When living apart is the right decision for military families - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

When living apart is the right decision for military families

We all know spending time apart is a reality of military family life. Training, deployments, unaccompanied tours… all of these things result in having to spend long stretches of time away from your spouse. But what about those times when families choose to do so? Commonly called “geo-baching,” some families choose to spend parts of or entire duty station assignments apart, despite military orders allowing the family to stay in one location.


When I was a newer military spouse, this thought seemed crazy to me. Why in the world, with all of the time you are forced to spend apart as a military family, would anyone make this decision? I will freely admit that I, once upon a time, silently judged families who made this choice. No circumstances could ever make me willingly decide to live apart from my husband or have my children be away from their dad.

 

 

Until circumstances changed.

For us, it was 100 percent about what was better for our family — specifically our teenage daughter at the time. With a year left until retirement and with my daughter entering high school, we made the tough decision to live apart for a year so that she could start high school in the same location where she would finish.

 

 

And we don’t regret that decision one bit. Sure, it was tough to be apart, it always is. But we traveled to see each other whenever time and finances allowed and, as always, communicated the best we could — just like we had with the many separations before. The year flew by with a toddler and teenager at home with me and my husband doing all of the things that come with retirement.

It paid off in a big way for our daughter, who gracefully dealt with life as a military kid her entire life. This time, we could make a decision that would be best for her education and future. The move was a great success and now, with a little over a year left until graduation, she is thriving.

 

 

There are other reasons families make this decision, and now I get it. Sometimes, it’s because the spouse wants to retain a career path or complete a degree. Sometimes, it’s so that children may finish out the school year. Sometimes, it’s so a spouse with small children can stay near their family when they know their service member is likely to be frequently deployed. Sometimes it’s to continue living in a home or area the spouse loves if the next duty station is less than desirable.

And all of these decisions are okay, so long as they are made together, as a family, and communication remains strong.

Would you ever consider living apart if you didn’t have to? Why or why not?

Articles

The snowball fight with snipers I’ll never forget

It was a typical winter morning in northern Afghanistan. The sky was clear, and the blinding sun slowly climbed into it. The sun was bright, but it didn’t do much to fight the biting cold that pumped down the turret opening in our Humvee and chilled us all.


I was in a light infantry reconnaissance platoon, made up of an almost even split of snipers and recon guys. We were on our way to a large forward operating base just south of Kabul. Our specific skill set had been requested by the commander there so we crammed into our cold Humvees and headed into the unknown.

Related: 19 pictures of troops braving the cold that will make you thankful to be indoors

We pulled into the base later that morning and were shown to the tent that we’d call home for at least a day or two. After unloading all of our gear and equipment, me and the other lower enlisted guys made ourselves at home while our senior leaders went to work out the specifics of the mission we’d be supporting.

We hadn’t been there long before sudden pounding winds seemed to threaten the integrity of our tent. One soldier leapt up from his cot and ripped open the door flap of our tent. The clear sunbathed sky had faded behind a thick sheet of dark clouds and snow was collecting quickly on the ground outside.

The soldier fastened the door flap shut as we all looked at each other in amazement. “This mission has got to be scrapped” quipped one soldier. “There’s no way we’re going out in this” added another. Assuming the mission was a no-go, we settled back into our cots and pulled out our books, iPods, magazines and other essentials needed to ride out the storm.

Just as we were all getting comfortable and cozy in our sleeping bags, a red-faced and snow covered staff sergeant barreled into our tent. “Get your cold-weather gear on and get outside”. The staff sergeant stormed out of the tent just as rapidly as he’d come in.

We tossed our creature comforts to the side and began tearing through our bags for heavy jackets, pants and beanies. Questions and confusion filled the frantic tent. Once suited up, we all funneled out of the tiny tent opening into the storm and lined up in front of the two stone-faced staff sergeants.

We stood there silently as they divided us up between them. Reading our confused expressions, the staff sergeants laughed and explained what was about to happen.

“You guys go with him” he said gesturing at the other staff sergeant and his group. “And you guys come with me. We’ll have 15 minutes to build up our arsenal of snowballs and then it’s on. If you get hit, you’re out. You can be revived by a teammate once, but if you’re hit again, you’re out until the next round”.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar

Before our shock could fade, we were elbows deep in snow mounds, hastily and inefficiently shaping snowballs with our gloved hands. The 15 minutes were up and my group had established three separate caches of snowballs in case one were to be compromised. Our hodgepodge of recon and sniper guys made it difficult to establish a quick plan of attack. Me and the other recon guys suggested we move between tents to find a good ambush point. The snipers suggested we push to a small hill top and take advantage of the high ground. The infighting put us at a disadvantage.

When the other team started lobbing snowballs, strategy turned into self-preservation and it was every man for himself.

A number of my recon teammates had been taken out of the game so I retreated to the hill top where a few snipers were dug in. The high ground gave us the upper hand, and the continuing snowfall guaranteed we wouldn’t run out of ammo. We had the other team pinned down and just when we thought we had the game won, we were flanked and wiped out.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher McCullough

The snowball fight went a few more rounds and the longer we were out in the storm the more exhausted we got. Our honed military training and tactics gradually devolved into a laughter filled display of “soldiers on ice” as we slipped and fell endlessly.

When the snowball fight was over, we sluggishly made our way back to our tent, shed our cold weather gear and collapsed onto our cots.

The mission we came for had officially been scrapped, so we quietly retrieved the creature comforts we had discarded earlier and tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags. The next morning the bright sun rose and melted most of the snow. We gathered all of our equipment crammed ourselves back into our cold Humvees, and headed to the next outpost.

That day was rarely talked about in the months that followed. It was as if we were all safeguarding a cherished memory and if we spoke about it, the day would somehow seem less special.

I’m sure the snowball fight meant something different for everyone on the battlefield that day. For me, its meaning has evolved over the years. What was once just another story from my time in Afghanistan has grown into a meaningful narrative about the human moments soldiers often experience while deployed but are rarely reported.

For me this day was important because it helps me show that not every war story is a tale of heroism or tragedy.

When the winter months creep by here at home, I look forward to an impromptu moment where I’ll look out on a large snow covered field, and I’ll tell whoever will listen, about my snowball fight with snipers.

Articles

These 3 active duty officers served as National Security Advisor before McMaster

With the news that Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster has been chosen to serve as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, this marks the fourth time an active-duty military officer has filled this position.


Here is a look at the previous three.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
Air Force Lt. Gen Brent Scowcroft meeting with Vice President Nelson Rockefeller during his tenure as Deputy National Security Advisor. Scowcroft would later become the National Security Advisor – serving 28 days until retiring from the Air Force. He later served under George H. W. Bush. (White House photo)

1. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft

Brent Scowcroft was active-duty for less than a month while serving as National Security Advisor to President Gerald Ford, taking the job on Nov. 3, 1975, and retiring on Dec. 1, 1975. Still, he is technically the first active-duty military officer to serve in this position.

Scowcroft served for the remainder of the Ford administration, then was tapped to serve as National Security Advisor for a second stint under George H. W. Bush – holding that post for the entirety of that presidency. During his second run as NSA, Scowcroft’s tenure saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, Operation Desert Storm, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
(Official U.S. Navy biography photo)

2. Navy Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter

Perhaps the most notorious active-duty officer to hold the position due to his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, Poindexter was National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan during the 1986 Freedom of Navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra that turned violent, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and the Reykjavik Summit in October, 1986.

Poindexter was initially convicted on five charges connected with Iran-Contra, but the convictions were tossed out on appeal. In 1987, he retired at the rank of Rear Admiral (Upper Half).

When living apart is the right decision for military families
Colin Powell briefing President Ronald Reagan in 1988. (Photo from Reagan Presidential Library)

3. Army Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell

Probably the most notable active-duty officer to serve in the post, Colin Powell served as National Security Advisor from November 1987 to the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term. While he was in that position, the U.S. and Iran had a series of clashes culminating in Operation Praying Mantis and the downing of an Iranian Airbus by the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG 49).

After his tenure as National Security Advisor, Powell went on to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – then was Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term as president.

As a note for the fashion-watchers, while all three predecessors wore suits, We Are The Mighty has learned from a source close to senior Trump staffers that incoming Nationals Security Advisor McMaster has been given the option to wear his uniform while holding the post.

A spokesperson for Scowcroft noted, “It is not against the law but it is not usually done.”

Neither Powell nor the White House Press Office responded to a WATM request for comment by post time.

Military Life

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

The family of a fallen soldier says his legacy will transcend his life.

Army Spc. John “Alex” Pelham was killed in Afghanistan in 2014. He was 22 years old. Despite the overwhelming grief and devastation that accompanied his loss, his family is committed to inspiring others through an ongoing initiative to live — and give — like John. 

His father, Wendall, had a conversation with his son two days before his death, sharing that after he hung up the phone, he knew he’d never see John again. 

“There are warriors that God put on the earth to take care of us,” he said. “At his funeral I said, ‘John would be bigger in death than he ever was in life,’ and he is … as we come up on seven years since his death, that statement was prophetic.”

When living apart is the right decision for military families

Described as tall and strikingly handsome, John was a magnet to the people around him. That pull would only intensify after he died. 

“He was the epitome of the Green Beret moto ‘De oppresso liber,’ of freeing the oppressed. John did that all the way through school, taking care of the bullies,” Wendall said with a smile. 

John’s grandfather, a 30-year veteran of the Army, was his idol. Wendall said his son sought to emulate him. Though John was successfully playing college baseball after high school, he left it all behind for a deep conviction to serve. 

In July 2011, John enlisted as an intelligence analyst, leading him to become a coveted soldier with Special Forces. 

John was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His skills as an analyst saved hundreds of lives, long after he was gone, his father said. After an ambush attack, he was killed alongside another soldier. On Feb. 12, 2014, at 4:34 p.m. in Oregon, Wendall’s wife called him at work to say two soldiers in dress blues were on their porch. He knew immediately John was gone.

But to his family, John’s still here. He’s in every facet of what they do and how they approach life. His legacy also lives on at Fort Bragg, with his name inscribed at multiple locations.

“I get to live a part of my son’s life through mine because of his example of what a true servant looks like,” Wendall said through tears. “My son, through his service, has taught me how to be beyonda great leader. My level of empathy and care and love for fellow man is 180 degrees different now.”

Live Like John Military Families Magazine
 
Pictured: The family of fallen soldier John.

After months of healing following John’s death, his family organized a racquetball tournament in his honor. The sport was one of John’s favorite pastimes and something that brought him joy. Wendall realized they needed somewhere to put the money raised, so they formed a nonprofit organization. The name? Live Like John. The mission is to support military charities, veterans, and other Gold Star families. 

This doesn’t mean follow John’s more than obvious path, which was headed toward completing the “Q” course and becoming a Green Beret. But rather efforts to service others, community, and humanity. 

When living apart is the right decision for military families

“I learned a long time ago that to be a great leader — you have to be a servant,” Wendall said.

He encourages everyone to engage in a mission of service, but above all else, teach children to do the same. John is described as a loving man, son, brother, nephew, and friend. He was also an American soldier whose life was lived with such honor and dedication that it has had ripple effects far beyond his death.

The foundation has brought immense healing, but there are still hard days for the Pelham family: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, the holiday season and then, the day John died.

“Your body already knows. It’s already telling me, the day, it’s coming,” Wendall said. 

He adds that for those seeking to say “thank you for your service” to service members and veterans, it should be done with meaning. 

“Those words said repetitiously lose their luster after a while. You can sip a Starbucks on a cold winter day or get a suntan on a beach in Maui while traveling the world with no restriction, because you are a citizen of the United States of America,” he said. “What’s that worth? Do you understand what it is worth to the families who have given their loved ones’ lives for this freedom?” 

Live Like John Military Families Magazine

Fallen soldier highway sign

Spc. John Pelham will be among a group of service members honored this year through The Unquiet Professional’s 2021 Virtual Memorial Mile. Visit www.theunquietprofessional.org/tupmile for updates on how you can support efforts to honor the fallen. 

Military Life

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do

“Steady as she goes… hold the line.” The words resonated off the screen at me in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Secretary of Defense Mattis, Mad-Dog, father of many marine and soldier warriors, a hero to many and a non-tarnishable example of service and patriotism — had, in those simple words, spoken straight to my heart.


You see, we live in a time where our lives as spouses can be carried out in front of hundreds, thousands, millions of people at a time. Social media, TV-shows, major Hollywood producers — they all try to capture what it is to be and to live the life of a military spouse. Yet none have ever come so close as the man who uttered these words, “Steady as she goes…”

Also read: 4 things you should never say to a military spouse

While news networks and politicians were balking at trivial things that in a hundred years won’t be remembered and while each political side was chewing at the others throats with vile and empty words, Secretary Mattis knew (like the father many see him as) who would be affected the most by a government unable to fund itself.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
A spouse kisses her husband prior to a welcome home ceremony. (Ohio National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

Us. The spouses. Yes, the service member flinches and grumbles in disgust — but they have a job to do and they put their heads down and their boots on to do it. It’s the spouses, though, who will sit and worry. It’s the spouses who pour over budget, bills, and pantries in secret when they know no one will be looking; because in front of everyone else, we smile, we shrug, we will be ok. We are steady.

Related: 5 things military spouses need to know about PTSD

“…hold the line.” How my heart swelled at these words. These simple words that summed up the core of what we as military spouses do. We hold the line. We hold the hands of the men that kiss us goodbye. We hold the tears of the children who miss out on time. We hold the phone calls from family members who ask questions and worry. We hold our prayers and our worries and our fears, and we do not break.

Mattis knew this. He knew in that, in the end, no matter what the result was of a vote or a bill or a law that passed, we would be the ones to deal with the fallout or the blessing. The spouse, the caretaker, the widow; he spoke to all of us in that memo and in that moment I knew that someone truly understood what Hollywood producers, actors, and even some spouses fail to grasp.

We are steady.

We hold the line.

Never forget that.

Articles

Why women should be allowed – and required – to register for the Selective Service

Women have been part of our all-volunteer service since the Revolutionary War when females worked as nurses in camps and dressed up as male soldiers. While nearly 2 million men were drafted to serve during Vietnam, more than 265,000 American women served during this time, and 11,000 served in Vietnam. Around 90% of women who served were volunteer nurses.

The role of women in the military has grown and evolved with new opportunities. Today, women have the ability to serve in all jobs within the U.S. military. Because of the increasing role of women in the military, there has been talk of requiring women to register for the Selective Service alongside men, as well. A U.S. Senate Committee has approved legislation that would accomplish exactly that, giving the potential for women to be drafted for the first time in the nation’s history.

Although women have been officially serving in the military for over 100 years, there are some who find this proposal as being a step too far.  As a veteran who advocates for young women considering military service, I believe this change is necessary. When I joined the military in 2007, although women were “welcomed” to join, there were still a number of limitations and an underlying culture that women didn’t belong.

While the military has a place for women, the culture of the U.S. still creates and provides for a gender bias toward women. As a woman veteran I regularly have to defend my service, even though I deployed to Afghanistan with the Army and received an Air Force Combat Action Medal. Women face an uphill battle while they serve and they often find more challenges than their male counterparts when they take off their uniform.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
U.S. Army photo

It may seem that changing the Selective Service registration requirement for women is not related to how women are treated both in and out of the military. However, just as the underlying issue of sexism toward civilian male military spouses is having an effect on women rising to the top, so is the underlying stigma that women don’t belong because their military service is not regarded as equal to a male’s. If a draft was implemented, women would be perceived as being unaffected and kept out of harm’s way.

Allowing women to be part of the Selective Service registration changes everything — and changes nothing. We haven’t implemented the draft since Vietnam, but this change will have an increasing impact on women who serve in the next generation. Being a service woman won’t be something they won’t consider just because they do not have to register for the draft. It will help normalize the role of women and their place in the military, and it will surely have an impact on how women who are veterans are viewed in future generations.

The more we adapt to an equal role for women in the military and normalize within our culture, the more equal the playing field will be. For example, new legislation authored by the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., suggests we remove any reference to “male” in current law. 

An equal playing field

When living apart is the right decision for military families
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan G. Wright

Without this change, women continue to be told their value is less than men’s. Our current system of a male-only draft tells women: You are not going to be relied on if the nation needs your service. It’s a system that discounts the value women provide and one that forgets that men sometimes are just as likely as women to not fit the mold of what military service requires.

President Biden said it best: “The United States does not need a larger military, and we don’t need a draft at this time…I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts.” Opening the door to having women registering for the Selective Service is an open door to equality — something women have long since earned, but are still fighting for. 

Military Life

4 tips for corpsmen who want to earn their FMF pins

It’s the goal of almost every young corpsman who enters into their first unit to one day earn a Fleet Marine Force pin. Like everything else in the military, the pin is earned through plenty of hardship and many hours of studying.

The FMF pin itself has a beautiful design. It’s an extension of the Marine Corps’ Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, adorned with a wave that’s crashing onto a beach, signifying the historical sands of Iwo Jima. Two crossed rifles lie behind the globe, symbolizing the rifleman’s ethic that this program is designed to instill into sailors assigned to Marine Corps units.

 

When living apart is the right decision for military families
All hail the mighty FMF pin. Semper Fi (Photo by Marine Cpl. Rose A. Muth)

Before a corpsman can proudly wear the badge, each sailor has to prove themselves through a series of written tests and oral boards. These tests are stringent, but we’ve come up with a few tips to help you navigate your way into earning the beloved pin.


Sailors with the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force listen as their senior Fleet Marine Force corpsmen instruct them on FMF knowledge at the unit's task force aid station.

(Photo by Marine Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)
Sailors with the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force listen as their senior Fleet Marine Force corpsmen instruct them on FMF knowledge at the unit’s task force aid station.
(Photo by Marine Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

Study the manual

When a sailor checks into their first unit, they will receive a thick book full of Marine Corps knowledge that’s nearly impossible to memorize. It’s a good thing you won’t have to.

The information within the manual is divided up into three different sections: the Marine Division (infantry), Marine Logistics Group (supply), and the Marine Air Wing (pilots and sh*t).

Outside of Marine Corps history, all you have to study are the sections that apply to you — which is still a sh*tload.

Learn by doing

For many sailors, it’s tough to sit down, read from a book, and retain all the information you need to qualify. Many of us learn better by doing. Go through the channels necessary to get your hands on a few weapon systems so you can learn the disassembly and reassembly process. Do this before you go in front of the FMF board.

Have your Marines quiz you

Remember how we talked about getting your hands on those weapon systems? Nobody knows those suckers better than the Marines who use them every day. So, when you’re with your new brothers, have them put you through a crash course on their gear.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
Hospital Corpsman Billy Knight get pinned with his Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist pin by Chief Petty Officer Garry Tossing during a ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
(Photo by Sgt. Justin Shemanski)

Board while on deployment

When you go before the board to earn your pin, you should know everything, inside and out. That being said, most sailors don’t pass the board on their first time up.

If you opt to be evaluated stateside, the board will expect you to know everything there is to know, since you’re not on deployment and patrolling daily. If you board while on deployment, they usually stick to the basics — you’re under enough as it is patrolling the enemies’ backyard.

Secondly, studying for your FMF is an excellent way to pass the time — and it gives you a solid goal to accomplish before you pack up and go home. Frankly speaking, getting pinned by your Marine brothers is a great way to end a stressful deployment.

Military Life

Your AAFES coins from deployment may be worth more than you think

When deployed troops buy whatever they need, if they pay in cash, they won’t be given pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters as change. Instead, they’ll be given cardboard coins (colloquially called “pogs,” like the 90s toys). And, now, coin collectors are going crazy for them.


Depending on where in Iraq or Afghanistan troops are stationed, they may have easy access to an AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Service) store. Bigger airfields have larger stores that sell all an airman could want — meanwhile, outlying FOBs are just happy that their AAFES truck didn’t blow up this month.

Giving cardboard in return for cash isn’t some complex scheme to screw troops out of their 85 cents. Logistically speaking, transporting a bunch of quarters to and from a deployed area is, to put it bluntly, a heavy waste of time. While a pocket full of quarters may not seem like much, having to stock every single cash register would be a headache. So AAFES, the only commercial service available to troops, decided in November 2001 to forgo actual coins in favor of cardboard credit.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carrie Bernard)

The AAFES coins aren’t legal tender. They are, essentially, gift certificates valid only at AAFES establishments. If troops can manage to hold on to their cardboard coin collection throughout a deployment, they can exchange the coins for actual money at any non-deployed AAFES customer service desk. Occasionally, AAFES runs promotions that gave double-value to troops returning their pogs — but troops who decline to cash in might be getting the best value in the end.

The weirdest thing about the AAFES pogs is the collectors’ community that has grown from it. Coin collectors everywhere have been going crazy for our AAFES pogs. On eBay, you can typically find a set of mint-condition paper coins going for ridiculous prices. Of course, like every collector’s item, complete sets and the older coins go for much more.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
I get that it’s a typo on President Reagan’s name, but seriously… that was just worth five cents. (Screengrab via eBay)

Articles

Recruit training at Parris Island vs San Diego, according to Marines

It’s a well-known fact that Marine recruits east of the Mississippi go to the flat lands of Parris Island for basic training while those from the west head to sunny San Diego.


What many don’t know is there is a huge rivalry between “Island” and “Hollywood” Marines, and it all boils down to who had it tougher. Although the competitive nature between the two is all in good fun, Marines are known for fighting both big and small battles.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

Since the curriculum at both of the training camps is the same, there are a few differences that separate the two.

“I think the sand fleas give you that discipline because you’re standing in formation and you got them biting on the back of your neck,” Capt. Robert Brooks states during an interview, fueling the rivalry in support of Parris Island.

Capt. Joseph Reney, however, jokes in favor of California:

“San Diego has hills and hiking is hard. I would say San Diego makes tougher Marines.”

Regardless of the training location, both boot camps produce the same product — a patriotic Marine.

Check out this Marine Corps Recruiting video to hear from Corps’ finest on who they think makes tougher Marines.

YouTube, Marine Corps Recruiting

Military Life

6 tips to better secure your home, according to a Navy SEAL

Each year, there are reportedly 2.2 million burglaries that occur in the U.S. alone. That’s one every 15 seconds. Security companies use that fact to scare you into purchasing the best alarm and surveillance systems money can buy. If you want to spend all your hard-earned cash on that sophisticated gear, go ahead — that’s entirely your choice. That may not be your only option for home security, though.


Instead of going out and breaking your bank on enhancing your home’s security, former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson, author of 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, wants to show you a few cheap, simple tricks that’ll help protect your family.

 
When living apart is the right decision for military families

Is it be a pit bull or a cute, little poodle? There’s no way to know.

Make your property appear unpredictable

Intentionally display evidence of having children or dogs in your home. When your home has a great element of unpredictability — both children and dogs can make a lot of noise at a moment’s notice — burglars will stay away.

Reinforce your exterior door frames

Burglars like to kick in entrances or pry them open with crowbars. By drilling in a few extra wood screws into your door’s frame, you’ll increase its sturdiness. Make sure you reinforce above and below the lock plates.

Also, make sure you have solid door locks. Locks don’t keep intruders out entirely, but the better the lock, the longer it’ll take to bypass, giving you time to prepare.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

Not today, bad guys.

(100 DEADLY SKILLS)

Have some security signage on the perimeter

Security stickers on your windows and signs posted on your front lawn show thieves that you might have your house wired — even if you don’t. You can get these signs simply by having a sales representative come to your home for a consultation.

There are some good security companies out there, so you may want to consider purchasing their services. Either way, it’s free advertisement for them if you post a sign, so they’ll be happy to provide.

CCTV cameras

Closed-circuit television cameras are relativity inexpensive and can be found easily on Amazon.

If you’re going to spend cash on cameras, make sure they’re high enough quality to ID an intruder. If your cameras’ video quality is too pixelated, it’ll do you no good.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

Good luck not being seen lurking around this well-lit home.

Light up your property

Keeping the exterior portions of your home well-lit takes away any nighttime concealment factor from someone who is looking to break into your home.

Since bad guys don’t want to be seen, blanketing your home with 360-degrees of light should provide added safety.

Use you neighbors as a security resource

A burglar will almost always look to your mailbox to see if you’ve let it pile up for a few days — it often means nobody’s home. If you know you’re going out of town, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail and to keep an extra eye on the place.

If they help you, make sure you repay them in kind.

Military Life

6 ways your combat instructors were worse than your DIs

Every Marine alive will talk about their drill instructors from boot camp because they’re they’re the ones who turned them into Marines. But you’ll rarely ever hear about their combat instructors, which is strange considering that the School of Infantry is much more difficult than boot camp.


You meet your combat instructors when you report to Camp Lejeune or Pendleton. The Marines bound for the infantry go to the Infantry Training Battalion and the POGs go to Marine Combat Training. Infantry Marines will, without exception, look back on this training as the worst they’ve experienced — and part of that is because of the instructors.

These are reasons why combat instructors are actually tougher than your drill instructors.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

You may want to listen up to what they’re trying to tell you.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery B. Martin)

They’re all combat veterans

Not all drill instructors are combat veterans. In fact, for some, the only Iraq or Afghanistan they saw was in pictures.

This is absolutely not the case with combat instructors. Alpha Company at the west coast SOI in 2013 had an instructor cadre with in which every single one had done multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

They’ll break you off but the key is to not quit.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley D. Gomez)

They don’t care about numbers

Drill instructors in boot camp will talk all day about how you can’t quit, but the truth is that you can — and plenty of people do. The fact is, drill instructors are out to keep as many recruits as they can.

Your combat instructors, on the other hand, will actively do everything they can to make your life a living hell to weed out the weaklings. Some slip through the cracks, but not many.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

The look in their eyes will tell you everything you need to know.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery B. Martin)

They were all infantry Marines

To teach the next generation of grunts, you have to be one yourself. This makes them a lot scarier than a drill instructor who spent their entire career sitting behind a desk, eating hot meals three times a day. Infantry Marines live a life that revolves around the elimination of the enemy and breaking their things. They spend most of their day at least thinking about how to do this to the best of their ability.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

If you keep your mouth shut, you’ll probably make it through training.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lukas Kalinauskas)

They aren’t afraid to haze you

This never officially happens, but if you f*ck up at SOI, your combat instructor will make sure you pay for it accordingly. They’re training the next generation of hardened war fighters, so they have to know you can handle a few push-ups with a big rock on your back.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

You’ll just feel like you disappointed your dad who didn’t really like you to begin with.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

They never had to use a frog voice

Combat Instructors rarely yell at people and that’s terrifying in its own right. But, when they do, they don’t change their voice to sound more intimidating — they know you’re already afraid of them, so they take advantage of that. They’ll yell at you at a lower volume and dismantle the fiber of your being.

When living apart is the right decision for military families

You laughed at it, don’t lie.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

They encourage others to join in on the berating

If a drill instructor is tearing someone apart and the platoon laughs at something they say, everyone might get punished. A combat instructor will use it to add to what they’re telling you. They practically encourage others to join in on the insulting.

At the end of the day, though, they’re trying to make sure you have what it takes to be an infantry Marine. This means you have to prove your physical and mental fortitude.

MIGHTY FIT

This is the ‘stress hormone’ that’s making you gain weight

Testosterone, estrogen, and leptin are just a few of the hormones that our bodies naturally produce. These hormones allow us to grow muscle, regulate our reproductive systems, and boost our metabolisms so we can lose weight. However, the stress generated by deployment cycles and our hectic schedules causes the human body to also produce a complex stress hormone, called cortisol.

This vital hormone is created by the adrenal glands, which are located just above your kidneys.

Cortisol dictates how your body manages the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that you intake during meals. It lowers the amount of inflammation in your body and is one of the contributing factors to the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response.

Experiencing chronic stress makes for increased levels of this powerful hormone. Having too much cortisol results in mood swings, “brain fog,” interrupted sleep patterns, and increased visceral fat (fat stored within the abdominal cavity).

But don’t worry — getting rid of those extra layers on your tummy doesn’t have to be difficult.


When living apart is the right decision for military families
The infamous pinch test.

If you think your body is having trouble regulating cortisol production, you can go to your doctor and request a saliva test that monitors stress and hormone levels. Even if you don’t have stress-induced love handles, this might be a test worth taking. After all, having too little cortisol can also have negative affects on the body. Low cortisol may result in lowered blood pressure, a loss of appetite, and general fatigue.

When living apart is the right decision for military families
Home tests are available,u00a0but a doctor can better explain the all the details.

Maintaining a healthy cortisol level is as easy as working out a few times per week, improving your social life, and finding time to relax whenever possible. Our bodies weren’t designed to endure constant stress, but the occasionally worry sits with us just fine.

Military Life

6 tips to get you ready for your next tattoo

Service members and veterans of all ages love to document their military experiences and life milestones through tattoos. It’s a solid way to remember all the cool things you did while wearing the uniform.

For many, the art of the tattoo is the perfect balance between self-expression and reflection, but some people don’t have the greatest experience when they sit in the artist’s chair for one reason or another. We’ve got a few tips to make sure you’re a happy camper as you walk out of that next long ink session.


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Hold off on the alcohol

It’s no secret that veterans and active duty personnel like to enjoy alcoholic beverages from time to time. But it’s simply not a good idea to hit the bars prior to getting a tattoo — and not just because it’ll cloud your judgement. Alcohol is an anti-coagulant. If you’ve had too much, the tattoo artist is going to have to contend with you bleeding everywhere as they try to precisely settle ink into the skin.

So, consider getting a drink to celebrate your new tattoo — after it’s done.

Get a good night’s rest

Depending on the size and complexity, tattoos can take hours to complete. Not only that, but you may be sitting or laying in an uncomfortable position as the artist does their work. This can cause certain body parts to fatigue quickly, which is only made worse if you’re not well rested — both mentally and physically.

Get a solid night of sleep. Your tattoo artist will thank you afterward for not continually flopping around trying to get comfy.

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Eat some carbs

Like we said earlier, the tattoo process can take some time to complete and it puts a level of stress on your body. The person getting tattooed will lose some blood and, if it’s your first time, there’s a small chance you might pass out during the session.

The majority of tattoo artists recommend that you scarf down a good amount of carbohydrates to help give your body the energy it needs to withstand the tattooing process.

Take a shower

Most people find it aggravating to stand next to a smelly person while in line at the grocery store. Now, imagine how a tattoo artist feels when they have spend hours inking a stinky someone. Do yourself a favor and clean up before getting tatted up.

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Stay away from putting on lotions

Some people like to rub lotion onto their skin after a shower to help moisturize. Usually, that’s a great idea. Moist, well-kept skin is easiest to work with, but you should avoid applying that lotion on the day you’re scheduled for new ink. The slick surface may interfere with the tattoo machine.

Wear loose clothing

If you don’t want to remove your shirt or pants in order to expose the body part you want to get tattooed, then consider wearing baggy clothing. You don’t want anything to interfere with the tattoo process — and you also don’t want to have to hold your sleeve or pant leg for hours on end.

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