Never Loose Touch!

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Being in the Army can be extremely bitter at times, but as we all know, God always gives us sugar to go with our vinegar. (I love that saying!) I know sometimes I complain or even wish I never joined, but looking at the bigger picture, I am ultimately happy and grateful that I did. I wouldn’t be the woman who I am today if it wasn’t for certain experiences that took place.

I am also grateful for the friends that I have made over the years. My military family has a bond like no other. No one will ever understand what we went through. I love the friends I have made over the years in the Army. In the hardest of times, when I had no family around, they were there for me. To share secrets and make me laugh when there was absolutely nothing to laugh about. It is very easy to make friends overseas, then loose touch when you return home.

Here are some tips to help keep touch with friends you may not see or talk to often:

  • Make sure you guys are connected through social media! I’m friends with all of my Army buddies on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Even the one’s I may only talk to once a year, it is still nice to be able to keep up with their life from a distance.
  • Take the time to go on outings. All of my Army friends in Cleveland and I always make time at least once a month to get together for dinner, or drinks. We are all very busy living very different lives, but we take that one day out of the month to catch up!
  • Use group messaging! I have a designated group message thread for my Army friends and I to be able to contact each other whenever we please. Even if I don’t participate, I can still scroll through the messages and see what’s going on.

I know everyone has things to do and life can get pretty complicated. In the midst of life’s journey,  make sure you make time to nurture your friendships.

The Big Transition: From Army to Civilian Life

After being in the army and being on active duty for so long, it is very easy to loose sight of what’s happening in your world back home with your family, friends and work. At the time of duty, you can’t really worry about what’s going on back home, even though your mind tends to wonder. There are many things that you can do to calmly adjust to life back home, but I will describe some things that helped me.

http://www.healthnative.com/is-junk-food-healthy.html

Food!!

Beware of food– When you come back to the states, you will be ready to eat all the good food you can. You have to remember that your body is not used to that kind of food anymore. Since I’m a fat girl at heart, I came back ready to eat everything in sight! Every little thing I ate meddled with my stomach. It was not a good situation. You must take it slow in order to train your body to get back where it was before you left. Where it was able to really process the fatty, greasy foods we all like to partake in from time to time. 

 

Watch your temper– I don’t know about anyone else, but for some reason, when I returned from deployment, I had a very short fuse. I found myself snapping on people left and right for small, petty things. I had to reevaluate many things and take a chill pill.  Make sure you watch your temper. No one likes anyone who is mean for no reason.

Appreciation– Never forget who was there for you all that time you were away. Who sent you cards and letters? Who skyped and emailed you? Who was genuinely worried about your safety? Do NOT take those people for granted and really make sure you show your appreciation when you return home. Keep them close, because those are the people who REALLY care about you. It’s such a blessing to have people like that in your life.

The day I returned home. My whole family surprised me with a celebration!

The day I returned home. My whole family surprised me with a celebration! For more advice on showing appreciation, click here!

Take advantage of life– When you return, even the simplest of things will make you so grateful. The green grass, the fresh air, driving in your car, and most of all clean water! Little things that once meant so little,will mean so much to you. Once you get used to being home, you need to still be just as grateful. Never loosing sight of the situation you were in and how it was when you were away. I still think about Afghanistan and how less fortunate they are. It is a blessing to be born in such a flourishing country.

School/Career-Getting back into school was extremely hard for me. After taking 3 semesters off, it was definitely a challenge for me to get back in the groove of things. I felt like all my classmates were more advanced than I was and I had to play “catch-up”. Although I didn’t have a career to come back to, I do know that it is hard getting back into the swing of things and attempting to be just as good as you were before without feeling like you’ve lost touch. For more information and tips about how to get yourself ready to go back to school, click here. 

When I tell people that I deployed, they always look at me in amazement and can’t believe it. It is a great honor and something I am and will be proud of for the rest of my life, but in reality, looking back, I was just doing what I was told. Doing what I had to in order to survive and not loose my sanity.

 

How To Remain Feminine In A Gritty Environment

Me overseas. Protecting my face!

Me overseas. Protecting my face!

In the military, male and female soldiers are to be treated as equals. There is no separation of the two. We are all simply considered “soldiers”. When on a deployment, us females can sometimes loose our sense of feeling feminine or girlish, forgetting what it feels like to truly be a woman. Not being able to showcase our personal expressions of style and beauty can be detrimental to our self-confidence. It is hard to wear that baggy, army green uniform from day to day and not loose any confidence in your appearance or yourself in general.

There are little things you can definitely do to make a difference when it comes to fulfilling the desire to feel like a woman again. I’m going to share five tips that helped me get through the struggle and not loose my “female touch”.

1. Smell good! Use your favorite scented soaps, lotions and body sprays. It’s always makes me feel better when I smell great! So smell nice and keep yourself up. Make sure you moisturize your skin daily so your skin remains soft to the touch. It kind of boosts you confidence a bit and makes you feel more fresh, clean and feminine.

2. Hair! Attempt to keep your hair up. Even though there is no one to look good for, look good for yourself. Just because you can! Try to keep your hair nice and neat . Maybe you can try a nice different bun style or a cute short bob cut, although we are limited to what we can do, within Army regulations. Sometimes, on your down time, unwrap that stiff, pulled back bun and let your hair down! Feel free!

Let Your Hair Down!

Let Your Hair Down!

3. Use makeup! Female soldiers are allowed to wear natural looking makeup. So wake up a little earlier everyday just to put on a little makeup to enhance your natural beauty. Maybe a little eye liner, blush and even a some lip-gloss! It will be a sure way to boost your confidence and make you feel beautiful just because.

Wearing Natural Looking Makeup during Training.

Wearing Natural Looking Makeup during Training.

4. Stay positive! Try to maintain a positive attitude! It will for sure shine through and show in your physical appearance. It will also make you feel better about life in general, as far as the situation and environment you are in. A beautiful personality will always shine through, no matter what the circumstance. So try smiling a little more and laughing often.

5. Fashion Magazines. Overseas, they sell some actual U.S. fashion magazines. You can buy the one’s provided or you can have a friend or family member send you some magazines of your personal choice. Browsing through magazines and looking at the exciting fashion and makeup tips may help remind you that this is a temporary situation, and soon you will be home and be able to wear what you want and look just as fashionable and cute as the people in the magazines! You can also snapshot of cutout the things you would like to try when you return home. This may help give you some hope and ease that better days are coming.

These tips are all things I did while I was deployed and they definitely kept me grounded as far as feeling like a woman. Hopefully these can help any female that is in an environment where it is a challenge to be feminine. If you have any other interesting ideas, please feel free to leave some suggestions below! And always remember, It feels good to look great!

What’s It Like?

When you think of a military deployment, what comes to mind? What you see on TV and in the movies? The desert? Extreme warm temperatures year-round? Well it’s quite the contrary. As most of you already know, I deployed to Afghanistan, which is in Southwest Asia.

Me and some battle buddies in Afghanistan.

Me and some battle buddies in Afghanistan.

I was there for about eight months total. There were many presumptions I had about the country before I went over. I’m going to share some interesting elements from my experience! Here’s a list of some things below. Enjoy!

•Hard water
We were strongly advised to use bottled water to brush our teeth. We were told that even though the water was okay for us to bathe in, it shouldn’t have any contact with the inside of our body. I thought this was weird! How can I use this water on my whole body, but I cant even brush my teeth with it. Like what kind of water is this? Some females even washed their hair with it to prevent breakage. Imagine trying to wash your hair with bottled water, a struggle right? So, for eight months, I used bottled water to brush my teeth. I got so used to it I even continued to do so when I came back to the states. It actually took me a while to break the habit.

•Using portable toilets daily
The only somewhat regular toilets that were over there were inside the shower trailers and the shower trailers were located about 20 footsteps away from out tents. Of course we weren’t always around our tents so there was an extreme frequent use of portable toilets. Most people hate using “Port-O-Potty’s”, including myself! But, eventually you got used to it, especially not really having a choice at the given time.

•Same seasons! Just to the extreme
Surprisingly, Afghanistan has the same seasons we do! The only thing is, there weather is extreme. When it’s hot, it’s scorching!! I’m talking above 100 degrees daily. And when it’s cold, it’s below freezing. It also snows there as well.

•The Bazaar
On our base, the Afghan people were allowed to come in and sell their merchandise and electronics. There was a designated open area where they were allowed to set up shop. This was called the bazaar. Many soldiers went there to shop if they had a little free time. They sold all types of things! Rugs, hookahs, movies (bootleg movies that is), clothing, food and even electronics. They even had a shop where they could fix phones! Now of course nothing is fully “legit”, but for the time being that was the closest thing we had to a mall. It was fun just to go with my friends, browse, and talk to the people who would beg you to buy their stuff. They even have an online Bazaar, with many traditional fashions, if your curious, check it out here.

•Cell Phones
There were actual cell phones you could buy over there! Of course they weren’t iPhones or anything high tech, but they got the job done (most of the time). You’d just buy the minutes, then you could text or talk to anyone you wanted. Although, using them to call back home used up triple the minutes. So I used mine to communicate with all my army friends who were over there.

Some of these things, some people may have already knew, but for those who had no clue, it is my pleasure to enlighten you! Please comment below and share what you knew and what you didn’t know! Was any of this surprising at all? Let me know below!

Army > School

Ever see the commercials for the Ohio Army National Guard (OANG)? If not, take a look here.
The media portrays the OANG and the regular Army as being extremely supportive of the non-military career goals that soldiers may have.

Although this may be true, in some circumstances, it does not always seem that way. The media highlights the education benefits, the Ohio National Guard Scholarship (100% paid tuition), as the number one benefit that soldiers can receive, which I agree with. Every soldier should take advantage of the free education provided. If a soldier is enlisted in the National Guard and has not take advantage of the FREE TUITION, then there’s a problem (in my opinion), or they just have different priorities. But regardless of their priorities, it’s FREE so why not?

Some join because they feel it is their duty to serve, others(like me), use the military as a stepping-stone to get where they want to be in life. To gain experience and have a solid accomplishment under their belt while working towards other goals. There are many things that are portrayed in commercials and by recruiters that are indeed true. Then there are some specific things that they leave for soldiers to find out on their own.

bcimage Photo cred: https://www.bc.edu/content/bc/schools/csom/graduate/news/2011/Military.html

What They Don’t Tell You:

• Army comes first! When you sign that dotted line, from that point on it is expected that the Army is your 1st priority, not your education. They figure since they’re paying for your education, your education is secondary.

• It may take you longer to finish your education because at any time, your schooling can be disrupted for any military duty. This piggy backs off of the Army being the #1 priority. You just have to deal with it.

These two things are important to understand because your life will not be according to any set plan you may have had. When being in the OANG (or the military in general) you need to be prepared for things to happen very unexpectedly. Training, classes and deployment will occasionally pop up randomly and are rarely planned. Being able to easily adapt to any situation and rolling with the punches is one of the very first things you will learn to do.

I came to Kent State in 2007. I joined the OANG my sophomore year. Since then, I have had to take three semsters off for military related reasons(basic training, deployment, etc). I am grateful that I have free tuition, but I really wish I had thought things through. I was very upset when I had to deploy without finishing school, especially when I only had a year left! I kept thinking about everything that I could have accomplished if I was able to finish school before I left. So many thoughts were running through my head about ‘what could have been’ or ‘if I could’ve graduated before’.

The OANG does have other benefits that are wonderful as well (i.e. Healthcare, dental and school loan repayment).The free tuition isn’t the ONLY reason I joined, but is one of the main ones. But for those who think you can join and go straight through school without any interruptions, think again! It’s not that simple.

A Little Piece of Home

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/193303008980351530/

Cool care package!

What is a care package?

A care package is a package that you send a soldier who is serving overseas or on a deployment. It can consist of anything you want to send except for alcohol, drugs and drug paraphernalia. (Although we all know that people do it anyways.)

Why you should send Care packages.

If you have a family member, or maybe a good friend who is on a deployment, you can’t begin to even wonder what they go through emotionally, physically and psychologically. We get no mental breaks over there. Everything is stressful and intense. Us soldiers need to know that we are not forgotten and that we’re appreciated, because in the midst of warfare, we sometimes forget. There is no better feeling than receiving a package from your friends and loved ones. Especially when they are full of surprises!

Care packages make us soldiers feel loved and missed. It gives us a sense of home and reminds us that we won’t be gone forever and will be home soon. It reminds us that these hard times are temporary, all while giving us something to look forward to. It may not seem like it, but it’s kind of a big deal when soldiers get care packages with things that definitely are not available overseas. Even the simplest of things make us happy.

Top 5 things to send in a care package:

1. Junk food- Send us snacks, snacks and more snacks! We don’t have the luxury of having certain types of chips and candy. They’re our simple guilty pleasures!

2. Toiletries- Send us soaps and lotions that will keep our skin moisturized and healthy. The water overseas is extremely hard and rough on our skin. We had to use bottled water to brush our teeth for God sakes! Especially for females. We don’t have the luxury of pampering ourselves daily and being able to buy our favorite brands (i.e. Dove, Nivea, Olay- Just to name a few of mine).

3. Books/ Mags- We like to read when we have a little down time (or at least I do). Many people I know read a lot of good books while overseas. We even had one book that us girls passed around. It was called Think Like A Man. I’m more so of a magazine type of girl. Reading magazines such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan made me feel like I was in touch with the “real world”. The fashion and makeup made me feel feminine again.

4. Cards- Send nice cards to your loved ones. We appreciate the small but special efforts such as “I Miss You” or “I Love You” cards. It’s something we can hang up, put on display in our tent and share with our battle buddies.

5. Pictures- We love keeping up with home! The Internet is definitely not a reliable source for us to see our families and friends. It’s always so darn unpredictable! It’s really nice to have pictures we can hang up to remind us of our loved ones every morning when we wake up.

I really hope you guys enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear about your fun care package ideas! Check out more interesting ideas

The Beginning

The Swear In!

At first, I really had no knowledge of what the Army was all about, but only the benefits I would receive: 100 percent free tuition, school loan repayment and good base pay. I assumed I would be doing everything stateside, sticking to small tasks and missions around the US. I knew in the back of my mind that there could be a small possibility of me deploying, but I had no clue about the journey that was in store for me. I had no clue that there in fact was a big chance of me deploying, every 2-3 years, nor did I know how things were operated. If I knew then what I know now, I’m not exactly sure I would have made the same courageous decision back then.

The main reason why I considered going to talk to a recruiter is because a friend of mine had joined. She came back from boot camp (basic training) ranting and raving about her experience she had, and most of all, the money she received.
They don’t do this anymore but back then, when you signed a contract with the Ohio Army National Guard, you received a bonus of $20,000 after you completed your initial training (boot camp and job training).

As you can imagine, at the age of 19 (and being so naïve), this sounded pretty amazing. It didn’t sound like a bad deal at the time? Of course I wanted the money, who wouldn’t? Of course I didn’t mind leaving for a couple months to workout everyday and come back fit as ever! So at that moment, things sounded so good I decided to talk to a recruiter.

I talked to a recruiter and she basically told me some of the same things my friend did. All of the “good” stuff. She explained how the process of me signing my contract would go and some details about selecting my job that I wanted to train for. I took a supply job. It sounded pretty cool and not to hard, nothing I couldn’t handle.

I signed my contract with the National Guard on January 9, 2009. My contract was for six years (That’s how long you had to sign up for to receive the bonus money). So I did it! I signed my life away! After I was officially sworn in, I was required to attend training one weekend a month. It was for soldiers who have not yet been through boot camp. For those weekends, we performed drills, took classes and worked out immensely to get us prepared for the real thing.

I immediately had a rough start. I was scheduled for boot camp at the end of May. My grandmother, who was one of my best friends, died in the middle of May. I had to leave a day after the funeral. It was hard for me to leave with that on my brain, but it gave me strength. The strength to keep pushing no matter how hard things got. I then knew I was ready. I knew I could do it.