Monday, July 18, 2011

One Day at a Time

I had not intended for this underway time to be so overwhelming.  It kind of just snuck up on me.  Obviously, we're fine.  The sun is shining in Western Washington today and that seems to make things better. 

But it feels like we're on deployment again.  Last night I pulled up my Bible verse-a day app on my iPhone.  It was the one about it not being good for man to be alone.  This is part of the reason God created marriage. 

Then I wonder, if God knows it is not good to be alone, why are we separated like this?  Why must we endure this?  Ahron has the most logical answer, "Because I'm on sea duty." 

I'm always over-thinking things.  Once my daughter drew a picture of our family, with me, her and her brother on one row, and Daddy down below.  I couldn't help but notice Ahron in his own row, separate from the rest of us and I questioned her about it.  All kinds of thoughts swirled in my head.  I'm damaging my children with our lifestyle.  She will be scarred for life!  Yet, without hesitation she answered, "Because I ran out of room on the paper." 

Sometimes things just are as they are and we must accept them for what they are.  I can honestly say I don't take for granted the time we are together. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Look

Thought I'd try out a new look on the blog.  Hopefully it's not too bright!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Bleak Reality For Our Nation's Finest

I came across this article in The Los Angeles Times this morning:

Veterans and Unemployment

I am included in the "Gulf War era-II veterans."  Though I'm not technically unemployed as I'm not actively seeking employment at the moment.  But that should change within the next 6-8 months and I look to jump back into the workforce. 

The statistics are intimidating.  The US unemployment rate was 9.2% in June 2011.  According the the article, for military veterans it was 13.3%.  The article states that one of the problems is that most military veterans don't have the degrees that employers are seeking. 

The degree issue is a tough one.  I can say with all honesty that when I was enlisted ten years ago, there was a high importance placed, not on working toward a college degree, but on standing out among my peers and excelling among things like making rank and earning qualifications.  These ranks and qualifications mean very little to prospective employers in the civilian world.  This proved very frustrating for me as I knew all along that I was getting out of the military.  I wanted to start working toward a degree but I wasn't able to start until 2005, at the tail end of my service.  Even then, saddled with two young children and a dwindling GI Bill, I was only able to earn my Associates Degree at the time. 

The military made some strides toward amending this.  The Post-9/11 GI Bill enacted recently, added 12 additional months of paid tuition toward my college education.  That's great news for me! 

But here's where I differ from most veterans seeking employment.  My husband is still active duty.  We can survive off of one income, and we have for the last five years.  I don't have to work and we are very blessed in that regard. Our medical expenses are completely covered. I can't imagine being an E-3, 4, or 5 and trying to support my entire family, without a college degree and only a few years of military experience.

Some military experience can count toward college credits but not all, and it doesn't replace a degree.   

Within the comments section of the article, Gogogto said:
Let's start by giving veterans preferential admission to all public universities. 

Agreed!  Why are public universities not greatly lowering the cost for a veteran's tuition?  Why are there not more distance classes offered through these public universities?  Why are most distance classes offered only through expensive private schools that rob veterans blind of their precious GI Bill funds?  Yes, there are some public universities that offer discounted rates but that's just not enough.  Most veterans need to work some hours to supplement income while they are in school.  I believe if there were more laws for public universities to offer better programs to veterans we could equip these former Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen with the education needed to succeed in the civilian job sector.  With college tuition higher than ever, it often feels impossible to enroll in college and work at the same time. 

It might be easy for mainstream civilians to say, "Well, just stay in the military and don't get out!  Get to that 20-year retirement."  Here's the problem with that:  The Navy is downsizing.  They are kicking people out left and right.  These are people serving honorably, top performers even.  Not every service member has a choice as to whether they are currently seeking employment.  Veterans with PTSD and other medical issues have an even greater stress on them as they battle through the system to get coverage for physical and emotional problems. 

I am not one of those people who feels personally entitled to the easy way out.  I'm not saying all veterans should be entitled to every benefit and grant money under the sun.  But let's prioritize the needs of veterans and their desire for a good education.  The GI Bill needs to be more easily accessible for military members while they are still serving so they can get a leg up before they transition out.  There is no easy answer for this problem.  It's going to take a lot of money (of which there is little) time (of which most people don't have a lot of) and cooperation on the veteran and civilian companies part to fix this. Sadly, the sacrifices don't always end with service and a lot of veterans are learning this the hard way.  Our nation's veterans deserve so much better.   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sharing With You: Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

Yesterday our USO and Triwest health care put on an amazing summer concert on base.  Best part of all, everything was free!  Free food and free activities for kids.  That's my kind of party. 

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band came to perform for us.  Gary Sinise plays bass in the band.  It was great!  Family-friendly, dance-worthy, very, very fun.  He is one of those actors you feel like you'd want to sit down and have a beer with. 

Anyway, here's the link to his website.  I am so grateful they came to perform for us!

Someone please tell me why we extended again?

Because I'd sure as heck rather be on shore duty in Japan again then getting ready for more sea time this summer!

I know, I know, the grass is always greener on the other side.  It's just really hard to see through all of this muck right now. 

This is a very stressful time for us.  We have upcoming Chief results, hopefully by the end of this month and we are always biting our nails in nervousness and anticipation.  This is Ahron's third time up for this promotion.  It's a big one for the Navy.  Being an E-7 and Chief Petty Officer completely changes his role in the Navy.  It's like the civilian equivalent of moving into a management position.  But it's a tough and competitive road to get there.  It starts with an exam in January, then a package submission in May.  The selection board usually convenes in June/July, followed by results and a 5-6 week induction of the new Chiefs in August and September. 

Also, the long commutes are really starting to wear on Ahron.  When we moved out here in 2008, we did so knowing that he would be out to sea more than in port.  He takes a vanpool to commute but it's just over 2 hours each way.  Which means he has to leave at 3:30am every morning and then doesn't walk in the door until 6pm. 

So yes, a very stressful time for him, and then trying to mesh that with all of me and the kid's summer plans isn't going so well.  I want him to be included and there for the kids but he's too exhausted to do anything.  It causes tension. 

Of course, we'll work through it, we always do.  I find it very interesting though that whenever we get ready for long periods of underway time, we fight in order to build respective walls around us.  Then it's easier when he leaves because silly emotions don't get in the way. Oh, the life of a Navy Wife.  

AT LEAST the sun is shining bright this week.