Tag Archives: military community

Why We Celebrate: Three Americans to Remember

4 Jul

This is my husband’s platoon during their deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.

On this very special 4th of July in 2012, I think of the ladies of the 3/1 whose Soldiers were serving in Afghanistan this time last year.  It is for them, that I write this blog.  Even for those whose Soldier did not return, yet gave the ultimate sacrifice.  And also for Megan, whose dear Ollie came home with two mangled legs and a heart in need of mending.

For all of you, I share these three “whys”, which always seems to be the unspoken question in time of hardship.

Why do we celebrate?

“Why?” is for Ms. Lou who came from Korea as a refugee by way of a raft from the Philippines, where she said people chose not to marry or have children hoping for a better chance of being selected for a space (to the states) that was “won by lotto”.  She wanted a better life for her children and her children’s children.  Ms. Lou came to the United States of America with nothing but hope for the future.  Today, Ms. Lou is a U.S. citizen, with two beautiful children who have gone on to establish and distinguish themselves as educated professionals with families of their own.  She and her husband own a home, working hard, and living the American dream in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Ms. Lou is the first of three generations of Americans, and one answer to the question “why do we celebrate?”

Why do we serve?

“Why?” is for Ms. Kay, who arrived in the United States in 1976 from India, speaking no English, with a mere $8 to her name.  Ms. Kay worked for cash cleaning hotel rooms, pursuing opportunity and the American dream.  Now nearing her 60th birthday, she and her husband own one of the top-rated hotels in Albuquerque, NM.  She says, “In America everyone has opportunity if they are willing to work hard”.

Ms. Kay is a first generation American citizen, whose two children have gone on to careers in engineering and medicine.   They are one answer to the question “why do we serve?”

Why do we sacrifice?

“Why?” is also for an unnamed spouse, whose sweet young husband was killed in Afghanistan while serving with the 3/1, and the two children he left behind.  Because these two boys have the opportunity to grow up in Lou and Kay’s America!  To be whoever and whatever they want to be in this great land of opportunity!

This spouse and her children are one more answer to the question “why do we sacrifice?”

And we are grateful.

Why do we celebrate our nation’s independence?  Why do we serve our country?  Why do we sacrifice for this, our nation?   Because here lies HOPE!

Happy Independence Day!

Jill Bozeman is a committed, 17 year Army Wife, and the founder and dirctor of Operation Faithful Support, Inc, a grassroots, pro-marriage educational support program for the spouses of deployed service members.  She and her husband, SFC Wade Bozeman, and their two children are stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  For more information about OFS, please visit www.operationfaithfulsupport.com.

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Building a foundation of support, even from planks of uncertainty

2 Jul

Jill Bozeman, Founder and Director of Operation Faithful Support, Inc.

I’m going to try to hit as hard as I can to get your attention, without over-dramatizing the home front battle.  Firstly, I’d like you to look over your life and think of all the unexpected hardships you’ve faced, as a child or as an adult.  Then I want you to ask yourself if there was a way you could have planned for any of those hardships in advance?  More than likely the answer is no, because for the most part, you couldn’t have seen them coming.

So now, I want you to imagine those same hardships coming unexpectedly during a deployment, when your main line of support, your partner, is in a combat zone.

If you had nothing to do but take care of your daily duties and responsibilities on the home front, the continued stress of concern for your Solider is enough to make you weak in the knees.  Add to that even one single additional hardship and you have a cocktail for emotional exhaustion.

What happens when Mama is exhausted?

What happens when Mama is depressed?

OFS (Operation Faithful Support) welcomed home an Infantry Brigade last January.   Some of those we sent did not return.  And of those that returned, some did not return the same.  At least one Soldier returned as a single parent due to a home front suicide.  Yes, this Brigade lost a spouse.

She had friends that loved her and supported her, but the truth is that she needed more than what one or two friends who were in the same boat could offer her.   She needed an entire framework of support, because we can’t foresee the struggles and joys the deployment year may hold.  We need a whole community.

I believe a spouse’s number one resource is her (or his) FRG (Family Readiness Group).  I’ve heard enough negative commentary about FRGs  to write a gossip column, but my first-hand experience literally changed my life.  It was so supportive and so empowering that I was inspired to do my part; I started OFS (Operation Faithful Support, Inc.) which as a program, has now supported three unit deployments since, earning lifelong friends and contacts all over the world.

All I had to do was reach back to the hands that were reaching out to me.  Even though the outcome was uncertain, and the rumors about FRGs were compelling, when the hand was extended, I took it!   And I thank God!

For the spouses and families serving on the home front, don’t throw those pamphlets and flyers away.   Don’t delete the emails without engaging the sender.  Answer the phone when you see it is your “Key Caller”, as she is a lifeline extended to you for contact and resources.  Behind the acronyms are real people who live to help, support, and love those belonging to our military communities.  Many times they are spouses, or former service members who are working for those programs, services, and non-profits.  If anyone knows the burden of deployment, it is them.

The only thing that is certain before, during or after deployment is that you are loved, and you will need that love to make it through.

Ask a friend to attend an FRG meeting with you.  And if you don’t have a friend, call your FRG leader and tell her the truth….that you are nervous about coming.  I believe, before you hang up you’ll have found a friend.

Jill Bozeman is a committed, 17 year Army Wife, and the founder and dirctor of Operation Faithful Support, Inc, a grassroots, pro-marriage educational support program for the spouses of deployed service members.  She and her husband, SFC Wade Bozeman, and their two children are stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  For more information about OFS, please visit  www.operationfaithfulsupport.com.

“I HATE Army Wives…”, She Said

24 Oct

We just moved into housing on Fort Knox, when my neighbor crossed the street headed in my direction.  “Welcome to the neighborhood”, she said with a smile.  I graciously received her warm welcome.  Her greeting lost all steam when she added…”I HATE Army Wives, so please tell me you aren’t one of those types.”   I’m not sure what my response was, but I have no doubt my face reflected my shock!  There was more talk…  I seem to recall some negative comments regarding FRGs (Family Readiness Groups) and wives who wear their husband’s rank, but at this point, I must have been looking at her like she had two heads.   

Oddly enough, my neighbor and I became quick friends.  I worked hard to prove her stereotype wrong, and she worked hard to make sure I knew I was nothing more than an exception to the standard-issue “Army Wife”.   

Either way, I enjoyed the two years I lived across the street from her.  She was the kind of spouse that would come and check on you the day after “deployment send off”, and that in itself was a compassionate comfort I don’t remember getting when I lived outside the military community.  She also happened to be the kind of neighbor that would walk right into your house and plop down on the couch without an invite!  Not everyone would consider that an endearing quality, but I did.  It comforted me that someone considered me “familiar”.  

Being a Military Spouse means putting down quick roots.  We don’t necessarily have time to “know” a person before we find ourselves in a situation where we rely on them like family.    But much like our biological family, we don’t choose them, they simply “happen”.  It is up to us to decide whether we will endure their shortcomings in order to embrace the gift God has given to us in them…..or slam the door in their face.     

No one is perfect, and likewise, no one can singly fill the hole our deployed spouse has left.  But, without community, deployment can be like treading water in lead ankle weights.  Be wise in choosing friends; you cannot confide in everyone, nor can one person watch all four of your kiddos at the drop of a hat.  Cut others some slack.  Enjoy them for whom and what they are in this season of your life, making sure to give people permission to blow it now and then.  Hey!  After all, we are all doing our best to just make it through!