Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Military Family

We call the military "the family business"... and it goes back (and forward) generations. In my husband's family, it goes back to his grandfather (Navy Chief) his dad (Navy Academy Graduate). In mine, my maternal grandfather - German Army WWI and Luftwaffe WWII. My father, USCG WWII, my uncles were Army, and Army Air Corps WWII, and an Aunt was Army WWII. The acronym rich world of the military, reading uniforms (although, I have to say, Navy still baffles me), is second nature to me. I was brought up with a tan card, going to the PX, as a State Dept brat I was surrounded by Marines ( yeah.. the dress blues were the epitome of the well dressed man to me for years. ) My husband is Army, I walked down the aisle and he was in blues, he's still in the Army, done active, National Guard and now here we are Active Duty again. Our son and daughter in law are Army veterans of Iraq.

There's another big part of my military family - those friends of mine online, the milspouses I instant message with, catch up with on their blogs, chitchat with on Facebook and tweet at. My husband calls them my "imaginary friends" - and they have saved me through two deployments, kept me sane through two reintegrations, listened to me while we PCSed, and are encouraging me while I try to set up a business and change my career path. I've met some that I agree with politically, some that have political beliefs that I cannot fathom, and worked with both groups to get laws passed to help all milspouses. We are family, we fight, some of us will never willingly speak to each other again, but let something happen, and we pull together, we support each other through thick and thin. The civilian/military family divide - some hope that this division would be healed through more social media and the ease of connection, but I wonder if it doesn't keep us more isolated. We can stay in touch with each other so easily, we may not willingly reach out to non military families.

Blogging and other "social media" were just made for military spouses. I have "friends" in Monterey, Stuttgart, Yokosuka, Killeen, Fayetteville and it's as easy as checking the Blackberry to catch up with one of them. Recently my daughter in law had a friend with a question about moving to Japan, I reached out to my online friends and we were ready to help. Daily, on Facebook or on blogs, we see questions about something military, we see pain and the need for help from fellow milspouses, or from veterans, we find out which group needs more care packages, or find an old friend from years ago at another duty station. After an education program aimed at military spouses was arbitrarily and capriciously yanked away with no warning or explanation, Facebook pages sprang up and although we don't have the program back yet, we succeeded in waking up the DoD bureaucracy with letters from congressional offices, and an apology from the (now former) director of the program. The power of social media - in practice! Since many units' Family programs are exhausted from multiple deployments, we have started our own online support, after all, with online members all over the world, there usually is someone on line, no matter what time of day or night.. great chats happen at 2 am when the European time zone friends are awake, and the insomniac is on the couch with the laptop!

My military family - a pretty motley bunch - but they are MINE, and I'm proud as hell to say that I'm a member of a military family.

1 comment:

Amber said...

When Martin was signing up for the Army, the military family was what I most looked forward to. It has not disappointed. I have to say that I had no clue the MilBlogger community, and that has been a wonderful bonus. :)