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3 Responses to Tell us your story!

  1. Melissa R. says:

    I was introduced to the military when I married my husband in 1985 and was welcomed into the Army culture quickly, which was good because being so far from home was difficult and scary for a girl who never moved. I was impressed how quickly these people I never met became like family. When my husband (and their husbands) would leave to go train, I had my new ‘family’ to help get me through the weeks without him. I never felt alone, which I was so thankful for! Now, my son has joined the Army and it is a totally different perspective. I now understand the culture and am so proud to have a son who serves his country and know that if/when he deploys, I have the ‘family’ I have been so lucky to develop over the years to help get me through and I am thankful that his wife has the same support!

  2. Laura C. says:

    Growing up military

    I am a military child anomaly. Instead of spending my childhood touring the U.S. or other countries while my father served in the Navy for 28 years, we spent an incredible, record breaking 19 years living on the Norfolk Naval Base. I grew up amidst the coming and going of those massive steel ships, the sound of taps every morning, and the gentle chopping of helicopters lulled me to sleep every night. It was supposed to be temporary, just one of many stops throughout a Navy career, but those brick townhouses ended up raising the Danley’s as my dad went from ship to ship to various shore duties in Hampton Roads for nearly two decades.

    Maybe some would think we dodged a bullet, escaped the challenges of those frequent moves. Instead, we were the ones who stayed. The ones who welcomed, formed friendships, then said tearful goodbyes two years later. My best friends were new every other year… I remember Lizzy and Morgan and Alicia and Michelle and Christa from the elementary years to EliZabeth and Elaine and Mary Whitney during middle and high school. Sometimes I felt like an outsider to military life, when they talked about the other places they lived, and wondered if they missed me when they moved to their next duty station, making new friends. After all, it is those those frequent moves, the switching schools and communities that boast to build character and flexibility in the heralded, ever adaptable military child. I’ve reflected a lot on my years as a navy brat oddity recently, now that I am a young mother putting down her own roots in what is likely to be our forever home. Did I get short changed that character and adaptability? No, the military colors you, no matter how unorthodox your experience was. I learned to be a constant in an ever changing neighborhood, the art of keeping in touch from a very young age, the optimism required when you have to say so long much too often but still have the ability to smile at the change. I cherish nostalgia but embrace the novel because living on base taught be something or somebody wonderful would always be around the corner again. Instead of growing up on a street with all the same kids year after year, the neighborhood gang ebbed and flowed.. The greatest instruction in inclusivity that still impacts me today. There was no clique, no core group as us kids on base knew nothing was constant or permanent in our kickball teams or afternoon trips to the pool

    Through college and a few after I worked for MWR, which kept me strongly tied to the military life. I managed a waterpark on base where I had spent my own childhood summers. Checking ID’s and saying hello to the dads in uniform stopping in to see their kids over lunch kept me warmly in my comfort zone. Teaching lifeguarding classes to military kids new to the area reminded me of my idyllic teenage lifeguarding years they were soon to enjoy, a band of friends, new every summer, working these old pools. Chilly summer mornings spent encouraging preschoolers to kick and put their face in the water- little ones the same age as I was when we moved on base. The last few years I worked for MWR aquatics was comprised of extremely early mornings in the lifeguard stand at one of our 50 meter pools, used exclusively for swimming laps. Our days started well before 6, as Naval Station Norfolk’s finest hurried in to squeeze a workout in to start the day. We were a family there-the swimmers and guards. I had long since lost my dependent ID card but working amongst the military felt like home. I lost a huge part of that when I stopped working the summer before my son was born, though I think of our patrons more frequently than I ever could have imagined. Mr. Helprin… Was he still coming in at lunch for his 100 meter swim, even though he had needed help getting in and out of the pool? And what about Dr. Williams and his grumpy habit of swimming right down the center of the lane. Did Col. Stevens ever beat his time on the mile swim? Did his daughter ever find her way in middle school? I wondered how Captain Duffy was recovering from his foot surgery and if he would still be able to swim the same. I thought about them all, the ones who only swam with us for a few short years, and those retired, permanently a fixture at Fleet Rec Park. My husband and I brought our new baby there some time after he was born to visit. The smell of the chlorine and the uniformed man slipping out the front door brought a wave fond remembrance right away. While my former co workers oohed and ahhed over James, I caught up with our regulars, met some new patrons and tried to ignore the slight sadness creeping up. Working with MWR kept me connected to the military lifestyle that was my normal as a child. I was privileged to be a part of that life, and it’s wonderful people for years after my dad retired, years after I had moved off base.

    It’s been years since I’ve gone to the commissary, or flashed my ID to drive on base, but I still feel incredibly connected to the military culture. Part of it stems from living in a military saturated town and part of it comes from two of my brothers currently serving active duty Navy. I still feel the sting of missing family members and the heartache for friends who are military spouses. Goosebumps still crop up when I hear taps or the National Anthem, jets flying overhead still a familiar sound. It is still weird seeing my dad in a business suit instead of khakis and I miss the Navy Base days fiercely.

    Growing up military gave me the gift of perspective. When I am tempted to complain about my firefighter husband’s 24 hour shifts, I remember that my mom went six months at a time as a single parent. Whining about the hot and humid weather in Virginia, I’m quickly humbled when I think about those deployed in the Middle East. Mostly, I remember the Military needs my prayers. Prayers of safety for those serving, prayers for wisdom for those leading and making decisions. Whispers of grace for the families back at home and mercy for those dealing with effects of service and deployments.

    I’m grateful for my experience as military child as well as spending years working with the military and being able to live in a military town. It will always be a part of who I am and how I view the world. I’ve witnessed sacrifice and pain, joy and pride and the power of serving something greater than yourself.

  3. Tom Steves says:

    After 12 years as an Army wife and never getting an overseas tour I decided to spend my husbands third unaccompanied tour in Hawaii.
    After my husband departed for Nam me and my three sons settled in the Salt Lake area. The two oldest were looking forward to the youth sports programs offered at Ft Shafter, our previous assignment at Ft Wolters had no sport programs. Football season was just getting started so I signed them both up. Tom my 9 yr. old was sent home with a note from the coach that he couldn’t play because he was 3 lbs. underweight. I told the coach I would sign a waiver but he stood fast by the rules, Tom could practice but not play in any games until he met the weight requirements, I had 3 weeks to put 3 lbs.on him. We started a regiment of high protean energy drinks that tasted awful, but I forced them down twice a day. After 2 weeks he had gained one pound. I was getting desperate and remembered a similar situation with my husband. At Ft Sill during OBC he applied for flight school he passed all the requirements but was also below the minimum weight requirement. We stayed up all night eating bananas and drinking water, early next morning he weighed in and was accepted for flight school. A few years later he ran into a new young flight surgeon who threatened to ground him if he didn’t gain two lbs. to meet minimum weight requirements. He was given one month to gain the 3 lbs required. He tried hard but in 3 weeks had gained only one lb. He couldn’t bear the thought of the bananas and water again. We decided on a plan, since he was always weighted in his underwear. We went to a fishing store and bought 2 lbs. of flat lead weights and made a lead belt he wore under his shorts, he passed with flying colors. If it worked once it may work again. By now I was not the coaches favorate parent but noticed that Tom was always weight checked with his jock strap on. You guessed it, the fishing store and a jock full of lead weights. Tom passed the next weight check, the coach looked at me and smiled and Tom went on to have a successful season. He even recruited Tom for his basketball team following football. Now all under weight problems are behind us, my husband works to stay below 180 lbs and Tom tries to stay below 160 lbs.

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