Life is a million small moments 

“I graduated high school in 1968 and I went into the military in 1969. My great grandfather served in Company D of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. My grandfather served on a destroyer in World War I, and my father landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. I was only 19 years old when I decided to enlist, but I wanted to follow in the family tradition. On March 21, 1969 I got a phone call asking me if I could leave that afternoon. I called my mom and she freaked out, but my dad was very proud, and very excited for me.

“I went to Lackland Air Force Base first, and then on to Biloxi, and then deployed to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for 13 months. 10 of those months I spent TDY. When I got to Clark, they needed radio operators in Vietnam, so I raised my hand. I looked at it this way: It was my first time away from home. It was a chance to make my own life and do something for the country. I knew what war was. I knew you could get killed, but you don’t go thinking that. You go to do your job and to protect your comrades. I did what they told me they wanted me to do.

“I left Vietnam and was sent to South Dakota. It was too cold there, so I went back to Vietnam, with the 20th Tactical Air Support in Danang. In about November of 1971, some of the guys and I visited a Vietnamese orphanage. I asked my mom to send me something that would brighten the kids’ day. She sent me 100 yo-yos. We got mobbed by those kids, so she sent me 100 more. It was a war-torn country, but they were still humans. They still had needs. But I grew up in a home that taught us love. Even in war there is dignity. There is compassion. There is so much pain and despair and misery too, but we wanted to do something small to brighten it.

“I got back from Vietnam and was working in New York at a secure building. One day, there was a woman there and she had no way to get in the building. I asked her if I could escort her. That night, I saw her again across the street. I walked over and said, ‘I’m going to a movie, would you like to go?’ That was back when a picture was only a quarter. She said yes, and now it’s 44 years, 7 kids, 25 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild later.

“I retired in March 1992 from the Air Force and started at the Pennsylvania Police Academy in May. I retired in 2012 as a Law Enforcement Park Ranger. I like to say I arrested bears. I learned so many things from my time in the military and as a police officer. I polished my shoes every day. I learned total quality management and the need for integrity. I learned that trust is everything. But the most important lesson I learned was on March 16, 2007.

“I was driving home from the VA Medical Center to see if I had prostate cancer from Agent Orange. It started to snow and I started to slide. I slowed way down, but it was like a sheet in front of me. I never saw the other car until I hit it. I got out and walked around the vehicle to assess the damage, and saw a young lady on the pavement. I was a police officer at the time. I started CPR right away and I still remember her husband screaming, and seeing the baby in the car. Both of them were uninjured, but the woman was unconscious for 45 minutes until the ambulance could get there. She lived a week. I had 5 broken ribs and a ruptured spleen, but I hadn’t felt a thing.

“In March 2017, her family had a 10 year anniversary of her passing. I went, and they all hugged me. Her mom said to me, ‘You know, it was not your fault. I’m not blaming her for not wearing her seatbelt, and I’m sure not blaming you. Accidents happen everyday.’

“I’ve learned that you make your own choices but you have to own your consequences. I’ve learned that life is made up of a million small moments. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, so we have to do as much as we can today. The military was the greatest thing I ever did. I made lifelong friends in the process. And while I’m not the most important person in the world, I sure can do my part to make a difference in it. We all can.”

Focus on the hello

I was feeling nostalgic today as it was one year ago that my husband returned from his fourth deployment. A few weeks ago, he came home from work, sat down at the kitchen table, and said, ‘I need to tell you something.’ He didn’t have to… I could see it on his face. Another deployment is on the horizon. But instead of focusing on the looming goodbye, I look at this picture and remember the hello.

At the time, I wrote: These are the moments that get you through the sleepless nights, the long days, the lonely holidays. It’s the dress whites, the pomp, the circumstance, the first kiss in almost a year— these are the moments you cherish as a military wife. Welcome home my love!!!

He is my hardest goodbye and my favorite hello. Here’s to the military spouses — may we always focus on the hello. 

💓 – T. T. 

Picture credit: the incredible Dyan Witt Photography

From Air Force brat to Airman’s wife

“I grew up as an Air Force brat. My dad, MSgt Chavez was active duty Air Force for 22 years, finally retiring in New Mexico in 2010. I was in college and working at the base Child Development Center when a coworker introduced me to her husband’s friend, and I instantly fell in love with him.  

“I appreciate the military life and how everyone around you becomes family. It is hard picking up and moving every few years, but having the opportunity to see places and meet people is truly a blessing. I am so proud to be a former Air Force Brat and now an Airman’s wife. It takes a truly great man to protect, honor, love and cherish his wife and children at home and 1,000 miles away. I will forever be grateful and proud of my SSgt Adams, my husband!”

My home is everywhere 

“I have long feared my daughters will be permanently scarred from a lifetime of impermanence. My middle one had to write about her hometown at school. This is what she wrote and I couldn’t be prouder. Military brats are amazing!”

Where I’m from
By S. Stobie

I am from the fort by the creek,
from Old Bay and Carvels.
I am from a tall brick home that faces the woods
Pretty and brand new
It felt like home
I am from the woods and the creek
From the tall trees that hid the ever flowing creek surrounded by frogs
I am from the birthday mornings and cross country road trips
From James and Kelly and Marie
I’m from movie quotes and the best cake in the neighborhood

I’m from Santa is real and Have fun storming the castle
I’m from Church on Sundays and a pink crystal rosary
I’m from New England
I’m from tacos and pizza
I’m from the car ride in a post office jeep that had no seatbelts
From the ambition and courage
I am from brains, brawn, athleticism, courage, extraordinary, and persistence.
I am from my home and my home is everywhere.

I’m proud of being a BRAT

“My dad joined the Army in 2003. I’m 15 years old, so he’s been in as long as I can remember. I’m in my 12th school. Moving isn’t always easy, but I like to look at it as an adventure. There are so many things you can’t control as a military brat, but you can always determine your own attitude.

“When I had to come up with a school project, I decided to make stickers of different Army bases for military kids to show where they’d been. I wanted to turn all of the moves and new schools into something fun, and something kids could get excited about. At first, it was just a project, but the more and more I got asked about them, I decided to turn it into a business. Now, my ‘Brat Stamps’ is an online business and I’m proud to be an entrepreneur. I’m working on featuring more than just Army bases, too. It’s been a lot of work, but my mom has encouraged me so much. I’ve learned a lot about business and patience. Owning a business takes a lot of dedication and persistence.

“When I think about all of the amazing things we have been able to do because my dad is a soldier, I’m really proud. We lived in Germany and traveled all over Europe. We drove from Alaska to Florida. How many kids get to do that? Being able to have these adventures, and then, being able to showcase them with Brat Stamps has been really rewarding. I love seeing what kids and adults do with them. They put them on their water bottles, notebooks, computers and skateboards; it’s awesome!

“Being a military brat isn’t always easy. The deployments and goodbyes and moves are hard, but we are resilient. I like to think that Brat stands for Brave, Resilient, Adventurous, Traveler. Because we really are all of those things. And with Brat Stamps, we can proudly display it.”

Order your Brat Stamps today at http://www.bratstamps.com

I wanted a job with purpose


“I grew up in the Appalachia area of East Tennessee. I joined the Navy as an Intelligence Officer because I wanted a job with meaning and purpose. I wanted to dedicate myself to helping make the world a better, more secure place for so many global communities faced with instability, while also serving my own country by helping to keep my fellow service members safe. I feel like I have been living out of a suitcase for the past 9 years and, while it is exciting getting to travel so much, it can be really hard. It has taught me to truly savor the precious moments that I have with the people I love.

“Before I moved to Guam, a Navy pilot, Michael, acquired my email address through his squadron and sent me a message asking if I wanted to be his roommate. Truthfully at first, I thought it was so peculiar that a strange guy would email me and ask to be my roommate. However, once I moved to Guam, I realized that it is completely normal for HSC-25 officers to live together due to expensive rent. Michael and I coincidentally happened to be the two single officers in need of roommates at the time, so I acquiesced and moved in with him mostly just so I could afford to live in a nice place in Guam. After a few weeks of being roommates, we became best friends. I don’t think there was a specific moment that I knew he was the one, rather it was a beautiful evolution of getting to discover what an extraordinary person he is and over time realizing that I couldn’t imagine growing old with anyone else or finding anyone else who loves me as fiercely and completely as he does. I am so blessed to be married to my best friend. 

“I am currently working at Goldman Sachs in New York City in Investment Banking. I am going to Harvard Business School full-time starting in August. My long-term career goal sometime post-Harvard is to start a small-business consulting firm to embolden entrepreneurs in underserved, post-conflict communities as a way to empower war-torn areas to overcome extreme poverty and rebuild their lives.

“I tend to measure my success in life by the people in my life, so I have to say that the most rewarding part of my military career has been the relationships that I have formed over the years. I have made some of my greatest friends while serving and I have also had a unique opportunity to forge relationships with so many people from foreign countries. I am a better person today and even more inspired to want to make a positive difference in this world thanks to the incredible people who have touched my life throughout my career.”