Saturday, March 06, 2010

What do you think the military owes families?

Seriously. I'm asking.

Like most, I've been outraged about the shutdown of the MyCAA program with no notice. When my first friend told me she was now out $800 tuition because of it - right when she needs to make a first college tuition payment for her son - I shook with anger. When I logged on to Facebook and saw just how many of my fellow military spouses were affected, I was incredulous. And then when I read the DoD's response, that the program was shutting down because too many people used it - and this after they spent who knows how much money to spread the word about MyCAA at Education Centers and FRG groups throughout the world - I was insulted.

The whole thing has got me thinking.

Obviously, if our Soldiers worked for IBM, we wouldn't necessarily expect tuition assistance or other programs. But our Soldiers don't work for IBM. We're a whole world away from IBM. So I ask you now, what do you think the military really owes families?

I know it's an open (and loaded) question. And it's somewhat open to interpretation. But I'm hoping to hear back from a lot of you about what your expectation really is. I think it's something I may write about - so if you are willing, please leave a comment below. Or if you want to really go into detail, feel free to email me at

I can't wait to read your answers. I still can't quite figure out my own.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

When they decided on the word "dependent," they were being literal as hell.


I'm in the stage now where I'm considering a future without MAJ Dick. And as I'm a practical person, I can't help but think about the money/insurance/nitty gritty details. That's just how I roll - I want all the information I can get before I make a decision. Emotions matter but it's logic and planning that get you round the bend, you know?

But man, the Army don't make it easy. I ask a lot of questions and most often hear "your sponsor needs to..." or "your sponsor can..." Well, er, I'm asking because my sponsor may not be in the picture any longer - so "my sponsor needs to" isn't exactly a comfort.

I gave up a good, solid career to be a military wife and mother. I'd like to say that I can walk away from this marriage and not have to ask for a thing. Since I'm a fairly prideful person, in my dreams, that's exactly how it works. But unfortunately, that's not an option - mostly because I have a child I need to provide for. And the idea of relying on a man who can't even remember to put the seat down to take care of us after I've committed what, in his eyes, is the biggest act of betrayal ever scares the crap out of me.

I can see why so many women stay in really bad military marriages. If you thought inprocessing into the military system was a mystery, just try to ask a few questions about getting out of it. It boggles the mind...

Kristy Kaufmann addresses the Congressional Military Family Caucus.

It's definitely worth a watch. I'm glad that there are women like Ms. Kaufmann out there addressing mental health issues for military families:

(Unfortunately, I can't embed, but you can see it in all its glory on the Congressional Military Family Caucus' Facebook page).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And now for the snark...

Just remember I'm just getting back into this. But seriously, what happened to old-fashioned hot water bottles? Have people become allergic to rubber? Are hotels worried about frivolous wet-bed lawsuits?

Cold Sheets? Hire a Human Bed Warmer.

This just gives me the serious ick. And not just because I keep imagining these young hotel employees farting under the covers.

What a difference a year makes...

Or not.

First of all, I was touched by all the responses to my last post. I'm amazed that anyone even realized this blog was still standing - and I was touched to know you were wondering about me. I've been thinking about you all, too. And I started to write some posts at different points over the last year and I realized I wasn't sure what to say. So I remained quiet. I told myself I was reflecting but the truth is I'm just a big chicken.

So now what I've been avoiding: the update. And unfortunately, the news is not very different from last year.

What's changed? Well, MAJ Dick returned from deployment. He immediately moved into the guest room. And there he's remained since (though he's left his dresser and most of his crap in the master bedroom, mostly to annoy me, I'd imagine). It was hard going for a long while. Not a crier by any stretch of the imagine, I sobbed like a little girl every day for longer than I care to admit. We were about as ugly as two people can be to each other and still remain speaking.

I believe we've gotten through most of the ugliness. The accusations of not caring, of deliberate sabotage and infidelity. I think we've put aside most of the blaming. I don't know if that's maturation or just plain exhaustion. At this point, I'm not sure I need to know the answer. As ever, we try to be careful around our son and make sure our problems never affect him. And we've made some attempts at marriage counseling, when we can get an appointment (that's a whole 'nother rant right there).

I wish I could say different but we are more strangers than partners. We orbit each other from different universes, only crossing paths for that shared satellite, our son. We are civil - and we work hard to be - and we both say we want to try to work out this marriage if we can. I think we even both mean it. But we never touch, we rarely laugh and share only our son. I know that marriage is often more about enduring than enjoying, that you have to fight through tough times, but I just don't know if it's enough. As obnoxious as it may sound, I'd like to have sex again before I turn 40.

Our time in Germany is almost up. Once the orders come, depending on where MAJ Dick ends up, I plan to make a decision one way or the other, end this limbo. I don't know what that will be yet but I hope it's one we can all live with. I keep waiting for a sign but I think what's really needed is for me to try to shake off some of the fear and just finally act.

And with that incredibly depressing update, it's probably time to get back to the snarkiness. That's what the world needs more of. I just know it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yoo-hoo! Anybody out there?

I was reading back over some of my old posts to help me write an essay. And I realized I miss this place...

I think it's time to pick the pen back up - or, er, the mouse, at least. Let's see if I have anything of value to say after more than a year away.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Maintaining radio silence.

First, thanks to all of you who left comments or sent me messages. I very much appreciate them. The support has been overwhelming. My wee little Grinch heart may have even grown a size or two from all of it.

So what's happening now? That has been the gist of most of the messages I've been receiving in the past week or two. So, an update. For the most part, I've spent the last few weeks wondering what I have to say about being a military spouse. But a friend convinced me that perhaps there was also some value in talking about the process of becoming not-a-military-spouse. If that is, indeed, what I am doing.

For the record, I haven't made any hard decisions yet. My gut tells me that things are done but I keep reminding myself about the old adage about guts and shit. Unfortunately, MAJ Dick (oh yeah, he got promoted) refuses to discuss any of it but it's hard for me to blame him. He's thousands of miles away. As he told me in a rare moment of kindness and honesty on the telephone the other week, he can't think of anything he might do to fix things from Baghdad. If I'm honest, I don't know that I can think of anything either.

So for now, I'm just left pondering -- what do I do next? Do we try to cram a year's worth of drudgery in two weeks and try to hash it all out in an 18 day R&R? Do we just pretend it's not happening until after the deployment and its consequent hoopla? Or is it better to make a decision now, call it a day and just let the chips fall where they may? It would seem that deployment offers yet another negative consequence to a marriage. Our marriage is frozen in time, in many ways, back to the days before he left. Just as it takes two to end a marriage, two are preferable for the process of ending one. And I don't have that luxury.

In the meantime, I'm keeping on. Doing pretty much what I did when we were happy -- doing my work, taking care of Munchkin, traveling and even volunteering here and there for the unit. What else is there?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Alive and...Well, I'm alive.

First off, Merry, merry and all that. Munchkin and I are back in the states, hyped up on chocolate and too much family time. Makes me homesick for Europe.

I wish I could say that is the reason I haven't written. But it wouldn't be honest. In the past four weeks, I've sat down to type out a post countless times and closed the browser before clicking 'save' each and every time. I just wasn't sure what to say without being honest. And being honest and talking about what is going on with me makes it all feel all too real. I don't want it to be.

But in the spirit of the season, and trying to find my way for the coming year, I find that I just can't keep this inside any longer. That honesty is really my only option.

And so, dear readers, I'm going to take you into my confidence. Why have I been so quiet? The truth of the matter is, it is difficult to discuss the ins and outs of being a military wife because I'm just not sure that I want to be one anymore. And unfortunately, I'm not being all existential. I simply don't know if my marriage will survive this deployment. As each day passes, I become more and more convinced that it won't. I've tried to find a way around this truth, to find some hope that CPT Dick and I might weather this storm, but I fear that there is little to be spared.

As for the where's and why's, at the end of the day, the details don't matter so much. It's no one's fault, exactly. It's not necessarily that I'm not Army spouse material (if I ever, indeed, was to begin with). And it's not even the war, the deployment op tempo or the craziness that comes with being a Commander's wife. It's just two people who have grown apart over time and can't seem to find a way to bridge the gap.

Some have told me that this is just par for the course. As one friend told me the other day, "My husband and I talk about getting divorced each and every deployment. You'll find yourself back on track when he comes home." It's possible, I suppose. But this isn't a heated argument during a 30 minute morale call or a disagreement about $300 in Eagle Cash. This is been a slow, gradual and, for lack of a better word, organic process that was going on even before CPT Dick left. And despite my best efforts, I'm not sure if it can be contained.

I know that's a lot to throw on you. I'm sure most of you will decide I'm either (a) overwhelmed at the holidays and will be back to my normal misanthropic semi-happily married self by February or (b) a frickin' quitter who should go whine to someone who actually gives a crap. I wouldn't blame you. Until very recently, I was vacillating between the two myself.

But as we all move towards January 1st, and our resolutions for the new year, I hope that you all remember that it isn't an easy road we've chosen. As that stupid military forward email I made fun of all those months ago said, we "chose the man, not the life." But it didn't address what to do when we are no longer so sure of that man -- or, ourselves.

Merry Christmas, friends. I'm thinking of you all and wishing you all the best in the coming year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Developmental Nazi update.

After nearly a year of hearing, "Well, we think Munchkin might be autistic," but having no one available to actually evaluate him for said condition, I had enough.

While we were in the States, I scheduled an evaluation with a pediatric neurologist and a speech/language pathologist at one of the top 10 Children's Hospitals in the country. After several months of runaround, TriCare, of course, wouldn't okay it. So we paid out of pocket. More than I care to say. But it was completely and utterly worth it.

(Although, I may one day have to write a serious rant about how fucked up the Army system is when it comes to kids with developmental delays. We could afford to fly back to the states and then pay thousands for a real evaluation -- not everyone has that luxury).

And not because the assessors validated what I've been saying all along -- hell, I spend more time with him than anyone, I was pretty sure I was right. But because now I have something solid, based on established batteries, that I can take to the Developmental Nazis here. With actual suggestions on what Munchkin should be doing to shore up his abilities.

It's about fucking time.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Deployments and gossip go hand in hand. It's just one of those cosmic rules. But sometimes, there is a tidbit that is so particularly juicy, it goes beyond the normal she-said-she-saw bullshit. It is a piece of news that just grows into a phenomenon all its own.

Right now, that juicy tidbit is that one of our spouses is leaving her husband. Granted, you never know what's going on in any relationship. But the news has thrown quite a few people. They had been married over a decade and seemed very happy. She was involved in community activities and the FRG. She'd survived two previous deployments and had been a rock for several other new spouses during this one. No one saw it coming.

But instead of finding some sympathy, many in the community are ready to throw this poor woman under the bus. They wonder if a third party might be involved and speculate on who that might be. They offer unsubstantiated conjecture about what might have been happening behind closed doors. And, of course, they shake their heads, look down their noses and say that obviously this woman just couldn't hack it. They act as if this private decision between two adults is personally offensive.

How do I feel about all this? I'm sad for both the spouse and soldier in question. It can't be easy to end a marriage, particularly long distance. But I have no interest in burning her at the stake. Mostly because I can all too easily see how it can happen. Three deployments. An overseas assignment. The Army life. It doesn't matter if there was someone else at the end of the day. I think that these two more than tried to make it work. It just didn't. And really, as much as two people may love each other, that is always one possible ending.