Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

Navy veteran and spouse Courtney Suesse and her family live in Stuttgart.

Air Force spouse Jennifer Borkey has left base once this year — to travel to a nearby post for a dental appointment. Borkey, her husband, and two children, ages 10 and 13, have made the most of their time confined to a 1,630-square-foot apartment on Robinson Barracks, one of the five installations that comprise Army Garrison Stuttgart. 

Over the past year, the garrison, home to more than 20,000 U.S. military personnel, federal agencies, civilians, and family members, has maintained a variety of restrictive lockdown measures in conjunction with host-nation and Army policies. 

During this time, Borkey’s read 30 books, picked up knitting, and refined her sewing skills. Her advice to other families — “If you don’t have a hobby, find one.”

On March 10, 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stuttgart closed all non-essential services, including CDCs, gyms, and playgrounds. DODEA schools in the region were closed around the same time. 

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Air Force spouse Jennifer Borkey, her husband, Master Sgt. Brent Borkey, and their children, Zara and Xander, enjoyed hiking in Blautopf, Germany when restrictions were eased over the summer.

While a variety of restrictions were lifted in the summer and travel restrictions eased slightly, the situation has remained fluid. New lockdown procedures, including curfews, school closures, and travel restrictions, were put back into place in November and again in December.  

Commissaries, exchanges, and the post office have remained open, but nearly all other retail facilities, including most out in town, have remained shuttered.

As of press time, DODEA schools in the region were partially reopened and some restaurants were allowing takeout but the majority of restrictions remain, including in-person gatherings, which are currently limited to 10 people from two households. While residents are allowed to exercise outdoors with a mask, their movements are geographically limited. 

For Borkey, one of the biggest differences about being stationed overseas is that rules are not optional. “People state-side might not understand that when we are handed down regulations, we have to follow them,” she said. 

“There’s no doubt that the community has had to make a great deal of sacrifices this year, especially with things that you take for granted,” Paul Hughes, public affairs specialist at USAG Stuttgart, said during a phone interview in late February. 

With no 4th of July celebration, Halloween canceled, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays limited, and no New Year’s celebration, COVID-19 restrictions have significantly impacted the Stuttgart community, Hughes says. 

Still, he praises the dedication during this challenging chapter, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing. “It’s been tough and I think the second lockdown is wearing on people a little,” he said. 

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Courtney Suesse, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Suesse, and their daughter, Stella, pictured in Colmar, France before the pandemic.

Navy veteran and spouse Courtney Suesse says that the lockdown has been a struggle emotionally. Having a 3-year-old at home and balancing a full-time college course load during the pandemic has taken a toll emotionally. 

“Everyone has gotten in their feelings and way more personal,” Suesse said, noting that she’s found assistance through a behavioral health licensed counselor on post. 

“If you’re struggling like I am, I highly recommend reaching out and finding resources,” Suesse said. 

Stuttgart Employee Assistance Program Coordinator Kim Roedl says that the garrison has worked hard to make sure families and service members have access to physical and mental health resources. Her office has ramped up its efforts to connect with families and ensure that they know about their free, confidential, and short-term counseling and referral services.

“We want people to know that we are here for them, and we are always here to listen,” Rodel said in an email. 

In addition to mental health services, Suesse says that technology has been a lifeline during the home-bound months. Her daughter has tea parties with her grandparents and playdates with her aunt via Facebook messenger. 

The highlight of each week has been an international virtual trivia with family. 

“It’s midnight for my sister in Saigon, 6 p.m. for our family in Germany, and noon for my in-laws in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We make it work across the globe,” she said. 

Game nights have been such a success for Suesse that she connected with other spouses to start a local virtual game night. The group, to which Borkey also belongs, has been meeting for over a year. With the restrictions in place, they’ve only met in person once during that time even though they live relatively close. 

Suesse says that the game night is a fun release and time to gather. “We commiserate about lockdown and when someone misses a question we tease them saying ‘since you’re a homeschool teacher now, shouldn’t you know the answer?’” 

Both Borkey and Suesse are looking forward to getting off post and exploring the surrounding area once restrictions are lifted. 

“We are most looking forward to travel, travel, and did I say travel?” Borkey joked.

In the meantime, Suesse is walking the base and nearby areas as permitted and exploring German life as she can. 

“There are still trails to walk, architecture to see. . . There’s still an international community you can experience while still being bundled into this military community,” she concluded. 

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 reasons being E-4(ish) mafia is the best

Every military branch makes it plain where exactly you stand. It is worn on your uniform, printed on your CAC, you are greeted by it every day. “It” is rank and it plays a significant role as it entails your duties and expectations, job notwithstanding. It seems one rank reigns supreme in every service, though.


Below are 6 of the top reasons why being top of the lower enlisted ranks is the best rank.

Related:5 reasons MPs hate on firefighters

6. It’s the “25” of ranks

25 is the age that many of us have the time of our lives. We are far enough removed from teenage angst and the crap that often associates with it but still a lot more than a few wake-ups away from the big three-oh.

Old enough to get good insurance rates, but young enough to fit in most everywhere.

That is the Air Force’s Senior Airman. That is the Marine’s Lance Corporal. That is the Army’s Specialist. This is the Navy’s Seaman (heh). It’s far enough removed from boot but quite a ways from retirement.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
A toast to the good life. (Image from Warner Bros’ The Great Gatsby).

5. Watch and learn

This is the perfect rank to watch and learn.

You may have been mentored and exposed to some supervisory duties earlier (if you weren’t assigned to a POS) but it’s at this level where you are allowed to flex some of what you’ve learned.

Sometimes that power comes in an official supervisory capacity, sometimes as a makeshift assistant to your actual supervisor. It’s like being a Non-Commissioned Officer, but with training wheels.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
A SrA trying to explain how things go to a brand new Airman. (Image from Warner Bros’ Caddyshack).

4. Respect

The opinion of the Senior Airman/Specialist/Lance Corporal is respected. Those beneath the look up to them, or they should anyway, and those who outrank them will look to them as the bridge between the NCO and junior enlisted tiers.

It is literally the best of both worlds.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
When you finally gain respect. (Image from Toonami’s Dragon Ball Z).

3. Introductory supervisory roles

As stated above, you may have some actual, official supervisor duties depending on how long you’ve been there and what type of performance you’ve turned in to that point.

Even if you haven’t been granted such access, you are still going to be entrusted with certain responsibilities just based on the necessity for you to grow up and fill the role.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
A SSgt explaining the basics to their prized SrA.

2. You know all the tricks

At this point, you know what you’re supposed to be doing and how to do it, most of the time. You also know exactly what you’re not supposed to do…and what rules will really get you in trouble.

You know how to maximize your sleep and how to quickly get your uniform together. You can commit large passages of regulation to memory, verbatim. You know what you’re doing and what you want to do.

Good news is you’ve mastered this rank just in time to promote. Now the game changes.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
All SrA watching younger Airmen think they’re getting away with something. (Image from Paramount Pictures’ Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory).

Also read: 7 of the top surprises veterans face going to school

1. Perfect purgatory

You rest in nearly a perfect position.

You’ve been in for a some time now and have likely earned a good amount of respect and responsibility and that feels great. Conversely, you’re still junior enlisted yourself and won’t be thrown into the deep end just yet.

How is this better than being an NCO? From my experience in the Air Force, Staff Sergeants are typically viewed in a more infantile manner than the Senior Airman.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Still, it is a fact of life.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Glorious freedom. (Image from Warner Bros’ 300).

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Firefighters from the 151st Civil Engineer Squadron extinguish a simulated airplane fire June 7, 2016, at the Salt Lake City Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters Training Center. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with a simulator, which allows for interior and exterior training and includes a multitude of various fire scenarios.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott

An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron performs a low-angle strafe during the Hawgsmoke competition at Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., June 2, 2016. The two-day competition included team and individual scoring of strafing, high-altitude dive-bombing, Maverick missile precision and team tactics.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

ARMY:

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, carry equipment through a pond during the team obstacle course at the French Jungle Warfare School near Yemen, Gabon, June 9, 2016.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Yvette Zabala-Garriga

A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides security during Decisive Action Rotation 16-06 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., May 16, 2016.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Blanton

NAVY:

DILI, Timor Leste (June 8, 2016) Crew members assigned to the Blackjacks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 move an MH-60S helicopter into the hangar aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). Deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2016, Mercy is on its first stop of the 2016 mission. Pacific Partnership has a longstanding history with Timor Leste, having first visited in 2006, and four subsequent times since. Medical, engineering and various other personnel embarked aboard Mercy will work side-by-side with partner nation counterparts, exchanging ideas, building best practices and relationships to ensure preparedness should disaster strike.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam

PACIFIC OCEAN (JUNE 4, 2016) An F/A-18E from the Flying Eagles of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-122) launches from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck during night flight operations (left) while an EA-18G Growler from the Vikings of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ-129) taxis onto a catapult (right). The ship is underway conducting command assessment of readiness and training (CART) II off the coast of Southern California.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Daniel P. Jackson Norgart

MARINE CORPS:

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division conduct military operations on urban terrain during a field exercise (FEX) at Camp Pendleton, California, May 24, 2016. FEX is designed to sharpen the battalion’s combat capabilities.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Eryn L. Edelman

Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division advance down range during the Eager Lion 16 final exercise in Al Quweyrah, Jordan, May 24, 2016. Eager Lion is a recurring exercise between partner nations designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability, and enhance regional security and stability.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

COAST GUARD:

Flight Mechanics serve a dual role in the aircraft. First, they help the pilots monitor performance and flight instruments. Their knowledge of the aircraft and technical expertise make them invaluable resources for identifying and troubleshooting aircraft malfunctions. Second, they are responsible for operating the helicopter’s hoist. This entails both physically manipulating the hoist as well as providing conning commands to the pilot at the controls.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Coast Guard photo

The pilots at Air Station Savannah come from a myriad of backgrounds. For some, this is their first operational aviation tour. Others have completed multiple tours around the country in places like Kodiak, AK and Puerto Rico. We also have a large number of Direct Commission Aviators who transferred over to the Coast Guard from other services such as the Army and Marines.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Articles

Pentagon to pursue bonuses mistakenly paid to Guardsmen

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook updates reporters about the California National Guard bonus repayments at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., Jan. 3, 2017.


The Pentagon announced yesterday that they had met Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s deadline of January 1 to set up a streamlined system to recover bonuses they had accidentally paid to thousands of California National Guardsmen several years ago.

Late last year, Carter ordered the suspension of efforts to recover the funds from soldiers until a system could be set up to fairly recover the bonuses.

Peter Levine, acting as the undersecretary for personnel and readiness, headed up the team to develop the recovery system. Levine spoke to reporters during the press conference, admitting that, though some of the Guardsmen might have made mistakes, “sometimes the service does” as well.

Levine said he had worked with the National Guard Bureau, the Army Audit Agency, the Army Review Boards Agency, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to develop the system, and that part of that system involved screening each case to determine if there was even enough information to pursue a resolution.

Cases that are determined to have enough information will go before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, and Guardsmen will have an opportunity to make their cases then.

There are currently about 17,500 cases up for review which have been separated into two categories.

Also read: Gary Johnson speaks out on California Guard repayment scandal

The first category consists of roughly 1,400 cases where the Guard has determined that recoupment should happen, and they have been referred to DFAS for collection of those funds.

Levine said that he expected to see half of those debts forgiven.

For the remaining approximately 16,000 cases, Levin anticipated about 15,000 not meeting the criteria for pursuit.

The other thousand cases, according to Levine, will go through the same process as the 1,400 currently referred to DFAS.

In all, he said, he expects “fewer than 1,000” of the cases to go before the Board of Correction of Military Records.

Levine believes that the Board of Correction of Military Records will be able to hear all of the cases by July — the deadline set by Carter.

Military Life

Everything you need to know about the Merchant Marine

There is another maritime “service” you may not have heard much about, yet, the United States Merchant Marine is arguably incredibly important to the Armed Forces. They also help keep America’s economy moving. But what exactly is this?


6. It is civilian-manned ships

Merchant Mariners are not part of the military. Now, some of them run a number of ships that support the U.S. Navy, like the Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oilers and Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships, as well as the sealift vessels like the Bob Hope-class vehicle cargo chips.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) receives fuel from the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204). The oiler is manned by merchant mariners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/Released)

5. The United States Merchant Marine is small

The total civilian merchant fleet of the Untied States is 393 vessels, according to the CIA World Factbook. It ranks 27th in the world, behind Russia (11th with 1,143 merchant ships) and China (2nd, with 4,052 merchant ships). This includes privately-owned ships, as well as those owned by the federal government.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
The Maersk Alabama is one of only 84 container ships in the U.S. Merchant Marine. (U.S. Navy photo)

4. The United States has a special agency for the Merchant Marine

The United States Maritime Administration, under the Department of Transportation, handles programs that administer and finance the United States Merchant Marine. This includes supporting the United States Maritime Service, which helps to train officers and crew on merchant ships.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Seal of the Maritime Administration (Department of Transportation graphic)

3. You can become an officer by going to one of seven “maritime academies”

To become the captain of a merchant ship, your best route would be to attend a “maritime academy.” There are seven of them located across the country: The United States Merchant Marine Academy, the California State University Maritime Academy, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College, and the Texas AM Maritime Academy.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
An aerial view of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. (United States Merchant Marine Academy photo)

2. A lot of famous people were in the Merchant Marine

Some very familiar names have served in the Merchant Marine at one point or another. While today’s most famous merchant mariner is Richard Phillips, former captain of the Maersk Alabama, others include filmmaker Oliver Stone, writers Louis L’Amour and Jack Vance, as well as playwright and screenwriter David Mamet.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Capt. Richard Phillips, former Captain of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama, publicly thanks Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) for his dramatic rescue at sea. On Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009, Navy SEALs positioned on the fantail of the Bainbridge opened fire and killed three of the pirates who were holding Phillips hostage. (U.S. Navy photo)

1. There is a merchant mariner’s equivalent to the Medal of Honor

While merchant mariners cannot receive the Medal of Honor or other military decorations, valor doesn’t go unrecognized. The Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is awarded by the Department of Transportation to those who show “outstanding conduct or service in the line of duty.” A list of awardees from World War II can be seen here.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Front and back views of the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal. (DOD graphic)

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of July 15th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Chief Master Sgt. Alan Boling, Eighth Air Force command chief, visited Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 10-11, 2017. During his visit, Boling spoke with 5th Bomb Wing Airmen and visited facilities including the fire department, phase maintenance dock, bomb building facility, dining facility and parachute shop.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong

French Alphajets, followed by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and two F-22 Raptors, conduct a flyover while displaying blue, white and red contrails during the Military Parade on Bastille Day. An historic first, the U.S. led the parade as the country of honor this year in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I and the long-standing partnership between France and the U.S.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael McNabb

Army:

A U.S. Army airborne paratrooper from the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry division prepares to jump out of the open troop door on a U.S. Air Force C-17 from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., July 12, 2017 in support of Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. The purpose of TS17 is to improve U.S.-Australian combat readiness, increase interoperability, maximize combined training opportunities and conduct maritime prepositioning and logistics operations in the Pacific. TS17 also demonstrates U.S. commitment to its key ally and the overarching security framework in the Indo Asian Pacific region.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, deputy commanding general for Army National Guard, U.S. Army Europe, talks with Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, North Carolina National Guard during Getica Saber 17 on July 7, 2017 in Cincu, Romainia. Getica Saber 17 is a U.S-led fire support coordination exercise and combined arms live fire exercise that incorporates six Allied and partner nations with more than 4,000 Soldiers. Getica Saber 17 runs concurrent with Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise that spans across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania with over 25,000 service members from 22 Allied and partner nations.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Antonio Lewis

Navy:

Sailors refuel an F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp is currently underway acquiring certifications in preparation for their upcoming homeport shift to Sasebo, Japan where they are slated to relieve the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zhiwei Tan

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands and 26,000 military and civilian personnel.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor

Marine Corps:

Landing craft utility 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, offloads Marine equipment on a beach as a part of a large-scale amphibious assault training exercise during Talisman Saber 17. The landing craft utility 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, launched from USS Green Bay (LPD 20) that enabled movement of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) forces and equipment ashore in order for the MEU to complete mission objectives in tandem with Australia counterparts.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers

A Marine, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departs the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as part of a large-scale amphibious assault during Talisman Saber 17. The 31st MEU are working in tandem with Australian counterparts to train together in the framework of stability operations.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Gavin Shields

Coast Guard:

Four people are transferred from a sinking 30-foot recreational boat to Coast Guard Station Menemsha’s 47-foot Motor Life Boat off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, July 17, 2017. The vessel was dewatered and returned to Menemsha Harbor under its own power.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Photo by Lt. John Doherty, Barnstable County Sheriff

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Keola Marfil, honorary Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Bishop and Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Dickey walk to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a search and rescue drill at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, July 8 2017. Fulfilling Bishop’s wish to be a rescue swimmer, they hoisted a hiker and simulated CPR while transporting him to the air station.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Benson

Military Life

20 important facts about military brats (backed up by research)

In the world of the United States military, April is the “Month of the Military Child.” It’s coming up sooner than you think. Military children (aka “Brats”) are a distinct sociological subculture and have been recognized as such for many decades. Children in military families obviously face a lot of challenges their civilian counterparts will never experience. This is not to say that one child is better than another, and while the challenges are important to realize, the resiliency of these children is just as important. Here are some facts and figures about modern military children and who they are likely to grow up to be.


 

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

 

1. The term “Military Brat” is not intended as derogatory and isn’t just a slang term – Military brat is widely used by researchers and sociologists and was adopted by the military brat community.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

2. Since 9/11, more than two million military children have had a parent deployed at least once.

3. Military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families — on average, every 2 or 3 years.

4. When a parent is stationed without his family, the children of the military member experience the same emotions as children of divorced parents.

5. Children of active duty personnel often mirror the values, ideals, and attitudes of their parents more closely than children of civilians.

6. A high percentage of military children find difficulty connecting with people or places, but very often do form strong connections with bases and military culture.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

7. Military children have more emotional struggles when compared with national examples. These struggles increase when the military parent deploys. Military children can also experience higher levels of anxiety, depression and withdrawal.

8. Research has consistently shown military children to be more disciplined than civilian peers.

9. The perception that the country supports the wars their parents deploy to fight has a positive effect on the mental health of military children.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

10. Military children are usually under constant pressure to conform to what military culture expects; sometimes this is perceived as being more mature, even if its only their outward behavior.

11. Strict discipline can have the opposite effect: children in military families may behave well beyond what is normally acceptable. Some develop psychological problems due to the intense stress of always being on their best behavior.

12. The bonds connecting military communities are normally considered stronger than the differences of race. Military children grow up in a setting that actively condemns racist comments. The result is a culture of anti-racism.

13. In studies, eighty percent of military children claim that they can relate to anyone, regardless of differences such as race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

14. Because military brats are constantly making new friends to replace the ones that they have lost, they are often more outgoing and independent.

15. On the other hand, the experience of being a constant stranger can lead them to feel estranged everywhere, even if later in life they settle down in one place.

16. A typical military school can experience up to 50 percent turnover every year.

17. Grown military children are very monogamous. When they marry, it is generally for life; over two-thirds over age 40 are married to their first spouse.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
US Navy photo by Tucker M. Yates

18. Military children have lower delinquency rates, higher achievement scores, and higher median IQs than civilian children.

19. Military children are more likely to have a college degree and are more likely to have an advanced degree.

20 Over 80 percent of children raised in military families now speak at least one language other than English, and 14 percent speak three or more.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why wearing uniforms to a high school graduation is a boot move

It happens almost every single year and it’s always a giant fuss. A new recruit who is barely out of boot camp will wear their branch’s dress uniform as they walk down the aisle at their high school graduation. The school will invariably be annoyed that someone isn’t wearing the same thing as everyone else, they’ll cause a fuss, and, suddenly, everyone is up in arms against that school.

Now, we’re not going to throw any individual under the bus — so we won’t name names — but trust me when I say that stunts like this are definitely boot moves.


This time, the near-annual graduation controversy started with two Marines in Michigan. They informed their school of their plans month before entering boot camp and the school, of course, rejected their proposal. The students graduated recruit training on a Friday and come back to Michigan to graduate high school the following Sunday.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
They went to infantry training the next day, which means they only came back to graduate high school and show off their new uniform.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)

First, it’s important to realize that schools don’t lack in compassion for the military and its troops, but the ceremony requires uniformity. The school made many concessions, including offering specially-made tassels, just like those worn by honor students, woven in red, white, and blue. They also offered to announce their military rank as they received their diploma and annotate their service in the rosters and the programs.

Even still, the students walked in their dress uniforms instead of the standard caps and gowns. The school’s superintendent allowed them to walk to keep their families happy. Afterward, an unnamed school board member discretely expressed to the students they were not happy with the rule violation, but that they also respected their service. This gentle aside then hit the internet, was blown out of proportion, and now the school board members are being made to look like as*holes.

The fact is that the uniform of the day was a cap and gown. These recruits disobeyed that order. When moments like this happen in the military because someone is trying to be an individual, the offenders swiftly disciplined. When this happens in the civilian world with recruits fresh out of boot camp (in this case, literally two days out of boot camp), the civilians who put out a simple rule (and offered many compromises) are made out to be the bad guys.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
They just wanted uniformity. You know, like that thing the military is known for.
(Photo by Chris Moncus)

Each school has a policy on wearing uniforms to graduations. Some allow it, some don’t. The entire state of New Jersey, for instance, allows all troops to wear their uniform to their high school graduation. If the school allows troops who’ve completed their initial entry training to wear a uniform, outstanding! Go for it! If not, the school shouldn’t be vilified for asking a young troop (and student) to follow a guideline.

If you still feel compelled to wear your dress uniform in an unofficial manner, wear it under your cap and gown. It’s as simple as that.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Be like this guy. He’s doing everything the right way
(Photo by Sgt. Dwight A. Henderson)

Military Life

4 female CrossFit athletes that would dominate combat quals

There’s always a question of women’s strength when it comes to meeting combat position qualifications. The truth is that there are definitely women out there that have the ability, as of now, to meet those requirements.


The CrossFit revolution that has swept the nation over the past couple of years has opened up doors for female athletes. Female CrossFit athletes develop body types we aren’t used to seeing on women, mainly because of existing misconceptions of weakness attributed to gender.

CrossFit is not just centered solely on lifting, but also on general strength and endurance. These women, and others like them, could tear apart the physical standards required for combat positions.

1. Sam Briggs

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Go ahead and ask her if she lifts.

This English-born athlete came onto the CrossFit scene in 2010 and has been putting her competition to the test ever since. Just taking a look at her barbell stats, it’s easy to see that she would be a contender if she were to sign up for a combat position in the military.

Briggs stands at 5’6″ tall at age 35. She can squat 280 lbs, deadlift 375 lbs, and press 127 lbs, just to name a few stats. In 2013, she won the CrossFit games and became the fittest woman on Earth.

Since all combat positions are opened and gender-neutral, the qualification standards are not lowered for women, so they have to prove themselves against male counterparts. There’s no doubt Briggs could go toe-to-toe with men in any physical component of these standards.

For example, according to the Marine Corps’ gender-integration implementation plan, the standards below are for all personnel that seek a combat position:

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Olympic lifts are part of the qualifications. Who would’ve thought?

2. Katrin Davidsdottir

Davidsdottir hails from Iceland and is a two-time winner of the CrossFit Games in 2015 and 2016. She certainly is a force to be reckoned with and is well known for her 255-pound back squat and 310-pound deadlift. Davidsdottir is still competing and one of the most well-known CrossFit athletes.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Maybe this is who should be training females entering combat positions.

CrossFit incorporates running in high-intensity workouts while adding weighted vests to the equation. Davidsdottir had to run a mile and half with a weighted vest, swim another mile, and then run another mile and a half — not to mention the endless reps of deadlifts, pull-ups, and squats that followed. Some combat positions don’t even require all of the abilities that these female athletes have conditioned their bodies to perform.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Katrin Davidsdottir with a weighted vest.

3. Tia Claire Toomey

The reigning champ of the 2017 CrossFit games and has been crowned Fittest Woman on Earth. Toomey is from Australia and is young blood on the scene.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Just another day repeatedly lifting some 55lbs dumbbells overhead.

At the young age of 24, Toomey has been able to train her body, in a short amount of time, to accomplish amazing feats. Her barbell stats include a 297-lbs squat, a 244-lbs clean and jerk, a 357-lbs deadlift, and 50 pull-ups in a timed period. She could certainly make an excellent candidate for any combat position in the military.

4. Sara Sigmundsdottir

Sigmudsdottir is also from Iceland and has been rocking the CrossFit competitions — repeatedly ranking third. She’s always in the winds and nearly takes the title every year, but misses it just by a few marks.

Even still, her barbell stats are pretty impressive. Sigmudsdottir clean and jerks 243lbs, back squats 298lbs, and deadlifts 341 lbs. Not too shabby for third place. She could definitely contend in combat qualifications.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Sara Sigmundsdottir

One thing is for sure: For some female athletes, the standards never need to be lowered.

Military Life

6 interesting facts about American Indians in the US military

America’s first warriors are also the first to defend America. As a people, American Indians are disproportionately dedicated to the defense of the United States; yet, as it has been pointed out many times, they don’t always get a fair shake.

Related video:

 

But they deserve our respect. Our warrior culture starts with their warrior culture. No other group in America gave so many of their own as selflessly.

1. American Indians enlist in wildly disproportionate numbers.

During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Natives were 1.7 percent of the U.S. military, more than twice their population proportion of the entire United States, which is .8 percent.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

During WWII, the War Department estimated that if every racial segment of the American population enlisted like Native Americans did, they wouldn’t have needed a draft.

2. They served in greater numbers than any other group since the founding of America.

Per capita, more American Indians serve than any other ethnic group. This includes during World War I, when they weren’t even citizens of the United States.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

Depending on which state they were in, some tribal members weren’t able to vote until 1957.

3. American Indians claim 27 Medal of Honor recipients.

Recipients include legendary Marine Corps fighter ace and original Flying Tigers pilot “Pappy” Boyington.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

The first American Indian Medal of Honor was awarded to Co-Rux-Te-Chod-Ish, a Pawnee scout accidentally killed by his own unit. They then spelled his name wrong on his award citation.

4. One of the Iwo Jima flag raisers was an American Indian.

He was one of the six men photographed by Joe Rosenthal on Iwo Jima. Many know this story from Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags of Our Fathers.” Johnny Cash sang a song about him.

5. Unlike other Vietnam vets, American Indians were welcomed back as heroes.

Call it a true “warrior culture.” Despite the ongoing anti-war protests, whenever American Indians in the U.S. military returned home from Vietnam they were welcomed as warriors.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

Some Vietnam vets were spit on and called “baby killers,” even if they were drafted. While 90 percent of American Indians who fought in Vietnam were volunteers, their people still welcomed them back.

6. The first American Indian female to die in combat was killed in Iraq.

Lori Piestewa of Arizona was from the Hopi tribe. She was killed by Iraqi forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She died in the ambush in which Jessica Lynch’s unit was captured.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

She was wounded in the head near Nasiriyah and died from her wounds due to poor electricity in Iraqi civilian hospitals. Arizona’s Squaw Peak was renamed Piestewa Peak in her honor.

Military Life

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

After my daughter was born, I didn’t sleep much. I thought to myself, when was the last time I had this little sleep? Basic training, of course. As I thought about it further, there are a lot of comparisons between basic training and being a parent to a newborn or infant. Here are nine tips and takeaways I learned from basic training and how they apply to parenthood.

  1. You don’t sleep anymore. In Basic, we slept for about five, maybe six, hours a night. We would go to sleep at 11 o’clock and be woken up around 4-something. When I finished Basic, I slept for about 18 hours a day for three days. With a newborn, anyone who is a parent or knows a parent knows that you’re lucky to get four-to-five hours of sleep a night. The only issue is, you never really have a chance to catch up.
  2. You have to eat fast. In Basic, we were given seven minutes to eat our entire meal. We could take as much food as we wanted, but we had to eat it all in that time frame. Once your seven minutes was up, you had to run back outside and wait for the next item on the agenda. With a newborn, you have to eat quickly (and in most cases separately from your spouse), before the kiddo needs something. Eating together with a quiet child is a luxury.
  3. You don’t remember the last time you showered. In Basic, we had a finite amount of time after physical training and breakfast to clean our rooms, make our beds, shower, shave, etc. In most cases, you skipped a shower because that was the one thing that wasn’t mandated. After a few days, you had a hard time remembering the last time you cleaned yourself. With a newborn, you get spit on, pooped on, and peed on so much that you just stop caring about your own personal hygiene, in many cases not remembering the last time you showered.
  4. The bathroom is your only solace. In Basic, after we ate, we stood in formation outside the dining hall to wait for everyone in our squadron to finish. As we were waiting, we had an opportunity to use a Porta-Potty. Even if you didn’t have to go number one or number two, you still waited in line and when it was your turn, just sat inside, took your hat off and took a minute to yourself. It was the only time the staff weren’t yelling at you. With a newborn, the only real “alone” time you have is in the bathroom. Speaking of yelling…
  5. You get screamed at for seemingly no reason. In Basic, I remember a time when I had three staff members screaming in my face because the bottles of sunscreen for our team weren’t all the same brand (and no, they didn’t have to be). With a newborn, your kiddo can cry and scream at you for any number of reasons: hungry, soiled diaper, in an uncomfortable position, gassy, tired, scratched herself, startled, just wanting to be held, or…for no reason at all.
  6. Exercise becomes more of a chore than something you enjoy. In Basic, we had physical training at least twice per day, but it wasn’t fun, it was push-ups, and sit-ups, and running, and all of those calisthenic-type exercises. With a newborn, it is still important to exercise, but because your time is limited and you know you need to do it for your health and mental sanity, it becomes more of a chore and check-box rather than something you an relax and enjoy fully.
  7. Your teammates are key. In Basic, it is critical to have the support of your squad members. They can cover for you or throw you under the bus. With a newborn, having your support network of your spouse, family, and friends is necessary to help keep you sane, give you breaks when you need, and support you through tough times.
  8. Nothing can truly prepare you for what is about to happen. In Basic, we were told to memorize a book called the “Field Training Manual” before we got there. The book explained how everything needed to be done, everything from making a bed to how your locker needed to look to how to properly lace your boots. If you read the book, you thought, hey, I’m in a good place to be successful. In reality, it didn’t go so easily, as the “rules” in the book didn’t necessarily translate well to the actual experiences. With a newborn, you can read all the books in the world (I read only two), but once that child arrives, you just try to figure it out as best you can. There’s no answer other than to just keep your kid alive and get her fed so she can grow to the point where she can sleep through the night and maybe you can, too.
  9. It’s the most fun you have you never want to have again. In Basic, during the heart of it, it’s terrible. Some things can be fun, but overall, it’s a pretty miserable experience. That said, by the time it’s over, you think to yourself, that wasn’t so bad, I could probably do it again. With a newborn, when you’re up at 3 a.m. with a child you can’t seem to console, you think to yourself, this is a pretty miserable experience. But by the time the kid grows a few months, starts sleeping through the night, and acting a little more human, you think, that wasn’t so bad, I could probably do it again. And you do, because your wife wants a second kid.

Parker Schaffel is a former CIA officer, former Navy Reserve intelligence officer, and the author of Get After It: Seven Inspirational Stories to Find Your Inner Strength When It Matters Most. The book’s stories and lessons from Parker’s experiences are particularly valuable and helpful for junior servicemembers who want to achieve great things. It is available in eBook, soft cover, and audiobook on Amazon.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 ways you know you’re married to a veteran

Being married to someone who dedicated a portion of his life in service to our great nation is something of which I’m incredibly proud. I spent the better part of my adult life supporting his service and I would do it all again because I love him and believe his choice to join the Marine Corps was honorable and brave.


But even now, 18 months after his retirement, there are things that happen in our daily lives that make me smile because I am certain they’re completely foreign to my friends who are married to “civilians.” These are 6 such things:

6. You’ve ever had to say, “don’t you knife hand me!”

I might say this at least once a week. Okay, once a day. That knife hand is fierce and even my 5-year-old will employ it from time to time. Oorah.

(Image via GIPHY)

Related: 4 things you should never say to a military spouse

5. You are 15 minutes early to everything.

And even then, my husband is stressed out. After all, if you are on time, you’re late. I’m not mad at this one (most days). My teenager has also learned this life skill and will do just about anything not to be “on time.”

(Image via GIPHY)

4. There is green gear everywhere.

Even though he’s no longer active duty, we still have duffle bags, green socks that I swear multiply if they get wet after midnight, paracords, backpacks, and those little black, clicky pens. Everywhere. And don’t even think about trying to get rid of those green t-shirts. Just don’t do it.

(Image via GIPHY)

3. Your spouse, before bedtime, says, “I’m gonna go check the perimeter.”

Firearm strapped to his hip, my husband will go check the perimeter just to make sure we are all safe. I love this, but I don’t think any of my non-military spouse friends get this level of security each night. I’ll take it.

(Image via GIPHY)

2. When you can’t watch military films or TV shows…

We’ll settle in for a great movie or TV show that has something to do with the military. Then, like clockwork, he pauses the DVR. “First of all… that ribbon is in the wrong place. And look at those stripes! No way does an E-5 have that many years of service. Who is advising this film?!”

Every. Time.

Also read: This is why there’s no excuse for Hollywood to screw up military uniforms

(Image via GIPHY)

1. That face.

You know the one I am talking about. When a movie, TV show, or really great military-related commercial comes on and it touches your veteran. You look over and he/she is biting that bottom lip just slightly, eyes are welling a bit, but they are trying hard not to cry.

You realize it has reminded them of someone who didn’t come home or an experience they may never feel ready to share and you’re reminded of just how incredible your spouse is for signing on that line and agreeing to pay the ultimate price for our country.

And then you say a little prayer of thanks that your spouse is one of the lucky ones.

(Image via GIPHY)

Articles

Military spouse helps pass legislation to benefit military retirees in Arkansas

When Brittany Boccher was approached by retired Major General Kendall Penn and the Arkansas Secretary of State Military and Veterans Liaison Kevin Steele to help get proposed legislation passed to protect the retirement pay of military retirees, Boccher jumped at the opportunity to serve her current community.


Boccher, a mother of two and the spouse of a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, began the task by hosting the General and the Military and Veteran’s Liaison at one of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club meetings, where the men presented the proposed legislation to the local military spouses.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Brittany Boccher was invited to attend the signing of legislation into state law on Feb. 7, 2017. The law exempts military retiree pay from state taxes. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Boccher.)

The proposal specifically addressed the taxation of pay for military retirees. While active duty personnel in Arkansas do not pay a state tax, retired veterans’ pay is taxed.

That tax didn’t sit well with Governor Asa Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, who have seen their state ranked at 48 in attracting and retaining working age military retirees and veterans.

“A lot of them will retire really young in their 40s, 50s, 60s. And what do they do? They have that steady income and start other businesses or they go work a new job,” Griffin said.

Hutchinson agreed, saying, “I believe it will help us to bring more military retirees here, welcome them back to Arkansas.”

Boccher committed to calling or emailing every state senate committee member directly to discuss his or her support for Hutchinson’s proposed tax initiative. Then she set out to round up military families that would benefit the most from the initiative in order to testify before the state house and senate committees.

Boccher, a business owner in Arkansas herself, told We Are the Mighty that her family reflected the target audience the state was hoping to attract with the proposed tax break.

“They were seeking a young family close to retirement to showcase that they would have a second career after the military. We are a 17 year military family, we’re young, and with two small children. We want to stay in Arkansas and we own a business in Arkansas.”

Boccher said her family “checked all the boxes” for what Steele and Penn wanted to present as the ideal family the state was trying to attract.

Penn asked Boccher to testify before the state house and senate committees.

As a result of her hard work and commitment to the legislation, Boccher and her family were invited to the bill signing ceremony earlier this month.

On February 7, Hutchinson released a statement that read, in part, “…beginning in January [Arkansas] will also exempt military retirement pay. This initiative will make Arkansas a more military friendly retirement destination and will encourage veterans to start their second careers or open a business right here in the Natural State.”

For her part, Boccher is proud of what she’s accomplished for veterans while simultaneously running an apparel company, a photography company, and a non-profit organization, the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition.

Additionally, Boccher is the president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Spouses’ Club and the 2016 and 2017 Little Rock Air Force Base Spouse of the Year.

Boccher had this to say about her work, “The military community is resilient, adaptable, dedicated, independent, supportive, and resourceful, but most of all they can make a difference, their voice can be heard, and they can and will make change happen!”

Do Not Sell My Personal Information