Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our third deployment ~ 2007 - 2009

The third deployment. The one we all dread..... 15 months! We had gotten to Fort Hood in July 2006. By the time this deployment rolled around it was the end of 2007.

A few major things bombarded me during this deployment and it was the hardest by far. Thank God for my friends I had to help me get through.

The first thing I didn't like about this deployment was that he left in December, before Christmas, and was going to miss the following Christmas too. Then we found out when he was getting his R&R! Boy was I mad!! His R&R was scheduled for 2 months after he left, which meant he would come home in Feb. 2008 and than it would a whole year before I saw him again.

During his R&R, his mother came down to visit for a week. While she was there, we took off to Austin for the weekend and some great.....alone time.... =) (dirty birds!!) LOL.

Now, for some time my mother had been battling cancer and we knew she didn't have long. This is another thing I didn't like about this deployment. Two days after Darrell left to go back from R&R my mother passed away. My husband had a Red Cross message waiting for him when he got back. Even though he just had R&R, they turned around and sent him right back home so I could fly to Jersey to be with my family. (I'm not sure if this is usually allowed, but my husband wouldn't take "no" for an answer and his command was decent.)

After he went back again I began feeling really sick. I couldn't concentrate on my school work, I had no energy to cook, clean, or barely take care of the kids. I was putting on weight and was very angry all the time. Yelling at every little thing the kids did. My hair was falling out and I was so sensitive to the cold that I was wearing long sleeves in the Texas.

My neighbor, Heather L. (I love this woman to death!!), convinced me to go to a doctor because we were both thinking it was stress and I was depressed. Of course I had all the symptoms of depression so my therapist sent me to my doctor to get on Prozac. He took one look at me and told me he was doing blood work. A few days later I got a call to get to the doctor ASAP.

It turns out I wasn't depressed, my thyroid had completely died on me. I was sleeping the days away because my body was shutting down on me. I had no clue that your thyroid was that important. My doctor told me he was surprised I hadn't gone into a coma because of how high my TSH levels were. Every thing that was wrong with me was explained by this. So, for the rest of my life I now have to take medicine for hypothyroidism.

This disease had caused a lot of problems too since I wasn't diagnosed until after my husband came home from his deployment. When he came home, it was horrible. He thought I was just being lazy and didn't want to keep the house clean or do the things I had normally done. We got back on track after my diagnosis though.

So, during this 15 month deployment, my mother passed away, I almost died and my marriage almost didn't survive. I would definitely say that I went through hell. And now, being on our 4th deployment, this one is as easy as pie. =)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What I've been doing to lose weight

I've had quite a few women ask me what I've been doing to lose weight. So, I've decided to just write about it and refer others here. =)

I actually went to a weight loss doctor, but not everyone has to do so. The things she has taught me you can find just by using google. Here is what I do:

First, and most importantly, I count my calories. Every single thing I eat is measured for portion control and counted. I keep all this recorded in a food journal so I can monitor the things I eat. It helps me decide where I can make better choices and what things I should cut out. I still eat things that people would consider "bad", but I just account for it in my daily caloric needs. I keep myself in between 1200 and 1400 calories a day. This cut my calorie intake by 1000 calories a day for a total of 7000 a week, which equals about 2 pounds of weight loss each week. One thing that helps me with counting calories is my "Calorie King" book. It has calories for everything in it, including fast food places and other things.

Now, because I was cutting calories so drastically, my doctor gave me a prescription appetite suppressant, but I don't suggest taking them without talking to your doctor about it. Some of them can have severe side effects, especially if you take other medications for health issues.

Second, and just as important as watching what you eat, is exercise! I know some people dread that word, it's evil and horrible!! LOL. I started out walking the track. I really recommend getting a pedometer if you want to walk. You will be able to track how far you walk and how fast you do it in.

I have also started resistance and slight weight training at home. Simple, cheap, and convenient if you can't go to the gym (or don't want to). I use bands and light weights. Exercise videos can help too.

Third, support!! I have support from my husband, my friends, and even my kids. Having support while trying to lose weight makes it so much better. It's great to hear, "You're doing great!", "I'm so proud of you!". My husband has been a blessing in supporting me with my weight loss, even from the desert!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gossip ~ What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth.

You know the gossipers. The bored women who have nothing going in their lives so they feel the need to make it more interesting by gossiping about others.

The lonely wife whose husband just deployed looks out her window and sees a man going into her neighbors house. She knows her neighbors husband is deployed as well. Instead of minding her business, she calls a friend, "Girl you will not believe what I just saw! Shelia has a man in her house and Rick is deployed. You know that ain't right, I just know she is sleeping around. Can you believe that whore?!"

We all know the scenario, or something similar. The man could be anyone. A relative, maintenance, phone guy, or even a friends husband helping with something.

The women who run their mouths spreading rumors about others cheating are just as bad as the women who actually cheat. When gossiping about things you have not seen personally with your own eyes you can cause unrepairable damage.

Worse case scenario: this "gossip" gets back to a deployed soldier that his wife is cheating, he is upset and distracted because he can't believe his wife would do this, he leads his sodliers out on a mission but his heads not in the game, next thing you know they're all injured or dead because their leader isn't focused. All because a gossiper wants to talk and run her mouth over something she knows nothing about.

I think it's sad and pathetic. The women who gossip obviously need a better hobby and should re-evaluate their personal relationship because they should not feel the need to be invested so much in someone elses.

Quotes and sayings~

Gossip is always a personal confession either of malice or imbecility.
~Josiah Gilbert Holland

If it's very painful for you to criticize your friends - you're safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that's the time to hold your tongue. ~Alice Duer Miller

Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you. ~Spanish Proverb

Do not repeat anything you will not sign your name to. ~Author Unknown

If an American was condemned to confine his activity to his own affairs, he would be robbed of one half of his existence. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

The biggest liar in the world is They Say. ~Douglas Malloch

Truth is not exciting enough to those who depend on the characters and lives of their neighbors for all their amusement.
~George Bancroft

Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it; it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.
~George Eliot


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Raise your Self-Esteem

12 Steps to help you raise your self-esteem

1. Stop comparing yourself with other people. There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. If you play the comparison game, you'll run into too many "opponents" you can't defeat.

2. Stop putting yourself down. You can't develop high self-esteem if you repeat negative phrases about yourself and your abilities. Whether speaking about your appearances, your career, your relationships, your financial situation, or any other aspects of your life, avoid self-depreciating comments.

3. Accept all compliments with "thank you." Ever received a compliment and replied," Oh, it was nothing." When you reject a compliment, the message you give yourself is that you are not worthy of praise. Respond to all compliments with a simple Thank You."

4. Use affirmations to enhance your self-esteem. On the back of a business card or small index card, write out a statement such as "I like and accept my self." or "I am valuable, lovable person and deserve the best in life." Carry the card with you. Repeat the statement several times during the day, especially at night before going to bed and after getting up in the morning. Whenever you say the affirmation, allow yourself to experience positive feelings about your statement.

5. Take advantage of workshops, books and cassette tape programs on self-esteem. Whatever material you allow to dominate mind will eventually take root and affect your behavior. If you watch negative television programs or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip off; you will grow cynical and pessimistic. Similarly, if you read books or listen to programs, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.

6. Associate with positive, supportive people. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered. On the other hand, when you are accepted and encouraged, you feel better about yourself in the best possible environment to raise your self-esteem.

7. Make a list of your past successes. This doesn't necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments. It can include your "minor victories," like learning to skate, graduating from high school, receiving an award or promotion, reaching a business goal, etc. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.

8. Make a list of your positive qualities. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it's important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn't working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you'll stand a much better chance of achieving what you wish to achieve.

9. Start giving more. I'm not talking about money. Rather, I mean that you must begin to give more of yourself to those around your. When you do things for others, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which, in turn, lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem.

10. Get involved in work and activities you love. It's hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you despise. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. Even if you can't explore alternative career options at the present time, you can still devote leisure time to hobbies and activities, which you find stimulating and enjoyable.

11. Be true to yourself. Live your own life - not the life others have decided is best for you. You'll never gain your own respect and feel good about yourself if you aren't leading the life you want to lead. If you're making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren't being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.

12. Take action! You won't develop high self-esteem if you sit on the sidelines and back away from challenges. When you take action - regardless of the ensuing result - you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you'll be frustrated and unhappy - and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.

You know you're an Army Wife when....

I posted this as a thread on my army wife fan page. I just got some great answers!
Here they are.....

You know you're an Army Wife when ~ run for the phone,every time it rings. can spot a soldier in civilian clothes a mile away. spell using the phonetic alphabet. check your wallet for your id repeatedly before driving off post.

...Every time your husband thinks he's in charge you remind him his rank doesn't work in your presence! Or you know not to plan ahead ever! ask your husband a question and responds with roger, or yes mam' 1500. understand a shit load of acronyms.

...back home is your last duty station and not where you come from and when your cellphone area code is from the last place you have been. know all the army lingo, not because you want to, but because you have to. wait for the next phone call, email, text message or letter home. know his friends and people he works with only by their last names. have a stock in flat rate shipping boxes.

...everything is military time and you wash laundry all the time. talk to family and friends from back home and use military terms like they understand what you're saying. becomes more than just a four letter word, it becomes your lifeline...letters, emails, calls, text messages. When 5 minutes feels like 3 hours and 45 seconds becomes the best call of your life. spend 5 hrs, with 4 other wives cause they're the only ones who showed to the FRG event, making welcome home banners, and baskets for single soldiers. purchase shipping tape every time you pass the aisle in the grocery store. carry shipping tape, sharpies, and customs forms in your vehicle.'ve spent more time apart than you have together. don't make plans too far in advance because you know they are going to get changed before it's all said and done. actually miss washing all those freaking uniforms... oh and tripping over those boots that he just leaves around.


Friday, June 25, 2010

*Scorpio...I am who I am*

While thinking of topics to do on my fan page, I came across some astrology stuff. I was born the end of October so that makes me a....


Here is the description for Scorpio I found on 12 Signs of the Zodiac:

Reputed to be the "most powerful" sign of the zodiac, Scorpios lead fate filled lives and have intense and dramatic personal relationships. Even as children Scorpios are often found to be wise beyond their years. Many astrologers call this the sign of the "oldest souls". Old and wise beyond the average, Scorpios often know all the answers, except sometimes; they too often have difficulty finding what they need to develop their own happiness.

Passion, desire and power go hand in hand for Scorpios. Their biggest challenge and test in life is choosing between the power of love and the love of power. Coming to grips with their extraordinary emotional depths and sensitivity isn't easy for those around them. They are different from all other zodiac signs and this difference has them walking, working and loving to a different beat. Others can often live with a Scorpio partner for years, but not really know them. Much to do with a Scorpio remains ever secret. Their eyes often blaze with feelings that words never express, and beware on the days or nights they hide their feelings behind dark glasses, there is likely to be a storm of some kind brewing. When you deal with a Scorpio you have to always deal with them on a psychic intuitive level. They often wear a mask. Too often they say "no" when they really mean "yes". They have contrary natures. Once they find true love they can be the most faithful dedicated of all partners but fall out badly with a Scorpio and you are likely to find they will never forget or forgive.

Most Scorpios are winners. The main thing they have to worry about is their attitudes, which make up their mind powers and can either make or break them. When they are negative about something or someone, or critical of themselves, they can tend to get in their own way.

Scorpios operate on three levels of soul evolvement; adding up to three distinctively different types of Scorpios. The first level is the Scorpion. This is the least evolved and most drawn toward using their powers the wrong way. The criminal element of Scorpio comes under this level. Then there is the eagle - the highflying, entrepreneurial, successful Scorpio, who seems able to rise above adversity and transform bad-times into good. Then the highest expression of this sign is the Phoenix Resurrected. These Scorpios are detached and extremely powerful. They are wise beyond their years and act as leaders and are an inspiration to others. Quite frequently a Scorpio goes through the three levels of evolvement in one lifetime - but the levels can operate out of sequence.

If you were born on the first or last day of a Sun sign, in astrological terms you were born on a cusp. If that's the case, you will probably benefit from reading your own Sun sign and the Sun sign that ends or begins right before or after your date of birth. For example, if your birth date is 22 December, your Sun sign is Capricorn, but you probably have some Sagitarian traits as well.

Now, while this all describes me perfectly well, I find one thing extremely interesting. When it talks of the levels of "soul evolvement" it says the highest expression of this sign is the Phoenix Resurrected. I find this interesting because for the past few years I have been wanting to get a tattoo on the back of my neck that looks like this....


Well, that's my sign! There is more, much more, to this sign that fits every bit of me. I'm truly a scorpio.

Third Stop ~ Fort Hood (2007 - 2009)

"Welcome to the Great Place!"

I sure did get tired of hearing that everyday coming through the gate! Seriously though, I absolutely loved Hood. The weather was a bit of a shock coming from Colorado, but I adjusted.

Our 3 years at Fort Hood were full of ups and downs. While at Hood my husband did his third tour in Iraq for 15 months. My mother passed away during this time and a year after her passing I was on the verge of dying too. (I will do a separate blog on that because there is a lot of information I can share.)

During my time there, I 2 women who mean the world to me. We may not talk as often as I like now, but I know those women will always be there for me no matter what. I met Heather easily enough because she lived right next door. After a few months of "feeling" her out to make sure she was the kind of woman I wanted to be around we began talking more. Next thing you know we were together all the time and her son and my daughter were completely nuts for each other. I met Amber through my husband. She was the wife of one of the guys he worked with. Me and Amber hit it off right away. I miss our nights with Dexter and Spam musubi with potato salad and guacamole!

There is one thing I didn't like about Fort Hood. No, make that 2 things. The first was all the construction on 190. The entire time we lived there it was nothing but construction!! The second thing was Killeen. Killeen was my worst nightmare to drive in. Which is why I always went to the Wal-Mart in Cove.

My daughter loved to take the back road to Wal-Mart because we always got to see the cows crossing the road. She thought it was the most exciting thing ever. We lived on West Fort Hood and could go out the side gate that led right to the back of Wal-Mart. I loved it. Convenient and no traffic.

One of the most amazing things about Texas was the storms. I am a girl who loves a good thunder storm. I can't even count the number of times I stood out back watching the lightening and listening to the thunder. However, I can count the number of times me and Heather went tornado chasing.....once. LOL. We were crazy, but it was great.

I kinda missed Hood, but no so much anymore. I've come to realized that it isn't the town or the houses that make a place great. It isn't how big the commissaries are or how nice the PX is. What makes every place great is the special people you form bonds with. Leaving a place may be hard, but that love and friendship never leaves. I have been fortunate to make dear friends at each place we have been so far. Hopefully that trend will continue. =)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our second deployment ~ 2005 - 2006

In June that year our daughter was born and I was lucky enough to have my husband there with me. I can't relate to those who give birth on their own and while I feel for them, I'm grateful I didn't have to do it without Darrell.

Four months after Pookie's (that's her nickname) birth he got deployed again. Of course, every thing that could go wrong, went wrong!! Finance had screwed us and the brakes on my car needed to get fixed. Just one thing after the other. I'm so thankful for the help we received from The Home Front Cares, Inc., which is based out of Colorado Springs,CO. They were a blessing.

That Christmas I took the Greyhound back to New Jersey to visit our families. I had the boys, 5 and 6 at the time, and Pookie who was 6 months old. She was strapped to my chest for over two days with one of those carriers while we traveled half-way across the country. The "adventure" was so horrible!! LOL... I dreaded the day I had to get back on that bus to go back home. It was pure hell.

For about month before Darrell came home, my car kept getting a flat tire. First one side, than the other. I thought it was good to go until the day came for his home coming ceremony. I was upstairs in the bathroom doing my hair and looked out the window. I couldn't believe that my tire looked flat....AGAIN!! So I ran downstairs and out the back door. Sure enough, it was flat! I had to be there in 2 hours to get my husband and here I was with a flat tire. The guy at the shoppette brought a portable air pump out to my house and pumped up my tire so I could drive it to down the street. They had several customers ahead of me and I was running out of time. The same guy had done the work on the tire before and took it right in, ahead of the others and I was so happy. He got my tire fixed and I got to the home coming ceremony with a few minutes to spare!

For those who have done home coming ceremonies, you know they play music for the soldiers to come "marching" in to. My heart stopped when the music started and I almost forgot to breathe. Once they started coming through the doors, I began to sweat and my heart picked up pace so fast that I thought I was going to pass out. You would have thought I was about to meet LL Cool J or something! (LL Cool J is the man, so I used him for an example lol) I finally saw him, and as bad as this is going to sound, I wanted to push the kids aside and grab and not share him at all! Of course I didn't and let them get their hugs in first, but it crossed my mind.

Our second deployment wasn't as long as the first, but it still sucked just as much! I would have gladly traded his 3rd deployment of 15 months for it though. =)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One of those days...

Yuppers! We all have them. One of those days...the kind of day where you wish you could just stay in bed and let it pass...the kind of day you wish you could do over or just skip all together...the kind of day we dread having.

I have let stress and little annoyances just build and build until my body can't take it anymore. The headache, the gut-wrenching sick feeling in my stomach, restless legs and teary eyes. These are the days I hate. The days I feel so alone, no matter how many people I know I have who support me. Oh, the gloomy weather doesn't help either. Big thanks to "mother nature". LOL.

I wish I had my mother to call, or even my mother-in-law, but my mom passed away and the latter isn't even an option. Sad really, but I guess that's life.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day~

My love and appreciation goes out to Darrell! He is missing another Father's Day with his children because of a deployment. I get angry sometimes that he misses so many things with them, but then I remind myself that he is doing this for them. He joined the army to get us out of the dead end town we lived in and to make a better life for us. He may not be around as much as he wants because of his job, but his love is always here. He makes sure his children always have everything they need. I'm very lucky to have him in my life.

"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

The "Military Mistress" ~ my opinion

I've been reading about this woman since I first saw it online in the news.
For a recap or if you're unfamiliar with this woman:
34yr old accused in military scam
Military mistress busted

Now, from reading the stories, there are a few key points I'd like to point out:
1. According to the article this "woman" has been doing this for at least 17yrs
2. According the article, someone spoke to 40 "victims" and 11 ex-husbands

Notice how I have two words in italics and quoted. In my eyes, she is no woman at all. A woman does not need to lie, steal and cheat to make a living and get the things she wants!
I also think the word "victim" is questionable here. In no way do I think what Ms. Finley did was acceptable, but to claim to be a victim of her in this case seems a bit extreme to me.

One of the definitions of "victim" I found seems to fit this case - A person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of.

But, were these men really "victims"? Remember I stated what was in the article: 40 victims and 11 ex-husbands, which would be 51 total that this woman has scammed and in at least 17 years. That averages out to 3 men a year, 1 every 4 months, that she did this to. So, you have to ask yourself, "What the hell were these men thinking?!"

No one deserves to be treated the way these service men were treated, but what do you expect to happen when you marry, or get involved, with a woman you don't know and then hand her the proper tools to wipe you out?! These men made themselves easy targets.

Yes, I know there are relationships that happen fast and they get married within a few months of knowing each other and end up together in a "happily ever after" marriage. It's just my opinion that meeting and marrying someone you've only known for a few months is stupid.

Let me touch on the records of her 9 children that she has left all over the country. Seriously? What kind of person does that crap? It makes me wonder if she is "mental" or had a horrible upbringing herself. To just abandon 9 children is completely un-exusable. However, maybe she did them a favor because she is obviously not capable of caring for them.

There is one thing Ms. Finley said that I agree with to a certain extent. In this article, 'Military Mistress' talks about alleged crime spree, she says, "They're using me at the same time that I was using them." This statement reminds of this article, victims of "military mistress" speak, where a man stated, "she was the daughter of a famous general, and that she would be receiving a large sum from inheritance. She also said that she would only get that money if she was married by her birthday". So, how many men did she say this to? And how many married her because they were looking for a "large sum from inheritance"? Seems a little fishy to me.

Again, I want to repeat that this is all my opinion! LOL. The only people involved in this that I sincerely have sympathy for are the children who were brought into this mess.

/opinion =)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some ideas to help children get through deployments ~

**One thing I make sure I do is take lots of pictures BEFORE my husband deploys. This is good for a few things.

1. For infants/toddlers, you can make a small a photo album for them to play with. Put pictures of them with their parent who is deployed in it so they recognize their face when they come home.

2. For older kids, they can make themselves their own scrapbook with the pictures and write their own captions for them.

3. You can have bear made with a shirt on it that has a picture of the child and deployed spouse.

**You can get a poster board and make a map for your child to hang in their room, or anywhere in the house. Circle where you live and where the deployed parent is. Maybe use a thumb tack to track the parent getting closer to home with each day that passes by. Use a calendar with this for the child to count down.

**You can also have the deployed parent make a voice recording for their child. Just a regular recording, or one that can be put in a stuffed animal, or make a video of the parent reading a book to the child before they leave.

**Let the kids communicate with their deployed parent. Little ones can draw pictures and send them. Older ones can write letters, or like my kids, they have emails for this purpose.

**Keep a routine!! Kids with a routine will feel less stressed because they know what to expect just about every day.

**We love using the web cam too! Even if they only get to see him for a minute or two because of a bad connection, they still love it. Getting to see him and knowing he is okay is a major boost for them.

**Journals or video diaries may help too. Your child can keep a journal of things they want to share with their deployed parent when they come home so they don't forget anything. Video diaries would serve the same purpose.

These are just a few ideas I think are good. You can "google" to look for more good ideas! =)

Deployment Phases

Deployment is the name given to the movement of an individual or military unit within the United States or to an overseas location to accomplish a task or mission.

There are 3 phases in a deployment and each phase has different challenges to be met:

Pre-deployment phase: this phase is designed as preparation for deployment and includes mental, physical and financial preparation. To help yourself prepare, as a family member, check out Pre-deployment checklist.

Deployment phase: When the deployment day arrives, there is usually family, unit, and community support. During this phase,
children and families of deployed military members reach different levels of
adjustment. Most people go through many different emotions during this phase, including relief, anxiety, enthusiasm, pride, and sense of abandonment. Remember that if it gets too much to handle emotionally/mentally you can contact your post chaplin or ACS. You can also try Military One Source. You may also find some tips here ---> Deployments and Marriage -- Impact and Coping Tips.

Post deployment phase: This phase may last for several months as you reconnect with your spouse/so. The ones left behind will be adjusting to sharing roles again. The soldier will be adjusting to the food, weather and routines back home and on the job. This can't be rushed so we must remember to be patient. I strongly suggest that if things seem too overwhelming to seek help from the many resources available to you and your family. Not getting the help you need when you need it will only cause problems.

Be aware of the impact that deployments have. Deployments cause stress due to change for both the service member and the family that is left behind. Regardless of the length of the deployment, the family will have to redistribute family roles (e.g., finances, the maintenance of the house and car, and the care and discipline of children). There are lots of factors that influence how we adapt/adjust to deployments and everyone handles stress and changes differently, but with support most people do fine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Infertility in the Military

Improvements in infertility treatments have made it more possible for couples dealing with infertility, to have a child. With the cost of artificial reproduction being so high, most of the time it is impossible for couples dealing with infertility to cover. Tricare covers infertility treatment to a certain extent. The following will highlight what may be covered and what is not.

Diagnostic services to identify physical illnesses or injuries to the reproductive system are covered for both men and women. Infertility treatments, corrective treatments and surgeries for women are also covered. However, correction of male infertility may be cost shared, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Therapies covered by Tricare include hormonal treatment, corrective surgery, antibiotics, administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or radiation therapy depending on the cause. These therapies are covered for both men and women. Tricare also provides medically necessary appropriate medical care for erectile dysfunction due to organic, vice psychological or psychiatric causes.

Exclusions are artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI), which in some cases might be cost shared, and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for women. Also excluded is reversal of surgical sterilization of both men and women.

While Tricare does not cover IVF, there are four military treatment facilities (MTFs) where IVF medical training programs are conducted. Beneficiaries who participate in these programs will be responsible for all MTF costs, but can expect reduced rates.

These military treatment facilities are:
Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas
Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington D.C.
Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA

To help you cope with infertility, Military OneSource offers free counseling services outside the military system. Call the toll-free hot line number 24/7 at 1-800-655-4545 or visit their website at

If artificial reproduction technologies and infertility treatments are not a success, the next option is adoption. In which the U.S. Army can lend a helping hand. Options for adoption are to look outside the country or foster adopt within our own foster care system. Through the Child Welfare Information gateway at ( you can find all facts and information on where the U.S. Military and DoD can help you and guide you when you are considering adoption. If you are considering foster adoption, go visit sites like ( and ( for more information.

Resources:, Triwest HealthMatters Issue 4: 2005, Child Welfare Information Gateway,,

{for more info:}

Creepy Adventures =)

Last night was quite an adventure to say the least! I had gotten something for another army wife and was taking it to her after my daughter's birthday party. I had never met her and I had no idea where I was going so I had Sharon come with me...boy am I glad she did!!

I had called the girl when I THOUGHT we were getting close to her house. It turns out I went way too far and she had me go down this back road in between Ludowici and Hinesville. Now, when we first left we had seen lightening, but really thought nothing of it. Then, it started pour!!

We were having a fit and freaking out! It was pitch black, except for my headlights, pouring so hard my windshield wipers were the highest they could go, and we looked like were in some scene from Jeepers Creepers or Wrong Turn with how creepy the back road looked! I couldn't pull over because there was no side of the road, it was more of dip. All we kept saying was, "keep going, don't stop!!"

Finally, we got to the end of the road where it met up with E.G. Miles road. I pulled over into a church "parking lot" (if you want to call it that, it was more dirt and gravel than anything else). Sharon's telling me not to get stuck in the mud because than we'd have to call her husband to come rescue us! Anyways, I call the lady and tell her where I'm at and she sends her daughter to meet me.

While we're waiting, we lock the doors and keep looking all around us. It's pitch black except for the occasional car and the crackling of light in sky, still pouring, still creepy. We were just waiting for someone to come sneaking up on the car and scare us to the point of losing control of our bladders!

After the girl gets there and leaves again, we head on our way back to Fort Stewart. The closer we get the more the rain lightens up. Once we got to the main gate we were out of the rain completely, and quite happy about it too!

Not long after I got home I went to bed since I had to get up early for the doctor. I tossed and turned all night with dreams of cannibal hick families trying to kill me. LOL. The things our minds get crazy with amazes me. Had it not been storming like that, I would have slept great.

All is good in the end though because I did what I set out to do (and made it home in one piece).

Monday, June 14, 2010

My progress with my weight loss =)

I use to be a thin girl but not so much anymore. Last year I found out I have a thyroid problem and that explains the extreme weight gain over the past 3 yrs. I’ve been on thyroid meds for about a year and a half. They are still being tweaked until I get to my correct dose and will continue to be tweaked over the years for the rest of my life.

To help me with my weight loss, I decided to see a weight loss doctor. I had my first appointment on 4/20/2010. I was weighed and my body fat percentage was calculated too. We also took a "before pic". Here is one I have from Feb 2009 at the ball:


So, on 4/21/2010 I started my "diet". For the past 2 months I have been counting my calories and keeping a food journal. I write down EVERYTHING I eat and I measure everything too. I go walking, which I need to do more, and I've started adding more exercises too, including: weights and resistance bands, my wave/step, and my exercise ball. June 21st will officially be 2 months and I have lost over 20 pounds so far.

Here's a picture of us this year, Feb 2010, on our way to Disney:


Here are some progress pics from the last 2 months:


Well, this is my progress so far! Yay me!!

Five years ago in Colorado.....

....I was about to give birth to our daughter. I was nervous with the births of all my children, but with her the reasons were different.

We were at Fort Carson at the time and I had heard tons of horror stories about army hospitals, like I'm sure all wives have. Before we moved to Carson, I had seen a different doctor at every appointment while at Fort Riley. It was rather annoying, but once at Carson, I had the same midwife for the last 4 months of my pregnancy.

When my boys were born, my mother and my husbands mother and father were all there, but with Alexis, it was just me and Darrell. So, I was scared without my family. We didn't know many people, but thank God for Sister Denietra from my church. She kept the boys while I was in the hospital that night.

It was kind of funny because for 2 months I had been in and out of the labor & delivery section of the hospital thinking I was in labor. It always turned out to be false, even the contractions were strong. That was annoying too!! LOL.

So, the night before she was born, I had been having contractions, but not too bad. Some were hard, others weren't. They were very irregular. I thought nothing of it even though she was a week over her due date. Plus, I had a doctor's appointment the next day to set up a time for induction. I suffered through the night without complaining.

When we got up in the morning we had to go to my WIC appointment and I made Darrell drive because of my contractions. They were getting stronger by that point and while at the WIC office the woman asked me if I was okay. I told her I was fine and it was probably false, but I guess I would find out at my doctor's appointment later that afternoon.

Once we got home from my WIC appointment I had enough time to eat lunch and then head to the hospital. I told Darrell to drive me, but he insisted I'd be fine because the hospital was only 5 minutes down the road. I wanted him to come in case he had questions about the induction, but he stayed home. Off I went.

The time came for my doctor to "examine" me and she was going to strip my membranes again, like she had been doing for the past 5 weeks, every week (ouch). She told me I was having my baby. I said, "I know. When are we going to do the induction?" She informed me there would be no induction and that my baby was coming that night. Apparently I was 7cm dialated and had no clue!! Her "sac" had been cushioning me from the contractions. I was also over half way effaced.

I called Darrell and told him we were having the baby and they were admitting me into the hospital. His brilliant response, "How am I gonna get there?" Now, remember I had told him to come, but he insisted otherwise, and now he was home with no car. LOL. He got my friend Denietra to bring him and take the boys home with her while I gave birth.

Alexis was my first experience with an epidural and I wished I had not been such a chicken before because I realized I should have had one with each of the boys too!! They admitted around 4pm and she was born around 8:30pm. The birth was easy and comfortable. I think Darrell was more traumatized then myself since he actually had to see it. The doctor put him to work holding my leg up....hahahahaaa.

We stayed in the hospital for 3 days and I loved every minute of it! The staff and my nurses were great. They were patient with me with breastfeeding and got me whatever I asked for.

Now, my baby girl, will be 5 tomorrow and entering kindergarten in August. Time flies by so fast. =)

~My first ultra sound pic of her~

~My prego belly~

~My Pookie~

Friday, June 11, 2010

Military Marriage ~ keeping it strong

We all know deployments are stressful and sometimes they can make or break a marriage.
I've been reading about tips from books and online about ways to help keep the military marriage strong through deployments, separations, and relocations.

The first thing I want to stress is that if you are having problems with coping during deployment don't be afraid to seek help from the many services available to you. If you aren't coping well while your spouse is deployed, they will know and it can effect your marriage. You can easily find out what services are available where you are by contacting your ACS office, the post chaplin, or even your FRG may be able to point you in the right direction. Military OneSource is a great place to get information too!

One thing I have noticed from experience and reading is that as army wives, we need to have our own identity. Separate from our spouse. This goes with any marriage really, but I think it is even more important in the military. I have seen wives completely fall apart when their spouse deploys because they focus everything around him. We need to have our own hobbies and friends. Our lives can not revolve around our spouse.

We need to be independent. That independence will get us through everything! Your spouse needs to know you can handle things on your own because when they leave, you will be doing it on your own. We take care of the bills, the house, the kids, go to school, work...etc. The list goes on. Basically, when your spouse deploys or goes on an unaccompanied tour, or off for training, you are on your own.

Communication is extremely important!! When your spouse is gone you may not get to talk to them on the phone much, but you can still send letters or emails. Even cute cards count. Now-a-days, many couples use yahoo, skype, msn or another instant messaging service. You've got to stay connected. Send care packages and pictures of yourself and the kids (if you have kids). Send a small teddy bear or a shirt in a zip-lock bag with your perfume on it. Little reminders of home help alot. If you are comfortable with it, you can also send "naughty" pictures as a pleasant surprise for your spouse. We must keep in mind that lack of communication does not mean there is a lack of love. Sometimes our spouses can't call us or get on IM. There could be many reasons why, but keep it coming from your end!

As with all marriages, there must be compromise and trust. I think that is pretty self-explanitory.

Faithfulness should be mentioned too. I'm not just talking about cheating physically. From what I have been reading lately, it seems that emotional affairs can be just as bad or even worse than physical cheating. Be careful of your friends of the opposite sex who are "just friends". It is easy to get caught up emotionally on both sides when you're separated from your spouse for long periods of time. An emotional affair is when you depend on someone else more than your partner. Here's some info on emotional affairs : Emotional Affairs 101.

There is more but I've run out of time for now. =)

Helpful books? =)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Second stop ~ Fort Carson, CO (2005-2007)

During his first deployment, my husband re-enlisted to continue serving in the Army. He was given orders to Fort Carson, Co. By the time our PCS date rolled around, I was about 6 months pregnant with our daughter and we had another addition to our family, my kitty kat, Baby.

By then we had a van and we packed our van up and headed down the highway towards Colorado. The drive for me was horrible, as I'm sure it probably was for Darrell as well. My poor husband drove the whole way. I can't even remember the amount of times we had to stop because of me and my cat. My cat kept throwing up and peeing in his cage from the stress, the poor thing was scared to death, lol. We had to stop about every hour and half for me to get up and walk a few minutes and use the bathroom. Traveling while 6 months pregnant with high blood pressure is not fun at all. Surprisingly, the boys, who were 4 and 5 at the time, did very well during the drive.

A little ways off from Colorado Springs, the town outside of Fort Carson, we could see all the lights and how big the town was. It was no where near as small as Junction City, where were coming from. We had a heck of a time finding our hotel, but it was such a relief when we did. We ended up staying there for a few weeks while waiting on housing.

I will never forget my first view of the mountains. The morning after the night we got there we got up and went to get something to eat. We stepped outside and my breath was taken away by the sight I saw. Coming in the night before, we couldn't see the mountains very good at all, but in the morning, with the sun freshly out the sight was amazing. I never realized how beautiful mountains were until that day. As a matter of fact, the view of the mountains is what I miss the most about Colorado.

On to housing, it was small, but we had a full basement. We moved in and got our stuff put away and situated. The neighborhood was nice, but boy were there tons of kids! Speaking of kids, we were waiting for the arrival of our little one. Luckily, Darrell's unit gave him his year stability and he was there with me for the birth of our daughter. As soon as his year was up, he joined the rest of his unit who had deployed right when we got there. He left for his second deployment when our daughter was only a few months old. The good thing was that he didn't have to do an entire year that time.

All in all, I liked Colorado. The scenery was amazing and I loved the zoo on the mountain. I stayed involved in my church there since my church's organization has church's all over. It was a lovely place and I wouldn't mind going back. =)

Our first deployment ~ 2003-2004

The first deployment came up and hit us so fast we didn't know what to think! I was leaving to go to church one day when Darrell stopped me because he wanted to talk. He told me he was leaving, to which my response was, "I know, you're going to NTC." Well, apparently not! He said they were canceling NTC and sending them to Iraq instead. Now, as soon as he joined I knew he was going to get deployed, especially because he joined after 9/11. The war had only been going on for 6 months when my husband left to go.
We didn't have a car at the time and we had two young boys, so when he had to leave, we said our good-byes at home and I watched him drive away in his friends car to go off to war. I worried sick, but I had my friends at church for support and they were my life savers!

During this deployment we only communicated through letters and the phone, and he didn't call alot. When we did talk, the connection was horrible. To keep myself sane I went to church alot and helped out there and hung out with one of my "sisters" from church just about every day. Her husband was deployed also so we were both going through the same thing and she had kids too, so that was a help with mine.

Not once did I think of going back home to live during the deployment. It was hard doing it on my own with 2 toddlers, living on my own over a thousand miles from my family, but I'm so glad I stayed put. I realized I had a strength I never knew I had. I grew up alot that year and many things came into perspective for me. I did go home and visit during the holidays, but I felt such guilt for being there, enjoying our families while he couldn't. He missed my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our anniversary and both of the boys birthdays.

He didn't get his R&R until 7 months into the deployment. That was the longest we had ever been separated since we first met in the 10th grade. Having him leave to go back to Iraq when his R&R was over was harder than watching him leave originally! I did not want to let go of him, but I tried to look on the bright side, at least he only had 5 months left.

My FRG that deployment was awesome! The leader and my POC were very thoughtful and caring. They gave out great information and were very supportive. No FRG I have had since then can even compare. I will never forget those women!

One night, I got a call from my POC and she told me that the guys who were suppose to fly out before my husband couldn't go yet so my husband and his guys got bumped up and he would be home 2 days later. I was freaking out with excitement and then anxiety set in. He wasn't suppose to be home for at least a week or more. I didn't have the baseboards scrubbed or other things that I wanted to have done before he got back. You know, the things you think of to keep yourself busy until they arrive, but they are things your spouse most likely won't notice or even care about? LOL.

The coming home ceremony was held in the hangers at the airfield and the suspense was killing me! They were 2 hours late and when the buses finally came around the corner I got so choked up I couldn't talk. Then we had to wait even longer once we knew they were on the airfield in another hanger. The boys and I were standing near the bleachers when someone came to the microphone and announced that "our soldiers" were ready to be greeted by their families. They came marching in to a song that I can't even remember. All I do remember is my heart racing, my palms sweating and tears flowing from my eyes. Seeing my husband that day was one of the happiest moments I can remember.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First stop~ Fort Riley, KS (2003-2005)

When Darrell told me his first duty station was in Kansas I almost died! I had lived in New Jersey all my life and all I could was that we were moving to the middle of no I didn't join him right away because we had to wait for our lease to be up, but I got there with the kids about a month later. Once he told me there was a super walmart I knew I was going to be okay!

My trip out to Kansas was "interesting". I took the bus with two toddlers. Our boys were 3 and 2 at the time and yes, I was one of the mothers that everyone stares at for using those kid harnesses!! I didn't care what anyone thought, I was on a nearly 3 day trip half way across the country and I was not going to lose my kids. Luggage, sure, I could care less, but not my boys!! (Funny how sometimes now I wish they would "get lost"

Surprisingly, our boys did very well on the bus trip and I was pleased overall with how well it went. At least until I got to Junction City and my husband wasn't at the bus station waiting for me!! If you've been to Junction City and seen the bus station, you would know why I was freaking out at 10pm when I got there. There was a man who had been on the bus who waited with me and the boys (his girlfriend who was there to pick him up waited too). Darrell didn't have me waiting too long, he was held up because of work so I wasn't mad. I had totally panicked though. LOL.

We got an apartment off post while waiting to be called to move on post. Our place was so tiny, but we lived right next to Pizza Hut so I was good!! We were there for a few months in the summer. By the way, summers in Kansas are hell. Crazy hot!! I was so glad when we got called for housing, the central air was a life saver!

Darrell deployed 2 days after we got the call for housing, so he never saw our home until his R&R 7 months later. We left Fort Riley and headed to Fort Carson in Feb. 2005.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Let's take it back to the beginning, shall we?

I woke up one morning and was lounging around the apartment, not properly dressed of Darrell tells me to go get dressed. Of course I ask him why and I tell him if he has visitors coming they can wait until after 12pm because the mornings were mine. He then tells me that army recruiters were coming, that he had an appointment with them. I laughed at this because I thought he was full of it!! He had never even mentioned to me that he was thinking of the army, well, not since right after high school, but he hadn't brought it up in years. So, I told him, "yeah right, whatever Darrell". He tries to convince me for a few minutes, but I didn't believe him.....not until I looked out the window when the doorbell rang. Standing at my door were two men dressed in spiffy green uniforms (which I now know as "class A's". I hurried to the bedroom to get myself together and Darrell had no idea how mad I was!! Not about his decision to possibly join the Army, but about him waiting until the very last second to tell me they were coming!! I had no time to do my hair or put on make-up and look half-way

So, we both spoke to the recruiters and listened to them. Darrell decided it was what he wanted to do and I stood behind him 100%, like I always do. We had a very short time before he was to leave for BCT and we decided to get married before he left to make things easier with all the paperwork. We got married 2 weeks later on his mother's porch... beautiful day in June... only a few people were there, close, immediate family and my best friend. We had a bbq as our reception and spent our wedding night at home in our apartment. Cherishing the time we had before he left for BCT.

Watching Darrell leave for BCT wasn't really hard. I was more excited than anything and it wasn't for that long. I had no idea what to expect because I knew absolutely nothing about the Army. He got to call a few times during BCT, but mostly we wrote letters and he sent cards, the Emily Matthews cards, real sweet and poetic. I, like many others I have heard talk about, sent my DH letters with heart stickers and such on them. One letter even had confetti in it!! The next chance he got, he called me and told me to stop because for every sticker he had to do so many push-ups. Boy did I feel bad because he had a letter coming to him with at least 50 tiny heart stickers and confetti inside. All I could do was warn him. (Sorry love!! lol)

So, he graduated from BCT and I was super excited to go see him. The boys stayed with my mom while I went with his parents to KY to support my husband. The first time I saw him in his uniform my heart melted. I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen!! I was so proud to walk next to him knowing the sacrifices he was now going to be making for us and I loved him more than ever. We had a few days together before I had to leave. He was staying there for his AIT and I had to go back home to Jersey. Leaving him that day was one of the hardest days of my life.

That's where our story begins in regards to our life as an Army family.

June 6, 1944 ~ D-Day

June 1944 was a major turning point of World War II, particularly in Europe. Although the initiative had been seized from the Germans some months before, so far the western Allies had been unable to mass sufficient men and material to risk an attack in northern Europe.

By mid-1944 early mobilization of manpower and resources in America was beginning to pay off. Millions of American men had been trained, equipped, and welded into fighting and service units. American industrial production had reached its wartime peak late in 1943. While there were still critical shortages -- in landing craft, for instance -- production problems were largely solved, and the Battle of the Atlantic had been won. Ever increasing streams of supplies from the United States were reaching anti-Axis fighting forces throughout the world.

By the beginning of June 1944, the United States and Great Britain had accumulated in the British Isles the largest number of men and the greatest amount of materiel ever assembled to launch and sustain an amphibious attack. Strategic bombing of Germany was reaching its peak. In May 1943, the Combined Chiefs of Staff had given high priority to a Combined Bomber Offensive to be waged by the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Forces. By late summer 1943, Allied bombers were conducting round-the-clock bombardment of German industry and communications. In general, British planes bombed by night and American planes bombed by day. Whereas an air raid by 200 planes had been considered large in June 1943, the average strike a year later was undertaken by 1,000 heavy bombers.

After considerable study strategists determined to make the cross-channel attack on the beaches of Normandy east of the Cherbourg Peninsula. Early objectives of the operation were the deep-water ports at Cherbourg and at Brest in Brittany.

Three months before D-Day, a strategic air campaign was inaugurated to pave the way for invasion by restricting the enemy's ability to shift reserves. French and Belgian railways were crippled, bridges demolished in northwestern France, and enemy airfields within a 130-mile radius of the landing beaches put under heavy attack. Special attention was given to isolating the part of northwestern France bounded roughly by the Seine and Loire Rivers. The Allies also put into effect a deception plan to lead the Germans to believe that landings would take place farther north along the Pas de Calais.

Opposed to the Allies was the so-called Army Group B of the German Army, consisting of the Seventh Army in Normandy and Brittany, the Fifteenth Army in the Pas de Calais and Flanders, and the LXXXVIII Corps in Holland -- all under command of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Commander of all German forces in western Europe was Field Marshal von Rundstedt who, in addition to Group B, also had at his disposal Group G composed of the First and Nineteenth Armies. In all, Von Rundstedt commanded approximately fifty infantry and ten Panzer divisions in France and the Low Countries.

Despite unfavorable weather forecasts, General Eisenhower made the decision to attack on June 6, 1944. At 0200 that morning one British and two American airborne divisions were dropped behind the beaches in order to secure routes of egress from the beaches for the seaborne forces. After an intensive air and naval bombardment, assault waves of troops began landing at 0630. More than 5,000 ships and 4,000 ship-to-shore craft were employed in the landings. British forces on the left flank and U.S. forces on the right had comparatively easy going, but U.S. forces in the center (Omaha Beach) met determined opposition. Nevertheless, by nightfall of the first day, large contingents of three British, one Canadian, and three American infantry divisions, plus three airborne divisions, had a firm foothold on Hitler's "fortress Europe."

For more info and other links on D-Day: World War 2 History

What is Convalescent Leave?

Convalescent leave is a nonchargeable absence from duty granted to expedite a soldier’s return to full duty after illness, injury, or childbirth.

The hospital commander or designee is the approval authority for convalescent leave for 30 days or less (42 days after normal pregnancy and childbirth). Only hospital commanders will approve convalescent leave in excess of 42 days after childbirth when a soldier is assigned or attached to the medical holding unit (AR 40–3, para 9–2) during one continuous period of hospitalization. If the soldier is not hospitalized, unit commander is the approval authority (para 5–5 AR 600-8-10).

The unit commander is the approval authority for up to 30 days convalescent leave (42 days after normal pregnancy and childbirth) for a soldier returning to duty after illness or injury (para 5–7 AR 600-8-10).

The approval authorities establish procedures for granting convalescent leave.

Hospital commanders are the only approval authority for requests in excess of 30 days (or in excess of 42 days for childbirth).

For more info: Using Convalescent Leave

Saturday, June 5, 2010

R&R - How to maximize your time and enjoy it

Combat deployments are stressful for
everyone, and couples & families can
expect that this stress will impact their
relationships. The Army has provided this
R & R so that soldiers, spouses, and
families can have a break in the deployment,
and reduce relational stress.

Long separations during deployments
cause couples and families to make
adjustments in their daily lives - structures
and normal routines are changed in an
effort to cope with the separation. Both
those that remain at home, and those that
deploy, are affected by these changes.

R & R also has the potential to be stressful.
Lots of changes and new experiences have
already occurred, and you many feel
anxious about how these changes may
impact your relationships. Issues such as
coping strategies, personal growth, sexual
fidelity, finances, child behavior, and lack of
appreciation may be present.

With intentional preparation, most couples
and families will find R&R to be relaxing
and enjoyable. Some couples and families
may require additional assistance to work
through difficult issues. Your chaplain is
available to help you before, during, or after
your R & R to help with these issues.


* “Just Visiting.” It may be very helpful
to help your children understand that
the soldier parent is just visiting. They
still have a job in Iraq that is not finished
yet, but they do get to visit.

* Special Time. Soldiers should try to
spend special 1-on-1 time with each
child; it means a lot to them (and you).

* Reactions. Recognize that kids will
react differently & maybe unexpectedly.
They may regress from recent developmental
milestones. Have patience!


* Have realistic expectations about your
time together. Everyone has their own
needs, and negotiation is a good idea.

* Make deliberate plans to communicate;
set aside time for just talking / listening.

* Tell your spouse about significant
changes before you meet, such as hair
styles, tattoos, children’s behavior,
changes around the house, etc.

* Be flexible and willing to change plans.
Realize that arrival flights may change
or be delayed.

* Make time for spiritual activities and
conversations. Share new experiences
and commitments.

* Plan ahead for parental visits or other
extended family. Agree on time limits.

* Take steps for birth control, as needed.

* Remember to treat your spouse with
kindness & respect, not as a fellow
soldier or a child.

* Respect each other’s need for personal
space; both of you will probably need
alone time too.

* Plan ahead for the “second goodbye.”
There’s no “right way” to do it, and no
way to make it easy. Each couple is
different, and some may avoid talking
about it and ignore it, while others will
talk openly. Do what is best for you!


* Don’t plan too much; remember, this
is rest and recuperation!

* Don’t try to fix relational problems in
two weeks; it may be too complex and
could ruin your time.

* Don’t make a long “Honey Do” list for
your soldier. Treat this as a vacation.

* Try to maintain a quiet environment.
Soldiers have been hyper-vigilant for
months, and may jump at noises.


* Be sure everyone knows when you
are coming back for R&R. Your
“surprise” may find that no one is

* Avoid criticizing your spouse’s
decision making. You won’t agree
with everything they did; just let it go.

* Leave new household patterns and
rules alone – you are a 2-week guest.

* Don’t bring home your crude field
manners: trash talk, bad hygiene, etc.

* Limit your alcohol consumption! This
could easily ruin your time together.

* Be extra careful when driving your
POV on high-speed roads.

Helpful coping strategies during deployment

* Communicate. Make efforts to write,
call, and e-mail each other. Try to
discuss feelings as well as events. Be
honest. It may help to keep a journal.
Involve the kids in this process as well.

* Get connected. Keep in contact with
friends and other spouses in the unit.
Participate in the unit FRG. Volunteer
and keep active. Don’t do it alone!

* Maintain Routines. You may need
different routines than what you had
before, but routine helps pass the time
and provides stability for children.

* Financial Planning. Without a plan,
things can get out of control. Have a
financial plan that includes savings for
R & R and reunion trips, and stick to
your plan! Be sure your expectations fit
within your budget.

* Go easy on expectations. This is a very
stressful time for everyone. Recognize and
praise each person’s efforts and
accomplishments, and don’t dwell on

* Stay busy. Soldiers stay focused on the
mission. Not only will this help keep you
and your buddies stay safe, it also helps the
time pass more quickly. Spouses can
volunteer or get involved in activities that
help pass the time.

* Relax and Unwind. Every person has his
or her own way to relax and unwind: go to
Starbucks, work out at the gym, listen to
music, read, sports, movies, etc. Even
downrange, make efforts to relax and
maintain balance in your life.

* Reject Rumors. It is rarely helpful or
healthy to believe or repeat unfounded
information from uncertain sources. If you
hear a rumor about your loved one, assume
it is false! Then ask your spouse directly to
get the truth.

* Seek help when needed. The unit Rear D
and the FRG are there for assistance.
Installation agencies can also help. For
soldiers, unit leaders, chaplains, and mental
health professionals will help.

* Keep others informed. Notify the Rear D,
school, FRG, or friend of plans or trips away
from your home. Be reachable.

* Plan for emergencies – Know the Red
Cross system. Even if you don’t need it,
you may help a friend.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Army Community Service (ACS)

Some ways ACS can help you!!

Making a Move
Relocation Readiness Program:

Provides Soldiers and Families undergoing transitions, whether inbound or outbound, with counseling and relocation planning assistance.
* Personal relocation counseling
* Welcome packets (online)
* Local maps & phone books
* Kids on the Move: free backpacks with fun activities
* Support Groups: Hearts Apart, Foreign-Born spouses
* Lending Closet with basic household items
* Windshield Bus Tour of Installation
* Sponsorship Training at unit level (for 10 or more)
* Information on your next duty station
* Overseas Orientations

Outreach Programs
ACS Outreach/Family Welcome Center

* Newcomer Welcome/Family
* Orientation One-stop center to connect newcomers with local services
Survivor Outreach Services
* Provides local, long-term support to surviving Family Members

Work and Careers
Employment Readiness Program

Offers Family Members the competitive edge needed to secure employment.
* Career Coaching
* Job-Search Assistance
* Job Bank Book (Federal and Private)
* Resource Library Computers with internet access, fax and copier
* Free classes and workshops covering resume writing, interviewing, networking, and dressing for success

Getting Involved in Your Community
Army Volunteer Corps

Whether you want to give your time every week, once a month, or once a year, there is a volunteer opportunity for you!
* Establishes partnerships to support personal growth
* Promotes and strengthens community efforts
* Enhances volunteer career mobility
* Teaches new skills and helps establish new friendships

Managing Deployments and Separations
Family Readiness Program

Provides support to Soldiers and Families during all phases of the deployment cycle. *Battle Mind training for Families
* Rear Detachment
* Leader training and support FRG (Family Readiness Group)
* Leader training
* FRG Treasurer training
* FRG Key Caller training
* FRG Care Team training
* Family support services
* Unit Readiness Team training

Learning for Life
Army Family Team Building (AFTB)

Strong Families are the pillar of support behind strong Soldiers. AFTB provides training and readiness to prepare Army Families for success.
* Level I: Army culture and resources
* Level II: Personal development skills to adapt to Army life, manage change and accept challenges
* Level III: Professional growth and leadership skills Instructor Training: Facilitator and public speaking skills

Home and Family Life
Family Enrichment Center

Coordinates services and activities that support our Families, enhance their relationship skills and improve their quality of life.
* Couples communication
* Parenting and discipline skills Stress, anger and conflict management
* Life skills for teens and adults

New Parent Support Program (NPSP)

Support for parents with children ages 0 to 36 months
* Home visits and caring services to enhance parent and infant/toddler attachment
* Information on child development
* Referrals to community resources
* Breastfeeding support
* Play Mornings
* Baby Bootcamp for Dads
* Infant Massage Parenting
* Support Groups
* Parenting Classes

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

* Reporting options for victims of sexual assault (Restricted/Unrestricted)
* Awareness and Prevention Training/Education
* Referrals to community resources
* Self-Defense Training/Education

Victim Advocates
Support and information on personal safety and available resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Victim Advocates are on-call 24 hours, 7 days a week

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)
* Enrollment is mandatory for Family Members with chronic medical problems (such as asthma, physical disabilities).
* Coordinates multi-agency community support (housing, medical, educational and personal services) to Families with special needs.
* Respite Care provides up to 40 hours of FREE care a month for Families with enrolled Exceptional Family Members (must meet certain medical criteria).

Military and Family Life Consultants
Free, confidential* solution-oriented consultations
*Duty to warn does apply when there is a threat to self or others and in any reportable abuse such as child abuse, elder abuse and domestic abuse.

Money Matters
Financial Readiness Program

Financial education, counseling and support services to resolve financial issues with an emphasis on financial literacy and
self-sufficiency, including (but not limited to):
* One-on-one counseling to help with financial issues
* Budgeting and money management
* Bank account principles
* Consumer complaints
* Preparing your finances for deployment
* Home buying workshops
* Financial problem-solving
* Managing and paying off debt
* Insurance Long-term financial planning (investing)
* Proper use of credit

Army Emergency Relief (AER)
Emergency financial assistance for unforeseen financial crisis:
* Non-receipt of pay Rent/Utilities to prevent eviction
* Repair of essential POV
* Critical emergency travel
* Loss of funds
* Funeral expenses
* Critical medical, dental or hospital expenses
* Fire or disaster
* Money is provided through an interest-free loan or grant.
* Soldiers or Family Members* must go through their unit Commander/1SG to request AER assistance.
*During a Soldier’s absence, Family Member should possess a Power of Attorney authorizing AER assistance.

Warriors in Transition
Soldier & Family Assistance Center (SFAC
A one-stop location for Warriors in Transition (WT) and their Families to ensure advocacy for WTs, continuity of care, and a seamless transition back to the force or return to a productive civilian life.
* Social Services
* Education
* Army Career Alumni Program (ACAP)
* Army Wounded Warrior Program
* Financial Management
* Finance (DFAS)
* Transportation
* Military Personnel
* Chaplain/Counseling Services
* Legal Assistance (by appointment)
* MWR Activities

Military Pay Entitlements


PURPOSE: To provide information affecting military pay entitlements for Soldiers deploying in support of OIF/OEF.

FACTS: Military Pay entitlements change when Soldiers deploy. The following information is provided to help Soldiers arrange their finances in preparation for deployment:

a. Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)
. Soldiers will deploy in a TCS status. All deploying soldiers will receive BAS / Separate Rations (tax exempt). BAS will continue for Soldiers who are receiving it at the time of deployment and will be started for Soldiers who were on meal cards.

b. Per Diem. All deployed Soldiers who are in a TCS status are entitled to incidental per diem at $3.50 a day (OCONUS), or $105 a month (tax exempt). This will not be received until the Soldier files a travel voucher upon return from theater.

c. Hostile Fire Pay (HFP)/Imminent Danger Pay (IDP). HFP/IDP is payable to all Soldiers in the total land and air space of Iraq. Soldiers receive $225.00 a month (tax exempt) for each month, or part of a month, in which the Soldier is present in the HFP/IDP area. Entitlement starts upon arrival to the authorized location and terminates upon departure.

d. Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE). Public Law authorizes CZTE for all Soldiers receiving HFP in Iraq. A Soldier who is present, however brief, in this area, including airspace, and is on official duty qualifies for CZTE for that month. All pay for both enlisted personnel and warrant officers is tax exempt for the months spent in the CZTE area. Commissioned officer pay is tax exempt at an amount equal to the Sergeant Major of the Army’s Basic Pay plus HFP.

e. Hardship Duty Pay-Location (HDP-L). Indicated as HDP Location on the Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), is payable to all Soldiers on a monthly basis according to location and living conditions. Currently, HDP-L is payable at a rate of $100 per month for all soldiers deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.

f. Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
. FSA is paid when a Soldier is involuntarily separated from his/her dependents or active duty spouse for more than 30 days. It is payable at $250.00 per month, or $8.33 per day (tax exempt). Service member married to service member is also entitled to FSA. However, only one Soldier will receive this entitlement. If both Soldiers deploy to the same theater they must be outside a fifty-mile radius or unable to see each other based on mission and security constraints.

g. Selective Re-enlistment Bonus (SRB)
. The SRB is entirely tax-exempt when a Soldier re-enlists in a CZTE area. Accrued leave sold by enlisted Soldiers while in a CZTE area, whether earned in that area or not, is tax exempt. Leave accrued by any Soldier while serving in the CZTE area, which remains unused at separation, is tax exempt.

h. Savings Deposit Program (SDP). All soldiers deployed at least 30 consecutive days may contribute to this risk free program. Soldiers may make any number of deposits in any amount each month, provided the total deposited in a one month period does not exceed the Soldier’s monthly net pay and allowances. Interest is paid at the rate of 10 percent per annum, compounded quarterly (calendar quarter). Public Law limits interest payments in the SDP at $10,000 regardless of the total amount in the SDP account (includes contributions and interest earned). Interest will accrue up to 90 days after the Soldier redeploys.

i. Special-Leave Accrual (SLA). SLA accrues when Soldier serves in an area in which he or she was entitled to Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay for at least 120 continuous days. Special Leave Accrual authorizes Soldiers to carry up to 90 days of leave at the end of a Fiscal Year. Accrued Special Leave must be used before the end of the third fiscal year after the fiscal year in which the qualifying service ended.

j. Leave and Earnings Statements (LESs)
. LESs and Mid-month Net Pay Advice forms will be sent to the Soldiers at their deployed location. In addition, Soldiers with access to the Internet will be able to access their LESs through “myPay” online at With a special finance power of attorney, Soldiers can grant their spouse access to their LES. Spouses can also be given restricted access PIN numbers to a Soldiers myPay account.

k. Power of Attorney (POA). With a special power of attorney, the Soldier can grant their spouse the right to establish, change, or stop an allotment. The special power of attorney must specifically state the authority to establish, change, or stop allotments. In addition, a special power of attorney can be used to establish, change, or stop transactions involving the Thrift Savings Plan and the Savings Deposit Program.

l. Dependent Support. Soldiers must ensure their families have access to adequate financial support in their absence. This may include access to checking and/or savings accounts or establishment of allotments. Checking accounts are generally preferred in order to maximize access to funds by both the Soldier and their dependent(s).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Info on BCT (thank you for sharing JBrown)

1. Here is a partial list of Do's and Don'ts to follow on post while your soldier is in Uniform~


Walk on your husband’s left side so he can salute others.

Refer to your spouse by his first name or nickname, or as “my husband.” Do not refer to your husband as “Capt. Smith” or “the Captain.”

Offer your husband an umbrella in the rain, but only if it’s black. He’s not allowed to carry any other color.

Push the baby carriage or stroller so your spouse doesn’t have to. It’s considered “unmilitary” to do so while in uniform.

Help your spouse carry any packages or bundles to make it easier for him to salute. (Are you wondering if a man made up these rules so that wives would have to do all the heavy lifting?)


Show public displays of affection, except at homecomings and goodbyes. This includes kissing and holding hands, this is especially important After you have left the field and are walking around post.

Offer your spouse a piece of gum. It is not “military” for him to chew it. The same goes for smoking while in uniform.

Allow him to put his hands in his pockets unless he is placing or retrieving an item.

Offer him food or drink while he’s walking. He should not be eating, drinking or using a cell phone while walking in uniform.

Headgear is not to be worn inside... remind them to take it off as they walk inside and then put it back on when going back outside!

2. Phone Calls: The Soldiers are generally given one phone call a week, if they have earned it. I see some of you have stated that you have not received phone calls from your Soldiers. When they use the phone we cannot control who they call or if they choose not to call you. We cannot make them. Every Soldier goes thru Basic Training with their own internal mental preparedness and at their own internal pace. For some, making a phone call is physiologically challenging because they want to stay focused on the enormous challenge they are in. Also take what they tell you with a grain of salt, they tend to make things out worse than they are. I have seen letters written home saying they just rappelled off a 40 story building and walked 10 miles with 100 pounds of gear. When in reality it was a 30 foot building and a 1 mile march with 30 pounds. Lastly, remember your sons/daughters are in Basic Combat Training. We are training them to survive in Combat, so while you might not be able to talk to them weekly, see pictures of them, or you hear "horror stories" of what happens just know that it is a necessary evil that must happen in order to turn civilians to Soldiers.

3. Here is a list of contraband items.
Please refer to this before sending items and keep in mind that just about anything that they would need while they here is available to them at the PX. In all cases, family members are discouraged from sending large boxes. Soldiers are taken to the PX about every two weeks to buy items such as toiletries, shampoo, and shaving cream. There is no need to send these basic items as the Soldiers have the opportunity to buy them and they are affordably priced (and tax free). Companies are well stocked in toilet paper. There is absolutely no need to buy toilet paper.

This is a general list and it is possible that an individual company may have additional items.

1. Cameras
2. Cologne/Body Spray
3. Tobacco Products
4. Food Items (All)
5. Cosmetics (All)
6. Cassettes (All)
7. Any MRE item (applies to Soldiers in the barracks)
8. Weapons of any type
9. Newspaper Clippings
10. CDs (All)
11. Wrist or Ankle Braces (unless issued by Army Medical Personnel)
12. Hair Dye
13. Alcohol (drinking)
14. DVDs (All)
15. Contact Lenses
16. Martial Arts Items
17. Perfume/Body Spray
18. CD/DVD Player
19. Cash over $50
20. Knives
21. Items Valued over $50
22. Bathing Sponges
23. Hair Clippers
24.Cell Phones/Beepers (Only while supervised by Cadre; no personal strage/possession)
25. iPods/MP3 Players
26. Straight Edge Razors
27. Flavored Lip Balm
28. Civilian Clothing
29. Electric Razors (unless prescribed by doctor)
30. Tape Player/Recorders
31. Civilian Glasses
32. Curling Irons
33. More than 1 ID Card
34. Playing Cards
35. Health Supplements
36. Radios
37. Flavored Cough Drops
38. Nude Photos
39. Hair Dryer
40. Scissors
41. Jewelry (exception is wedding ring/band; IAW safety/training guidelines)
42. Over the counter medication
43. Civilian reading material
44. Brass and ammunition

The following items are approved for use in the Basic Training environment:
1. Sewing Kits
2. Personal Photos (no more than five in your wall locker)(tasteful)
3. Religious medallions
4. Finger and toe nail clippers
5. Carmex
6. Cocoa Butter Lotion
7. Irons

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FAQs about BCT/AIT (and a few other questions)

I asked the ladies on my fanpage to come up with some questions that would have liked answers to when their husbands were in BCT/AIT so I could do a blog about them. Now, the answers to these questions are "generally speaking". Most things depend on the command, drill sgts, instructors and the post they are at.


When will I get his address? You have to wait for him to send you a letter telling you his address. My husband was able to send me a letter that first week there, but this may not be the case with everyone. You basically have to be patient.

What can I send him while he is at BCT? The only thing my husband told me I was allowed to send him was letters and pictures. They will be able to write, but I can't say how often. That all depends on how much free time they are given and how they choose to use that time. My husband called a few times during basic, but I mainly got letters. They weren't allowed much phone time at all.

When will I know when he graduates from BCT? They know their graduation date from the time they start the training. They have a schedule laid out. The only way this date will change is if he is injured and it causes a delay in his training.

How many people can attend his graduation from BCT? As far as I know, from what I have heard from others and read about, there is no limit to the amount of people who can attend the graduation.

What is appropriate attire to wear to a BCT graduation? First thing you have to consider is the weather of course. Most people I know and those I saw at my husbands graduation wore something casual. I wore dress pants, boots and a nice shirt. I saw women who wore sundresses and sandals. I didn't see anyone dressed too fancy. Just remember you want to look nice and respectable for you husband because you will representing him. I know I wanted to look a little sexy too and there are ways to look sexy without being too revealing.

Will I get to see my husband before graduation? Generally, you don't get to see them until the graduation ceremony. Again, this will vary from post to post. I will just tell you how it was with us. On graduation day, he was allowed to spend time with us, but he had a curfew and wasn't allowed to leave post. I also had to sign him out. The day after the graduation ceremony was called "family day". He was allowed to leave post and because he was doing his AIT at the same place, he was given a 3 day pass. He left post and stayed with me in my hotel until I left 2 days later. I don't know how it works if they are going to a different place for AIT.


How often will he get to call home? This will depend on the instructors. My husband got to call me every night between certain times. Your best bet is to wait for him to call you and find out when his free time is. As far as cell phones go, my husband could use one if he had one, but that is at the discretion of the command there.

Do Soldiers receive passes or leave while attending AIT? Can I visit him or can he travel to visit me?? Depending on the training schedule and a Soldier's demonstrated performance and maturity, a commander may grant leave or either an on-post or an off-post pass. Some passes may be overnight passes. Never assume that you will be able to visit a Soldier or have a Soldier visit without first discussing the Soldier's training schedule with him. Although commanders may grant both passes and leave, both are contingent on the training schedule. AIT trains on most Saturdays. Additionally, commanders may grant leave for emergencies. You should contact the American Red Cross when such an emergency exists. Although the American Red Cross does not grant leave, the message they provide allows the commander to make decisions based on the nature of the emergency. Finally, when Soldier's graduate from AIT and does not have a scheduled follow-on course, each may take up to 10 days of leave before reporting to his U.S-based assignment or 14 days leave for assignments overseas or in Alaska or Hawaii.

What can I send him while he is at AIT? This again depends on where he is. I sent my husband letters, cards, pictures, and homemade baked goods. I always made sure I sent enough for him to share with the others in his class.

When will I know when he graduates AIT? You should know when he goes. Each MOS has a certain amount of time in AIT, such as 20 weeks or 22 weeks. Just like BCT, he will know when his graduation is when he starts.

Other Q's

When do we find out what his first duty station (FDS) is? Most soldiers know where their FDS will be before they finish AIT. Some find out while still in BCT.

Do we get separation pay and BAH? Yes, if you are married, you will get separation pay and BAH. The BAH will depend on where you live and the separation pay should start after he has been gone for 30 days.

What is OSUT? OSUT is an acronym for One-Station Unit Training. This applies to soldiers in the Infantry. The Infantry has combined its Basic Training and AIT to be one 14-week long training session. He will attend more streamlined training, and will develop a camaraderie with his fellow trainees during this time.

Do they get passes during OSUT? Some may get a break in the middle of OSUT, but not all units do. This is a privilege so not everyone will get it.

When will I get the information about DEERS and when will enrollment in Tricare start? DEERS stands for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Active-duty and retired service members are automatically registered in DEERS, but they must take action to register their family members and ensure they're correctly entered into the database. So, your husband will be the one to get you registered in DEERS. Active Duty and Guard and Reserve service members are automatically enrolled TRICARE Prime. However military dependents and retirees must choose the TRICARE option that best suits their needs. So your husband will also have to register you with TRICARE. Now keep in mind this is all when he first joins. Once he joins and you PCS or he deploys, you will be able to update DEERS and TRICARE yourself.

What is PTRP/WTRP? PTRP (Physical Training Rehabilitation Program). Theoretically, it's for soldiers who have been injured during training to rehabilitate and be returned to training. Women's Trauma Recovery Program (WTRP)is designed to treat women veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The WTRP is intensive 60-day residential program with a strong emphasis on interpersonal skills. The initial two weeks of treatment involve psychological and psychosocial assessments in order to develop comprehensive treatment plans. Women come into the program in classes, or cohorts, and work together to problem-solve, learn effective communication, and better manage their PTSD/MST symptoms.

What is a perm-profile and how does it affect the soldiers job and advancement? A perm-profile is when the soldier can't do any activity (such as PT) permanently. How a perm-profile affects the soldiers job and advancement all depends on what the soldiers job is and why he was given the perm-profile to begin with.