Tag Archives: Military Family

A Tribute to Military Fathers Where Ever They May Be

It seems like Father’s Day gets buried in the business of life. I feel like Father’s Day sneaks up on me and then I am scrambling to get cards out. This year is no exception. It’s Wednesday, and I still haven’t mailed the two cards I need to send — to my dad and my deployed son-in-law.

Military Dads are special. They work hard. They play hard. And they make time to strengthen bonds with their family. I know other dads do those things as well, but not at the same time they are protecting our nation.

Military dads are strong, disciplined, focused, resilient, and centered. It is sometimes hard for them to compartmentalize between work and family. And they miss a lot of their children’s special moments because duty comes first.

I know the Good Chaplain always tried to make it up to our daughters if he missed something important, like a school recital or play. But when he was home, he made himself available to the girls, no matter how tired he was after work.

Tyler and the boys making memories!
My favorite military dad!

A military dad takes the time to explain to his children why he gave an order. (Some of them give orders at home too.) He takes time to show them how things work, what he does and who he is. And he takes pride when someone comments on how well behaved his children are. He’s done his job and taught them structure and discipline.

I can’t count the number of times the Good Chaplain said we needed to do something to “make memories” before he left on a deployment. He was right. Remembering the fun we had before he left helped us look forward to making more memories when he got home.

Sometimes the military has to come first, and sometimes the family has to come first. A military dad knows this and figures out a way to balance everything. And when he can’t be there, a military dad transfers his powers to a military mom to carry on until he comes home again.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers out there. Dad, your card is in the mail. Tyler, you might get yours after the holiday, but we are thinking of you.

Until next time,

Vicki

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse,” available here or by clicking the Shop tab above. Watch for her new book on the Good Chaplain’s Africa deployment coming out in the fall!

National Military Brats Day celebrates past and present military children

The only time I felt my girls got the short end of the stick as military brats was when they went off to college. We moved from California to Alabama the week after high school graduation, and then the girls went off to college. When they came home for the holidays, they came home to an unfamiliar place.

They didn’t know anyone, and they weren’t getting together with high school friends because those friends were in California while we were in Alabama. I felt sad for them. I remember coming home from college and seeing my friends and hanging out again. We robbed them of that experience.

That is just one issue military children face in their lifetime. As we wrap up the Month of the Military Child, let’s not forget National Military Brats Day on April 30. It’s the last day to honor all our military children — past or present.

The National Today website list five facts about military brats and some activities military families can do together to honor their brats.

Five Facts About Military Brats

  • Military Brats are children whose parents are, or once were, members of the military community.
  • One in every 25 American citizens is part of a military family. That means roughly 15 million Americans are military brats.
  • Military Brats attend between four and 12 schools in their lives. Mine attended three different elementary schools on one base!
  • Several famous people were military brats, including Amy Adams, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Alba, Chris Cooper, John Denver, Shaquille O’Neal, and Reese Witherspoon, to name a few. One of my favorites is Harris Faulkner, host of the Faulkner Focus and Outnumbered on Fox News.
  • Unless they join or marry into the military, many military brats cannot go visit their childhood neighborhoods because they won’t have access to base once their parent leaves the military. That’s true for Illinois Girl, but not for Mrs. Tech Sergeant.

She and her family recently drove past our house on Langley Air Force Base, VA and Tech Sergeant’s house in Yorktown, VA. Mrs. Tech Sergeant also lived on the same street at Eielson AFB, AK that she lived on as a child. And, my grandson, Tony B, went to the same grade school as his father, in England.

A good way to celebrate National Military Brats day is to pull out pictures from past bases and relive some memories. Military brats may have it hard sometimes, but they’ve seen and done a lot more than their civilian counterparts.

Until next time,

Vicki

How will you celebrate with your military brats on April 30?

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse,” available here or by clicking the Shop tab above. Watch for her new book on the Good Chaplain’s Africa deployment coming out in the fall!

My Adorable Air Force Brats in Pictures: Month of the Military Child

In honor of the Month of the Military Child, view this slideshow of some of my favorite military children and then please share your own pictures in the comments section.

Purple Up Day supports military children of all branches

Friday is Purple Up Day, the day we all wear purple to honor our military children. It is a day for everyone in the nation to show support for the sacrifices these children make, including frequent moves, deployments, new schools, new friends, and new communities.

Military children often feel the same stressors as their parents during these times, so during the Month of the Military Child in April, we set aside one day to recognize their contributions.

Schools and communities offer many events to celebrate throughout the month, but they encourage everyone to wear purple on Purple Up Day. They chose the color purple to represent all branches of the military as one.

Video by Fort Campbell MWR

Take time out Friday to thank military kids for their service as well.

Until next time,

Vicki

I am honoring my two daughters, Marissa and Alanna, and my two grandsons, Anthony and Gabriel, by donning purple. Who are you going to Purple Up for Friday?

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse,” available here or by clicking the Shop tab above. Watch for her new book on the Good Chaplain’s Africa deployment coming out in the fall!

My own military brats

Military Children Can Find Comfort from Books Written Just For Them

April is the Month of the Military Child, so this week I thought I would provide you with a list of books written specifically for military children. Disclosure: I have not read all of them and I have no affiliation with any of the authors or books.

Here is a list of the books. Buy them wherever you buy your books.

  • “I’ll Lend You My Daddy: A Deployment Book for Kids Ages 4-8,” by Becky King and Cynthea Liu
  • “Night Catch,” by Brenda Ehrmantraut and Vicki Wehrman
  • “Lily Hates Goodbyes (All Military Version),” by Jerilyn Marler and Nathan Stoltenberg
  • “I Will Be Okay: Adventures of a Military Kid,” by Amy Schweizer
  • “Momma’s Boots,” by Sandra Miller Linhart and Tahna Marie Desmond; and “Daddy’s Boots”
  • “When You Are Away” by Dominque James Ed.D
  • “I’m A Dandelion: A PCS Story for Military Children,” by Brooke Mahaffey and Lidiia Mariia Nyz
  • “Superheroes’ Kids: When Dad is Deployed,” by Heather Carson and Angelica Rose Jacquez
  • “Why Do We Have to Move?: A Book for Military Kids,” by Tara Scott
  • “Hero Mom,” by Melinda Hardin and Bryan Lando
  • “The Adventures of a Military Brat: The Big Move,” by Johanna Gomez and Daniel Gomez
  • “On the Month of the Military Child Purple Up!” by Military Child

Some books for older children by “military brats” include:

  • “Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress,” by Mary Edwards Wertsch
  • “Growing Up Military,” by Marc Curtis
  • “9 Rules of Engagement: A Military Brat’s Guide to Life and Success,” by Harris Faulkner
  • “All You Need Is Love: Memoirs of a Military Brat,” by John Thomas Young
My military “brats!”

As we celebrate our children and their resilience, this month talk to them about how they feel about being a military child and really listen. The answers might surprise you!

Until next time,

Vicki

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse,” available here or by clicking the Shop tab above. Watch for her new book on the Good Chaplain’s Africa deployment coming out in the fall!

How military spouses stepped in to help during the chickenpox epidemic

Remember not to scratch!

Chickenpox. It is a word that puts fear in the minds of all parents. They dreaded the thought of oatmeal baths and calamine lotion. And itchy, miserable kids. But, the parents also wanted to get it over with, so sometimes they would purposely expose their children to get it done. Today, many parents get to experience this because of the vaccine.

I was happy when Illinois Girl and Mrs. Tech Sergeant waited until the Good Chaplain came on active duty because I did not work outside the home. A year earlier, and it could have spelled disaster for us.

And thank God it happened at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, at a time when all the children in the neighborhood came down with chickenpox in a month. The epidemic perfectly portrayed what happens when military spouses step up to help each other out.

Creepy fire ants. They bite, and it hurts!

It started the day after I took a group of kids to the lake to see the geese. As we were walking home, one little girl stepped in a fire anthill. I quickly brushed off the ants and carried her to her house. The next day her mom called to say she had chickenpox. How do you get from fire ants to chickenpox? Clearly, they were separate incidents. The evening of the biting, the little girl was complaining that her stomach itched. Thinking maybe an ant had made it up that high, her mother lifted her shirt to find her covered in chickenpox. Her other two kids also came down with the pox soon afterward.

Kids started dropping like flies. We went a week before I noticed a spot on Mrs. Tech Sergeant’s chest and one on her back. Were they chickenpox? I waited a few days to see what would happen. No change. I called the neighborhood pediatrician, who came over. He couldn’t tell either but said if we gave her a warm bath, the blisters would probably come out if it was chickenpox. So I left the girls in the care of the Good Chaplain while I went with a neighbor on a hunt for oatmeal bath. When I returned, the rose was in full bloom.

For the next several days and nights, I stayed with my little blossom, making sure she didn’t scratch herself. We both felt stir-crazy. I called the doctor to ask if she could play outside. “Every neighborhood child is in a stage of chickenpox. As long as she isn’t running a fever, out she goes,” he said.

Unfortunately, she ran a fever on Halloween and couldn’t go trick-or-treating. If she’d felt well, she might have minded.

John Lennon had it right!

In the meantime, we mothers were near desperation with our itchy kids home from school for days on end. While our little ones napped or watched television, we would gather on porches to commiserate and cheer each other on. A nip of alcohol also might have occurred. Those whose children were further along in the epidemic assured the rest of us that it would be better soon. It was nice to talk to adults. And, of course, we ran errands for each other and kept everyone well stocked with oatmeal bath, passing along partially used boxes and buying more as needed.

As the epidemic wound down in the neighborhood, I realized Illinois Girl still hadn’t come down with them. Finally, both girls went to school on the first Monday in November, and that evening, sure enough, “Mommy, my stomach itches.” Here we go again. Illinois Girl’s case was twice as bad as her sister’s, but she recovered twice as fast. The following Monday, mothers in the neighborhood thanked God as all 20 children headed back to school.

We pulled together, helped one another, and made sure we each made it through with our sanity intact. That’s what we military spouses do.

Until next time,

Vicki

Why to Cherish Rare Moments When You Actually Live Near Family

“Vicki, this is Sharon.” The Good Chaplain’s stepmother sounded frantic on the other end of the phone line. “Bill was in a car accident. They airlifted him to St. Anthony’s in Rockford. I’m on my way there now. He has head injuries.”

As soon as we hung up, I called the Good Chaplain to tell him that his dad was seriously injured. “Please, God, not like this,” he said, his voice faltering.

Bill was a jovial guy who loved his family.

We already planned a trip to Illinois later that July 2003 for my niece’s wedding and college shopping for our twin daughters. Now it looked like we would be going earlier. As we waited for news, we reminisced about what a blessing it was that Bill and Sharon moved just a few hours from our base.

The Good Chaplain’s aunt and uncle lived a few hours away in Fillmore, CA. His cousin lived in Santa Maria, CA, a few minutes away. We were excited to have family so close for the first time in 10 years. And then Bill and Sharon announced they bought a place in Fillmore too.

We took full advantage of it. We frequently went to Fillmore, and Bill and Sharon came to our place too. We spent holidays together and had a family reunion that the Good Chaplain missed because of a deployment. In addition, Bill and Sharon stayed with the girls while the Good Chaplain and I went on a post-deployment cruise. Bill even attended a high school football game with the girls and teased them about being the “Conqs,” short for the Conquistadors’ school name.

And then we got that fateful phone call. Bill suffered a massive head injury, but was hanging on. The Good Chaplain’s brother called later in the week, saying we should come to Illinois. So, we flew out early the next morning.

When we arrived at the hospital, we all sensed Bill’s spirit was present, but the next day it was gone. It was as if he held on until we could get there. With a badly damaged brain stem, the doctors said he would never wake up. The family knew he would not want to live that way, so we settled for palliative care and let him go. He died three weeks after the accident on July 28, 2003.

It felt unfair. He was only 70 years old. We finally got to live near Bill and spend time with him, and then this happened. The girls were looking forward to him attending school functions and their graduation in 2004. It just wasn’t right.

Bill was a lifelong Scout, staying involved long after his sons left home.

That was 18 years ago. Hard to believe.

I tell you this story not for pity or empathy but to compel you to take full advantage if you find yourself lucky enough to live near your family. See them often, not just for holidays. Make that effort because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Make the most of your time together. You know you will be moving again all too soon.

Until next time,

Vicki

Have you gotten to live near family during your military career? How did you handle it?

Happy Thanksgiving to all Military Spouses Near and Far

Thanksgiving was always a different holiday for us when we were in the Air Force. Most times we chose not to go home, but celebrating as the four of us seemed boring. So we started taking in strays — those single airmen or young couples who would otherwise be alone for the holiday. Then it branched out to the chapel staff as well. At one point we crammed 25 people into our dining room. And I loved it all. It helped us when we were away from family and it helped make others’ holiday special too.

Chapel staff, friends, and family Thanksgiving at our house at Joint Base Langley-Fort Eustis, VA

I know many of you are probably celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time away from your families. And unfortunately, in this time of COVID-19, you can’t really invite others in. I pray you are able to make the holiday as special as you can in the midst of this crazy year. And remember, we all have lots to be thankful for, even when we can’t celebrate with our loved ones.

The Good Chaplain and I, we would like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope the message below brightens your day. Enjoy.

See you next week.

Until then,

Vicki

What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions when you can’t be with family? Share in the comments below.

How Military Spouses Cope Away From Family

January 26, 1986, is a day I will always remember. It was the day after the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl. It was also the day the space shuttle Challenger blew up, killing all aboard. But I remember it as the day my in-laws had to rescue us because the Good Chaplain and I both came down with a nasty stomach bug. We couldn’t even get out of bed to feed our three-month-old twin daughters.

The Good Chaplain was not yet in the Air Force Reserves or on active duty. Thankfully, both sets of our parents lived about 20 minutes away and could help. I don’t know what I would have done if we already lived at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

Yes, I do. I would have called on neighbors and friends to help out. This scenario plays itself out all the time in the military world. I received several calls to please watch the children because the parents were sick. And it will happen. You will find yourself as either the caregiver or the person needing care.

As you prepare for life in the military, knowing it means moving away from family, you frequently ask yourself how you are going to cope in a variety of situations without your mom nearby. It’s scary, especially if it is your first move away from home.

As I did when we went on active duty, if you have children, you mourn the loss of weekends away while grandparents watch the kids. You also mourn the loss of family Sunday dinners, birthday parties, and holiday celebrations. It’s hard because you are leaving all the familiar comforts and going into the unknown once again. We actually moved two hours away from family before coming on active duty, so I experienced a few of those feelings before the big move out of state.

Be prepared for traveling during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to celebrate with each side of your family. We never had less than three Christmas celebrations once we got married, and sometimes more. Once we moved away, it was worse because not only were we traveling and lugging all the presents with us, but we had to drive all over the Chicago suburbs from one house to another. Yep, I’m whining about the hardships of being with loved ones over the holidays.

Also, be prepared to visit family for the majority of vacations. Rarely will you go somewhere exotic for a vacation. I remember one summer when we were traveling to the Chicago suburbs, one of the girls said, “We always say we are going to Chicago, can we actually go into Chicago?” Good point. We gave them a day in the city to do whatever they wanted to do. The family was invited but could not make any decisions on what we would see or do. Our nuclear family also discovered a place called Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia, and we made sure we spent some time there every year as our own little getaway.

And family visited us frequently as well. We knew who really wanted to see us and who simply used us to stop en route to other places. For instance, when we lived in Georgia and Alabama, we were the stop on the way to Florida. But when we lived in Minot, North Dakota, we knew they were coming to see us.

Family is important to our life in the military. I think I grew closer to my mom once we moved away. I was more intentional about calling her because I knew I wouldn’t see her for a long while. Plans needed to be made, and schedules coordinated. And money was also a factor since we were traveling further. But you manage to make it all work.

Next time I will shed light on the parents’ perspective on all this.

Until then,

Vicki

What was the worst part of moving away from home for you? Comment in the section below.

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I Vote For Kept Woman: The Military Spouse Decision to Work

When the Good Chaplain became active duty Air Force in July 1992, we had a decision to make. Did I want to find a job or be a stay-at-home mom? I was lucky to have the choice. The Good Chaplain entered active duty as a Captain and, sadly, his salary was the same as we both made in the real world. So I didn’t have to work. But my job was portable. I could write from anywhere. I elected to stay home and try freelance writing.

I had some success as a freelancer, but I didn’t try too hard either. I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of military life and “playing” with my fellow spouses. I did work off and on during the Good Chaplain’s career, but not until the girls were older. In his later career, I thoroughly enjoyed being a kept woman.

The military is supportive today of spouses working outside the home, but it wasn’t always so, especially for senior members of the officer and enlisted corps. In the summer of 1988, when the Good Chaplain did a tour as a Chaplain Candidate at Hurlburt Field in the Florida Panhandle, the deputy wing commander’s wife had a job, but she asked me not to tell anyone because she wasn’t supposed to work. I was flabbergasted. Women worked outside the house for a long time by then. She worked a night job so she could be free to attend to her “duties” as a senior officer’s wife.

Today it is normal for military spouses to work outside of the house, take care of the children, find time to do some volunteer work, and still clean the house. But it’s not easy to find jobs sometimes, especially if you need certification, such as teachers, nurses, real estate professionals, or other such careers.

The military and federal government are trying to make it easier. Spouse preference mandates that jobs available on base hire a qualified military spouse over a qualified non-military spouse. And Congress is looking at a bill that allows portable certification. (https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2019/05/23/why-the-portable-certification-of-spouses-act-would-increase-employment-success-for-military-spouses-when-they-pcs) Several Senators and Representatives introduced the bipartisan legislation would help this issue by supporting interstate licensing and small business registration.

Another obstacle to having a job or career is deciding whose job has priority. The average time in a location for officers is two to three years. For enlisted it is about four years. Many companies don’t want an employee who isn’t going to be around long. This happened to me twice in the Good Chaplain’s career.

The first time came when he was called to active duty from the Reserves. I worked at a local daily newspaper. I was the regional editor, number three in the newsroom hierarchy. But I was doing the job of the city editor, or number two, for almost a year. Then one lovely Wednesday morning, the bosses called me into the publisher’s office to tell me I was being promoted to city editor in title and pay. ONE week later to the day, the Good Chaplain was offered the position on active duty, something that shouldn’t have happened for at least another year.

The second time I worked at one of my favorite jobs at a weekly newspaper when the Good Chaplain told me we were getting a short-notice move. I’d only been in that job for 5 months. I said no for the first time in our military career. Of course, I did end up going and that’s when I started my career as a kept woman ever since.

I’ve known couples who live separately because of each of their jobs. Many can make it work. But it isn’t for everyone. My philosophy was the military separated us enough with deployments and temporary duty assignments. I did not want to voluntarily separate from the Good Chaplain. That is a decision for each couple to make — the military job or the civilian spouse job or both.

Whatever you’re decision, I pray it is the perfect one for your family. Personally, I advocate for the kept woman approach.

Until next time,

Vicki