Birthday Bear


A day late, but I thought I posted it yesterday - technology is my friend, technology is my friend, technology is my friend.

Happy Birthday!  or is it better to say Happy Anniversary!  What a wild ride of a year.  If I'd have had any clue about how much I don't know about military life, I'd have bowed out when Andi asked me to come on board as an author!  Now I'm addicted - not just to have an opportunity to bond with other military spouses, but I've learned so much about military life of all sorts!

My husband and I have been married for 15 years and have three military brats!  As a military brat myself, I'd not have it any other way.  For the first 12 years of our marriage, I was a horrible military wife.  Well, not really - I was focused on other things. 

First three years of marriage we had two babies (obviously I was too focused on other things!?!?!), then our oldest was diagnosed with Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma - a rare pediatric cancer and given less than 5% chance of survival.  He had just turned 3.  I was in patient advocate stage from then on and being a military spouse took a back seat (with a small break for our youngest's birth - there I was getting 'distracted' again!).  Mike is turning 14 next Friday (Sept. 28) - our blessing given every day!   There's not a TriCare battle I haven't fought, not a medical resident I haven't offended (civilian and military), not a single day that I'm not incredibly grateful for the gift of my husband and my children.  I am the token Air Force spouse who can discuss some of the TriCare/medical issues. 

Three years ago, my son asked me to make adaptive clothing for the wounded troops recuperating at Walter Reed.  He was going through PT there following a limb lengthening surgery and noticed the troops only had hospital gowns or ill-fitting make-shirt 'stuff' to wear.  He knew they deserved better!  I'd made him some clothing while he was in an external fixator so he could get out of a hospital gown.  The clothing was a hit with the troops - much to my surprise - even though I sewed it!  With the help of my friend, Michele Cuppy, we started a non-profit organization, Sew Much Comfort, to provide adaptive clothing for the wounded troops.  In three years, it's grown from a handfull of women helping a few troops at Walter Reed to over 1,000 volunteers creating an entire wardrobe of adaptive clothing for wounded service members from the battlefield hospitals, through Landstuhl and to the military hospitals, VA medical facilities, wounded warrior barracks and home!  It's very humbling to walk into the distribution facility in Ohio everyday and see proof of America's support for the troops!  We've sent out almost 20,000 items so far this year!  What a powerful lesson to learn as a spouse - the love and generosity of the American people.

This experience has made me a much better military spouse.  I'm much more aware of the needs of others around me and feel empowered to act and make a difference.  I'm also more aware of the military community around me.  I'm sensitive to the effect of the news and press on the military families that I know and I see more and more of the impact of our spouses on the community at large.  I was never involved on base in spouses groups or the many volunteer organizations that work together to support the military at large.  I'm much more appreciative of their impact in other's lives and our military community.

I'm so humbled by the military spouses I've had the privilege of meeting this past year.  SpouseBUZZ Live, the original, was a powerful and moving experience for me.  I saw women of great backbone and substance.  Women, who were just barely out of high school, handling life coming at them at 180 MPH and doing so with dignity that I could only hope to muster in my 40's!  The country truly lacks in its appreciation of all you do, give and endure.  I salute all of you!

I am so proud to be a member of this community and I look forward to this next year with excitement of a college senior.  My husband is coming up on the decision about retirement - there's so much to do in a year and so much to learn.  I find myself motivated to do more and learn more.  Perhaps I'm playing catch up!?!?!

And what can I say about my fellow SpouseBUZZ authors?!?!  What an amazing group!  You teach me something new everyday.  Thanks for your patience as I learn the intricacies of the other services (who would have thought that FRG didn't always refer to Germany???).  Your stories have opened up new worlds for me and made me aware of so many avenues of being a military spouse that I never would have explored. Toad - thanks for the male perspective.  Little known, but much appreciated - especially since you bring with it so much humor.

Andi - you are a goddess to be revered by all!  What you have made of this is truly a virtual support group in any venue that technology has to offer.  I have so much respect and admiration for you!  Thank you for thinking of the needs of the military spouses!  What a gift and a blessing you have been for so many!

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