Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Day They Leave

Let's talk about everyone's favorite topic...the day your spouse leaves....ugh

I usually try to stay positive about things like this for my own sanity, but I would not be correctly conveying how I truly feel right now. I am the absolute worst at communicating how I feel about anything. I either appear dismissive or way too excited, there is no in between.

There is no one size fits all story line for what you will feel like when they leave. Some of us have kids to worry about, some of us move home, and some of us are so used to deployments it is just another day. There is no right or wrong way to feel. From talking with my friends who have gone through the same thing, I have noticed a pattern on how most of us are felt when our spouse left.

Am I kidding? No.

This isn't relief in the traditional sense. There is a dark cloud that hangs over your relationship before they leave. You're surrounded by all the stuff they are bringing and odds are it smells. It is a constant reminder that you are basically in purgatory waiting for them to go. The days drag and you haven't even started the countdown for when they come home.

"Just leave so we can get this over with." You feel horrible for thinking that, but they are probably thinking the same thing.



I felt different walking into my house after I dropped him off. It is like I was walking into a place that I didn't know. It went from a shared space to one that I only I occupy. I know it is still our place, but things felt off. Even driving his car felt weird. His office door has not been opened since I don't really need anything in there, it isn't my space.

The next day I did more laundry and grocery shopping in one day, than I normally do in a week. I have now become a full-blown chef and make my own meals nearly every night. While I do enjoy cooking, this is purely a distraction. Instead of coming home to an empty house and just taking in the silence....I fill up the silence with an extremely loud food processor.

Going Into Hiding 
 I have the tendency to become a hermit. I am totally down with just sitting at my house watching tv or reading on a Friday night. If it wasn't for the awesome friends I have here and my job, I would probably barely leave the house. I will also be the first to say that THIS IS NOT HOW YOU SHOULD LIVE YOUR LIFE. Seriously, it is just plain sad and lonely.

The Curse
The Deployment Curse is a real thing. The theory is, that once your spouse leaves something will break. It could be the the dishwasher, the pipes, etc etc. I thought that this was absolutely not true. But less than a week after he left I popped not one, but two of my tires while swerving to miss a car that made an illegal turn. My advice is....just have some money set aside for the inevitable.

 Letting It Out
If you feel that you need someone to just talk to, check out MilitaryOneSource. You can find resources and information about non-medical counseling by Military Family Life Counselors. These people are trained to work specifically with military members and their spouses. I also encourage you to reach out and see if there is an MFLC assigned to your spouse's unit. MFLCs can be placed with units who are deploying to work specifically with those families.

 Whether it is your spouse's first deployment or their fifth. What matters is that you know that you are absolutely not alone in how you are feeling and coping. You don't have to be "fine" or "okay" all the time. You just have to know that this deployment will come to an end. You will be shocked at how truly well you handled this time apart.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Best Podcasts To Get You Through Deployment

If you know me, you know that I have an obsession with podcasts that is a bit out of control. 

Sad? I have a podcast for that. 

Wanting to learn something new? I have a podcast for that. 


Now that my husband is deployed, I found that my love of podcasts has increased tenfold. 

You will probably agree with me that nighttime is the hardest part of deployments. You're kinda just sitting there waiting to fall to asleep...and you're alone. Although the distance sucks no matter what, you feel it more when you are just sitting in the dark. I usually need to listen to something to help me fall asleep, and podcasts are EXACTLY what I needed.

Here is a list of the BEST podcasts to get you through deployment. FYI, more than one of these podcasts contain strong language, and some themes won't be appropriate for the kids.

This podcast is probably my favorite of all time. Karen and Georgia are a blast and honestly are my best friends....who have never met me...and probably never will. For a great comedy and true crime mashup, I cannot recommend this podcast enough. Also, I have never seen a podcast with such a large following in my life. Their official Facebook group alone has over 175,000 members.

Photo Credit: Mandee Johnson Photography
Phoebe and Jessica are two best friends who live in Brooklyn and host a comedy show. They are absolutely hysterical and are not afraid to speak on everything from race to feminism to an insane love of U2. In addition to their podcast, they also have a special on HBO. I cannot listen to this show in public or it will look like I am laughing out loud to myself.

Hearing Annie talk about life in Nashville, makes me want to move there ASAP. Annie F. Downs is the bestselling author of books like "Let's All Be Brave," and "Looking for Lovely." The conversations she has with her friends about her faith, family, careers, etc. are amazing. It honestly feels like I am with my friends who are having a conversation. Except I'm listening to it and they don't know me.
Photo Credit: Anniefdowns.com
From the great country of Canada, comes this investigative reporting gem. David Ridgen follows unsolved crimes and missing persons cases all over the United States and Canada. There are currently three seasons and the reporting is unlike anything I have ever heard. You feel like you are with him on these investigations and interviews. It is an absolute masterpiece and will have you binging entire seasons in one day. 

Krista Tippett has one of the most calming voices on the planet, oh and she's also won a Peabody Award. The great thing about On Being, is that Krista speaks with some of the greatest minds to ever walk the planet. From astrophysicists to Franciscan monks, the conversations are thought-provoking and truly incredible to listen to. There has never been an episode that I haven't learned something new.
Photo Credit: Onbeing.org
Aaron and Justin provide a thoroughly researched look at crimes that span generations and continents. True Crime lovers will appreciate how well put together the episodes are. You will probably learn something new about some of the most famous and lesser known crimes. It is to the point, honest, no frills....and awesome.

Terrible at budgeting? Same. I didn't know how truly terrible I was at saving until I read Dave Ramsey's books. I found that his podcast is just as informative as his books, if not more so. Dave takes callers questions about everything from starting a business to recovering from bankruptcy. He is BRUTALLY honest, but it is your money...it isn't something to be taken lightly. 

8. Reveal
From The Center For Investigative Reporting, comes one of the first podcasts I fell in love with. Award-winning investigative journalists dig deeper into the issues we see on the news (i.e. the opioid crisis, human trafficking, the war on terror etc.) and some we might not know about. The topics are fascinating, heartbreaking, and important. Brilliantly produced and edited, this podcast will leave an impact on listeners like no other podcast can.

This wildly popular podcast from the LA Times had me yelling at my phone at certain points. It is heartbreaking, frustrating, and important. Debra Newell's relationship with John Meehan shows how an abusive relationship can have an impact on those around you...in ways you cannot imagine. The ending is truly unbelievable and seems like something out of a lifetime movie...only much worse.

Jen Hatmaker has had an interesting last few years. A huge name in a Christian community, she received backlash when she said she supported LGBTQ marriage. Some of the biggest Christian bookstores pulled her books and any material she was involved with. Despite this, she is still a best selling author, speaker, and tv show host. This podcast is broken up into series about everything Jen loves from a love of food to a love of friends. Guests include The Pioneer Woman, Dr. Brené Brown, and Melissa Hartwig, The Founder of Whole30. Jen is not afraid to go deep with these conversations and these conversations will make you laugh, cry, and think.

This is one of the first podcasts created to coincide with the release of a documentary series on CNN. Patricia Hearst to this day is one of the only political kidnappings to take place in the United States. This podcast introduces this story of the Heiress Patricia Hearst who was kidnapped by a tiny militia group and ended up committing crimes with her captors. This fascinating and heartbreaking tale still has the same impact today that it did back in the 1970s. The country had to face new ideas like Stockholm syndrome, unrest among youths, etc. in ways it had not before.

In 1997, a doomsday cult called Heaven's Gate committed a mass suicide in California. They believed that they were going to "The Level Above Human." The weirdest thing of all about this cult, is that many of these people were completely normal. I mean, as normal as you can be to join a cult but still. Heaven's Gate goes through the history of the cult, who they were, and speaks will people who are still alive today that believe. Another weird fact....their website from 1997 is still active.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

So Your Spouse is Going to Korea...

I have been MIA from this blog for a bit. We PCS'd to another post and a couple weeks later found out my husband was deploying to South Korea...

He has deployed before to Afghanistan and our relationship was completely fine. However, Korea is a first for us and comes with different challenges. With this deployment, there are different things we needed to prepare for that I didn't think we ever would.

I can't say much about what happens while they are there because well, this is all new to me too. I'm in the thick getting ready for of him to leave right now. I figured that this would be a good time to write this as someone who is dealing with the unpredictability and still trying to figure this all out.

Before we delve into these tips and tricks I've learned from the wise spouses who have dealt with this already....please note that every deployment is different. Korea is a vast and unique place and no one deployment experience will be the same...at all...never ever...amen.

The News Will Not Help You
 Is there a lot of tension in the Korea peninsula right now? Yes. Has it always been that way? Pretty much. I think we often forget sometimes that there are still people in South Korea just living their lives throughout these contentious times.

The Korean War "ended" in an armistice (aka we will stop fighting but we're not ending this war) in the 1950's. North and South Korea have been at each other's throats ever since. Life had to go on for the South Korean people, and they have rebuilt their country into a thriving nation.

 Despite this, you will see the news speak of nuclear war, "rocket man", etc. like this is all new. It is not. The rhetoric might be ramped up but there is a reason that the United States has been there as long as it has because this back and forth happens a lot between the two nations.

You can google North Korea for hours on end, but it will only make you even more scared. It is not worth your happiness and sanity to make yourself upset.

Get Your Passwords In Order
As I write this, my husband is making a list of all accounts with passwords and answers to security questions for me. This is a great thing for me since I have the memory of a goldfish and can't remember my own passwords 95% of the time. There is internet access in South Korea of course, but it is nice to know that I can have access to all our important info like online banking and bill pay.

Know What Your POAs Cover
Powers of Attorney essentially give you the legal power to make decisions on another person's behalf during a certain time. For example, I will need to update the registration on my husband's car. Since I was not named on the registration I will need a POA to update the registration on his behalf. Powers of Attorney can cover anything from taxes to selling real estate.

There are three types of POA that are commonly used for deployments according to MilitaryOneSource:

     1. General power of attorney - "A general power of attorney gives the person you designate the power to perform almost any legal act on your behalf for a specified time. This can include managing bank accounts; selling, exchanging, buying or investing any assets or property; purchasing and maintaining insurance; and entering into any binding contracts. Because the authority granted is broad, give this type of power of attorney only if a special power of attorney won't suffice and if the person you choose is trustworthy and financially responsible."
     2. Special or limited power of attorney - "A special or limited power of attorney gives specific powers to the designated person for a specified time. When drafting a special power of attorney, you're required to list the particular decisions over which the designee has power."
     3. Durable power of attorney — "A durable power of attorney remains valid even if you become incapacitated or unable to handle your own affairs. If you don't specify a durable power of attorney, it'll automatically end if you're incapacitated in the future. A general or special power of attorney can be durable with appropriate language. This eliminates the need for a court to choose a guardian and conservator to make decisions on your behalf during your incapacity."

To know exactly what is needed for your family, reach out to your local JAG (Staff Judge Advocate). Click Here to find the closest JAG office to you.

Get Ready for Questions
"What is he going to be doing over there?"
"Probably sitting at a desk, I guess."

"Is he going to North or South Korea?"

"Can't you just go and live with him there?"
"No I can't"
"But spouses are stationed there that doesn't make sense."
"Yes but-"
"That is ridiculous!"

"Are you afraid of Kim Jung Un?"
"Personally? No, but-"
"Have you seen the news?!"

 Just understand that people do have the best of intentions. It is normal for these questions to arise and no one is being mean or ignorant for asking them. There is so much great support out there both in the military and non military community, it would be a waste to get worked up about a question.



Sunday, November 5, 2017

Making Sense of The Military Spouse Employment Preference Programs

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Military Spouse Preference programs or the federal job hunting process in any way. This is only to provide a brief overview of what the program entails. It is important to ensure that understand these programs as not all military spouses qualify. 

Trying to navigate the job market while being a military spouse is like navigating a bike on a four-lane highway in LA during rush hour...really freaking hard. BUT the DOD/Congress has been kind enough to make some legislation to make it a bit easier to navigate the federal job market.

You can thank Executive Order 13473 for making the job hunt just a bit easier for a military spouse. Executive orders make for some pretty boring reading material, I read it so you don't have to!

Federal jobs are awesome for spouses. The private sector is not always a friendly place for spouses. While no one is going to just give you a job because you are a military spouse, these programs have helped spouses immensely on their search for federal jobs.

Getting Started

When applying for jobs on USAjobs.gov, in order to be recognized as a military spouse you will need to send in some documents. For EACH AND EVERY APPLICATION you will have to include a copy of your spouse's PCS orders with your name included on it (black out the social security numbers), and a copy of your marriage certificate. This will let the hr employee know that you are a military spouse covered under EO 13473.

You will know that a job is open to military spouses on USAjobs by seeing the military spouse symbol listed under the job listing. It looks like two wedding rings....I know it looks a bit lame.

Photo Credit: USAjobs.gov
Photo Credit: USAjobs.gov

Some military spouses will simply send these documents and not bother applying for Program S. However, I highly recommend you look deeper into the Priority Preference Program as well. It wouldn't hurt to use all the resources available to you, especially on the job hunt.

Program S / Priority Preference Program

My Army Benefits is a fantastic resource about this program and describes Program S as, "a subprogram of the Priority Placement Program (PPP) - provides statutory employment preference to military spouses. By giving military spouses priority in the employment selection process, Program S works to reduce the impact of frequent relocations on spouse's careers."

The reason why this program is so vital to spouses is because federal jobs are highly competitive and have a rigorous application process. This gives you priority placement over people who are from a civilian background or are not married to a service member. An important thing to note, NO ONE HAS TO HIRE YOU IF YOU ARE NOT BEST QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB, even with this program. 

According to MilitaryOneSource, in order to be eligible you must have/be the following:
1. A spouse of an active duty service member (Coast Guard and full-time National Guard Included)
2. Moving with your spouse to a new duty station
3. Married and on PCS orders before your spouse's reporting date
4. Apply for jobs within a "reasonable" commuting distance from spouse's duty station
5. Be considered one of the "best qualified" candidates for the job

How Do I Register?
You will schedule a meeting with your post's Civilian Personnel Office. You will have to bring a copy of your federal resume (different from a private sector resume), a copy of orders, and your marriage certificate. 

From this point, you will work with the CPO to discover what types of federal jobs are the best fit for you. They will have you fill out a Program S checklist to make sure you understand the whole process easier. You'll be entered into the PPP/system, given a registration form that will show you what job types you are matched and placed in your GS Salary Rate (pay level). 

How Do I Get Hired?
You will be notified when a job could be a good fit for you and your qualifications. While you might receive this email, this does not mean you automatically get the job. You still need to follow the application process. If you choose to not apply to the job, you could be removed from Program S. There are no guarantees that this program will get you a job.

I'm sure you have MANY more questions. I highly recommend you do a search on USAjobs.gov for yourself and contact the Employment Readiness Program Manager on your post. I've only scratched the surface with this post, but don't be discouraged. There have been so many success stories of military spouses in government jobs, it is absolutely worth the effort to further your career or start a career you'll love!

**It is extremely important that you have a federal resume for this meeting. If you do not, I would suggest meeting with an employment counselor on post. I also recommend attending any federal resume classes that might be available. I used them and it helped me a ton.