clear image of leaving the base hospital on a stretcher and my entire platoon is waiting outside to see if I was OK. And then, suddenly, I was a civilian again,” blinked Driver.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

“It’s a powerful thing, getting in a room with complete strangers and reminding ourselves of our humanity, and that self-expression is just as valuable a tool as a rifle on your shoulder.” Or a lightsaber at your hip?

“I was surprised by how complex the transition was from military to civilian. And I was relatively healthy; I can’t imagine going through that process on top of a mental or physical injury. But regardless, it was difficult,” he shared, voicing what many veterans have felt after their service.

Also read: 10 awesome celebrities who served in the military

He struggled with finding a job. “I was an Infantry Marine, where you’re shooting machine guns and firing mortars. There’s not a lot of places you can put those skills in the civilian world,” he joked.

He also struggled with finding meaning in acting school while his friends were serving without him overseas.

“Emotionally, I struggled to find meaning. In the military, everything has meaning. Everything you do is either steeped in tradition or has a practical purpose. You can’t smoke in the field because you don’t want to give away your position. You don’t touch your face — you have to maintain a personal level of health and hygiene. You face this way when “Colors” plays, out of respect for people who went before you. Walk this way, talk this way because of this. Your uniform is maintained to the inch. How diligently you followed those rules spoke volumes about the kind of Marine you were. Your rank said something about your history and the respect you had earned.”

Find out more about how he went from Marine to actor in the video above — and how he has found peace in service after service — in the video above.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

NASA is putting a base on the moon with 4G

On December 14, 1972 at 5:55pm ET, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt lifted off from the lunar surface in the ascent stage of their Lunar Module. They were the last people to set foot on the moon. However, NASA plans to return to the moon within the decade.


What are military brats like when they grow up?

The Artemis Plan includes putting a woman on the moon (NASA)

NASA’s Artemis program is intended to establish a sustainable lunar base by 2028 that could serve as a stepping stone to Mars. The plan calls for the Space Launch System rocket to be paired with an Orion spacecraft. An unmanned test flight called Artemis I is scheduled for 2021. Artemis II is scheduled to be a manned flight to fully test Orion’s navigational abilities in 2023. Artemis III will lay the groundwork for lunar missions and extended surface exploration with the delivery supplies and scientific equipment to the lunar surface in 2024.

In order to facilitate sustained operations, the planned lunar base will feature an extensive infrastructure. Consider the evolution of Bagram from tent city on a dirt field in 2001 to the mega facility with Subway, Pizza Hut, and Green Beans that it is today. While we probably won’t see those establishments on the moon for quite some time, the luxury that most troops today consider to be the most important will be coming to the moon—cell service.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Putting a Pizza Hut on the moon should be a metric of success (U.S. Army)

NASA has made over 0 million in contract deals with several companies to support the planned lunar base. One of these companies is Nokia. The Finnish phone company will be building a 4G LTE network on the moon by late 2022. In addition to voice communication and data transmission, the mobile network could be used to power lunar navigation, stream the biometric data of astronauts, and wirelessly control robots and sensors on the moon.

Nokia plans to build the network using mostly off-the-shelf commercial technology like lightweight 4G base stations. According to Nokia, the lunar network will be “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE.” The network will also be upgraded to 5G over time.

The prospect of a sustainable lunar base is an exciting one as NASA sets its sights on the moon and beyond. The promise of being able to binge-watch your favorite shows on the moon is arguably even more exciting to some people. Let’s just hope that the cell service is better and more reliable than some of the FOB Wi-Fi networks down range.


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!

What are military brats like when they grow up?

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.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

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 MILSPOUSE

Navy child with leukemia inspires others to be the match

Ailani Myers wasn’t even three years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), an aggressive cancer of the blood. Although her battle is far from over, she and her family are focusing on something else too: saving other children.

Giggett Johnson is the sister of Ailani’s mom, Princecine Johnson, a 23-year veteran of the Navy.


“Ailani was born without complications and was healthy up until her second year, when they came to visit the family in Texas. We noticed she was acting different. She had a rash and an odd spot on her head so we rushed her to the hospital,” Johnson said.

It wasn’t long after that first hospital visit that Ailani received her diagnosis of ALL. The family quickly dove into treating her cancer and tried desperately to find a blood stem cell donor. But there wasn’t one on the registry. One barrier to finding a match that Ailani and many children like her face is being of mixed race. Her mother is black and her father white, which greatly reduced her chances of finding a transplant match.

Without a readily-available match, the family made the decision to bring Ailani to Johns Hopkins. It is one of the world’s leading experts in treating pediatric cancer and specifically doing haploidentical bone marrow transplants — a half-match transplant usually from a mother or father.In part because of her ethnicity, it was her greatest chance at a cure.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Ailani with her dad.

Ailani’s father, Kurt Myers, is an active-duty chief warrant officer in the Navy. The Navy gave the family orders to Fort Meade, Maryland, to allow the family to be close to the hospital. Ailani received a haploidentical transplant from her father in 2019 which was successful. But three days before her one-year transplant anniversary, a scheduled bone marrow biopsy indicated her leukemia had relapsed. Despite the devastating setback, she and her family remain committed to a cure.

Beth Carrion is the family’s Be The Match representative and she is imploring the public to register to be a possible donor, especially those with diverse ethnic backgrounds.

“We have to end the healthcare disparity and bridge that gap. We need help to do that,” Carrion said.

According to the Be The Match website, for over 30 years it has managed the largest and most-diverse marrow registry in the world. In the years since its founding, the nonprofit has helped lead the way for innovative advancements in transplants — and in the process, saved countless lives. But they need more people to register to donate, as there are thousands of children waiting.

Learn more about joining the bone marrow registry

Only 20% of patients will actually require a marrow transplant, with most of them being children under 10 years old. The rest desperately need parts of your blood for treatment. Unfortunately, medical television shows have dramatized the process and led potential donors away in fear. The donation is not as painful as it is portrayed in television and you are asleep while they do the procedure.

“I think when people hear the word ‘registry’ they think organ donation and that isn’t what it is. This is just a blood product and your body will replenish it,” Carrion explained.

The giving of blood and blood products is lifesaving. Ailani recently underwent a new treatment called CAR-T cell therapy where her own T-cells were filtered from her blood and re-engineered in a laboratory to target her leukemia. She then had to receive extensive chemotherapy to prepare her body to receive those re-engineered T-cells. Through it all, Ailani has remained positive – even as she continued to lose her hair yet again, something that broke her heart the first time she went through it.

If this treatment is unsuccessful, they will be going with another half-match transplant with her mother.

Although all seemed poised to be heading in the right direction, the family had another setback.

“She fell and scraped her knee and because she was immunocompromised from chemotherapy, she ended up with a fungal infection in the scrape. The fungus disseminated throughout her whole body resulting in several major complications. They had to give her white blood cell transfusions, extensive antifungals, and do surgery to clear the infection,” Carrion shared.

According to Ailani’s aunt, she was terrified when she got up from falling.

“When she fell, she said ‘Uh oh, uh oh. I fell I fell.’ She knew that something devastating could come out of a fall,” she said.

But even with the additional challenges Ailani is facing on top of battling her cancer, she hasn’t lost her happy disposition and sweet personality.

“Sometimes when my sister calls me to tell me how Ailani is, I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say other than we’re praying and trying to be strong for her,” Johnson said through tears.

Her family describes Ailani as a fighter, a beacon of light and good. It is their hope that by sharing their story more people will raise their hands and register for Be The Match. Registration is simple, easy and painless. For the potential children matched with prospective donors it’s a scientific miracle. It will also save their lives.

To learn more about how you can register for Be The Match and get your cheek swab, please click here or text “saveailani” to 61474.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways parenting changes when your child joins the Army

I held on to my son until it was time for him to go. My heart felt empty as he walked through the departure gates on his way to Army Basic Combat Training (BCT.)

Although I was happy for him as he left to live his lifelong dream of serving our great nation, I felt lost with an emptiness that filled my heart. Despite the tears that streamed down my face, I was proud to see my son started his journey with strength and determination.

It’s far from easy to watch as your child embarks on a journey aimed at transforming them from civilian to soldier; where you won’t hear from them and don’t know what they’re doing.

As your child goes on this journey, you go on a journey too.


You may not have planned for this or even wanted it, and yet here you are, transitioning to becoming the parent of a soldier.

Parenting changes in unexpected ways when your child joins the army. Instead of feeling stranded in a place of sadness, let your child’s hard work, dedication, and patriotism, inspire you to be your best. Here are some ways that parenting changes when your child joins the army.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart/Released

1. You’re no longer in control.

Parenting never stops, but when your child joins the army a new set of challenges emerges. After spending 18+ years preparing them for life and protecting them, a parental shift happens.

One day they’re home with you, the next day they’re thousands of miles away with little communication.

The casual calls, endless chore reminders, and days spent together are sweet memories of another season of life.

Take a step back and realize how your role is different now. Instead of taking the wheel for them, your role may be to just be there for them, to support their decision to join the Army or to help keep them moving forward.

You may not hear from your Soldier as often as you like but that’s part of your new normal.

Instead of resisting it, lean into it. It can be truly wonderful if you let it. Just think: you raised a child with the passion, courage, and grit to do one of the most important jobs in our nation. Make sure your child knows that you have confidence in them as a soldier and defender of freedom.

Transition takes great effort and doesn’t happen overnight. Know how you are changing as a parent. Put your feelings to paper where you can look back in a few months or a year and see how far you’ve come on this incredible military parenting journey.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

2. You learn resilience.

Awful thoughts will undoubtedly run rampant through your mind. At some point, your Soldier will transition from BCT to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) or may deploy somewhere in the world.

I wasn’t as excited as my son when he deployed; he thought of it all as a big adventure while I cringed at the thought of him flying high in his helicopter over the Afghanistan Mountains.

Holding on to his enthusiasm through my range of emotions, and looking at this as an adventure was my first step to building resilience.

Embracing change and learning to adapt as a parent of a Soldier is one way to build resilience and manage your emotions. Resilience gives you the ability to cope with stressful situations (there will be some) and carry on with your life. You can’t change the fact that your child is now a Soldier, one of the few who chose to defend our country. Nor can you change where they go next. But you can learn resilience, become more confident in your ability to deal with tough emotions, and find joy in your journey.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Photo courtesy of 2nd Cavalry Regiment

3. You find new ways to enjoy the holidays.

Christmas brings with it sweet memories, family gatherings, and lots of food. It’s always a happy occasion, except for that first year my son joined the Army. He would be celebrating at his first duty station in Germany, while we all missed him terribly at home.

In subsequent years, we found new ways to celebrate. We’ve had Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas tree, gifts, and holiday decorations in the middle of November or birthdays celebrated a month before or after the event.

Don’t forget technology, which creates new ways to enjoy your Soldier. You can engage with your loved one, whether it’s a text message, phone call, or video and open up communications in a positive way.

Is it the day that is more important or the gathering of loved ones to celebrate events? Learning to enjoy celebrations on days other than the event is a unique way to celebrate. After all, any time you can gather with your Soldier is time for celebration!

What are military brats like when they grow up?

4. Oh, the places you’ll go.

That first 9 weeks of basic training seemed like forever. With over 2,000 miles between us, how would I ever see my son? As the years passed, the miles expanded as his duty stations took him to Germany, South Korea, and far-flung states.

Let the adventure begin! With passport in hand, I visited my Soldier son in every country and state he lived in. We traveled through Europe and had a grand time experiencing new places and cultures.

Keep an open mind about the places you can visit and explore with your Soldier. The best part is your child can be your tour guide as you trek off together with enthusiasm and curiosity, creating new grown-up memories.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart

5. You see your child in a different light.

When my son left for basic training, I clung to our past relationship where I was the mom and protector. Clearly that wasn’t going to work.

As time progressed, it dawned on me one day that my son is a Soldier. He spoke to me about his passion for defending our freedoms and how much it meant to him. As I slowly began to understand him as a grown man and Soldier, I began to see, appreciate, and respect this side of him.

You may not realize it but your Army Soldier is a skilled and highly-trained warrior, ready to defend our nation on a moment’s notice. That’s a lot to take in but it’s true.

No matter how much you want your child to be five years old again, they’re not. They left their childhood behind and went out into the world armed with all the loving ingredients you instilled in them. When you look at them as grown-up, you give way for a new relationship to blossom—one that includes the sweet memories of yesteryear and new adventures of today.

New Beginnings

Throughout a successful 15-year Army career, my son’s story isn’t finished and neither is mine. Every “see ya later” hug at an airport is another building block towards mental toughness and staying ready for the changes ahead (and there will be many.)

When your child joins the Army, your parent-child relationship adapts and grows as both your lives change over the years. I wouldn’t change a thing about being the mom of my Soldier son. From the people I’ve met, to the things I’ve learned, and the places I’ve been, this army mom life has been amazing.

You control your journey or your journey controls you. Enjoy the adventure!

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

New Eisenhower Memorial is ‘the best piece of evidence America works’

“Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.”

Inscribed on the new monument in the four-acre park at the base of Capitol Hill, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s words capture his legacy as General of the Army and 34th President of the United States.


Eisenhower’s speech to British Parliament in June 1945 expressed his profound gratitude for those who fought during WWII. The excerpt from his Guildhall Address is one of several featured on the monument embodying Eisenhower and the principles guiding his accomplishments.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Image courtesy of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission; Photograph by Alan Karchmer, Memorial design by Gehry Partners, LLP; Tapestry by Tomas Osinski; Sculpture by Sergey Eylanbekov; Inscriptions by Nick Benson

Retired Airforce Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel, Executive Director of the Eisenhower Memorial, explained the park is not only a tribute to Eisenhower, but reflects America. The monument is, “The best piece of evidence America works,” he said.

In addition to Eisenhower’s words engraved by Nicholas Waite, this sentiment comes to life in the overall design of world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry.

Within the park, three sets of bronze sculptures by Sergey Eylanbekov depict Eisenhower’s life, starting with him as a teenager. Born in 1890 and one of seven boys, Eisenhower grew up working hard on his family’s farm in Abilene, Kan.

Always proud of his hometown, Eisenhower’s humble beginnings encapsulate the quintessential American success story. Because of his background, “[Eisenhower] believed in the dignity of every human being,” Reddel explained.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Image courtesy of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission; Memorial design by Gehry Partners, LLP; Tapestry by Tomas Osinski; Sculpture by Sergey Eylanbekov; Inscriptions by Nick Benson

A second group of sculptures honoring Eisenhower’s military service, depict him as Supreme Allied Commander of the Expeditionary Forces in Europe, June 1944. Reddel described how Eisenhower successfully led the Alliance in defeating the Nazis. He had an ability to build consensus, despite competing interests and personalities.

Reddel went in depth describing how, “Eisenhower’s talent for leadership, steel, cold analysis, and organizational skills” developed during his military career. After graduating from West Point in 1911, Eisenhower served in the continental U.S. during WWI, tutored by officers who fought in the Great War. They knew there would be a second world war, helping prepare Eisenhower for his critical role in history.

Reddel emphasized how Eisenhower’s modest upbringing influenced his interactions with troops as “he viewed each soldier as an individual.” The bronze sculpture of Eisenhower with the 101st Airborne Division before their jump into Normandy embodies this respect.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Image courtesy of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission; Memorial design by Gehry Partners, LLP; Tapestry by Tomas Osinski; Sculpture by Sergey Eylanbekov; Inscriptions by Nick Benson

Eisenhower’s commitment to America and admiration for those serving continued as president. Reddel described how the poor physical condition of service members during the war shocked Eisenhower. Americans’ health had suffered during the Great Depression, spurring Eisenhower’s initiatives during his two terms in the White House.

The third set of statues illustrate this, with Eisenhower surrounded by military and civilian consultants—including an African American advisor. Again, a monument also displaying America’s growth, Eisenhower instituted social and political advancements.

He created the Interstate Highway System, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and enforced the end of segregation in the military, and in schools. In fact, Eisenhower used the 101st Airborne Division to implement integration and protect students in Little Rock, Ark.

Eisenhower had a “passionate faith in democracy” and though he was an intellectual, “Eisenhower was a doer,” Reddel explained.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Image courtesy of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission; Memorial design by Gehry Partners, LLP; Tapestry by Tomas Osinski; Sculpture by Sergey Eylanbekov; Inscriptions by Nick Benson

As president, Eisenhower served during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, prompting his ongoing drive to protect America. He pushed for advances in technology, resulting in the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NASA.

Eisenhower also successfully balanced security and liberty, asking his administration to remember, “What is best for America,” whenever disagreements arose, Reddel stated.

He added to Eisenhower’s list of accomplishments and noted, “Not one soldier died in combat during his presidency.” And, “He appointed more women to senior positions than any previous administration.

Located on 540 Independence Ave. SW, near the National Air and Space Museum, FAA, Health and Human Services, and Voice of America, the memorial’s setting is fitting, Reddel said.

And last, a prominent feature of the park, especially at night, is the tapestry by Tomas Osinski, framing the Department of Education building. The transparent stainless-steel tapestry illustrates the beaches of Normandy—during peacetime, representing Eisenhower’s legacy and that of the average GI.

The Eisenhower Memorial opened September 18, 2020.
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Exclusive: Pompeo vows U.S. action to ensure ‘good outcome’ for Belarusian people

PRAGUE — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking about the contentious Belarusian presidential election and the ensuing police crackdown against peaceful protesters, says that “we want good outcomes for the Belarusian people, and we’ll take actions consistent with that.”

Pompeo, who earlier condemned the conduct of the election that handed authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth-straight term by a landslide, said in a wide-ranging interview with RFE/RL in Prague on August 12 that “we’ve watched the violence and the aftermath, peaceful protesters being treated in ways that are inconsistent with how they should be treated.”


The August 9 vote, which the opposition has called “rigged,” has resulted in three-straight evenings of mass protests marred by police violence and thousands of detentions.

Pompeo said that the United States had not yet settled on the appropriate response, but would work with Washington’s European partners to determine what action to take.

Asked whether the election and its aftermath would affect the future of U.S.-Belarus relations, including the promised delivery of U.S. oil, Pompeo said: “We’re going to have to work through that…we were incredibly troubled by the election and deeply disappointed that it wasn’t more free and more fair.”

U.S. Troops In Afghanistan

Pompeo, who was in Prague at the start of a five-day trip to Europe that will also take him to Slovenia, Austria, and Poland, discussed a number of other issues, including allegations that Russia was involved in offering Taliban militants bounties to attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; expectations that Washington will seek to extend the UN arms embargo against Iran; and the effect violence against protesters in the United States might have on Washington’s image abroad.

The U.S. secretary of state declined to comment on whether he believed U.S. intelligence reports that reportedly said Russia had offered money to the Taliban and their proxies in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers, saying he never commented on U.S. intelligence matters.

“What we’ve said is this: If the Russians are offering money to kill Americans or for that matter, other Westerners as well, there will be an enormous price to pay,” Pompeo said. “That’s what I shared with [Russian] Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov. I know our military has talked to their senior leaders as well. We won’t brook that. We won’t tolerate that.”

Regarding the prospect of resistance among European allies to U.S. efforts to extend the expiring arms embargo on Iran indefinitely, Pompeo said it “makes no sense for any European country to support the Iranians being able to have arms.”

“I think they recognize it for exactly what it is,” he said of the U.S. proposal, a draft resolution of which is reportedly currently being floated in the 15-member Security Council. “And I hope that they will vote that way at the United Nations. I hope they will see.”

“The resolution that we’re going to present is simply asking for a rollover of the extension of the arms embargo,” Pompeo said. “It’s that straightforward.”

Asked specifically about the prospect that Iranian allies Russia and China could veto such a proposal, the U.S. secretary of state said: “We’re going to make it come back. We have the right to do it under 2231 and we’re going to do it.”

UN Resolution 2231 was passed unanimously by the United Nations in 2015, endorsing the Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

The United States withdrew from the deal, which offered sanctions relief to Tehran in exchange for security guarantees aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, in 2018.

Russian Media Pressure

Pompeo also discussed recent efforts by Russia to target foreign media operating there, which the secretary of state earlier warned would “impose new burdensome requirements” on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice Of America.

In an August 10 statement, Pompeo said that the two U.S.-funded media outlets already faced “significant and undue restrictions” in Russia, and that a recent draft order by Russia’s state media regulator requiring all media registered as “foreign agents” to label their content as such or face fines of up to 5 million rubles (,000) had left Washington “deeply concerned.”

In Prague, home of RFE/RL’s headquarters, on August 12, Pompeo said that he believed that “we think we can put real pressure and convince them that the right thing to do is to allow press freedom.”

“We’ve condemned it. We’ve also imposed enormous sanctions on Russia for other elements of their malign activity,” Pompeo said. “We hope that the rest of the world will join us in this. We hope that those nations that value the freedom of press, who want independent reporters to be able to ask questions, even if sometimes leaders don’t like them, will join with us.”

Asked whether the recent handling of protests against social injustice in the United States, which has included the use of police force against civilians and journalists, had harmed Washington’s image and weakened its moral authority in scolding authoritarian regimes, Pompeo called the question “insulting.”

He said that the “difference between the United States and these authoritarian regimes couldn’t be more clear.”

“We have the rule of law, we have the freedom of press, every one of those people gets due process. When we have peaceful protesters, we create the space for them to say their mind, to speak their piece,” he said.

“Contrast that with what happens in an authoritarian regime. To even begin to compare them, to somehow suggest that America’s moral authority is challenged by the amazing work that our police forces, our law enforcement people do all across America — I, frankly, just find the question itself incomprehensible and insulting.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

How one military spouse is changing the face of employment at Amazon

Five years ago, Amazon committed to employing 25,000 military spouses and veterans in the United States by 2021. As of February 2021, they employ over 40,000. One military spouse is helping them go even further.

Beth Conlin is the Senior Program Manager for Military Spouses for Amazon. It isn’t just a job for her — it’s more personal than that. It’s a calling. As the spouse to Army Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Conlin, the employment struggle has been a part of her life for a very long time. 

“Early in my career, I would remove my wedding ring and remove locations from my resume. I’d say he [my husband] worked in logistics,” Conlin said with a laugh. “For me, my career is the thing that drives me….When we moved to Germany in 2013 and I had to quit due to SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] I was just dumbfounded. How could an external factor that had nothing to do with what I did take away my economic opportunity, my professional development and a big part of my identity?”

What are military brats like when they grow up?
Beth and her husband reunited after a deployment

This experience led Conlin to advocate for all military spouses. She eventually created a small business that essentially developed and built employment opportunities for military spouses. Five years later, she was back in the states and approached Blue Star Families to partner in effort to support the issue. They offered her a job instead. 

She soon recognized how pivotal her new role at BSF was. “It was the first time that it hit me that it mattered. We PCSed from DC to Georgia and I didn’t have to quit,” Conlin explained. 

Her continued engagement with the civilian and military change makers led to her employment with Amazon in 2020. “Through a series of my own advocacy work and nonprofit work, I met my now-boss at a working group… I was talking about military spouses and the employment I had built and he was like, ‘Wait a minute, can you come do that at Amazon?’” Conlin shared. 

What are military brats like when they grow up?
Beth (left) moderating the Blue Star Families Survey

Her role within the global product and services company is extensive. “I build programs to connect military spouses to employment and I also build educational programs internally to help our recruiters and hiring managers understand the value of hiring military spouses,” Conlin explained. She also developed the platform which allows military spouse employees to flag their profile when they have orders for an upcoming PCS, allowing the internal hiring teams to find new roles for the spouse at the new duty station. 

Conlin also does a lot of work within community engagement, working alongside prominent nonprofit organizations serving the military community. She frequently briefs the White House and Department of Defense on military spouse employment needs and concerns. “The conversation is definitely shifting. Companies now encourage you to self-identify as a military spouse,” Conlin said. 

What are military brats like when they grow up?
Beth and her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Conlin at an event

When she was asked to name her favorite part about working for Amazon, it was too hard to pick just one. “Amazon encourages you to fail fast. They want you to be curious, creative and innovative when you solve problems. If you’ve gotten it wrong, find out quickly and move on. That allows me to experiment with a variety of solutions,” Conlin explained. She also loves the customer obsession Amazon stands behind and the collective support and family vibe the company embodies every day. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in 2020, military spouses were the foundation of resiliency for Amazon as a whole. “They put their collective arms around the rest of Amazon and said, ‘We know how to thrive in uncertainty. Just follow us,” Conlin shared. The value we add is intentionally recognized by what we bring to the workforce.”

May 7, 2021 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. At Amazon, they’ve been celebrating all week long. The company focused on the intersectionality of military spouses, creating an internal campaign called, “What’s your and?”

“A lot of us are military spouses and parents, and, and, and,” Conlin explained. “It was incredible to openly share what that means for us — especially after hiding that for so long.”

Conlin was honest in saying she could never have imagined her journey of tackling military spouse employment unfolding the way it did. It’s an evolution she’s proud of, and with her new role deep in the trenches of the issue for Amazon, she’s grateful. “It is more than just a job, it is a problem that is solvable and it is really really inspiring to be with a company that believes it’s solvable too.”

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

MilSpouse and NASA’s last living ‘Hidden Figure,’ Katherine Johnson, dies at 101

NASA legend, mathematician, race barrier breaker, women’s rights advancer, mother, military spouse: Katherine Johnson was truly out of this world. The once in a generation mind passed away at age 101 on February 24, NASA announced.

We’re saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson. Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers: https://go.nasa.gov/2SUMtN2 pic.twitter.com/dGiGmEVvAW

twitter.com

Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. From an early age, she demonstrated a love of counting and numbers far beyond her peers and well beyond her years. By age 10, Johnson was already through her grade school curriculum and enrolled in high school, which she finished at 14. She enrolled in West Virginia State College at only age 15 and started pursuing her love of math.

According to NASA, while at WVSC, Johnson had the opportunity to study under well known professor Dr. William W. Schiefflin Claytor. Claytor guided Johnson in her career path, once telling her, “You’d make a great research mathematician.” He also provided her guidance with how to become one. In an interview with NASA, Johnson recalled, “Many professors tell you that you’d be good at this or that, but they don’t always help you with that career path. Professor Claytor made sure I was prepared to be a research mathematician.” Claytor’s spirit of mentorship was something that Johnson paid forward. “Claytor was a young professor himself,” she said, “and he would walk into the room, put his hand in his pocket, and take some chalk out, and continue yesterday’s lesson. But sometimes I could see that others in the class did not understand what he was teaching. So I would ask questions to help them. He’d tell me that I should know the answer, and I finally had to tell him that I did know the answer, but the other students did not. I could tell.”

What are military brats like when they grow up?

upload.wikimedia.org

Johnson became the first black woman to attend West Virginia University’s graduate school. Following graduation, she became a school teacher, settled down and married. She spent many years at home with her three daughters, but when her husband became ill, she began teaching again. In the early 1950s, a family friend told Johnson that NACA (the predecessor to NASA) was hiring. According to NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics were specifically looking for African-American females to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department. In the 1950s, pools of women at NACA did calculations that the engineers needed worked or verified.

Johnson applied but the openings were already filled. The following year, she applied again, and this time she was offered two contracts. She took the one as a researcher. She started working at NACA in 1953. In 1956, her husband died of an inoperable brain tumor. In 1959, Johnson remarried James A. Johnson, an Army captain and Korean War veteran.

Johnson was a pioneer for multiple reasons. Not only was she a working woman in the 1950s, an era during which women were generally secretaries if they worked at all, she was also a black woman. In an interview for the book “Black Women Scientists in the United States,” Johnson recalled, “We needed to be assertive as women in those days – assertive and aggressive – and the degree to which we had to be that way depended on where you were. I had to be. In the early days of NASA women were not allowed to put their names on the reports – no woman in my division had had her name on a report. I was working with Ted Skopinski and he wanted to leave and go to Houston … but Henry Pearson, our supervisor – he was not a fan of women – kept pushing him to finish the report we were working on. Finally, Ted told him, ‘Katherine should finish the report, she’s done most of the work anyway.’ So Ted left Pearson with no choice; I finished the report and my name went on it, and that was the first time a woman in our division had her name on something.”

If Johnson was intimidated, she never showed it. “The women did what they were told to do,” she explained in an interview with NASA. “They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.”

What are military brats like when they grow up?

NASA photo

Johnson was so well known for her capabilities, that John Glenn personally asked for her before his orbit in 1962. According to NASA, “The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to IBM computers in Washington, Cape Canaveral in Florida, and Bermuda. The computers had been programmed with the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission from liftoff to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts. As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to ‘get the girl’—Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine. ‘If she says they’re good,” Katherine Johnson remembers the astronaut saying, ‘then I’m ready to go.’ Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in space.”

Johnson was an instrumental part of the team and was the only woman to be pulled from the calculating pool room to work on other projects. One of those projects: putting a man on the moon.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

live.staticflickr.com

Johnson lived a remarkable life and had a prestigious career. Her awards and decorations are numerous, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal, honorary doctorate from William and Mary, a facility being named after her at NASA’s Langley campus and even a Barbie made in her image. She had a fervor for learning and a love of life.

“Like what you do, and then you will do your best,” she said.

Rest in peace, Ms. Johnson.

What are military brats like when they grow up?
MIGHTY CULTURE

Coastie serves as liaison for Combined Maritime Forces in Bahrain

An enlisted leader is proving the Coast Guard’s reach extends far beyond America’s coastlines.

Bahrain is the epicenter of the Combined Maritime Forces — a partnership comprised of 33 different nations dedicated to combating terrorism and piracy, while promoting maritime safety. Command Master Chief Lucas Pullen, the first Coast Guard member to hold a senior enlisted leadership role for a coalition force, serves as its liaison. The decision to put him in that position instead of a sailor was done purposefully, he says.


Since the CMF operates as a part of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, a coastie brings objectivity, Pullen explained. In the midst of extensive Navy operations, him being in the Coast Guard more clearly defines his position and role.

“With this there are no blurred lines on who does what, I am able to specifically make sure things are working for the coalition side of things,” Pullen said.

The Oklahoma-native enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1998 to become a Boatswain’s Mate, a rating that is the operational core of almost every mission. After completing basic training, he was assigned to Small Boat Station South Padre Island, Texas, according to his official biography. As an operator, he gained experience “in maritime law enforcement to include fisheries, counter-narcotics, and counter-migrant operations, as well as search and rescue, and maritime security operations.”

Pullen’s extensive 22-year Coast Guard career prepared him for his new role as the senior enlisted leader of the CMF. He now works directly with senior military leaders from the multi-national partnership to promote security and stability across 3.2 million square miles of international waters.

“As a command master chief, one of my main jobs is the people and their families,” he said.

Working directly with members of the coalition has been an incredible experience, Pullen added. He described a typical day as starting with sharing Arabic coffee with a Kuwaiti leader and ending with tea and scones with the British. He loves the diversity and continuous ability to learn from the other nations’ military leaders, he said, also expressing his position in Bahrain will serve him well for further Coast Guard positions, although none will probably be as unique and involved.

Prior to Bahrain, the Pullen family was stationed in Guam — a duty station the kids did not want to leave. Marcy Pullen, who has moved 10 times with her husband, didn’t initially think she and the couple’s children would be eligible to PCS to Bahrain. It is typically an unaccompanied tour but a waiver changed that.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Photo courtesy of Candice Baker.

“I didn’t hesitate, I said let’s go,” she said.

Her husband praised his family’s resiliency and strength. Their oldest son, Tucker, is 17 and about to start college. If he attends the same college all four years, it’ll be the longest he’s ever lived anywhere.

Adjusting to life in Bahrain has included a unique set of experiences for the family, due to the political influence, culture, and customs. Seated to their left could be a fellow military kid while on their right, a Saudi Arabian royal.

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne shared her struggle with not being able to just go explore or do things independently off base because it isn’t safe, especially for girls. Bahrain is a very conservative country where most women are either hidden or extensively covered when in public. But Levi, 13, also says there’s some good to being a military kid in Bahrain.

“I loved getting to do new things like learning how to play cricket with the Australian military kids. You get all of these amazing experiences that are out of the way and interesting,” he said.

All of the kids did agree on one thing: the food is amazing. One of their favorite things to eat is Baklava, a sweet dessert dish made with nuts and honey.

Pullen also credits the Coast Guard with preparing his family for such a unique assignment in the Middle East.

“Our quality of life thought process is very different from the other branches. I think we are very resilient as a service because we go into these remote locations without big military bases. We pick up all the military challenges without the resources there to support us,” he explained.

Marcy Pullen echoes his sentiment, reflecting on how hard it was as a new Coast Guard spouse and mom. She takes those lessons and experiences with her, using what she’s learned to help all military families who may be struggling to adjust to life in Bahrain.

What are military brats like when they grow up?

Lucas and Mary Pullen Photo courtesy of Candice Baker.

With one year left in Bahrain, travel remains high at the top of their bucket list — though COVID-19 and tensions overseas have heavily restricted movement. As the Pullen family reflected on their journey, they agreed each move has brought new lessons and memories. They eagerly anticipate their next Coast Guard adventure that can take them anywhere.

Visit https://www.cusnc.navy.mil/Combined-Maritime-Forces/ to learn more about Combined Maritime Forces.

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

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