‘Farewell’ Post

Red, White, and Feeling Blue was an assignment for my Online Journalism course at Rowan University.  However, I don’t plan on ending the blog here.  I have grown to enjoy researching, writing, meeting new people, and receiving feedback.  If you have been following my blog, and been somewhat quiet, I ask you to please reach out (on my ‘About’ page or just in a comment) and please tell me what you enjoy, what you didn’t enjoy, and what you’d like to see more of from me.

Here are what I feel are my best five posts:

Thank you for following, reading, and liking! Feedback like I said, is very much appreciated.

-Gina

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A salute to Military spouses, featuring Alecia Laudisio

With the holidays approaching, and my Dad (literally) on his way home for two weeks I can’t help but feel a pit in my stomach for all the other people who don’t get their loved one home over the holiday (my Dad is using an R&R to visit home for the holidays).  Through this blog I have been exposed to an entire community that I knew existed but never saw myself being a part of.  I am not a military spouse, just a daughter dealing with a year long civilian deployment of my Father.  However, between the blog and the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared, I know that I am more patriotic than ever and somehow feel connected within a community.

My Military Infographic post was probably one of my favorites, so I’ve decided to recreate it to salute Military spouses.  I’ve also interviewed a great girl, Alecia who is struggling to deal with her boyfriend’s absence, and included some of my favorite pieces of advice from the wonderful ladies I follow and share with you on my blogroll.

Here’s a run down of my favorite Military spouse facts:

Infographic-Miitary Spouses

Infographic-Miitary Spouses

  •  80% of Military Wives are under the age of 35.  The average female age of marriage in the U.S. is 27, in 2011.
  • 5% of Military spouses are men.  I love this stat so much.  So many times Military spouses are assumed to be women, I just love that there’s a percentage of strong men who are supportive and proud of their wives and the career path they chose for themselves.
  • 3,000+ Military spouses have been widowed since the beginning of the War on Terror in 2001.
  • 85% of Military spouses want/need to work, 26% of them are unemployed.  This seems to be the biggest issue in Military spouses.  Due to frequent moving, too many obligations with children, and the employer having a larger interest in the soon to be home serviceman or woman, it is very difficult for Military spouses to find work.
  • Military families move over state lines 2.4 more times than the average American family, that’s two to three times a year.
  • 56% of active duty members are currently married.
  • 900,000 children across America have experienced the deployment of either one, or both parents, multiple times.
  • In 2011, the divorce rate of all Services’ peaked at only a little over 3.5%, which means Military divorces make up 0.0175%  out of the 50% divorce rate in America.

 

 

 

  • My first recommended blog, and post for that matter is Deployment Divas, Jessica Aycock reviews here her best possible way to coach fellow Military spouses through deployment.
DeploymentDivas.com

DeploymentDivas.com

  • The next blog is Daily Dwelling.  Monica’s entire blog is resourceful, helpful, and great advice.
DailyDwelling.com

DailyDwelling.com

  • The last blog I’m going to share is Real Warriors.  This blog will remind you that no matter the pain your feeling about missing someone you love, what they’re doing is much bigger than how you’re feeling.  It’s truly a great blog to learn about great stories and ways to help active duty members and vets.
Real Warriors

RealWarriors.net

 

Nick Turdo opens up about having a Father in Afghanistan

Since I’ve started this blog I’ve been very open about how I feel about my fathers absence in the last 5 months.  For this post I thought I’d ask someone who was raised in the same house, the same way, and is dealing with similar emotions for the same person.  My brother, Nick, agreed to sit for an interview to speak on the situation from a much different vantage point.  Though the answers are what you’d expect, they mean much more giving that emotions don’t flow as freely from this Turdo.

Philadelphia Eagles: Salute to Service

Throughout November, the NFL honors Veterans Day with 32 ‘salute to service’ games across the league.  For every point scored during one of these games the NFL donates $100 to the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO, and the Wounded Warrior Project.  The league donated around $800,000 during it’s first year of the program last year.

On November 17th, I was in attendance for the Philadelphia Eagles’ Salute to Service game agains the Washington Redskins.

Me standing with an actual U.S. Army Jeep on the main level of Lincoln Financial Field

Me standing with an actual U.S. Army Jeep on the main level of Lincoln Financial Field

The game began with five military members leading the team onto the field while holding their branch’s flag.  The national Anthem was sung by Generald Wilson, a retired Navy officer.  The Marines Silent Drill Platoon put on an amazing half time show, along with many recognitions and dedications throughout the game.

The Salute to Service was shown at breaks in every play.

The Salute to Service was shown at breaks in every play.

The Marines Silent Drill Platoon during their halftime show.

The Marines Silent Drill Platoon during their halftime show.

Philadelphia is known for their tough and passionate fans, this event was special to me for obvious reasons; yet it touched me due to the amount of respect that was shown for those being honored on this day.  No matter the circumstance, American’s are always proud and grateful for everything our Service women and men do for us.  It was amazing to see a city come together and appreciate what our country has.

The Eagles beat the Redskins 24-16, putting the donations just above $4,000.

 

SportsCenter Veteran’s Day Montage

With Veteran’s Day landing on a Monday, and me stuck at work behind a bar for 11 hours, there wasn’t much celebrating, or posting I could do.  It was around noon that I switched all the TV’s to ESPN’s daily broadcast of SportsCenter.  As the topics switched on the status bar on the left, I saw a topic I knew would be hitting me hard quickly approaching.  It was entitled “Coming Home”, a video montage of everything that makes me cry; sports, dads, homecomings, and little girls.

My first care package

I decided with Halloween just leaving us, and Thanksgiving right around the corner it’s about time I sent my Dad a care package.  I decided to mix the holidays together, with the understanding that it will probably not get to him until after Thanksgiving.

I first decided that with Halloween in mind, sending him a bag of his favorite candy was a must, even though he told me not to.  Along with candy I decided a Philadelphia favorite snack to remind him a bit of home.  I also got him a box of Cliff bars in his favorite flavor, just to even out the junk food.

Dad candy

cliff

Growing up my dad always had a stack of National Geographic magazines, although I know he prefers Business Week it’s a little hard to send a weekly magazine when you know it’ll be almost 2 months out of date by the time it gets there.  National Geographic is something I know he’ll enjoy.

natl

Lately I’ve been hearing from my dad how cold it’s gotten in Northern Afghanistan, about 50°, the same as our classic New Jersey fall.  I went to Target and picked up what I found to be a comfortable, yet sporty jacket that I know will keep him warm while away and when he comes home.  It’s a Champion jacket with a fleece inner-layer, cost around $40.00 and is great if you’re looking to send your loved one a sporty light jacket while he’s away.

jacket

I sent my dad two cards, one for Halloween and one for Thanksgiving, each describing in their own themed way how much I miss him during these times.  Fall in New Jersey is my favorite time of year, and more than ever I wish he was here to enjoy it with me.

" Wish there were a magic spell that let us travel in one simple instant poof

” Wish there were a magic spell that let us travel in one simple instant poof

halloween inside

“Then i could wish you a Happy Halloween in person. Thinking of you from across the miles..”

thanksgiving front

“Thanksgiving means..autumn skies, crisp clean air, bright leaves falling here and there, Pies are baking, meals prepared, warmth and hugs and laughter shared.”

thanksgiving inside

“But all those good things can’t replace just being with you face to face-And even though we’re far apart, please know you’re always close in heart!”
–“Dad, This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for you. I am grateful and proud of what you’re doing. I am grateful for the chance to speak to you as often as I can, and for your safe return home. Above all I’m grateful I have such a great Dad who I can call my friend. Love you, See you soon 🙂 Gina”

Last but not least, I had to include a couple of pictures.  My dad missed out on a family wedding in October, and although he saw all the pictures through Facebook, I included a few in the package.

cousins

My brother, myself, my cousins Kristen, Noelle, and Michael

nick and i

My brother Nick and I

I’m hoping my package reaches my Dad and touches his heart.  All of the things included were chosen to make him smile and look forward for his short return on December 20th.

all things

All care package items

Inside box

Items placed in box right before taping!

Maria Brasco shares her experience as a Marine Girlfriend

This week I sat down with Rowan student, Maria Brasco to speak to her on her experience as a Marine Girlfriend.  Maria is 21 and missing her boyfriend, Taj who is currently serving his final deployment as a Marine in Japan.  Maria shared with me the hardships of being away from the person you love, the obstacles they face as a couple, and what helps them going.

Maria and Taj Facetiming via iPhones to keep in touch

Maria and Taj Facetiming via iPhones to keep in touch

Maria Brasco, Rowan Student.

Maria Brasco, Rowan Student.

Maria sending Taj off in South Carolina

Maria sending Taj off in North Carolina

Taj's gift to Maria while deployed in Japan, a Alex and Ani USMC bracelet

Taj’s gift to Maria while deployed in Japan, a Alex and Ani USMC bracelet

Military Support Group of New Jersey

On Thursday October 10, I attended a support group in Blackwood, NJ for family members with loved ones away, veterans, and supporters.  When I walked into the American Legion Stetser-Lamartine Post 281 in Blackwood, NJ, I had no idea what I was about to encounter.

The Military Support Group of NJ is an organization that is ran by Rowan Alumn Karen Jennings, a Marine Mom that withstood the heartache of her son serving 3 times overseas with little communication each time.  She felt alone, and knew there were others that felt the same.  She decided to pour her heart and soul into the organization, making it what it is today.

Upon her arrival, Karen was bombarded with gift baskets, packaged goods, canned food, and toiletries all to be organized and sent off to their respective bases to go out to the men who need them the most.  “When you’re in the middle east a pop tart can taste like a steak”, I listened as Karen explained to me the methods and decision making behind care packages.  My favorite tip: never mix toiletries and food.  No one wants deodorant flavored mashed potatoes.

IMG_2897

Post 281

Post 281

IMG_2896 IMG_2894

Items being organized for care packages.

Items being organized for care packages.

 

I highly encourage anyone in the area that is struggling or just interested in helping or meeting people with similar interests to attend the meetings and introduce yourself to these welcoming, wonderful people.

 

 

Government shutdown leaves fallen soldiers’ families with empty pockets

The U.S. Government shutdown has raised many questions for military families.  Along with the shutdown came the ‘Pay Our Military Act’, implemented on the first of the month, the act promises active military members on duty to still receive ‘pay and allowances’.

What the Act does not cover is the transportation of four American soldiers’ bodies back to the Dover, Delaware Air Force Base.  This, along with a $100,000 death gratuity to the soldiers’ families, is a fee that the Pentagon would normally cover, however with the shutdown still in affect, this is a fee that has been post-poned.

1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25 Photo Credit: WSJ, U.S. Army

1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25
Photo Credit: WSJ, U.S. Army

The families of the four soldiers’ have agreed to travel to the Dover base to meet their fallen loved ones, thanks to the Army Ranger Fund willing to pay expenses.  There has been no statement made on whether or not travel expenses will be covered for the families.  Once the government shutdown has ended, the death gratuities will be given to the families, and perhaps a reimbursement of the burial costs.

Dover Air Force Base Photo Credit: usatoday.com

Dover Air Force Base
Photo Credit: usatoday.com