Ok, so you guys are all cracking me up with the whole Dear So and SO thing, so I thought I would give it a try...
Dear Thighs, Butt, and Waist,
Thank you for standing your ground and maintaining your dis-proportionate size, even though my precious little one is over a year old now. Its great fun to shop for pants and skirts when I'm carrying all this extra "junk in the trunk". Having my boobs shrink down to the size of kiwis post-nursing was an extra special touch.
Please refer to the above post. What have I ever done to you to make you treat me so bad? I buy you nice bras, wear supportive garments and take you to the doctor once a year. Yet lately, you seem to have made friends with my belly button. I will remember this.
Thank you for keeping my hubby at work late to discuss what color the water tower needs to be painted. I appreciate you drawing this to my attention, since I didn't even know there was a water tower on post. I'm sure the countless man hours spent deciphering between "fire engine red" and "Scarlet red" will pay off tremendously. I will personally attend the unveiling..if I can ever figure out where it is.
Wanting my husband back,
Dear Good Idea Fairy,
Whoever cleared you for duty in the Army is an idiot, yet you still keep showing up. I really loved your work with the automatic lights in the new offices on post. Having it go dark in the middle of the day is a riot. Its especially humorous to see grown men in uniform jumping up and down and waving their arms at the sensors. Oh, and closing the Commissary on Mondays was a great idea. Its so much more fun shopping for groceries on Tuesdays with 800 of my closest friends.
Wishing I could clip your wings,
Dear Ft Knox,
I want to personally commend you for staying small, crappy, and completely behind the times. I'm glad you stood your ground and decided not to listen to anyone who tried to warn you about the influx of 3000 troops moving to post. It makes me feel so much more grounded when I get to shop at the same PX that WWII families shopped.
Awaiting a new assignment,
Thursday, October 1, 2009
A couple of weeks ago while at a playgroup, the subject of universal health care came up (yes, our little ones are well versed in current events.) I commented that anyone who wants to know how universal health care will work should do a tour in the military. You just have to learn to work the system I said, but all in all I feel very blessed to have the coverage the military provides. Another army wife was sitting across from me and I could tell by her expression, that she had not had the same experience.
In fact, her experiences were less than satisfactory. And she was wondering why there was no class or introductions to Army life. Of course my first response was to point out Newcomers Orientation and AFTB classes. She had heard of neither. In fact, she hadn't heard of any of the programs I was talking about. Quickly I began to realize that she and I were not living in the same Army.
We've all met those wives who claim to know nothing about the Army, and want to keep it that way. But this wasn't the case. This wife was smart, outgoing, motivated, and very sociable; surely she would find it easy to become integrated into our bureaucratic lifestyle. So where's the disconnect? A few probing questions revealed the cause. Her husband was already in the army when they were married and his current job didn't link her to an FRG. Of course newcomers orientation is only offered to those in-processing a new post, and AFTB classes are usually discussed at FRG meetings and pre-deployment briefs. And so the list goes on...you name it, she had missed it, and through no fault of her own. As the old saying goes, you don't know, what you don't know.
Later that night as I was discussing the days events with hubby, I brought up the conversation with the other wife. I had been mulling it over in my head all afternoon and it was still bugging me. It seems there are a surprising amount of "new wives" caught up in this trend. And just five short years ago, I was one of them. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to trip head first into being FRG leader and a fantastic group of season army wives (Splinter Cell) who made me their pet project during the deployment. And I will forever be in debt to them for the education. They taught me more in fifteen months than a lot of wives get in fifteen years. Some wives aren't that lucky though, and so the disconnect goes on. Hashing it over with hubby I tried to brainstorm ways it could be fixed- maybe MWR could send out letters to all spouses once a year explaining the various programs available? Hubby was quick to point out that MWR operates individually according to the installation that they're on. Alas, it seems my ideas are just too simple for the bureaucracy of the Army.
A week later I was filling out on-post vendor paperwork for a home based business I run, when I came across a regulation stating that I must first obtain a "Commercial Solicitation Permit." I phoned the point of contact for clarification; since I don't actually sell products on post, only take orders and deliver later, I was wondering if such rules applied to me? It turns out that they do, and its an Army wide regulation! However, none of the other posts we've ever been on have required such a permit- or did they? A quick poll of other wives revealed that yes, I should have had a permit, but since I didn't live on post I was never told to get one, and the organizations I was a part of were not following the regs. Therefore, I never knew. As I sat in the office at MWR filling out paperwork for this mysterious permit (which included questions like "City of Birth" and "Mother's Maiden Name") I realized how daunting this must all be to a brand new Army Wife. Here we are five years later, and I'm still wading through it. Imagine my surprise when the lady from MWR returned from her office with a fifty page regulation stating what you cannot do as a solicitor on post. Can't you just tell me what I CAN do, I asked? She then disappeared into her office to create my permit and I couldn't help but giggle as I heard the antiquated "click" "click" "click" of a typewriter. Only in the Army, I thought.
Later that same day I returned home to check the mail and I was reminded once again just how complicated our army life can get. I was met by a rather peculiar looking post card, addressed to me with a return address of Ireland Army Community Hospital. Curious, I flipped it over. There in black and white was a gigantic, albeit, rather happy looking, cartoon sunshine. The message simply read "Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ireland Army Community Hospital". I was puzzled. I thought maybe it opened further, but after much frustration I confirmed that it was just a postcard. Thinking perhaps part of it had been lost in the mail, I phoned the OBGYN clinic to inquire about this jolly sunshine in my mailbox. I explained to the secretary my dilemma and she casually gave me my answer. It seems that all was well with my annual exam, and since the hospital is not allowed to disperse medical records, they send out a postcard. Never mind that my exam was done in Family Practice, or that I had already received my results via the traditional letter. I guess I was supposed to derive from the smiling postcard that my health was still intact. Which of course, begs the question- what do they send out if your results are negative? Bureaucracy gone wild. I did notice, however, that the sunshine appeared a little bloated. I thought that was a nice touch.
New or seasoned, young or old, love it or loathe it, no wife is exempted from the crazy, random red tape of Army life. But some wives seem to fair better than others. There comes a point when we have to stop blaming the FRG or the Commander, or even the giant sloth known as the Army. There comes a time when we simply have to start taking care of our own. Maybe that means taking that new wife for a tour around post, or just being there when she needs to vent about the arrows on the commissary floor. Maybe it's picking her up for that Coffee or Frg meeting so she doesn't walk in alone, or going with her to AFTB classes- after all, there is not a one among us who couldn't use a refresher. Sometimes though, it's just remembering what it's like to be that new wife, navigating the bureaucracy of what seems like an impossibly huge Army, and offering your shoulder and your expertise. I'm so glad someone did it for me.